- During the time of the siege
- One-state debate explodes myth about the Zionist left
- Why I’m fasting on Tisha B’av
- Orphans and cataracts– IHH is a charity
- In an effort to combat BDS, the JCRC doubles down on the occupation
- Closing the settlement loophole
- Israel on Tish’a B’Av, 2010
- Getting to one state
- Today in Palestine: 1:30 a.m. raid with 12 Jeeps nets… 17-year-old Palestinian
- When is the ‘Times’ going to run a furious piece about Knesset bills that discriminate against Palestinians?
Posted: 20 Jul 2010 04:58 PM PDT
During the time of the siege, Ahmed, a very young child in Gaza, left his home with his family because it was located very close to a big mosque that people had heard was going to be bombed. Later, while he was playing football, he was bombed by an Israeli F-16, separating his body into very small pieces. Ahmed escaped from his destiny to his destiny.
During the time of the siege, Zyneb, a youth in her twenties, was prevented from leaving Gaza to receive medical attention. Due to that, she passed away and was the first victim of the siege. She left her family, husband, and many friends, all who loved her. After she passed away, one of the Israeli soldiers who worked hard to prevent her from leaving, asked her father, as he was carrying her dead body, “Why do you cry? All of us will die!”
During the time of the siege, Salah, a very clever youth who was forced to leave school to work in one of Rafah’s tunnels in order to provide food for his family, was suffocated under the sand of a destroyed tunnel. He joined the list of 150 people who died inside the tunnels while they were “smuggling” food and medicine to their besieged people.
During the time of the siege, Fadel, a very handsome journalist was killed while he was covering an Israeli attack on Gaza, carrying only his camera. He joined the list of dozens of journalists who were killed by the same means, and maybe even by the same soldiers.
During the time of the siege, Abed, a new high school graduate was prevented from leaving Gaza to attend a university outside. He lost his opportunity to continue his education like students do all over the world.
During the time of the siege, Islamic University of Gaza was attacked, but its academic staff and students were determined to continue to reach their goal of conveying their eternal message to the whole world. They showed the world that determination could be enough to change the face of history.
20 Jul 2010
A fascinating debate is entering Israel’s political mainstream on a once-taboo subject: the establishment of a single state as a resolution of the conflict, one in which Jews and Palestinians might potentially live as equal citizens. Surprisingly, those advocating such a solution are to be found chiefly on Israel’s political right.
20 Jul 2010
Today is Tisha B’av, the ninth of the Jewish month of Av, a day when Jews traditionally remember the destruction of the Temples and other tragedies of our history by fasting and reading from the Book of Lamentations, culminating a three week period of remembering and mourning. As I fast, I am remembering the destruction that so many teachers, advertisements, politicians, a lobby group, and synagogues have tried to instruct me to ‘forget’ or not know: the destruction of Palestine. This destruction continues today, as we see the actions of modern day Israel in repressing freedom of speech, movement, and quality of life.
The idea of destroying someone’s sacred site had always been appalling to me – shouldn’t holy grounds remain beyond the reach of warfare, just as the lives of children should remain untouchable by the clutches of warriors? My naivety has waned as I have grown to understand that warfare is a blind beast that cannot help but harm the innocent and the sacred, like a man sick with the disease of addiction who will harm those in his path, a bull in a china shop. Nonetheless the reaches of the violence of occupation are still unnerving. One year ago I was standing in a destroyed Palestinian village in northern Israel, staring at what was once a sacred mosque, and is now an off-limits crumbling building (pictured right), sealed by the same barbed wire that kept my not-so-distant relatives in the death camps in Poland.
How do we mourn destruction while it continues in every moment? Even as I write this new settlement homes are being built in the West Bank and companies continue to profit from occupation. For so long many have cried out for an end to the destruction, shook their fists in the air, marched, rallied, lamented, sobbed. It is essential to feel our grief and to vocalize it, but it is not enough. Today is a day that my people do not eat to express our grief. But there is something more we can do. We can refuse to buy the products that continue to destroy people’s lives, homes, and sacred sites. By putting our money where our mouths are, and refusing to imbibe products that have led to the suffering of people elsewhere on the planet, we can embody our values.
And truly embodiment is at the core of Tisha B’av. During the time of wandering the desert for 40 years after fleeing slavery in Egypt, legend says that my Jewish ancestors would dig shallow graves for themselves on the night of Tisha B’av and lie down in them to sleep, so that when they awoke they literally crawled out of their graves and were reborn anew. Tisha B’av is not only about mourning death and destruction, then, it is also about rebirth and renewal, the promise of creative innovation that destruction forces upon us.
Mishna Taanit 1.6-1.7 states that the public ritual during days of fasting include imposed limits on “buying and selling; on building and planting; on betrothals and weddings; and on inquiring about each other’s well-being…” Perhaps we can continue to carry this imposition through for the following weeks until the High Holidays (the Jewish New Year, a time for reflection, mourning, and the creation of resolute commitments for the year to come) and beyond, until a just peace is attained in the Middle East. We can refuse to buy goods made in the Occupied Territories, or do business with companies who are illegally profiting from the occupation; we can refuse to support businesses that contribute to the building of settlements; we can ensure that all people can live, love, and grow in peace.
As I write this, an angry backlash has sprung up in response to one moral act of boycotting a business involved in the illegal occupation of the West Bank: ultra-Orthodox and pro-occupation groups are calling for a buycott of illegally-made Ahava cosmetics sold at Ricky’s, a family beauty supply chain in New York City. The buycott call comes after peace groups CODEPINK and Brooklyn for Peace coordinated a public action outside the Brooklyn store on July 9. An online “mud fight” erupted in the comments section of a Brooklyn article about the peace action, in which people commenting went so far as to equate one activist with pogroms and make comments about her vagina and sexuality. Groups including the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) on the East Coast have stepped up to defend the occupation by promoting this product. Read more about it in Adam Horowitz’s post. It seems that when the ugly truth behind fancy skin care products is revealed, the beauty of Jewish teachings in the minds of those who profess to be most observant is more dead than the Dead Sea itself.
May the ancient teachings of Tisha B’av be remembered in place of modern attempts to wipe out the history of a people living in a land that was given to a people without a land.
“Any person who can prevent the people of their household from committing a sin but does not is responsible for the sins of their household. If a person can prevent the people of their city from sinning, they are responsible for the sins of the people of their city. If the whole world, that person is responsible for the sins of the whole world.” ~ Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 54b
Rae Abileah ([email protected]) is a national organizer with CODEPINK Women for Peace and lives in San Francisco, CA. Join the monthly Jewish Fast for Gaza at http://fastforgaza.net/ and pledge to boycott of Ahava products at www.stolenbeauty.org.
20 Jul 2010
At Huffington Post, director of Cultures of Resistance and flotilla member, Iara Lee demonstrates that the attacks on IHH, the Turkish charity that helped organized the Gaza flotilla, are essentially Islamophobic. “Slandering the good guys”:
20 Jul 2010
The leaders of the American Jewish community continue to struggle with how to respond to the the growing BDS movement. The Jewish Community Relations Committee of Greater Washington has adopted a particularly strange approach – they want their members to actively support the occupation.
This call is in response the Code Pink “Stolen Beauty” campaign targeting Ahava cosmetics, which are produced in the West Bank settlement of Mitzpe Shalem.
Here’s a recent newsletter the JCRC sent out:
20 Jul 2010
Yousef Munayyer, Executive Director of the Jerusalem Fund and the Palestine Center, writes in Foreign Policy’s Middle East Channel about ending tax exempt donations to Israeli settlements. Acknowledging that efforts to challenge this practice through the IRS hasn’t worked, he suggests a government-led interagency approach:
20 Jul 2010
The video above was sent to us by an Israeli activist who goes by the name gangreentv. They also sent this explanation:
Today is Tish’a B’Av, the day on the Hebrew calendar that Jews all over the world commemorate the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem because of baseless hatred. So it’s especially ironic that his past week we witnessed no less than FOUR new laws proposed and passed in the Israeli Knesset that are outrageously anti-democratic in nature:
Under these circumstances, it is nearly impossible to not feel inexorably swept towards total fascism. Combining the dystopic art of local artist Yosi Even Kama with the video for the Flobots’ song “Handlebars” approaches a sense of the fear and frustration that the peace and justice camp is currently experiencing in Israel.
Posted: 20 Jul 2010 09:57 AM PDT
I’ve been grappling with the refugee issue for a long time now. I’ve mostly avoided writing about it because I don’t know what the right and workable solution is. So many thanks to Ben Zakkai for forcing the question – and more introspection. The right of return is sacrosanct and inviolable, but it’s not a coherent policy on its own. I hope to write about Palestinian refugees in the near future, but for now I want to address the substantive question of how to bring about a one-state solution which Zakkai (and Chomsky) also raised.
Zakkai’s call for a Palestinian enfranchisement campaign in the Occupied Territories is a no-brainer so far as I’m concerned. I’ve written before that I believe that the ‘two-state’ solution exists purely in the feverish minds of Zionists and their clients in the West Bank. That belief has resulted in a kind of lazy faith in the organic rise of a Palestinian enfranchisement movement. My thinking was that it’s only a matter of time before everyone everywhere realizes that there will never be a Palestinian state. And because people resist systemic repression, they will continue to agitate for freedom. Taking a long historical perspective and a fluid view of global public opinion, well, how can we not end up at the one-state solution?
We can and should take a decidedly more active approach to bringing about the one-state solution. Talking and writing about Palestinian enfranchisement is one kind of advocacy work, but there is more we can do.
There are factors whose bearing on the one-state solution – or rather, the movement for Palestinian voting rights – is unknowable. Mahmoud Abbas’ militia in the West Bank has done an admirable job of putting a Palestinian face on the Israeli occupation. Dissent in the West Bank today means a call from Yuval Diskin to Mohammed Dahlan and an uncomfortably intimate rendezvous with a Coke bottle. Meanwhile, Fayyad cannily co-opts BDS forms, if not goals. That may seem innocuous at worst, but it really means The Functionary hopes to gain control of something that isn’t his for use as leverage against the Israelis. The last time a hapless Palestinian leader succeeded in doing that, we plunged from popular Intifada to malignant Oslo. Call it the desperate and vainglorious stench of an old man’s last appeal for relevance.
So we’re confronted by important questions: How does a movement whose purpose is to undo the Jewish state take root and take off in a Vichy environment?; How do we abolish the Palestinian Authority?; How do we reform the PLO (an organization designed to liberate a colonized people, not to enfranchise them)?; and other related and corresponding questions on the Israeli side.
People on both sides are making progress in advancing the cause for Palestinian enfranchisement. The impact of conversations like this one shouldn’t be underestimated, if only to concretize proposals and isolate the rough crags. The recent launch of Takamol is very encouraging as well; it’s the next step in studying and presenting a positive political program in digestible form. Yet, none of these mitigate the problems implicit in the questions I’ve posed above.
The answer may be in an idea proposed to me by an Israeli woman. She suggested that we create a supranational political party to run in both the PNC and Knesset on a one-state platform. I responded that I thought that the time may be premature, but that the idea itself was a very good one.
Elections are to polls what a biopsy is to an X-RAY. Creating a political party is a way to simultaneously gauge and promote support for the full enfranchisement of Palestinians in Palestine/Israel. Doing so also presents an opportunity to encourage the fuller participation of Palestinian-Israelis in Knesset elections. A one-state party with a unified Palestinian and Jewish leadership can also undermine the endemic corruption in Palestinian national institutions like the Palestinian Authority. By seeking to participate in elections, supporters of the one-state solution can more directly impact the political agenda in Palestine/Israel.
But I do think it’s a little too early for this approach. There’s no reason to believe that free and fair elections like those conducted in 2006 will ever take place again so long as the Abbasniks are on the scene. Yet, declaring the formation of a party will still capture the attention of large segments of the population. Heretofore supportive but bashful segments of the population (I know they’re out there) may take heart in witnessing the development of a formalized charter. Party congresses can be organized to elect the leadership and formalize bylaws, programs, etc… While elections aren’t going to happen, it’s worth waiting until the Abbas/Fayyad exilarchy is slightly more discredited before making that declaration. Neither one of those gerontocrats is likely to subordinate his ego to the public good. Furthermore, the Merkava tanks that sustain them are still too widely prevalent in Palestinian streets for anyone to publically call for their early retirement (to the south of France?).
Likewise, I’m not sure that the Israelis will permit a non or anti-Zionist party to register for elections in their state, particularly now that Israel is demonstrating openly fascist tendencies. It’s impossible to predict where Israel is going, but my guess is that we’re in for a total or near-total collapse of Jewish-Israeli society before something gives. Jewish Israelis have exhibited a remarkably high threshold for atrocity (of course, they’re not the first stupidly vicious and narcotized population in human history). And despite Gideon Levy’s best efforts, too many Israelis continue to snort Zionism in large doses. One is reminded (somewhat ironically) of the title of Nikolai Chernyshevsky’s famous book, “What is to be done?”
Right now, in the short term, the best thing we can do is promote and explore the idea through forums like this. Ben Zakkai’s Articles should be developed further so that we end up with a constitutional outline (my personal preference is for federation) – the point is to develop something concrete. Probably a working group comprised of well-intentioned people from both sides can develop a host of preliminary drafts and the best ideas from each can be lifted to create an aggregate proposal. At that stage, an abbreviated version can be presented in newspapers, ads, and other widely consumed public media. Civil society organizations can be contacted for feedback and encouraged to endorse core principles, if not the comprehensive plan itself.
It’s worth cultivating a one-state leadership even at this likely distant juncture. I know Azmi Bishara is widely popular among the Palestinians in Israel, Palestine and Lebanon. And he’s voiced interest in the one-state solution, if not outright support. Maybe Avraham Burg will one day identify publically as a non, post or anti-Zionist and he could represent the sane portion of Israeli society.
I’m aware that one-state conferences have been organized in the West in the past. I haven’t heard of any others being organized (I’d be very grateful to learn of any that are). Perhaps it’s time to begin thinking about organizing another one in either Amman or Cairo so that both Palestinians and Israelis can ‘freely’ attend (what do we do about Palestinians from Gaza?).
The point is that we’re already engaging in diffuse education and organizing around the cause for Palestinian enfranchisement in Palestine/Israel. There is no reason we can’t take a more active approach to organizing around these conversations.
Posted: 20 Jul 2010 09:13 AM PDT
And other news from Today in Palestine:
Land theft and destruction/Ethnic cleansing
Israel brings down Palestinians’ tents
When is the ‘Times’ going to run a furious piece about Knesset bills that discriminate against Palestinians?
Posted: 20 Jul 2010 05:51 AM PDT
Alana Newhouse of Tablet has a piece on the Times Op-Ed page expressing fury at the Knesset bill that would grant final say over Jewish conversions to a group of Orthodox rabbis.
Maybe I was supposed to skip that line? It’s undoubtedly an important issue and another example of the discrimination being pushed forward in Israel, but Newhouse really might have opened up the discussion to other forms of Israeli discrimination. I guess what’s happening to Palestinians is on some sort of different plane?
Newhouse says that a Jewish identity formed by mutually-reinforcing communities in the Diaspora and Israel is critical to the Jewish future. I think that’s the problem; a Jewish identity rooted in power politics that ignores the oppression of others.