Tag Archives: Oslo Accords

Finkelstein dissects the ICC ruling about Palestine

Finkelstein and Lora in NYC (August 2017)

I first met Professor Norman Finkelstein in Albuquerque in 2012 when he spoke to a friendly audience about his book “This Time We Went Too Far: Truth & Consequences of the Gaza Invasion” about Operation Cast Lead. Several years later, I was serendipitously in the right place at the right time, and attended a course he taught over several weeks at the New York City public library dissecting John Stuart Mill’s classic ON LIBERTY. Finkelstein is a controversial figure in the best sense of the word. He thoroughly reads and researches before he expounds on a topic, and then he speaks his mind clearly and without reservation for the political correctness or sensibilities of his audience.

Norman  Finkelstein received his doctorate in political theory in 1988 from the Princeton University Politics Department. He taught for two decades in the CUNY system, NYU and DePaul University (in Chicago). He has lectured on a broad range of subjects, and has written ten books that have been translated into more than 50 foreign editions. Finkelstein’s main fields of research and teaching are political theory, international law, and the Israel-Palestine conflict.

On February 14, 2021, Finkelstein was asked his opinion about the recent ruling of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC concluded it had jurisdiction over the Palestinian occupied territories to investigate potential war crimes from Israel’s attack on Gaza in 2014 as well as the 2018 Gaza border protests where Israeli sharpshooters maimed or killed hundreds of unarmed Palestinian protestors. Many of us have been waiting for the court’s decision for years.

The mainstream media (including the United Nations) has framed the ICC’s recent ruling as “good news” for the Palestinians. I must admit that I’ve been on cloud 9 since reading this news, thinking that perhaps there would finally be a measure of justice for the Palestinians, as well as elevating the credibility of international law and of the ICC itself.

Unfortunately, I failed to read the opinion (or even digest the entire announcement made by the ICC on February 5, 2021). Although the ICC concluded it does have jurisdiction in Palestine, it went on to say:

In addition, the Chamber found, by majority, that the arguments regarding the Oslo Agreements, and its clauses limiting the scope of Palestinian jurisdiction, are not pertinent to the resolution of the issue of the Court’s territorial jurisdiction in Palestine. Such matters and other further questions on jurisdiction may be examined when and if the Prosecutor submits an application for the issuance of a warrant of arrest or summons to appear.

In this interview, Professor Finkelstein dissects the ICC’s opinion better than many who are well-versed in the intricacies of international law in the context of Israel-Palestine. Every Palestine solidarity activist would be wise to spend the next hour listening to his explanation. Without giving the punch-line away, I’ll just say that the Palestine Authority shot itself in the foot when it responded to the ICC’s query regarding the Oslo Accords.

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Filed under Book Review, People, Politics, Uncategorized, Video

The New Normal at the Gaza Beach

Lora Lucero at the Gaza beach

 

Climatologists have coined the phrase “new normal” to refer to the more difficult changes in our world’s environment (more intense and frequent storms, more dangerous weather conditions, more extreme temperatures).  We are warned to expect these conditions as the “new normal” and not aberrations.

 

There is a different kind of “new normal” here in Gaza.   I visited the Gaza beach and seaport yesterday for the first time.   The Palestinian fishermen were sorting through their catch, repairing their nets, painting their boats.  Children were playing while families sat on the beach watching.

Repairing fishing nets

Children playing at the marina in Gaza.

 

The cool breeze was refreshing and I understood why the beach is the focal point for recreation and relaxation for many families.

Gaza fishermen at the market

I was aware of an unseen current, however, that I didn’t really understand.

 

I didn’t see any Israeli ships, and only heard their planes when the sound was pointed out to me.  There were no overt signs of aggression or violence from either side.  This was just an ordinary seaport.   Or so I thought . . .

The catch from the sea off the coast of Gaza.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I started to remove my binoculars from my purse so I could get a better view of the Mediterranean Sea, I was cautioned not to use them.  “The Israelis are always watching everything on the beach and in the water.”

Gaza skyline

The Oslo Accords authorize the Palestinians to fish 20 miles from the shore, but several years ago Israel allowed the fishermen to go no further than 3 miles.   I don’t know the reason for this limitation, but it has seriously restricted their catch and ability to make a living.   And to drive the point home, the Israeli military regularly targets the fishermen who come near that invisible boundary,  shooting at them, capsizing their boats, and even killing them.

 

One fisherman explains the situation this way.

According to Adel, fishermen in Gaza live in terror and fear whenever they go to the sea. “For a year now,” he says “Israeli warships have been targeting our boats even before we reach the three mile limit… The patrol boats chase us every day, arrest fishermen and confiscate their nets. Many of my friends have lost their boats either through damage from bullets or confiscation. Many of them have been arrested or injured. Fishing in Gaza has become very dangerous. We go out in our boats without knowing whether or not we will come back.”

 

The monument to the nine Turkish citizens (including one with dual US-Turkish citizenship) killed by the Israeli military in 2010 on the boat Marmara which was trying to land at the Gaza Seaport.

 

When I returned to the apartment where I’m staying, the family was listening to the radio.  A news report indicated that two fishermen (brothers) had just been shot and killed by the Israeli military out at sea!   It must have just happened after I left the beach.  I didn’t understand any of the details.  I was told that this happens all of the time —- the “new normal.”   People are concerned but not surprised.  Life goes on.

This is the old “new normal” here in Gaza.   It’s been going on for years.  But only in Gaza would shooting and killing unarmed fishermen trying to make a living be just an occupational hazard.   I’m shocked!    Imagine fishing off Eastern Long Island and being accosted by the US Coast Guard?

Later in the afternoon, the news report was updated and we learned that the brothers were wounded but not killed.   This “new normal”  must not be acceptable by any civilized nation.

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Filed under Climate Change, Environment, Israel Defense Forces, Occupation