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A young American Jew describes being arrested for standing in opposition to the Jerusalem Day parade

Jun 09, 2011

Adam Horowitz

The young man being arrested in the video above is Lucas Koerner, and he was a member of the delegation that I recently co-led to Israel/Palestine. Below is Lucas’s account of what took place in Jerusalem, which he originally posted on his blog.

Returning from Hebron Wednesday afternoon, I glanced outside my window, only to see miles and miles of blue and white. Today was Jerusalem Day, and a parade of thousands marched through the streets celebrating, as if in an orgy of nationalistic fervor, the 44th anniversary of the Israeli conquest of East Jerusalem. What shocked me initially was how eerily monolithic the procession was: it seemed as though the ocean of Israeli flags was meant to blur all distinctions between old and young, boss and worker, women and men, settler and 48er. In light of the events of recent days, I sensed a strong political undertone beneath the cheers and yells of the ecstatic crowds. Coming on the heels of Netanyahu’s defiant speech before Congress, it appeared to me that the marchers streaming down Sultan Suleiman St. that evening sought to echo their PM’s bold remarks, that all of Jerusalem was “theirs” forever. Indeed, it seemed that this display of triumphal nostalgia concealed a deeper, far weaker emotion, a lurking fear of a future in which nothing between the river and the sea would be exclusively “theirs” but would have to be shared with the other.

After witnessing first hand, over the past week and a half, the many horrors the occupation has inflicted on the Palestinian people, my fellow delegates and I trembled with indignation at the chutzpah of these Israeli marchers as they boisterously paraded through East Jerusalem, brandishing their flags of conquest. Prompted by the traffic to walk the rest of the way to our hotel, we were inspired to launch an impromptu parade of our own. Donning our keffiyehs we had purchased at the Hebron Keffiyeh factory and our small Palestinian flags, we we’re met by spit, aluminum cans, and pure, unadulterated hatred. Police instantly set upon us, accosting me, demanding that I put away my 3 by 5 inch Palestinian flag. It was remarkable how so much as giving voice to the other, the “Arab”, the Palestinian, in 3 by 5 form in E. Jerusalem no less could ignite such visceral fear and hatred.

Upon returning to the Holy Land Hotel, my comrades (Haneen, Amanda, Peter, Lydia, Tammy & Tiffany) and I decided that we would go back to the parade merely to hang out and observe, this time without our small Palestinian flags. In order to avoid any provocations, we simply posted up on the side walk, and, still wearing our keffiyehs, we proceeded to wave and make peace sign gestures to the paraders, who marched on the other side of the street, separated from us by a high gate. The initial reaction of the marchers was a combination of shock and disbelief. I myself had elected to wear, along with my keffiyeh, a kippah adorned with a small Palestinian flag. This last article of clothing on my head contributed, I believe, more than anything else to the climate of collective bewilderment, especially among the youth. For them, Judaism and its physical symbol, the kippah, were inseparably bound up with the particular strain of ethno-religious nationalism associated with the state of Israel. It simply never occurred to them that a Jewish person would, in the name of Jewish ethics, stand in solidarity with the oppressed Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom. I feel that it was precisely this cognitive dissonance on a societal level that formed the motivation for my arrest.

As we walked up and down the sidewalk, waving our peace signs, many Palestinians of all ages approached to join us. With twenty or thirty people now gathered on the sidewalk facing the parade, we turned over leadership of what had become a demonstration to Palestinian activists, and we happily clapped and danced to their songs and chants. Standing on two feet high pylons, we tried to maintain our visibility as internationals in order to confer as much protection as possible to the Palestinians. The demonstration remained totally peaceful – just singing, whistling, and clapping. In fact, much to the chagrin of the paraders, we often danced to their music. Many Palestinians, fascinated with my kippah, approached me and exclaimed, “I love you”. For a moment, a space was opened for Palestinians to freely gather in their own streets and protest, peacefully demanding their basic rights. We were soon to learn just how brief that moment would be.

Suddenly, the police moved in without warning of any kind. Officers on horseback came so close to the sidewalk, nearly hitting some of the demonstrators. I stepped down from the pylon. In that instant, my impulse to flee was counteracted by the firm realization that, standing on a sidewalk waving a peace sign, I had every right to be there, and if I fled, who would stand with the Palestinians? I stepped back up on the pylon. Moments later, an Israeli police officer ran up, seized me, and dragged me to the other side of the street. He then punched me in the face, put me in a choke hold, and with four other officers, slammed me to the ground. I was eventually handcuffed and carried to the car; I allowed my body to go limp and refused to walk on my own in a gesture of nonviolent defiance. Throughout the whole affair, the only thing audible coming from the policemen was a constant stream of curses words, “motherfucker”, “piece of shit”, etc., which was to me a ringing confirmation of how infuriated and threatened they were by a 19-year old wearing a kippah and a keffiyeh standing with the Palestinians.

To be continued in the next post: “In Israeli Jail”

In order to ‘strengthen the [Jewish] bond to Jerusalem,’ a Knesset bill proposes to change Arabic names of neighborhoods in Jerusalem to Hebrew names
Jun 09, 2011 08:49 pm | Kate

UN announces record number of children displaced by Israel’s demolitions
UNITED NATIONS (BNO NEWS) 9 June — The United Nations Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) on Thursday released its latest monthly figures in which it was registered a record number of children displaced by Israel’s demolitions in the West Bank. “Demolitions saw 67 children displaced in May, the highest monthly figure so far this year,” said UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness, “64 in Area C and 3 in East Jerusalem.” Under the Israeli zoning policy in the occupied territory, Palestinians are allowed to build in only 13 percent of the occupied East Jerusalem and 1 percent in the Area C in the West Bank, which is already heavily built. “Palestinians are refused permits and are forced to build illegally. They then suffer the humiliation either of having the Israeli authorities destroy their homes, or are forced to destroy their homes themselves and foot the bill,” added Gunness. The most affected are children who witness with their parents how their homes are demolished.
Jerusalem approves revised plan for contested Museum of Tolerance site
Haaretz 9 June — The controversial project by the Simon Wiesenthal Center is located on a medieval Muslim cemetery, which opponents say defeats the museum’s goal of building tolerance — After a two-year delay the Jerusalem municipal planning committee approved on Monday the plan to build the Museum of Tolerance in the city center. The controversial project by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, based on a similar museum in Los Angeles, is located on a medieval Muslim cemetery. During the construction work, as Haaretz reported, hundreds of ancient skeletons were evacuated from the area … The museum is expected to change the entire area.
Aziz Abu Sarah asks readers to help him choose a Jewish name
978mag 7 June — In continuing efforts to replace what’s left of Jerusalem’s Palestinian identity with a Jewish one, MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) has introduced a Knesset bill that would change the Arabic names of neighborhoods in Jerusalem to Hebrew names. According to the Jerusalem Post, MK Hotovely quoted Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, in her justification of the proposal. “Just as we do not recognize Arab political ownership of our land, we do not recognize their spiritual ownership, and we do not need their names, which give off the Arab scent.” According to Ynet news, the proposal has enough support from the coalition and opposition to pass in the Knesset. After extensive soul searching, I understood what the Knesset is trying to do. It is sending a message to the Arab minority that the path to acceptance in the Jewish state of Israel is through ditching our Palestinian identity. We must be willing to adopt a Jewish identity to become equal citizens.

And more news from Today in Palestine:

Activists: Soldiers stop farmers working on land
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 9 June — Israeli soldiers on Thursday prevented Palestinian farmers from working on their land near Hebron in the southern West Bank, rights activists said. Israeli soldiers, accompanied by dogs, forced farmers from Beit Ummar to leave their fields near the illegal Bat Ayin settlement, where they were harvesting vine leaves and pears, Palestinian Center for Human Rights official Hesham Sharabati said. In the same area on Thursday afternoon, Israeli soldiers stopped Mohammad Da’dush, 85, from spraying pesticides on his crops and seized his pump, Sharabati said. Sharabati, his colleague Fahmi Shahin and popular committee spokesman Mohammad Awad went to the area to follow up on the complaints. They said four soldiers appeared shortly after their arrival and took their ID cards, claiming the rights workers had entered a closed military zone. Many more soldiers then arrived at the scene and surrounded the area, Sharabati said.
link to www.maannews.net
Settler war against South Hebron Hills shepherd community
AIC 9 June — In the past week residents of Khirbet Umm al-Khier in the South Hebron Hills have suffered from attacks by settlers from the nearby Karmel settlement, who are preventing them from taking their flocks out to graze. Preventing access to their lands is done with the full cooperation of the Israeli police and army. On Sunday 5 June, a new stage in the struggle of Khirbet Umm al-Khier residents began for their right to live in the face of strangulation attempts by the Carmel settlers and occupation forces. Nabil Tapash, an officer of the Israeli Civil Administration, came to Khirbet Umm al-Hir on Sunday and spoke with a resident of the Eid village. According to the settlers, several olive trees they planted earlier this year were damaged by the herds of Umm el-Khier. Settlers demand compensation of NIS 250, although they provided no evidence of the claimed damage or of the responsibility of Umm el-Khier residents for said damage. Nabil threatened that if compensation was not paid, he would prevent the herds from walking through the pasture, thus obligating the herders to walk on foot via a long bypass route. And indeed, since Monday morning settlers and the army have prevented passage of the herders. A military captain went even further, kicking several of the goats, including one in the head who died several hours later.
http://www.alternativenews.org/english/index.php/topics/hebron/3653-settler-war-against-south-hebron-hills-shepherd-community-

Israeli forces still searching for suspects behind West Bank mosque attack
Haaretz 9 June — The Israeli police in the West Bank have no leads on Tuesday’s arson attack on a mosque in the Palestinian village of Mughayar north of Ramallah. Defense Minister Ehud Barak has ordered the security forces to use all means possible to find those responsible.
link to www.haaretz.com
Gaza — under siege for 1,457 days now
Rafah opens for second day
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 9 June — Egypt’s Rafah border crossing with Gaza opened for a the second day in a row on Thursday, following a four-day closure as officials argued over appropriate crossing regulations. The first day of operations saw 450 Palestinians cross into Egypt, crossing director Ayoub Abu Sha‘ar told Ma‘an, adding that he expected Thursday’s number to be higher, at 500. Five-hundred and fifty was set as a cap for the maximum number of travelers crossing at the terminal,
link to www.maannews.net
Action: Samouni Bee Project
Here at the Samouni project we are looking for sustainable, traditional projects to help people help themselves and not rely on handouts. In our newest project we aim to provide the Samouni clan with several beehives and local beekeeping training with a view to export the produce they make from the hives. This will not only help provide work and income for the Samouni project but it will also help pollination of crops in Gaza … We are looking to bring in the materials to make 10 hives for the Samounis on our ‘Samouni Project Convoy’ leaving the UK on July 2nd and we are calling in the help of the Zaqzuq family, who have been keeping bees for many years in Gaza. Only $160 needed to reach the goal.
link to www.indiegogo.com
Palestinian youth long for freedom and unity in Gaza
BBC 9 June — As Arab Spring lengthens into Arab Summer, Newsnight’s Tim Whewell travels to Gaza – one of the most enclosed societies on earth – to find out what freedoms and changes revolutions elsewhere in the Middle East have brought to young Palestinians there. In the front room of a house in the tightly-packed concrete slum that is Gaza’s Jabaliya refugee camp, they are learning to dance. A group of young teenage girls are stepping high in the air, hands on hips, as they practice the debka. Traditionally, it was performed by boys and girls together. But since the Islamist movement Hamas took over Gaza in 2007, mixed dancing has been stopped.
link to news.bbc.co.uk
Israeli forces build sand barrier at Gaza border town
GAZA (PIC) 9 June — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) mounting army tanks escorted three military bulldozers while building a huge sand barrier at the entrance to Khuza’a town, east of Khan Younis to the south of the Gaza Strip, on Thursday. Safa news agency said that the IOF troops fired smoke bombs to cover soldiers who went on foot to escort the workers in building the barrier.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bc
Israeli creates special military unit to fight Gaza tunnels
Ahram 9 June — Israel’s military is training special units to fight in tunnels in Gaza and southern Lebanon, according to the Israeli media. The Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported yesterday that every soldier in these new units is equipped with a ‘robot’ capable of transmitting high-resolution video images from inside the tunnels, used by the Hamas movement in Gaza to smuggle weapons, food and medicines. The report said the Israeli army has established a training camp for this unit close to the town of Youkanaam in northern Israel.
http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/13974/World/Region/Israel-creates-special-military-unit-to-fight-Gaza.aspx

Detention
5 detained overnight, villages raided
QALQILYA (Ma‘an) 9 June — Five were detained by Israeli forces overnight and at least one village was raided without arrests reported, local officials told Ma‘an. An Israel military statement confirmed that five were “transferred for security questioning.” Near Tubas, a man was detained and a second handed an order to appear before Israeli military investigators, both from the village of Tammun in the Tubas region. Palestinian security sources identified Abbad Abdullah At-Tubasi, 25, who is a student at An-Najah national university as the man detained. Ali Muhammad Hamad Bani Odeh, 40, was handed a notification to see Israeli intelligence. Eyewitnesses said soldiers entered the village with seven military. Several home searches were carried out, causing damage to the personal property of nearly 20 individuals.
link to www.maannews.net
Israel raids West Bank towns overnight, abducts men, children
9 June –Israeli soldiers raided the towns of Tammun, Tuqu and Azzun overnight and detained five, damaged property and confiscated the camera of a journalist documenting the raids, according to witnesses. In the village of Taqu four brothers, two of whom were minors, were arrested on charges of throwing stones.
http://occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com/2011/06/09/israel-raids-west-bank-towns-overnight-abducts-men-children/

Israel extends detention of Fatah lawmaker
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 9 June — Israel’s Ofer military court extended the detention of Fatah leader Hussam Khader by 72 hours on Thursday, Palestinian Authority Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe said. Khader is a long-time proponent of reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, and was taken from his home at 2 a.m. on Thursday one week ago.  Witnesses said 50 Israeli military jeeps arrived in the Balata refugee camp, surrounded the home and searched its contents before taking Khader to an unknown location.
link to www.maannews.net
IOA moves detained MP, lecturer to Megiddo jail
NABLUS, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) moved detained Hamas MP Ahmed Al-Haj and Najah University lecture Mustafa Al-Shinar from Hawara detention center to Megiddo jail on Thursday. Ahmed Al-Tobasi, a lawyer with the Tadamun foundation for human rights, recalled that Haj and Shinar were taken from their homes on Tuesday. He said that Haj was frequently detained by the IOA and spent seven years in aggregate in Israeli prisons. Haj, who is in his seventies, suffer from a number of health problems, Tobasi said, adding that Shinar’s health condition was also precarious as he recently underwent a heart operation.
link to occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com
Prison leader released after 4.5 years
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 9 June — The detainees center in Gaza City reported Thursday the release from Israeli custody of 45 year-old Ayed Dudin from Durra village in Hebron following the end of a four-and-a-half-year prison term. Dudin has spent a total of 14 years in Israeli prison. He spent at least two years jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention. As the spokesman for Palestinian detainees at the Negev prison, the prisoners’ center said Israeli officials had attempted to have him released into exile, offering an early release in exchange for the deal. Dudin refused, and was held past his sentence date, the center said.
link to www.maannews.net
Naksa Day
Tensions high in Majdal Shams as police arrest Naksa Day stone throwers
Haaretz 9 June — Police official says special team created to investigate stone throwing during the violent clashes that marked the 44th anniversary of the Six-Day War; Majdal Shams residents threaten escalation if more arrests are made.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/tensions-high-in-majdal-shams-as-police-arrest-naksa-day-stone-throwers-1.366761

2 Druze indicted over ‘Naksa Day’ riots
Ynet 9 June — An indictment has been filed with the Safed Magistrates’ Court against two residents of the Druze village of Majdal Shams, charging them with aggravated assault of public officials on ‘Naksa Day’ Sunday … Yasser Hangar and Biyan Awidat, who are 34 and 20 respectively, have been charged with throwing stones during a riot in which a police officer was hurt … Two other residents of the village are also being charged similarly, and the court remanded their arrests by three days Thursday.
link to www.ynetnews.com
Palestinian protests divide village on Israel-Syria border
MAJDAL SHAMS, Golan Heights 8 June — Tucked into a corner of Israel’s northernmost border with Syria, the village of Majdal Shams blends easily into the Syrian hills surrounding it. Incorporated into Israeli in 1981, but with an eye toward Syria, which ruled here until the 1967 war, the population of Majdal Shams — ethnically Druze — has found itself increasingly caught between the two dueling loyalties. “We were raised being told that our home was Syria, but that we lived in Israel. It is being caught between a rock and a hard place,” said 46-year-old Ata Abu Farat, a resident of Majdal Shams … “I don’t think there is this expectation that tomorrow we will be living with the Druze in Syria, but here is a hope that one day our communities will be united. The best thing is if this village were to be given back to Syria, and then left alone,” he said.
link to www.mcclatchydc.com
Ex-Mossad chief: Purity of arms eroded
Ynet 9 June — Zvi Zamir, Israel’s Mossad chief in the years 1968-1974 is criticizing the government over its way of handling the ‘Naksa Day’ events which saw 23 Syrian protesters killed. In an interview with Israel Army Radio, Zamir attacked the decision to open fire at the Syrian protesters who tried to breach the border fence and said: “I’m concerned by the fact that soldiers, my grandchildren, are firing at unarmed people.”
link to www.ynetnews.com
Syrian slaughter and Israeli restraint / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 9 June — We see Bashar Assad’s regime slaughtering dozens of unarmed Syrian demonstrators every day, and say he is ‘slaughtering his own people.’ But when the Israel Defense Forces killed 23 unarmed Syrian demonstrators in one day, we boasted that the IDF ‘acted with restraint.’
http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/syrian-slaughter-and-israeli-restraint-1.366703

Politics / Diplomacy / International
Hamas debates future role, considers removing itself from government
AP 9 June — After four years of turbulent rule in the Gaza Strip, the Islamic militant group Hamas is weighing a new strategy of not directly participating in future governments even if it wins elections — an approach aimed at avoiding isolation by the world community and allowing for continued economic aid. Hamas officials told The Associated Press the idea has gained favour in recent closed meetings of the secretive movement’s leadership in the West Bank, Gaza, Egypt and Syria, and that it helped enable last month’s reconciliation agreement with the rival Fatah group of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas … The new approach reflects both the group’s rigidity and its pragmatism: On the one hand, Hamas refuses to meet widespread global demands that it accept Israel’s right to exist; on the other, its leaders grasp the price Palestinians would pay if the Islamic militants emerged fully in charge of a future government. It also stems from a growing sense that its experiment with direct government in Gaza has cost Hamas popular support among Palestinians.
link to www.brandonsun.com
Hamas to participate in any future Palestinian government, senior official says
dpa 9 June — Salah al-Bardaweel, a high-ranking Hamas leader in Gaza, refutes press reports that the group may exclude itself from a future government to avoid international isolation … “This is totally incorrect and totally untrue,” said al- Bardaweel, arguing that the reports were intended to isolate Hamas politically and diplomatically.. 
http://www.haaretz.com/news/international/hamas-to-participate-in-any-future-palestinian-government-senior-official-says-1.366825

Palestinians grapple with opposition to UN plan
AP 9 June — RAMALLAH, West Bank – Faced with opposition from the United States, a number of top Palestinian officials are quietly advising President Mahmoud Abbas to drop plans to seek recognition for a state of Palestine at the United Nations this fall. Top officials say Abbas remains committed to his plan — a result of the widespread sense among Palestinians that two decades of on-and-off negotiations with Israel have run their course, and that the current Israeli leadership is not a partner for peace. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to the Associated Press Thursday, said Abbas would like to “climb down from the tree” and find a mutually acceptable formula for restarting negotiations, preferably based on ideas presented by President Barack Obama recently.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110609/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_palestinians_un_drive

Palestinian leadership divided over plan to seek UN recognition
by Barak Ravid. Haaretz 9 June — While PA President Abbas is determined to seek unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state in September, a senior group of Palestinians have said they believe the move could do more harm than good.
http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/palestinian-leadership-divided-over-plan-to-seek-un-recognition-1.366679

Turkey-Israel concert for religious tolerance canceled due to IHH pressure
Haaretz 9 June — ‘Three Religions’ concert to be held in Istanbul canceled at last minute after IHH and other Islamic organizations claim Israel participation in event ‘unacceptable’ and a ‘provocation’.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/turkey-israel-concert-for-religious-tolerance-canceled-due-to-ihh-pressure-1.366836

Iran, Indonesia MPs plan Gaza convoy
Press TV 9 June — Iran and Indonesia plan to organize a multi-national parliamentary mission in an effort to break the Israeli-imposed siege of Palestine’s impoverished Gaza Strip since 2007.
link to www.presstv.ir
Other news
Hamas: Netanyahu responsible for swap deal delay
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 June — Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouq blamed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, for what he said was a delay in the release of Israeli and Palestinian prisoners in a swap deal.  Citing Netanyahu’s “intransigence,” the official said the leader bore “full responsibility” for the continued confinement of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit as well as thousands of Palestinians considered prisoners of war.
link to www.maannews.net
TA rampage driver charged with murder
Ynet 9 June — An indictment has been filed against Issa Islam, the truck driver who went on a killing rampage in Tel Aviv on “Nakba Day” which left one person dead and 17 injured. Islam is being charged with murder, seven counts of attempted murder, endangering human lives in a transportation lane, inflicting aggravated injury and aggravated assault with intent to harm …  Meanwhile, Islam’s family continues to deny that he went on a deliberate killing rampage. “My son is innocent. His whole life he worked in Tel Aviv. They can say whatever they want – we don’t care. Allahu Akbar is not a swear word,” Islam’s mother said. “The security elements exploited the fact it was Nakba Day to turn this into a deliberate attack. We are certain he had no intent.”
link to www.ynetnews.com
A touch of Morocco in the heart of Jerusalem
Haaretz 9 June — A newly restored center for North African Jewish heritage promises to become one of the capital’s most colorful tourist sites. But not everyone is thrilled with the ambitious renovation project … The center is situated between King David and Agron streets behind the Palace Hotel in Mahaneh Yisrael, one of the first neighborhoods outside the walls of the Old City.
link to www.haaretz.com
Israel rocket victims fail in bid to sue Al Jazeera
Reuters 9 June — Victims of 2006 rocket strikes on Israel cannot sue Al Jazeera on grounds the broadcaster intentionally helped Hezbollah attack civilians by reporting the sites of explosions, a U.S. judge ruled this week.  The Israeli plaintiffs, who were asking for $1.2 billion in damages from Al Jazeera, said the Qatar-based news network helped Hezbollah militants target their rockets more accurately during the 34-day war with Israel. Their lawsuit, filed a year ago, argued that a Manhattan court had jurisdiction over the case because U.S. citizens had been harmed.
link to www.reuters.com
Analysis / Opinion
The conflict’s new players
Ynet 9 June — International Solidarity Movement activists have become a permanent feature in clashes between IDF, Palestinians in West Bank, Gaza Strip. ‘We don’t judge the Palestinians for the way they choose to protest,’ one activist says … Foreign solidarity activists can be found in Qalandiya, Bil‘in, Nabi Saleh and virtually any other site where Palestinians and security forces clash. “Our organization, which started as a small group about a decade ago, has become an all-out phenomenon in which solidarity movements from around the world take part,” Neta Golan, one of the founders of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) says.
link to www.ynetnews.com
Turning peace and justice into worthless commodities / Louis Frankenthaler
978mag 8 June — It never ceases to amaze me how in everyday life seemingly innocent and benign artifacts actually indicate the insidious. For instance, the simple navigation of the streets of Jerusalem brings one in direct contact with an advert glaring down at you from the back of an Egged Bus (Egged recently won alucrative public transport contract in Amsterdam). Drive through the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim and see all the “for sale” signs posted by international real estate agencies. Occupied territory is up for sale while peace gets put on the auction block for the lowest bidder. Maybe the Americans will buy, maybe the French. What is clear is that there is a price tag on peace and justice and the only ones paying the exorbitant costs are Palestinians.
link to 972mag.com
groups.yahoo.com/group/f_shadi (listserv)
www.theheadlines.org (archive)

Activists from across Europe gather to build the campaign against Agrexco

Jun 09, 2011

Stephanie Westbrook

This past weekend in the Montpellier, France, over 100 activists from 9 countries gathered for the first ever European Forum Against Agrexco. Delegates from Italy, UK, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Germany and Palestine joined the French organizers for two full days of workshops aimed at strengthening the boycott campaign against the Israeli agricultural export giant.

Agrexco is Israel’s largest fresh produce exporter and European markets account for the vast majority of their sales under the brand Carmel. The Israeli government’s 50% stake in the company as well as their marketing of 60-70% of the fruit and vegetables grown in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank have made Agrexco a prime strategic target for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

5giugno
Montpellier, European Forum Against Agrexco

Rafeef Ziadah, representative of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), recalled that the campaign against Agrexco includes all three components of BDS: boycott of Agrexco products, divestment via suspension of commercial agreements and sanctions through legal procedures. Agrexco’s complicity in a broad range of human rights violations, profiting from crops grown on stolen land, irrigated with stolen water and worked with child labor, also provides the campaign with ample opportunities to reach out beyond the Palestine solidarity networks to find allies in other social justice movements.

The forum centered on two parallel tracks with the objective of ridding European supermarkets of Agrexco products: boycott campaigns and court actions.

During the boycott workshop, activists presented a review of the campaigns and actions taking place in the various countries, including lobbying retail chains and co-op member meetings, actions at supermarkets and trade fairs, airport blockadesand Italy’s very first BDS flash mob. In Belgium last May, over 400 people in 22 cities filed a complaint with the police citing Agrexco’s complicity with violations of international law. In France, the new Agrexco terminal at the port of Sète became a catalyst for the movement, with a mass demonstration of over 1500 people, a remarkable number for a BDS action! Campaigns are also under way in Sweden and Norway, who were unable to send delegates to the forum. In Sweden activists presented the national co-op with a dossier on Agrexco’s activities who promised to investigate. In Norway, the campaing instead focuses on the local importer, who is consulting their attorneys on the question.

Michael Deas, European coordinator for the BNC, underlined the importance of boycotting Agrexco as a company and not just the products it exports from the illegal Israeli settlements. Aside from problems of traceability – Agrexco has been caught on numerous occasions mislabeling products or mixing settlement produce with that from the Israeli side of the Green Line – purchasing any Agrexco products means supporting a company profiting from the occupation and apartheid policies of the Israeli government.

The involvement in the French campaign of farmers unions, Confédération paysanne and Via Campesina, keep the issues of sustainable agriculture and food sovereignty at the forefront. Michael Deas also underlined the role Palestinian farmers unions have and can play in the campaign against Agrexco. In fact, Palestinian farmers unions were crucial role in helping to expose a propaganda stunt organized by Agrexco in France, claiming that boycotts of Agrexco products damaged Palestinian farmers in Gaza.

The legal workshop, with the presence of three Palestinian attorneys from the Palestinian Bar Association, concentrated on possible court actions against Agrexco. While several countries – Belgium, UK, Italy – are currently exploring legal action, the French case has already produced an important result. An agent of the court inspected customs documents for the Agrexco ships docking at Sète and found clear cases of fraud. A 2010 decision of the European Court of Justice ruled that products from Israeli settlements are not eligible for preferential trade tariffs under the EU Israel Agreement. Yet here were invoices for dates from the Jordan Valley declared to be “Israel Preferential Origin.” This proof of fraud, from none other than a court official, will be vital to campaigns throughout Europe.

The two-day forum succeeded in bringing together campaigns across Europe with the goal of coordinating our actions and strengthening the movement for an Agrexco-free Europe. The first step of the newly formed European-wide network will be a Global Day of Action Against Agrexco set for November 26, 2011.

With all the extremely useful, though highly technical, talk of legal cases, corporate structures, local affiliates, commercial trade agreements, distribution networks, etc., it’s important to remembered that behind the data and numbers, this is about people’s lives.

The land confiscations, the stolen water, the house demolitions, the checkpoints, make it impossible for Palestinians to develop their own economy. A reasonable person can draw but one conclusion, these policies serve to drive the Palestinians from their land. And companies such as Agrexco not only turn a profit, but also provide a direct economic incentive to maintain the occupation and continue the apartheid policies.

Rafeef talked about the first time she saw a Jaffa orange in a UK supermarket. She could smell the sweet aroma, but she couldn’t buy it. She thought of her grandfather, evicted from his land, but who returned to work for the new owner because he just couldn’t give up his land. And how Palestinian produce figures in the minds of refugees, denied their right of return.

Rafeef concluded the forum with an open invitation to all to her house in Haifa, once Palestine is free. Once she can return home.

And the campaign to boycott the products of Carmel Agrexco is a step along the way.

Has J Street abandoned the two-state solution? (and why the liberal Zionist vision for two states is not morally justifiable)

Jun 09, 2011

Jeremiah Haber

The following originally appeared as three consecutive posts by Jeremiah Haber on his blog The Magnes Zionist.

yes we KenLast Saturday night there was a protest in Tel-Aviv, ostensibly in favor of Palestinian “statehood”. For most Israelis, a two state solution means one real Jewish state, and a second, quasi, Palestinian state. Heck, that’s true not just for most Israelis for successive American administrations. But even those administrations would not go so far as support the idea that in a future peace settlement that gives birth to a quasi state (which, I pray to God, will never come about – and so far He has answered my prayers), the large settlement blocs would be annexed to Israel and what’s left of the West Bank (and Gaza?) would be part of a Palestinian bantustan, oops, I mean “state” with “land swaps”.

Yet J Street has not only embraced the ridiculous notion that the large settlement blocs – and that has to include Ariel in the North – will be annexed to Israel, it has dishonestly interpreted this to be consonant with Pres. Obama’s policy.

How so? I received an email from J Street praising a poster of the Nationalist Left movement (above and available through J Street in English here) in Israel that says, “We get the settlement blocs; they get a state.” Now, no United States administration has said that in a future peace accord with the Palestinians, the settlement blocs would stay in Israel’s possession, EVEN ASSUMING LAND SWAPS. By all accounts, the City of Ariel in the North is a large settlement bloc. Gush Etzion is certainly a large settlement bloc, and the Geneva Iniative’s map of borders, left Efrat – part of Gush Etzion – outside of Israel. It’s true that the Nationalist Left movement claims to support the Obama formulation of 67 borders with land swaps against Bibi’s naysaying. It is also true that the National Left’s idea of settlement blocs no doubt differs from that of Bibi. But let’s make this perfectly clear – one either can annex the major settlement blocs OR have a viable Palestinian state; one cannot do both. And not surprisingly, the Nationalist Left’s formulation is claimed to be valid whether there is a peace agreement or not. In other words, that movement holds that Israel can withdraw from the West Bank and annex the settlment blocs, even without a deal. Where J Street should be pushing the idea that the settlement blocs are the major obstancle to peace, precisely because they are illegal blocs of settlements, they have allied themselves with the Nationalist Left, which is not in the camp of the Obama administration, and which wants to purify the loathsome settlements as if it is not big deal – just “demographic realities”, to use the Nationalist Left’s term.

In explaining the Nationalist Left’s slogan, J Street’s Carinne Luck writes:

By settlement blocs, the poster means that the large Jewish population centers just over the 1967 lines that would be swapped for territory currently on the Israeli side of the lines. “Them” means the Palestinians. An Israeli political movement called the National Left (Smol Leumi) developed the poster.
This formulation mirrors the one that President Obama laid out in his speech and has been the policy of the U.S. Government for decades. Experts agree it is the most viable model for a two-state solution, as well as the only way to secure Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic homeland

Well, Efrat is a large population center over the 1967 line. Is J Street supporting making the annexation of Efrat a deal breaker? What “experts” is Luck referring to? Where has President Obama ever said that the “settlement blocs” will be annexed to Israel? I will be happy to make a contribution ot J Street if Carinne or anybody else finds that language there in an administration statement.

Heck, I haven’t even seen J Street use the language of “settlement blocs,” which is the Israeli phrase that maximizes territory (since you can be a small settlement within a bloc.) What J Street says on its website is as follows:

The borders should allow for many existing settlements, (which could account for as many as three-quarters of all settlers) to be part of Israel’s future recognized sovereign territory.

That’s hardly the language of “settlement blocs.”

So what is J Street doing? Are they just clueless? Trying to put something over an uninformed American Jewish electorate? Hoping that a poster with Obama will make them look kosher?

Or…perhaps, like the Nationalist Left, they are proposing a ridiculous, non-starter of a solution, one that even the most pro-Israeli, pro-peace Palestinian government imaginable would rightly reject.

Has J Street abandoned a credible Two-State Solution? Or did they just make one of the gaffes for which they have become well-known?

What’s Wrong With Israel’s Keeping Settlement Blocs?

Some readers (and J Street folks) were puzzled by the tone and content of my previous post. After all, what’s the difference, I was asked, between settlements and settlement blocs? And if there will be land swaps between the Palestinian and Israeli states, what difference does it make precisely where the land is swapped? At the end of the day, Israel and Palestine will have the same proportion of historic Palestine (without the Hashemite kingdom of Trans-Jordan) as guaranteed by the 1967 lines. Can’t I cut J Street a little slack here – in order to get a Palestinian state off the ground? Both the Palestinians and the Americans want to focus first on borders. Doesn’t that mean that an agreement is closer on the border issue than on other core issues?

So let me briefly set matters straight.

Settlement blocs vs. settlements. The moral argument for keeping Jewish settlers where they are, even though their settlement beyond the green line is recognized as illegal, is simply – it is too hard too move them. That, of course, refers to the settlements themselves. But if they are going to stay where they are, the argument goes, their security and growth require that not only do they stay put, but they be situated in “blocs”. I am not sure who first came up with the idea of bloc, but historically it may have been related to the Ezion bloc of settlements, which fell to the Arab fighters in the 47-8 war. The Ezion bloc was one of the first areas to be settled after the 1967 war. The fate of the that bloc is instructive; in the name of returning to settlements that had been captured, the Ezion bloc over the years has tripled in territory. The land on which the city of Efrat, for example, was built, has nothing to do with the original bloc of settlements – and yet it is now automatically included in the settlement bloc (except in the Geneva Initiative map.)

If the settlements are illegal, then settlement blocs are worse – because they are a naked attempt to maximize not only the settlements but the areas between the settlements and – this is important – break up the territorial contiguity of the Palestinians state. Defenders of Israel always like to say that, in terms of percentages, the settlement blocs constitute a relatively small part of the West Bank. Even if that were true, the issue is not how much territory but where it is located.

This is particularly true of the blocs around Jerusalem and the Ariel bloc in the north. No Palestinian mini-state could ever arise were the Ariel bloc annexed, or were the Maaleh Adumim bloc annexed – much less if there is contiguous Jewish settlement in the E1 project linking Maaleh Adumim to Jerusalem

For a standard defense of annexing the five major settlement blocs, check out Mitchell Bard’s explanation and map here. Bard writes

Would the incorporation of settlement blocs prevent the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state? A look at a map shows that it would not. The total area of these communities is only about 1.5% of the West Bank. A kidney-shaped state linked to the Gaza Strip by a secure passage would be contiguous. Some argue that the E1 project linking Ma’ale Adumim to Jerusalem would cutoff east Jerusalem, but even that is not necessarily true as Israel has proposed constructing a four-lane underpass to guarantee free passage between the West Bank and the Arab sections of Jerusalem.

Please look at the Bard’s map, which is taken from the (pro-Israel Washington Institute of Near Eastern Policy). Look, for example, at Jerusalem prior to 1967, divided between Israelis and Palestinians, and the Jerusalem proposed now, which would leave East Jerusalem an enclave surrounded by massive Jewish settlement. But, more importantly, consider what constitutes “contiguity” according to Bard – a four-lane underpass!

Now consider why Israel ambassador Michael Oren recently considered the 49 armistice lines to be “indefensible” – despite the fact that not only were they successfully defended, they were expanded upon in 1967

Israel’s borders at the time were demarcated by the armistice lines established at the end of Israel’s war of independence 18 years earlier. These lines left Israel a mere 9 miles wide at its most populous area. Israelis faced mountains to the east and the sea to their backs and, in West Jerusalem, were virtually surrounded by hostile forces. In 1948, Arab troops nearly cut the country in half at its narrow waist and laid siege to Jerusalem, depriving 100,000 Jews of food and water.

How long would it take Israel to take control of a 4 lane highway, thereby cutting the Palestinian mini-state in two? Would Ben Gurion have accepted a state that had the contiguity afforded by a four-lane underpass?

The Palestinian state must be contiguous, which means that it must have contiguous and defensible territory between its various parts. Palestinian security needs are no less important than Israel’s security needs; only a racist or tribalist would think otherwise.

To the argument that is immoral to move settlers, I reply that it is immoral to keep Palestinians in refugee camps. Let Israel absorb the settlement blocs, and let the Palestinians absorb Jewish owned territory in such a way that there is roughly parity in the resultant states. Any two-state solution has to take into consideration not only the demographic and security needs of the Israelis, but the demographic and the security needs of the Palestinians, including the refugees. We can start by settling half a million Palestinian refugees in choice Jewish state owned lands that have not been acquired from Palestinians Israelis – and then let’s redraw the map of Israel to reflect the demographic realities of the Palestinian Arabs (including those of the diaspora), and the Israelis (including those of the Jewish diaspora.)

This would not be the ideal solution but a lot fairer than the one proposed by the Israeli “left” and the American administration. If their proposal is accepted by the PA leadership, then Jews and Palestinians should join hands to oppose the concessions of the PA.

Some of What’s Wrong With the Liberal Zionist Vision of the Two State Solution

Liberal Zionists in Israel and the diaspora have, for many years, put forth a vision of two states in historic Palestine, i.e., a Jewish state alongside a Palestinian state. The borders between the states would be the 49 armistice line (the “green line”), with land swaps to recognize “demographic realities,” i.e., the half a million Jewish settlers who have settled over the green line since 1967. In exchange for the settlement blocs, the Palestinians would be given land within pre-67 Israel “of equal quality,” a concept that is left vague. They would be asked to recognize the state of Israel as a Jewish state, to forego the right to return given them by Resolution 194 and international law, and to keep their state nonmilitarized.

This view is not only accepted by liberal Zionists (Jews and non-Jews are included within that description, as well as any one who believes in Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state – I can’t think of any better description for that view than Zionist) It has also been accepted by some Palestinians and their allies who see it as preferable to the status quo. It is not half a loaf; it is more like half a slice. But, the argument goes, it is better than nothing.

What I would like to argue briefly is that the liberal Zionist vision of the two-state solution is not morally justifiable, and a peace agreement along its lines constitutes what Avishai Margalit calls, although not with reference to the liberal Zionist vision, a rotten compromise. Margalit distinguishes between bad compromises, which are justifiable or excusable for the sake of peace even when the principles of justice are violated, and rotten compromises, which either result in, or preserve, an inhuman system. The cases of inhuman systems he gives (slavery, racist tyranny) are worse, I believe, than the current system of Israeli occupation – but what that system shares in common with the more extreme versions is the dehumanization of those under occupation. I wish to argue that a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians that produces a Palestinian state that is only marginally better than occupation, and in which there is still a significant degree of Israeli control, hence, of dehumanization, would be, if not a rotten compromise, than something perilously close to it.

I grant that, at first glance, the liberal Zionist vision of the two-state solution tries to end the dehumanization of the Palestinians. After all, it is claimed, the withdrawal of the IDF would give the Palestinians control over their own lives. They would not be bound by all the restrictions, e.g., immigration, decisions taken without their representation, that are placed upon them now. They could stand on their own two feet.

But this is a liberal Zionist illusion, based on the underlying liberal Zionist myth that the Palestinians have nothing to fear from the Israelis provided that the former behave themselves. In fact – as the disengagement from Gaza has abundantly shown – the issue is not whether there is an IDF military presence, or even a settlers’ presence on the West Bank. The issue is whether Israel has effective control over the Palestinian state by virtue of its military and economic power. By “effective control” I don’t mean “total control”. Israel has never had total control over the Palestinians – nor is that fact remarkable. American slaveholders never had total control over their slaves, as the slave rebellions and other acts of resistance amply show. But it is abundantly clear, and has been pointed out by many, that the liberal-Zionist vision doesn’t take into account Palestinian security needs – beyond having them outsourced to countries friendly to Israel. And a truncated non-militarized Palestine with security guarantees for Israel would not guarantee a sufficient level of dignity, security, and independence that a peace agreement must provide in order for it not to represent a rotten compromise. If the Palestinian leadership accepts such a compromise, out of weakness, so much the worse for them.

The liberal Zionist vision is indeed motivated by moral concerns. The vision recognizes that it is morally wrong, not just inexpedient, for Israel to have day to day control over the lives of Palestinians. It is less concerned with the measure of effective control Israel will have over the future Palestinian state, and indirectly, on the lives of the Palestinians living within it. I don’t think it is concerned with that at all.

The strange thing about the compromise offered by liberal Zionist groups like J Street is that it is not really a compromise at all. In a compromise, both groups give up things that are dear to them in order reach agreement. Yet in the liberal Zionist vision of the Two State solution, the Israeli side gives up things that the liberal Zionist wants to give up in the first place – the West Bank and Gaza. The liberal Zionist does not mind sharing Jerusalem, nor does it mind withdrawing from the West Bank and Gaza – on the contrary, it argues such a withdrawal to be in Israel’s long-term interests. The liberal Zionists, in order to sell the plan to not-so-liberal Zionists, argue that in the worse case scenario, Israel’s security would not be seriously threatened after such a withdrawal. So in fact, the liberal Zionist vision combines moral concern with the Palestinians under occupation with concern for the future of the Jewish state if the occupation continues. It offers to the Palestinians things that it is not interested in to begin with – and presents these as painful compromises.

This comment has been made often by the West Bank settlers. When the Oslo Accord spoke of “Gaza first” a popular rightwing bumper sticker was, “Tel Aviv first.” The framers of Oslo were criticized for offering things that the rightwing was interested in keeping, but that they weren’t.

If the Palestinians are asked to make painful compromises, then so should the Israelis. That should take some of the sting off of what the Palestinians are forced, through their weakness, to offer.

Let me take this back to the issue of land swaps. The liberal vision of land swaps is to give Palestinians land as compensation for the land of the settlement blocs. Let’s take one “uncontroversial” settlement bloc for liberal Zionists – the settlements over the Green Line near Jerusalem. Now I ask you seriously – what lands in Israel could possibly compensate for these strategically settled areas, areas that were settled not only to provide more housing for Jews but to keep Jerusalem within effective Jewish control for perpetuity? Before 1967, Jerusalem was a circle split in two (unequal) parts, Jewish and Arab. With the settlement blocs, Jerusalem is now a Jewish bagel with a bite out of it; a tiny part of the hole is Arab. Given Jerusalem’s national, religious and strategic importance, what does Israel plan to give in exchange? Land contiguous to Gaza? Land from the Lachish district.?

The integration of the settlement blocs around Jerusalem into Israel radically alters Jerusalem – and even were the Palestinian state offered all of the Negev from Beer Sheva to Eilat, that would not be begin to compensate.

That is why I suggested that in exchange for the Palestinians losing most of Jerusalem and its environs – a painful compromise – it should demand that Israel receive a significant number of Palestinian refugees. Now nobody in Israel wants this – which is precisely why it would be viewed by the Palestinians as a sacrifice worthy of their sacrifice. Or if not the refugees, then prime territory around Tel Aviv, or in the area between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

The response to this will be that I am making peace impossible. But my response to that is that the peace is not the end game – dignity and self-determination are. It is about time that liberal Zionists stop arguing that “peace is so close, if only we could find out the way to it” and start looking not so much at principles of absolute justice – the weaker party will never get that – but the minimum requirements of an agreement for dignity, humanity, and self-determination.

And to my one-state friends, I want to make clear that I am not endorsing a two-state solution. I am calling for liberal Zionists to examine the adequacy of the two-state solution that they are endorsing, and not just from the frame of reference of the liberal Zionist.

I didn’t always feel this way. On the eve of Camp David II, I went to a demonstration in support of Prime Minister Barak at the Prime Minister residence. I heard him talk about settlement blocs, and I said to myself – Heck, if the Palestinians accept it, who am I, an Israeli, to be more Palestinian than they are? Isn’t it more important to end the occupation, get an agreement, and start working together again? Isn’t any deal better than no deal?

Not when that deal represents a rotten, or near rotten compromise. As a liberal Zionist, ask yourself how you feel if you were asked to give up most of Jerusalem, settle a million Palestinian refugees, and accept external controls on your security.

What would you be willing to give up for peace?

Restrooms and sanitation at Umm-Al-Kheir (a story for Shavuot)

Jun 09, 2011

Eleanor K

This is a post from the The Villages Group website. They started as a group of Israeli individuals who, since 2002, have maintained daily contact with residents of two villages in the Nablus area: Salem and Deir El Hatab, providing support to help them sustain and develop their communities under extremely difficult physical and emotional conditions.

Mohammed Salem is about 30 years old. He lives in Umm-Al-Kheir, in a home inherited from his late father right next to the fence of the Carmel settlement.

In 2005, when Carmel built an expansion neighborhood, Mohammed was beaten by settlers involved in the construction. Since this assault, he has suffered from post-traumatic stress (PTSD). He has stopped functioning, fears and runs away from any stranger, and even from some family members.

Mohammed’s home, one of the few still standing in that part of Umm-Al-Kheir – a village suffering continual destruction from the Occupation authorities – does not have a restroom. Therefore, residents must perform their bodily functions outdoors. On Wednesday, May 25 2011, while Mohammed was outside for that reason, he was harrangued by settlers yelling, cursing and making threats. These new, government-backed residents living in fully-connected homes have had enough with this ongoing sanitation problem placed not far from their doorstep.

This story crosses paths with another story: about two years ago, Ta’ayush activistEzra Nawi initiated a campaign to build outhouses at Umm-Al-Kheir. Shortly after work commenced, Carmel settlers complained to the Occupation’s “Civil Administration” about the travesty of restrooms being built for their neighbors. The “Administration” quickly geared into action, its men arriving on site, confiscating materials and posting work-stoppage order signs on those structures already standing. This government action has caused a European organization that provided most of the funding, to pull out of the project. In particular, Mohammed’s outhouse had never been completed; the floor was laid out, but the walls and ceiling are still missing.

In these days, in view of the plight of Mohammed and his family, we intend to resume Ezra’s initiative, completing that one outhouse and building a second one in the same part of Umm-Al-Kheir. Cost is estimated at NIS 4,000. For details, feel free to contact Ehud Krinis: ksehud “at” gmail.

We hope that this time around, the good citizens of Carmel will allow the residents of Umm-Al-Kheir to complete the construction, and thus resolve the sanitary problem that is so irritating to them.

A note from Assaf
Ehud sent me this story with the title mentioning Shavuot, a Jewish holiday taking place right now, from Tuesday night through Thursday. He did not explain why the reference, but here is one possible explanation:

On Shavuot, we read the Biblical Book of Ruth. Ruth was a foreigner – a Moabite widow who arrived to Bethlehem, Judea, with her Israelite mother-in-law Naomi. Naomi’s family had lived in Moab for ten years, and then all men in the family had died. Naomi, about to return home, offered her daughters-in-law to remain in Moab with their families. Ruth refused and accompanied Naomi to Bethlehem, where she – a young foreign widow living in a man-less household and having no male offspring – would find herself on the lowest rung of the social ladder.

They lived in poverty subsisting on aid. Then, the wealthy landowner Boaz got to know her, fell in love and they lived happily ever after. King David is said to be descended from them.

The settlers of Carmel, observant Jews sitting in Judea, no doubt read the story today. They also spend – as is the custom – all night in Tikkun studying and discussing the ancient scriptures and their moral lessons.

All the while, they are willfully blind to the plain fact that they are playing a lead role in a twisted parody on the story of Ruth. Like Ruth, Mohammed and his fellow villagers are Gaerim – non-Jews in a territory controlled by Jews. Unlike Ruth, the villagers have lived there long before the Jews came. Like Boaz, the settlers are wealthy. However, unlike him their wealth has no legitimacy save in their own blinded eyes. The government robbed the land from the locals, handed it over to them – and they, supposedly moral and observant, couldn’t care less. They believe in a different law for Jews and for non-Jews, rather than in treating Gaerim with justice.

Finally, unlike Boaz who opened his heart to the foreign woman and went through all the legalistic moves, some of them unpleasant, in order to make her his lawful wife rather than exploit her as a mistress – the Carmel settlers manipulate and control a “law” enforcement apparatus, the “Civil Administration”, whose chief purpose is to keep non-Jews discriminated, humiliated and robbed of their rights and property. In short, the Book of Ruth is about individuals doing the right thing under difficult circumstances imposed on them. The settlers and the Israeli government, by contrast, impose themselves on the locals, and insist on continuing to do the wrong thing at every turn, as long as they can get away with it.

The settlers assauge their doubtlessly unclean conscience, by occasional acts of charity – all the while complaining about their neighbors’ unsanitary ways and low morals.

Happy Shavuot. Please help end this disgrace to Judaism and to Jews everywhere, before our lifetime is over.]

How readily do liberal US Democrats cite ‘demographic’ need for two-state solution

Jun 09, 2011

Philip Weiss

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, head of the Democratic National Committee, in the Sun Sentinel:

Now more than ever, Israel needs America’s unwavering support as it faces an unavoidable demographic reality. Between the rapidly growing Palestinian population, the uncertainty of the changes sweeping the Middle East and North Africa, and the intention of the Palestinians to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state at the United Nations this fall with international pressure to validate this unacceptable action, this is a watershed moment for Israel.

Robert Wexler also in the Sun Sentinel deplores the Palestinian statehood initiativeandechoes Obama on “demographic realities” (maybe gerrymandering Palestinians into a Palestinian state, not clear):

Since a large proportion of the Israeli settlers live in areas adjacent to and contiguous with the 1967 lines, there are multiple border scenarios that would allow Israel to annex the vast majority of the 500,000 Israelis living beyond the 1967 lines. Thus, land swaps along the 1967 lines “allow the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years, including the new demographic realities on the ground and the needs of both sides,” President Obama reiterated at AIPAC.

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