Were it not for the razor wire, giant concrete blocks, steel gates, watchtower and standard-issue surly teenage soldier, it would be impossible to tell at what point the barren uplands of Israel’s eastern Negev give way to the South Hebron Hills of the West Bank.
The military checkpoint of Shani vaguely marks the formal demarcation between Israel and occupied Palestinian territory, but in practical terms the distinction is meaningless. On either side of the Green Line, Israel is in charge.
In recent weeks it has been intensifying a campaign to evict Palestinian farming communities summarily from their ancestral lands to replace them with Jewish newcomers.
Israeli human rights lawyers, tired of the international community’s formulaic criticisms, say it is time to be more forthright. They call these “ethnic cleansing” zones — intended to drive off Palestinians irrespective of the provisions of international law and whether or not the Palestinians in question hold Israeli citizenship.
In the occupied South Hebron Hills, a dozen traditional communities — long ago denied by Israel the right to enjoy modern amenities such as electricity and running water — are struggling to remain in the cave-homes that sheltered them for centuries.
Israel has reclassified much of their land as a military firing range and demands that they leave for their own safety. An appeal to the Israeli courts, the latest instalment in a 14-year saga to avoid eviction, is due in the next few days.
Israel’s concern for the villagers’ welfare might sound more convincing were it not encouraging Jews to live close by in illegal settlements.
Palestinians in other parts of the occupied territories coveted by Israel — such as villages next to Jerusalem and those in the fertile Jordan Valley, the territorial backbone of any future Palestinian state — are being squeezed too. Firing ranges, closed military zones and national parks are the pretexts for Israel to appropriate the farmland these rural communities need to survive.
As a result, Palestinian life is withering in the nearly two-thirds of the West Bank Israel was temporarily entrusted with — the so-called Area C — under the Oslo Accords. Endlessly harassed Palestinians have sought sanctuary in West Bank cities under Palestinian Authority control. Today the remnants in Area C, a population of about 100,000, are outnumbered three to one by Jewish settlers.
A discomfited European Union, normally mealy-mouthed on Israel’s occupation, has started to describe this as “forced transfer.” The term may sound ominous and reproving, but human rights groups say that, from a legal perspective, the terminology obscures rather than illuminates what is taking place.
“Forced transfer,” observes Suhad Bishara, a lawyer with Adalah, a legal centre for Israel’s minority of 1.5 million Palestinian citizens, usually describes uncoordinated and unofficial incidents of population displacement, often as an outcome of war.
Bishara and others argue that Israel is carrying out a systematic and intentional policy to drive Palestinians off their land to replace them with Jewish communities. This, they say, should be identified as “ethnic cleansing,” a term first given legal and moral weight in the Balkans conflict in the early 1990s.
As evidence, the lawyers point to recent developments inside Israel. The treatment of tens of thousands of Bedouin in the Negev, all of them Israeli citizens, is virtually identical to that of Palestinians in the South Hebron Hills.
The Bedouin too have faced a prolonged campaign to push them off their ancestral lands and into a series of “townships,” forcibly urbanizing them in the country’s most deprived communities. In the disconcerting language of Israeli bureaucracy, the Bedouin need to be “concentrated.”
Israel has increased the pressure — as in the West Bank — by denying these Bedouin all public services, and demolishing any concrete homes they build. As with Palestinians under occupation, the Bedouin have found their communities reclassified as firing ranges, military zones or national forests.
The village of al-Araqib, near Beersheva, for example, has been demolished more than 50 times in recent years as Israel plants on its land — with a suitably sinister irony — the Ambassadors’ Forest, commemorating the help provided to Israel by the international community’s diplomatic corps.
Waiting in the wings are developers ready to build on the Bedouin’s land 10 new towns for Jews only. The rest of the territory is being eaten up by Jewish ranches, given swathes of land to create vineyards, offer camel rides and, in one case, provide a pet cemetery.
But, as in the West Bank, the Bedouin are refusing to budge, and pressing their historic land claims in the Israeli courts. Rather than wait for a verdict it may not like, the government of Benjamin Netanyahu is rewriting the Bedouin’s citizenship rights.
The Prawer plan, which passed its first reading in parliament last month, will force 40,000 Bedouin off their land — the largest expulsions inside Israel for decades. Unlike Jewish citizens, they will have no say over where they live; they will be forcibly assigned to a township.
For the first time, Israeli citizens — the Bedouin — are to be deprived of any recourse to the courts as they are harried from their homes. Instead Israel will resort to administrative procedures more familiar from the occupied territories.
The policy is clear: Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line are to be treated like sheep, fenced into ever-smaller areas, while Jews will have unrestrained access to a Greater Israel envisioned by Mr Netanyahu.
The international community has long criticized Israel for the “discrimination” its Palestinian citizens face and for the “oppression” of Palestinians under occupation. This terminology needs overhauling too, say the human rights lawyers.
A system that treats one ethnic group as less human than another already has a legal name: it is called apartheid.
President Barack Obama has made a clear and convincing case for closing Guantanamo! Mostly the same reasons finally articulate were just as true when he initially took office. Closing the stigma of war, crime and national shame has always been a high agenda item for many Americans. It is now the watermark battle ground that could begin to show who or what really runs this country. But think of the mindless excuses from war hawks (including complicity by the mainstream media) to try to stop any transparency about Guantanamo prisoners. But there is simply no way President Obama can close this base on his own without major and active U.S. citizen and world support. How can Congress possibly stand in the way of the reasons President Obama announced for closing the Bush Legacy? Where is the Free Speech movement, where are the campus protests at Madison and Kent State Ohio?
Closing Guantanamo—Why it’s Symbolically, Spiritually and Materially Important.
By Scott Skein
Finally. President Barack Obama has made a clear and convincing case for closing Guantanamo! Yet many Americans expected, or assumed, it would have closed early in his first term—that is to say the case was already self-evident. After all it was one reason this president was elected our new leader—to reverse the criminality and immorality of the Bush Administration. Mostly the same reasons finally articulate were just as true when he initially took office. (See Obama Remembers Gitmo Exists Says ‘Not Necessary’ for American Safety by Lucy Steigewald at AntiWar.com April 30, 2013.)
Closing the stigma of war, crime and national shame has always been a high agenda item for many Americans. It is now the watermark battle ground that could begin to show who or what really runs this country—certain special interests (that elected legislators really represent) and the Pentagon/ CIA or The People of this country. In essence it is our own form of Berlin Wall (and to think Dick Cheney’s company played a part in building it).
As of yet Washington D.C.’s beltway pattern of high corruption level and willful distortion to truth continues to reign supreme. Think about it: Why has there been so much resistance to closing Gulag Gitmo; or getting those prisoners a fair and/or public trial (rather than so much hoopla about defining them as enemy combatants); or treating them halfway decently before declared guilty by a fair trial, etc., (in our covert world of black ops prisons with the help of “extraordinary” renditions. It seems the whole war on terror has become terrorism?
And likely it’s not because most of those people were, or are, all that dangerous—but rather it is that truth itself that is dangerous—that is a greater truth to which 9/11 was forged to serve—once it happened and could be quickly capitalized. It was always about avoiding the laws of our country and international treaties.
Several contingency groups benefited from 9/11 (see essay “9/11: Who Really Benefited?” by Captain America found on the Internet). Three powerful contingencies that benefited are: 1) investors of the military industrial complex and related private contractors and mercenary groups who literally have made a killing since, 2) investors (that is owners of securities) of major oil companies, and 3) Zionists who wanted to further make U.S. foreign policy equivalent to what was, and still is, really the policy goals of right-wing Zionists—such as to get Americans to believe all of Israel’s enemies are equally enemies of the people of the United States (even if most Americans are not Jewish or Israeli), and to get the U.S Government to label Israel’s enemies as all terrorists as policy and propaganda (which resulted from a long term, major propaganda campaign—see Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2001 reprint of 1995 book Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat the International Terrorist Network as one of many, many examples).
Since 9/11, U.S. foreign policy has in effect opened up the opium trade in Afghanistan; illegally attacked Israel’s enemy Saddam Hussein and that nation (see “I don’t mean to say I told you so, but….” by Stephen Walt at http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/02/08/i_dont_m…o_but ).
And now we are destroying Syria (for Israel or please explain how Syria is so important to the American people that we should be so meddlesome in their affairs) as we are still on track to attack Iran with uncompromising demands, similar to our demands for unconditional surrender from Japan in WW2 that more or less guaranteeing Japan would not so we used two nuclear bombs with mass civilian casualties (as this standoff is equally for Israel); and the fact that such endeavors cost unimaginable amounts of American tax dollars and potentially could cost many American lives doesn’t seem to mean a thing to the Neo-Con-Artists—who basically came up with this hegemony. Nor did they care whether such events destroyed our overall economic viability.
But think of the mindless excuses from war hawks (including complicity by the mainstream media) to try to stop any transparency about Guantanamo prisoners—including how many were randomly rounded up in Afghanistan via blood money paid to War Lords—yes bribery money ultimately from tax payers via our government employees). If war is about winning hearts and minds then who wants to learn truth about how things really go down—better to keep things under the rug and away from the home front?
There are several documentaries on Guantanamo that you can find on the Internet. It is not some small, sideline issue—it is central to who and what we are—as opposed to who we claim we are.
Back in November of 2009 Attorney General Eric Holder announced a trial for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would be held at a Federal Courthouse in New York City. The very next month an quixotic and bizarre underwear bomber story emerged and it more or less buried any discussion about the trial (that some in NYC did not want). That underwear bomber story scenario was not only a idiotic plot—it always seemed suspicious—as some conspiracy theorists have found plenty enough to question. Nevertheless the mainstream media played it like a real threat ad nauseum (never suggesting intelligence groups or types do engage “active measures” from time to time to affect outcomes—if for no other reason than to protect their own backsides).
Then shortly thereafter came the racism of Pamela Geller and Robert Spenser and their Stop the Islamization of America group complaining about the Ground Zero Mosque. After this carried on a few months there was little, if any, discussion for public or fair trials for prisoners of America’s gulag system—such ideas were effectively shunted—and equally there grew more imbecile excuses as to why the “mighty” U.S. could not close it down, culminating to hair-brained notions as such men were “too” dangerous to imprison on American soil (even as this high ratio prisoner society has routinely locked up more dangerous men).
Whereas, in previous years the mainstream had inundated the public consciousness with endless discussions about whether water boarding was really torture—while completely and deliberately ignoring an International Red Cross report (sent to all major U.S news outlets) that stated at least 44 people were known to have died from U.S. sponsored torture.
But there is simply no way President Obama can close this base on his own, or at least the prison part of it, without major and active U.S. citizen and world support. President Obama is surrounded by an entrenched cabinets of the Executive branch—they act power-hungry and have establishment the fact they have little respect for law. Equally a top-down and corrupted democratic party suffocates any possibility for clean and refreshing air. It was his choice of Ramn Israel Emanuel for Chief of Staff, in his first term, who apparently helped sideline the Guantanamo issue.
It is not enough for Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks to admonish the President, or correctly criticize him, for not having the stomach for a tough fight. There has to be a major coalition of the American people with him, willing to let Congress, and their staffs, know we Americans are tired of this status quo, and we are going to do something about it. (Currently you can’t even email some U.S. Senators a statement of any length—it prints as all run together—no spacing—take John McCain’s official email sight as example? Obviously he, nor his staff, doesn’t even read from the constituency—and it’s not just such level of arrogance—but also how mediocre are many of their minds.
Why has not the U.S. Senate called for an investigation of the likely assassination of Paul Wellstone, who was positioned to be re-elected for another term? You see it’s not really about being Jewish—but rather if you are crazy, right-wing NeoCon or not).
Americans must make a firm and powerful stand now—bigger than the Occupy Movement. Where is the Free Speech movement, where are the campus protests at Madison and Kent State Ohio? Think tanks were betting as long as there was no draft there wouldn’t be much protests. The D.C. Mall should be flooded this summer with people demanding justice for all people. This is not a party issue—it is All American issue.
It seems too many of our elected leaders are corrupted. How can they possibly stand in the way of the reasons President Obama announced for closing the Bush Legacy? Congress is acting as traitors to our very values and Constitutional liberties. They must be ousted from any decision-making capacity—if not put on trial for high crimes of treason.
We must force the military and intelligence quagmire to subordinate to the President. To think that mere men and women at the top of echelons were placing themselves into position to play some egotistical God—that is one who could arbitrarily make up the rules, could judge according to one’s own sanctimonious dictates, could willfully sanction war and murder, and could punish with some nebulous form of eternal torture as hell (with no possible right to justifiable Justice), is beyond comprehension and the pale—unless one realizes how the very meaning of corruption comports itself even within the ambiance of Washington D.C. We don’t need another Arab Spring but we do need our own form of American Summer.
We must reclaim our participatory role. The question is not whether the president has given up on common sense and idealism—but rather whether the American people have.
THIS IS THE TIME AND THIS IS THE ISSUE OF CONTENTION
OCCUPY! OCCUPY! OCCUPY!
JERUSALEM—As an uneasy truce between Israel and Hezbollah continues, millions of average men and women in the Holy Land are turning to the one simple comfort that has always seen them through the darkest days of their troubled history: the steadfast guidance of their religious faith.
Arabs and Israelis alike are embracing their faith as a way to make sense of the violence from which there seems to be no escape.
“I take solace in knowing that my faith is a sanctuary, an escape from the bloodshed and turmoil,” said Haifa resident Yigal Taheri, who last week lost his wife and newborn daughter when a Fajr-3 long-range rocket launched by Lebanese militants struck the synagogue where his family was attending services. “YHWH, Elohim, whatever you wish to not call Him—His love comforts all those who are willing to open their hearts to Him. Praise be to G–d.”
“Religion is the one thing that has never let us down,” Taheri added over the low rumble of AK-47 fire emanating from the nearby home of a radical Israeli rabbi.
Taheri is not alone. In a time of seemingly unending conflict between Israelis and Arabs, a growing number of Middle Easterners are fervently embracing the unshakeable wisdom of Judaism and Islam.
“The Israelis have fired missile upon missile on my neighborhood, but it has only made my trust in Allah that much stronger,” Abdel-Malik said. “I cringe to think where the people of the Middle East would be right now if it weren’t for our steadfast belief in one true, merciful, and loving Supreme Being.”
Palestinian widow and mother of three Dareen Idriss agreed, citing the healing power of prayer as a way to cope with the relentless slaughter she and her family witness every day. “When the children cannot stop crying because of the bombs, we all gather our families in the rubble of the mosque to pray for justice,” Idriss said. “During this calm meditation, we also pray for the annihilation of the Hebrew race.”
An unidentified Palestinian man seeks a renewed resolve through prayer.
West Bank settler Ari Chayat, whose neighborhood has also been ravaged by violence, echoed this profound reliance on faith. “The world is so brutal and unfair,” Chayat said. “Many days, my uncompromising belief in a vengeful creator is all that gets me out of bed in the morning.”
“If it wasn’t for my faith that the God of Abraham has given these lands to Jews and Jews alone by divine decree, I probably wouldn’t even be here today,” Chayat added.
Lebanese militant Jawad Hamid, who recently lost his best friend to an Israeli helicopter attack while the two men were on their way to pick up a Katyusha rocket, said his faith in Allah was the only way he could cope with the tragedy.
“Every time I want to give up hope, I just open the Quran to my favorite passage, Surah 2:194: ‘Whoever acts aggressively against you, inflict injury on him,'” Hamid said. “Whenever I read those words, I am immediately filled with inspiration and a renewed sense of purpose.”
Even political leaders have tapped into the public’s reliance on religion and used it as a way to encourage them to never give up.
“In this time of strife, the only way to endure the unending suffering is through an unwavering, uncompromising faith in one’s religious beliefs,” Israeli hard-liner Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah went so far as to quote from the Quran in a speech delivered to followers the same afternoon.
“It’s always frightening to be reminded of your own mortality, as we all were this past Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday,” Hezbollah commander Mahdi al-Zaidi said. “But rather than react irrationally, I looked deep within my faith, consulted the Quran, and by the mercy of Allah, I gained the resolve to oversee a massive airstrike against the enemy.”
“We will get through this, so long as we have God on our side,” he added.
All great satirical cartoons are provocative, but not all provocative satirical cartoons are great.
Take Gerald Scarfe‘s latest scribble for the Sunday Times as an example. It has certainly provoked anger, with his depiction of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu building a wall with stricken Palestinians amongst the bricks, their blood used as cement.
Underneath the wall sits a caption: “Israeli elections: Will cementing peace continue?”
The takeaway message is that the re-election of Netanyahu in Israel will mean a continuation of his government’s policies towards Palestinian territories, one of which involves building an enormous wall at the West Bank‘s border.
Clearly Scarfe’s view is that Israeli government policy towards Palestinians is one of murderous violence, of death and bloodshed, and he has represented this in a cartoon which grossly oversimplifies a painfully complex situation in that troubled part of the Middle East.
As a consequence, Scarfe has had serious accusations dropped on him like bombs in an airstrike.
He has faced a torrent of rage for allegedly committing ‘blood libel’, making an image akin to that seen in Nazi propaganda, and insensitivity for having it published on Holocaust Memorial Day.
All this, yet the cartoon is so clearly not aimed at Jews. It is – and I repeat this for the avoidance of any doubt – directed at Israel’s government, or more specifically its political leader Netanyahu.
Even the Sunday Times, when responding to criticism, pointed out that this was was not targeting Jewish people.
“The Sunday Times firmly believes that it is not anti-semitic,” said a spokesman for the Jewish Chronicle.
“It is aimed squarely at Mr Netanyahu and his policies, not at Israel, let alone at Jewish people. It appeared on Sunday because Mr Netanyahu won the Israeli election last week.”
A bloody disgrace?
Accepting that the cartoon’s target is politics, not race, leads to the inevitable conclusion that Scarfe was not anywhere near committing the offence known as blood libel.
Blood libels are representations of the vile anti-semitic myth that Jews use the blood of children in religious ceremonies and rituals, even cooking it into food.
It is a medieval belief, which perhaps explains why it is so common across sections of the Middle East, but is clearly not one being expressed in the yawnworthy cartoon.
There is no young child being slain by a revoltingly-caricatured Jew, with the blood being used in a warped religious ceremony.
While blood is used as the mortar in Netanyahu’s wall, this is obviously portraying a not uncommon view that Palestinian blood is being spilt by the policies of Israel’s government.
It is not a difficult distinction to understand.
Equally, Nazi propaganda attacked the Jews as a race – something Scarfe’s cartoon evidently does not do at all.
Again, when you comprehend that this cartoon was not an attack on Jewish people, you can dismiss the claim that it is an insensitive thing to publish on Holocaust Memorial Day.
A parallel can be drawn with the Danish cartoons that depicted the Prophet Mohammed, published in 2006 in a competition held by Jyllands-Posten, which sparked riots, fatwas, and assassination attempts in a characteristically measured reaction from Islamists.
Of the 12 cartoons, the image which caused the most froth to foam in the mad mullahs’ beards was one depicting Mohammed as having a bomb for a turban.
Much like Scarfe’s cartoon, this is a juvenile portrayal of a political situation, not especially clever or witty, which would suit the wall of a sixth form common room more than a page in a supposedly serious publication.
And, much like with Scarfe’s scrawl, it was incorrectly taken as a sweeping attack on a people, in this case every single follower of Islam. Sadly not just by the idiot clerics, but by Western leaders who masquerade as liberals, too.
Except it was not an attack on Islam. Anybody who can grasp nuance, which is apparently a dwindling number in the modern world of instant internet outrage, can comprehend that this was an attack on Islamism, a violent and tyrannical political interpretation of Islam which intelligently makes its argument by blowing people up and flying planes into buildings.
While the reaction to Scarfe has been much less extreme – there have been no fatalities yet – the censorial instinct is the same. Many, on the basis of a wrongful interpretation, would like to have seen Scarfe’s cartoon censored.
In fairness to those acutely sensitive to anti-semitism, Holocaust Memorial Day sets an understandable emotional context, as the indescribable horror suffered by those who lived under the Nazis – many of whom are still alive and bearing the scars of genocide – is brought to the fore of everybody’s mind.
More broadly, Israelis live in the centre of a region where neighbour states want to see them “wiped off the map” and where anti-semitism is the hallmark of populist politics.
For those of us in the West, the notion of a “Jewish conspiracy” is laughable, and confined to a world of paranoid keyboard warriors muttering on internet forums about the “truth” behind 9/11.
Here, this childlike view is held up to ridicule. In the Middle East, a Jewish conspiracy is the official line.
Still, even with that context in mind, it is clear as the Mediterranean Sea that this is not the starting point, or end destination, of Scarfe’s cartoon. Those attacking it, and him, for anti-semitism are missing the point.
They should be debating the risible politics of the cartoon, rather than foisting an unconnected meaning onto it.
“Hello Everybody, I would like to thank the Irish congress of Trade Unions and all the other organisations for inviting me to speak today and for organising this rally and I would like to thank each and every one of you for coming along today. We heard that the ceasefire has been declared but we know that this is not the end of the siege of Gaza or the occupation of the people of Palestine. We witnessed yet again on our television sets this week inhumanity that we cannot believe is allowed to exist. It was called ‘self-defence’. But how can you call self-defence the massacre of women and children in Gaza and the destruction of their infrastructure, this is a war, these are crimes against humanity, we declare that Netanyahu is a war criminal and we can do something about this.
We can ensure that when any of the Israeli leaderships such as, Perez, Netanyahu and their military war executive, try to leave their country and come to any civilized country, we as the people will issue our own indictments of war crimes. We as the people have to stand up for human rights, for international law, for democracy, for a future for our world, because if we don’t do this, our world will plunge into war and to destruction and to barbarity and we will not have such a thing as a civil or political or religious liberty or right. We elect politicians to serve the people, to stand up for our right to food, education, safety and security.
Obama’s dismal failure
Our politicians are failing us dismally; we have no real political leadership with any moral courage in our world today. We supported Obama when he came in and said ‘there is a new way’. President Obama stood in Burma this week and he said: ‘ There is no excuse for violence against innocent people’, what was his message about the violence against the people of Gaza? What has his message been about the violence, occupation,destruction, persecution, apartheid regime against the Palestinian people for the last 60 years? His message was (and the minutes are available from the White house two weeks ago) ‘ We will uphold Israel’s right to self-defence and anybody who questions that, we will not accept’.
What kind of political leadership is that to our people in the world today? The biggest block to real change is not Israel but the United States of America continually vetoing and supporting the murder of children in Gaza and war against civilians.
What Israel is about
We have to know what Israel is about. Jimmy Carter gave an interview last week, and in this interview Jimmy Carter said the policy of the Israeli government is to confiscate Palestinian land. The policy of the Israeli government is to take more and more Palestinian land, they want a greater Israel and not only do they want a greater Israel, they want the 20% of the Arab people who live within Israel proper to acknowledge Israel as a ‘Jewish state’. They want a Jewish state for a Jewish people. When do they think we’re living? Do they think we’re living in the dark ages? Every person has a right to their statehood. Every person has a right to their freedom, a right to dignity. But it’s about the land stupid, it’s about the land as Bill Clinton would say, it’s about the territory stupid. Let’s wake up, this is not about Hamas, this is not about the fact that Israel has no partner for peace. I sat with Yasser Arafat in his little compound before he was killed and he cried out for peace. I sat in Gaza with Hamas in 2008 and they cried out for peace. What was Israel’s answer? Israel’s answer was war against them, and not only dropping one or two bombs but the policy of the Israeli government, and look it up, is that when they go to war, they do the utmost damage. They don’t kill one or two, they destroy a people.
There’s a new concept available now, it’s called ‘Sociocide’, you know our Philosophers and our Professors, too many of them who sit behind university walls, if it’s not going out to new links with other universities so they can get more money for military experiments. Sociocide means another country destroys a people’s whole ability to live – and this is what’s happening in Gaza. The Gazan people: their identities are being destroyed as Palestinians, their country is being destroyed as Palestine, their children are being killed, their spirit is being dampened, they’re being demonised by the Israelis as if they were nothing. Who are the Palestinians? The Israelis created another lie in 1948 when they said they went to ‘a land without people’, they went to a land that was full of the very best of people, good people, kind people, people who opened their hearts to them coming in, in 1948, people who gave them homes and supported them and what did the Israelis do? What did the Zionists do? In 1948, they cleared over 400 Palestinian villages, putting the people out of their homes. The Palestinians had to flee their land, this was ‘The Nakba’ of the Palestinian people. It was genocide as important as the genocide of the Holocaust. I’ve been to Auschwitz, I am not an Anti-Semite. I’ve been to Auschwitz, I’ve seen the suffering and in Auschwitz I swore the next time I saw people suffering like this I would not remain silent and we must not remain silent.
We must stand up against Israeli aggression
It is a myth that The Nakba and the ethnic cleansing that went on in 1948 by the Israeli’s is over. It’s happening today as we stand. The Israelis are clearing villages in the Negev desert so they can take over the very best of Palestinian land. We must up stand up against this. This is not acceptable and we’re not powerless. We’re not powerless, the people of Northern Ireland, no they’re not powerless because we know what it’s like for bombings and shootings and killings and fear and division. And we stood up and we said this is not acceptable. So the people of Israel and Palestine together can stop this. They have to do it, because the world leaders are not going to do it. The people have to do it and do it together, because Israeli’s too are suffering.
Boycott, Divest, Sanction
We must support the Israeli Peace Activists. They are on a hard road but their message is right. Their message is non-violence, dialogue and solving this problem. It’s not who will start this problem; it’s who will end it. Boycott all Israeli goods. Boycott Israel and the companies that trade with them. Divest from Israel and the countries that support Israel. We must applaud the Co-op, because the Co-op, one of the first retailers has come out with a very strong Boycott campaign and we send out from this platform our thanks to the Co-op and we implore more and more to follow their example. But, you know, also sanctions, sanctions against the arms that are flowing into Israel. We must say to America, you are breaking your own laws because every day you have 8 million dollars going to support the militarism of Israel. They are being used illegally by Israel and America has to stop this. Europe too has a lot of work, Europe funds Israel, Israel gets more money out of the European kitty – and that’s our money – to do military research so it can remain a nuclear weapons country with the fourth biggest army in the world.
We’re paying for that, so they use these to destroy a country and destroy the buildings that our tax money built in Gaza. This is not acceptable.
Lies from the Media
I thank you all for coming. We are powerful but the most important thing, our greatest enemy is cowardice, our greatest enemy are those who refuse to speak the truth because of their own fear. Our greatest enemies are people like the BBC and the media who tell lies about what is happening . Where are the media reporting exactly what is happening? We demand, we’re paying tax, we’re paying our license and we want the truth. Thank you very much for all you’re doing. There’s great hope because I have met with the Israeli activists and I have met with the Palestinian people and witnessed their message of non-violence, Palestine has a great non-violence movement, tragically a lot of them are in Israeli prisons. So we together can solve this and help our Palestinian people. We did it in Northern Ireland and we are a model. People said it couldn’t be done, we said it will not be done through militarism, arm struggle and violence. It will be done with truth and courage and love and forgiveness and we can do it. That’s our message to the Israeli and Palestinian people. You can do it another way.’
The move has been seen as defying a UN vote that implicitly recognised Palestinian statehood in the region.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s conservative government had authorised the construction of 3,000 housing units and ordered “prelimiliary zoning and planning work for thousands” more.
The official would not elaborate. But Israeli media said the government sought to hammer home its rejection of yesterday’s upgrade, by the UN General Assembly, of the Palestinians to “non-member observer state” from “entity”.
Israel and the United States had opposed the resolution, which strenghtened the Palestinians’ claim on all of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, saying territorial sovereignty should be addressed in direct peace talks with the Jewish state.
Those negotiations have been stalled for two years, however, given Palestinian anger at continued Israeli settlement.
The Israelis insist they would keep West Bank settlement blocs under any final accord as well as all of Jerusalem as their capital.
That status for the holy city has never been accepted abroad, where most powers consider the settlements illegal for taking in land captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
The 193-nation UN General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged the world body to issue what he said was its long overdue “birth certificate”.
Meanwhile, the Vatican has hailed the United Nations’ implicit recognition of a Palestinian state and called for an internationally guaranteed special status for Jerusalem.
Palestine now has the same status as the Vatican.
A statement said: “The Holy See welcomes with favour the decision of the General Assembly by which Palestine has become a Non-member Observer State of the United Nations,”
It also said it was a “propitious occasion” to recall a “common position” on Jerusalem expressed by the Vatican and the Palestine Liberation Organisation when the two sides signed a basic agreement on their bilateral relations in 2000.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations voted overwhelmingly Thursday to recognize a Palestinian state, a long-sought victory for the Palestinians but an embarrassing diplomatic defeat for the United States.
The resolution upgrading the Palestinians’ status to a nonmember observer state at the United Nations was approved by a more than two-thirds majority of the 193-member world body — a vote of 138-9, with 41 abstentions.
Real independence, however, remains an elusive dream until the Palestinians negotiate a peace deal with the Israelis, who warned that the General Assembly action will only delay a lasting solution. Israel still controls the West Bank, east Jerusalem and access to Gaza, and it accused the Palestinians of bypassing negotiations with the campaign to upgrade their U.N. status.
The United States immediately criticized the historic vote. “Today’s unfortunate and counterproductive resolution places further obstacles in the path peace,” U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the speech by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the General Assembly shortly before the vote “defamatory and venomous,” saying it was “full of mendacious propaganda” against Israel.
Abbas had told the General Assembly that it was “being asked today to issue the birth certificate of Palestine.” Abbas said the vote is the last chance to save the two-state solution.
After the vote, Netanyahu said the UN move violated past agreements between Israel and the Palestinians and that Israel would act accordingly, without elaborating what steps it might take.
THE cease-fire that ended the latest round of violence between Israel and the Palestinians has enhanced the popularity of the militant group Hamas. This extremist organization has become the only interlocutor for the Arab world, for the West and, indirectly, for Israel. But Hamas refuses to recognize Israel’s existence or to negotiate with Israelis. Meanwhile, the pragmatic Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, is rapidly losing legitimacy and Israel’s recent strikes on Gaza will only weaken it further. Negotiating with Hamas may secure a lull, but Hamas cannot be a partner for peace.
If the world wants to express support for the Palestinian party that recognizes Israel, seeks to avoid violence, and genuinely wishes to reach a peace agreement in which a Palestinian state exists alongside — not instead of — Israel, it will have its chance later this week when Mr. Abbas makes his bid for recognition of Palestinian statehood before the United Nations. If American and Israeli opposition to a Palestinian bid continues, it could serve as a mortal blow to Mr. Abbas, and end up being a prize that enhances the power and legitimacy of Hamas.
It is paradoxical that Israel’s current government is so vehemently opposed to Mr. Abbas’s bid for recognition. After all, it was 65 years ago this week, on Nov. 29, 1947, that the Palestinians and their friends in the Arab world expressly rejected United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181, which recognized the need to establish a Jewish state alongside an Arab state in the former British Mandate territory of Palestine.
Now, the Palestinians are admitting their mistake and asking the same assembly to recognize a state of Palestine alongside Israel, and requesting that the boundaries of their state be determined as a result of negotiations with Israel. Meanwhile, Israel’s right-wing parties — which in 1993 rejected the Oslo Accords that envisaged Israeli withdrawal from parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the establishment of Palestinian autonomy in those areas — are now using, and abusing, that same agreement to prevent Palestinian statehood.
This week’s request wouldn’t be taking place if both sides had abided by the Oslo Accords’ original time frame, if Israel’s peacemaking prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, hadn’t been assassinated in 1995, and if we’d reached a permanent agreement by May 1999, as initially envisioned.
Since Rabin’s assassination, there has been little progress toward ending the conflict. No proper negotiations have taken place for four years. And because Mr. Abbas has committed to the principles of nonviolence, diplomatic means, like the statehood bid, are his only way of putting Palestinians back on the global agenda. In retaliation, the Israeli Foreign Ministry is now threatening to nullify the Oslo Accords, if the world recognizes a Palestinian state. This is preposterous.
The Oslo Accords have allowed Israel’s right-wing government to hide behind an interim agreement that, for almost 20 years, has permitted Israel to continue the expansion of settlements in the West Bank; to rid itself of the responsibility of day-to-day management in the Occupied Territories; to save itself the costs of occupation (as donor countries are financing the Palestinian budget); and to benefit from cooperation with Palestinian security forces. There is no chance that Israel will nullify the accords.
The claim that Palestinians are violating the Oslo agreement by presenting their proposal to the General Assembly is completely unfounded. The topic of Palestinian statehood was never one of the five issues (Jerusalem’s status, the fate of refugees, security arrangements, borders and settlements) that were considered “final status” issues in the 1993 Oslo accord. The Palestinians chose not to mention the issue of a state, as they saw self-determination as a basic right for their people; and it was convenient back then for Israel not to address the topic.
Moreover, Mr. Abbas has clarified that if the General Assembly decides to recognize a Palestinian state, he would agree to negotiations with Israel’s government without preconditions, a move that is in both America’s and Israel’s interests. The only difference is that these negotiations would take place between two internationally recognized states.
President Obama and Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, should think twice before rejecting Mr. Abbas’s request. Blocking his bid for statehood will only empower extremists further.
There is no reason for the United States to oppose Mr. Abbas’s move, pressure the Palestinians not to raise this issue, or threaten to freeze their budget.
And Israel has no reason to wage a diplomatic war against the Palestinian appeal. Rather, Mr. Netanyahu should be the first to recognize a Palestinian state and Mr. Obama the last to prevent it.
Yossi Beilin, an architect of the Oslo Accords, has served as Israel’s deputy foreign minister and minister of justice.