Peace for Israelis and Palestinians? Not without America’s tough love

Peace for Israelis and Palestinians? Not without America’s tough love.
An Israeli student explains why the US should act on moral outrage over Israel’s discriminatory policies before it’s too late.

By Jonathan Ben-Artzi
posted April 1, 2010 at 11:48 am EDT

Providence, R.I. —
More than 20 years ago, many Americans decided they could no longer watch as racial segregation divided South Africa. Compelled by an injustice thousands of miles away, they demanded that their communities, their colleges, their municipalities, and their government take a stand.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Today, a similar discussion is taking place on campuses across the United States. Increasingly, students are questioning the morality of the ties US institutions have with the unjust practices being carried out in Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territories. Students are seeing that these practices are often more than merely “unjust.” They are racist. Humiliating. Inhumane. Savage.

Sometimes it takes a good friend to tell you when enough is enough. As they did with South Africa two decades ago, concerned citizens across the US can make a difference by encouraging Washington to get the message to Israel that this cannot continue.

A legitimate question is, Why should I care? Americans are heavily involved in the conflict: from funding (the US provides Israel with roughly $3 billion annually in military aid) to corporate investments (Microsoft has one of its major facilities in Israel) to diplomatic support (the US has vetoed 32 United Nations Security Council resolutions unsavory to Israel between 1982 and 2006).

Why do I care? I am an Israeli. Both my parents were born in Israel. Both my grandmothers were born in Palestine (when there was no “Israel” yet). In fact, I am a ninth-generation native of Palestine. My ancestors were among the founders of today’s modern Jerusalem.

Both my grandfathers fled the Nazis and came to Palestine. Both were subsequently injured in the 1948 Arab-Israli War. My mother’s only brother was a paratrooper killed in combat in 1968. All of my relatives served in the Israeli military for extensive periods of time, some of them in units most people don’t even know exist.

In Israel, military service for both men and women is compulsory. When my time to serve came, I refused, because I realized I was obliged to do something about these acts of segregation. I was denied conscientious objector status, like the majority of 18-year-old males who seek this status. Because I refused to serve, I spent a year and a half in military prison.

Some of the acts of segregation that I saw while growing up in Israel include towns for Jews only, immigration laws that allow Jews from around the world to immigrate but deny displaced indigenous Palestinians that same right, and national healthcare and school systems that receive significantly more funding in Jewish towns than in Arab towns.

As former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in 2008: “We have not yet overcome the barrier of discrimination, which is a deliberate discrimination and the gap is insufferable…. Governments have denied [Arab Israelis] their rights to improve their quality of life.”

The situation in the occupied territories is even worse. Nearly 4 million Palestinians have been living under Israeli occupation for over 40 years without the most basic human and civil rights.

One example is segregation on roads in the West Bank, where settlers travel on roads that are for Jews only, while Palestinians are stopped at checkpoints, and a 10-mile commute might take seven hours.

Another example is discrimination in water supply: Israel pumps drinking water from occupied territory (in violation of international law). Israelis use as much as four times more water than Palestinians, while Palestinians are not allowed to dig their own wells and must rely on Israeli supply.

Civil freedom is no better: In an effort to break the spirit of Palestinians, Israel conducts sporadic arrests and detentions with no judicial supervision. According to one prisoner support and human rights association, roughly 4 in 10 Palestinian males have spent some time in Israeli prisons. That’s 40 percent of all Palestinian males!

And finally, perhaps one of the greatest injustices takes place in the Gaza Strip, where Israel is collectively punishing more than 1.5 million Palestinians by sealing them off in the largest open-air prison on earth.

Because of the US’s relationship with Israel, it is important for all Americans to educate themselves about the realities of the conflict. When they do, they will realize that just as much as support for South Africa decades ago was mostly damaging for South Africa itself, contemporary blind support for Israel hurts us Israelis.

We must lift the ruthless siege of Gaza, which only breeds more anger and frustration among Gazans, who respond by hurling primitive, homemade rockets at Israeli towns.

We must remove travel restrictions from West Bank Palestinians. How can we live in peace with a population where most children cannot visit their grandparents living in the neighboring village, without being stopped and harassed at military checkpoints for hours?

Finally, we must give equal rights to all. Regardless of what the final resolution will be – the so-called “one state solution,” the “two state solution,” or any other form of governance.

Israel governs the lives of 5.5 million Israeli Jews, 1.5 million Israeli Palestinians, and 4 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. As long as Israel is responsible for all of these people, it must ensure that all have equal rights, the same access to resources, and the same opportunities in education and healthcare. Only through such a platform of basic human rights for all humans can a resolution come to the region.

If Americans truly are our friends, they should shake us up and take away the keys, because right now we are driving drunk, and without this wake-up call, we will soon find ourselves in the ditch of an undemocratic, doomed state.

Jonathan Ben-Artzi was one of the spokespeople for the Hadash party in the Israeli general elections in 2006. His parents are professors in Israel, and his extended family includes uncle Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr. Ben-Artzi is a PhD student at Brown University in Providence, R.I.

7 Responses to “Peace for Israelis and Palestinians? Not without America’s tough love”

  • Patriot says:

    A deaf and defiant Israel is gambling with its future
    By Max Hastings

    Published: March 26 2010 22:46 | Last updated: March 26 2010 22:46

    A storm of international criticism has this week fallen upon Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister. Yet, rather than expend ink on the moral shortcomings of Israeli expansionism on the West Bank, it seems more useful to address the only issue of interest to Mr Netanyahu’s constituency: can he get away with it?

    Some Israeli nationalists note that history is replete with nations that have adjusted borders to their own advantage after winning wars. The Soviets did so on a grand scale in 1945, displacing millions of unwanted people from eastern Europe. Who today remembers that the Russian city of Kaliningrad was East Prussian Konigsberg? Who has any serious appetite for recovering the eastern lands Stalin took from the Poles?

    Israel’s pre-1967 frontiers reflect only the 1948 ceasefire lines. Likud supporters say: since the Arab world refuses to recognise any legitimate existence whatever for Israel, where lies the advantage in restricting its overcrowded population within arbitrary old limits?

    The phrase “Middle East peace process” is constantly misused. If such a thing existed before Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated, it has not done so since. Israel has pursued an uninterrupted programme of settlement expansion in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, where there are now 177,000 Jewish settlers.

    The government labours tirelessly to create facts on the ground. The security wall dividing Israel from the Palestinians has curbed the terrorist threat. Mr Netanyahu – at heart what he has always been, a believer in a greater Israel embracing much of the West Bank – makes a cold calculation about US behaviour. He perceives President Barack Obama as an enemy, but judges that Congress and the American people want no breach.

    The Palestinians, and indeed the Arabs at large, have few American friends outside the oil and arms businesses. The terrorist attacks of September 11 were a disaster for them. Most Americans are viscerally fearful of the Muslim world. They accept Israel, their enemy’s enemy, as their friend. It enjoys powerful, even fanatical, support from evangelical Christians.

    In Israel, the popular mood is remarkably complacent. The economy, with a pre-2009 growth rate of about 5 per cent, has shrunk only slightly while those of most western nations languish. Real median income is about $37,000 (€27,800, £24,850), ahead of Singapore, Hong Kong and Ireland. Israelis even cherish hopes that their demographic problems are receding. The local Arab birthrate has fallen while that of Jews has marginally increased.

    The Jerusalem Post carried a headline last year: “Let’s leverage the good demographic news”, editorialising below it: “The Jewish demographic tailwind behooves the new government to introduce a demographic road map, which would increase the Jewish majority, while respecting the rights of the Arab minority”. It urged Mr Netanyahu to prioritise further Jewish immigration. It is doubtful whether Mr Obama’s anger will change this mood, unless or until Washington imposes a tangible price.

    It is left to Israeli intellectuals and strategists to voice fears for the future. The most obvious is that, if their governments persist with the policies of recent years, they condemn the country to permanent isolation, indeed war. It seems a dangerous gamble, to found a small nation’s polity exclusively upon faith in eternal military superiority. Whatever the demographic blips, a fundamental persists: Arabs in Palestine, denied rights taken for granted in every western democracy, are increasing in number faster than Jews. Israel’s notional population, including West Bank settlers and 26 per cent Israeli Arabs, is 7.5m. But many Jews who claim Israeli citizenship choose not to live in their professed country – the exact proportion is not revealed by Jerusalem, but US intelligence estimates 20 per cent.

    Many thoughtful Jews, inside and outside Israel, debate philosophical issues about the entire basis on which the state, and especially such a government as that of Mr Netanyahu, conducts its policies. French historian Esther Benbassa has just published a notable book called Suffering As Identity. She argues that Jews must look to the future rather than the past and cease to define their world view in terms of the Holocaust, ruthlessly politicised since the 1950s.

    “How can Israel base an entire national identity on the genocide,” she asks, “and bind its youth to this history of suffering, which turns peace with the country’s neighbours into an increasingly abstract notion?

    “Do Israelis have the right to speak in the name of those who died in the genocide? Have [the dead] ever approved of the use that some make of their tragic destiny, bending it to the service of nationalist aspirations at the expense of the Palestinians, who are in no way responsible for the catastrophe that befell the European Jews?”

    In the short-term it seems plausible, even likely, that Mr Netanyahu can defy Mr Obama. Israel’s tragedy is that it is an ever more inward-looking society: proud of its prosperity, deaf to foreign opinion, contemptuous of the Arabs. It wilfully ignores the prospect that its Palestinian neighbours can never forge a viable society capable of responsible behaviour on lands chequered with Israeli settlements and strategic roads.

    Yet Israel’s claim upon East Jerusalem is rooted in a sense of moral entitlement, which the rest of the world increasingly rejects. Some day Americans will awaken to the heavy strategic price their own nation pays for indulging Israeli excesses. Israel may be successful in securing all of Jerusalem within its own borders. But it runs the historic risk of making itself, by a ghastly irony, a pariah state.

    The writer is an FT contributing editor

    Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2010.

  • Patriot says:

    Israel knows apartheid has no future

    By Mustafa Barghouthi

    Published: April 5 2010 19:23 | Last updated: April 5 2010 19:23

    After decades of military rule over Palestinians and theft of our land, Israeli leaders are increasingly seeing the writing on the wall. They are at least acknowledging reality, if not yet grappling with the consequences.

    In 2007, Ehud Olmert, then prime minister, declared: “If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished.” More recently, making a similar point, Ehud Barak, Israel’s defence minister, said “as long as between the Jordan and the sea there is only one political entity, named Israel, it will end up being either non-Jewish or non-democratic … If the Palestinians vote in elections, it is a bi-national state, and if they don’t, it is an apartheid state.”

    But when do the “ifs” of Mr Olmert and Mr Barak no longer describe a possible future, but the current reality? Apartheid is here. There is one set of Israeli laws applied to Palestinians in the West Bank and another set applied to Jews in the West Bank. Israeli settlers live illegally in beautiful subsidised housing on stolen Palestinian land while we are relegated to smaller and smaller bantustans.

    I believe, even today, in the importance of the two-state solution. But with every passing day I see what can only be described as Israel’s dogged determination to block such an outcome. The time has come to tell Washington that the viability of the two-state solution is being destroyed on Barack Obama’s watch. President Obama inherited this difficulty from his predecessor. But old problems have become Obama problems.

    When Washington fails to act decisively towards this festering conflict, it is in fact acting decisively. Billions of American taxpayers’ dollars continue to flow to Israeli coffers. And American diplomatic capital is still spent to shield Israel from world censure.

    I have good reason to believe the intentions of this administration are better than those of predecessors, but the timing for Palestinian freedom is never good, it seems. Presidents and congressional leaders will always face opposition to US calls for constraining Israeli growth in the West Bank and East Jerusalem – if not from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Zionist Organisation of America then from the John Hagees of the Christian right. George Mitchell, Mr Obama’s emissary, came to the region touting a full Israeli freeze on settlements. Israel refused and the US flinched. Following last week’s Aipac conference in Washington, the Americans may flinch a second time. A second cave-in on settlements will signal to Palestinians that the Obama administration is not serious about restraining Israel’s efforts to foil peace talks and the two-state solution.

    Like Cassandra, responsible leaders in our region can only warn that allowing Israel to run roughshod over our rights will have dangerous consequences. Anticipating these dangers, colleagues and I have sought to marshal the power of non-violent direct action against Israel’s occupation and apartheid system to highlight the injustice of its actions and encourage Israelis and American Jews to see that we do not oppose them but the actions of the Israeli government. We have achieved some success, but it is insufficient.

    We are now in the early stages of a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions directed at this Israeli government for its refusal to abide by international law. Such action successfully overturned Jim Crow laws in the American South and apartheid in South Africa, and we are slowly applying it to Israeli occupation and apartheid. But until students seize on it with the same moral fervency as earlier generations did against Jim Crow and South African apartheid, we will achieve only marginal success.

    That day of student engagement is coming. I have spoken on many American and European campuses and see change in the more diverse audiences I address today as opposed to 20 years ago. These young people, including many progressive Jewish activists, recognise that this is not a conflict between Arabs and Jews, but between universal conceptions of freedom and antiquated notions of racial supremacy and colonisation. These audiences are on the road to endorsing the BDS campaign because they are aware that their political leaders are, with rare exceptions, unwilling to challenge Israel’s subjugation of Palestinians.

    American politicians may be the last to embrace our struggle – be it the urgency of a truly sovereign Palestinian state side by side with Israel or one state with equal rights for all – but the equation is shifting and their calculus will not always be towards knee-jerk support for Israel. Our moral case is too powerful.

    The writer is secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative and a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council

  • Patriot says:

    —– Forwarded Message —–

    From: “WVNS”

    Sent: Friday, April 9, 2010 5:00:03 PM GMT -08:00 US/Canada Pacific
    Subject: [wvns] A new political option for confronting Israel

    A new political option for confronting Israel
    Hasan Abu Nimah
    The Electronic Intifada
    9 April 2010

    As more people recognize that the “peace process” has come to an
    unbridgeable impasse, there is debate. Some, especially those who
    prospered from the path of failed negotiations, argue that there is no
    alternative to continuing with the US-brokered “peace process.” Others
    intimate that a third intifada might be the solution and there have even been warnings of regional war. Others still suggest the Arab states should withdraw their eight-year old Arab Peace Initiative.

    Neither war, nor an intifada — in the sense of a violent Palestinian
    response to Israel’s unrelenting violent aggression — are the only
    alternatives. Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, recognized by foreign powers
    as the head of the Palestinian Authority, has constantly expressed
    strong opposition to any armed resistance against the occupier, and has frequently condemned and ridiculed resistance. And, after ignoring them for years, Abbas and his colleagues have lately started to endorse and even associate themselves with the nonviolent struggle of Palestinians in the West Bank, which are always met with Israeli aggression and brutality.

    This however is not the only kind of nonviolence I see as a possible
    alternative: there is also a political option. It is important to
    recognize first that all efforts to settle the century-old conflict
    caused by the Zionist invasion of Palestine have failed because they
    were unjust, arbitrary, distant from legality, and did nothing to right fundamental wrongs.

    A new political strategy would involve recognizing this basic
    shortcoming and demand a return to legality, in effect a return to the
    days before the 1991 Madrid Conference which launched the past two
    decades of futile “negotiations” and accelerated Israeli colonization.

    The Arab States, including the Palestinians, could demand full
    implementation of Security Council Resolution 242 in the same manner as it was implemented on the Egyptian side leading to the total evacuation of all the Egyptian occupied territories including the removal of all illegally-built settlements on Egyptian soil. This significant precedent should apply to Syria’s occupied lands as well.

    All the dubious formulas of Oslo, the Quartet, the Roadmap, Annapolis
    and the many other understandings should be dropped. The two-state
    solution should be dropped, too. Once the occupation ends and the

    Palestinians recover their territory they have the right then to
    establish their state on it independently from any Israeli or other
    foreign intervention. A Palestinian state on part of their historic
    homeland is not an Israeli gift. It is a right Palestinians alone can
    decide to exercise, if they so choose.

    The Arab states should insist on a comprehensive deal ending the
    struggle along such lines in its entirety. What applied to Sinai should exactly apply to the Syrian Golan Heights the West Bank including Jerusalem as the situation exactly was before the Israeli invasion on 5 June 1967. And as all Israeli settlements were removed from Sinai and Gaza they should be removed from the West Bank and the Golan Heights if international law is to be applied.

    The Arab States should not withdraw their peace offer. They should
    only amend it in accordance with the exact requirements of
    international law. They should not declare war on Israel but they
    should instead unite in demanding international justice in the United
    Nations — not the Quartet — in accordance with the relevant United
    Nations resolutions. They should not negotiate with Israel
    except through the United Nations apparatus. They should suspend any dealings with Israel until Israel complies with international legality and until justice is realized.

    The same should apply to the issue of Palestinian refugees, whom
    Israel bars from returning home in defiance of international law,
    justice and common practice because of its totally illegal and immoral
    position that they are not Jews. International law does not permit such blatant racist discrimination, and Arabs are within their rights to demand it end in accordance with the law.

    Under the prevailing circumstances all this may sound unrealistic.
    Perhaps so, but it seems that achieving Palestinian rights via the path of endless, unprincipled negotiations, or working with the occupation itself, has proven even more unrealistic and counterproductive. If the total closure of the road towards peace is not going to turn into uncontrollable violence this should be seriously considered.

    Continuing to negotiate with no purpose and no hope of progress with
    an intransigent Israel only leads to the degradation of the Palestinian and consequently Arab standing and dignity. It also provides a convenient cover for continued Israeli colonization and judaization of Palestinian and Arab lands.

    It is high time to admit that the peace process is dead; that Israel
    has so far manipulated it to consolidate the gains of its aggression;
    that exploiting Palestinian weakness and official Arab incompetence can only deepen the mistrust and the radicalization of Arab masses; and that the continued neutralization of the UN system is a recipe for
    growing violence and terror worldwide.

    Arabs should offer Israel a choice of either becoming part of the
    region by respecting international law and implementing UN resolutions — which would also guarantee whatever legitimate rights and concerns Israelis have — or continuing in isolation if it chooses rejection, racism and intransigence.

    Of course such Arab positions would be labeled as “radical” and “hard
    line.” The answer to that is simple: it is Israel’s insistence on its
    racist character and its defiance of the law that is radical, hardline
    and aggressive. Palestinian and Arab insistence on the implementation
    of UN resolutions that reflect a world consensus and universal rights
    could not be more moderate or reasonable.

    Hasan Abu Nimah is the former permanent representative of Jordan
    at the United Nations.



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  • Patriot says:

    General (Ret) James David (who is mentioned on the cover of the third edition of former Republican Congressman Paul Findley’s ‘They Dare to Speak Out’ book (about the power/influence of the pro-Israel lobby on the US political system and media) wrote the intro below

    ———- Forwarded message ———-

    From: General (Ret) James David
    Date: Wed, Apr 7, 2010 at 11:15 AM
    Subject: Ashrawi: No chance for peace with Netanyahu

    It’s too bad that the Israelis don’t have anyone as intelligent as Dr. Ashrawi. If they did, the entire world would be better off. If you want to read a great interview then this is a must. If you can’t read the entire interview then at least read the last paragraph.

    Ashrawi: No chance for peace with Netanyahu – Haaretz – Israel News

    Last update – 19:29 07/04/2010

    By Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz Correspondent

    Tags: Israel news

    Dr Hanan Ashrawi, the first woman to be elected a member of the PLO’s Executive Committee, is skeptical that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas could deliver if U.S. President Barack Obama indeed goes ahead with a new Middle East peace plan.

    “I know Netanyahu even before Madrid,” she told Haaretz.

    “Do I think that peace is possible with this government? No. This government is doing everything possible, in every way, to undermine perspective of peace. To preempt talks, to act unilaterally, to challenge, to provoke, to escalate, particularly in Jerusalem. And the language that is coming from some members of the coalition – it’s language of pure racism and hatred. So it’s not just the policy, it’s the actions on the ground. And even to the point that they are really want to act as occupiers not only in the West bank and in Gaza, but also in Washington.

    Politically, Netanyahu has decided that he works with Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu, and that type of coalition doesn’t bode well for peace at all and stability or non-violence or any type of responsible communication. But I really cannot forecast what would happen with another government. Because what we need to see – it’s not certain statements and proclamations, but actions on the ground.”

    Should the Palestinians participate in proximity talks?

    “It’s very ironic because those proximity talks were name of the game in 80-s, when Israel did not recognize the PLO and we set up these proximity talks in Holland with the Dutch foreign minister mediation. We had two delegations – PLO and the Israelis sitting in separate rooms, and the Dutch foreign minister going between them So it’s a regression, we’ve got way beyond that. It’s too little, too late. What is needed now is an urgent action on the ground. When you go into proximity talks it’s a question of talks, the behavior on the ground negates the talks. And there is no progress on substantive issues. We said, if you can define an endgame, if you can accept the 67 boundaries with East Jerusalem as a capital of Palestine, we can pick up from where the previous talks were left off. And have third party involvement on the ground and move rapidly. Of course we must stop settlement activities.”

    You got to the U.S. the week of Netanyahu-Obama’s tense meeting. What did you hear at your lectures and meetings here?

    “On the whole people have been feeling that Israel is going too far and it has to take into account American interests, not only its own interests. I won’t say it’s a turning point – there is still a commitment to Israel strategic interests and even public opinion and so on but in general people are more willing to be critical. I think it will get to the government level. There are things that cannot be done – when they tell you that it jeopardizes national security and interests and you continue saying our interest trump yours, and it’s not even security interests, it’s expansionism and illegal act that no one approves? And even the atmosphere and approach – you don’t come to Washington and tell them ‘we are going to come to your capital and defy you here.’ I think PM Netanyahu got some candid messages from President Obama, and I hope that Netanyahu will come with some serious responsible answers.”

    PM Netanyahu said – and Secretary of State Clinton agreed with him – that he offered Palestinians more than any other Israeli leader before him.

    “It’s only a rhetoric. This is a fiction, this settlements freeze. He is building in and around Jerusalem, at an escalated pace. He is building public institutions, he announced new settlements. So it’s a grand deception, to create an illusion that he is positive.”

    When the Israeli PM got a cold shoulder in Washington, what did you think?

    “I thought that if the Americans hadn’t done that it would be very demeaning and very insulting – in their own capital. They can’t just ignore it. Sooner or later the U.S. has to end this culture of impunity, and Israel has to abide by rules. At least the sounds from the administration now are more firm than they were before. Netanyahu’s government went too far, even with the closest ally and a patron and the benefactor. They went too far and there is a certain degree of arrogance, an no one can take it. I am sure he knew about the settlements, and besides, not knowing doesn’t absolve one from crime. He should know, and if he didn’t know, it’s worse. Because he kept saying that these were plans from before. But than he started talking about all things 3000 years ago and Jerusalem is our capital and we will continue to build – this kind of ideology is not a contemporary language, it’s inconsistent with negotiations or peace. It’s ideological language. If you don?t want peace – it’s OK to talk like that. You will quote Bible, others will quote Quran or new testament. This is ridiculous.”

    So do you think President Obama can do it?

    “I don’t know about imposing the solution but I think that we are beginning to see some sort of determination on behalf of the Americans. This past year was a real setback for peace. The Mitchell mission was an exercise in futility. He came with a position that settlement activities have to stop – all of them – and then Netanyahu dragged him into discussions on details and technicalities and got him to overlook the Jerusalem settlements. We are running out of time but the whole year was wasted. Netanyahu, frankly, got Mitchell a run around. Senator Mitchell is not new in the field and it’s a shame he ended up going the way of Netanyahu and Americans weakened Abu-Mazen and PLO and more moderate and secular voices in Palestine.

    But when it hit Americans at home it seems they seem to take a more determined stance. Whether they will go farther ? it remains to be seen, and it?s up to a lot of people, including the pro-Israeli lobby, other Jewish-American organizations, the Arabs, the Palestinians. There has to be concerted effort to tell the Americans that there is a win-win situation for everybody.”

    How about the claim Palestinians are slow on implementing their part of responsibilities? Such as incitement against Israel?

    “It’s a flimsy excuse. Because those who looked at these textbooks know that that they’ve been revised and are much better now. If they want to start and look through a magnifying glass at the rhetoric in Israel ? and frankly speaking, I see more incitement in Israel than in Palestine.”

    So what is the biggest impediment to peace on the Palestinian side?

    “We have our problems, not the least is the internal dispute and division, and I think that the Palestinians went beyond the call of duty to the point of hurting themselves trying to fulfill their obligations within the roadmap. Abu Mazen also went very far trying to accommodate concerns of the Israelis. But Palestinian public opinion is moving toward more hard line position, losing confidence at the Israelis and demanding the leadership to take steps. There was a Goldstone report, trilateral meeting and so on – and they couldn’t deliver.”

    What did you think about Goldstone report which was rejected by the U.S.?

    “I thought it was a good report. It was honest and courageous and it tried to point out that there were issues with both sides. But rejecting the report in the U.S. – it s a standard operating procedures with the Israelis. The U.S. always protects Israel, whether at the Human rights council or the Security Council of the UN, or any other report, because it’s part of their lives. It seems to me that the U.S. is going to lift that cover – then, perhaps, they will start behaving in a way that is consistent with the law and the requirements.”

    You are a Christian. Many Palestinian Christians moved to the west. How do you see their situation now?

    “The occupation is extremely difficult. Those who have other options might leave, Christians or Muslims. We have a serious brain drain. And we need those brains to build the state. I don’t think we have much time left, the prospects for peace are rapidly disappearing. There is a sense of real urgency.”

    We’ve seen recently some renewed violence – is the third Intifada an option?

    “Intifadas are hard to predict, the situation is very unstable and the Palestinians are extremely discouraged. They have been provoked very seriously. So let’s hope we’ll get some concrete results before the mess gets out of hands.”

    What future do you see for Gaza?

    “We need to have reconciliation and we hope that the Egyptian document will be signed by Hamas. And I think we should have elections.”

    And regarding Gilad Shalit?

    “There should be prisoners exchanges as soon as possible.”

    Do you believe the Palestinian-Israeli agreement will help to deal with Iran?

    “I think it helps. If you resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict it goes a long way to resolve many other issues in the region. It pushes many movements in region towards extremism. I think that the only way to deal with it is a nuclear-free region. It should be free of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear and others. The Palestinians don’t see Iran as a threat – of course, Iran helps Hamas, but it’s not a strategic or ideological alliance, it’s sort of cooperation that serves the interests of both. Not all Arab countries view Iran the same way. But I think the way to solve it is not by waging war, whether unilaterally by Israel or by pushing Americans to it. I think it’s extremely dangerous – the region cannot afford a military confrontation with Iran, at all. That would threaten the stability and security of the whole region and of course it will have global repercussions.

  • Patriot says:

    Israelis Could Expel Thousands of Palestinians from Palestine


    IDF order will enable mass deportation from West Bank

    By Amira Hass

    A new military order aimed at preventing infiltration will come into force this week, enabling the deportation of tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank, or their indictment on charges carrying prison terms of up to seven years.

    When the order comes into effect, tens of thousands of Palestinians will automatically become criminal offenders liable to be severely punished.

    Given the security authorities’ actions over the past decade, the first Palestinians likely to be targeted under the new rules will be those whose ID cards bear home addresses in the Gaza Strip – people born in Gaza and their West Bank-born children – or those born in the West Bank or abroad who for various reasons lost their residency status. Also likely to be targeted are foreign-born spouses of Palestinians.

    Until now, Israeli civil courts have occasionally prevented the expulsion of these three groups from the West Bank. The new order, however, puts them under the sole jurisdiction of Israeli military courts.

    The new order defines anyone who enters the West Bank illegally as an infiltrator, as well as “a person who is present in the area and does not lawfully hold a permit.” The order takes the original 1969 definition of infiltrator to the extreme, as the term originally applied only to those illegally staying in Israel after having passed through countries then classified as enemy states – Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria.

    The order’s language is both general and ambiguous, stipulating that the term infiltrator will also be applied to Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, citizens of countries with which Israel has friendly ties (such as the United States) and Israeli citizens, whether Arab or Jewish. All this depends on the judgment of Israel Defense Forces commanders in the field.

    The Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual was the first Israeli human rights to issue warnings against the order, signed six months ago by then-commander of IDF forces in Judea and Samaria Area Gadi Shamni.

    Two weeks ago, Hamoked director Dalia Kerstein sent GOC Central Command Avi Mizrahi a request to delay the order, given “the dramatic change it causes in relation to the human rights of a tremendous number of people.”

    According to the provisions, “a person is presumed to be an infiltrator if he is present in the area without a document or permit which attest to his lawful presence in the area without reasonable justification.” Such documentation, it says, must be “issued by the commander of IDF forces in the Judea and Samaria area or someone acting on his behalf.”

    The instructions, however, are unclear over whether the permits referred to are those currently in force, or also refer to new permits that military commanders might issue in the future. The provision are also unclear about the status of bearers of West Bank residency cards, and disregards the existence of the Palestinian Authority and the agreements Israel signed with it and the PLO.

    The order stipulates that if a commander discovers that an infiltrator has recently entered a given area, he “may order his deportation before 72 hours elapse from the time he is served the written deportation order, provided the infiltrator is deported to the country or area from whence he infiltrated.”

    The order also allows for criminal proceedings against suspected infiltrators that could produce sentences of up to seven years. Individuals able to prove that they entered the West Bank legally but without permission to remain there will also be tried, on charges carrying a maximum sentence of three years. (According to current Israeli law, illegal residents typically receive one-year sentences.)

    The new provision also allow the IDF commander in the area to require that the infiltrator pay for the cost of his own detention, custody and expulsion, up to a total of NIS 7,500.

    The fear that Palestinians with Gaza addresses will be the first to be targeted by this order is based on measures that Israel has taken in recent years to curtail their right to live, work, study or even visit the West Bank. These measures violated the Oslo Accords.

    According to a decision by the West Bank commander that was not backed by military legislation, since 2007, Palestinians with Gaza addresses must request a permit to stay in the West Bank. Since 2000, they have been defined as illegal sojourners if they have Gaza addresses, as if they were citizens of a foreign state. Many of them have been deported to Gaza, including those born in the West Bank.

    Currently, Palestinians need special permits to enter areas near the separation fence, even if their homes are there, and Palestinians have long been barred from the Jordan Valley without special authorization. Until 2009, East Jerusalemites needed permission to enter Area A, territory under full PA control.

    Another group expected to be particularly harmed by the new rules are Palestinians who moved to the West Bank under family reunification provisions, which Israel stopped granting for several years.

    In 2007, amid a number of Hamoked petitions and as a goodwill gesture to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, tens of thousands of people received Palestinian residency cards. The PA distributed the cards, but Israel had exclusive control over who could receive them. Thousands of Palestinians, however, remained classified as “illegal sojourners,” including many who are not citizens of any other country.

    The new order is the latest step by the Israeli government in recent years to require permits that limit the freedom of movement and residency previously conferred by Palestinian ID cards. The new regulations are particularly sweeping, allowing for criminal measures and the mass expulsion of people from their homes.

    The IDF Spokesman’s Office said in response, “The amendments to the order on preventing infiltration, signed by GOC Central Command, were issued as part of a series of manifests, orders and appointments in Judea and Samaria, in Hebrew and Arabic as required, and will be posted in the offices of the Civil Administration and military courts’ defense attorneys in Judea and Samaria. The IDF is ready to implement the order, which is not intended to apply to Israelis, but to illegal sojourners in Judea and Samaria.”

  • Patriot says:

    US Opposes Palestinian Self-Determination:

    And we wonder why we have a terror problem which has only been compounded by the Iraq and Afghan quagmires with Iran on deck:

    What Motivated the 9/11 Hijackers? See testimony most didn’t:

    US Israel Policy got us into Afghanistan

  • Patriot says:

    Richard Falk Salutes UC Berkeley Divestment
    April 13, 2010

    To the Senate of the Associated Students of the University of California, Berkeley (ASUC):

    I am writing to encourage renewed support for Senate Bill 118A (“A Bill in Support of ASUC Divestment from War Crimes”), including the override of ASUC President Will Smelko’s veto on March 24, 2010. The earlier passage of the bill by a 16-4 vote in the Senate has been widely hailed as a major step forward in the growing global campaign of divestment and boycott as a means of holding Israeli accountable for flagrant and persistent patterns of violating fundamental rules of international criminal law, as well as those portions of international humanitarian law applicable to military occupation. We have reached a stage in world history where citizens of conscience have a crucial role to play in the implementation of a global rule of law, and this initiative by Berkeley students, if implemented, will be both a memorable instance of global citizenship and an inspiration to others in this country and throughout the world.

    I would agree that recourse to divestment and boycott tactics should be reserved for exceptional and appropriate circumstances. Such initiatives by their very nature deliberately interfere with the freedom of the global marketplace and the normally desirable free interplay of cultures, nations, persons, and ideas. There are several reasons why the circumstances of prolonged Israeli criminality resulting in acute suffering for several million Palestinians living under occupation since 1967 present such a strong case for reliance on the tactics of divestment and boycott.

    First of all, it has become painfully clear that neither the United Nations, the United States, the actions of other governments, nor world public opinion are willing or able to persuade or pressure Israel to terminate policies that are both violations of Geneva Convention IV, governing occupation, and international criminal law, relating to both war crimes and crimes against humanity. At the same time, there is reason to believe that efforts by Palestinians to wage what might be called the Legitimacy War, are having a strong impact on Israel and elsewhere. It should be remembered that many of the conflicts of the last 75 years have been resolved by reliance on soft power superiority, which has more than compensated for hard power inferiority. In this respect the anti-apartheid movement, waged on a symbolic global battlefield, created a political climate that achieved victory in the legitimacy war that was translated, nonviolently, into a totally unexpected political outcome—the peaceful transformation of South Africa into a multi-racial constitutional democracy. The Palestinian solidarity movement has become the successor to the anti-apartheid movement as the primary legitimacy war of this historical moment. Berkeley’s participation by way of this divestment initiative thus takes account of the failure of governments and the international community to protect Palestinian victims of ongoing criminality, but also joins in a movement of solidarity that contains some hope of an eventual peaceful and just resolution of the underlying conflict allowing both peoples to resume a secure and normal life.

    Secondly, we in the United States face a special challenge as our tax dollars, economic and military assistance, and unconditionally supportive diplomacy have shielded Israel from mechanisms of accountability for criminal behavior. Most recently, the U.S. Government repudiated the Goldstone Report, a highly respected fact-finding mission conducted under UN auspices, that had carried out a scrupulously fair and comprehensive investigation of allegations of war crimes attributable to Israel and Hamas during the Israeli offensive in Gaza that started on December 27, 2008, and lasted for 22 days. The Goldstone Report’s main findings confirmed earlier respected investigations, concluding that the evidence supported overall allegations of criminal tactics, including intentional efforts to target in Gaza civilians and the civilian infrastructure in flagrant violation of the provisions of the law of war, which should have been particularly upheld in a situation of such one-sided military operations conducted against an essentially defenseless Gaza, an unprecedented situation In which the entire civilian population of 1.5 million were locked into the combat zone, and denied even the option to become refugees.

    It should be also noted that the people of Gaza have been subjected to an unlawful Israeli blockade that has for more than 32 months limited the entry of food, medicine, and fuel to subsistence levels, with widely reported drastic harm to physical and mental health of the entire population. There are two related points here: the allegations of criminality are abundantly documented, including by a range of respected human rights organization in Israel and occupied Palestine; and the U.S. Government has done its best to ensure the continuation of Israeli impunity and it has been complicit as arms supplier and as a country deferential to the blockade despite its gross and clear violation of the prohibition against collective punishment contained in Article 33 of Geneva IV. In this respect, as Americans we have an extra duty beyond that of those living elsewhere to support the global divestment campaign, thereby showing that our government does not speak for the whole society when it comes to the application of the rule of law to Israel and its political leadership.

    Thirdly, by targeting General Electric and United Technologies for divestment, the Senate shows that it is not acting arbitrarily or punitively, but seeking to take action against corporations that are supplying precisely the weaponry used by Israel to impose its unlawful will on occupied Palestinian territories. Israel in legally dubious ways has relied on Apache and Sikorsky Helicopters and F-16 fighter bombers to mount periodic attacks against a variety of Palestinian targets, thereby abandoning its primary duty as an occupying power to protect the civilian population of an occupied territory.

    Although most emphasis on criminality has been placed on Israeli policies toward the Gaza Strip, it is also relevant to note that Israeli policies on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem have consistently ignored the obligations imposed on an occupying power by Geneva IV, and have done so in a manner that has consistently undermined hopes for peace. Israel has continued to build and expand settlements, unlawful by Article 49(6) of Geneva IV prohibiting transfers of population of the occupying power to an occupied territory; the scale of these unlawful settlements, with some 121 settlements established on the West Bank alone and over 200,000 Israel settlers now living in East Jerusalem, has produced an aggregate settler population of about 450,000. Such a massive violation of international humanitarian law is serious on its own, but also creates a situation on the ground that has greatly diminished prospects for a viable Palestinian state or for the sort of withdrawal from occupied Palestine that had been unanimously decreed by the UN Scecurity Council in its famous Resolution 242 way back in 1967.

    A final expression of Israeli lawlessness can be noted in its continued construction of a separation wall on occupied Palestine land despite a 14-1 judgment by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that the wall was unlawful, should be dismantled, and Palestinians compensated for the harm done. It is notable that the ICJ is a diverse and respected international institution that rarely reaches such a level of unanimity on controversial issues. Unfortunately, less notable is the fact that the sole dissenting judge was the American judge, and that the U.S. rejected the judicial authority of the ICJ in relation to the wall without even bothering to refute its legal reasoning. Although the judgment was in the form of an ‘Advisory Opinion’ it represented a detailed and authoritative assessment of applicable international law that was endorsed by an overwhelming vote of the UN General Assembly. Consistent with its attitude toward international law, Israel immediately expressed its unwillingness to abide by this ICJ ruling, and has continued to build segments of the wall, using excessive force to quell nonviolent weekly demonstrations by Palestinians, Israelis, and international activists at construction sites. To give perspective, if the Soviet Union had constructed the Berlin Wall in such a way as to encroach on West Berlin by even a yard, it would have almost certainly have caused the outbreak of World War III.

    I hope that I have demonstrated that divestment is justified in light of these realities. Israel has consistently defied international law. The United States Government has been unrelenting in reinforcing this defiance, and is a major facilitator through its overall diplomatic, economic, and military support. The international community, via the UN or otherwise, has been unable to induce Israel to respect international humanitarian law and international criminal law. With such a background, and in light of an increasingly robust worldwide movement supportive of divestment, it seems both symbolically and substantively appropriate for Berkeley to divest from corporations supplying weaponry used in conjunction with Israeli criminality. Such a decision taken at the behest of students at one of the world’s leading universities would send a message around the world that needs to be heard, not only in Israel but in this country as well. It also shows that when our government cynically refuses to uphold the most fundamental norms of international law there is an opportunity and responsibility for citizens to do so. I salute the members of the Senate (and their supporters in the Berkeley community) who vote to override this ill-considered veto of Senate Bill 118A.


    Richard Falk

    Albert G. Milbank Professor of International Law & Practice Emeritus, Princeton University
    (since 2002) Visiting and Research Professor, Global Studies, UCSB
    Special Rapporteur for Occupied Palestinian Territories, UN Human Rights Council

    Editors Note:
    On March 18, UC Berkeley’s student senate voted 16 to 4 to divest from General Electric and United Technologies as part of a Divestment campaign against Israel’s illegal occupation and the attack on Gaza.

    The Senate president vetoed the bill despite the massive support for divestment.

    Join Hon. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Noam Chomsky, Naiomi Klein, Jeffrey Blankfort, Prof. Richard Falk and others in supporting the divestment. The final decision will be made tomorrow, Wednesday April 14 at 7pm PST, when the veto can be overturned with just 14 votes.

    Email the UC Berkeley Senators to let them know why you support divestment and why they should overturn the veto.
    Senate[at], chancellor[at], president[at]

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