Mondoweiss Online Newsletter


As the two-state solution dies, what comes next?
Oct 21, 2011


East Jerusalem construction scuttling two-state solution
Haaretz 21 Oct — Givat Hamatos is the keystone of a plan that quietly, piece by piece, with no Israeli public debate, is unilaterally sealing the southern border of annexed East Jerusalem with Israeli construction … In the last year, plans for building more than 5,000 homes in this southern area have been approved or advanced — 2,000 to expand Gilo toward Wallajeh and Beit Jala, almost 1,000 to expand Har Homa toward Beit Sahur, and now more than 2,000 units to link Har Homa with Gilo. These plans are presented under many guises — as an answer to the social protest, as an expression of Israel’s right to build in its capital. But never is the Israeli public allowed to see the full picture: that, despite its rhetoric, the Israeli government is working on the ground to scuttle a two-state solution.

Palestinians confirm Israel offered partial West Bank settlement freeze in return for talks
Haaretz 21 Oct — Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat says Palestinians rejected offer because it applied only to government construction and most settlement construction is carried out by private contractors … Erekat’s statements confirmed an earlier Haaretz report about the offer of a government construction settlement freeze.

In search of a ‘solution’ in Palestine / Ahmed Moor
Al Jazeera 20 Oct — The conflict in Israel and Palestine is a generational conflict, and as such, it might take generations to resolve — It’s not true that Palestinians and Israelis don’t agree about anything. Several weeks ago, I had the mildly frustrating experience of informally debating with an Israeli intelligence officer. We argued back and forth until I finally exclaimed that the only relevant topic worth discussing at this stage in the conflict’s development was how to implement the one-state solution. His emphatic reply was that no Israeli would ever agree to equal citizenship and rights. More recently, I had the mildly frustrating experience of speaking with a Palestinian academic. The man declaimed against the occupation, the Palestinian Authority, the Arab states, nationalism – and the one-state solution.

And more news from Today in Palestine:

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Erasure of culture & history

Israeli plan to relocate 30,000 Bedouin a gross injustice, say researchers
Haaretz 21 Oct — Researchers who have spent much of the past several decades studying and documenting the Bedouin Arabs of Israel’s Negev Desert claim that a government plan to relocate tens of thousands of Bedouin would be a gross injustice. Ethnographer Clinton Bailey, who has authored volumes about Bedouin poetry, proverbs and legal traditions, says he is pessimistic about the Prawer Plan, which would effectively extinguish the Bedouin’s land claims without adequate compensation.
link to

Archaeologists worldwide urge halt to ‘Museum of Tolerance’ construction on ancient Muslim cemetery
New York; Jerusalem 20 Oct — In a letter submitted today, 84 leading archaeologists worldwide, with support from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Campaign to Preserve Mamilla Jerusalem Cemetery, urged Board Members of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the mayor of Jerusalem, Mr. Nir Barkat, and the Head of the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) to immediately halt current and future construction of the “Museum of Tolerance” on the site of Mamilla, a historically renowned Muslim cemetery. This plea comes as the Israeli architects commissioned to build the museum are threatening to resign from the project, as did Frank Gehry before them.
Link to

Israel set to destroy Spanish-financed solar energy plant in Hebron district
AIC 20 Oct — Israel is planning to demolish a local solar energy plant in the Hebron district town of Mneizel. The plant provides the sole electricity to this town, surrounded by Israeli settlements, and was financed by the Spanish government for some EUR 300,000. If Israel carries out its demolition orders, will the Spanish government demand compensation?
The small Palestinian town of Mneizel, some 70 kilometers south of Hebron, enjoyed 2.5 years of late talks, studying and meals at night, television movies and cartoons, the wonders of conserving food in the fridge and the numerous employment possibilities opened to them by electricity. They could have enjoyed all of this before but they live in Area C, fully controlled by Israel in accordance with the Oslo Agreements, and the Israeli authorities denied them this essential service. Now the Israel authorities returned to this small, poor and forgotten town, surrounded by settlements, to deny them this basic right yet again.
link to


Woman flees harvest to escape violent settlers and wild boars
ISM West Bank 20 Oct — Early Thursday morning, a Palestinian woman in Beit Furik was picking olives when a settler began to chase her and set loose wild hogs to chase after her, causing her to fall and suffer broken bones in both her legs. Muhaya Khatatba was in her olive groves with her two sons, aged 14 and 17 years old, when a settler descended from above the hill and began to chase her. “I was with my kids picking olives, when a settler saw us, and took advantage of the fact that we were all alone,” said Khatatba. Then the settler released wild boars after her. She beckoned to her boys to run ahead of her, and as she ran, she tripped on some rocks and broke her leg. She struggled to begin running again, using one leg, and fell again, breaking the other leg. Unable to stand, her boys ran back to pick her up and ran with her to meet other villagers.

Israeli military and Zionists ambush olive harvest in Beit Furik
ISM West Bank 21 Oct — The Palestinian family El Jobor was unsuccessful in their attempt to harvest olives today as they met resistance from Jewish settlers and Israeli soldiers originating out of the Itamar settlement.  Accompanied by ISM volunteers the family climbed the hillside above Beit Furik and marched through the olive groves to within roughly 400 meters of the Jewish settlement, which sits atop the hill’s mount, before being confronted and forced back down towards their home.
link to

Olive harvest brings confrontations near Jalud / Joseph Dana
972mag 21 Oct — On the outskirts of the northern West Bank village of Qasra, a 19 year old resident recently told me that settlers are not going to stop attacking Palestinians simply because they don’t have to. According to the man, settlers live in a world of no consequence as if removed from the normal social contract of Western societies. One look at this year’s olive harvest, taking place throughout the West Bank over the next two weeks, proves the statement correct.
link to

Settlers attack farmers, foreign volunteers harvesting olives
NABLUS (WAFA) 21 Oct — A group of settlers attacked on Friday Palestinians, Israeli and foreign solidarity volunteers helping farmers to harvest olives in the village of Jalud, south of Nablus, injuring four of them and causing three suffocation cases, according to local sources. The coordinator of the campaign “we are with you”; a campaign to help farmers to harvest olives, Khaled Mansour told WAFA that settlers attacked the farmers and the volunteers with batons and rifle butts, injuring four of them and causing three cases of suffocation by tear gas bombs. Among the injured were Israeli peace activists from “fighters for freedom,” he said.
link to

While village attended funeral, Zionists stole
[photos] ISM West Bank 18 Oct — On Tuesday, a  family in Kufr Qalil cancelled all olive harvest because of the death of a family member. While the people in the household were at the cemetery to attend the funeral, settlers from the adjacent Berakha settlement took the opportunity to visit the household’s farmland. A shepherd witnessed how the settlers stole the furniture, equipment and tools (including a chain saw) that were used by the farmers during the olive harvest. The farmer family in Kafr Qalil has been harassed by settlers earlier. Five years ago, settlers cut down all almond trees in the yard.
link to

Taxi driver ‘attacked by settlers’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 Oct — A taxi driver says his car was attacked by Israeli settlers on Thursday evening near his home south of Bethlehem. Izzat Shakarneh told Ma’an he was driving to Nahhalin village when settlers pelted his car with stones, causing damaging to the vehicle and its windscreen. Shakarneh said he has complained to Israeli police about previous attacks but that no action was taken.
link to

Settlers, soldiers continue attack on Hebron schools
HEBRON (WAFA) 20 Oct — …Qurtuba school principal Ibtisam Al-Jondi said a group of extremist settlers from the settlement of Anat Cohen attacked the students as they were leaving the school. The deputy principal, Feryal Abu Haykal, with the help of several Palestinian residents, tried to keep the settlers away from the students. Israeli soldiers intervened, handcuffing her hands and arresting her and another resident … WAFA reporter said that Israeli soldiers tried to prevent journalists from approaching, noting that settlers followed the students all the way to their homes, beating and assaulting them.
Soldiers also attacked Susiya school, east of Yatta in Hebron, and forced teachers and students to leave it, according to the Popular Committee Coordinator in Yatta, Rateb al-Jabour. He told WAFA that Israeli soldiers, accompanied by officials from civil administration, stormed the school and beat several students, then forced the teachers, students and workers who were carrying out renovation work to leave.
link to

Child arrested in Silwan, settlers steal olives in Salfit, settler car strikes mentally disabled man
PNN 20 Oct — Israeli forces arrested 12-year-old Abdulkarim Shyoukhi from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan last night, taking him to the police compound of al-Moskobiya…
Near the central West Bank city of Salfit, a group of settlers from the Nafi Nahnaya — which stands on the village land of Sikaka — attacked a group of Palestinian olive-pickers and stole olives. The land belongs to al-Dhaher family.
On the road linking the southern West Bank cities of Hebron and Beit Omar, an Israeli settler hit a mentally disabled man with his car and fled. According to Palestinian state news wire Wafa, the incident took place on Wednesday afternoon…
An Israeli military raid was also reported in the town of al-Khader, south of Bethlehem. Secure source said told Wafa that the army searched houses belonging to Osama Salah, Abdallah Salah and Ahmed Salah.
link to

IOF arrest a Palestinian girl for allegedly trying to stab a settler
BETHLEHEM (PIC) 20 Oct — IOF troops arrested on Wednesday evening a Palestinian girl from the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem for allegedly trying to stab a Jewish settler.
Local sources informed PIC that the IOF troops arrested Salwa Hassan as she passed the Etzion settlement crossroads which separates Bethlehem from al-Khalil. The sources added that the soldiers assaulted and beat the girl before arresting her and taking her away.
IOF sources claimed that the girl tried to stab a settler who was standing with other settlers on a bus stop.
Link to Palestinian Information Center

Israeli forces

PCHR weekly report: 15 abducted in 47 Israeli invasions this week (13-19 Oct)
Israeli attacks in the West Bank: Over the last week, Israeli forces abducted 12 Palestinians, including two children, in 47 separate invasions. Israeli soldiers abducted 3 Palestinian civilians, including a child, at various checkpoints in the West Bank … On 16 October 2011, Israeli forces attacked Palestinian civilians, including school children, who organized a peaceful sit-in in protest to Israeli measures banning teachers and school children from going to Cordoba School in Hebron. As a result, 6 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children, sustained bruises … On 13 October 2011, Israeli forces began to expand a settlement outpost established on the lands of Eskaka village, east of Salfit … On the same day, Israeli settlers gathered at the gates of al-Ibrahimiya and al-Faihaa’ schools to the southwest of the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron. The administrations of the two schools were forced to let schoolchildren go home in order to ensure their safety. On the same day, Israeli settlers attacked Cordoba Elementary School in the center of Hebron. Full report
link to

Israel blocks Hebron governor from entering Old City
PNN 20 Oct — On Thursday, Israeli forces stopped Hebron governor Kamel Hamid, as well as several teachers and students from the Cordoba girls’ school, from entering the Old City where the school is located. Governor Hamid told PNN that the Israeli army’s procedures were “completely unacceptable” and violated international law and human rights.The Israeli army started preventing Palestinian teachers and students from reaching the Cordoba girls’ school one week ago. Teachers have resorted to holding classes outside the checkpoint separating the H1 and H2 sectors of Hebron. H2 is controlled entirely by the Israeli army.

Israeli soldiers close vital road west of Ramallah
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 20 Oct – Israeli soldiers closed Thursday the road connecting between the town of Bitunya and the village of Beit ‘Ur El Fuqa, west of Ramallah, after they claimed that a speedy Palestinian vehicle injured two soldiers at a checkpoint set on the road, according to local sources. Head of Beit Ur el-Fouqa Village Council Saed Samara told WAFA that the Israeli soldiers closed the road between the village and Bitunya, which connects Ramallah with the west villages, and serves tens of thousands of Palestinians, claiming that a Palestinian vehicle ran over two soldiers. Witnesses from the village said that they have only seen one solider transferred in an Israeli ambulance.
link to

Israeli forces raid houses in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 20 Oct – Israeli soldiers raided a number of houses on Thursday at dawn in al-Khader town, south of Bethlehem, according to security sources.
link to


4 Palestinians seized in Beit Ummar village
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 21 Oct — Israeli forces detained four Palestinians Friday night from Beit Ummar, north of Hebron, said Muhammad Ayyad Awad, the spokesman of the popular committee in the village. Awad told Ma‘an that soldiers stopped a group of Palestinians near Beit Ein settlement and detained Salim Muhammad Adi, 40, Raed Muhammad Mufleh Adi, 35, and his two sons Mufleh,18, and Jamal, 15.
link to

Israeli mistreatment of Palestinian political prisoners: Free Majd Ziada now!
Majd Ziada was barely out of his teens when he got arrested by the Israeli Occupation Forces. It was at the height of the second Intifada in 2002 when the Israeli army during its collective arrest campaign detained Majd on the evening of the Israeli invasion of the twin cities Ramallah and Al-Bireh. He was 19 years old.  Before he got arrested, Majd enjoyed playing basketball at Ramallah’s First Club in al-Tira. With the outbreak of the second intifada however, life became more grim. He lost his best friend who was killed by the Israeli soldiers, and Majd himself was once used as a human shield where he was forced to walk in front of the Israeli tanks. Just before he was due to take his final exams of his senior year (tawjehi) the Occupying Army raided his home and dragged him out where he was bundled into a jeep. His family knew nothing about his whereabouts or condition for fifty days after his arrest.
link to

Activism / Solidarity

Permission to enter their own lands: Kufr Qaddoum rampaged again by military
ISM West Bank 21 Oct — In the village of Kufr Qaddoum the people held a demonstration for the 17th Friday in a row. The demonstration started around 11:30 AM in the center of the village and consisted of approximately 80 people. The procession only made it to a barbed wire that blocked the road although it stood within the infamous ‘red line’ that outlines Kufr Qaddoum and separates it from the nearby illegal settlement of Qadumim. With border police and Israeli military present, the protesters were immediately fired at with tear gas … Civilians who were not taking part in the demonstration were also affected, including one elderly woman who was seen falling over when running for her life outside the mosque in the middle of the village.
link to

good news for once
PSP accompanied farmers’ olive harvest in Salfit
[photos] PSP 19 Oct — Members from The Popular Committees of Beit Ommar and Surif, several international volunteers, and boy scouts from the area supported Palestinian farmers from Abu Shook in Surif while they harvested their olive trees … This time the harvest passed peacefully. After some nice hours in the fields, the representatives from PSP were happy to visit the olive factory and watch the processing of the olives.
link to

Welcome to Palestine 2012
PJN 19 Oct — “We, the undersigned, endorse the call from the Welcome to Palestine 2012 initiative for supporters of Palestinian human and national rights around the world to openly visit Palestine during Easter 2012. There is no way into Palestine other than through Israeli control points. Israel has turned Palestine into a giant prison, but prisoners have a right to receive visitors. Welcome to Palestine 2012 will again challenge Israel’s policy of isolating the West Bank while the settler paramilitaries and army commit brutal crimes against a virtually defenceless Palestinian civilian population. We call on governments to support the right of Palestinians to receive visitors and the right of their own citizens to visit Palestine openly. The participants in Welcome to Palestine 2012 ask to be allowed to pass through Tel Aviv airport without hindrance and to proceed to the West Bank to take part in a project there for children to benefit from the right to education.” for more information, you can go to, or contact the following emails directly.
link to

PSP has started to give tours in the West Bank
PSP 18 Oct — Palestine Solidarity Project has now started to give tours. The Solidarity tour programme offers an introduction to the different geographical and cultural regions of the West Bank. The tour is providing its participants with in-depth social, political and historical insights on Palestinian life. Read the full program here. (the program is also available in French, Italian, Spanish and Norwegian). Watch a short   introduction from the Beit Ommar area:
link to


The ongoing trial in the murder of solidarity activist Vittorio Arrigoni
ISM Gaza 20 Oct — The military trial of the four men charged with the death of Italian International Solidarity Movement Activist Vittorio Arrigoni continued in Gaza City today … The trial began today with the parties checking where they had left off on the September 22 session. The prosecutor, dressed in olive-colored military pants and a khaki shirt, then stated that “each of the accused strangled him [Arrigoni] by plastic handcuffs,” and therefore all four were complicit in Arrigoni’s kidnapping and killing. Previously, only two of the defendants had been charged with murder

Egyptian forces uncover 3 tunnels on Gaza border
RAFAH, Egypt (Ma‘an) 20 Oct — Egyptian forces on Friday uncovered three underground smuggling tunnels near the borders of the Gaza Strip, Egyptian security sources said. Security officials said border guards confiscated cement and clothes intended to be smuggled into Gaza.
link to

The best-kept secret
Haaretz 21 Oct –Hamas managed to keep Gilad Shalit’s whereabouts hidden during his five-plus years in captivity, handing a humiliating defeat to Israeli intelligence services — A resounding failure for Israeli intelligence community and an impressive success for Hamas intelligence – this is how the 64 months of Gilad Shalit’s captivity can be summed up. This is first and foremost a searing fiasco on the part of the Shin Bet security services, the organization responsible for intelligence coverage in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
link to

Prisoner swap

Kahanists offer $100,000 bounty on heads of freed Palestinian prisoners / Richard Silverstein
Proving that they believe they are a law and a state unto themselves, Kahanists haveoffered a $100,000 bounty on the heads of those Palestinian prisoners freed as part of the Shalit exchange.  The particular prisoners who are to be killed are those who murdered Meir Kahane’s son, Binyamin and the latter’s wife.  The particularly astonishing fact here is that given the multitude of Kahanists who will seek to carry out this mission, there appears to be a need for an objective judge to determine who deserves real credit for the deed. So Baruch Marzel, one of the inheritors of the mantel of leadership of Meir Kahane and a wannabe MK, will be such a judge.  In Israel, it’s no problem.  After all, Marzel isn’t putting the bullet into the guy’s brain himself.  He’s only awarding the reward to the blessed Jewish soul who does the deed.  What’s the problem?
link to

Hamas negotiator Al Jab‘ari: Deporting prisoners was the only way
PNN 20 Oct — “The number of deported prisoners is only 41,” al-Ja‘bari told the London-based al-Hayat newspaper on Thursday. “Most of them are from Hamas and this was the only way we could release them while keeping them from being targeted.” … Al-Ja‘bari said the 164 Palestinian prisoners originally from the West Bank who would be taken to the Gaza Strip did not count as deportees, arguing, “Gaza is a part of Palestine.”
link to

Palestinian prisoners ‘mulled exile in 2006’
Al Jazeera 20 Oct — Palestinian prisoners were aware of deportation option, Hamas official explains how deal almost fell through — Palestinian prisoners deported to Qatar under the prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas say they were aware they could be sent abroad as part of a negotiated swap as early as 2006. Speaking exclusively to Al Jazeera, Abdelhakim Hnaini and fellow prisoner, Hazem Asili, who have been in jail since 1993 and 1986 respectively, explained that in 2006, just days after Gilad Shalit’s capture,some of the prisoners understood that deportation may be on the cards for them. This despite the fact that over the past five years, Hamas had publicly insisted that it would not accept deportations in any prisoner exchange.
link to

‘Israel stops wife of freed prisoner at Allenby’
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 20 Oct — Israeli forces have denied the wife of a released prisoner who was exiled to Qatar permission to cross the Allenby Bridge to ahead of her journey to meet her husband, a rights group said. Ahmad Al-Bitawi, a researcher at the international solidarity foundation for human rights, said Abdul Hakim Aziz Hanini’s wife tried to travel to Jordan on her way to Qatar through the bridge but the guards refused. The wife, who was not otherwise identified, said she was with Hanini’s parents and her three children, who were allowed to cross the bridge.
link to

Video: Freed prisoners return to Nabi Saleh
NABI SALEH – Ahmed, Ahlam and Nizar Tamimi, three residents of Nabi Saleh, were released as part of Tuesday’s prisoner swap, which freed 447 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails. The three freed prisoners are cousins; Nizar and Ahlam are engaged. Though they were both released, Ahlam has been exiled to Jordan and Nizar will remain in the West Bank. Nizar and Ahmed, both imprisoned since 1993 for the killing of an Israeli settler, received a hero’s welcome in the besieged West Bank town of Nabi Saleh on Tuesday. Interviews with Mourad Tamimi, Nizar Tamimi….
link to

Hamas and Fatah wrangle over Phase Two of prisoner swap
PNN 20 Oct — In a spitting match that has become typical of the main Palestinian factions, spokesmen from Hamas and Fatah wrangled on Thursday over the execution of the second phase of the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap, due to release 550 Palestinian prisoners in two months. Hamas commander Mahmoud Zahar said the full responsibility for the implementation of the second phase was on Egypt, while PLO Executive Committee member Yasser Abed Rabbo said Zahar should not try to make himself “the representative of Egypt.”
link to

12 Arab-Israelis arrested at rally calling [for] more kidnappings
JPost 20 Oct — Some 40 people arrive at Hadarim Prison in Sharon to call for more kidnappings of IDF soldiers, freeing all Palestinian prisoners.

Other news

Palestinian chances at UN will worsen after Council elections
Bloomberg 21 Oct — Palestinians seeking membership in the United Nations won’t be able to count on the newly elected Security Council members to better their chances. When the 193-country General Assembly today picks five countries to replace a third of the 15-member body on Jan. 1, support for the Palestinians will drop by one as Guatamala, running unopposed, succeeds Brazil in the Latin American seat. “This election won’t help the Palestinian cause,” said Jeff Laurenti, a UN analyst at Century Foundation. “Guatemala will be in favor of everything Palestinian until the Americans tell them otherwise. They can be persuaded to abstain.” That unfavorable outlook means the Palestinians might as well push for a vote on membership as soon as Nov. 11, when the council meets to discuss the final report put together by experts on the viability of the Palestinian application. A council member, probably Lebanon as the only Arab country represented, can call for a vote within 24 hours at any time. The Palestinians have said at least eight council members – – Russia, China, Gabon, Nigeria, South Africa, Brazil, Lebanon and India — will vote ‘Yes’. Nine votes are needed for membership.
link to

Palestinian PM dismisses peace talk chances / Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem
Independent 21 Oct — Palestinians don’t believe Israel is ready to agree acceptable terms for a two state solution — Palestine’s Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has dimmed Western hopes that a flurry of diplomacy next week could restart Israeli-Palestinian negotiations by saying that “conditions are not right” to get back into talks. The declaration by one of the most prominent Palestinian moderates is a blow to the international Middle East Quartet

Report: Abbas to offer January elections
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Oct — President Mahmoud Abbas will propose elections in upcoming meetings with Hamas officials, Time Magazine reported on Thursday. “We’re suggesting January, because the law requires 90 days notice,” Abbas’ spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah told Time. The reconciliation agreement signed on May 4 by the president’s Fatah party and Hamas set out plan for a unity government of technocrats, the release of political prisoners and holding of elections.
link to

West Bank tech firms, Patrick try to build bridges, businesses
Boston Globe, 10 Oct — For many Americans, the words West Bank evoke political conflicts between Palestinians and Israelis, not a sophisticated high-tech community. In that light, a group of Palestinian high-tech entrepreneurs met with local companies and Governor Deval Patrick this month to help change that region’s reputation here, and to form ties with the state’s technology community.Harvard Business School hosted the meeting of Patrick and executives from eight Palestinian technology companies,
link to

Egypt, Israel close to swap of alleged spy for prisoners
CAIRO (AFP) 21 Oct –The Egyptian foreign ministry has been charged with overseeing the exchange of an Israeli-American alleged spy being held in Egypt for Egyptian prisoners in Israel, the official Mena news agency reported late Thursday. The foreign ministry will be responsible “for overseeing the exchange of spy Ilan Grapel for Egyptian prisoners, and to take all legal measures to this effect,” the agency said.
link to

Six years after a debilitating stroke, Sharon remains responsive, son says
JERUSALEM (NY Times) 20 Oct — Ariel Sharon, who suffered a debilitating stroke nearly six years ago while serving as prime minister of Israel and remains in a coma-like state, responds to some requests and, despite being fed intravenously, has put on weight, according to his son Gilad Sharon.
link to

Analysis / Opinion

What didn’t happen to Gilad Shalit
20 Oct — Oh please. When did CNN ever run an article like this, on the difficulty of adjusting to daily life for a newly-released prisoner, about any of the three-quarters of a million Palestinians imprisoned by Israel since 1967? “Looking pale, thin and emotional, Gilad Shalit was reunited with his family Tuesday after more than five years in captivity. Now he faces what is likely to be a bewildering few days, weeks and months as he readjusts to a life of liberty. While no one yet knows exactly what he went through, other captives’ experiences give an insight into his likely state of mind — and suggest that although he has his freedom, other challenges lie ahead…” Let’s get some perspective here. It might be true that “no one yet knows exactly what he went through”, but the mere fact that he was able to walk to freedom after a quick once-over by Israeli doctors gives us a pretty good idea of some of the things he didn’t go through. For example, we know that he wasn’t tied up by his captors and beaten so viciously that his testicles had to be surgically removed. Benan Oudeh was 15 years old when that happened to him at the hands of Israeli soldiers who accused him of throwing stones, during the first intifada:
.link to

Behind Egypt’s role in the prisoner swap / D. Parvaz
Al Jazeera 19 Oct — Egypt’s role in brokering a prisoner exchange deal might signal a return to cosy Mubarak-era relations with Israel — Egypt’s apparently crucial role in orchestrating the Palestinian prisoner swap with Israel leaves those who have observed the cooling relations between the two countries wondering what more the deal signals.
link to

Everybody’s son / Uri Avnery
Gush Shalom 22 Oct — The most sensible — I almost wrote “the only sensible” — sentence uttered this week sprang from the lips of a 5-year-old boy. After the prisoner swap, one of those smart-aleck TV reporters asked him: “Why did we release 1027 Arabs for one Israeli soldier?” He expected, of course, the usual answer: because one Israeli is worth a thousand Arabs. The little boy replied: “Because we caught many of them and they caught only one.” … This week, the released prisoners were never referred to as ““Palestinian fighters,” or “militants” or just “Palestinians.” Every single newspaper and TV program, from the elitist Haaretz to the most primitive tabloid, referred to them exclusively as “murderers,” or, for good measure, “vile murderers.” One of the worst tyrannies on earth is the tyranny of words. Once a word becomes entrenched, it directs thought and action. (listserv) (archive)

Dying of schmaltz
Oct 21, 2011

Jerome Slater

While uneasy about the asymmetry of the Shalit deal between Israel and Hamas–a thousand Palestinian prisoners ( invariably described in Israel as “terrorists”) for one Israeli–the Israeli and the American Jewish media are also full of hymns of self-praise for us wonderful Jews: the “price” we paid was “a moral victory for Israel,” demonstrates our adherence to “profound Jewish values” such as “the pride in the value we place on every single human life,” is “a sign of humanity” that is “sadly absent in large parts of the world, especially in this region,” and the like. The implication is unmistakable: we are different from them, the parents of the 1000 Palestinians, and the nation they represent, either did not grieve or had no right to grieve over their “children” in Israeli prisons, nor rejoice over their release.

The blatant racism and infuriating claims of moral superiority aside, there are indeed significant differences between the Israeli and Palestinian prisoner situations.

While some of the Palestinian prisoners were truly terrorists seeking the unjust cause of the destruction of Israel, surely many others were essentially soldiers in a just cause, national liberation and the creation of an independent state in a small part of Palestine. On the other hand, Shalit was a soldier of a nation whose real cause (continuing the de facto occupation of the Palestinians and Jewish expansion into what remains of their territory) is unjust and whose “profound Jewish values” and “adherence to the dignity of all human lives” does not prevent it—stop me when you think I’m misstating the facts—from occupying, killing, repressing, imprisoning, blockading, and deliberately inflicting deep economic as well as psychological pain on another people.

Who are these people, anyway? Never mind our supposed Jewish moral values, how about our celebrated commitment to reason? Or even self-preservation? Are they quite mad?

This is a crosspost from Jerry Slater’s site.

Egyptian revolutionary cartoons (part 1)
Oct 21, 2011

Philip Weiss

This month in Cairo, the Society of Fine Arts Lovers is having an exhibit of cartoons from the revolution. I was allowed to photograph them; sorry I don’t have the cartoonists’ names. And I don’t speak Arabic, but these are two of my favorites… More to come in days ahead…


‘Neocon’ is suddenly a bad career move (and Rachel Abrams ain’t helping the Elliott Abrams brand)
Oct 21, 2011

Philip Weiss

Media Matters has blasted Rachel Abrams for her xenophobic racist rant against Palestinians. Yesterday all my friends were saying, Can you imagine a Muslim uttering such invective, what would happen to her and her politically-connected husband? They’d be finished. Well maybe Rachel Abrams has hurt Elliott Abrams badly, after all. As they say in Israel and Palestine, Inshallah.

I’d note that today Iraq war supporter Leslie Gelb attacks the neocons as warmongerers, at the Daily Beast.

The other night on Chris Matthews, Dana Milbank was attacking them. So this is now the conventional wisdom (from folks who I’m guessing supported the neocon central project, the Iraq war). There was a time when people ran away from the word liberal. Now it’s a pox on neoconservatism. I welcome it.

Oh here is Leslie Gelb supporting the Iraq war for his career:

My initial support for the war [in Iraq] was symptomatic of unfortunate tendencies within the foreign policy community, namely the disposition and incentives to support wars to retain political and professional credibility. We ‘experts’ have a lot to fix about ourselves, even as we ‘perfect’ the media. We must redouble our commitment to independent thought, and embrace, rather than cast aside, opinions and facts that blow the common—often wrong—wisdom apart. Our democracy requires nothing less.

Being a neoconservative is suddenly what they used to call a CLM at Goldman, Sachs. (Career Limiting Move).

Update. Justin Logan at the National Interest on neoconservative career-making in Washington, titled, The Neocons Never Left

The irony here is that it was with the help of people like Leslie Gelb that the neocons took over the GOP establishment. When he was at the helm of the Council on Foreign Relations, Gelb brought in a real neocon’s neocon, Max Boot, to be a senior fellow, giving perhaps the most fervid neocon around the CFR stamp of approval—the imprimatur of the foreign-policy establishment. (It should also be acknowledged that Gelb himself supported the neocons’ Iraq project, shrugging afterward in the passive voice that his “initial support for the war was symptomatic of unfortunate tendencies within the foreign policy community, namely the disposition and incentives to support wars to retain political and professional credibility.”)

As Scott McConnell has pointed out, neoconservatism is a career. Or as Bill Kristol remarked in 2005, the neoconservatives have done such an excellent job building institutions and infrastructure for developing the next generation of neocons that “soon there are going to be more neoconservative magazines than there are neoconservatives.” There are dozens of twenty-something, thirty-something, forty-something and older neocons throughout Washington, working at think tanks, editorial pages, in government and elsewhere. I could probably count on two hands the number of youngish national-security types I know in town who I could strain to call realists. This imbalance among foreign-policy elites helps create the mistaken impression that there are lots of neoconservatives in America generally, which there aren’t. Neoconservatism really is a head without a body.

Even Fayyad forecasts struggle for equal voting rights in I/P
Oct 21, 2011

Philip Weiss

Palestinian P.M. Salam Fayyad spoke at the American Task Force for Palestine in D.C., Haaretz reportsand said all he wants is a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines, but now is not the right time to negotiate. But he opened the door on a different future:

“All we Palestinians are looking for is viable sovereign state on 22% of the land,” Fayyad said. “That’s what we want. All we want is freedom from Israel, not freedom to vote in Israel. That’s what we really want. If it doesn’t happen who can prevent it from becoming a struggle for equal voting rights [for Palestinians in Israel and Palestine]?

A friend gets at the political truth here: If it becomes a movement to gain voting rights, for adult human beings governed by a sovereignty that won’t let them vote, it is hard to see how Europe and the United States could associate themselves with that denial. The aberration would be too gross. Voices held back till then would say: “How can we support this in view of our own history?”

Props for the amazing political space OWS created (but who is talking about Palestine?)
Oct 21, 2011

Philip Weiss

I finally made it to Occupy Wall Street yesterday afternoon, and was bowled over by the occupiers’ achievement: they have successfully created an alternative political reality in America that is commanding mainstream attention. I thought these alternative realities only existed on the internet, in people’s heads. No, this one is in the heart of the beast that is Wall Street, and in America’s face, on the nightly news. A few hundred or few thousand daring people achieved this.

Theirs is a triumph of political imagination. The same way that Tahrir is a triumph of political imagination– these people were uncowed by the overwhelming media-constructed reality of our times and dared to offer a different vision. And they have created an important political space.

Walk around Zuccotti Park and you are stunned by how many different strains of protest are arising, at every hand, environmental to economic justice to spiritual awakening. The one thing these strains share is that they have been suppressed in our political culture. Every idea these people express has been marginalized by the neoliberal positivist media. Of course it is a cacophony. What would you expect? These people have been forced underground for many years. Now they are out and proud. And while I don’t think I require or can receive much political education, I found it inspiring that there were so many little groups of people engaged in earnest discussion. They are teaching one another. It is a wonderful thing to observe.

And face to face. The introversion and anonymity of the internet are being exploded in Zuccotti Park. The people know that they must speak to one another and see one another’s faces. Public speakers aren’t always great internetters.

It is of course a leftwing movement but I was pleased to see many different strains, including populists and unionists and libertarians. And my favorite demonstrator was standing by himself, holding up a sign. Addicted to Oil. Help Me. It wasn’t blame-game politics. This man was saying we are all responsible, but we can take control of our society.

As Egyptians gathered around a simple idea, get rid of Mubarak, these people also have a simple idea: economic justice, the 99 percent. I’m down with that!

My big problem with OWS is my big problem with all leftwing politics in the U.S. that don’t highlight foreign policy and the occupation of Palestine.

For a while I was engaged with a group from Jews for Economic and Racial Justice. They were having a workshop on spirituality and politics that I took part in. The workshop dealt with issues of vulnerability; and the distinct political strands were gay rights and a concern about the anti-Semitism in the protests.

When I spoke up about Palestine in the little circle people welcomed my view, but you will not see anything about Palestine on the JFREJ page. There is a lot of concern about antisemitism. One guy I talked to in the workshop said he was disturbed by the talk of Jewish bankers at the protests. He had come to be here in the OWS energy to counter that.

For me the best part of the JFREJ circle were two Protestants in it. They told me about having a Muslim deliver the call to prayer at St. Paul’s last month. When oh when will American Jews invite a Muslim to chant the call to prayer at a synagogue? That is the ball game, sisters and brothers.

OWS is part of the Jewish political identity crisis. We are a privileged group, by and large. We have been beneficiaries of the American neoliberal surge, as a group. We all have rich relatives. And the neoconservatives who arose inside Jewish life to justify the military occupation of Palestine and American military support for it  have helped to corrupt American politics. The neoconservative rise was aided by conservative Jewish wealth–in a word, the Israel lobby. I don’t think any analysis of our foreign policy can get anywhere without dealing with these facts; and because the Jewish rise was the largest sociological fact I have observed in my life, I’m damned if I’m going to shut up about it. Jews must find a way to talk about our wealth and privilege.

But to repeat myself, there is no reference to Palestine on the JFREJ page. When Udi Aloni spoke at Occupy Wall Street the other day– I am told– he thumped the Palestinian issue and was booed by about 30 people in a crowd of hundreds. And of course the great Israeli Udi just thumped the issue again! But he was booed.

Many leftwing Jews just want the issue to go away. It won’t. At our workshop, they passed around a printout with a long teaching about Stonewall riots in 1969. A Jewish man wrote about kissing his boyfriend publicly for the first time. While it is only right to acknowledge my own retrograde presence on that issue, my own failure on the gay rights issue, my late awakening to it– Stonewall was a long time ago. And right now there is apartheid in Palestine. There is stateless rightslessness for 4 million people in a kind of prison and the organized Jewish community in the U.S. enables that.

We’re a wounded community. There is a reason that so many of the Jewish progressive callsat the JFREJ page are vague: we all have neocons in our families and we understand them at some level, for we know that they operate out of fear for the Jews in Israel.

Of course you can say that all of Occupy Wall Street is unfocused, and that’s its charm. I agree. But our vagueness represents an identity crisis. We can’t come to terms with hard facts: our community’s overwhelming support for oppression in Palestine. We can’t come to terms with our American success that places many of us in the 1 percent.

In the middle of yesterday’s crowd, Peter Schiff came in, the commentator, in a fancy suit with a big sign saying I’m the 1 Percent, Let’s Talk. He was surrounded by angry protesters. Some of them had an analysis, and he came back at them with a capitalist libertarian analysis, morally vacuous. Still, I liked the fact that he was honest about where he sits. I think the Jewish community has to be honest about where our community sits, and then try and define community differently, not ethnocentrically. But I hated Schiff’s moral irresponsibility, his lack of concern for the many, many losers in his system. The left has better political imagination than that. Jews have better imagination. I’m waiting.

PS. Here’s Lisa Goldman’s post on the Kol Nidrei service at OWS. They did talk about Palestine a little there.

AJC and ADL urge Jewish community not to bicker, so that US politicians don’t waver in support for ‘the Jewish State’
Oct 21, 2011

Philip Weiss

Here is a statement from two leading Jewish orgs warning the Jewish community that if there’s one thing that “candidates for high office” of all American parties stand for, it’s support for Israel, what the orgs refer to repeatedly as “the Jewish State.”

The statement was issued jointly by the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League, which are worried that Israel support could become a political football in the upcoming political campaigns. They don’t want the issue politicized, they want monolithic Jewish support for Israel so that the politicians don’t dream of questioning U.S. support for Israel. Abe Foxman admits that they’re worried:

“We want the discourse on U.S. support for Israel to avoid the sometimes polarizing debates and political attacks that have emerged in recent weeks, as candidates have challenged their opponents’ pro-Israel bone fides or questioned the current administration’s foreign policy approach vis-à-vis Israel…The last thing America and Israel need right now is the distractions of having Israel bandied about as a tool for waging political attacks.”

And here is from the joint statement calling on the “Jewish community” to stop any fractures from appearing:

The Jewish community has had a strong interest in ensuring that American support for Israel is one of the critical strategic issues that unites rather than divides parties and officials.  U.S. – Israel friendship should never be used as a political wedge issue. At a time when Israel is confronting new dangers and challenges in a fast changing Middle East, the United States must continue to project to the world the solid support of the American people and their elected representatives for Israel’s rights and quest for peace and security.  U.S. leadership in the efforts to achieve an agreement resolving the conflict that results in two states—the Jewish state of Israel and a Palestinian state, living side by side in peaceful coexistence—is more critical than ever.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *