Mondoweiss Online Newsletter



Same day as Bahraini blogger’s brave appearance at Netroots, State Department shifts its line

Jun 20, 2011

Philip Weiss

Mother Jones reported on Friday:

Since the onset of anti-government protests in Bahrain, the US has refrained from taking substantial steps to pressure the Bahraini government to stop its crackdown on protesters. That changed yesterday during a speech to the UN Human Rights Council, when Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, US ambassador to the UNHRC, included Bahrain on the list of human rights offenders in need of the Council’s attention. Some of the other countries on the list: Iran, Burma, North Korea, and Zimbabwe. Donahoe told the UNHRC that Bahrain “has arbitrarily detained medical workers and others perceived as opponents.” She ended her comments on Bahrain by saying that the country must “follow through on its commitment to ensuring that those responsible for human rights abuses are held accountable.”

Let’s be clear about the sequence here. On Thursday at Netroots, Ali Gharib at Think Progressdid a great piece calling out the State Department on its hypocrisy re Bahrain, reporting on Lamees Dhaif’s smashing appearance that morning at Netroots–a Bahraini blogger who is here as a guest of the State Department and who savaged Hillary Clinton for her hypocrisy. Oh, yeah, and I did a post on Dhaif the same day. Gharib and I reported Dhaif’s assertion that the State Department knew all the details of the treatment of writers and doctors but was saying nothing.

And that day the State Department finally said something….

Let’s also be clear that Lamees Dhaif fears for her family. Her sister spent 50 days in prison in Bahrain because of Dhaif’s brave writing. Now it looks like the State Department is signalling: We support this blogger.

Thanks to Steve Horn for making the connection!

Update: An earlier version of this post mistakenly stated that the State Department statement followed Dhaif’s appearance by a day. They were the same day. But Horn notes that the State Department had to know Dhaif was going public. She’s State’s guest.

On World Refugee Day 2011: Put Palestinian refugees back on the agenda

Jun 20, 2011

Badil Resource Center

The following statement was issued by the Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights:

Palestinian refugees, constituting the largest and longest-standing refugee community in the world, continue to be sidelined and neglected by nearly all parties mandated to search for just and durable solutions to their displacement. On the occasion of World Refugee Day 2011, BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights calls on the international community to promote and protect the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination, national independence, sovereignty and return to the homes and properties from which they have been forcibly displaced.

Seven out of every ten Palestinians are persons displaced at some point during the past 63 years as a result of Israel’s ongoing policy of forced population transfer. Of these refugees, the majority are not protected by the UNHCR (the organizer of World Refugee Day) and have had the body responsible for providing them with protection, the UN Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP) largely de-funded and de-activated. As such, most Palestinian refugees are left without an effective agency to provide for protection and promotion of their rights and are only afforded humanitarian assistance by UNRWA.

Meanwhile, in the official discourse, refugees remain nowhere to be seen as politicians instead focus on resuscitating the ‘peace process’ or on declaring Palestinian statehood; two strategies which remain ambiguous on the future of Palestinian refugees. The latest plan by Obama to move the peace process forward on the basis of “territory and security” repeats the mistakes of previous negotiation processes by ignoring international law and continuing to insist that Palestinian refugees should wait indefinitely to return home.

In response to this continued neglect, Palestinian refugees and IDPs have taken it upon themselves to force the international community to recognize their rights and place them at the center of the region’s political agenda. On May the 15th 2011 (Nakba Day) thousands of Palestinian refugees, continued the long tradition of struggle in the face of international apathy and complicity by marching to the borders of their homeland and attempting to return home; an action met with deadly fire by the Israeli army. The subsequent return of Palestinians to the border on June the 5th showed that despite the brutal use of force by Israel, in the new Middle East, the legitimate rights of the people of the region can no longer be suppressed.

The deep respect in international law for the right of return and the insistence of refugees themselves on their rights highlights that there is no solution to the ongoing colonial conflict in Palestine which does not address the rights of Palestinian refugees to return, restitution and compensation. Any declaration of statehood is incomplete if it does not explicitly insist upon the rights of Palestinian refugees and actively work for their realization. A ‘peace process’ which delays refugee rights and does not reference international law, such as suggested in Obama’s recent speech, is destined to go the way of the numerous other initiatives which have lead to 20 years of failed negotiations, a failure which further amplifies the need for a principled rights-based strategy including Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law.

As part of ongoing efforts to promote refugee rights, BADIL Resource Center is pleased to launch the following Q and A on Palestinian refugee rights which addresses frequently asked questions about Palestinian refugees and IDPs.


Israeli Cabinet strips Barak of ability to stop settlements– opening floodgates?

Jun 20, 2011

Philip Weiss

“Opening the floodgates?” is Lara Friedman of Peace Now’s line re the decision by the Israeli cabinet yesterday.  Here is an account of the cabinet meeting:

Sunday, June 19, 2011 Cabinet Communique: Consent of DM [Defense Minister] not required for activities of Rural Settlement Division

[Dr. Aaron Lerner – IMRA [Independent Media Review Analysis]: Until the cabinet decision today, DM [Ehud] Barak was effectively stopping almost new activity of the Rural Settlement Division in Judea and Samaria. The decision today strips him of his veto power in this matter.]…

In continuation of its 22.7.07 and 19.7.09 decisions, and pursuant to Article 31d of Basic Law: The Government, the Cabinet decided to transfer responsibility for the World Zionist Organization Rural Settlement Division from the agriculture and Rural Development Ministry to the Prime Minister’s Office. This decision will be submitted for Knesset approval.

[AL: from the Hebrew explanation: “in Section D government resolution No. 601, the words “will be brought for pre-approval of the Defense Minister and if necessary the approval of the Prime Minister” shall be deleted and replaced with: “shall be made in coordination with the Defense Minister. That is to say that coordination does not require consent.”

Thanks to Ali Gharib.

Rafah chaos escalates as Gazans continue to wait for the border to open

Jun 20, 2011

Ruqaya Izzidien

Waiting at Rafah. (All Photos: Ruqaya Izzidien)

Arms grappled through the black metal barrier that separates Palestinians from the Rafah terminal. A barrier which only ever shifts to let through ambulances, press and- very occasionally- a busload of travellers, successfully making it out of Gaza.

Elderly ladies wait for hours brandishing their passports through the bars. Welcome to the new, improved, siege-free Gaza.

When the gate opens, it traps those loitering beside it between its two frames, and people hurriedly look for a gap in the guards’ attention through which they could make a break for it.  Those who found a seemingly unguarded exit route where manhandled back behind the fence.

Currently officials at the Rafah border are working their way through an ever-growing backlog of registered travellers. Until the quota of up to 400 travellers per day is lifted, the mayhem at Rafah will only intensify. “I know today is the 18th June,” a guard announced over a loudspeaker, “but today only people registered to cross between 6 and 10 of June will be crossing.”

When the border closed at around 2pm that day, it came with another announcement via loudspeaker, “this isn’t from us; it’s because of Egypt.”

When the Rafah ‘reopening’ was first announced in April, Gazans were promised a border that would permit women, children and the elderly to travel freely, as well as men who had registered to in advance.  Currently none of this is true.

Qasem and Qayis Farah.

Qasem and Qayis Farah are two British-Palestinian children who are have been trying, with their mother, Wesam, to get home to Sheffield in the UK. I first met them on June 16.

“We are trying to get out of this terrible place” eight-year-old Qasem explained.  Every time the family was given a window in which to cross, it was retracted. Qasem added, “I miss my dad, I miss all my friends, I miss my best friend, I miss my house, I miss my home; home sweet home.”

The Farah family made it through the Rafah barrier but after waiting for six hours, they were returned to Gaza. They were back at the Rafah crossing when it reopened on 18 June, determined to cross once more.

“When we finally got through last time,” Qasem said, “they just took us back and we had to go through the border again. They just surrounded us and every time we wanted to get through the guards would tell us that your passport is not in, you’ve not got any permission to come through.”

rafah2The line at the Rafah crossing.

This experience is typical for Gazans wanting to cross into Egypt. Shahd Abusalama has a summer leadership programme scholarship in the University of Delaware, USA. She was registered to cross the border on June 18, five days before her flight out of Cairo.

“I feel so worried, I’ve been working hard to get this scholarship and everything depends on the border. I can’t leave and move freely, it’s really hard. After the Egyptians said that Rafah border is going to be open permanently, we had lots of hope that we would be able to leave freely and have no more difficulties but everything was an illusion. The reality is far different to what the media and leaders say, the reality is that sometimes the border is open, sometimes it is closed, and sometimes not all buses are allowed to enter. I’ve heard of people who come to the border every day for a whole week in order to enter. It’s like a torment. It makes me feel like I’m less than human.”

But inhumane border regulations are just part of the humiliation that Gazans face at the border. Before being allowed to enter the Gazan Rafah terminal, they must wait in a metal shed, filled with plastic chairs and toilets which are so smutty-looking that they make you want to wash your eyes for just looking at them. A Gazan must stay seated:

“Sit in your chairs and an explanation will be given to you,” the loudspeaker rang out. A Gazan cannot challenge the guards without being escorted from the building. It was like being transported into George Orwell’s mind; people are crammed into an eerie shed which still bears bullet holes I could fit my fist through as the Rafah sub-culture takes hold of everyone by the wrist.

“If you want to get out, sit down in your chairs” the loudspeaker dictated again. Shahd Abusalama’s father looked at me, “This is the system; this is their system.”

Qasem Farah recalled, “We had to stay sitting down because if we didn’t, they would take us back to the border. I don’t think we need permission, we just came in to see our family.”

Border control forces are overwhelmed by the numbers crossing and while the travellers quota remains (currently permitting between 300 and 400 out of Gaza per day), the situation will only escalate as Palestinian authorities attempt to work their way through the ever-increasing backlog of registered travellers.

Shahd Abusalama was sent back from the border, twice, like hundreds of other Palestinians. She is still trying to make it out in time for her scholarship.


Ruqaya Izzidien is a British journalist and cartoonist based in Gaza.

Britain’s denial of democracy and the ethnic cleansing of Palestine

Jun 20, 2011

Nu’man Abd al-Wahid

“The British government have promised that what is called the Zionist movement shall have a fair chance in this country, and the British Government will do what is necessary to secure that fair chance…We cannot tolerate the expropriation of one set of people by another or the violent trampling down of one set of national ideals for the sake of erecting another…”

Winston S. Churchill to an Arab delegation, 30 March 1921.[1]

“I do not admit that the dog in the manger has the final right to the manger, even though he may have lain there for a very long time…I do not admit, for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America, or the black people of Australia…I do not think the Red Indians had any right to say, ‘The American Continent belongs to us and we are not going to have any of these European settlers coming in here’. They had not the right, nor had they the power.”
Winston S. Churchill to the Peel Commission on Palestine, 12th March 1937.[2]

By the end of the official British presence in Palestine in mid May 1948, four hundred thousand Palestinian Arabs had been expelled, directly and indirectly from the country and 225 villages, towns and centres had more or less been ethnically cleansed of their indigenous inhabitants. Most of the villages were reduced to rubble by the Zionist forces, in order to prevent the Palestinians from ever returning.
The four hundred thousand that fled during the final six months of the Britain’s rule in Palestine made up half of the indigenous Palestinians that were eventually cleansed by the end of 1948.[3]
The question that inevitably needs to be asked is, what role Britain played in laying the foundations of what became known as the al-Nakba or the ethnic cleansing of Palestine?
The British Empire obtained eventual control of Palestine and other areas of Arabia by convincing Arabs to side with it, against the Ottoman Empire during World War One. The flags of self-determination and independence were waved by Blighty and proved partly enough to entice Arabs in Palestine and elsewhere to enter an agreement.
Imperial Britain’s agreement with the Arabs are contained in what are known as the Hussain-McMahon letters. So named after the Sharif Hussain bin Ali leader of the Hijaz region of the Arabian Peninsula and Henry McMahon, the British High Commissioner in Cairo.[4]
Unbeknown to the Arab leadership, Britain made two simultaneous commitments during this period. One was an agreement with the French, known as Sykes-Picot, to carve up the Arab territories under Ottoman Empire. Named after the British official Mark Sykes and the French diplomat, Francois Georges-Picot. The other is the Balfour Declaration issued from London. This declaration committed the British government to,

“…view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object…”[5]

Below, I argue that the denial of representative government and democracy to the Arab Palestinians was the founding facilitation of British rule in Palestine and subsequently one of the key building blocs in the creation of Israel and the eventual ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
What became known as Palestine and is now known as Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, that is the territory west of the river Jordan, had a population of over 90 percent Arab and about 8 percent at the time of Britain’s entry into the region.
The Arabs formed an overwhelming majority. Naturally any nation or people would have opposed the colonisation of their country by foreign settlers with a view to establish a national home therein. Representative government in Palestine was a threat to the British-Zionist project and as such needed to be forestalled.
David Lloyd George, the then British Prime Minister in a meeting with Chaim Weizmann, leader of the Zionist movement in the UK and Lord Balfour, British Foreign Secretary, instructed Winston Churchill, the Colonial Secretary of the period that “he mustn’t give representative Government to Palestine.”[6]
In this same meeting both Balfour and Lloyd George confined and confirmed to Weizmann that by Jewish National Home they actually “meant an eventual Jewish State.”[7]
Lord Balfour confirmed that the denial of representative government and democracy was British policy, “..In Palestine, we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country…” because Zionism, “be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who know inhabit that ancient land.”[8]
The denial of democracy was not only agreed to by the British political right wing but was also very much supported by the British Labour left wing.
Ramsay MacDonald, the future leader of the Labour Party and the first ever Prime Minister of a Labour Government wrote that Palestinian demands for self-determination were deprived of “complete validity” because the biblical stories he was reared on as a child rendered that, “Palestine and the Jew can never be separated.”[9] Furthermore, Palestinian Arabs were incapable of developing the resources of their country and as such there is an “alluring call”[10] for “hundreds of thousands of Jews” [11] to colonise Palestine under a British mandate which sanctimoniously but verily deny representative government to the indigenous Palestinians. Colonel Josiah Wedgwood, a prominent Labour (and former Liberal) politician in the inter-war period agreed to democracy in Palestine but not until the “Jews are in a majority”[12] and once the “higher civilisation” of immigrant Jewish settlers “is numerous and wise enough to make democracy safe for all” they would then be able to “range up beside the other self-governing dominions”[13] of the British empire.
In effect, the founding strategy of Zionism in Palestine was the cross-party, British denial of representative government and democracy to the indigenous Arab population.
With this cross-party founding strategy in place, both Conservative and Labour politicians justified Britain’s Zionist project in respect to their own ideologies. The Conservatives proffered right-wing reasons for supporting Zionism and Labour, left-wing reasons.
Firstly, for the British right-wing, Zionist colonialism represented an opportunity to also solve a domestic political consideration. Namely, Jewish immigrants or refugees fleeing anti-semitic pograms in eastern Europe. Rather than they fleeing to the West, they could go to Palestine. As Harry Defries has shown in his book on the Conservative Party attitude to Jews, “support for a territorial solution for the Jews be it in Palestine or elsewhere, was to find favour with many…who opposed Jewish immigration into Britain.”[14] In an earlier period, Joseph Chamberlain, who claimed that he only despised one race, that is the Jews, [15] had found himself agreeing with Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism, that the solution is “to find some country in this vast world of ours where these poor exiles can dwell in safety without interfering with the subsistence of others.”[16]
Another justification the Zionist initiative was supported amongst the right-wing was to pre-empt Jews from joining revolutionary socialist or communist organisations. As Churchill wrote in his essay, “Zionism vs Bolshevism”, after strongly implying that Jews were responsible for the French and Russian revolutions, it would therefore be “important to foster and develop any strongly-marked Jewish movement which leads directly away from these fatal associations. And it is here that Zionism has such a deep significance…” As such, once “millions” of Jews have migrated to Palestine they “would be especially in harmony with the truest interests of the British Empire.” i.e. the Suez Canal and Britain’s oil interests of the Persian Gulf. [17]
The harmony and security of the British Empire also featured in left-wing justifications for British engineered, Zionist colonialism. Colonel Wedgwood in his Zionist tract, “The Seventh Dominion”, wrote that Palestine was geographically the “Clapham Junction” of the British Empire.  As such a “friendly and efficient population” is required to settle there. The criteria of the new settlers in Palestine are “men on whom we can depend, if only because they depend on us…The Jews depend on us.”[18]
The Wilsonian notion of self-determination was also utilised by the British left-wing to justify Britain’s Zionist project. Woodrow Wilson, the American president had arrived at the Peace Conference in 1919 brandishing his idealistic strategy with a view to prevent future conflict and establish peace.[19] The argument had a short shelf life as firstly there were simply not enough Jews in Palestine to determine an independent state and therefore, secondly, even if there were, why should Jewish self-determination be given priority over Arab self-determination?[20] Partly, on this basis Labour politicians reverted to socio-cultural type and imperialist racial dehumanisation. H.N. Brailsford, a former Guardian journalist, seconded MacDonald’s opinion and justified Zionist colonialism on the basis that the Arabs were incapable of developing Palestine because they were “degenerate semi-savages” who had no right to “exclude millions” of settlers. [21]
From another angle left-wing justifications were utilised to misconstrue Arab opposition to the Balfour Declaration. Following the lead of Zionist labour propagandists, Colonel Wedgwood was at the forefront in arguing that Arab opposition was one based not on self-determination, but on economic class. The Zionist were raising the living standards of the indigenous population and the Arab elite in Palestine were opposed to this development. Wedgewood claimed that the Zionist were ‘teaching’ native Arabs how to claim for higher wages from their elite and this is why there was opposition to Britain’s Zionist project.[22]
In the Anglo-French carve up of the region, the Sykes-Picot agreement, Palestine covers a larger land mass than it does now. The original Palestine also covered the land mass east of the river Jordan, that is now known as Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
The idea to wrench this part of Palestine into a separate entity didn’t arise until the very early 1920’s. The most popular reason for its creation rotates around the shenanigans of Emir Abdullah, the son of the “duped” Sharif Husain.[23] The story has it that Abdullah was on his way to what is now known as Syria to liberate it from the French, after they had thrown out his brother Faysal as its ruler.
Therefore to forestall any dispute with its co-imperialist, the British eventually placated Abdullah by making him ruler, firstly on a six month probation and then permanently, of this geographical patch of Palestine, the area east of the river Jordan. It became known as Trans-Jordan. In the negotiations conducted with the head of the Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill in Jerusalem Abdullah, did ask whether:
“His Majesty’s Government mean to establish a Jewish kingdom west of the Jordan and to turn out the non-Jewish population?..that men could be cut down and transplanted in the same way as trees.”[24]
Churchill denied that this was to be the case. Indeed, he claimed that such assertions were “groundless apprehension among the Arabs in Palestine.”[25] Yet Alec Kirkbride who had served in Trans-Jordan in various capacities [26] since its concoction as well as being an “immense influence” [27] on Emir Abdulla strongly implies in his autobiography that there may already had been a sinister motive. He states that the country was created because the British had intended it:

“…to serve as a reserve of land for use in the resettlement of Arabs once the National Home for the Jews in Palestine…became an accomplished fact.” [28]

With the denial of representative democracy for the indigenous population firmly entrenched in British imperial governance, the total amount of European Jewish settlers in Palestine increased from 60,000 to 180,000 by the end of the 1920’s.
In August 1929, major disturbances took hold of Palestine which resulted in the deaths of 133 Jews and 116 Arabs. The British government’s then Colonial Secretary, Lord Passfield, launched a commission to investigate the causes of the disturbances. The Shaw report, so-called after Walter Shaw, reported back to parliament in March 1930.
The report partly concluded that the disturbances were not pre-meditated and furthermore that the indigenous Palestinians were fearful of their future. Land they had tilled for centuries was being sold by absentee landlords and they were being thrown off by the new Zionist landlords. The new landlords employed only Jewish labour, in accordance with Zionist principles and this had led to apprehension.
Assuredly, certain strategies remained the same. On the eve of the report’s publication Lord Passfield confessed to Weizmann that he opposed “a representative legislative council” because he “feared that such elected bodies might become focuses of legal resistance to the proclaimed policy of the Government and the obligations it had undertaken…”i.e. the Balfour Declaration and the commitment to Jewish immigration. [29]
On the back of this report, the government appointed John Hope Simpson to mainly look into how settlement issues in Palestine could be ameliorated.
While Hope-Simpson was conducting his survey in Palestine, Zionist representatives in London met with the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Colonies, Dr. Drummond Shiels. Shiels informed the Zionists that Hope-Simpson’s mission was “to examine the possibilities for settlement of Arab fellaheen (i.e. peasants) in Transjordan and Jews in Western Palestine.” [30]
The Shaw Commission’s report and the Hope-Simpson report remained loyal to British Zionism’s gradualist approach in establishing a Jewish majority. This gradualism occasionally came into conflict with the flamboyant Zionism of the representatives of the European settler Jews, who wanted more mass immigration into Palestine. What united British governors and Jewish Zionist was their agreement to deny representative government to the indigenous Palestinians. [31]
Both of these reports formed the basis of the proposed governmental policy known as the Passfield White Paper of October 1930 which aimed to ostensibly restrict Jewish immigration. Others have had a more cynical interpretation of the reports. The author and son of Mark Sykes, Christopher Sykes, claimed that these reports were a:

“…starting point of a certain rhythm to be noticed from then on in the affairs of Palestine under the Mandate. A Royal Commission goes off to the troubled land; its recommendations lead to the sending of a subsidiary commission to make definitive proposals on how to put the recommendations into effect; the proposals conflict with too much of settled conviction and involve too much political risk to be acted on; both Commissions prove to have been a waste of talent and time. This frequent sending of abortive commissions to Palestine was part of that belief which continues at the present time, namely that if one can only get a clear statement of any problem, its solution must likewise become clear. The belief appears to be true of only a few areas of experience and was never to be true of Palestine.” [32]

Indeed, the White Paper was “aborted” in Parliament by Ramsay MacDonald on 13th February 1931. MacDonald read a letter which in effect abrogated the reports and continued to commit the British government to the Balfour Declaration and implicitly the denial of representative government to Palestine.
A Zionist historian has argued that it was this repudiation of the reports in this letter which heralded the mass immigration of the early 1930’s. Between 1931 and 1935, Jewish immigration more than doubled to 400,000. [33] Needless to say the horrific growth of anti-semitism in Europe played no small part in Jews fleeing their homes and seeking salvation in either Palestine or elsewhere.
The intensification of British engineered Zionist colonial immigration coupled with denial of representative government led to the three year Palestinian Arab Revolt which began in April 1936.
Amidst the revolt, Britain launched a Royal Commission enquiry. Yet the Colonial Secretary in this period, William Ormsby-Gore, knew all too well what was at root of the latest disturbances. In June 1936, he stated in parliament that:

“…The Arabs demand a complete stoppage of all Jewish immigration, a complete stoppage of all sales of land, and the transfer of the Government of Palestine…to what they call a National Government responsible to an elected democratic assembly. Those are their three demands, and quite frankly, those demands cannot possibly be conceded.” [34]

The Royal Commission was appointed on the 29th July 1936 and was headed by Lord Peel and included five other emissaries, including Professor Reginal Coupland. This Commission is more commonly known as the Peel Report on Palestine and it reported back to parliament on the 7th July 1937.
The commission interviewed 66 witnesses and although Arabs did initially boycott the process, by the time they decided to co-operate, it may have been too late. On the eve of the Commission meeting its first Arab witness for the report, Coupland informed Weizmann that partition and the establishment of a Jewish state would inevitably be recommended. [35]
It just maybe a case of extreme coincidence that the reports recommendations dovetailed with British intentions, as expressed in private by Lloyd-George and Balfour almost 20 years previous, in creating a Jewish state.
Along with partition the commission also recommended population transfer between Britain’s Zionist colonisers and the indigenous population. The report acknowledged that the Palestinians will need to bear the brunt of the population transfer and it also recognised that there are not enough areas for them to be transferred to within Palestine. As the report states:
“It is the far greater number of Arabs who constitute the major problem; and while some of them could be re-settled on the land vacated by the Jews, far more land would be required for the re-settlement of all of them.” [36]
Therefore, as Alec Kirkbride informed us in his biography and as Emir Abdulla had originally feared:

“…the execution of large-scale plans for irrigation, water-storage, and development in Trans-Jordan…would make provision for a much larger population than exists there at the present time.” [37]

The report also deceptively charged that the uprising was due to “present antagonism between the races.” That is, the uprising arose from racial conflict and not because Britain continuously denied representative democracy to Palestinians so as to guarantee Zionist immigration and colonisation of Palestine.
In conclusion, the report envisioned that partition and population transfer could be achieved in “less than three years.” [38]
Just after the publication of the report, Weizmann offered Ormsby-Gore, Zionist assistance in transferring the Palestinains of the Galilee to Trans-Jordan. [39]
The report’s findings heralded not only an intensification of the revolt, but also an intensification of British counter-insurgency operations. As such, it was largely in this period that the “best endeavours” aspect of the Balfour Declaration manifested itself into naked British Imperialist power.
Dr. Laleh Khallili has written how in this period Palestine became a “hub” for British counter-insurgency methods.[40] These methods were imported from its other colonies such as South Africa or Peshawar, India and then utilised and “consolidated” in Palestine, with the results later to be used in Kenya, Malaya or Oman in the post Word War 2 period. Blockhouses, barriers and fences were used to limit or contain population movement. Barbed wire was purchased by Zionist settlers from Mussolini’s Italy for the fences.
Dobermans from South Africa were imported into Palestine to intimidate Palestinians; the use of human shields which was used in Peshawar, India was incorporated by the British in Palestine. More often than not, when an operation was finished the British patrol in the vehicle would sharply break, for the Arab to fall off the bonnet and then be deliberately run over. [41]
British officers destroyed, vandalised and looted villages. [42] At times, burning the villages and making a mockery of their hoarded food stuffs. [43]  Waterboarding, [44] blowing up a bus full of Arab detainees in a collective punishment reprisal [45] and extrajudicial killings [46] and of course that Balfourian “best endeavour” of them all, robbing children of their pocket money [47] were all methods utilised to crush the revolt. However,

“…the most significant legacy of British counterinsurgency in the Arab Revolt was the training of men who were to become the founding fathers and highest ranking officers of the Israeli military…” [48]

As such it is difficult not to notice the strong, if not overbearing, similarities between the practises of the Zionist forces in 1947-48 and the British counter-insurgency operations during the Arab revolt of the late 1930’s. Some of these practises continue to this day in occupied Palestine. [49]
The revolt was finally crushed in 1939. According to Ghassan Kanafani, the deaths and causalities inflicted on the Palestinians in this period would have been proportionally equivalent to 200,000 Britons killed, 600,000 wounded and 1,224,000 arrested. [50] In other words Palestinian society was politically and militarily decimated.
In the same year, Britain revoked the Peel report as well another subsidiary report with the 1939 White Paper. Christopher Sykes argued that this was done largely to placate the Arab populations of the Middle East because,

“The concern of the Arabic-speaking world with Palestine was not a chimera imagined by orientalists and Arabophils. It was a real fact and an extremely dangerous one.” [51]

with a view to keeping Arabs on side in Imperial Britain’s war with Nazi Germany:

“…the White Paper…did succeed, very imperfectly but in the main, in its primary object. It cut the ground away from extremist agitators. Slowly rebellion died away in Palestine, and throughout the war years there was no formidable Arab rising against the British in the country.” [52]

Once the war was over, and Britain handed over the Mandate to the United Nations, it is no surprise that although it abstained, it insisted on the four commonwealth countries to vote for the partition resolution in November 1947. [53]
The resolution heralded a new chapter in Palestinian history. With the indigenous Palestinians still reeling from British violence and brutality of the late 1930’s, Kanafani argued that the ensuing ‘civil war’ in 1947-48 was merely a belated cleaning up operation by the British trained Zionist forces. He states the Zionists were plucking “the fruits of the defeat of the 1936 revolt which the outbreak of the war had prevented it from doing sooner.” [54]
Can one really be surprised that Britain failed to keep law and order between November 1947 and the official end of the Mandate in May 1948 when half of the actual ethnic cleansing of Palestine took place?
Sixty years later, Lord Balfour’s distant successor, the British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, addressed the Labour Party’s Friends of Israel, Annual Lunch and endorsed the conclusions of the Peel Report. He claimed the then vision to partition Palestine was “good”. [55]
Naturally, he failed to mention that this “good” vision was and is firmly rooted in Britain’s brutal denial of democracy to the indigenous Arab population with a view to establish a Jewish majority in Palestine.
The utilisation of European Jewish suffering in the first half of the twentieth century in arguments to impose Zionist-Jewish immigration and colonialism on Palestine, are if not disingenuous, then certainly incorrect. The British project to colonise Palestine with Zionist Jews predates the intensification of Jewish persecution, the kristallnacht and the Nazi holocaust.
What mattered to Imperial Britain was the supposed security of the Suez Canal and it wanted to plant, what it thought would be a reliable population in Palestine with a view to secure it. As the political academic (whose family were early settlers in Palestine), Mayer Verete argued:

“…the British wanted Palestine – and very much so – for their own interests, and it was not the Zionists who drew them to the country…had there been no Zionists in those days the British would have had to invent them.” [56]

Indeed, from the early 1940’s onwards Britain began floating the idea of Jewish-Zionist colonisation of what is now eastern North Africa and specifically Libya, which according to Churchill would be “linked (if they so chose) with a Jewish home in Palestine.” [57] European Zionists did not seem to be as enthusiastic as British imperialists with this idea. [58]
In conclusion, the “only democracy in the Middle East” as Israel’s supporters fondly refer to the British engineered colonial entity, is founded not only on ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian population but also on Imperial Britain’s denial of democracy to the Palestinians during the mandate period.
Nu’man Abd al-Wahid is a UK-based freelance Anglo-Yemeni writer specialising in the political relationship between the British state and the Arab World.
1. PRO FO 371/6343.
2. Quoted in Angela Clifford, “Serfdom or Ethnic Cleansing? – A British Discussion on Palestine – Churchill’s Evidence to the Peel Commission (1937), Athol Books, Belfast and London, 2003, pg. 34
3. For an account of the ethnic cleansing that took place under the British Mandate see, Rosemarie M. Esber, “Under the Cover of War”, Aribicus Books and Media, Alexandria (V.A), 2009. For an account of the entire ethnic cleansing see Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Oneworld Publications, Oxford, 2007.
4. George Antonious, The Arab Awakening, Simon Publications, Florida (2001) Appendix A and D.
5. Christopher Sykes, “Cross Roads to Israel”, Collins, London, 1965, pg. 15
6. Randolph Churchill, “Winston S. Churchill – Companion Volume 4, Part 3”, Heinemann, London, 1977, pg.1559.
7. ibid. Meeting took place in July 1921.
8. Quoted in Sykes, op. cit. pg.17
9. Ramsay MacDonald, “A Socialist in Palestine”, Jewish Socialist Labour Confederation – Poale Zion, 1922, pg.18
10. Ibid. pg.17 1
1. ibid. pg.19
12. Josiah Wedgwood, “The Seventh Dominion”, The Labour Publishing Company Limited, London, 1928, pg. 4
13. Ibid. pg. 33
14. Harry Defries, Conservative Party Attitudes to Jews, Frank Cass, London, 2001, pg. 32.
15. ibid. pg. 24
16. ibid pg. 45
17. Winston Churchill, “Zionism vs. Bolshevism”, Illustrated Sunday Herald, (London), 8th February 1920. (accessed 14th June 2011).
18. Wedgewood. op cit. pg3
19. Margaret Macmillan, The Peacemakers, John Murray, London, 2003, pg.19-21.
20. Paul Kelemen, “Zionism and the British Labour Party: 1917-1939”, Social History, Vol. 21, No.1, January 1996, pg73
21. ibid.
22. Commons Debates, Fifth Series, Vol. 143, Column 307, 14th June 1921
23. T.E.Lawrence (“of Arabia”) quoted in Ma’an Abu Nowar, “The History of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan: Vol. 1”, Icatha Press, Oxford, 1989 pg.10
24. CAB 24/126
25. ibid.
26. Abu Nowar, op cit, pg.25, pg.31, pg.172 and pg.195
27. Ilan Pappe, Britain and the Middle East Conflict 1948-1951, MacMillan Press, London, 1988, pg.xiii.
28. A.S.Kirkbride, A Crackle of Thorns, John Murray, London, 1956, g. 19.
29. Joseph Gorney, The British Labour Movement and Zionism, Frank Cass and Company Limited, London, 1983, pg.69.
30. ibid. pg. 72
31. ibid. pg. 72-75
32. Sykes, op. cit. pg.144
33. Gorny, op. cit. pg.103-104.
34. Commons Debates, Fifth Series, Vol. 313, Column 1324, 19th June 1936.
35. Sykes, op. cit. pg 192 and pg. 198-203.
36. Report of the Palestine Royal Commission, Cmd. 5479 (London, 1937), pg. 391.
37. ibid.
38. ibid.,pg.395.
39. Philip Mattar, The Mufti of Jerusalem: Al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni and the Palestinain National Movement, Columbia University Press, New York, 1988, pg.81.
40. Laleh Khalili, The Location of Palestine in Global Counterinsurgencies, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 42, Issue 3(2010), pg 413-433.
41. Matthew Hughes, The Banality of Brutality: British Armed Forces and the Repression of the Arab Revolt in Palestine, 1936-1939, English Historical Review, 124 (2009), pg. 329
42. ibid. pg.320-322
43. ibid. pg.338-339
44. ibid. pg.331
45. ibid. pg.337
46. ibid. pg.347
47. ibid. pg.328
48. Khalili, op. cit, pg. 418.
49. ibid. For example Khalili draws attention to the destruction of old city of Jaffa by the British in the 1930’s and recent Israeli practices in the ‘West Bank’ of Palestine, specifically, Jenin.
50. Ghassan Kanafani, ‘The 1936 – 39 Revolt in Palestine’, Tricontinental Society, London, 1980, pg27. (accessed 14th June 2011).
51. Sykes, op. cit, pg.238
52. ibid pg.239.
53. Professor Walid Khalidi, “From 1947 to 1897: From Partition to Basle”, Palestine Conference: The Nakba: Sixty Years of Dispossession, Sixty Years of Resistance, London School of Oriental and African Studies, 21st February, 2009. The author was present. Indeed, the first time I heard, in a blunt manner, that Israel was based on the denial of Paestinian democracy was here.
54. Kanafani, op. cit, pg. 30.
55. David Miliband, “Prospects in the Middle East”, Annual Lunch of Labour Friends of Israel, London, 4th November 2008. (accessed 13th June 2011).
56. Mayir Verete,“From Palmerston to Balfour: Collected Essays of Mayir Verete”,London, Frank Cass, 1992, pg.3-4
57. Gorney, op. cit. pg. 175. British Labour Party support for “throwing open Libya…to Jewish settlement” (Hugh Dalton, British Chancellor 1945-47) see John Callaghan, ‘The Labour Party and Foreign Policy: A history’ Routledge, London, 2007, pg. 158.
58. For a British discussion of this initiative see, W. R. Louis, Imperialism at Bay, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1977, pg.58-62

Identity booster & the ideology machine – Behind the scenes of Birthright Israel

Jun 20, 2011

Kiera Feldman

Editor’s note: Kiera Feldman has an important article in the current issue of The Nation pulling back the curtain on Birthright Israel – the all expenses-paid trips to Israel for 18-26 year old North American Jews. It discusses the history, ideology and goals of the program which until now has received barely any critical attention in the mainstream press. Below is a slightly expanded version of a passage from the piece that describes one of the key parts of the trip – the mifgash (or encounter) between the young Jews participants and Israeli soldiers:

Birthright co-founder Charles Bronfman, the billionaire heir to the Canadian Seagram’s liquor empire, began directing his philanthropic dollars to teen Israel trips in the late 1980s. “To me, in order to be a complete Jew, one must have an emotional and physical attachment to Israel,” Bronfman says. But he was bothered that the kids on those early trips weren’t bonding with their Israeli peers. Bronfman’s answer: developing the mifgash—the encounter—between Jewish Israeli teens and their diaspora counterparts. This made the tour bus less of “an isolated bubble,” according to Elan Ezrachi, the Israeli educator who developed the mifgash on Bronfman’s dime. Birthright adapted the mifgash by way of IDF soldiers. These encounters between American youth and youthful Israeli soldiers “move very fast to what we call ‘hormonal mifgashim,’” Ezrachi told me. “Things happen.”
Soldiers meet Birthrighters in full uniform, spend the remainder of the mifgash in civilian clothing and then dress back in uniform for the encounter’s final day: the Holocaust Museum followed by a visit to the graves of Theodor Herzl and fallen soldiers. Lynn Schusterman, a Birthright funder and board member, told me the bonds formed during the mifgash help participants gain an understanding of soldiers’ “moral and ethical standards.” After the 2006 Lebanon war, Brandeis researchers found that Birthright alumni were more likely than other young American Jews to view Israel’s military conduct as justified.

The originator of the Birthright idea was Yossi Beilin, a Labor Party stalwart and an instrumental figure in the Oslo Accords. Widely considered an archliberal and reviled by Israel’s right, Beilin is an unlikely figure to boast the moniker “godfather of Birthright.” In a recent phone interview, Beilin compared his worries about intermarriage and Jewish identity to “the personal feeling of an old man who wants to see that his family is still around.” Among Beilin’s top goals for Birthright: “to create a situation whereby spouses are available.” An ardent Zionist and longtime friend of Bronfman, Beilin unsuccessfully pitched Birthright to him and co-founder Michael Steinhardt in the mid-1990s.
Eventually, Barry Chazan writes in 10 Days of Birthright Israel, Steinhardt saw Birthright’s potential to “plug the dam of assimilation,” and Steinhardt got Bronfman on board. “The people we wanted were those who were not committed,” Bronfman says. “The only thing that would get them to Israel is a free trip.”

The common denominator of the Birthright experience is the promotion—by turns winking and overt—of flings between participants and the IDF soldiers who accompany them. “No problem if there’s intimate encounters between participants,” an Israel Outdoors employee told American staffers during training. “In fact, it’s encouraged!” Between 1999 and 2009, one popular tour provider, Momo Lifshitz, instructed 50,000 Birthrighters to see the sights, be afraid of the Arabs, and “make Jewish babies.” When co-founder Michael Steinhardt visits Birthright groups to play matchmaker, he asks participants, “How many of you want to be fixed up?” Birthright boasts alumni are 51 percent more likely to marry other Jews than non-participants.

“The bus is a love incubator,” Elissa Strauss writes in What We Brought Back, a glowing essay collection from Birthright’s alumni program. “It works.” Strauss’s entry is written with her husband, whom she met, naturally, on Birthright. Many groups pass a night in a fake Bedouin tent, where participants sleep crowded together, a setup conducive to first kisses.
Early Zionism, too, was marked by alarm over intermarriage and demographic decline. Zionists saw the answer in the creation of a “new Jew,” a virile conqueror and tiller of the land who would channel sexual energy into nation-building. Today, the goal is a new diaspora Jew who channels that energy into Zionist activism.

In November, Jewish Voice for Peace created a satirical website, “Birthright For Us All,” which criticized Birthright’s fear of “miscegenation.” Promising to “bear witness to the occupation,” the fake trip was advertised for Jews and Palestinians. Barry Chazan, the architect of Birthright’s curriculum, told me that such a mifgash would never happen on Birthright. “This is about a Jewish journey,” he said. One wonders where it will lead.

Read the entire article “The Romance of Birthright Israel” here.

Challenging Israeli apartheid, starting at Ben Gurion Airport

Jun 20, 2011

Laura Durkay

From July 8-16, I will join hundreds of internationals for a week of solidarity actions in coordination with 15 Palestinian civil resistance organizations in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.  To my knowledge, this will be the first attempt to bring such a large number of internationals—already over 500, according to organizers—to the West Bank and East Jerusalem in a coordinated manner.  While Freedom Flotilla 2, sailing in the coming days, rightly puts the spotlight on Israel’s cruel blockade of Gaza, we intend to show that Israeli repression in the rest of historic Palestine—the West Bank, Jerusalem, and what is now Israel—is no less important and is part of the same project of ethnic cleansing and colonization.

The opening act of our week of nonviolent resistance is, in my opinion, its most creative and daring component.  On a single day, July 8, hundreds of internationals and Palestinians living abroad will fly in to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport and perform one simple but radical action: refuse to lie about the fact that we are there to travel to the Occupied Territories and visit Palestinians.

Anyone who has traveled to Palestine knows the potential risks associated with this action.  Israel controls all entry points into Palestine, except for the Rafah crossing into Gaza, which is controlled by Egypt and has its own Kafkaesque challenges.  The Israeli government routinely denies entry to people it knows or simply suspects of being Palestine solidarity activists; journalists, academics and cultural workers sympathetic to the Palestinians; even people coming to do volunteer or charity work in the Occupied Territories.

This means that for years, the most common strategy among solidarity activists entering Palestine has been to keep your head down and lie about why you are there.

Plenty of us know the routine.  You say that you’re a tourist.  You play dumb about history and politics, and you never say you are going to visit Palestinians.  You don’t point out the fact that every person of color in your group just got picked out for questioning.  You submit calmly to interrogation and construct non-offensive half-truths, conveniently leaving out certain parts of your itinerary.  When they search your stuff, you nod and say you understand it’s for “security reasons.”  You swallow every rebellious instinct that brought you to Palestine in the first place and temporarily submit to a racist, invasive, intimidating security apparatus in the hope that they will deign to let you in to Palestine, and accept that this is the price to be paid for being able to do the work you want to do.

For the record, I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with this strategy.  In any given situation, the most useful way to interact with agents of the Israeli state is a tactical decision.  I understand there are many groups of people who do not have the luxury of pissing off Israeli security: people who depend on free movement in and out of Palestine for work, study, or to see family; those engaged in long-term projects in the region for whom maintaining access to the Occupied Territories is crucial; those engaged in critical media work that gets Palestine’s story out to the world; those who may be in a more vulnerable position for any number of reasons.

But at the same time, we should be clear that Israel’s border controls and repressive entry policies are part of the apartheid system—a big part.  Entry restrictions on solidarity activists, journalists, and NGO workers are a natural outgrowth of the restrictions that prevent a large percentage of the worldwide Palestinian population from returning to their own country and/or moving about freely within it.  They are a component of the elaborate matrix of borders, walls, checkpoints, permits, soldiers and secret police by which the Israeli government exerts a choke-hold on free movement and political activity throughout occupied Palestine.  They are part and parcel of the occupation machinery that seeks to isolate the Occupied Territories and make life there unbearable so that Palestinians will leave, and that frequently forces them out whether they want to go or not.  And like all other parts of the apartheid system, they deserve to be challenged.

This year’s Nakba and Naksa Day protests saw Israel besieged on every one of its garrisoned borders by unarmed Palestinians simply wanting to return home.  At the end of this month, Freedom Flotilla 2 will defy Israel’s punitive and illegal naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.  We see the July 8 fly-in as our contribution to the new movement that is chipping away at Fortress Israel.

Some fellow activists have raised the possibility that this action will result in nothing more than hundreds of us being summarily deported, and possibly banned from entering Palestine in the future.  It is entirely possible that this will happen, and anyone participating in this action should be aware of the risk.  It seems to me a very small risk to take in comparison to the crushing violence Palestinians have stood up to for over 60 years.  While this action is not for everyone, I believe the time is right for those in a position to expose and nonviolently resist Israel’s repressive entry policies to do so on a mass scale.

Just as no one thinks one flotilla (or two or three) is going to bring the siege of Gaza to an end, no one believes this one day of action will immediately alter the state of affairs at Ben Gurion Airport and the rest of Israel’s borders.  In the short term, it is possible that it may even make airport personnel more suspicious and aggressive.  That is how oppressors respond to acts of resistance.  They often become more aggressive before they are defeated, because they rightly sense that the momentum is on the side of justice.

July 8, and the week of solidarity it opens, is one step in the long process of taking down the apartheid system.  The Arab revolutions, the growing BDS movement, and Israel’s own increasingly hysterical reactions to nonviolent protest have radically accelerated the timeline of that process from what many of us believed possible only a few years ago.  Israeli apartheid’s days are numbered, and now is the moment to challenge it on every front.

Laura Durkay is a member of Siegebusters Working Group and the International Socialist Organization in New York City.  You can follow updates from the week of solidarity on her personal blog, Laura on the Left, and on Twitter at @lauradurkay.

Individuals interested in participating in the July 8-16 week of solidarity should email [email protected] or visit for more details.

Congressmen warn Obama of ‘revolution’ in Democratic Party as he becomes the LBJ of AfghanistanJun 20, 2011 09:15

21.June 2011

Philip Weiss

One of the highlights of the Netroots convention that ended yesterday was a panel on getting out of Afghanistan that included the threat by two House Democrats to work with antiwar Republicans to undermine the Obama war program in coming weeks.

Below I’m going to provide some of the back-and-forth from that panel to convey the intensity and eloquence of that leftwing criticism, at a time when the Congressmen said that the White House is reexamining its Afghan commitment. And if you don’t read everything in this dialogue– well, be sure to read General Paul Eaton’s Arlington Cemetery story 1/2 way down.

REP. JIM McGOVERN of Massachusetts: “We’re being called by the administration and being told about all these successes in Afghanistan. ‘We secured this village, this [other] one’… The question is, is any of this sustainable without a prolonged military presence? Everything we do requires us to be there forever… And I wouldn’t trust the government of Afghanistan to tell me the correct time, based on their record of corruption.”

STEVE CLEMONS of the New America Foundation, and leader of an Afghan Study Group, pointed out that we are spending nearly $120 billion a year in a country that has a GDP of $14 billion. Couldn’t that money be better spent than on military actions? Clemons named Republicans who are making hay by questioning Afghanistan, including Michelle Bachmann, Michael Steele, Ann Coulter, Bing West (a former Reagan Defense official), Grover Norquist, and likely presidential candidate John Huntsman Jr.

The White House figured that when leftwingers abandoned them on Afghanistan, they still had the right wing. But Clemons arranged for a poll of conservatives. “Once they knew of the costs, support collapsed.”

MCGOVERN. “The president still hasn’t gotten it yet.”

CLEMONS: “The president could be in an LBJ position.” Nixon was elected to end LBJ’s war– a war Republicans “could blame on the incumbent president.”

JOHN GARAMENDI, Democratic congressman in the Bay Area of California: “That didn’t turn out well for our team, did it– Vietnam… If the president doesn’t move… he will face a revolution in Congress … [of] ‘hell no we’re not going’… It’s coming to that.

“It’s really important what Jim said: you’ve got to get the message out now, because this decision is being made in the White House now, and they’re listening. They really need to listen to their base.”

CLEMONS said that all American “strategic ambitions” around the world “are stuck because we’ve created a Moby Dick in Afghanistan.”

McGOVERN: “The fundamental point [is that] … the killing of Osama bin Laden has created this moment for the president to pivot. … [we need to] light a bonfire to get him to move in the right direction on this… I’m not sure that there will be another time like this… [And] this is Barack Obama’s war, he owns it. He owns it because he called for a surge.

MAJOR GENERAL PAUL EATON, warning that what he was about to say was emotional:

“On Memorial day I went to Arlington Cemetery. My father was killed in Vietnam, and in the grave next to his is a soldier recently killed in action, and there were his mom and dad, and they were doing a recording of their feelings at that moment.

“And that is an active part of Arlington, Section 60, and other families were sitting there, some in chairs, some with umbrellas. No picnicking– picnicking is not allowed. But there was …. a mother with scissors trimming the grass around the headstone of her child…

“If I were asked, could I justify what has happened very recently to Americans who were killed in what we are talking about?… Every operation order has a Why. It’s an emotive event but really part and parcel of what we’re talking about.”

DARCY BURNER, former congressional candidate, Microsoft executive, now a Netroots leader, said that if she were “going to wave my magic wand” for 2012, she would create a very short online video with General Eaton’s story of Arlington, and the fact that the Afghan war is costing us nearly $120 billion a year, and the statistics on how many teachers we are laying off this fall. Then air that video in states Obama will have to win in 2012.

“He will lose the election if the Republican candidates are calling for an end to the war in Afghanistan and progressives are calling for an end to the war in Afghanistan, and he is wrong on the issue.”

GARAMENDI: “How did Barack Obama become a credible candidate? Iraq… Is Barack Obama Lyndon Johnson and is Michelle Bachmann Richard Nixon?”

McGOVERN: “We need to find more conservatives and Republicans. … Progressives in Congress [have been] cheap dates in terms of standing up on this issue… We’ve been too quiet for too long… [We can] halt the debate on the Defense Appropriations bill on this issue.” When Bush was president, Republicans said they didn’t want to alienate one of their own on the Iraq war. “But that time is over for progressives… It is time to speak loudly and clearly and demand a fundamental change in this policy.”

DARCY BURNER: “I am of the opinion and this is my opinion, that the fundamental human rights of every human being on this planet ought to be a priority for all of us…. And the idea that cultural differences ought to be a reason for us to deprive people of fundamental human rights… doesn’t fly with me…. How do we end the war in Afghanistan… and how do we pursue the protection of basic human rights for everyone on the planet…”

MCGOVERN: “The status quo policy is the wrong policy and it’s bankrupting us, it’s undermining our moral authority, it’s undermining our national security interest. It’s not doing anything that it is supposed to be doing.”

Most Israelis don’t see Jordan Valley as occupied

Jun 20, 2011

Philip Weiss

Dimi Reider at +972mag, yet another report on the meaninglessness of the old Green Line in Israeli consciousness:

poll conducted by our esteemed Dahlia Scheindlin (for ACRI’s Action a Day campaign) indicates a sweeping majority of Israelis – 63.5%, to be exact – think the Jordan valley is part of Israel; in other words, not part of the West Bank; or, in plain words, don’t understand why or how Israeli presence there is being called into question.

The special status of the valley in the Israeli collective consciousness is nothing new.

Settlers destroy a herders’ ancient cistern outside Hebron, and IDF follows by demolishing people’s tents

Jun 20, 2011

Philip Weiss

From a source who has read UN reports on the latest demolitions, today:

Today the Israeli army demolished six tents in Khirbet Bir al Idd in Hebron, displacing eight families (68 people, among them 45 children). Some 30 vines were cut down and the electricity lines damaged. The demolition was carried out following a demolition order for lack of permits.

Khirbet Bir al Idd has suffered from settler violence (Mitzpa Yair outpost), causing them to be expelled from their lands. Rabbis for Human Rights took up the case and the High Court ruled in 2009 that the community should be allowed to return to lands that had not been designated for such use as archaeological or closed military zone.

However, their original homes were now uninhabitable and, in late 2009, UN Humanitarian Response Fund support was used to provide shelter for the community and livestock. Tents and livestock shelters were provided, as well as water and cisterns rehabilitation.

In December 2009, the Israeli Civil Administration issued 17 demolition orders for tents for four old structures (stone animal pens) and the tents and animal shelters. Rabbis for Human Rights continued to work on the case to prevent the imposition of the demolition orders.

Then on Saturday 18 June, settlers demolished a cistern in Kisan, Rashayida located between two settlements. The cistern of approximately 250m3 was used by herders for their flocks. The ancient cistern is underground but all infrastructure above the ground (canals, basin,…) and the access to the cistern were demolished.

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