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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

The Killing of Ahmad Erekat by Israeli Police Puts Western Media Bias on Full Display

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 27/06/2020 - 6:31am in

Menifee, CA (IAK) — Reuters reported Wednesday on the latest “alleged car-ramming incident” in which a Palestinian was killed at an Israeli military checkpoint. The news story – from the outlet that reaches “more than one billion people every day” – was brief, yet included statements from both an Israeli police spokesperson and a relative of the Palestinian man who was killed.

While this may suggest that the coverage of the incident was balanced, in reality, it was not.

This is part of two ongoing – and longstanding – trends: impunity on the part of Israel in its violent policies toward Palestinians, and a strong pro-Israel bias in American mainstream media (MSM).

Below is a look how Reuters reported the alleged car-ramming incident. Original (abridged) text is in italics; additional details are from (MSM source) Associated Press, and (alternative news sources) Mondoweissthe New ArabDemocracy Now!Palestine News Network, and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), as well as two Israeli online newspapers (two articles from Ha’aretz and one from Times of Israel) and Twitter.

Concluding remarks on the coverage of the Palestinian issue follow.

 

The alleged car-ramming

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli police on Tuesday shot dead a Palestinian man who they said had tried to ram his car into an officer at a military checkpoint in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the 27-year-old [Ahmed] Erekat lightly injured an officer when he drove his vehicle into a barrier at a checkpoint near the town of Abu Dis, east of Jerusalem.

Palestinian officials questioned the police’s account of Ahmad Erekat’s death. They said he was rushing to nearby Bethlehem to pick up family members from a hair salon on his sister’s wedding day.

“(He) got out of the car and approached officers who responded by shooting” him.

PCHR, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, includes details that paint a clearer, more accurate picture of the incident, as well as providing background information on the victim – factual information that gives the reader a completely different perspective on Ahmed Erekat:

“On Tuesday, 23 June 2020, Israeli occupation forces (IOF) killed a Palestinian civilian after opening fire at his vehicle, which collided into the traffic island in the center of al-container military checkpoint, east of Bethlehem.

“According to PCHR’s investigations and eyewitnesses’ testimonies, at approximately 15:53 on Tuesday, Ahmed Mostafa Mousa Erekat (26), from Abu Dis village in occupied East Jerusalem, was waiting in queue at al-container military checkpoint in eastern Bethlehem, to cross into Bethlehem where he was supposed to pick up his mother and sisters from a beauty salon in the city and return to Abu Dis village to attend his sister’s, Eman, wedding.

“At approximately 15:55, when Erekat vehicle approached the checkpoint, it deviated from its path and collided into the traffic island opposite the glass room where Israeli border guard soldiers stationed. The soldiers immediately opened fire at the vehicle, wounding Erekat with several live bullets in his upper body.”

 

The aftermath

“[H]e died at the scene,” [Israeli police spokesperson] Rosenfeld added.

Video showed Israeli troops placing a plastic sheet over the man, who lay shirtless on the ground next to his vehicle.

Again, PCHR provides missing information: “They pulled him out of the vehicle, threw him on the ground and prevented Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS)’s medical crew from approaching him or providing first aid; leaving him to bleed to his death on the dirt at the checkpoint.”

Ahmed Erekat

Ahmed’s fiancee grieves following his death. Photo | PNN

The Israeli paper Ha’aretz corroborates, “Video footage obtained by Haaretz shows Erekat was left to bleed to death for at least 30 minutes, sources say, and was not given immediate medical treatment.”

Ha’aretz also adds that the Israeli police officer “who was injured lightly” was “evacuated to a Jerusalem hospital.”

Elsewhere, a Ha’aretz op-ed by a relative adds the detail that Erekat’s body was taken away by the Israeli police, and has been since withheld from his family.

 

Comments on the incident

Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said the man killed was his relative, and that his wedding was set for next week.

“This young man was killed in cold blood. What the occupation army (Israeli military) claims, that he was trying to run someone over, is a lie,” he said.

On Twitter, Noura Erekat, the well-known Palestinian American attorney, author, and human rights activist echoed her relative’s sentiment as she addressed Israel’s accusation that Ahmed Erekat was a terrorist: “You lie. You kill. You lie. This is my baby cousin,” adding, “The only terrorists are the cowards who shot to kill a beautiful young man and blamed him for it.”

Palestinian Center for Human Rights again brings in critical details about the checkpoint killing: “PCHR stresses that IOF used disproportionate force, especially that the victim posed no real threat to the soldiers’ lives in light of the heavy fortifications at the checkpoint.”

 

Context

Tensions have risen in recent weeks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet due on July 1 to begin discussing annexation of the West Bank, territory Israel captured in a 1967 war and that Palestinians seek for a state.

Palestinians vehemently oppose the annexation plan, as do most world powers.

(The annexation plan is illegal under international law, and seeks Israeli sovereignty over land illegally captured in 1967. Israel has relocated – again, illegally – hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jews on this Palestinian land. Its annexation would result in Palestinian “bantustans” and the permanent loss of self-determination and justice for the Palestinian people.)

MSM giant Associated Press adds, “In recent years, Israel has seen car-ramming attacks, shootings and stabbings carried out mostly by lone Palestinian attackers with no apparent links to armed groups.”

This statement from AP is loaded: Palestinians are labeled “attackers,” – not even using the word “alleged,” or acknowledging the many instances, like Ahmed Erekat’s, when there is doubt about Israeli claims. The IDF has allegedly planted weapons on or next to dead Palestinians, apparently to justify their deaths. A notable example: in 2015, a 16-year-old boy was killed at the same checkpoint where Erekat was killed; after the incident, Israeli police are believed to have planted a knife on him.

(In instances where a Palestinian clearly does attack an Israeli, the context of a decades-long brutal occupation, part of an ongoing genocide, is key to understanding the incident.)

In an interview with Democracy Now!, Noura Erakat reminded viewers of the bigger questions behind the killing: “Why is there a checkpoint between Bethlehem and Abu Dis, two Palestinian cities? Why are there checkpoints anywhere? Just think about those questions as we answer this broader question of the context that Ahmed was killed in.” (See her full interview here.)

PCHR continues the thought: “It should be noted that al-container military checkpoint separates villages located in south-eastern occupied East Jerusalem from eastern Bethlehem.”

Times of Israel references a leader of the Abu Dis Popular Resistance Committee member: “[Dr. Abdullah] Abu Hilal claimed that the Container Checkpoint, where Ahmad was shot, was notorious in Abu Dis for the degree of harassment Palestinian residents received by Israeli soldiers while crossing.”

Ahmed Erekat

The container checkpoint where at least 4 Palestinians have now been killed. Photo | PNN

The New Arab quotes several Palestinian sources, including Omar Shakir, the director of Human Rights Watch for Israel-Palestine, who said that Erekat’s death was part of a series of “daily gut-wrenching outrages” that “stem from decades-long failure of [the international] community to hold Israel to account for serious abuses.”

Palestinian academic Yara Hawari tweeted, “Palestinians live in a space-time continuum of trauma. Just as we start to move on from one loss, another happens almost immediately. It’s a space of constant grieving and hurt. Imagine what that does to our bodies. It’s exhausting.”

Hanan Ashrawi, a PLO top leader, released a statement condemning the killing and demanding an end to Israel’s “kill first, justify later” policy. She added, “[Israel] attempted to slander Ahmad and excuse his murder. It is part of a tragically familiar pattern, where Israel habitually uses false pretexts that are all too familiar now to justify the murder of Palestinians by trigger happy soldiers.”

Palestine News Network points out that Ahmed Erekat is the 316th Palestinian body to be withheld from its family. Most are buried in “cemeteries of numbers,” where they are reserved for Israel as bargaining chips. This is a violation of international law.

 

A pattern of misrepresentation and underrepresentation

Early in 2018, If Americans Knew presented a study on how the Associated Press reports the deaths of Israelis and Palestinians. The study showed that AP had completely different ways of reporting on the two groups (much the same is true of other news outlets, as IAK has shown elsewhere). Inaccurate reporting on the Ahmed Erekat incident is an example of the trend that is at least half a century old:

In AP’s 2018 news reports on deaths, the headlines reported on on Israeli deaths at a rate nearly four times greater than they reported on Palestinian deaths.

The articles themselves similarly focused more on Israeli deaths than on Palestinian deaths, with news reports on Israeli deaths averaging 471 words in length, while reports on Palestinian deaths averaged 171 words.

Reports on Israeli deaths included statements by high ranking officials condemning the attacks. These were often strongly worded, politically charged statements that conveyed the Israeli narrative: “[Israel will] do everything possible in order to apprehend the despicable murderer”; “There is no justification for terror…This is not the path to peace!” “Hamas praises the killers and PA laws will provide them financial rewards. Look no further to why there is no peace.”

By contrast, these AP reports rarely included statements by Palestinian officials condemning the killing of Palestinians, which would have provided another perspective for readers…

Such Palestinian viewpoints, largely accurate and readily available, were never reported in the AP articles on deaths.

AP reports often leave out critical facts.

Perhaps more significant, essential facts about the greater issue are virtually never included.

Nowhere in these reports does AP tell readers that the U.S. gives Israel over $10 million per day. Without this information, American readers will incorrectly feel this is a foreign issue that has nothing to do with them.

Basic information that would give the reader an understanding of the context of the hostility is absent.

This phenomenon of poor journalism even in world-class news outlets may partly be blamed on pro-Israel manipulation of reporting.

At a time when the world is crying out for justice, it behooves Israel to reverse its destructive policies toward Palestinians – and responsible journalism to ignore the bullies and tell the truth.

Feature photo | Israeli police linger around the body of a Ahmed Erekat. Erekat was killed by Israeli police at a checkpoint near Jerusalem, June 23, 2020. Mahmoud Illean | AP

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The PLO’s Half-Hearted Attempt to Counter Israeli Annexation of Palestine

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 25/06/2020 - 4:53am in

The painful truth is that the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas has already ceased to exist as a political body that holds much sway or relevance, either to the Palestinian people or to Abbas’ former benefactors, namely the Israeli and the American governments.

So, when the Palestinian Authority Prime Minister, Mohammed Shtayyeh, announced on June 9, that the Palestinian leadership had submitted a ‘counter-proposal’ to the US’ Middle East peace plan, also known as the ‘Deal of the Century,’ few seemed to care.

We know little about this ‘counter-proposal’ aside from the fact that it envisages a demilitarized Palestinian state within the pre-1967 borders. We also know that the Palestinian leadership is willing to accept land swaps and border adjustments, a provision that has surely been inserted to cater to Israel’s demographic and security needs.

It is almost certain that nothing will come out of Shtayyeh’s counter-proposal and no independent Palestinian state is expected to result from the seemingly historical offer. So, why did Ramallah opt for such a strategy only days before the July 1 deadline, when the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to launch its process of illegal annexation in the occupied West Bank and the Jordan Valley?

The main reason behind Shtayyeh’s announcement is that the Palestinian leadership is often accused by Israel, the US, and their allies of supposedly rejecting previous ‘peace’ overtures.

Rightly, the Palestinian Authority rejected the ‘Deal of the Century’, because the latter represents the most jarring violation of international law yet. The ‘Deal’ denies Palestine’s territorial rights in occupied East Jerusalem, dismisses the right of return for Palestinian refugees altogether, and gives carte blanche to the Israeli government to colonize more Palestinian land.

In principle, Netanyahu also rejected the American proposal, though without pronouncing his rejection publicly. Indeed, the Israeli leader has already dismissed any prospects of Palestinian statehood and has decided to move forward with the unilateral annexation of nearly 30% of the West Bank without paying any heed to the fact that even Trump’s unfair ‘peace’ initiative called for mutual dialogue before any annexation takes place.

As soon as Washington’s plan was announced in January, followed by Israel’s insistence that annexation of Palestinian territories was imminent, the Palestinian Authority spun into a strange political mode, far more unpredictable and bizarre than ever before.

One after another, Palestinian Authority officials began making all sorts of contradictory remarks and declarations, notable amongst them Abbas’ decision on May 19 to cancel all agreements signed between Palestinians and Israel.

This was followed by another announcement, on June 8, this time by Hussein Al-Sheikh, a senior Palestinian Authority official and Abbas’ confidante, that if annexation takes place the Authority would cut off civil services to Palestinians so that Israel may assume its legal role as an Occupying Power as per international norms.

A third announcement was made the following day by Shtayyeh himself, who threatened that, if Israel claims sovereignty over parts of the West Bank, the Authority would retaliate by declaring statehood within the pre-1967 borders.

The Palestinian counter-proposal was declared soon after this hotchpotch of announcements, most likely to offset the state of confusion that is marring the Palestinian body politic. It is the Palestinian leadership’s way of appearing pro-active, positive, and stately.

The Palestinian initiative also aims at sending a message to European countries that, despite Abbas’ cancellation of agreements with Israel, the Palestinian Authority is still committed to the political parameters set by the Oslo Accords as early as September 1993.

What Abbas and Shtayyeh are ultimately hoping to achieve is a repeat of an earlier episode that followed the admission of Palestine as a non-state member of the United Nations General Assembly in 2011. Salam Fayyad, who served as the Authority Prime Minister at the time, also waved the card of the unilateral declaration of statehood to force Israel to freeze the construction of illegal Jewish settlements.

Eventually, the Palestinian Authority was co-opted by then-US Secretary of State, John Kerry, to return to another round of useless negotiations with Israel, which won the Authority another ten years, during which time it received generous international funds while selling Palestinians false hope for an imaginary state.

Sadly, this is the current strategy of the Palestinian leadership: a combination of threats, counter-proposals and such, in the hope that Washington and Tel Aviv will agree to return to a by-gone era.

Of course, the Palestinian people, occupied, besieged, and oppressed are the least relevant factor in the Palestinian Authority’s calculations, but this should come as no surprise. The Palestinian leadership has operated for many years without a semblance of democracy, and the Palestinian people neither respect their government nor their so-called President. They have made their feelings known, repeatedly, in many opinion polls in the past.

In the last few months, the Authority has used every trick in the book to demonstrate its relevance and its seriousness in the face of the dual-threat of Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ and Netanyahu’s annexation of Palestinian lands. Yet, the most significant and absolutely pressing step, that of uniting all Palestinians, people and factions, behind a single political body and a single political document, is yet to be taken.

Considering all of this, it is no exaggeration to argue that Abbas’ Authority is gasping its last breath, especially if its traditional European allies fail to extend a desperately needed lifeline. The guarded positions adopted by EU countries have, thus far, signaled that no European country is capable or even willing to fill the gap left open by Washington’s betrayal of the Palestinian Authority and of the ‘peace process’.

Until the Authority hands over the keys to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) so that the more democratically representative Palestinian body can start a process of national reconciliation, Netanyahu will, tragically, remain the only relevant party, determining the fate of Palestine and her people.

Feature photo | Israeli forces crack down on unarmed Palestinians protesting against President Donald Trump’s so-called Mideast initiative in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Feb. 11, 2020. Majdi Mohammed | 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

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Lessons from Palestine: America’s People of Color Need a Sustained Resistance Movement

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 02/06/2020 - 5:12am in

Tags 

News, Palestine

Will Smith was quoted saying that racism isn’t getting worse, it’s getting filmed, and indeed, it is being filmed a lot lately. No sooner did we begin to recover from one victim of racist violence, the next victim is slain. Just as we began to wrap our heads around the murder of Breonna Taylor, we saw the lynching-murder of Ahmaud Arbery, and then came the murder of George Floyd. It’s interesting that the murders of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd took place in broad daylight, in plain view, and were caught on camera, meaning that the perpetrators felt they could act with impunity.

It is also clear that it was the public outcry and the use of social media platforms in the wake of these murders that drove the authorities to act. Without being filmed and without demands for justice, the perpetrators would probably not have been held accountable.

In Palestine, within a manner of days, the Israeli authorities shot three people, killing two. Two of the three were young Palestinian men with special needs. They posed no threat, they had no history of violence much less aggressive behavior, yet they were shot. Ahmad Tamimi from Nabi Saleh, a young man whom I have known for many years, was shot in the leg and thankfully was not killed. This was after another man, Fadi Adnan Sarhan Samara, a father of five from the village of Abu Qash north of Ramallah, was killed by Israeli forces not far from the village of Nabi Saleh.

The other man is Iyad Khairi Hallak, who was shot and killed in Jerusalem. One can expect that none of the soldiers or police officers involved in these shootings will face a court of law, or even a reprimand.

 

An uprising

As these words are being written, it seems as though the United States is in the midst of an uprising. Not rioting as some describe it, but a real uprising. From Minneapolis to Miami, From Los Angeles to Washington D.C., people are rising and more cities across the United States are joining every hour, and they demand justice. They demand an end to racism and state-sponsored violence. However, racism and violence are such an integral part of the United States that one has to wonder if a change is even possible.

Racism and violence are the driving force, they are the foundational pillars of the United States. From the genocide of the Native Americans to the mass murders in Iraq and Afghanistan, the American empire has been fueled by greed and due to the racist attitudes and violent nature of the empire, it managed to become the force that it is today.

It would be a lie to claim that the current expressions of racism in the U.S. are new and unrelated to American history. It would be equally naive to think that anything less than structural change will make a difference. If the current uprising is able to sustain itself and then meet and negotiate with representatives of the government to bring about systemic change, then there is a chance that things will be different in America. With presidential elections just around the corner, COVID-19 and the health care crisis together with the government’s inability to demonstrate control, this might be an opportunity. The questions remain as to how centralized the uprising is and how long it can be sustained.

 

Lessons from Palestine

There are lessons that can be learned from the Palestinian experience. Palestinians, not unlike people of color in America, have experienced broken promises, have been on the receiving end of rampant incitement, subjected to racist laws, and are on the receiving end of military and police violence.

One important lesson to be learned from the Palestinian experience is that it is not only pointless but extremely damaging to negotiate with a racist regime. Israel is an apartheid state that was imposed on Palestinians and gives privilege to Jewish settlers at the expense of the Palestinian native population. Furthermore, for the better part of the last hundred years, the state of Israel and its predecessor, the Zionist establishment in Palestine, have been engaged in a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Palestinian people.

All attempts by Palestinians to recognize the legitimacy or to negotiate with the Zionist state have made things progressively worse for the Palestinians. Things have reached the point where it is almost widely understood and accepted that justice for Palestinians can only be reached once the Zionist apartheid state is dismantled and a democratic state that guarantees equal rights, one person one vote and the of the refugees to return is established in its place. It has become clear that the settler-colonizer establishment, aka Israel, must be dismantled before Palestine will experience justice and peace.

The clearest and indeed the only sustained Palestinian demands for justice are expressed in the call for boycott divestment and sanctions, or BDS, against Israel. The demands include an end to the Israeli military rule, equal rights for Palestinians, and the return of the refugees. The demands are clear, reasonable, uncompromising, and achievable.

 

The United States of Apartheid America

In the United States, the legal system of apartheid may have been dismantled but it was replaced with another repressive system that only pretends to offer freedom and opportunity for all. The current system, in fact, works to keep people of color, and any other groups that the white patriarchy currently steering the United States does not favor, out of the circle of opportunity.

The notion of an ongoing resistance by people of color in the United States sounds outlandish but might be what is needed in order to rid America of its racist and violent attitudes towards people of color. This will require a sustained resistance and a clear list of demands, similar to the Palestinian call for boycott divestment and sanctions, or BDS.

It is remarkable that in spite of systemic racism and violence towards people of color in America, the accomplishments and contributions they have made in the United States are remarkable. It is hard to think of a field in which the names of African American, Latino, Arab or Asian Americans do not appear at the top. This leverage may have to be utilized to bring about the systemic change needed.

Be it in Georgia, Minneapolis, Jerusalem, or Ramallah, the victims pile up and one wonders if enough is ever going to be enough.

Feature photo | Black Lives Matter protesters wave a Palestinian flag during a march ahead of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Adrees Latif | Reuters

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.”

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What You Need to Know about the ICC Investigation of War Crimes in Occupied Palestine

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 19/05/2020 - 12:50am in

Fatou Bensouda, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), has, once and for all, settled the doubts on the Court’s jurisdiction to investigate war crimes committed in occupied Palestine.

On April 30, Bensouda released a 60-page document diligently laying down the legal bases for that decision, concluding that “the Prosecution has carefully considered the observations of the participants, and remains of the view that the Court has jurisdiction over the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

Bensouda’s legal explanation was itself a preemptive decision, dating back to December 2019, as the ICC Prosecutor must have anticipated an Israeli-orchestrated pushback against the investigation of war crimes committed in the Occupied Territories.

After years of haggling, the ICC had resolved in December 2019 that, “there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into the situation in Palestine, pursuant to article 53(1) of the Statute.”

Article 53(1) merely describes the procedural steps that often lead, or do not lead, to an investigation by the Court.

That Article is satisfied when the amount of evidence provided to the Court is so convincing that it leaves the ICC with no other option but to move forward with an investigation.

Indeed, Bensouda had already declared late last year that she was,

“satisfied that (i) war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip… (ii) potential cases arising from the situation would be admissible; and (iii) there are no substantial reasons to believe that an investigation would not serve the interests of justice.”

Naturally, Israel and its main Western ally, the United States, fumed. Israel has never been held accountable by the international community for war crimes and other human rights violations in Palestine. The ICC’s decision, especially if the investigation moves forward, would be a historic precedent.

But, what are Israel and the US to do when neither are state parties in the ICC, thus having no actual influence on the internal proceedings of the court? A solution had to be devised.

In a historic irony, Germany, which had to answer to numerous war crimes committed by the Nazi regime during World War II, stepped in to serve as the main defender of Israel at the ICC and to shield accused Israeli war criminals from legal and moral accountability.

On February 14, Germany filed a petition with the ICC requesting an “amicus curiae”, meaning “friend of the court”, status. By achieving that special status, Germany was able to submit objections, arguing against the ICC’s earlier decision on behalf of Israel.

Germany, among others, then argued that the ICC had no legal authority to discuss Israeli war crimes in the occupied territories. These efforts, however, eventually amounted to nil.

The ball is now in the court of the ICC pre-trial chamber.

The pre-trial chamber consists of judges that authorize the opening of investigations. Customarily once the Prosecutor decides to consider an investigation, she has to inform the Pre-Trial Chamber of her decision.

According to the Rome Statute, Article 56(b), “… the Pre-Trial Chamber may, upon request of the Prosecutor, take such measures as may be necessary to ensure the efficiency and integrity of the proceedings and, in particular, to protect the rights of the defence.”

The fact that the Palestinian case has been advanced to such a point can and should be considered a victory for the Palestinian victims of the Israeli occupation. However, if the ICC investigation moves forward according to the original mandate requested by Bensouda, there will remain major legal and moral lapses that frustrate those who are advocating justice on behalf of Palestine.

For example, the legal representatives of the ‘Palestinian Victims Residents of the Gaza Strip’ expressed their concern on behalf of the victims regarding “the ostensibly narrow scope of the investigation into the crimes suffered by the Palestinian victims of this situation.”

The ‘narrow scope of the investigation’ has thus far excluded such serious crimes as crimes against humanity. According to the Gaza legal team, the killing of hundreds and wounding of thousands of unarmed protesters participating in the ‘Great March of Return’ is a crime against humanity that must also be investigated.

The ICC’s jurisdiction, of course, goes beyond Bensouda’s decision to investigate ‘war crimes’ only.

Article 5 of the Rome Statute – the founding document of the ICC – extends the Court’s jurisdiction to investigate the following “serious crimes”:

(a) The crime of genocide

(b) Crimes against humanity

(c) War crimes

(d) The crime of aggression

It should come as no surprise that Israel is qualified to be investigated on all four points and that the nature of Israeli crimes against Palestinians often tends to, constitute a mixture of two or more of these points simultaneously.

Former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Human Rights (2008-2014), Prof. Richard Falk, wrote in 2009, soon after a deadly Israeli war on the besieged Gaza Strip, that,

“Israel initiated the Gaza campaign without adequate legal foundation or just cause, and was responsible for causing the overwhelming proportion of devastation and the entirety of civilian suffering. Israeli reliance on a military approach to defeat or punish Gaza was intrinsically ‘criminal’, and as such demonstrative of both violations of the law of war and the commission of crimes against humanity.”

Falk extended his legal argument beyond war crimes and crimes against humanity into a third category. “There is another element that strengthens the allegation of aggression. The population of Gaza had been subjected to a punitive blockade for 18 months when Israel launched its attacks.”

What about the crime of apartheid? Does it fit anywhere within the ICC’s previous definitions and jurisdiction?

The International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid of November 1973 defines apartheid as,

“a crime against humanity and that inhuman acts resulting from the policies and practices of apartheid and similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination, as defined in article II of the Convention, are crimes violating the principles of international law, in particular the  purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and constituting a serious threat to international peace and security.”

The Convention came into force in July 1976, when twenty countries ratified it. Mostly western powers, including the United States and Israel, opposed it.

Particularly important about the definition of apartheid, as stated by the Convention, is that the crime of apartheid was liberated from the limited South African context and made applicable to racially discriminatory policies in any state.

In June 1977, Addition Protocol 1 to the Geneva Conventions designated apartheid as, “a grave breach of the Protocol and a war crime.”

It follows that there are legal bases to argue that the crime of apartheid can be considered both a crime against humanity and a war crime.

Former UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Human Rights (2000-2006), Prof. John Dugard, said this soon after Palestine joined the ICC in 2015,

“For seven years, I visited the Palestinian territory twice a year. I also conducted a fact-finding mission after the Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in 2008, 2009. So, I am familiar with the situation, and I am familiar with the apartheid situation. I was a human rights lawyer in apartheid South Africa. And I, like virtually every South African who visits the occupied territory, has a terrible sense of déjà vu. We’ve seen it all before, except that it is infinitely worse. And what has happened in the West Bank is that the creation of a settlement enterprise has resulted in a situation that closely resembles that of apartheid, in which the settlers are the equivalent of white South Africans. They enjoy superior rights over Palestinians, and they do oppress Palestinians. So, one does have a system of apartheid in the occupied Palestinian territory. And I might mention that apartheid is also a crime within the competence of the International Criminal Court.”

Considering the number of UN resolutions that Israel has violated throughout the years – the perpetual occupation of Palestine, the siege on Gaza, and the elaborate system of apartheid imposed on Palestinians through a large conglomerate of racist laws (culminating in the so-called Nation-State Law of July 2018) – finding Israel guilty of war crimes, among others “serious crimes”, should be a straightforward matter.

But the ICC is not entirely a legal platform. It is also a political institution that is subject to the interests and whims of its members. Germany’s intervention, on behalf of Israel, to dissuade the ICC from investigating Tel Aviv’s war crimes is a case in point.

Time will tell how far the ICC is willing to go with its unprecedented and historic attempt aimed at, finally, investigating the numerous crimes that have been committed in Palestine unhindered, with no recourse and no accountability.

For the Palestinian people, the long-denied justice cannot arrive soon enough.

Feature photo | Mourners carry the body of a Palestinian, 14-month-old, Seba Abu Arar, during her funeral in Gaza City, May. 5, 2019. Gaza’s Health Ministry said a Palestinian infant was killed when Israeli aircraft hit near their house. Abu Arar, 14-month-old, died immediately and her pregnant relative died later, the ministry added. Khalil Hamra | 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

Romana Rubeo is an Italian writer and the managing editor of The Palestine Chronicle. Her articles appeared in many online newspapers and academic journals. She holds a Master’s Degree in Foreign Languages and Literature, and specializes in audio-visual and journalism translation.

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