Saturday, 28 August 2010

A CALL TO ACT, FREEDOM FLOTILLA 2 NEEDS YOUR HELP NOW

I4P



DO IT FOR PALESTINE, DO IT FOR IRELAND DO IT FOR FREEDOM, BUT DO IT NOW!!

The I4P writers group rarely ask for help, but we are asking all our supporters, readers and fellow blog friends for urgent help today.

As many of you are aware, Ireland took part on the last Freedom Flotilla to Gaza which came under attack from Israeli Commando Pirates and resulted in the deaths of nine Humanitarian aid workers. Several Irish people were injured,one fairly seriously.

There is another flotilla going to Gaza in early October, organised by the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza, they were co-organisers of the last flotilla.

You may have noticed we have been posting less on the blog lately. The reason is that several members of our blog are helping to raise money for the Irish Ship to Gaza and many of our friends and possibly one of us will be going on one of the boats in the flotilla. As always, this blog will keep you up to date as the flotilla prepares to break the siege. If Ireland is to be represented on this next flotilla then we need the support of everyone sympathetic to Ireland or Palestine, or this blog to help us get there.

If you can organise a fundraising event in your area of the world and donate the proceeds to our cause GREAT, we love you and hereby proclaim you as an Honorary Irishmen no matter where you live! If you can’t do fundraising or donate then please re-post this page to your own blog or website along with our wee Irish Ship to Gaza button (code below to copy and paste) so that your readers and supporters can help us. We want Ireland to help brake the siege so help us make it happen! The more boats the flotilla have, the better chance we have of ending this terrible siege.

Listen folks, the reality is that the only place the siege has NOT been broken since the invasion is by sea. Gaza’s seaport remains closed to the world and under siege by Israel. Several convoys have been successful in entering Gaza since the invasion with some aid, the most recent one just weeks ago. Since the flotilla attack on May 31st Rafah has been open more often. However, the amount of aid taken in by convoys may appear large to us, but the fact that Gaza’s population is 1.5 million means that it’s only a wee tiny drop in the bucket and really offers little long term help because it keeps Gazan’s dependant on aid from convoys, humanitarian orgs and the UN. They don’t want to live this way!!

What is needed now is to break the siege by sea, open Gaza’s seaport, so that people in Gaza can get back to work and export their goods and wares to the world, and import building supplies by cargo ships from the world. This will not only ease the humanitarian suffering but will put Gaza people back to work and help their economy become self sufficient so people there can live normal lives like the rest of the free world.

We need everyone to spread the word and help us with this. So, DO IT for Ireland, DO IT for Palestine, DO IT for FREEDOM and DO IT for an end to the Siege!


PLEASE POST THE FOLLOWING CODE INTO YOUR BLOG OR WEBSITE'S SIDEBAR, JUST COPY AND PASTE THIS CODE BELOW:


<a href="http://irishshiptogaza.org/?page_id=10" target="_blank">
<img src=" http://irishshiptogaza.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/istglogo21.jpg" width="119" height="94" border="0" alt="Irish Ship to Gaza"</a>

And Wa La, you will get this lovely wee button below complete with a link to where people can donate to help us:)




FOR BLOGGER BLOGS:For blogger, use the “add text” gadget in “design” mode, then click the top right and make sure it says “rich text” then paste the code into the box, after that go back and click the “rich text” link again and go to html mode and the button with link should appear in the box and also when you click save it will appear on your blog’s sidebar.

FOR WORDPRESS BLOGS: do a text/html widget and copy the code into it then click save.

Go on, click it, it works!! and Whilst you are there get the bank info and send a donation by cheque, wire transfer (c'mon all you rich Irish Americans out there!! Help your fellow Irishmen!), in Europe you can do a bank transfer, in Ireland cold hard cash is also accepted, or if yur in England or Ireland you can do a weekly standing order or transfer or cheque deposit!! There now that's all covered, no excuses now;-)




HELP US BREAK THE SIEGE
FREEDOM FLOTILLA 2
IRISH SHIP TO GAZA


THANK YOU!!


River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

PA on the edge as opposition to talks with apartheid Israel widens

[ 28/08/2010 - 11:21 AM ]

From Khalid Amayreh in occupied Palestine

Security forces loyal to the Western-backed Palestinian Authority (PA) on Friday stormed the southern West Bank town of Dura, assaulting civilians and laying siege to two large Mosques.

The forces, which were riding brand-new vehicles "donated" by the United States, and carrying the official trademark of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) prevented people from accessing the Grand Mosque in town Center, before storming the mosque in order to prevent Sheikh Nayef Rajoub, a popular Islamic leader, from giving the traditional pre-sermon dars or homily.

Rajoub, a former Minister of Wakf and Islamic Affairs, is one of the most popular Islamic leaders in the West Bank. His popularity however, has been a source of anxiety to the Fatah-controlled government whose Wakf Minister, Muhammed al Habbash, last week issued an order barring Rajoub from preaching or giving Islamic lectures at the Mosques.

Rajoub rejected the order, calling it "incompatible with Islam."

According to eyewitnesses, the troops behaved provocatively, offending Muslim sensibilities. They entered the mosque with their boots on, which is considered offensive and nearly sacrilegious throughout the Muslim world.

Seeking to avert a more violent showdown, Rajoub moved to another mosque, the Mosque of al Mujahed, where he started preaching about the virtues of the Holy Month of Ramadan.

However, hundreds of PA troops, including many in plain-clothes, pursued the Sheikh to the Mujahed Mosque, causing a commotion.

Once again, the troops desecrated the mosque by entering it with their boots-on. Another potentially violent showdown between the troops and the angry worshipers was narrowly averted when some local dignitaries convinced the Sheikh to stop preaching.

Eyewitnesses reported that heavily armed troops savagely beat worshipers, including one of Rajoub's brothers.

The storming of the town of Dura and assault on the mosques has infuriated local citizens who called PA troops "servants of Israel" and "Dayton soldiers."

"Even the Israeli soldiers wouldn’t behave like this. What happened today proves that the PA and Israel are two sides of the same coin," said Adib Sharah, a student.

One worshiper called the troops "Israeli collaborators who beat and persecute their own people on Israel's behalf."

Following the end of the congregational prayers, the PA security forces carried out a widespread campaign of arrest in the town and surrounding areas.

Local sources put the number of detainees at 40-50 people, mostly young Islamist activists who shielded Rajoub from attacks by the troops.

Speaking to the PIC Friday night, Rajoub lambasted the PA behavior as an "expression of moral and political bankruptcy."

"Instead of fighting the Israeli occupation and enabling Muslims to access the Aqsa Mosque, the PA is storming and desecrating mosques here in this town. And they are doing this to obtain a certificate of good conduct from the enemy."

He argued that no force on earth could prevent a Muslim scholar from communicating and preaching the message of Islam.

Rajoub, who has a Master Degree in Sharia, said the PA minister of Wakf, al Habbash, had no right to bar Ulema or Muslim scholars from carrying out their basic function.

During the 2006 elections, Rajoub received more votes than any other candidate in the Hebron District.

However, due to his popularity, the Israeli occupation authority targeted him with harsh persecution, throwing him in jail for nearly 50 months on concocted charges, such as supporting a militant organization.

He was released from Israeli detention only two months ago

Rajoub is still very popular which worries the PA which is trying to restrict his activities.

The latest events in Dura come amid accusations by Palestinian Islamic leaders that the PA is effectively fighting Islam in order to please Israel and the United States.

Some Palestinian and Arab experts are convinced that American and Israeli satisfaction with the PA depends largely on the extent to which the PA is willing to impose restrictions on Islamic activism in occupied Palestine.

On Wednesday, PA security forces violently thwarted a meeting in Ramallah organized by liberal and leftist intellectuals who were planning to hold a press conference to declare their opposition to what they view as a capitulation by the Ramallah leadership to American and Israeli dictates.

The violent repression of dissent, which has been stepped up in recent days and weeks, is being viewed as a bad omen by most Palestinians.

Palestinians are worried that the PA might resort to harsh tactics to impose an unpopular "peace deal" with Israel that would effectively liquidate the Palestinian cause by selling out or sacrificing such paramount Palestinian rights as Jerusalem and the right of return for million of Palestinian refugees uprooted from their homes and villages in what is now Israel.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

More Pointless Talks with Israel? Send in the Clowns

27. Aug, 2010

The Palestinians’ champion – their White Knight – is preparing to ride forth next week and do battle at the negotiating table with the racist regime’s Black Knight and his minder, the Great Satan.

The rules of chivalry don’t apply, so the outcome is not in doubt.
However, the White Knight is not quite as white or brave as he seems.

Eager to do his lord’s bidding, Mahmoud Abbas is a willing fall guy.

On this occasion Obama has imperiously snapped his fingers and announced he wants direct talks started “well before” the Black Knight (aka Israeli prime minister Netanyahu) ends the partial freeze on illegal settlements in a month’s time.

And, by the way, US mid-term elections are coming up in two months’ time and Obama has to look good.

So Abbas jumped.

And Abbas is at least 18 months past the pack-your-bags date when he should have stepped down from his presidential position. He has twice unilaterally extended his stay and called off scheduled elections. He has no popular mandate and continues to blot the Palestinian escutcheon, staining the only democracy in the Middle East (Israel being altogether something else: an ethnocracy).

In the excitement everyone has forgotten that Hamas are the democratically elected power in Palestine even though they have been forced by Abbas and his US-armed gang and their Israeli back-up into confinement in the Gaza Strip. Hamas are not invited to the peace table, so what legitimacy can the encounter possibly have, anyway?

No preconditions except Israel’s

The talks are being held while Israel continues to pound Palestinian civilians in Gaza, maintains the cruel land and sea blockade and murders any unarmed humanitarians sailing to break it, disallows exports, severely restricts travel within the Occupied Territories, carries on with house demolitions, denies access to universities and places of worship, and generally behaves in a brutal and barbaric manner.

Israel has failed to honour earlier peace pledges and gives every indication of wishing only to expand its borders further.

The idea that there can be meaningful talks under these conditions is an insult to the intelligence of the civilized world. Abbas said earlier that he didn’t see much point in talking but he’s been pressured to change his mind.

Netanyahu loudly insists there can be no pre-conditions while busily laying down pre-conditions of his own, in particular ruling out any return by Palestinians to East Jerusalem, which as everyone knows belongs to the Palestinians and is earmarked as their capital, and refusing to extend the temporary halt to settlement building on stolen land.

Palestine, as always, is led by losers. Abbas’s senior negotiator, Saeb Erekat, is described as a newspaper editor, but he doesn’t seem very adept at bringing the Palestinian cause to media attention in the outside world.

His opening shots warn the Israelis that they must choose between “settlements or peace… they cannot have both”. Is this Erekat’s magic bullet for unseating the Black Knight?

Law and justice are not ‘à la carte’

Netanyahu leads a fragile coalition of right wingers and religious nutters. He says that if he were to prolong the moratorium on settlements it could trigger the collapse of his government.

So he must continue in his criminal ways to survive.

To prove his playful sense of humour hasn’t yet deserted him, he goes on to say: “We are coming to the talks with a genuine desire to reach a peace agreement between the two peoples that will protect Israel’s national security interests, foremost of which is security.”

The Palestinians’ national security interests are, and always have been, irrelevant.

Haaretz reports that the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), in one of its wackiest statements to date, has called on the Palestinian Authority to “abandon its longstanding attempts to avoid making difficult choices at the negotiating table and cease incitement against Israel at home and abroad”.

And you’ll die laughing at this bit: “Now it is time for the Palestinians and the Arab States to grasp Israel’s outstretched hand and match the Jewish state’s unyielding commitment to peace with actions of their own.”

Another pro-Israel group, J-Street, claims the talks could be the last opportunity to save the two-state solution. “The window of opportunity for progress is brief and closing. We believe Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic home, not to mention vital American interests in the region, hang in the balance,” says J-Street’s Vice President for Policy and Strategy, pretending that America’s best interests are geared to the success of Israel’s unlawful and racist expansionism.

From the way America conducts itself internationally, anyone would think that law and justice are some kind of à la carte menu items to be dispensed on a pick-and-choose basis, or not dispensed at all. Or something Americans can send back to the kitchen if their taste buds don’t fancy it.

It is outrageous that Netanyahu should be encouraged to think compliance with the law is optional and in the meantime further concessions can be wrung, under duress, from people the Israelis have oppressed and cheated for 60 years.


The talking’s all done

The talks of course have nothing to do with peace. They are about greed, dominance and more land theft. The plan is to get a weakling Palestinian leader into a corner and arm-twist more concessions from him, until there’s nothing left.

Is this really a good time to bend the knee or tug the forelock to someone as unreliable as Obama or as criminal as Netanyahu?

It is surely an occasion to stand on principle and go over the heads of corrupt meddlers, making a strong Palestinian case anchored firmly in established law and justice so that there is no room to wriggle, and demand that same law and justice from the international community that endorsed it.

It would call for a carefully planned and professionally executed communications campaign to make the world listen, something the Palestinian Authority and the PLO, under Abbas, have fatally neglected.
But Abbas says it’s his “national responsibility” to go along with the talks. Those in Ramallah who dared to disagree were quickly stamped on by his security goons.

Abbas and Erekat belong to the shabby failures of the past. For Palestine the future has to start somewhere. It might as well be here, and now.

America cannot – no, will not – uphold international law or UN resolutions. Like Israelis, the Americans have a cynical disregard for human rights except their own. It goes against all notions of fair play, therefore, to see America acting the host and pretending to be an honest broker.

Abbas should have none of it. If he cannot be persuaded to do the decent thing and go, he at least ought to take the line that the talking’s all done. It was done in the UN. And the UN has treated Israel with gob-smacking generosity at Arab expense, first with its 1947 Partition gift and later by nodding OK to Israel’s territorial gains represented by the Armistice ‘Green Line’. The Israelis should accept this staggering munificence with proper humility, and be content.

Obama would do well to acknowledge that the decisions have already been made. They are enshrined in UN resolutions, in international law, in the Geneva Conventions and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They wait to be implemented by the nations that are party to those solemn undertakings, including the US.

So please, Mr Obama, no more talking. Cut the charade and do your duty.

Earn that peace prize. Or give it back.
Stuart Littlewood
27 August 2010
Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation.

 For further information please visit www.radiofreepalestine.co.uk

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Khreisha: Abbas's position on direct talks is political suicide

[ 28/08/2010 - 10:55 AM ]

RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Second deputy speaker of the Palestinian legislative council Hasan Khreisha stated that the decision taken by de facto president Mahmoud Abbas to engage in direct negotiations with Israelis is political suicide and a victory for premier Benjamin Netanyahu.

In a press statement on Friday, Khreisha stressed that Abbas's authority accepted to enter into negotiations because of US-Israeli pressures and to save its existence, although it is fully aware that it would take nothing from its talks with Israelis.

He expressed his strong belief that the direct talks would miserably fail especially after Netanyahu imposed his conditions on the international quartet and Abbas, noting that the Israeli government is composed of rightist parties considering the killing of Palestinians legitimate.

The lawmaker underlined that Abbas pursues the principle of "the financer is the one who decides" in his negotiation policy, pointing out that US envoy George Mitchell linked any financial aid given to the Palestinian Authority (PA) to achieving progress in its talks with Israelis.

The lawmaker also accused the Palestinian factions of the Palestine liberation organization (PLO), which claim to oppose the direct talks, of lying to their people, asserting that leaders of these factions agree on something in their closed meeting and declare something else through the media because their interests are associated with the PA's and they are afraid to lose their financial privileges.

For his part, member of Hamas's political bureau Khalil Hayya stated that Abbas's negotiations would provide the Israeli occupation with a cover to liquidate the reminder of the Palestinian cause and its constants.

Hayya added, in a ceremony organized Friday evening in Gaza for the support of the Aqsa Mosque, that Abbas and his entourage do not represent the Palestinian people and refugees, and warned the negotiators of making any concessions on behalf of the Palestinians.

In the same context, Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu told the American administration that he wants to hold bilateral meetings with Abbas once every two weeks in an effort to reach understandings on various fundamental issues, according to the Hebrew radio on Friday.

Netanyahu started Thursday to select members of his negotiation team, according to a statement issued by his office. The team will be led by his representative and lawyer Yitzhak Molsho, who was designated a few months ago to coordinate with Washington regarding the restart of the direct talks with Abbas.

Kufaisheh: The PA barred 17 religious figures from preaching in mosques

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Popular Resistance suppressed by Israel and the Palestinian authority‏

Mazin Qumsiyeh

Saturday started out by some work at the university with students (research in biology) then taking a group of visitors on a tour of the area of Bethlehem that shows the impact of the wall and settlements. We also wentto one of the weekly demonstrations and on this third Friday of Ramadan both here and Bilin and other places showed several injuries and use of excessive power by the Israeli occupation /apartheid army.


The demonstrations commemorated the assassination of famous Palestinian Cartoonist Naji Al Ali and of the leader of the PFLP Abu Ali Mustafa. It also came in solidarity with the "conviction" by Israel's apartheid courts of Abdullah Abu Rahma oncharges of organizing nonviolent demonstrations in Bilin.



Please watch this especially the unprovoked abduction of Kobi, an Israeli peace activist and the unprovoked attack with gas canisters that injured people.

They also detained Matan (not shown on video) who was released a short while later.

Kobi was released also but will have to face trial. After the demonstration I returned to finish the work at the university and then at 4:15 PM we (George Rishmawi and I) took over 100 Palestinian women from Nazereth and other places inside the Green Line (1948 Palestine) on a tour of the walls around Bethlehem including Al-Walaja and Beit Sahour. It was an uplifting trip as we talked about resistance and I note how, despite Israel's attempts at fragmenting us, we connect and those ladies were an inspiration to have organized this trip (with help of Sabeel and the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement).

After the iftar (breaking the fast), we visited with two needy families (one in Beit Sahour and one in Dheisheh Refugee Camp). I will tell you in future emails some of the stories of these families. For now there are other news and actions to take. Israel refuses to lift ban on family unification --Report, The ElectronicIntifada, 20 August 2010

Amira Hass / What West Bank road renovations say about the occupation Why driving uphill in West Bank cities brings to mind Fatah's next general conference.

Attack by Palestinian Security forces on a meeting of democratic forces as popular resistance grows against the capitulation to Israeli and US demands and engaging in fruitless "negotiations" http://www.alhaq.org/etemplate.php?id=540
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11489.shtml

ACTION: There will be a demonstration in Al-Manara square in Ramallah Wednesday at 11 AM Palestinian Time to protest against this unprovoked attack on democratic values and to reject the decision by Mr. Abbas to go to Negotiations based on US-Israeli conditions.

Vancouver stoppage of unloading apartheid shipping containers http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/video/israeli-ships-not-welcome-vancouver/4507
ACTION: US Palestinian Community Network asks for donations to Pakistan reliefWeb: http://www.palestineconference.org/ + Email: uspcn@palestineconference.org + Twitter: http://twitter.com/uspcn

As our people suffer in Gaza, and languish in the camps, let us als oremember those hurt by natural disasters, from Katrina, to Haiti, and onc eagain, Pakistan.

We urge you to donate to support the people of Pakistan asthey cope with this horrific flood.

TO DONATE (note: all donations are tax-deductible 501-c):

USA: TEXT SWAT to 50555 to donate $10 to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees USA/Canada/UK/International: LIST OF ORGANIZATIONS for Donations (NGO's): http://pakistanfloods.blogspot.com/2010/08/usa.html

USA/International: Islamic Relief USA http://www.islamicreliefusa.org/home
Mercy Corps (grass-roots organization supported by Pakistani Peace Builders+ ML Social Vision): http://www.relief4pakistan.com/

The Nation Magazine's List of Organizations : http://www.thenation.com/blog/154063/how-help-pakistan

Register today for the 2nd Palestinian Popular Conference, October 29-31,2010Chicago, IL http://www.palestineconference.org/

And as always, come visit us in occupied Palestine.

Mazin Qumsiyeh,
PhDA Bedouin in Cyberspace, a villager at home
http://www.qumsiyeh.org/

Professor, Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities
Chairman of the Board, Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People , http://www.pcr.ps/

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Palestinians Counter Israeli Editing Group in Wikipedia Battle

Al-Manar

28/08/2010 After a rightist group opened the first-ever Zionist editing group aimed at defending Israel on Wikipedia, a Palestinian organization plans to create its own Wikipedia editing program.

Palestinian Journalists Syndicate head Abdul Nasser An-Najjar told the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency that his organization plans to set up editing groups to counter attempts to present Israel's view on Wikipedia. He urged the Palestinian Authority to take part in the initiative.

An-Najjar warned that the next regional war would be a “media war,” adding that online information on the Israeli-Arab conflict shapes world opinion.

Last week the Yesha Council and the Yisrael Sheli (My Israel) organization opened a course to address the problem of what it referred to as pro-Arab bias on Wikipedia. In a one-day seminar, lecturers taught dozens of participants how to ensure that Israel's view is presented on the online encyclopedia.

Ayelet Shaked of Yisrael Sheli told the Guardian that the problem is that online, pro-Israeli activists are vastly outnumbered by pro-Palestinian voices. "We don't want to give this arena to the other side," she said. "But we are so few and they are so many. People in the US and Europe never hear about Israel's side, with all the correct arguments and explanations."

Shaked said the Israeli government is "not doing a very good job" of explaining Israel to the world.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Israeli soldiers turn J'lem into military posts, restrict entry into Aqsa


[ 28/08/2010 - 08:49 AM ]

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) intensified their presence in the early morning hours on Friday in occupied Jerusalem turning it into military posts in an attempt to prevent the Palestinian crowds, especially the young men, from entering the Aqsa Mosque to perform Friday prayers.

Eyewitness said the IOF troops were intensively deployed all over the holy city, especially at the entrances to the Old City and in the vicinity of the Aqsa Mosque and its gates, adding that they erected barriers in all alleys of the Old City and at the Mosque's gates and searched the worshipers.

The IOF troops only allowed the men aging 50 and above, the women over 40 and holders of special permits to have access to the Aqsa Mosque.

For its part, the Aqsa foundation for endowment and heritage affirmed that about 180,000 Palestinian worshipers performed their Friday prayers in the Aqsa Mosque in defiance of the Israeli military measures and restrictions.

In a statement, the Aqsa foundation said this estimated number of worshipers was concluded from information provided by reporters and cameramen of news agencies who covered the events of Friday prayers.

It noted that most of the worshipers were from Jerusalem and the 1948 occupied lands, and a few of them were from the West Bank.

Al-Bayareq foundation had afforded more than 170 buses to transport worshipers from all Palestinian cities of the 1948 occupied lands to the Aqsa Mosque, while the Aqsa foundation distributed more than 4,000 meals inside the Mosque.

In another incident, more than 17,000 Palestinians from Al-Khalil city performed their Friday prayers in the Ibrahimi Mosque, and the Mosques of Ahel Al-Sunnah and Al-Qazazin in the Old City.

Eyewitness said that Al-Khalil people flocked into the Ibrahimi Mosque after being prevented from reaching the Aqsa Mosque, adding that thousands of Israeli soldiers were deployed around the Mosque in anticipation of clashes on the anniversary of the Israeli massacre committed inside this Mosque.

The Palestinians are always electronically and manually searched many times by Israeli troops before they are allowed into the Ibrahimi Mosque.



River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

No reconstruction despite siege "easing"

Rami Almeghari, The Electronic Intifada, 27 August 2010


Bassam Dardouna stands in the abandoned apartment that he and his family are living in. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

"We are not here to steal or take over something which is not our own. We are not criminals or thieves. We are humans who seek a safe shelter after we have lost hope that our houses will be rebuilt," said Bassam Dardouna, 46, head of a 15-member household, as he stood in the middle of an unfinished apartment.

Last week, Dardouna's and more than 35 other displaced families from the al-Salam neighborhood took over the abandoned, partially-built Abu al-Kheir building, a 10-story apartment block east of Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip.

"For the past year my seven sons and five daughters have all lived in a small rented house in very cramped conditions," Dardouna explained. "I had to stop sponsoring my four sons who are enrolled at the university, as I have become increasingly unable to afford the rent."

Kamal al-Najjar is one of six brothers whose three-story house was completely destroyed by Israeli warplanes during Israel's winter 2008-09 attack on Gaza. Al-Najjar explained that he and his brothers have large families with between seven to nine children and, like Dardouna, could no longer afford to pay rent. "So we decided to move here," al-Najjar explained as he helped a worker fix up the apartment he had taken over.

These Gaza families are among thousands whose houses were either partially or completely destroyed during the Israeli bombardment and invasion. Hamas, which runs the Gaza wing of the Palestinian Authority, reacted to the takeover of the building by saying it would consider that the vast majority of affected people have been unable to repair or rebuild damaged homes due to the lack of building materials.

There has been a chronic shortage of building materials since Israel imposed a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip more than three years ago. In June of this year Israel announced a partial "easing" of the blockade, under international pressure following its massacre of peace activists aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

Larger shipments of goods and commodities have entered the territory since Israel has announced relaxing the closure of Gaza. While more consumer goods and foodstuffs are more abundant in Gaza's markets, building materials are still scarce.

Even existing construction projects are stalled due to the persistent Israeli blockade on building supplies. Among them are a major housing project being built by UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, in the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis, and more than 100 UNRWA schools.

"At this moment, there is nothing happening on the ground regarding construction materials for the UN projects," said Basil Nasir, director of the United Nations Development Program in Gaza. When announcing its "easing," Israel had said it would allow supplies in for UN-sponsored projects.

According to Maxwell Gaylard, United Nations Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, vital UN projects such as water and sanitation infrastructure and clinics are also on hold.

"Our position is that the blockade in terms of air, sea and land should be lifted and this position has not changed," Gaylard told The Electronic Intifada. Gaylard acknowledged that since Israel announced the easing, about 200 truckloads per day were coming through the Kerem Shalom land crossing as opposed to about 70 before. But this is still far short of what is needed.

"As for housing, schools, sanitation and water, we are talking about tens and tens of thousands of truckloads" of needed supplies, Gaylard said. Gaylard added that the UN was focused on getting permission for more materials to come through and according to him, the Israeli government is trying to expand the capacity of the Keren Shalom crossing.

But Omar Shaban, an economist in Gaza, contends that disallowing construction materials into the coastal territory has nothing to do with logistical factors. He blamed Israel for what he termed collective punishment against of the population in Gaza, a violation of international law.

Israel was forced to announce the easing of the siege following outrage over its attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, Shaban said, "but the siege is not yet lifted significantly as there are also widespread restrictions on movement of people in and out of the Gaza Strip."

According to Shaban, Israel's continued refusal to allow construction supplies into to Gaza is because "If they allow more materials, they think that Hamas will benefit. So they prefer the easiest way of punishing the whole community and by so doing they have failed to separate between Hamas and the rest of the Gaza community."

Shaban added: "I am not saying here that Israel has the right to punish Hamas, because at the end of the day Hamas was elected democratically, so the international community should help Hamas to adapt itself and to be part of a normal political system."

Evidence for this view also came recently when Israeli deputy prime minister Silvan Shalom told Quartet Envoy Tony Blair that Israel would not supply additional electricity to Gaza -- which suffers from severe shortages -- because that would "benefit Hamas."

"I think Israel wants to keep Gaza under pressure as a poor area while Palestinians are divided into two leaderships -- one in Gaza under Hamas and the other in the West Bank under the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority. Such a division gives Israel the excuse to do nothing towards changing the status quo, especially rehabilitation of the war-torn Gaza," said Shaban.

Bassam Dardouna and Kamal al-Najjar might have finally found some comfort in the abandoned building, but the needs of thousands of other displaced families remain unmet.

"Since we have been displaced, we have received many promises. We have increasingly felt we have been already deserted," Dardouna said.

Rami Almeghari is a journalist and university lecturer based in the Gaza Strip.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

“…This battle changed our thoughts. We returned to our sect. I won’t die for the [Future Movement]. I will die for my sect…"

August 28th, 2010 Arab News

Nir Rosen sent us a glimpse of his upcoming book “Aftermath”, release due in October 10′. Below are excerpts dealing with the May 2008′ ‘events’, and the sectarianism that prevailed.
“….. As Nasrallah explained at a press conference, Hizballah had used its weapons to defend its weapons. By the morning of May 9 all of west Beirut was in the hands of Hizballah or its armed allies. The government headquarters, called the Sérail, was surrounded, as were the homes of key March 14 leaders like Hariri and Jumblatt. It was the coup that never happened, but it galvanized the more militant Sunnis of the Beqaa and northern Lebanon….
….That evening I interviewed (Mosbah) Ahdab in his ostentatious Tripoli apartment. He had a small militia of dozens of ?t armed men protecting him. One of his security guards belonged to Afwaj Trablus, the Tripoli Brigades. He was paid by Secure Plus. There were six or seven thousand men like him, he told me, who had been trained but not in the use of RPGs. A few had received advanced training in Jordan. “It would be better if the Syrians were here,” he said ruefully. “At least there was security.” Ahdab’s eyes were bloodshot and wide in near hysteria. His breath smelled strongly of alcohol. An Iranian militia had taken over an Arab capital, he told me. As we spoke, we got word of clashes in the slums of Bab al-Tabbaneh…..
Shadi thought Prime Minister Siniora was an in?del, apostate, and ally of the Americans. But the Hizballah-led siege of Siniora’s government was not about Siniora, he said; it was about the sect...
… When Nabil and the men in his network were arrested (they were found with ?fty kilograms of TNT and ?ve kilograms of C4), they were tortured by members of the Interior Ministry’s Information Branch. During the interrogations Nabil was hit in the back of his head with a club; his legs were bruised for months after the beatings. Nabil was accused of being the number-two man in the group. Ismail was tortured to death, and his funeral in Majd al-Anjar was an occasion for massive demonstrations. With Ismail’s death, Nabil lost his connections to Iraq and no longer smuggled on behalf of the jihad. Nabil bragged about those days. “We are Al Qaeda,” he told me. “We had connec- tions to Abu Shahid.”…….
He did not want ?tnain the Muslim community, he said; he wanted to ?x the problems of arms in Lebanon and the dangers they posed for Sunnis. After seeing what happened in Beirut, Sunnis understandably wanted to arm themselves too. The Future Movement had no creed, he said. Its people worked only for money, unlike Hizballah. Sunnis were looking for a leader to repre- sent them, but the Mufti Qabbani was too close to the Saudis and the Future Movement, and he was weak, having done nothing in response to the events in Beirut. There was an opening now for Islamist movements,…..
“Before May 8 I used to love life,” said Hossam. “I would never sleep. I was into women, drugs, alcohol—I was living life to the fullest. ….“I should be doing martyrdom operations too,” he told me, his eyes darting to Nabil, look- ing for approval. “I would like to blow myself up during Nasrallah’s speech when there is a large group of people.” He got so much pleasure from shoot- ing, he said, and he surmised that if he went on a martyrdom operation his soul would feel even better. Nabil expected suicide operations like those in Iraq to occur in Lebanon, targeting Shiites. “I won’t be surprised if it happened,” he said.
… Sunnis had lost their trust in the security forces, especially after seeing the Lebanese army side with Hizballah. “We will defend ourselves, ….The Sunnis of Beirut were hit, but we will hit back one hundred times.” They were disappointed in Saad al-Hariri, who hadn’t supported the sect enough. Dhaher added that they were coordi- nating with Sunnis in the Beqaa and in Arsal.
I went to Arsal, a town bordering Syria that I had not heard of before talk- ing to Dhaher. I saw more posters for Saddam Hussein on the walls than for Ra?q al-Hariri.… “We are all yours, glorious Saddam, …All the Muslim community is for Saddam,”…..
Hujairi had been mayor for four years. He was a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, he told me, but he admitted that in the recent ?ghting the Brotherhood had not had a strong stand. Only the Sala?s had been strong…..
Only three of?cers in the army were from Arsal, though many townsmen were enlisted. There were no government services in town. Electricity was four hours on, four hours off. I was thus surprised to learn that townspeople from Arsal still identi?ed enough with the state to go down to Beirut and demon- strate so often. They had gone to protest the Danish cartoons and to show sup- port for Saad Hariri. Although many Western journalists live in Beirut, and many others descend on it whenever there is a crisis, few venture outside Beirut. This is despite the fact that Lebanon is such a small country. So the neglected Sunni population and the anger of that community are relatively unknown…… there was no party equivalent to Hizballah that could provide social services to poor Sunnis……
All Sunnis felt threatened and were uniting, he said, whether with the Muslim Brotherhood or the Future Movement. The Brotherhood was gaining in popularity in town because Sunnis felt marginalized. When they asked the Future Movement for weapons, they were turned down, he complained. “The Islamists will protect the Sunnis,” he said, and the Sala? movement would emerge stronger after these events. Dabaja’s brother agreed. “People are moving to extremism,” he said. “Before they were supporting Future, which is moderate, but now we cry for Nahr al-Barid. We could have used those people.” Dabaja agreed: “Last year we supported the army in Nahr al-Barid, but now we regret killing the extremists. People are thinking of weapons. We are threatened now. Are we going to sit with our hands tied?” Hizballah was afraid of the Sala?s, they said…….

Fifty men from the town had gone to ?ght in Beirut, but they had only been given sticks. There was a strong sense of Sunni solidarity now, he said, and they wanted weapons. “Shiites exposed that they are against Sunnis,” he said. He cursed Hariri for betraying Sunnis’ trust and humiliating them. “If Hariri wants to gain Sunnis back, he has to arm us….
I continued visiting Tariq al-Jadida in late May and early June……“We don’t want Shiites here!”
“The shabab are upset,” said Fadi, the local militiaman I had befriended. “Future brought us down to the street but could do nothing. Future is popular because there is no Sunni alternative.” Fadi and his men had asked Secure Plus for weapons but were told they didn’t have any. It seemed as though the leadership had sold the weapons for pro?t. …….“This battle changed our thoughts. We returned to our religion, to our sect. I won’t die for the [Future Movement]. I will die for my home, my sect. I am a Sunni. Now, there is no Sunni living who likes Shiites.” But Fadi still drank and didn’t pray ?ve times a day. Like many other Sunnis, he was proud of the Halba massacre……”
Go to Source

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Hebrew press: American green light to resume construction in WB settlements

[ 28/08/2010 - 08:23 AM ]

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The American administration has agreed to the scheme tabled by Dan Meridor, the Israeli Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy, on resuming building in settlement blocs on the West Bank borders, Hebrew daily Maariv said.

The paper on Thursday quoted Israeli political sources as saying that Meridor proposed starting the building activity on 26th September, which signals the end of the ten-month freeze on settlement activity.

The sources said that Washington agreed to divide the settlements in the West Bank into two types the first to be retained by Israel in any future peace agreement and the second that would be evacuated.

They said that the settlements to be retained by Israel are those built in the proximity of the green line separating the West Bank from Palestine occupied in 1948.

The sources said that contacts between Israel and the USA are ongoing in a bid to reach an acceptable formula on the issue before start of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority next Wednesday.
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Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban: Palestine waiting for Wikileaks!!

27. Aug, 2010

Settlers Torch Olive Orchard In Hebron while the Israeli army did not attempt to intervene or stop them.


In an age they claim to be the age of the ‘free world’, people wait for real news from wikilileaks which has leaked documents telling the real story of the conditions in Afghanistan and the enormous problems NATO and US forces are encountering in Afghanistan in facing Taliban’s scaled up attacks, which is the opposite of what we read in the ‘free’ press.  It also reports the despair Afghani people feel regarding attempts by NATO armies to reach a solution, while these armies have brought nothing but destruction and killing to Afghani civilians.  Instead of treating the documents as new indicators which merit serious consideration and maybe an unfamiliar and unexpected response to save what can be saved, most political and media interest focused on how the leak was made, the individuals involved and the objectives behind it in an attempt to frame everyone resisting the American military approach as suspect and possibly a terrorist.

Nevertheless, and despite the leaks and artificial official noise they provoked, the Congress decided to give $ 37 billion to continuing the war on Afghanistan and Iraq, despite the fact that this coincided with news that tens of billions of dollars went unaccounted for in Iraq, and despite the fact that the money was not spent for the objectives designed for it in Washington.  This issue has a direct impact on the United States security and economy because of its direct involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq.  How would this compare with the news published in the west about Palestine, the Gaza blockade, judaizing Jerusalem, displacing Palestinians in the territories occupied in 1948 and building settlements in the West Bank?  For the settlers, who are in control in Israel now, are the only source of the news about this part of the world.  Human rights groups do not have access to the scene of events where Israeli forces, assisted by extremist settlers, carry out a sort of ethnic cleansing unparalleled in the 21st century.  Yet, there is not a single news story carried by international news agencies about this ethnic cleansing, let alone condemning it.

A few days ago Israeli occupation forces completely erased the village of al-Araqib and did not allow the villagers even to take their family belongings.  320 villagers, whose fathers and grandfathers – as their tombs show – lived in the village before the creation of Israel, stood watching their history reduced to rubble by a racist military machine which deprived them of their humanity for no other reason except being Palestinians living in a land coveted by Zionist settlers who are stealing this land piece by piece with Western support and disgraceful international silence.

Eye witnesses speak of racist measures nobody knows except those who live under them.  Racist settlers set boars free every night in West-Bank villages and towns to make noises and terrorize the population and mess up their property in order to force people to leave their land.

Nevertheless, you find the White House taking measures to freeze funds belonging to Syrians who “threaten Lebanon’s stability”!  In his letter to the Congress, President Obama writes that “Syria’s actions in support of Hizbollah undermine Lebanon’s sovereignty, contributes to the region’s political and economic instability and still constitutes a threat to US national security and foreign policy”.  The fact is that the US administration’s acceptance of Israel’s racist crimes, and support and funding to Israeli ethnic cleansing policies is the real and essential threat to US national security and foreign policy because, on the one hand, it makes the Arabs lose any confidence in the credibility and neutrality of the United States and, on the other, unleashes the demon of racism, sectarianism and ethnic cleansing in Israel.  This will bring destruction and disaster not only to our region, but to the whole world.

If the American president or any member of his team thinks that this is far removed from the truth, I refer them to Gideon Levy’s article “The public wants a police that kills, but only Arabs” (Haaretz, 25 July, 2010).  In this article Levy writes about the killing of innocent Palestinians by Israeli police and then exonerating the police in Israeli courts.  He cites the example of police officer Shahar Mizrahi who killed a Palestinian man trying to escape.  The popular sympathy with Mizrahi turned him from a murderer into a hero.  He also wrote about Shmuel Yehezkel who shot dead Palestinian Samir Dari in 2005.  Levy adds “not a week goes by in which a civilian is not battered by violent police officers.  Instead of halting this dangerous trend, we accept the backing of the police criminal receives, which is accompanied by shameful silence on the part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman and Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein. The Supreme Court is again alone against this whole wave of violence, which receives a tailwind in the media”.  He concludes: “Yesterday they needlessly killed Mahmoud Ganaim. Tomorrow they are liable to kill Jewish civilians, too.  And then we are sure to protest”.

If this is not racism, what is racism?  And in whose interest is this dubious international silence in the face of this rising tide of racism in Israel?   In an article, “The tragedy of arrogance,” Amnon Shmosh writes about another kind of racism in Israel between an Ashkenazi mother and a Moroccan or Ethiopian Jewish one.  He adds: “the Arab perception is the opposite of our own, that their wisdom is lesser, that their freedom fighters are despicable terrorists wholly different from the Jewish terrorists we admired during British rule, that life is not sanctified by them as it is by us, and that if they won’t get coriander and sweets they would topple Hamas’ rule, which they stupidly elected”. (Yediot Ahronot, 23 July, 2010).  If these views and analyses do not constitute important leaks for the American Administration and Western governments, let them read Neve Gordon’s article in The Guardian, “Ethnic cleansing in the Israeli Negev” (although the Negev is Palestinian because all its villages are Palestinian”.  He writes: “I suddenly understood how far the state is ready to go to accomplish its objective of Judaising the Negev region; what I witnessed was, after all, an act of ethnic cleansing”.
What leaks do the Americans and the West need to know for sure that their silence regarding the most dangerous crime of ethnic cleansing and genocide committed in the twenty first century will be a devastating threat, not only to American national security, but to the security of our region and the world at large.


Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

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Palestinian Resistance Factions Demand Abbas Resign

Al-Manar

(Archive)
27/08/2010 A day after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas urged Israel to take advantage of “this historic opportunity” to achieve peace via the imminent direct negotiations, Hamas and 10 other Palestinian resistance groups on Thursday demanded that he resign because of his “failure to resist heavy American and Israeli pressure” to abandon his preconditions for the talks.

The resignation call was issued following a meeting of the groups’ heads in Damascus.

Izzat Risheq, a Hamas representative who attended the meeting, said participants agreed that Abbas “was no longer trustworthy to look after the interests of the Palestinian people and should therefore quit all his positions.”

Speaking during a meal he held to mark the breaking of Wednesday’s Ramadan fast, Abbas declared that the Palestinians were entering the direct talks on September 2 of their own volition and with the hope of achieving peace with their neighbors.

“We are going to Washington to launch direct talks under the sponsorship of the US and the presence of a representative of the Quartet of our own volition and national sense because we want peace,” Abbas told his guests over the meal in his Mukata presidential compound in Ramallah.

Referring to the PA’s previous conditions for participating in direct talks with Israel, Abbas explained: “As Palestinians, we’re not in a position that allows us to impose preconditions. No party should be allowed to set preconditions before entering negotiations.”

He added that the issue of settlement construction was mentioned in all bilateral agreements between the Israelis and Palestinians and in most international accords. “Since the Oslo Accords, we agreed that neither party would take measures that would prejudice the outcome of the final-status negotiations,” Abbas said.

“This means that Israel would refrain from changing the reality on the ground, while the Palestinians would refrain from unilaterally declaring a Palestinian state.”

ISRAELI POLITICIANS TO FIGHT FREEZE AT SCHOOLS

Meanwhile, the first day of school date has now become Israeli political fodder.

September 1 will coincide with a White House dinner marking the long-awaited beginning of direct diplomatic negotiations between Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Abbas under the auspices of US President Barack Obama.

Politicians on the Right intend to use the day to send a message to Netanyahu that the construction moratorium in Judea and Samaria must end as scheduled on September 26 and to Obama that continuing the freeze would harm West Bank children.

At the request of the Knesset’s Land of Israel caucus, ministers and top MKs will spend the day visiting schools in the West Bank.

Asked whether the visits of the Israeli ministers to the settlements while he is in Washington would bother Netanyahu, a source close to the Israeli PM said, “The ministers have the right to express their views, especially in this case, when they are not different from those of the prime minister.”

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Palestinian worker dies in tunnel collapse in Gaza

[ 27/08/2010 - 05:58 PM ]

RAFAH, (PIC)-- A Palestinian worker died at dawn Friday in a tunnel collapse in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

Palestinian medical sources told the PIC correspondent that Nidal Emran, 24 years, died as a result of the collapse of a smuggling tunnel in the Jaradat area to the east of Rafah.

The same sources said that emergency workers managed to retrieve the victims corpse and took it to Abu Yousuf al-Najjar's hospital in Rafah.

More than 150 Palestinians died in tunnels over the past few years, especially as the Israeli occupation tightened the siege on the Gaza Strip making these tunnels an essential lifeline for the people of Gaza.

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Huaman rights group condemns attack by Abbas's men on staff of al-Haq

[ 27/08/2010 - 04:09 PM ]

File photo: Abbas's security men

GAZA, (PIC)-- The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemned the attack on Wednesday by Abbas's men against members and staff of al-Haq another human rights organisation based in Ramallah.

"The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the attack launched on Wednesday, 25 August 2010, by members of the General Intelligence Service (GIS) on staff members of 'al-Haq' organization in Ramallah, while documenting GIS's attempts to stop an assembly organized by Palestinian political factions and civil society organizations in protest a decision by the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to participate in direct negotiations with Israel. PCHR calls upon the government in Ramallah to respect public freedoms and to ensure respect for the work of human rights organizations and to provide protection for their personnel," said PCHR in a press release on Thursday.

The statement went on: "According to statements made by 'al-Haq' and according to Wissam Ahmed, 33, Program Officer at al-Haq, on Wednesday afternoon, 25 August 2010, a number of al-Haq's staff members got out of their offices as they heard noise coming from the main street. They had information that GIS members were attempting to stop the assembly of political and civil society organizations which was scheduled to be organized in the hall of the Protestant Church opposite to al-Haq offices. The assembly was supposed to discuss the positions towards direct negotiations between PNA and the government of Israel. In the meanwhile, Wissam Ahmed, 33, Program Officer at al-Haq, took a video camera and went to the street to film the event, but he was beaten by a person in civilian clothes. Later, it was found out that this person was a GIS member. The camera was taken from Ahmed and thrown onto the ground. After Ahmed had managed to get his camera back, he asked why he was prevented from filming the event. In response, more than 10 GIS members surrounded him and beat him on the head and the neck. They took his camera and pushed him away.

"Mrs. Nina Ata Allah, Head of the Observation and Documentation Department at 'al-Haq', who intervened to stop the GIS attack on her colleague, was also attacked. A GIS member stepped on her feet. She was injured in the feet as a result and was transferred to the hospital of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society in Ramallah for treatment. Sources from 'al-Haq' reported that Mr. Shaawan Jabarin, asked some police members who were in the scene about the camera. One of them told him that it was with GIS members.

"It should be noted that this attack on staff members of al-Haq is part of attacks launched by the Palestinian security services in Ramallah on a peaceful march which was organized with the participation of members of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Secretaries General of a number of political parties, leaders of the civil society organizations as well as independent figures. Security forces prevented the participants in the march from organizing a press conference which was scheduled to be held in the hall of the Protestant Church. A member of the Executive Committee of the PLO was arrested as well.

"In view of the above, PCHR:

Strongly condemns this attack by GIS members on staff members of al-Haq and the confiscation of their camera. Reiterates that it is important that the Palestinian security forces respect the work of human rights organizations and to ensure protection to their personnel in all circumstances. Points with concern to the recurrence of attacks on the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the right to peaceful assembly. PCHR stresses that these two rights are guaranteed by the Palestinian Basic Law and by international human rights instruments."

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Haneyya: Fatah's authority mortgaged itself to the US will

[ 27/08/2010 - 02:45 PM ]

KHAN YOUNIS, (PIC)-- Ismael Haneyya, the Prime Minister of the Palestinian government in Gaza, said on Thursday that the US-sponsored direct negotiations between the Fatah authority in Ramallah and the Israeli occupation are futile and have no popular support, accusing Fatah of mortgaging itself to the US will.

"There is no legitimate, legal, popular, or national cover for any one who wants to tamper with the national interests of the Palestinian people", said Haneyya during a Ramadan charity breakfast organized by the charity foundations in Khan Younis city, south of Gaza Strip, in honor of the martyrs and captives families.

He added that the futile negotiations give the Israeli occupation the political cover it needs to continue its organized terrorism and crimes against the Palestinian people amid international silence towards those crimes.

He deprecated Fatah's insistence to go to direct negotiations without clear agenda, charging that Fatah has apparently surrendered itself to the US administration and will, and accepted to navigate far from the Palestinian people's option.

He pointed out that the Palestinian people were and still are rallying behind the Palestinian resistance and that they proved to be ready to protect and support it all the time, and that they, in general, reject the principle of negotiations with the Israeli occupation.

The prime minister also reiterated his government's political and ethical obligations to assist the Palestinian people with all possible means, especially families of the martyrs, captives, and the disabled.

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KOVEL: Zionism’s dreary burden on Jewishness

Via A4P


by Joel Kovel  -  MONDOWEISS -  23 August 2010

Tony Judt had barely left this world when the Jerusalem Post lashed out at him with a nasty editorial on August 8. Clearly, Judt has never been forgiven for writing in 2003 in the New York Review of Books that Israel lacked legitimacy because of its structural Jewishness and deserved to be replaced with a “a single, integrated, bi-national state.” Heresy is unforgivable; and to call for the downfall of the Jewish state is heretical, because the ostensibly secular state of Israel has to see itself as the guarantor of Jewish survival, spiritual and physical alike. Anytime a Jew with an audience, i.e., an intellectual, critically examines this relationship, the alarm bells go off. Another existential threat! So Tony Judt was a dangerous man when he was alive and will be so as long as the memory of his deed remains.

I am happy to say that I am in his good company.

According to the Post, Judt’s “categorical rejection of Zionism put him in a class with other contemporary Jewish intellectuals of the Diaspora such as Jacqueline Rose, Michael Neumann and Joel Kovel, who have chosen to single out Israel for opprobrium that is rarely, if ever, directed at other countries that choose to adopt unique religious or cultural-based nationalities.” Accordingly, our views constitute “a recipe for national suicide for the sovereign Jewish entity.” In other words, we, too, pose existential threats to the Jewish state.

I feel obliged to reply, not to speak in Judt’s place, nor in the expectation that he would have agreed with what I am about to write. We never met nor were we political comrades, Tony being a self-declared social democrat and I, well, several degrees to the left of that. Nor have I met Jacqueline Rose and Michael Neumann. But categorical rejection of Zionism is a common ground I am pleased to share. So here is a brief account of what I take to be the reason for giving a lot of attention to Israel vis a vis the other awful countries, and why I want to bring down the Jewish state itself rather than settling for eliminating one or more of its human rights abuses.

The Jewish Question

The Post’s editorial person starts from the premise that people like Judt, Rose, Neumann and I are doing something that, as Jews, we should be ashamed of: singling out Israel and calling for the end of the Jewish state. (I’ll return below to the rather heated way this latter allegation is framed.) The assumption here is that Israel is for all the Jews and all the Jews should stand behind Israel, because it is self-evidently good to have an organic-national relation to Judaism.

I see things oppositely. I was born into a Jewish family and through this, share in a colorful history that has produced a lot of contributors to civilization, played an ambivalent yet fascinating role in the development of Western society, and suffered a good deal over the centuries for its “otherness.” All of this I keep in mind and have no disposition to deny. So I am a Jew. That’s nice, and that’s all it is. But as for the extension of this identity fragment, whose only common ground across history is a religion, into an organic nationalism which needs a state to set itself on the ground, this is another thing entirely. If you will forgive me a little Biblicism, it is an abomination and a desecration. I share this view with many fellow Jews, including the Neturai karta, whom I have joined at many a demonstration, and whose resoluteness and integrity I admire. I don’t care for their religion, however, or any variant of the Jewish faith. I think that Judaism got trapped in the first century CE by rejection of its prophet Jesus’s call to make the religion universal rather than tribal. As a result—a result made far worse by Christian persecution—the Jewish faith has never really been able to transcend an inward focus on the community of Jews, that is, the Jewish “People.” The jokingly offered and endlessly repeated query as to whether something is “good for the Jews” is, to my view, the sign of a profound and spiritually damaging ethnocentricity. Thus when the possibility opened up to make this People into a nation, a power-grabbing nation in league with imperialism and given a militarized state by its imperial patrons, many Jews fell into line (including most of my family), and especially insofar as they had been handed the all-purpose justifier provided by the history of anti-Semitism and its culmination in the monstrosity of the Shoah.

For me, however, Jewish nation-building proved a time to part ways—an extended time, I might add, and no epiphany. As the Jewish state has continued to tear its brutal path through the history of our time, and chiefly, through the lives of its indigenous victims, I simply see no other place to stand than in utter opposition to the endless chain of its crimes and lies—and with this, to the very construction of “Jewishness” that has enabled this and become canonical for so many, and in the United States especially, essential for the sustenance of the Israeli abomination. So to follow along with the above-mentioned identity construction, I am still a Jew and neither can nor wish to erase the fact, but no longer consider myself Jewish. Thus, following the great Isaac Deutscher, a “non-Jewish Jew.” I think a lot of Jews are these days wrestling with the same dilemma. Needless to add, there are other ways of addressing it besides mine. In any event, I wish them good cheer: life is a lot better once that dreary burden is laid down.

So to the editorial person of the Jerusalem Post, I would say, paraphrasing a certain President: Ask not what Israel can do for the Jews, because all answers to this question have become corrupted by the militarized and racist state Israel has become. Ask rather what Jews can do to earn forgiveness for the wrong turn taken in their history and for all the suffering their precious state has imposed. And lay off criticizing Jews who are stepping forth to “single out Israel.” There are going to be lots more of them. Remember, each person only has one identity and has to live with it.

But there is much more . . .

Though every theocracy and/or ethnocracy is appalling and should be opposed by all folk of good will, the peculiar case of Israel has a far wider radiation and so deserves “singling out,” as the Post puts it, irrespective of the religious/ethnic issue. This has to do, of course, with the nightmarish relation between Israel and the United States, and the shadow it casts over the present world. By the time I first became aware, during the Vietnam era, of US imperialism as a malignant force, Zionists had been insinuating themselves into the American political process for twenty years, since Harry Truman’s political orphanhood gave them the opening. But there was nothing “special” about this, except that the Jewish state depended for its existence upon its great benefactor. It took a while for the creature spawned by this embrace to mature, chiefly through the growth of AIPAC and the entry of ultra-Zionist neoconservatives into state and civil society. With this, however, it must also be said that the beast had mutated; hence one can no longer talk about the United States and Israel as separate political entities. Now we have a second Zionist occupation, of our civil society and state alongside the occupation of Palestine, and necessary for the occupation of Palestine to continue. For reasons of space we need to set aside the intricate matter of who wags whom, or the astounding degree to which the normalization of Zionism has blunted outrage, even among leftists of great repute. Consider only some of the fruits of this creature:

• the degree to which US foreign policy is configured to give Israel its impunity, one small instance being Obama’s recent threat to Turkey that he would cut off military contracts unless it lays off Israel for the Mavi Marmara incident; meanwhile the US reinforces Israeli military superiority with the latest in free ultra technology for its F-16 fighter fleet;

• the shameless debasement of our Congress, with hundreds of elected officials doing the bidding of a foreign power, again to whitewash the Mavi Marmara murders, thereby granting impunity once again;

• the plague of Islamophobia now raging, inflamed by fury over the “Ground-zero Mosque,” and more generally, over the terrors stirred up by 9-11. But who pauses to reflect upon that awful day and the fact that it provided the one incontrovertible instance of highly suspicious involvement by a foreign state in the havoc, namely, the most odd finding of five “moving men,” who turned out to be Mossad agents filming from New Jersey the collapse of the towers while jubilantly giving each other high fives, who were released back to their home country after 71 quiet days in FBI custody, and whose “employer” moved very hastily back to Israel, after stripping his office of all evidence? How did they know to be there, cameras primed, at that time? Why were they so happy? No point in asking. The propaganda machine has constructed mass consciousness so as to obscure any thinking about the matter, which no longer exists so far as official political culture goes. Such questions are highly impertinent. After all, one does not want to “single” Israel out. That would be anti-Semitic, wouldn’t it? This Reichstag Fire leads in another direction, that of the Islamic Threat.

• and then, mere war, as in Iraq, and Afghanistan, and now the latest looming danger, the Persian menace. That this mainly exists in the mind of the Zionist Power Structure, here and in Israel, is anything but reassuring, given the authority of that mind. Suppose, then, that the exquisitely positioned pundits and opinion-makers get their wish of precipitating us into a bombing war with Iran, Israel’s #1 existential threat, and Iran bombs back. This could be a new Board Game: there goes the global economy; and there looms, as ever, our friend and ally’s “Samson Option” using its nuclear arsenal that nobody is to know about, but that has, in the meantime, totally wrecked any efforts to bring nuclear proliferation under control thanks to universal knowledge of the bad faith of the United States for its complicity over the years under the influence of a certain “lobby” . . .

In sum, if you care about the baleful influence of the United States in the world you cannot set Israel aside as an isolated issue. This is the precise opposite of “singling Israel out.” It is, rather, a demand to integrate Israel within the manifold of imperial/economic/military power, and taking the steps necessary to bring this power under rational control.
Signing off to the editor of the Post, who is unquestionably unimpressed with these arguments.
What are trivialities like ethnocide, racism and war weighed against the sovereignty of the Jews? For Jews were once merely a “People,” but now, having achieved the greatness of nation-statehood, have become, hurrah!, a “sovereign Jewish entity,” doubtlessly pleasing Yahweh no end. And it is this triumph that Tony Judt and people like myself would spoil with our “recipe for national suicide.”

I’ve got to hand it to the Jerusalem Post for forcing me out of my self-imposed exile from psychoanalysis (well, it is the Jewish Profession) with this frankly hysterical statement, which is bundled, typically, with a manipulative, guilt-tripping threat: if you people don’t stop doing that, we’re going to kill ourselves! Freud pointed out that every delusion contains the germ of a historical fact. In this instance it is the legendary event of 73 CE, when the Sicarii, a Jewish sect active in the wake of the Roman destruction of the Second Temple, hurled themselves from the cliffs of Masada mountain to avoid capture by the Legion. An archeological museum now occupies the site, which has become deeply inscribed as a symbol of Zionist resolve and desperation.

I hope the Israelis don’t follow this example. Maybe they should keep in mind that the Sicarii were more extreme than even the Zealots, and by some accounts were common bandits, as much opposed to other Jews as they were to Rome. Nonetheless, the imminence of mass catastrophe, however induced, remains active in the Zionist imaginary, where it is stoked by propagandists of the Shoah, so that 1938 is made to eternally return.

There is another, much more deeply rational approach to history, which is to understand it in depth, encounter it, learn its lesson, actively transform it, and, by so doing, let it go. For Israel—and Jews everywhere, and indeed, everyone affected by the conquest of Palestine—the lesson is not really that complicated. It is to face the truth that the Zionist epoch has been a dreadful mistake, for the Jews as well as Zionism’s victims, and that they will have to do what grown-up people do who realize they have been wrong, if they want to have a decent life and rejoin the human race.
Namely, undergo a change of mind and heart. Is that too much to ask?

Joel Kovel is both a scholar and an activist. In the former capacity he has published nine books and over a hundred articles and reviews. His books include “White Racism”, which was nominated for a National Book Award in 1972; “A Complete Guide to Therapy; The Age of Desire” (in which his work in the psychiatric-psychoanalytic system is detailed); “Against the State of Nuclear Terror; In Nicaragua; The Radical Spirit; History and Spirit” (1991); “Red Hunting in the Promised Land” (1994), a study of anticommunist repression in America;  and “The Enemy of Nature: The End of Capitalism or the End of the World” (Zed, 2002). Since 2003 he has been Editor-in-Chief of the quarterly journal  Capitalism Nature Socialism. His most recent book, “Overcoming Zionism”, created a censorship struggle when the University of Michigan Press temporarily banned its distribution. He was Distinguished Professor of Social Studies at Bard College under a series of contracts until he was informed in early 2009 that his contract would not be renewed from July of that year.  As Emeritus Professor Joel Kovel openly stated “. . . this termination of service is prejudicial and motivated neither by intellectual nor pedagogic considerations, but by political values, principally stemming from differences between myself and the Bard administration on the issues of Zionism.”

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian