Tag Archives: Zionist

UK Parliament briefing on Israel’s Nation State Law

UK Parliament interior

UK Parliament Hall

Briefings about Israel-Palestine for Legislators in the UK and US are very similar.

Organize-organize-organize.  Line up expert witnesses.  Secure a member of Congress or Parliament to sponsor the briefing.  Invite-invite-invite.  Hold your breath and see who shows up, praying for members of Congress and Parliament to attend or send their staff.

The Members of Parliament (MPs) might be forgiven for not attending the briefing on Israel’s new Nation-State Law on Feb. 26, 2019 given the current Brexit turmoil they find themselves embroiled in. About 30 people were there, hopefully some staff, and at least one Zionist who identified himself at the end of the meeting.

The seminar at the House of Commons in London was hosted by EuroPal Forum and  brought together experts in the legal, diplomatic and public policy fields.

Andy Slaughter

Andrew Slaughter – photo credit Chris McAndrew

MP Andy Slaughter convened the meeting and provided a strong introduction to the issue. Clearly, he doesn’t need an education on Israel-Palestine. (Slaughter’s interests include the Middle East and particularly Palestine. He is Secretary of the Britain-Palestine All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) and Vice-Chair of Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East.)

He mentioned Amnesty’s new report (Human Rights in the Middle East and North Africa – Review of 2018), and the 25th anniversary of the massacre in Hebron where Baruch Goldstein killed 29 worshipping Palestinians, and even mentioned that AIPAC is calling Israel’s new political party racist! (The New Right הימין החדש‎, HaYamin HaHadash was established in December 2018). He concluded his remarks by saying that Israel’s Nation State Law is institutionalizing Palestinians as second class citizens before he apologized and said he had to leave the meeting. The speakers who followed were just as pointed and passionate.

Parliament Nation State event

Orfhlaith Begley, the MP representing the Sinn Fein from northern Ireland, said that Sinn Fein believes an international peace initiative is needed. The party is going to work on the Irish Parliament to recognize the State of Palestine. She mentioned there was a bill in the House of Commons to require Israel to treat Jews and Palestinians equally but it failed with the religious parties voting against it!! The British government has said nothing publicly about Israel’s Nation-State law.

UK Parliament 3

 

Salma Kami-Ayyoub, a legal consultant with Al-Haq and other organizations, summarized the provisions of the Nation-State Law and its three major impacts on Palestinians.

(1) Only Jewish people have the right to self-determination in the Land of Israel. (2) Settlement of Jews is a national value. (3) The Nation-State law is a Basic Law, equivalent to the Constitution. All future laws will have to be consistent with it as a foundational law for Israel. It is now a legal obligation of the State of Israel to promote the settlements. The law is “extremely damaging” because it forces the right of return out of the negotiations.

Where does this Nation-State Law apply?  Over the whole of historic Palestine, Kami-Ayyoub said.  There is no other constitution in the world that has a similar provision. She mentioned the rise in settler violence and asked why aren’t the settlers in Hebron called terrorists? She believes the UK government should impose sanctions. At the least, Parliament should investigate whether UK arms sold to Israel are being used to kill Palestinians.

She also mentioned the Namibia decision in 1971 as precedent which must be followed now.  I remember reading the decision a couple of years ago in my Human Rights Law class.  The International Court of Justice wrote:

The member States of the United Nations are under obligation to recognize the illegality and invalidity of South Africa’s continued presence in Namibia and to refrain from lending any support or any form of assistance to South Africa with reference to its occupation of Namibia.

UK Parliament 6

The final speaker, Kamel Hawwash, is a British-Palestinian Professor who gave an impassioned plea for action.

A predictable Q & A followed until a Zionist stood up and introduced himself as a British Jew who attends pro-Israel meetings in London and wanted to hear the other side. He listed a number of Israel’s achievements in health and science, and then invited the panel to attend some meetings to learn about Israel’s positive contributions to the world.

Professor Hawwash gave the best rebuttal by asking the Zionist — “Are Israel’s scientific achievements incompatible with ending the occupation?” he asked. No response, and the meeting ended soon after.

The exchange at the end was symptomatic of the typical discourse with Zionists on the issue of Palestinians and the occupation. They refuse to talk about the occupation, they ignore the elephant in the room, and they deflect by turning the conversation to other points, such as Israel’s scientific achievements.

 

UK Parliament 11

Maurice on left, Zionist in the middle

After the meeting ended, filmmaker Maurice Jacobsen tried to engage with the Zionists but said they kept deflecting and refused to respond directly on the issue of the occupation.  Undoubtedly, it was frustrating for both but it summarized for me what the greatest challenge may be to ending the occupation.  Not Israel’s new Nation State Law, although that presents a huge obstacle.

The biggest challenge is finding a coherent and meaningful way to talk about the occupation with the occupier and with the Zionists around the world that support Israel. Some pro-Palestinian activists may not be inclined to talk with Zionists, but Palestinians and Israelis will never live together as equals in the Holy Land if they refuse to talk and listen to each other.

Obviously, the Zionists appear content with the status quo since they have the upper hand and all of the advantages of the occupation flow to the State of Israel. They have no incentive to change the narrative that “Palestinians are terrorists and Israel must defend itself”. Thus it’s incumbent on the Palestinians and their supporters to provide a framing of the narrative where both can live together, side-by-side, respectfully and peacefully, as their ancestors did centuries ago.

This isn’t a sign of weakness or capitulation. The right of return must remain on the table. But the occupation will only end when both sides are willing to talk about it and listen to the other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Israel, Occupation, People, Politics, Settlers, Uncategorized

Who is a Zionist?

Labels are meant to elucidate, clarify and explain but I suspect that the ‘Zionist’ label is not as helpful as I originally thought.

Merriam-Webster defines ‘Zionism’ as

an international movement originally for the establishment of a Jewish national or religious community in Palestine and later for the support of modern Israel.

And a ‘Zionist’ is someone who is

a supporter of Zionism; a person who believes in the development and protection of a Jewish nation in what is now Israel.

In the context of Uri Avnery’s recent hospitalization, I expressed sadness that this Israeli peace activist may be on his death bed because I believe Israel needs more voices like his.  A friend countered that Uri Avnery is a Zionist and so everything he says is suspect.

Avnery, 94, has written opinion pieces on a regular basis for Haaretz. He is a former Knesset member and a founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement who worked as editor-in-chief of the Haolam Hazeh weekly. He has been an advocate for the past 70 years for the creation of a Palestinian state.

Uri Avnery

An activist friend of mine informs me that —

The definition of a Zionist among Palestinian solidarity activists is any person who believes that it is legitimate that there be a country for Jews in historic Palestine. Dorothy Naor, a prominent Israeli-American (native of San Francisco) Palestinian solidarity activist who has lived in Israel for more than 50 years and knows Uri Avnery personally, says that Avnery is definitely a Zionist.

I believe that definition — “any person who believes that it is legitimate that there be a country for Jews in historic Palestine” — is counter-productive and undermines the goal (as I understand it) of securing for Palestinians the human rights and the most basic right of self-determination that justice and international law demands.

Using that broad definition —

Former President Jimmy Carter, author of Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid, and We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land — A Plan That Will Work is a Zionist.

Jeff Halper, author of An Israeli in Palestine–Resisting Dispossession, Redeeming Israel and the founder of ICAHD, is a Zionist.

This broad definition of who qualifies as a Zionist must absorb every Israeli living in the State of Israel today because their mere presence affirms the legitimacy of the State of Israel.

In fact, some Palestinians I know in Gaza would be considered Zionists by this awkward definition because, although they detest the way in which the State of Israel was founded 70 years ago and they recognize the ongoing trauma of the Nakba, they have come to terms with the legitimacy of the State of Israel and wish to work towards a One State solution where every person in the Holy Land can live in peace with equal rights for all.

For that matter, I’m a Zionist!

I believe the injustices perpretrated on the indigenous people of Palestine was a historic wrong that needs to be rectified, and justice needs to be secured for the millions of Palestinian refugees in the occupied Palestinian Territories as well as in the diaspora.  I also believe that Americans are uniquely responsible for the ongoing Nakba because of our disgusting “special relationship” with Israel.

I’m a Zionist because I also recognize that the State of Israel exists, it will and should continue to exist, that securing justice for Palestinians in the 21st Century doesn’t require eliminating the State of Israel, and this isn’t a zero-sum game where one must suffer for the other to thrive.  Both Palestinians and Israelis deserve our empathy and love in this very difficult time.

I also fear for the future of the State of Israel, not because I think Iran or its Arab neighbors pose an existential threat to Israel’s security.  I believe the government and powers in the State of Israel are behaving in ways that cast a shadow on the country’s own viability in the future.

So when I use the term “Zionist” in social media or elsewhere, please consider that my definition is drawn more narrowly than perhaps many other Palestine solidarity activists draw it.

A “Zionist” is someone who supports the occupation, supports the Israeli apartheid regime, and someone who believes that Israel’s future requires the subjugation and humiliation of millions of Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, in Jordan and elsewhere in the diaspora.

I can’t wait until the first Palestinian-American Congresswoman visits her family in the West Bank. Israel’s security establishment (COGAT) is going to be apoplectic.

 

 

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Filed under Nakba, People, Uncategorized

Bridges

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A Muslim-American journalist has recently been the target of serious anger and hostility by some other Muslim-Americans who claim he was wrong to visit the West Bank and sit down with Jewish settlers to hear their side of the story, the Zionists’ perspective. They claim he was a stooge for the Zionists, manipulated into presenting the two sides (Israel and Palestine) as equal and equally justified. The term of art is a “false equivalency”.

Wajahat AliWahajat Ali’s article in June 2018 issue of The Atlantic is long, but well worth the time to read carefully before delving into the controversy. I read it two times and was starting on my third time around when my attention was redirected elsewhere. Maybe I’ll go back to it.

 

I found his story interesting, illuminating and nuanced. I’ve heard that some pro-Palestine activists on the other hand consider Ali’s article “problematic,” one-sided (the Zionists’ side), normalizing the occupation, and promoting false equivalencies. Read the article for yourself and be the judge.

(I first heard that term “false equivalency” from a Zionist family member in 2001, complaining about something I said about Palestinians. I came to realize that people who hear two very disparate perspectives/sides discussed in the same breath might be offended because they don’t believe the other perspective deserves to be included or they believe their side was unfairly treated in the discussion.)

The unintentional beauty of this current ‘controversy’ — Muslims attacking a Muslim for meeting and writing about Jewish settlers in the West Bank — is that it highlights the challenge of understanding the ‘other’ (whether the ‘other’ is a Jewish settler, a white nationalist, a refugee or a migrant).

If half the energy expended by many who are dissecting The Atlantic article was directed, instead, to building bridges with the ‘other’ (whoever that may be in your life) …. the energy might have made a real difference.

Some may object and say “[t]he problem is that one cannot build a bridge to those who have consistently demonstrated in actions that there are no bridges to even be considered. Zionists will not change their attitude in the same way as those who endeavor to support justice will not change their’s. They are not, however, equal. Justice does not equate with continued, unmitigated oppression. It is fantasy to believe that this can be done.”

  • My notion of bridge-building does not envision a bridge expanding the wide divide separating us so that I can drag the ‘other’ back to my side.
  • My notion of bridge-building does not require me to accept or believe the ‘other’ perspective, it only gives me a channel to learn more about the ‘other’.
  • My notion of bridge-building does not weaken my convictions and beliefs; in fact, it may strengthen them because I will have the opportunity to examine my beliefs in the context of the ‘other’.

In my first year of law school, I took a criminal procedures class with 100+ other students. One day, Professor Kreitzberg asked me to stand up and argue in favor of the death penalty. (She knew I strongly opposed the death penalty).  I was shocked but I did as I was asked and mumbled through some half-baked ideas in favor of the death penalty. Then she turned to another student and asked him to speak in opposition to the death penalty, knowing full well that he personally supported it. He also did as he was instructed.

The lesson that my classmate and I both learned (and maybe some of the other students picked up on it too) was (1) it’s really tough to get in the shoes of the ‘other’ and (2) we are stronger advocates when we understand and can express the position of the ‘other.’ The same may be true in the Palestine-Israel conflict. Since Wajahat Ali is a lawyer by training, this lesson has probably been drilled into him too. His article in The Atlantic helped me understand the perspective of the Jewish settlers in a way that I never could have on my own. I don’t have access to the settlers. I can’t sit in their kitchens to talk with them, as Ali did.

Some argue that Wajahat Ali’s article about the Jewish settlers speaks over (perhaps drowns out) the voices of the Palestinians and Palestinian-Americans who are the ‘legitimate’ voices that the West needs to hear. I simply don’t buy it. The whole notion of ‘legitimate’ voices (implying that others’ are illegitimate) is very problematic in itself.

In the marketplace of ideas, competing voices and ideas are valuable and should be valued. Certainly, the Western narrative of Israel-Palestine has been heavily skewed by Israel’s Hasbara for many years, and push-back is warranted to influence and educate public opinion in the U.S. and elsewhere. But let’s not fall for the mistaken belief that there’s a monolithic Palestinian narrative, or a monolithic Muslim narrative. There isn’t. Maybe this fact is creating some angst for those who would like to control the Muslim narrative.

Wajahat Ali’s article has done a great service in furthering the art of bridge-building. Sadly, many on his own side of the bridge may not appreciate that fact yet.

 

 

 

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Filed under Media, Occupation, People, Settlers, Uncategorized, Video

#GoingtoGaza – March 2015

My previous posts in this series are Sept. 2014, Oct. 2014, Nov. 2014, Dec. 2014, Jan. 2015, and Feb. 2015.

Day #181 – Karen Armstrong writes that war is a psychosis caused by the inability to see relationships. Seems to me that Israel is trying its best to keep its citizens blind to what’s going on the occupied Palestinian Territories. Building a separation wall. Forbidding Israeli citizens from visiting the oPT.  Deleting the history of the Palestinians from Israeli textbooks. Is it official Zionist policy to nurture this psychosis?

#GoingtoGaza

armstrong

Karen Armstrong

Day #182 – Never before have I had any interest in Israeli elections. That’s changed. With the election about 3 weeks off, I’m pleased to see that Netanyahu’s polling numbers are dropping. A 4th term would be appalling. Netanyahu prides himself as the guardian of Israel’s security. He needs another assault on Gaza to help his polling.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #183 – Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu disagrees with Obama’s negotiations with Iran. So Netanyahu will try to persuade Congress tomorrow. So imagine President Obama stopping by the Knesset tomorrow and sharing his two cents about the illegal settlements.  No disrespect intended.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #184 – Watched Netanyahu’s campaign speech to Congress this morning. My thoughts:

1) too bad members of Congress can’t vote in Israel – I lost count of the # of standing ovations.

2) Bibi must think Obama, Kerry, and most Americans are stupid. He recycled his previous scare threats from 2002 onward about the evil monsters devouring Israel. Looked like members of Congress proved Bibi right — they ARE gullible.

3) The lightbulb turned on for me when Bibi mentioned Moses and other religious passages. We have 2 leaders in the Middle East threatening an apocalyptic vision.  One has nukes and the other has global recruits. #Bibi #Isis

4) Pleased to see that the Editors of The New York Times and The Washington Post and others have panned Bibi’s speech.

#GoingtoGaza

Benjamin_Netanyahu_portrait

Day #185 – Watching members of Congress yesterday genuflect . . . er give standing ovations . . . to the Israeli Emperor . . . er Prime Minister, I was struck with how WHITE, MALE, and OLD our leaders in DC are. They were fawning all over the old, white, male lecturing them from the podium. Heaven help us!

#GoingtoGaza

Day #186 – After reviewing these graphs and charts about exports/imports and the movement of people and goods into / out of Gaza, how can the Editors at The New York Times claim with a straight face that “Israel doesn’t occupy Gaza”? If they are that myopic about Israel/Palestine, in what other ways is the NYT warping reality for its readers?

#GoingtoGaza

Day #187 – Thinking about the women in my life and that I’m a very lucky gal.  So many have had such a profound impact on the path I’ve journeyed. Especially thinking about Kay who turns 80 next week. She came into my life about 30 years ago and opened the entire spiritual universe to me through Beyond War. The key that unlocked the door.

Thinking about Luria who died in December. She came into my life about 20 years ago and shared with me her gift of listening without judgment, the first time I’ve experienced that. I hope I can model that with my friends and family. Thinking about Pam. She came into my life last year. She has shown me how the spark of an idea coupled with a ton of good will can make a big difference.  I’m looking forward to learning more from Pam.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #188 – News posted today that the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza will be open for two days in both directions. And an American friend reported that the Erez crossing between Israel and Gaza is now open, at least for people trying to exit Gaza. Are things improving?

#GoingtoGaza

IsraelMidEastPrint

Middle East

Day #189 – Feeling the weight and burden of all of the mistakes I’ve made and — having reached 61 years — there are many, many mistakes to remember. I wonder if the State of Israel was a sentient being, would she be feeling the burden of her mistakes? 66 years old — she has made many. She acts like a teenager telling the world she knows everything and refuses to listen to anyone. Hopefully, I’m a bit wiser and have learned from my mistakes.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #190 – I really, really, REALLY want to meet Raja Shehadeh from Ramallah. Palestinian Walks – Notes on a Vanishing Landscape | لماذا غزة؟ Why Gaza?

#GoingtoGaza

Palestinian Walks

Day #191 – A felony, charge these 47 Senators with treason.  We clearly have at least 47 members of Congress who are aligning themselves with the extremists in both Iran and Israel — they are threatening the security of the U.S. Their letter to Iran is a violation of the Logan Act. How should Obama respond?

1) ignore them and hope that the public’s condemnation will bring them to their senses.

2) publicly rebuke them and hope that is enough to bring them to their senses.

3) direct Attorney General Holder to investigate and bring charges if he deems appropriate.

I’ve never been so embarrassed to be an American.

#GoingtoGaza   #GettingthefuckoutoftheUSA

Day #192 – A friend shared a thought-provoking article that points out the danger that many social activists on the left succumb to – a sense of self-righteousness! I’m going to keep it and mull over it because there are valuable tidbits to digest.

I’ve been surprised and shocked by the attitude of some activists working on peace & justice issues in the Middle East. Never thought of it in terms of “self-righteousness” but it fits. Now I’m worried if I exhibit some of the same behavior and attitudes.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #193 – There are international travelers getting across the Rafah border into Gaza. I wish I knew how they did it. I can’t think of another international border that is as difficult to cross. The border between Mongolia & China requires the train car be lifted by a crane and different gauge wheels be installed. But the government bureaucracy is a piece of cake compared to the two crossings into Gaza.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #194 – #AskHamas is Hamas’ attempt to use social media to answer questions from the civilized world. Uncivil Zionists are spewing venom and hatred on Twitter, exposing their deep ignorance about Hamas, Palestinians and the Occupation. People don’t realize the power their own words have in creating their reality.  I feel great pity and sadness for those Zionists.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #195 – Walked only 4 miles today. Planned to walk 8 miles but forgot to bring water and it was a hot 82 F. Also need to remember to wear sunglasses because the sun is bright. Maybe tomorrow.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #196 — About to board a plane. Leaving California with mixed feelings. The last 18 months have been some of the hardest, yet most fulfilling. I couldn’t have done it without the lessons I learned in Gaza. #Samud thank you!

#GoingtoGaza

Day #197 – I’m a Pilgrim in my hometown and it feels a bit strange. Good friends have taken me in and I accomplished some important tasks today. Felt very honored when one friend asked me if I was interested in putting my name in the hat to fill the vacancy left by Senator Griego’s resignation. The only vacancy I’m interested in filling is the one in my heart left when I departed Gaza in May 2013.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #198 – Election Day in Israel and I’m watching it closely this year. The exit polls say it’s very close. Commentators on public radio say it may be weeks before we know who the next Prime Minister is. But Netanyahu has already declared victory. Just like his delusional rants about the Hamas “terrorists” … he believes if he says it often enough, it will be the truth. On another note, a Hamas official has provided answers to questions about the #AskHamas Twitter campaign that Hamas launched 5 days ago.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #199 – Netanyahu has won either by the skin of his teeth or by fraud. Was anyone monitoring this election?

1) Bibi drove the nail in the coffin of the two-state solution

2) A single, bi-national state is the future for the Holy Land.

3) The only question remains: by violence or peaceful means? Given Bibi’s leadership—I predict the former.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #199 (again) – Couldn’t sleep last night because my mind won’t turn away from the Israeli elections. WAR CRIMES and WAR CRIMINALS get elected.  The institutions that I once had faith in bringing peace & justice to the Middle East (UN, ICC, EU, U.S. Congress) are incapable or uninterested.

#GoingtoGaza

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Day #200 – I must be back-tracking just like Netanyahu. The day before the election he said unequivocally that there will be no State of Palestine while he is Prime Minister. Two days after his election, he says he still supports the 2-state solution.

Likewise, before the election, I said it would be unbelievably horrible if Netanyahu won reelection. Two days after the election, I’m convinced his re-election was the best thing that could have happened for the prospects of long-term peace & justice in the region. Netanyahu has been unmasked. Alhamdulillah!

#GoingtoGaza

Day #201 – A good Arab-American friend and I were talking this morning about the Israeli election. Although she is very curious about my travel to Gaza and learning more about the occupation and the plight of the Palestinians, she admits she is not particularly political. But she says she now feels it’s time to go into the streets and protest. Bibi’s racist comment about “those Arabs coming by droves to vote” was the RED LINE for my friend.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #202 – Is there a “right” way and a “wrong” way to open one’s heart and mind to the injustices in Palestine? Are some pro-Palestine activists more worthy than others?  I’ve observed Palestinians condemning international activists. I’ve heard American activists criticizing their fellow activists and newbies. Seems to me, we need to treat each other the way we wish to be treated, and recognize that everyone has compassion in their hearts even if we don’t see eye-to-eye with them.

#Respect #GoingtoGaza

Day #203 – Friends today suggested I take a job teaching in Cairo so that I could be closer to lobby the Egyptian authorities for permission to enter Gaza. They also suggested I try to join an NGO like Doctors Without Borders who might be traveling to Gaza. Have you ever heard of anywhere else on the planet where visitors had to make such convoluted plans just to enter?

#GoingtoGaza

Day #204 – Smoking was considered acceptable in public at one time not so long ago. I recall sitting in the back row of an airplane with 3 middle seats for me and my two young children. On either side of us were men smoking! It was perfectly acceptable to smoke on planes and I couldn’t ask them to stop.  Same with Zionism I hope.

Today it is perfectly acceptable for people to proudly announce they are Zionists, and the community accepts it (even applauds them in some circles).  I hope in the not-too-distant future, Zionism will be a stigma and no one will make a public announcement even if they continue to believe such things privately at home.

#GoingtoGaza

sumud_logo_summer_2010

Days #205-206: As a wandering nomad / pilgrim, my friends and family may find it challenging to keep track of me. We want to tie people to a place — and that is one reason “place” is so important.  Today, Bernalillo County Commissioners will consider a proposal which I believe will irretrievably ruin this place in central New Mexico.  I hope they deny Santolina Master Plan.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #207 – Feeling very frustrated. ABQ-Bernalillo County screwed up and commingled “planning” and “zoning” many years ago. We’re all paying the price today. This #Santolina master planning process is so screwed up. And those who should know better (the public planners) are clueless because they grew up with this dysfunctional system. Years ago, I tried to educate key players. Now, I just want to throw up my hands.

Thankful I’m #GoingtoGaza

Day #208 – The colonoscopy went well. Same doctor who performed it 10 years ago was my doc today. He told me he’s grown older. I told him I have too. Lolol Glad I’m in good health for my pilgrimage to Gaza.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #209 – Sometimes I feel sorry for myself when I tell people how difficult it is to get into Gaza. Then I think about Palestinians in Gaza who have been unable to leave, and I feel ashamed for my own troubles.  Middle East Children’s Alliance is arranging a U.S. speaking tour for Dr. Mona, including Albuquerque and Santa Fe, but she may not be allowed to leave Gaza. This situation is so diabolical. I want to scream.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #210 – I must be very, very careful (and probably a lot more circumspect) about jumping to conclusions when I read the “news” from Palestine/Israel.

Case in point: several different sources are reporting that an aide to President Abbas announced that Arab countries should attack Gaza. The “aide to Abbas” is a Muslim cleric using his bully pulpit to rouse antipathy towards Hamas. Yikes!

When I was in Gaza (2012-2013) I remember hearing about the political sermons coming from the Mosques every Friday. Since nearly every male goes to listen to these Friday sermons, I wonder how much influence/power/authority these clerics have over the population.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #211 – When I decided to become a pilgrim months ago, I thought my travels required that I leave behind many of my passions and interests. I realized this week that that’s not true. I don’t have to physically be in ABQ to remain actively engaged in some of the issues I’m concerned about, like the Santolina master plan. It’s much easier to be a pilgrim in the 21st century than it must have been in the 18th or 19th centuries.  Al-hamdulillah!

#GoingtoGaza

Day #212 – I’m hearing reports that a third flotilla will be sailing to Gaza during the first half of 2015.  I wonder if I could join it.

#GoingtoGaza

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Filed under Egypt, Gaza, Hamas, Israel, People, Politics, US Policy

Day #27 – August 2, 2014 – Thoughts

A child burns – a Palestinian child.

A rock throwing teenage boy is shot and killed – a Palestinian teenager.

An old woman in a wheelchair sits helplessly as soldiers invade her home and is shot point blank in the head – a Palestinian old woman.

A young man searches in the rubble for his family and is target practice for a sharp shooter – a Palestinian young man.

The images go on and on and on.  I can’t get them out of my head.  I don’t want to get them out of my head.

We know the victims — all Palestinians. Who are the killers?

Jewish/Zionist/settlers/terrorists in the first case.  Well-trained, well-supplied Israeli soldiers in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th cases.

Netanyahu condemns the first and praises the 2nd, 3rd and 4th. He has the power to label the terrorists.  He knows who is terrorizing whom.

Israeli citizens feel remorse in the first case, but national pride in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th cases.

Religious leaders in Israel are split on whether to condemn or praise the murder in the first case, but none speak up against the killings in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th cases.

What hope for a future is there when terrorists act with impunity?  When the State of Israel is not held accountable?  When Palestinian lives are cheaper than the olive trees that the Jewish/Zionist/settlers/terrorists destroy?

There was a time when I could distinguish between Jewish/Zionist/settlers/terrorists.  Today, now, in this moment, I can’t.

And that worries me more than words can say.


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Young Palestinian men enjoying a BBQ at the beach in Gaza.

2013-05-05 21.01.54

أنا سعيد

أنا سعيد

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Palestinian children playing at the park.

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Friends in Gaza

Friends in Gaza

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Gaza 2014 - credit D. Cormier

Shujaya 9

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Filed under IDF, Israel, Israel Defense Forces

Day #23 – July 29, 2014 – Terror tunnels in Warsaw and Gaza

Last summer we heard about the Terror Tunnels from Gaza every day in every way.  Morning, noon and night.  The fear-mongering was effective because it was so relentless.
 
Have the Zionists forgotten their own history?  What about those tunnels that Jews built beneath the Warsaw Ghetto to aid their resistance to the Nazis’ brutal occupation and murderous assault?   Read about the tunnels that Jews built here, here, and the comparison between those earlier tunnels and the tunnels under Gaza is discussed here.
occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com588 × 218Search by image On the Left: Warsaw WWII On the Right: Gaza

occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com588 × 218Search by image
On the Left: Warsaw WWII On the Right: Gaza

On this day a year ago, Glenn Greenwald wrote the best piece about “terror” – “terrorism” and “terror tunnels” here.
In American media discourse, when Palestinians overwhelmingly kill soldiers (95% of the Israeli death toll) who are part of an army that is blockading, occupying, invading, and indiscriminately bombing them and killing their children by the hundreds, that is “terrorism”; when Israelis use massive, brutal force against a trapped civilian population, overwhelmingly killing innocent men, women and children (at least 75% of the Palestinian death toll), with clear intentions to kill civilians (see point 3), that is noble “self-defense.” That demonstrates how skewed U.S. discourse is in favor of Israel, as well as the purely manipulative, propagandistic nature of the term “terrorists.”

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Filed under Gaza, Hamas, IDF, Israel Defense Forces, People

Things I learned about Israel recently

Recently, a friend of a friend of a friend shared an essay that someone had written about Israel.  Although the essay was factually accurate, it was a very long read and some of the language might be construed as inflammatory.  I knew it would be a difficult piece for anyone who loves Israel.  So I’ve taken the liberty to shorten the essay, “soften” the tone, but hopefully retain the facts and intent of the original author.

Only strong people who are critical thinkers and want to find justice in the Middle East should read this. I’m honestly looking for intelligent feedback to disprove any of these points.

(From Ash Madi: “Things I learned about Israel recently”)

#1     Zionism is a political ideology that has betrayed the teachings and values of Judaism to justify a colonial project based on the systematic ethnic cleansing of the indigenous people of Palestine.  Political Zionism is to Judaism what ISIS is to Islam: a grotesque distortion of the values and spirit of religion.

#2     Zionist nationalism is based on a form of nationalism found in Eastern European nations such as Russia and Poland, which is based on ethnic ownership of the land. Poland is for ethnic Poles and Russia is for ethnic Russians. This contrasts with Western European nationalism found in places like France and the US where the land belongs to anyone who is a citizen of the state.

Figure 1: Gaza Strip blockade. Source: UN OCHA

Figure 1: Gaza Strip blockade. Source: UN OCHA

#3     Zionism draws much of its arguments for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine from the 5 books of Moses and the book of Joshua. The latter is the story of how the ancient Israelites conquered the promised land of Canaan (present day Levant) under the leadership of Joshua and the full blessing of God by repeatedly perpetrating massacres of unfathomable barbarity against the Canaanites where no man, woman or child was left standing. The latest massacre of the people of Gaza through indiscriminate bombing of civilians, women, children, residential buildings, hospitals, schools and even shelters follows the spirit of the book of Joshua. Conversely, Jews in the West have a more universalist approach based on the tradition of the prophets.

#4     Before declaring the independence of Israel, Zionists had already committed 16 massacres against the Palestinians and ethnically cleansed 200,000 of them. All of this happened before neighboring Arab armies decided to intervene. The Zionist narrative claiming Israel was gratuitously attacked by the Arab armies is a lie.

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#5     The highest court in Israel has determined that “Israeli” is not an identity.   Jewishness is the foundation of identity in Israel, not citizenship. Palestinians in Israel are considered simply “Arabs”, since Palestinian identity is not recognized. However, this abstract pure Arab identity exists only in Israel. Everywhere else Arab people are Egyptian, Syrian, Lebanese, Jordanian, Iraqi and Palestinian.

#6    Israel fully meets the internationally recognized legal criteria of apartheid as defined in the International Covenant on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid which includes the following 6 categories of crimes:
– Massive violation of human rights and civil rights
– Imposition of inhumane living conditions, such as poverty
– Society-wide legalized discrimination in areas such as finance, housing, employment, education, and access to cultural events
– Isolating the victim group geographically, such as in ghettos
– Exploitation of labor, such as slavery or forced labor or discrimination in wages
– Inhumane suppression of rebellion against apartheid

#7    Israel controls all of the land from the river to the sea. On this land Jews are a minority with all the rights and privileges while Palestinians are a majority deprived of their most basic human rights. There are 4.55 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and 1.68 million Palestinians who are “citizens” of Israel, for a total of 6.23 million Palestinians. On the other hand there are 6.12 million Jews including the 0.5 million Jewish settlers living illegally in the West Bank. In order to arrive at a fictitious Jewish majority, the state of Israel doesn’t statistically count the West Bank and Gaza as part of Israel’s territory while simultaneously counting the Jewish settlers of those territories as citizens of Israel. The effect of this gerrymandering is to make the 4.55 million Palestinians who live under Israeli occupation disappear magically.

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#8    In the West Bank, Palestinians are subject to Israeli military law, while Jewish settlers who live just next door are subject to Israeli civil law. Israeli soldiers in the West Bank can arrest, shoot and kill Palestinians, but they have no authority whatsoever over Jewish settlers. All over the West Bank there are roads and highways that are for Jews only and Palestinians are forbidden from using them.

#9  Palestinians are subject to relentless persecution to the extent that they are not just punished for resisting, but also prevented from surrendering. Surrender entails that one is left in peace after surrendering. However Palestinians are not given that choice. They are humiliated, dispossessed and killed no matter what they do.

#10   Palestinians in the West Bank are denied freedom of movement by being required to go through a multitude of Israeli checkpoints intended to humiliate and control them. Palestinians in need of medical assistance are required to have a permit to pass through checkpoints.

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#11   During WWII the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto smuggled food and weapons into the ghetto through tunnels. The Nazis called them terrorists.  Palestinians in Gaza have built tunnels for the very same purposes and Israel calls them terrorists.

#12   The letter bomb, parcel bomb, barrel bomb, market bomb, and car bomb were all introduced into the Middle East by Zionist paramilitary groups such as the Irgun, Lehi and Haganah. One of the most famous Zionist massacres in Palestine is the massacre of Deir Yassin. The village, which had declared neutrality during the 1948 hostilities, was depopulated following the massacre of over 250 villagers, half of them women and children, at the hands of Irgun and Lehi commandos. This event helped trigger the 1948 exodus of more than 700,000 Palestinians who were expelled from their homes or fled fearing other massacres. The culture of terrorism and ethnic cleansing, inaugurated and pioneered by Zionist paramilitary groups and upon which Israel was founded, continues to the present.

#13   Israel is among the top 10 exporters of weapons in the world. This is all the more remarkable considering it is a very small country that competes with much larger countries like the UK and China in terms weapons sales. One of the main selling points of Israeli weapons is that they are marketed as being “combat proven” because the weapons have been successfully tested on Palestinians. Israel is involved in the sales of weapons to 190 countries (there are only 193 countries in the world!). This means that many countries that appear to be Israel’s enemies are actually customers of its weapons industry.

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#14   Israel sold weapons to Rwanda and Serbia while these countries were in the midst of horrific genocidal campaigns.

#15   The West Bank and Gaza are laboratories for the testing of weapons and population control techniques. Palestinians are the guinea pigs. The end users are people around the world whose police forces are trained by Israel and whose prisons are supplied by Israeli technology. This includes many western countries, including Canada, by virtue of the Canada-Israel “Public Security” Agreement signed in 2008. The state of Israel is effectively becoming a template for state control and domination around the world.

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#16   Many military and police officials from various countries including the U.S. and China visit Israel to learn Israeli crowd control techniques, propaganda and warfare strategies. A Chinese general recently visited Israel to learn how the IDF framed and executed the massacre in Gaza. The Maryland police department among many others is trained by the Israeli police and military. Israel is also responsible for supplying weapons to various police departments around the world.

#17   Since Israel’s founding, Israeli military experts have provided support to the following regimes:
– Dictatorship of Manuel Noriega in Panama
– Dictatorship of Sani Abacha in Nigeria
– Dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in Chile
– Dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania
– Dictatorship of Mengistu Mariam in Ethiopia
– Dictatorship of Jorge Videla in Argentina
– Dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire
– Dictatorship of Ne Win in Burma
– Apartheid regime in South Africa
– Paramilitary death squads in Colombia
– The current government of China

Shujaya 9

#18   Israel has nuclear and ballistic missiles capable of reaching as far as Europe in addition to German-made Dolphin-class submarines capable of delivering cruise missiles with nuclear warheads. It also has 10 satellites in orbit spying on various parts of the world and the Middle East in particular.

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#19   The “peace process” involving a “two state solution” has been a sham from the very beginning and was always intended as a decoy to buy time for Israel to steal more land, build more settlements and create more facts on the ground under the cover of a vague interminable peace process that never went anywhere.

#20   The two state solution is officially dead and buried after the failure of the Kerry initiative. Israel has fully assimilated the West Bank to the extent that trying to get it back in one piece for the establishment of a Palestinian state is the equivalent of trying to get your sandwich back after someone has swallowed it. The electricity, water and road infrastructures are unified across Israel and the occupied territories.

Gaza 2014 - credit D. Cormier

Gaza 2014 – credit D. Cormier

#21   Talk  about the “two state solution” is naive by reinforcing the erroneous idea that peace will come from further segregating the Jews and the Palestinians, when in fact segregation is the root of the problem rather than its solution. Before the arrival of the Zionists, Jews, Christians and Muslims in Palestine lived together harmoniously in a land that has always been a mixing place at the crossroads of continents and civilizations.

What It Means to be Palestinian

#22   The only viable alternative to the current Israeli regime of occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing is a Bi-national democratic state similar to Switzerland and Belgium. Such a state would guarantee equality for all and the right of Palestinians to return to their rightful homes anywhere in Palestine. A two state solution would not guarantee this fundamental right. If people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds can get along in countries like Canada and the U.S. there is no reason why Jews and Palestinians can’t get along in a Bi-national democratic state in Palestine. What stands in the way of peace is not Iran, ISIS, or Islam. The real and only obstacle is Zionist Jewish supremacy. Slavery ended, segregation ended, Nazism ended, South African apartheid ended and Zionist apartheid and occupation must inevitably end too. Israel is on the wrong side of history, fighting a battle it can never win.

#23   The condition for putting hatred behind and turning a new page is the acknowledgement by Israel of the historic injustice it committed against the Palestinians and reparations for the crimes perpetrated. This will be the beginning of a healing process that will allow Palestinians and Jews to live together peacefully as equals.

Palestine Inside Out

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Filed under Gaza, Israel, Israel Defense Forces, Occupation