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Book Review: Polarized and Demobilized: Legacies of Authoritarianism in Palestine by Dana El Kurd

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 23/10/2020 - 10:01pm in

In Polarized and Demobilized: Legacies of Authoritarianism in PalestineDana El Kurd examines how the increased involvement of international powers in Palestinian politics has insulated Palestinian elites from the public and strengthened their ability to engage in authoritarian practices, leading to polarisation and the weakening of the capacity for collective action. Combining theoretical sophistication with a seamless narrative, this is one of the most astute empirical analyses of authoritarianism in the region, writes Hesham Shafick

Polarized and Demobilized: Legacies of Authoritarianism in Palestine. Dana El Kurd. Hurst. 2020.

One of the rare moments of optimism in the Palestinian struggle was the signing of the Oslo Accords in September 1993, which contracted arrangements of unprecedented self-governance to the Palestinian people. A Palestinian Authority (PA), constituted from leading members of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, was confirmed to assume most governing responsibilities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with the exception of border control. Israel and the United States also pledged to financially support these endeavours, through direct tax-money transfers from the former and monetary aid packages from the latter (the European Union also supported the Accords, but without direct financial commitments).

However, almost three decades later, nothing testifies to an improvement in the life conditions of Palestinians that matches the initial optimism. The only significant change in Palestinian politics is the waning of the discourse of resistance with the parallel normalisation of the Israeli occupation. It is now commonly established, therefore, that the Oslo Accords practically failed to achieve its promise of Palestinian self-governance.

In Polarized and Demobilized, Dana El Kurd, a Palestinian researcher at the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, critiques the dominant ‘failure’ thesis for wrongly presuming the positive intentions of the Accords in the first place. She rather affirms that the negative repercussions of the Accords were, in fact, its intended strategic agenda. Nominal self-governance, she argues, aimed to polarise and demobilise the Palestinian resistance, so as to confine, rather than facilitate, the Palestinian liberation project. From this perspective, the Accords successfully intensified Israeli repression through indigenous ‘outsourcing’ (5).

So, what brought us to this point? ‘How did the PA demobilize [Palestinian] society, when years of Israeli occupation had failed to do the same thing?’ (3). Acting as a ‘subcontractor for the occupation’ (143), El Kurd argues, the PA was capable of repressing resistance with much more effectiveness than the Israeli occupation itself. The fact that it is conceived of as an indigenous ruler, a semi-sovereign, rather than an occupying state, gave the PA carte blanche to violate civil and human rights and evade international accountability. More significantly, its limited yet strategic legitimacy as an indigenous ruler made the PA more capable of garnering domestic support for its authoritarian measures, be this violent repression or clientelist cooptation. Moreover, the contentions around these measures have polarised Palestinian civil society, complicating the conditions for collective action through civil society organisations and grassroots activism. As such, not only did the PA rule extend the conditions of occupation, but it also subtracted from resistance to this condition.

This dynamic is by no means specific to Palestine. It is rather characteristic of clientelist postcolonial states. Polarized and Demobilized argues that the ‘principal-agent’ model of authoritarian rule it proposes can be generalised across the Middle East region and beyond (28-33). In this model, international powers replace the population that the regime purportedly represents as the source of political legitimacy and financial rent, and hence act as the ‘principal’ that grants and revokes authority and holds it accountable to its mandate. The book presents in detail how this dynamic has worked in the case of the PA, but also comparatively demonstrates that it can be applied to other cases in the region, like Iraqi Kurdistan and Bahrain.

I cannot help but compare it as well to the current Syrian regime. The latter is not under occupation (at least not strictly so), but it firmly abides to the brand of clientelist authoritarianism El Kurd describes. This brand is characterised by the intransigent appeal to ‘indigenity’ as a source of undoubted legitimacy, while being practically accountable to the very international forces it sets its domestic legitimacy on countering. The book shows that this obvious contradiction is more than an exposed hypocrisy. It is rather an intended and indeed effectual mode of colonial governance by outsourcing.

Drawing on a rich multi-method approach that includes interviews, historical analysis and quantitative data analysis, the book outlines the causal mechanisms of how this outsourcing effectively represses anti-colonial resistance. An attempt to summarise this mechanism is difficult in a short review due to the richness of the book’s analysis, but four overlapping steps in this mechanism can be singled out, which I briefly outline below.

The first is the insulation of the political class from the public they govern. This not only makes them immune to public accountability, but also, and more significantly, disengaged from the lived reality of the public and positioned in existential opposition with their demands and aspirations. This is quite obvious in the lavish lifestyles of the PA and their reliance on occupational remittances to lead these lives. The ‘target funding’ (62) co-administered by Israel and their indigenous clients has conditioned both the personal prosperity of state officials and the economic capability to finance state institutions to the satisfaction of the occupier.

The second is making state autonomy, a public aspiration, conditional on a certain form of rule and particular political leaders. This was evident in the Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories in the West Bank and its war on Gaza in 2008-2009 after the victory of Hamas, the Islamist opposition party, in the 2006 legislative elections. It was also shown in the broader international refusal to recognise the Hamas-led government (although the elections had been called for by the US, it is one of a number of states that consider Hamas a terrorist organisation (55)). The message was clear: either accept – or ‘elect’ – a political class that openly concedes to Israeli policy or lose political representation altogether and risk direct intervention.

The third is the polarisation of civil society through a dual mechanism of cooptation and repression – the carrot and the stick. By selectively coopting segments of society and repressing others, the PA has divided Palestinian society into regime loyalists and regime dissidents, each accusing the other of enhancing the occupation in one way or another. For the regime loyalists, dissidents enact the conditions for occupation by disempowering the indigenous authority. For dissidents, this authority itself is an instrument of occupation. Through these divisions, the national front is dismantled.

The fourth is the demobilisation that ensues from all of the above. Primarily, social polarisation complicates the possibility of collective action. Moreover, the association of state independence with the ruling regime discredits resistance and justifies repression. Furthermore, the insulation of the political class enables the de-politicised policing of civil society, in which the security apparatus, rather than politicians, takes the lead in dealing with dissent. With a full third of the state budget spent on the security apparatus, it is used not only as a coercive force, but also as a massive and high-paying agency of employment through which the PA rewards its loyalists. These conditions coalesce into a gigantic ‘police state’ (‘one security officer for every forty-eight Palestinians’, 14) that closely monitors civil society and disbands any potential for collective mobilisation.

Polarized and Demobilized provides such a sophisticated account that any sort of summary or short review would fail to do it justice. Not only is it one of the most astute empirical analyses of authoritarianism in the region, but it is also an invaluable contribution to international political theory on authoritarianism, (post)colonialism and the social spaces in which the two intersect. The book is also useful as an analytic historical sociology of post-Oslo Palestine. Over and above, it is a truly enjoyable read: one of the very few academic works that combines theoretical sophistication with a smooth, seamless and beautifully articulated narrative.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics.

Image Credit: Ronan Shenhav (CC BY NC 2.0).

 


RT America’s Lee Camp Raises Questions about Starmer’s Connection to British Deep State

Mike’s put up a number of pieces discussing and criticising Starmer’s demand that Labour MPs abstain on the wretched ‘Spycops’ bill. If passed, this would allow members of the police and security services to commit serious offences while undercover. Twenty Labour MPs initially defied him and voted against it, with several resigning in protest from the shadow cabinet. The Labour whips’ office has also broken party protocol to issue written reprimands to the rebels. If they defy party discipline, they will face a reprimand period of six months, which will be extended to twelve if they continue to break the whip. These letters have also been shared with the parliamentary committee, a group of backbench MPs elected by the parliamentary Labour party and currently dominated by the right. This committee will decide whether or not to inform the rebel MPs’ constituency parties and the NEC. The information could then be considered if an MP seeks reselection in preparation for a general election. As one MP has said, it’s intimidation, pure and simple. And a number of those MPs, who received the letters, are talking to union officials.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2020/10/17/starmers-tory-supporting-crackdown-on-his-own-party-makes-him-a-danger-to-people-with-disabilities/

Starmer’s conduct shouldn’t really be a surprise. He’s a Blairite, and Blair’s tenure of the Labour leadership was marked by control freakery as he centralised power around himself and his faction away from the party’s ordinary members and grassroots. But Starmer is also very much an establishment figure. He was, after all, the director of public prosecutions. In this video below, comedian and presenter Lee Camp raises important and very provocative questions about Starmer’s connections to the British establishment and the deep state. Camp’s the presenter of a number of shows on RT America, which are deeply critical of the corporate establishment, and American militarism and imperialism. The video’s from their programme, Moment of Clarity. The questions asked about Starmer are those posed by Mac Kennard in an article in The Gray Zone. RT is owned by the Russian state, as it points out on the blurbs for its videos on YouTube. Putin is an authoritarian thug and kleptocrat, who has opposition journalists, politicos, activists and businessmen beaten and killed. But that doesn’t mean that RT’s programmes exposing and criticising western capitalism and imperialism and the corrupt activities and policies of our governments aren’t accurate and justified.

Camp begins the video by explaining how there was a comparable battle in the Labour party over Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership as there was in the American Democrat party over Bernie Sanders’ candidacy for the presidency. Just as Sanders was opposed by the Democrats’ corporate leadership and smeared as a Communist in a neo-McCarthyite witch hunt, so Jeremy Corbyn – a real progressive – was opposed by the corporatists in the Labour party. He was subjected to the same smears, as well as accusations of anti-Semitism because he supported Palestine. Camp states that there are leaked texts showing that leading figures in the Labour party were actively working to undermine him. Jeremy Corbyn has now gone and been replaced by Keir Starmer, about whom Kennard asks the following questions:

1. why did he meet the head of MI5 for drinks a year after his decision not to prosecute the intelligence agency for its role in torture?

Camp uses the term ‘deep state’ for the secret services, and realises that some of his viewers may be uncomfortable with the term because of its use by Trump. He tries to reassure them that the deep state, and the term itself, existed long before Trump. It’s just something the Orange Generalissimo has latched onto. Camp’s not wrong – the term was used for the network of covert intelligence and state law enforcement and security services long before Trump was elected. Lobster has been using the term for years in its articles exposing their grubby activities. More controversially, Camp believes that the deep state was responsible for the assassinations of JFK, RFK and MLK. JFK was supposedly assassinated because he was about to divulge publicly the deep state’s nefarious activities. This is obviously controversial because the JFK assassination is one of the classic conspiracy theories, and one that many critics of the British and American secret states don’t believe in. It may actually be that JFK really was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald, a lone gunman. But Camp’s belief in this conspiracy theory doesn’t on its own disqualify his other allegations and criticisms about the secret state.

2. When and why did Starmer join the Trilateral Commission?

The Trilateral Commission was set up in 1973 by elite banker David Rockefeller as a discussion group to foster greater cooperation between Japan, the US and western Europe. According to Camp, it was really founded to roll back the advances of the hippy era as the corporate elite were horrified that ordinary people were being heard by governments instead of big businessmen. They looked back to the days when President Truman could listen to a couple of businessmen and no-one else. The Commission published a paper, ‘The Crisis of Democracy’, which claimed that democracy was in crisis because too many people were being heard. Ordinary people were making demands and getting them acted upon. This, the Commission decided, was anti-business. They made a series of recommendations themselves, which have since been implemented. These included the demand that the media should be aligned with business interests. Camp states that this doesn’t mean that there is uniformity of opinion amongst the mainstream media. The various media outlets do disagree with each other over policies and politicians. But it does mean that if the media decides that a story doesn’t fit with business interests, it doesn’t get published. The Commission also wanted the universities purged of left-wing progressives. The Commission’s members including such shining examples of humanity and decency as Henry Kissinger and the former director general of US National Intelligence, John Negroponte.

3. What did Starmer discuss with US attorney general Eric Holder when he met him on November 9th, 2011 in Washington D.C.?

Starmer was the director of public prosecutions at the time, and met not just Holder, but also five others from the Department of Justice. This was at the same time the Swedes were trying to extradite Julian Assange of Wikileaks infamy. Except that further leaked documents have shown that the Swedes were prepared to drop the case. But Britain wanted him extradited and tried, and successfully put pressure on the Swedes to do just that.

4. Why did Starmer develop such a close relationship with the Times newspaper?

Starmer held social gatherings with the Times’ staff, which is remarkable, as Camp points out, because it’s owned by Rupert Murdoch like Fox News in America.

Camp goes on to conclude that, at the very least, this all shows that Starmer is very much a member of the corporate establishment, and that the deep state has been working to assure that same corporate elite that he’s safe, just as they worked to reassure Wall Street about Obama. At the time Obama had only been senator for a couple of years, but nevertheless he succeeded in getting a meeting with a former treasury secretary. But now the corporate establishment in the Democrats and the Labour party has won. Jeremy Corbyn has been ousted and replaced with Starmer, while Sanders can’t even get a platform with the Democrats. This is because the Democrats have surrendered the platform to the Republicans because Trump contradicts himself so much they just can’t follow him.

While these are just questions and speculation, they do strongly indicate that Starmer is very much part of the establishment and has their interests at heart, not those of the traditional Labour party. His closeness to the Times shows just why he was willing to write articles for the Tory press behind paywalls. His role in the British state’s attempt to extradite Julian Assange and meetings with Holder also show why Starmer’s so determined not to oppose the ‘spycops’ bill. He is very much part of the British state establishment, and sees it has his role and duty to protect it and its secrets, and not the British public from the secret state.

As for the Trilateral Commission, they’re at the heart of any number of dodgy conspiracy theories, including those claiming that the American government has made covert pacts with evil aliens from Zeta Reticuli. However, as Camp says, his membership of the Commission does indeed show that he is very much a member of the global corporate elite. An elite that wanted to reduce democracy in order to promote the interests of big business.

As a corporate, establishment figure, Starmer very definitely should not be the head of a party founded to represent and defend ordinary people against exploitation and deprivation by business and the state. Dissatisfaction with his leadership inside the Labour party is growing. Hopefully it won’t be too long before he’s ousted in his turn, and the leadership taken by someone who genuinely represents the party, its history and its real mission to work for Britain’s working people.

Quote from Liberal Leader Arthur Balfour Describing Boris

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 22/09/2020 - 5:47pm in

Yes, I know this is another ad hominem attack on the character of our great and beloved P.M (Performing Monkey). But like the Russian prison camp slang, it appears to suit him. Arthur Balfour was one of leaders of the British Liberal party just before and during the First World War. He’s credited with passing the old age pensions act which laid the foundations of the British welfare state. More dubiously, it was his infamous declaration in 1917 that committed Britain to a Jewish state in Palestine. This led to the foundation of Israel and its 70 year long campaign of oppression and ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians.

I found this quote in Peter Vansittart’s book Voices: 1870 – 1914). It’s how Balfour described an unknown enemy. ‘If he had a few more brains he’d be a halfwit’.

Quite – and so true of our current PM.

When betrayal dresses up as patriotism

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 20/08/2020 - 3:03am in

The US, Israeli and Emirati tripartite declaration of  normalisation of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has nothing to do with solving the Palestine question or helping to promote peace in the Middle East, and everything to do, in its timing, with supporting US president Donald Trump’s campaign to win a second term in office as well as boosting Benjamin Netanyahu’s hold on power and bid to avoid jail for his alleged corruption.

The Israel–UAE agreement is one of the results of a political strategy Israel has been employing in collaboration with its lobby and US neoconservatives. Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ is designed not to solve the Palestine question and achieve a just and lasting peace in the Middle East but to legitimise Israel’s military occupation of Palestine, territorial expansion and violations of international law.

Trump’s close business relationships with committed Zionists, coupled with his ignorance and racism, gave Netanyahu a golden opportunity to influence him and advance Israel’s strategy through a fanatical Zionist team that got hold of US Middle East policy. This influence began with Trump’s election-campaign financiers, such as Bernard Marcus and Las Vegas casino billionaireSheldon Adelson, and continued with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt, Avi Berkowitz and ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

The strategy is four-fold: gaining recognition and legitimacy for Israel and its occupation of Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and most of the West Bank; isolating the Palestinians and cutting off their finances, including funds from the  United Nations Relief and Works Agency, to force them into capitulation; isolating and punishing Arab and Muslim states and organisations that oppose Israel’s colonialism, violations and racial discrimination; and pressuring vulnerable corrupt Arab regimes to recognise Israel and pressure the Palestinians.

Unlike his father, Zayed al-Nahyan, the UAE’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed is a brutal dictator who seized power from his brother Khalifa, who had a stroke in 2014 in suspicious circumstances. Ever since, he has been playing a negative and destructive role in the region on behalf of the United States and Israel, not only against the Palestinians but also against the pro-democracy movement in the Arab world, to the tune of tens of billions of dollars.

From the time Israel was created in Palestine in 1948, it found friends among and formed alliances with the world’s most corrupt, criminal and dictatorial regimes, from apartheid-era South Africa to the Shah of Iran, from the Nicaraguan Somoza to the dictators of El Salvador, Guatemala and Chile and current ones such as Myanmar’s generals and Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte.

In order to dress up this treason in front of the Emiratis and the Arab nation, and present it as patriotism and concern for Palestinian interests, both the UAE and the United States announced that under the agreement Israel would suspend the annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank; hours later, however, Netanyahu made liars of them, announcing in Hebrew to the Israelis that he remained committed to annexation.

Moreover, the agreement provided a pretext for Netanyahu to justify to his hardliners the postponement of the annexation of 30 per cent of the West Bank that had been scheduled for July, even though he was forced not to go ahead because of the strong rejection it faced at all levels internationally and even from within the Zionist ranks and among Israel’s supporters. At the same time, it provided a fig leaf for Mohammed bin Zayed to claim the credit for postponing the annexation.

The danger of this agreement lies in its encouragement of Israeli extremism, intransigence and violation of Palestinian rights, international law and UN resolutions.

Zionists in Israel and the United States continue to delude themselves, believing that they can give legitimacy to their settler-colonialist project in Palestine and live in peace in the region by pushing aside the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people through signing deceitful deals with corrupt, dictatorial Arab regimes. This delusion only delays the possibility of peace, creating more miseries, hatred, wars and bloodshed.

Over fourteen million Palestinians, supported by hundreds of millions of Arabs, Muslims and others around the world, are determined to resist Zionist colonial apartheid and achieve self-determination and the right to return to their homeland, no matter the cost and sacrifice and how long it will take.

The truth the Zionists ought to realise is they can sign deceitful agreements with all the Arab regimes combined, but they will not be able to normalise their relations with the Arab people as long as they continue to deny the legitimate rights of Palestinians and, above all, the rights of refugees to return to the cities and villages that have been ethnically cleansed. The Zionists will never be able to have peace in this way. Regimes come and go, but the people stay.

Additionally, relying on might and nuclear bombs to protect one of the biggest crimes of the century is not a clever way to try to impose legitimacy on a colonial project in the twenty-first century. No quantity of weapons or victories will grant Israel peace. Peace will be achieved only through accord with the Palestinians and recognition of their legitimate rights.

The international community must force Israel to comply with and adhere to international law and relevant UN resolutions; this is the only way to bring about a just and comprehensive peace in the region and resolve the Palestine question.

History has shown us that peace is not served by appeasing an aggressive, racist settler-colonialist regime; on the contrary, it encourages its intransigence, extremism and aggression. This will be the result of this new betrayalof a just peace.

Susan Abulhawa Embodies the Spirit of Palestinian Resistance in Her New Book: Against the Loveless World

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 08/08/2020 - 12:57am in

Book Review — My friend, author Susan Abulhawa, just published a new novel titled, “Against the Loveless World. She is the author of the international bestseller, “Mornings in Jenin,” as well as “The Blue Between Sky and Water,” and a collection of poems titled, “My Voice Sought the Wind.” Personally, I found her new novel to be daring, honest, and unaccommodating. Her writing has many qualities, one of them is that reading her novel feels a lot like listening to her talk. 

 

Unaccommodating

One of the most painful aspects of any foreign occupation, including that of Palestine of course, is that of occupied people accommodating their occupiers. It is done because of the false belief that accommodating the beast will calm it down. It is done because people living under occupation rely on their oppressors, their occupiers for everything and oppressive regimes take advantage of the weaknesses of their subjects and use these weaknesses to get information or whatever else they may need to maintain their oppression. This has been going on since time immemorial. 

Because Palestinians need a permit from the State of Israel for almost everything, there is a serious problem of informers. Be it due to greed or necessity – having never lived under an oppressive occupation myself I will be the last to judge – many Palestinian cooperate, collaborate, and sometimes just accommodate the Israeli authorities.

There naturally exists a conflict between those who fall into the vicious cycle of accommodating the regime and those who demand resistance. We know that throughout history this has led nations to bloodshed and fratricide. This is why it is particularly telling that very early on in the story, Nahr, the lead character in the novel, says, “I don’t care to be accommodating.” 

As the pages of the novel turn and the story of Nahr’s life unfolds, we go through the ups and downs of this Palestinian woman’s unpredictable life. Then slowly, as we find ourselves gripped by the power of her story, we come to realize that Nahr’s unwillingness to be accommodating runs like a thread throughout the entire book. It is admirable but it comes at a heavy price. 

 

A cube and a language

Nahr is an inmate held in solitary confinement at an Israeli prison and she tells us her story from her tiny cell, which she calls, “The Cube.” This is no ordinary cell, the Israeli authorities placed Nahr in a highly sophisticated cell where everything is automated: the light and the shower turn on and off on their own; the toilet flushes at set times and Nahr needs to accommodate herself to their schedule. She is unable to tell if it is day or night or what time of day it is.

Nahr is not permitted to have visitors of her choice but from time to time an international observer, a journalist, or a prison guard come into the cell. During these random visits, Nahr expresses her unwillingness to be accommodating. 

From her solitary cell in an Israeli prison, Nahr recalls Ghassan Kanafani and James Baldwin, two great writers, who, like her, were unwilling to be accommodating. They suffered greatly because of who they were, one a Palestinian, the other a Black American. They both wrote and spoke with unmatched courage and clarity, and although dead for decades, (Kanafani was murdered by Israel in 1972, Baldwin died of cancer in 1987), they remain icons of the struggle against racism, oppression, and colonialism.

Abulhawa’s book is in English of course, but Nahr uses the Arabic language to release us and her from her tiny cell. The novel takes place in the Arab world, a world that exists outside of Nahr’s cell. The cell, the prison, and the entire State of Israel are artificial creations that were forced upon Palestine. None of them are organic and each of them – to varying degrees – is used to imprison Palestinians. 

Nahr speaks to us from within the cell using as much Palestinian Arabic as possible. Her Arabic takes us out of the cold artificial cell, out of the prison and even out of Israel – as much as one can while remaining in Palestine – and places us in the heart of the world in which the story takes place. 

Nahr uses Arabic for names of people and places, for names of Arabic dishes, for nicknames and for wherever else she sees fit. The first and maybe most striking example of how Nahr uses Arabic is the way she writes the name, Muhammad. It is without a doubt the most common male name in the world, and in Arabic, it is pronounced Mhammad, which is exactly the way Nahr writes it for us. 

 

Tatreez

Nahr’s story brings to mind two metaphors. The first is a piece of Tatreez, or Palestinian embroidery. The characters in the story are the colors and designs that represent the various towns, villages, and regions of Palestine. It is embroidered over a black cloth, which is Palestine. The novel displays both the immense beauty and unspeakable tragedy of Palestine. 

Against the Loveless World A Novel By Susan AbulhawaThe second metaphor is a cluster of vines that twist and grow around the trunk of a large tree. In Palestine, one sees this often. It is particularly beautiful when the fines are in bloom, wrapping around large trunks of tall trees. The stories of Nahr and the people around her are the vines wrapping around a y tree with a thick trunk. That tree is Palestine.

Nahr is surrounded by strong characters who represent the breadth of the Palestinian experience. Their stories are told through Nahr’s story and together they evoke powerful emotions, which we experience together with her. They include innocence, passion, love, and hate, sadness, and anger as well as delicately threaded tenderness, yearning, and compassion. Abulhawa seamlessly weaves Nahr’s personal story and the stories of the other characters into the greater story of Palestine. 

The story takes us into two of the largest Palestinian refugee communities in the world, Kuwait and Jordan. We come face to face with Palestinians who became refugees in 1948, and then again in 1967, and then brutally kicked out of Kuwait and turned into refugees again as a result of the first Gulf War. Each time they think they can finally rest, something happens and they are forced to move again. Yet throughout this painful and seemingly endless odyssey their anchor continues to be Palestine. Nahr tries to talk to these people, to hear about their experience, but she is met with silence. Silence of a generation of Palestinians who cannot bear to talk about their loss.

 

A story of love

Nahr’s experiences are perhaps not unlike other women living under oppressive regimes. But in one aspect her experience is truly universal – she experiences the full scope of cruelty meted out to women by men, by the patriarchy. Men’s brutality towards women is not unique to a particular race, nationality, or culture, making her experience universal. But still, although she suffers greatly at the hands of men, Nahr is capable of feeling and expressing a deep, sincere love for a man.

Though she speaks to us from a cold, lonely cell in which she is held by Israel, Nahr is able to relay feelings towards the one man who she truly loves and who loves her completely. She describes it as “a sexual yearning made insatiable by love so vast, as if a sky.”

In one scene Nahr watches this man whom she loves so deeply, and what she sees is, “the guilt, the impotence of seeing those settlements, the anguish over his brother, his mother, the years in prison, the torture, the inability to move.” Then, reflecting on her own sense of helplessness she says, “I wanted to take him in my arms and fix everything,” but, “all I could do was help carry the tea glasses.”

Palestine, for those who were torn away from her and for those who care for her, is like a loved one dying of terminal cancer. Hard as we may try, all we can do for her as she is being eaten away by the cancer of Zionist brutality, is make her comfortable.

Nahr’s pain is deep and real and reading this novel one often forgets that it is, in fact, fiction. She experiences pain as a woman, as a Palestinian, and as a human being. In Nahr’s own words, it is “a cloistered, unreachable, immutable ache.” 

 

The spirit of resistance

Nahr describes what she sees in Palestine, and which few if any dare to admit: “the epic fabrication of a Jewish nation returning to its homeland.” She says that the deceit, “had grown into a living, breathing narrative that shaped lives as if it were truth.” The epic fabrication, the deceit is one and the same: the Zionist myth upon which the State of Israel was created. Israel is an enormous prison that separates Palestinians from each other and from their land. To enforce its oppressive existence on Palestine the State of Israel created a brutal war machine. 

Nahr describes the Jewish-only settlements that she sees spreading like cancer all over Palestine. Entire cities, neighborhoods, and homes, including ones that belonged to people who she knows and loves and who were forced to flee their homeland, taken over by Jewish settlers. 

But the spirit of resistance is alive in Palestine and Nahr will not stand idly by as others prepare to act. She is enraged by the ruthlessness of settlers and soldiers, tucked away safely in their exclusive, Arab-free colonies. She sees how they live on land stolen from Palestinians, how they come out periodically to attack Palestinians, how they act with impunity, and she, like many others, wants to see justice.

As soon as Nahr senses that people around her are engaged in acts of resistance she wants in on the action. But she is an outsider, she grew up in exile in Kuwait and it isn’t clear if she can be trusted. It is not clear whether or not she is an informant herself, in which case letting her in will be disastrous. Here, once again, Nahr is unaccommodating, fierce, and willing to face the consequences of her actions.

 

Feeling the pulse

Along with Ghassan Kanafani and Ibrahim Nasrallah, Susan Abulhawa’s writing has the rare quality of allowing us to hear the sound, taste the flavor, smell the fragrance, and feel the pulse of Palestine. She offers a rare insight and we would be foolish not to accept it.

Editor’s Note | An earlier version of this article was amended to add more information.

Feature photo | A Palestinian woman enjoys the Mediterranean during the Eid al-Adha holiday, Aug. 2, 2020. Oded Balilty | AP

Miko Peled is an author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. He is the author of “The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

The post Susan Abulhawa Embodies the Spirit of Palestinian Resistance in Her New Book: Against the Loveless World appeared first on MintPress News.

Do Hundreds of UN Resolutions Prove the United Nations has an Anti-Israel Bias?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 06/08/2020 - 7:25am in

The U.S. government is in a love affair with Israel, and nowhere is it more apparent than in the halls of the United Nations. Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley once asserted, “Nowhere has the UN’s failure been more consistent and more outrageous than its bias against our close ally Israel.”

Indeed, since 1949, that state has been the subject of many hundreds of United Nations General Assembly (General Assembly) resolutions – nearly every one of them critical of Israel, “the Occupying Power.” Each year the General Assembly agenda includes a dozen or more discussions about Israeli injustice toward Palestinians, but rarely the reverse.

Many Israel supporters agree with Haley that this indicates an anti-Israel or even anti-Semitic tendency in the UN. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) suggests that “Arab member states of the UN have used the General Assembly (GA) as a forum for isolating and chastising Israel.” The ADL speculates that “third-world nations” add their votes to those of hostile Arab states to pass measures against Israel.

This analysis is both implausible and ahistorical.

 

The UN agenda

Subjects matter in the General Assembly emerge not from personal animus, but the priorities of the UN and geopolitical facts. The UN strives to promote economic growth, maintain peace, support developing countries, and promote human rights, justice, and international law. The items on the General Assembly agenda involve complex issues. Most topics are automatically revisited every year until they are resolved; occasionally, a new one is added, or one is dropped or merged with another.

Resolutions grow not from hearsay or opinion, but from fact-based eyewitness reports, many of them UN-commissioned. Experts and members of UN committees regularly contribute carefully researched reports. Starting in the late 1960s, for example, the UN passed resolutions concerning South Africa, calling for an end to apartheid and encouraging all justice-loving countries to boycott, sanction, and isolate the country. UN member states overwhelmingly supported the efforts to end apartheid – not from an anti-South-African bias, but from a passion for justice. The topic: Policies of Apartheid of the Government of South Africa, came up year after year until 1994 when the issue was resolved.

Israel, on the other hand, has not made any of the changes the international community has called for. While it’s not surprising that Arab countries support Palestine in the UN, they are not numerous enough to accomplish anything on their own. Member States from all over the world vote in favor of resolutions that censure Israel – delegates look at facts and recommendations and decide whether they are compelling.

The fact that General Assembly passes a dozen or more resolutions addressing the Palestinian issue each year owes not to a bias against Israel (or Jews), but to the enormous scale and long history of the problem. The Palestinian plight has been before the organization for decades and has grown in scope – not just because the number of Palestinians has grown, but because Israel’s brutality has intensified.

It is worth taking time to trace the roots of the General Assembly’s supposed preoccupation with Palestine and determine whether it is malicious or constructive.

 

1948 refugees and UNRWA

At least 750,000 Palestinians fled or were exiled from their homes and villages as the state of Israel emerged in 1948 on 78 percent of historic Palestine. The UN passed a resolution expressing its expectation that the refugees would be allowed to return. Israel refused to comply.

In 1949, the UN created UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, and gave it the mandate to care for those refugees and help them return home. And because the Palestinian refugees from 1948 are still in exile, UNRWA is still at work, providing health care, education, and social services to the refugee population of the Palestinian territories.

Every year since 1952, UNRWA has reported to General Assembly on its work, and has been commissioned via resolution to continue its efforts – that’s 67 resolutions in 67 years while waiting for Israel to grant the refugees their right of return. Every year, some Palestinians leave the refugee camps and emigrate to countries around the world, but the majority stay, either because they can’t afford to leave, or in hopes of returning home. The number of refugees has grown from 750,000 to around 3 million – and the costs to UNRWA have increased exponentially.

In 1970, the General Assembly created the Working Group on the Financing of UNRWA to address the Agency’s financial crisis. Every year since, the Working Group has pursued new ways to finance UNRWA’s work, and produced a report on its efforts; every year, the UN passes a resolution for the continuation of those efforts – 49 years, 49 resolutions.

 

1967 refugees

About 200,000 Palestinians were displaced during the so-called Six-Day War in June of 1967 (some of these had already been displaced in 1948) when Israel occupied what was left of Palestine. Again, Israel refuses to let them return.

In 1983, General Assembly began addressing this issue individually, demanding that not just the refugees from 1948, but also those from 1967, be allowed to return. Because Israel has steadfastly refused to give them this right, the topic: Persons Displaced as a Result of the June 1967 and Subsequent Hostilities, has prompted resolutions every year since 1975 – 44 years in a row.

UN History Palestine

Displaced by the Six Day War, Refugees wait for food rations from UNRWA in an almost deserted refugee camp near Jericho, Feb. 6, 1968. Photo | AP

 

Settlements: land theft

As soon as Israel began its occupation in 1967, it began to build settlements – pockets of Israeli citizens living illegally on Palestinian land. In yet another affront to justice and international law, settlement construction includes the demolition of entire Palestinian villages, the confiscation of Palestinian property, and the expulsion of Palestinians.

By 1972, the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the Occupied Territories had brought this to the attention of the General Assembly, which began tracking Israel’s settlement-building and passing resolutions condemning the practice, asking the Special Committee to follow up – 47 resolutions in 47 years. (Until 2019, the United States agreed with the rest of the world that these settlements are illegal.)

Because Israel has persistently ignored the UN’s demands, at least 600,000 Israelis now live illegally in the Palestinian territories, including in East Jerusalem.

 

Human rights abuses

The UN Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People is also fighting for Palestinian rights. The committee was formed in 1968 to specifically address Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law that arose in the wake of the occupation.

Every year, the Committee conducts a fact-finding mission in the region, and every year, the Israeli government refuses to participate or even allow the members to enter the occupied Palestinian territories. Through investigation, independent research, and interviews with members of relevant UN committees and reputable NGOs, the Committee puts together a report in keeping with their mandate. Various groups use these reports to carry on advocacy work.

Every year since 1971, General Assembly has passed a resolution directing the Committee to continue its valuable work. That’s 48 resolutions in 48 years. (Here is the 2019 report.)

 

Inalienable rights

By 1975, the General Assembly was “gravely concerned” that Palestinian refugees still lacked their inalienable rights to self-determination, sovereignty, and the ability to return home. The body stated:

the United Nations has a permanent responsibility with respect to the question of Palestine until the question is resolved in all its aspects in a satisfactory manner in accordance with international legitimacy.

The General Assembly created the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in hopes of finding a solution.

Starting in 1976, and every year since, the Committee has worked with other organizations around the world that are advocating for a just solution. They have reported every year, and every year General Assembly has passed a resolution – 43 in total – recognizing the work and authorizing it to continue.

UN History Palestine

Reem Hassan holds items that belonged to a child killed by an Israeli landmine during a 2002 U.N. Children’s summit in New York. Stephen Chernin | AP

 

Self-determination

The UN Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee has also taken on the Palestinian issue, with an emphasis on “the development of friendly relations among nations, based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples.” This Committee has been working and reporting since 1995; each year, the General Assembly passes a resolution reaffirming these efforts: 24 resolutions in 24 years.

 

Stealing natural resources

Beginning in July 1996, General Assembly joined with the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia to highlight (among other things) Israeli settlements’ devastating impact on Palestinians’ access to their own natural resources.

For years, Israel’s government and illegal settlers have been confiscating or destroying agricultural land and orchards, water pipelines and sewage networks, and diverting water resources from Palestinian towns to illegal settlements.

The Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources Committee tracks and reports these actions in an effort to hold Israel accountable for its exploitation and destruction of Palestinian natural resources.

Israel has refused to take appropriate action. The General Assembly has, therefore, continued to pass resolutions to keep the Committee on the job – 23 resolutions in 23 years.

 

The Holy City of Jerusalem

Ever since 1947, before the State of Israel was created on Palestinian land, Jerusalem has been a focal point of the United Nations. Resolution 181 declared,

The City of Jerusalem shall be established as a corpus separatum under a special international regime and shall be administered by the United Nations.

In support of Israel’s application for UN membership, the Israeli delegate Abba Eban assured the General Assembly that the Jewish state agreed with Resolution 181.

In the more than seventy years since, Israel never put the UN plan into motion. Israel controlled much of the city beginning in 1948 and officially – illegally – annexed the rest in 1980 – an act which the United Nations has deemed “null and void” (but which the current U.S. administration supports).

The topic of Jerusalem has come up in 38 General Assembly sessions and resolutions as the body has attempted again and again to pressure Israel to submit to international law and the UN’s own declarations – as well as Israel’s own promises.

 

Israel created an economic crisis

The Economic and Social Council of United Nations works with various UN bodies to identify “economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people,” and has been working for over four decades to coordinate and deliver needed assistance. Consequently, the topic of “Assistance to the Palestinian People” has spawned 40 resolutions.

 

United Nations as a myth-buster

As General Assembly saw, year after year, Israel’s impunity for egregious human rights violations, the body turned to the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) to ramp up the pressure. The DPI had been established in 1946, “to promote global awareness and understanding of the work of the United Nations …[to build] support for peace, development and human rights for all.

The General Assembly instructed DPI to build close contact with the media, organize conferences and meetings with NGOs, publish newsletters and articles, and organize trips for journalists “in order to heighten awareness of the facts relating to the question of Palestine.” Each year since 1996, General Assembly has passed resolutions renewing DPI’s mandate – 23 years in a row.

The effort may be paying off in the one country that stands most resolutely by the side of Israel: polls are beginning to indicate that Americans are becoming less supportive of Israel and of U.S. government policies that favor the “Jewish State.”

UN History Palestine

UNRWA’s Peter Hansen speaks to the media during a tour of Nablus following Israeli helicopter and tank attacks in 2002. Greg Baker | AP

 

Numbers speak volumes

Palestine has been a prominent UN topic since 1949 and has been the subject of at least seven hundred resolutions – only a fraction of which are discussed here.

The list of committees and working groups toiling over the Palestinian issue is long. General Assembly indeed spends a great deal of time discussing and debating this topic. Their work attests, not to an anti-Israel or anti-Semitic culture in the United Nations, but to the tenacity of this global body – and the shameless belligerence of Israel.

It also speaks volumes that the United States remains one of only a handful of allies of this rogue state. Until this changes, there is no reason to expect that Israel’s behavior will improve.

Feature photo | A United Nations aid agency car lies destroyed by shrapnel from an Israeli airstrike in the Jebaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza, July 29, 2014. Lefteris Pitarakis | AP

Kathryn Shihadah writes for MintPress News and If Americans Knew. She speaks regularly about the injustice and demonization Palestinians face at the hands of Israel with complicity from the United States, especially to Christian audiences. Kathryn has lived in the Middle East for ten years and has traveled extensively. She blogs at PalestineHome.org

The post Do Hundreds of UN Resolutions Prove the United Nations has an Anti-Israel Bias? appeared first on MintPress News.

Apartheid or One State: Has Jordan Broken a Political Taboo?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 06/08/2020 - 12:21am in

What will it take for the idea of a two-state solution, which was hardly practical to begin with, to be completely abandoned?

Every realistic assessment of the situation on the ground indicates, with palpable clarity, that there can never be a viable Palestinian state in parts of the West Bank and Gaza.

Politically, the idea is also untenable. Those who are still marketing the ‘two-state solution’, less enthusiastically now as compared with the euphoria of twenty years ago, are paralyzed in the face of the Israeli-American onslaught on any attempt at making ‘Palestine’ a tangible reality.

The Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas is still busy compiling more symbolic recognition of a state that, at best, exists in the dusty files of the United Nations. Arabs and Europeans, too, still speak of a two-state, rhetoric that is never followed with practical steps that may enforce international law and hold Israel accountable to it.

The fate of Palestine seems to be entirely dependent on the aggressive and violent actions of Israel alone – not only through the policies of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, but all previous Israeli governments.

This trajectory of aggression and violence is likely to continue for as long as Israel is held hostage to the ideology of Zionism which remains committed to territorial, colonial expansion and the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population.

These two factors – colonialism and ethnic cleansing – can never coexist with the principles of justice and peace. For Zionism to remain relevant, Israel and Palestine must remain in the throes of a protracted, interminable war.

Therefore, it was encouraging to read comments made by Jordanian Prime Minister, Omar Razzaz, in an interview with the British Guardian newspaper on July 21.

“You close the door to the two-state solution, I could very well look at this positively, if we’re clearly opening the door to a one-state democratic solution,” Razzaz said.

Razzaz was referring specifically in the context of Netanyahu’s decision to annex nearly a third of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley. The senior Jordanian official referred to Israel’s annexation policies as the “ushering in (of) a new apartheid state.”

An apartheid state was, practically, ushered in a long time ago. Israel’s so-called Nation-State Law of 2018 merely confirmed an existing reality.

The Law left no doubt regarding Israel’s exclusionist ‘Jewish identity’, formulated at the expense of the Palestinian people, their historic rights in Palestine, and the internationally-enshrined Right of Return for Palestinian refugees.

On July 29, the Israeli Knesset (parliament) callously rejected a draft amendment to make the unmistakably racist Nation-State Law slightly less racist. The amendment had called for the inclusion of a clause that guarantees equality for all of Israel’s citizens, regardless of race, religion, or ethnicity.

In its current form, Israel represents the very essence of apartheid.

Razzaz knows this, as do many politicians and leaders throughout the Middle East, in Europe, and across the world. Unlike his counterparts elsewhere, however, the Jordanian Prime Minister had the courage to imagine a future in Palestine and Israel that is not inundated by empty clichés of ‘solutions’ that were never fair, to begin with.

Razzaz’s positive and upbeat tone of words is notable.

“I challenge anybody from Israel to say yes, let’s end the two-state solution, it’s not viable,” he said. “But let’s work together on a one-state democratic solution. That, I think, we will look at very favorably. But closing one and wishful thinking about the other is just self-deception.”

Other Arab officials, prior to Razzaz, alluded to the one-state possibility, but largely in a negative context. Palestinian Authority officials, in particular, have waved this card before, often threatening Israel that, if illegal settlement expansion was not frozen, for example, Palestinians would have no alternative but to demand one state.

What Razzaz is saying is quite different, if not radical, as Jordan, which signed a peace agreement with Israel in 1994, has remained the most visible Arab advocate for the two-state solution for many years. Razzaz’s words bring that ‘self-deception’ to an end.

Of course, political necessity will compel Jordan, and others, to continue to pay lip service to a political ‘solution’ that will, unlikely, ever materialize. Israelis and Palestinians are now conjoined in such a way that physical separation between Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews is impossible. Additionally, speaking of a two-state solution while Israel is cementing a one apartheid state reality is a waste of precious time that should be used to foster equality, accountability, and just peace.

Ordinary Palestinians, too are beginning to realize the futility of the two-state paradigm. According to a February poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, 61 percent of all Palestinians no longer believe that ‘a two-state solution’ is viable. The same poll suggests that 37 percent support the idea of a single state solution. Judging by previous poll numbers, it seems that, before long, the majority of Palestinians will embrace the latter as the most rational and achievable objective.

It will take time because the establishment of an independent Palestinian state has been the only rallying cry by the Palestinian leadership for nearly three decades.

However, even prior to the 1960s, the Palestinian national movement adopted a political strategy that was predicated on the establishment of one democratic state for Christians, Muslims, and Jews. Alas, political expediency impelled late Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to shift tactics, settling for a Palestinian state that would, in theory, be incrementally established in disconnected parts of the occupied territories – Gaza, Jericho, Area A, B, and so on.

Even the latter idea, which was most unfair to Palestinians, was still rejected by Israel, and Netanyahu’s latest annexation scheme is proving to be the final nail of the two-state coffin.

Since the two-state solution is no longer workable, Palestine and Israel are now left with one of two options: a protracted, racist, and violent apartheid or coexistence in a modern, democratic, and secular state, for all of its people.

The democratic and sustainable choice should be obvious, even to politicians.

Feature photo | Jordanians yell slogans during a protest against Trump’s so-called Deal of the Century in the center of Amman, Jordan, Jan. 31, 2020. Raad Adayleh | AP

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press, Atlanta). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA), Istanbul Zaim University (IZU). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

The post Apartheid or One State: Has Jordan Broken a Political Taboo? appeared first on MintPress News.

Anti-Diplomacy: Danny Danon Ends Five Year Legacy of Israeli Hasbara at the UN

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 24/07/2020 - 5:24am in

The United States is Israel’s best friend and ally in the world. It contributes over $10 million a day in no-strings-attached military aid despite the fact that Israel’s human rights record, according to the State Department’s own admission, is deeply problematic and contravenes U.S. law. The U.S. has dropped out of or defunded a number of United Nations organizations, including the Human Rights Council, UNESCO, UNRWA, all for the sake of Israel.

Danny Danon – who once criticized Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, a hawk’s hawk, for his “leftist feebleness” – just completed a five-year stint as Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, bringing his own political flourish to the job.

Back in 2015, when Danon was first appointed, Israel expert Jonathan Cook observed, “Danon’s posting is part of a discernible pattern of recent appointments by Netanyahu that reflect a growing refusal to engage in any kind of recognizable diplomacy. Confrontation is preferred. Danon can be expected to barrack, abuse and alienate fellow ambassadors at the UN in New York.”

Cook’s prediction was right on the money.

 

Danny Danon: the early years

Before his UN appointment, Danon already showed great promise as a combative promoter of Israeli exceptionalism. That exceptionalism was on display in May 2010, when Israel killed nine Turkish citizens aboard a humanitarian aid ship en route to Gaza (a tenth victim later died). The ship, one of six in a flotilla, was in international waters when Israeli commandos attacked it in an attempt to prevent humanitarian goods from reaching Gaza. Turkey demanded that Israel apologize and a young Danny Danon, then a member of parliament, complied. “We are sorry that, due to the [Israel Defense Forces’] over-cautious behavior, only nine terrorists were killed,” said Danon.

In 2012, Danon served as chairman of Israel’s Deportation Now movement, an effort to remove tens of thousands of Eritrean and Sudanese refugees that had entered Israel in search of asylum. He declared at a rally,

The State of Israel is at war! An enemy state of infiltrators has been established within the State…We have to put an end to this, expel all the infiltrators before it is too late… The infiltrators are a national plague…”

Danny Danon

Danon holds a poster at a UN security press conference in 2015. Loey Felipe | UN

In June 2013, Danon advocated for Israel to annex parts of the West Bank with no regard for the indigenous Palestinians that live there (a plan that is taking shape today):

The Jewish people are not settlers in the West Bank, but Israel will make the Palestinians settlers and Jordan will be the one taking control over Palestinians and that’s it.”

That same month, he expressed indifference to both international law, in this case regarding illegal settlement building, and Israel’s reputation when he declared to the Times of Israel, that “[the] international community can say whatever they want, and we can do whatever we want.”

 

2014: “We must not be humiliated”

The next year, Danon landed a position in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet as Deputy Defense Minister. He lasted just over a year before his brusque manner got him in trouble.

The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) was on its seventh day of an air invasion of Gaza. Its mission: to stop Hamas rocket fire (up to that point, projectiles from Gaza had caused 27 Israeli deaths in 13 years).

In its week-long air assault, the IDF had killed 185 Palestinians. No Israelis had been killed, and Israel had accepted a ceasefire. However, Danon criticized the Israeli government for going too easy on Hamas – especially for its delay in starting a ground offensive – and for buying into a ceasefire too soon.

We must not be humiliated. We must correct the mistake of the cabinet decision from this morning [to accept the ceasefire] and allow the army to do what it must… with Hamas we must speak in a language it understands.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu promptly fired him.

Danon released a statement that read in part, “I did not agree, and won’t agree, to this spirit of leftist feebleness by the prime minister, and I won’t sell out my ideology for an office and a driver.”

The ceasefire fell through, and two days later, Israel began a ground invasion of Gaza. By the end of the seven-week conflict, 2,251 Palestinians and 73 Israelis were dead.

Danny Danon was temporarily unemployed, but his career as a public servant was far from over: Netanyahu brought him back five months later as Minister of Science, Technology, and Space; the next year, he was appointed Ambassador to the United Nations.

 

2015: “Stop making excuses”

In the UN, Ambassador Danon hit the ground running. In his first speech to the General Assembly, he attacked the entire body for what he considered an ongoing and utter mischaracterization of the Israel-Palestine situation:

Let me make one thing clear – this is not a cycle of violence. These are simply unprovoked attacks against Israelis for no reason other than the fact that they are Jews living in their historic homeland…”

The UN must end its usual practice of calling on both sides to show restraint, and state clearly: there is one side that is instigating a wave of terror.”

Stop making excuses for the Palestinians, and start holding them accountable.”

 

2016: “Shame on you!” and “BDS has infected the UN”

In April 2016, the UN Security Council debated a possible resolution to call on Israel to halt the construction of illegal settlements on Palestinian land. Ambassador Danon went off-script, addressing the Palestinian Ambassador, Riyad Mansour:

Danon: Shame on you for glorifying terrorism!

Mansour: Shame on you for killing Palestinian children!

Danon: I condemn all acts of terrorism’: one sentence you cannot say. Shame on you for that.

Mansour: Let my people be free! Shame on you! Shame on you! Shame on you! You are an occupier.

The next month, Danon played host to a conference called, “Building Bridges Not Boycotts,” in the United Nations headquarters. The summit sought to counter recent bad press: the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) had mandated a database, which was finally published in February of this year, of companies doing business in illegal Israeli settlements. The list could be used to boycott the companies, most of them Israeli, as a form of economic pressure to stop the construction of illegal settlements.

Danny Danon

Danon displays what he called a Palestinian “terror doll” during a 2016 press conference at the UN. Cara Anna | AP

The Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) movement – a campaign that addresses Israel’s violations of international law in its treatment of the Palestinian. The nonviolent campaign is modeled after the South African anti-apartheid movement. Israel and the U.S. describe BDS as anti-Semitic and an attempt to delegitimize Israel.

During the conference, Ambassador Danon declared to his audience,

[BDS] has already infected the UN. When the UN opens its doors to BDS, we have to respond. This is a battle we must fight, and it is a battle we will win.

To those who boycott Israel, who want to see an end to the Jewish state; to those standing outside the UN right now screaming hateful anti-Semitic slogans against Israel: you will never win.

Our people have overcome every enemy. We stand strong; we stand together; and we  will defeat you, once and for all.”

 

2018: “Wretched collaborator,” “morally bankrupt”

In October 2018, the UNSC had a guest, one Hagai El-Ad, Director-General of B’tselem, a highly respected Israeli human rights organization. B’tselem’s goal is to document human rights violations in the Israeli-occupied territories. As part of a debate on Israel’s treatment of Palestinian Bedouins, El-Ad reported on his findings, describing Israel as a state “founded on supremacy and oppression.” Ambassador Danon retorted,

You’re a wretched collaborator…IDF soldiers guard you, and you came here to defame them. Shame on you.”

In November 2018, Israel clearly undermined a ceasefire with Hamas by infiltrating Gaza. The incident ended with seven Palestinians and one Israeli soldier dead. Hamas retaliated by firing rockets toward Israel, killing one; Israel then killed seven more Palestinians.

The UN Security Council met to discuss the situation, but could not agree on a response.

Some UNSC members blamed Israel for the flare-up – Danon accused them of being “morally bankrupt”; others diplomatically called for restraint on both sides, to which Danon proclaimed, “there is no such thing as both sides.”

 

2019: “The Bible is our deed,” “Palestinian surrender,” and more

In April 2019, Ambassador Danon – himself a secular Jew – waved a Bible in the air and declared, “This is the deed to our land.”

From the book of Genesis; to the Jewish exodus from Egypt; to receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai; to the gates of Canaan; and to the realization of God’s covenant in the Holy Land of Israel; the Bible paints a consistent picture. The entire history of our people, and our connection to Eretz Yisrael, begins right here…”

Danny Danon Bible

Danon holds a Bible aloft during a 2019 UN Security Council meeting. Photo | Israeli Embassy

In June, Danon published an editorial in the New York Times, “What’s wrong with Palestinian surrender?” In it, he criticized the Palestinians’ rejection of Trump’s so-called Deal of the Century – a “peace” plan that eliminates all hope of justice and self-determination and acquiesces to Israeli colonization. Danon concluded that Palestinian resistance,

[exposes] the uncomfortable truth about the Palestinian national identity: It is motivated not by building a better life for its people but by destroying Israel.”

In December, in what turned out to be one of his final acts of “diplomacy,” Danon announced that he’d be introducing a resolution in 2020 – one that would recognize the Jewish refugees circa 1948. He was referring to the estimated 850,000 Jews who had been exiled from Arab countries and Iran around the time that Israel was created, forced out by the Muslim majorities in those countries, angry that Jews had colonized the homeland of the Palestinians. Danon insisted, “Every time the U.N. talks about the refugees of Israel’s war of independence, they speak only of the Palestinian refugees.

The fact is there were two populations of refugees, and we must not allow that fact to be forgotten. Not only because we must honor those who lived through it, but because we must learn from it.”

He said he hoped to pass a resolution to formally recognize these refugees:

Israel took in these refugees and integrated them into our society. The international community on the other hand ignored them and built corrupt institutions that only serve so-called Palestinian refugees.”

But the State of Israel will give voice to the truth and correct the historical injustice by putting an end to the deafening silence on the part of the international community.”

 

2020: One more for the road

Ambassador Danon’s resolution recognizing Jewish refugees never materialized. He did leave a parting gift, though: an interview with BBC’s Stephen Sackur, riddled with problematic and controversial statements: “I represent not only the people of Israel, I represented [sic] the Jewish people in the U.N.”

We [Jews] do have biblical rights to the land. Whether you are Christian, Muslim, or Jew — you read the Bible, you read the stories of the Bible — it’s all there.

This is our deed to the land. That’s biblical.”

When asked about Israel’s plan to begin formally annexing parts of the West Bank, Danon replied, “You cannot annex something that belongs to you. When you annex something you do it from a foreign territory. I do not know from whom we are annexing it…”

Danny Danon’s confrontational style of “diplomacy” grew from his belief that the United Nations carries a grudge against him and all Jews. In fact, the UN created Israel, and in return, Israel made promises – none of which it has kept. In 2015, Jonathan Cook noted, “Danon’s appointment…indicates the extent to which the Israeli right has abandoned any hope of persuading the international community of the rightness of its cause – or even of working within the rules of statecraft.”

[Israel] has no place for negotiations or compromise [and] wants only to tell the world that it is wrong and that Israelis don’t care what others think…”

Based on that job description, Mr. Danon certainly discharged his duties.

Feature photo | Israel United Nations Ambassador Danny Danon listens to a correspondent during a news conference about Israel’s violent crackdown on Palestinian protests at the Gaza border, May 15, 2018, at U.N. headquarters. Bebeto Matthews | AP

Kathryn Shihadah writes for MintPress News and If Americans Knew. She speaks regularly about the injustice and demonization Palestinians face at the hands of Israel with complicity from the United States, especially to Christian audiences. Kathryn has lived in the Middle East for ten years and has traveled extensively. She blogs at PalestineHome.org.

The post Anti-Diplomacy: Danny Danon Ends Five Year Legacy of Israeli Hasbara at the UN appeared first on MintPress News.

The Hopelessness Discourse: How Palestinian Pessimism Could Spark a Much-Needed Rebellion

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 21/07/2020 - 1:39am in

In a recent TV discussion, a respected pro-Palestine journalist declared that if any positive change or transformation ever occurs in the tragic Palestinian saga, it would not happen now, but that it would take a whole new generation to bring about such a paradigm shift.

As innocuous as the declaration may have seemed, it troubled me greatly.

I have heard this line over and over again, often reiterated by well-intentioned intellectuals, whose experiences in researching and writing on the so-called ‘Palestinian-Israeli conflict’ may have driven some of them to pessimism, if not despair.

The ‘hopelessness discourse’ is, perhaps, understandable if one is to examine the off-putting, tangible reality on the ground: the ever-entrenched Israeli occupation, the planned annexation of occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank, the shameful Arab normalization with Israel, the deafening silence of the international community and the futility of the quisling Palestinian leadership.

Subscribing to this logic is not only self-defeating but ahistorical as well. Throughout history, every great achievement that brought about freedom and a measure of justice to any nation was realized despite seemingly insurmountable odds.

Indeed, who would have thought that the Algerian people were capable of defeating French colonialism when their tools of liberation were so rudimentary as compared with the awesome powers of the French military and its allies?

The same notion applies to many other modern historic experiences, from Vietnam to South Africa and from India to Cuba.

Palestine is not the exception.

However, the ‘hopelessness discourse’ is not as innocent as it may seem. It is propelled by the persisting failure to appreciate the centrality of the Palestinian people – or any other people, for that matter – in their own history. Additionally, it assumes that the Palestinian people are, frankly, ineffectual.

Interestingly, when many nations were still grappling with the concept of national identity, the Palestinian people had already developed a refined sense of modern collective identity and national consciousness. General mass strikes and civil disobedience challenging British imperialism and Zionist settlements in Palestine began nearly a century ago, culminating in the six-month-long general strike of 1936.

Since then, popular resistance, which is linked to a defined sense of national identity, has been a staple in Palestinian history. It was a prominent feature of the First Intifada, the popular uprising of 1987.

The fact that the Palestinian homeland was lost, despite the heightened consciousness of the Palestinian masses at the time, is hardly indicative of the Palestinian people’s ability to affect political outcomes.

Time and again, Palestinians have rebelled and, with each rebellion, they forced all parties, including Israel and the United States, to reconsider and overhaul their strategies altogether.

A case in point was the First Intifada.

When, on December 8, 1987, thousands took to the streets of the Jabaliya Refugee Camp, the Gaza Strip’s most crowded and poorest camp, the timing and the location of their uprising was most fitting, rational and necessary. Earlier that day, an Israeli truck had run over a convoy of cars carrying Palestinian laborers, killing four young men. For Jabaliya, as with the rest of Palestine, it was the last straw.

Responding to the chants and pleas of the Jabaliya mourners, Gaza was, within days, the breeding ground for a real revolution that was self-propelled and unwavering. The chants of Palestinians in the Strip were answered in the West Bank, and echoed just as loudly in Palestinian towns, including those located in Israel.

PALESTINIAN UPRISING 1987

Palestinian protesters hurl rocks and bottles at armed Israeli troops in Nablus, Occupied West Bank, on Dec. 13, 1987. Max Nash | AP

The contagious energy was emblematic of children and young adults wanting to reclaim the identities of their ancestors, which had been horribly disfigured and divided among regions, countries and refugee camps.

The Intifada – literally meaning the “shake off” – sent a powerful message to Israel that the Palestinian people are alive, and are still capable of upsetting all of Israel’s colonial endeavors. The Intifada also confronted the failure of the Palestinian and Arab leaderships, as they persisted in their factional and self-seeking politics.

In fact, the Madrid Talks in 1991 between Palestinians and Israelis were meant as an Israeli- American political compromise, aimed at ending the Intifada in exchange for acknowledging the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as a representative of the Palestinian people.

The Oslo Accords, signed by Yasser Arafat and Israel in 1993, squandered the gains of the Intifada and, ultimately, replaced the more democratically representative PLO with the corrupt Palestinian Authority.

But even then, the Palestinian people kept coming back, reclaiming, in their own way, their importance and centrality in the struggle. Gaza’s Great March of Return is but one of many such people-driven initiatives.

Palestine’s biggest challenge in the movement is not the failure of the people to register as a factor in the liberation of their own land, but their quisling leadership’s inability to appreciate the immense potential of harnessing the energies of Palestinians everywhere to stage a focused and strategic, anti-colonial, liberation campaign.

This lack of vision dates back to the late 1970s, when the Palestinian leadership labored to engage politically with Washington and other Western capitals, culminating in the pervading sense that, without US political validation, Palestinians would always remain marginal and irrelevant.

The Palestinian leadership’s calculations at the time proved disastrous. After decades of catering to Washington’s expectations and diktats, the Palestinian leadership, ultimately, returned empty-handed, as the current Donald Trump administration’s ‘Deal of the Century’ has finally proven.

I have recently spoken with two young Palestinian female activists: one is based in besieged Gaza and the other in the city of Seattle. Their forward-thinking discourse is, itself, a testament that the pessimism of some intellectuals does not define the thinking of this young Palestinian generation, and there would be no need to dismiss the collective efforts of this budding generation in anticipation of the rise of a ‘better’ one.

Malak Shalabi, a Seattle-based law student, does not convey a message of despair, but that of action. “It’s really important for every Palestinian and every human rights activist to champion the Palestinian cause regardless of where they are, and it is important especially now, ” she told me.

“There are currently waves of social movements here in the United States, around civil rights for Black people and other issues that are (becoming) pressing topics – equality and justice – in the mainstream. As Palestinians, it’s important that we (take the Palestinian cause) to the mainstream as well,” she added.

“There is a lot of work happening among Palestinian activists here in the United States, on the ground, at a social, economic, and political level, to make sure that the link between Black Lives Matter and Palestine happens,” she added.

On her part, Wafaa Aludaini in Gaza spoke about her organization’s – 16th October Group – relentless efforts to engage communities all over the world, to play their part in exposing Israeli war crimes in Gaza and ending the protracted siege on the impoverished Strip.

“Palestinians and pro-Palestinian activists outside are important because they make our voices heard outside Palestine, as mainstream media does not report (the truth of) what is taking place here,” she told me.

For these efforts to succeed, “we all need to be united,” she asserted, referring to the Palestinian people at home and in the diaspora, and the entire pro-Palestinian solidarity movement everywhere, as well.

The words of Malak and Wafaa are validated by the growing solidarity with Palestine in the BLM movement, as well as with numerous other justice movements the world over.

On June 28, the UK chapter of the BLM tweeted that it “proudly” stands in solidarity with Palestinians and rejects Israel’s plans to annex large areas of the West Bank.

BLM went further, criticizing British politics for being “gagged of the right to critique Zionism and Israel’s settler-colonial pursuits”.

Repeating the claim that a whole new generation needs to replace the current one for any change to occur in Palestine is an insult – although, at times, unintended – to generations of Palestinians, whose struggle and sacrifices are present in every aspect of Palestinian lives.

Simply because the odds stacked against Palestinian freedom seem too great at the moment, does not justify the discounting of an entire nation, which has lived through many wars, protracted sieges and untold hardship. Moreover, the next generation is but a mere evolution of the consciousness of the current one. They cannot be delinked or analyzed separately.

In his “Prison Notebooks”, anti-fascist intellectual, Antonio Gramsci, coined the term “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.”

While logical analysis of a situation may lead the intellect to despair, the potential for social and political revolutions and transformations must keep us all motivated to keep the struggle going, no matter the odds.

Feature photo | An old man tries to clear his eyes and catch his breath after he was hit by a cloud of tear gas in Khan Yunis, in the occupied Gaza Strip, during a the first Palestinian Intifada, Jan. 10, 1987. Dieter Endlicher | AP

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press, Atlanta). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA), Istanbul Zaim University (IZU). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

The post The Hopelessness Discourse: How Palestinian Pessimism Could Spark a Much-Needed Rebellion appeared first on MintPress News.

Tony Greenstein’s Review of Exhibition and Talks by Pro-Palestinian Arab/Israeli Artist Gil Mualem-Doron

Yesterday Tony Greenstein put up a piece about an art exhibition on the plight of the Palestinians by an Arab/Israeli artist, Dr. Gil Mualem-Doron. Titled ‘Cry the Beloved Country’ after a 1953 article in the Israeli paper Maariv by its editor, Ezriel Karlebach. This compared the new legislation then passed against the Palestinians to the infamous Nuremberg laws the Nazis passed against the Jews. The article took its title in turn from the 1948 book by the South African artist Alan Paton on the rise of that country’s apartheid regime. The exhibition also features a conversation between the Palestinian historian Dr Salman Abu Sitta, Mualem-Doron, Eitan Bronstein Aparicio, the founder of the NGO Zochrot, somebody called Decolonizer and the exhibition’s curator, Ghazaleh Zogheib. It includes photographs of some of the ‘present refugees’ – Palestinians, who fled or were forced off their land during the Nakba of 1948, and who are officially regarded as foreigners in their own country among other photographic and artistic installations. There is also a screening of the film To Gaza and Back Home, by Aparicio and Decolonizer about the Arab village of Ma’in and its destruction. It was due to open on the 2nd April, but this was impossible due to the lockdown. It’s now showing online until sometime in September, probably the 27th, when it will open at the P21 Gallery in London.

Tony’s article quotes the exhibition, which says that

“Cry, the beloved country” is a nightmarish series of room installations and photography works dealing with the links between Great Britain, Israel and Palestine and depicting the catastrophic results of this unholy conundrum.  Built as a journey into “the heart of darkness” the exhibition is intended to negate many Israelis and Zionists supporters’ view of Israel as a “villa in the jungle”.

The photographs include several of an actor dressed in KKK robes, a Jewish prayer shawl and waving an Israeli flag, saluting Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square. It was taken in 2017 during the centennial celebrations of the promulgation of the Balfour Doctrine, in which Britain backed the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine. This was very much against the wishes of the British Jewish community, who did not want their Britishness questioned through the foundation of a state for which they had no loyalty and no desire to live in.

This is obviously an extremely provocative piece. I have no doubt that the very people and organizations, who scream ‘anti-Semitism’ at any criticism of Israel, no matter how reasonable and justified, would go berserk about this. It comes very close to one of the IHRA’s examples of anti-Semitism: the comparison of Jews to Nazis. But it is a reasonable comment on the Israeli state and its present government, composed of Likud and various parties from the Israeli religious right. Groups of settlers do launch attacks on Palestinian villages, like the Klan lynched Blacks in America. Those campaign for the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians similarly claim a religious basis for their crimes, just like the Klan claimed to be defending White, Protestant Christians from Jews, Blacks, Roman Catholics and Communists. And Tony himself has shown all too often how the present Israeli government and British Zionist activists have very strong links to the real far right groups. Jonathan Hoffman, who has frequently protested and demonstrated against pro-Palestinian exhibitions and meetings over here, shouting anti-Semitism, has done so in the company of Paul Besser, the former intelligence officer of Britain First, and members of the EDL. The event’s supported by Arts Council England and the Hub Collective. I think they should be commended for supporting such an important exhibition, despite the abuse and demands for cancellation the organizers of similar events receive.

The Israelis were due to begin their annexation of 1/3 of the West Bank today, in blatant contravention of international law. The Likud regime is zealously pursuing its persecution and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians with the active support of right-wing American Christian groups like Ted Hagee’s Christians United for Israel. It does so against the wishes and passionate efforts of very many Jews and Jewish organisations in America, Britain and Israel itself. The latter includes the veterans’ group, Breaking the Silence, which works to reveal the atrocities in which its members have personally participated, and the Zionist humanitarian group, B’Tsalem. The supporters of this ethnic cleansing, including the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Chief Rabbinate, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and the various ‘Friends of Israel’ groups in the political parties, are doing their best to present Israel as synonymous with Judaism. This is in breach of the IHRA’s own guidelines, which state that it is anti-Semitic to claim that Jews are more loyal to another country, or hold them responsible as a whole for Israel’s actions. As these atrocities continue, more young Jewish people are becoming critical of Israel and the Zionist organisations themselves were frightened by the British public’s disgust at the Israeli bombardment of Gaza. Hence the foundation of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and the revival of Paole Zion, now renamed the Jewish Labour Movement, in the Labour Party. It was all to promote public support for Israel and quash reasoned, justified criticism.

It is why exhibitions like this continue to remain important and necessary, whatever the witch-hunters do to shout them down and silence them.

For more information on the exhibition and the individual pieces, go to:

https://azvsas.blogspot.com/2020/06/visit-cry-beloved-country-palestinian.html

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