Saturday, 27 January 2007

Taken for a Ride by the Israeli Left

Taken for a Ride by the Israeli Left
Steven Friedman and Virginia Tilley, The Electronic Intifada, 26 January 2007

A Response to Uri Avnery may seem odd that many people working hard for a stable peace in Israel-Palestine find Mr. Avnery so immensely irritating. The reason stems from his moral contradictions, all too common to liberal Zionism: that is, while taking an unflinching moral stand against racist abuses of Palestinians, he somehow drops the same principles in assuming that Israel itself has a right to preserve its "Jewish character" at the expense of Palestinian rights. For it is all too obvious that sustaining an "overwhelming" Jewish majority in Israel, essential to preserving its "Jewish character," requires that Israel sustain a whole cluster of racist practices, such as giant Walls to keep people from mixing and not allowing Palestinian exiles to return.

Liberal Zionists who cling to Mr. Avnery's analyses consistently trip over this moral fallacy. They want the occupation to end and find oppression of Palestinians morally abhorrent, and some even believe that discrimination against Palestinian Arabs must end. But they don't want Israel's status as a state run for only one ethnic group to end. They must therefore endorse whatever discrimination is deemed essential to preserving Israel's Jewish majority, particularly in keeping those Palestinians expelled from what is now Israel from ever coming back. In this view, Israel itself is morally okay -- a "miracle," as David Grossman recently put it -- or it would be okay if its leaders hadn't stupidly stumbled into military occupation after the 1967 war.

The result of this conundrum is moral chaos. While bald ravings about ethnic cleansing by racists like Avigdor Lieberman are considered repellent, the earlier ethnic cleansing that gave birth to Israel is considered acceptable -- a convulsion of war violence that has (it is never explained how) been morally transcended. The solution, in this view, is not to redress that founding sin but simply to stabilize Jewish statehood, which is understood mostly as relieving Jewish-Israeli fear of attack or annihilation. Recognizing that some modicum of justice is required to achieve this "peace", the liberal-Zionist goal is to create a Palestinian state next door (safely demilitarized, of course, and not necessarily within the 1948 green line).

It takes a special kind of denial to hold onto this worldview, especially in light of fresh histories like Ilan Pappe's The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, which demolish the soothing fantasy that Israel's history of ethnic cleansing was an accident of war. This isn't surprising in itself: nationalist myths everywhere dismantle slowly. But Mr. Avnery does not fall into the classic category. He exposed Zionist crimes before anyone else. Yet he has never lost his affection for Jewish statehood or his dedication to preserving Israel's Jewish majority in Israel. He knows that, in 1948, Zionist troops ruthlessly terrorized and expelled hundreds of thousands of defenceless Palestinians from their villages and threw them out of the country. But he believes that the agenda of preserving the Jewish-Israeli society that he treasures not only mandates but grants moral authority to not allowing them back.

It is from this muddle of contradictory tenets that Mr. Avnery approaches the "apartheid" charge, given new publicity by President Carter's recent book. In a recent Counterpunch essay, "Freedom Ride: Israel and Apartheid", he rejects any lessons the comparison suggests for a one-state solution in Israel-Palestine.


This article was widely submitted to the many “alternative” websites that regularly publish Uri Avnery’s writings, including his piece “Death of a Myth” which is critiqued here. Most either ignored it or refused to publish it, revealing the esteem in which the tiny Zionist left in Israel – of which Avnery is the figurehead – is held by Western radicals. Miftah was one brave exception.

Uri Avnery’s original article, “Death of a Myth”, can be found at

A Reply to Uri Avnery's 'Death of a Myth'
Date posted: May 17, 2005
By Jonathan Cook

I couldn’t help but chuckle as I read Uri Avnery’s recent offering, "Death of a Myth", about the deathbed confession of Naomi Shemer regarding "Jerusalem of Gold", her song that became a second Israeli national anthem after the Six-Day War of 1967.

The Israeli public was apparently duped: Shemer had plagiarised the song from a Basque lullaby she had heard a few years earlier. Her defence was that the melody had been absorbed into her subconscious.

As Avnery implicitly admits, no one was more fooled than he. At the time of the Six-Day War, he was a member of the Knesset and unsuccessfully tried to pass a law to have the song replace the national anthem, "Hativkah" or "The Hope".

It would be nice to believe Avnery’s account of his behaviour and motives in the late 1960s in relation to promoting this "immortal song" as he calls it. But I suspect this retrospective view of his thinking around the time of the Six-Day War is another dose of the myth-making which Shemer indulged in for most of her life.

The evidence? Let’s consider the following account of Avnery’s position - not with the benefit of nearly 40 years of personal hindsight but from a book written a few years after 1967. Fouzi el-Asmar, an Arab intellectual from Lod who was much persecuted by the Israeli authorities, was working in Tel Aviv’s leftwing media with Avnery at the time of the Six-Day War.

In his book "To Be an Arab in Israel" (unfortunately, long out of print), el-Asmar recalls the extremely fearful and tense popular atmosphere in Israel just before the outbreak of war - and the extreme change of mood that swept the country after Israel’s rapid victory over the Arab armies arrayed against it.


It is fortunate for Avnery that this book, one of the few accounts of the early Israeli left written in English by an Arab citizen, has been almost impossible to obtain since it was printed in 1976.

No one should hold it against Avnery that he has changed his positions repeatedly during the nearly six decades of Israeli history. But let him not judge the confessions of Naomi Shemer until he is a prepared to make a confession or two himself.

Friday, 26 January 2007

Jimmy Carter's only Australian interview

ABC Radio National Breakfast - 25 January 2007

Breakfast audio is in three parts: 6.15–7am, 7.30–8am and 8.05–8.30am. Part One will start to play automatically. Paul Barry's interview with Jimmy Carter is in Part Three.

Thursday, 25 January 2007

EI EXCLUSIVE: Leaked Israeli document gives frightening glimpse of apartheid


By Ali Abunimah,

The Electronic Intifada, 25 January 2007

President Jimmy Carter angered Israel and its friends by describing "the abominable oppression and persecution in the occupied Palestinian territories, with a rigid system of required passes and strict segregation between Palestine's citizens and Jewish settlers in the West Bank."

Now, The Electronic Intifada has obtained an Israeli Ministry of Defense Powerpoint presentation which provides a frightening glimpse into the mindset of the bureaucracy of apartheid.

The first page of the document bears the name "Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories" as well as the acronym "COGAT" at the bottom of each page. These appear to refer to the unit of the Israeli army that enforces the occupation against the Palestinian civilian population.

The top of the first slide also bears the names and insignia of the "State of Israel" and the "Ministry of Defense." Dated January 12, the presentation is titled "Key Measures for easing the daily lives of the Palestinian Population."

Far from that, the document provides detail of the regime of severe movement restrictions, bureaucratic ethnic cleansing and political manipulation and fostering of collaborators that Israel operates in the the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The document, in English, appears to be genuine. While its exact purpose or audience is not known, it may have been designed to impress foreign diplomats with Israel's generosity to the Palestinians.

Among the policies the document outlines are:

- Efforts to "empower Abu-Mazen" (Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas) by facilitating entry of "security equipment for the Presidential Guard" donated by foreign countries. (The United States recently announced that it would provide millions of dollars of weapons and equipment to this unit which serves as a personal militia for Abbas and his Fatah faction who seek to overthrow the democratically-elected Hamas government).

- Providing special privileges for "the movement of VIPs and senior Palestinians" and others allies of Abbas, including "facilitating movement without security checks."These special privileges, not available to millions of Palestinians are intended for "Strengthening Abu-Mazen,"presumably at the expense of the democratically-elected Hamas-led cabinet and legislative council dozens of whose members, far from enjoying VIP treatment, have been kidnapped and are being held without charge or trial by Israeli occupation forces.

- Special permits for 505 Palestinian "businessmen,"allowing them to be exempt from the pass laws that forbid overnight stays by Palestinians in Israel. They will also be subject to fewer security checks. This privileged class may also benefit from the "Possible return of $60 Million from the frozen tax money to the private sector, subject to identification of the businessman, and the formation of a working mechanism." This could possibly indicate that Israel, in collusion with Abbas, seeks to misappropriate Palestinian public assets it has illegally seized, bypassing the Palestinian Authority Finance Ministry and redistributing them to Abbas cronies.

- With frightening precision, allowing "42,899" Palestinian laborers to work "in Israel and the settlements" and exempting 2,000 Palestinian agricultural laborers from the pass laws so that "overnight stay in Israel" is"permitted." Of these workers, a mere 1,600 would be permitted to enter occupied East Jerusalem, the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank.

Millions of Palestinians around the world are forbidden from visiting or living in their country due to Israeli restrictions and laws that discriminate against non-Jews. A privileged few Palestinians have been able to do so, however, by virtue of their citizenship in the United States or European countries, whose citizens are generally allowed to enter Israel without visas as tourists. Even this precarious existence has recently been threatened by the new Israeli practice of denying them re-entry if they leave the country for any reason. While the document claims these restrictions will be eased, it also confirms the policy of prohibiting ordinary family life for Palestinians. Palestinians (always referred to as "foreign nationals") with foreign passports, even those with spouses and families Israel does recognize as residents,will be limited to a total cumulative stay not exceeding 27 months in their country. No other country calling itself a democracy systematically treats indigenous people as foreigners and deports them in this manner breaking apart families in the process.

Finally, the document lists a number of catergories of "humanitarian" workers who will be given some leeway from the strict pass laws. These include 1,450 religious personnel, 1,300 hospital employees, 300 hotel workers,and lawyers, teachers and residents of an enclave in occupied East Jerusalem that has been besieged by settlers and the apartheid wall.

Amidst a system of ruthless and obsessive control such as the one Israel operates against Palestinians, not even this token 'easing' designed purely for public relations can be taken for granted; Israel routinely lies about what it does. For example, during a summit meeting with Mahmoud Abbas in December, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert promised to remove dozens of checkpoints and obstacles impeding the movement of Palestinians inside the occupiedWest Bank. The Israeli occupation forces later claimed to have removed 44 of the hundreds of obstacles in fulfillment of Olmert's pledge. In fact, the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reported on January 22, the Israeli army "admitted on Sunday that the 44 dirt obstacles it said had been removed from around West Bank villages did not actually exist."

What does exist, and is plain for all the world to see, is a horrifying regime of totalitarian control of millions of Palestinians who remain prisoners of Israel's racist system and the army and settler militias that enforce it.

Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Ten year old Palestinian girl dies of injuries

Palestinian girl dies of injuries
BBC, Friday, 19 January 2007
A 10-year-old Palestinian girl has died in hospital in Jerusalem, three days after being injured during an incident involving Israeli border police. The child, Abir Aramin, was the daughter of a prominent Palestinian peace activist Bassam Aramin.


Let our children live
Nurit Peled-Elhanan writing from Israel,
Live from Palestine, 22 January 2007

Ten-year-old girl brain dead after border police shooting
Report, International Solidarity Movement, 18 January 2007
Abir Aramin, ten years old, who was wounded by an Israeli border policeman Tuesday the 16th, was announced brain dead this morning at the Haddasa Ein Karem hospital and is being examined by a committee to determine whether or not to unplug her from life support machines.

Bassam Aramin, the girl's father, is a member of Combatants for Peace, the Israeli-Palestinian peace organisation. Israeli and international supporters have gathered at the girls school in Anata to express their solidarity and protect the traumatised students from the ongoing threat of the Israeli border police.

Hassan, a sixteen-year old student who witnessed Abir's injury and carried her back to the girls school stated, "the students of the girls school and the boys school had both just come out of an examination. A border police jeep approached the gathering of girls. The girls were afraid and started running away. The border police jeep followed them in the direction in which they were retreating.

Abir was afraid and stood against one of the shops at the side of the road, I was standing near her. The border policeman shot through a special hole in the window of the jeep that was standing very close to us. Abir fell to the ground. I picked her up and took her to the girls school. I saw that she was bleeding from the head."

IDF source admits 44 barriers allegedly removed did not exist

IDF source admits 44 barriers allegedly removed did not exist
Last update - 04:59 22/01/2007 Haaretz
Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent
The Israel Defense Forces admitted on Sunday that the 44 dirt obstacles it said had been removed from around West Bank villages did not actually exist.

Last Tuesday, the IDF announced that it had removed 44 dirt obstacles that blocked access roads to West Bank villages, to fulfill promises made by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas during their meeting a month ago. Olmert had pledged measures to ease the lives of Palestinian civilians.

However, a military source admitted on Sunday that these obstacles"had either been removed before the political level decided on the alleviations or had been bypassed by Palestinians earlier, and a decision had been made not to rebuild them."

This statement confirms a claim made recently by United Nationsorganizations operating in the territories: that most of these barriers were not removed, because they had not existed for months.

In response, the IDF Spokesman's Office said: "The IDF recentlyremoved 44 barriers in an effort to ease the movement of the Palestinian population in Judea and Samaria. These actions are being carried out in line with assessments of the situation."

The IDF has erected close to 400 such dirt obstacles in recent years.

The Temples of the Occupation
Meron Benvenisti, Ha'aretz, 01.01.2007
So far, of the dozens of checkpoints promised to be removed from the West Bank in a "gesture" to Mahmoud Abbas, not a single checkpoint has been dismantled.

Impossible travel
Amira Hass, Ha'aretz,Saturday, 20 January 2007
All the promises to relax restrictions in the West Bank have obscured the true picture.

Disengaged Occupiers: The Legal Status of Gaza

Israel's 'invisible hand' in Gaza
Alan Johnston
BBC News, Gaza Wednesday, 17 January 2007, 12:05 GMT
Although Israel withdrew from Gaza more than a year ago, its control over the lives of Palestinians there is in some ways even tighter than before, a new report by an Israeli human rights organisation says.

Israel's 'invisible hand' still controls Gaza, says report
David Sharrock in Gaza
Times Online January 15, 2007
Ending its 38-year military occupation of the Gaza Strip did not end Israeli control but simply changed the rules of engagement, charges Gisha, the Legal Centre for Freedom of Movement, in a report due to be published next week.

The organisation says that Israel’s control over Gaza’s borders, airspace, territorial waters, population registry, tax system and supply of goods means that it cannot absolve itself of responsibility for its citizens under international law.

"It’s a new position made very clear in Hebrew before the courts but not something that Israel has made clear internationally," said Sari Bashi, Gisha’s executive director.

"Sometimes Israeli soldiers still operate in the streets of Gaza but Israeli control of every aspect of the lives of Gaza citizens is constant, they know that their ability to do ordinary things like turn on a light or buy milk depends on decisions made by the Israeli military."

Executive Summary

The Full Report

Israel's Dark Future

Israel's Dark Future
Jonathan Cook, 20 January 2007
When I published my book Blood and Religion last year, I sought not only to explain what lay behind Israeli policies since the failed Camp David negotiations nearly seven years ago, including the disengagement from Gaza and the building of a wall across the West Bank, but I also offered a few suggestions about where Israel might head next. Making predictions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict might be considered a particularly dangerous form of hubris, but I could hardly have guessed how soon my fears would be realized.

One of the main forecasts of my book was that Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line -- those who currently enjoy Israeli citizenship and those who live as oppressed subjects of Israel's occupation -- would soon find common cause as Israel tries to seal itself off from what it calls the Palestinian "demographic threat": that is, the moment when Palestinians outnumber Jews in the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.

I suggested that Israel's greatest fear was ruling over a majority of Palestinians and being compared to apartheid South Africa, a fate that has possibly befallen it faster than I expected with the recent publication of Jimmy Carter's book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.

To avoid such a comparison, I argued, Israel was creating a "Jewish fortress," separating -- at least demographically -- from Palestinians in the occupied territories by sealing off Gaza through a disengagement of its settler population and by building a 750km wall to annex large areas of the West Bank.

Settler youth curses Internationals

Video: Settler youth curses Internationals, saying things such as, "We killed Jesus and we're proud.", "God gave me this land, and F**K YOU!" [18 November, 2006]

Genocide in Gaza, Ethnic Cleansing in the West Bank

Palestine 2007: Genocide in Gaza, Ethnic Cleansing in the West Bank
Ilan Pappe, The Electronic Intifada, 11 January 2007
On this stage, not so long ago, I claimed that Israel is conducting genocidal policies in the Gaza Strip. I hesitated a lot before using this very charged term and yet decided to adopt it. Indeed, the responses I received, including from some leading human rights activists, indicated a certain unease over the usage of such a term. I was inclined to rethink the term for a while, but came back to employing it today with even stronger conviction: it is the only appropriate way to describe what the Israeli army is doing in the Gaza Strip.

On 28 December 2006, the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem published its annual report about the Israeli atrocities in the occupied territories. Israeli forces killed this last year six hundred and sixty citizens. The number of Palestinians killed by Israel last year tripled in comparison to the previous year (around two hundred). According to B'Tselem, the Israelis killed one hundred and forty one children in the last year. Most of the dead are from the Gaza Strip, where the Israeli forces demolished almost 300 houses and slew entire families. This means that since 2000, Israeli forces killed almost four thousand Palestinians, half of them children; more than twenty thousand were wounded.

B'Tselem is a conservative organization, and the numbers may be higher. But the point is not just about the escalating intentional killing, it is about the trend and the strategy.


A rare voice: An interview with author Ilan Pappe
Christopher Brown, The Electronic Intifada, 11 December 2006
I think the problem with Avigdor Lieberman is not his own views but the fact that he reflects what most Israeli Jews think, and definitely what most of his colleagues in the Olmert government think but don't dare to say, or don't think is desirable to say for tactical reasons. But I do think that we should be worried about Lieberman, not as an extreme fascist but rather as a person who represents the mood of Israel in 2006.

Audio: George Galloway interviews Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, October 15, 2006

Palestinians harassed in Hebron ‘cage’

Yifat Alkoby, a Jewish settler from the Hebron settlement of Tel Rumeida, is seen assaulting and swearing at women and girls from the neighboring Abu-'Ayesha family, who were forced to build a metal cage around their home to protect themselves from the repeated and violent attacks by Jewish settlers.

YNet: On tape: Palestinians harassed in Hebron ‘cage’
Ali Waked, January 10th, 2007
Abu-Aisha and his extended family live in a two-storey house. “The cage you see in the video is where we live. Not once do we open the door and not hear curse words or get stones and eggs thrown at us,” he said. “The latest fashion during this cold winter – the settlers spray us with cold water using a big fire hose located near the house.”

Abu-Aisha said “hell” is not a strong enough word to describe what his family is going through.

Press coverage of Hebron settler violence
ISM, January 11th, 2007
Senior official in West Bank Police responds to video clip revealed in Ynet showing settler cursing Palestinian family. Settler summoned for police investigation, but doesn’t show. B’Tselem, of all groups, asks not to turn her into scapegoat.


Implement which law?
Meron Benvenisti, Ha'aretz, Friday, 19 January 2007
It's easy to condemn the vulgarity of the settler from Hebron, and it's easy to dismiss the Jewish enclave there as a gang of violent thugs. But they are only weeds that sprout from the rotten ground of the cruel regime that prevails beyond the Green Line. It's a regime based on ethnic discrimination and separation, double standards and an absence of the rule of law.

Perfect timing
Amos Harel, Ha'aretz, January 16, 2007
The video tape showing settler Yifat Alkobi abusing her Palestinian neighbors in Hebron was aired at a perfect time from the perspective of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz.

It gave them the chance to compete with each other in their expressions of shock over Alkobi's behavior and to promise, like so many prime ministers and defense ministers before them, to take care of settler violence in Hebron.

The truth is that as repellent as Alkobi's actions were, they are a marginal matter compared to the long-term unruly behavior of the settlers, who have been gradually banishing the Palestinians from their homes in Hebron's Israeli-controlled H2 sector surrounding the city's Jewish homes, with state backing.

Condemnations, not steps

It's likely that this time, too, the matter will end with condemnations rather than concrete steps against the settlers involved.

Yesterday Peretz's deputy, Ephraim Sneh, visited Hebron and expressed the requisite shock. True change? Not now. The army isn't interested in clashing with the settlers, the police are cautious and the courts support them, for the most part.

Here's the story: Jewish construction is continuing in Hebron while the state looks in the other direction.

The Israel Defense Forces boast about the economic improvement in the lives of Palestinians residing in the Palestinian-controlled H1 sector, thereby distorting the sad truth: At this rate, Palestinians won't be living in the H2 sector for much longer.


Nigel Parry's Hebron Diary

A closer look at Hebron's 'Jewish community'

Thursday, 11 January 2007

Be consistent, Dr. Pedersen!

Be consistent, Dr. Pedersen!
Adri Nieuwhof and Jo Falk Nielsen, The Electronic Intifada, 7 January 2007
Veolia Environnement affiliated Veolia Transport is a partner in the Israeli project to build a tramway that will run on occupied Palestinian territory. This is a violation of international law. Veolia received a lot of criticism since it first announced its intentions to become involved in the illegal project. Institut Veolia is an academic institute of Veolia Environnement, aimed at creating prestige and respectability to Veolia's operations.

Dr Freddy Karup Pedersen has been involved in activities of Institute Veolia and is thus indirectly involved in this violation of international law.Dr Pedersen is also a member of the Standing Committee of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the former President of the Danish Red Cross.

The Danish Palestinian Friendship Association has urged Pedersen to distance himself from the Institut Veolia, until now without success.

In the past, Pedersen said it was his duty to "shout it out loud and clear" when the rules of war are not respected or when governments fall short of their human rights pledges under the Geneva Convention. Today he is affiliated with such violations.

International experts urged to withdraw from Veolia Institute
Adri Nieuwhof, The Electronic Intifada, 8 December 2006

Indeed there is Apartheid in Israel

Indeed there is Apartheid in Israel
Shulamit Aloni, Yediot Acharonot, 31.12.06
A new order issued by the GOC Central command bans the conveyance of Palestinians in Israeli vehicles. Such a blatant violation of the right to travel joins the long list of humans rights violations carried out by Israel in the [Occupied] Territories.
On one occasion I witnessed such an encounter between a driver and a soldier who was taking down the details before confiscating the vehicle and sending its owner away. “Why?” I asked the soldier. “It’s an order – this is a Jews-only road”, he replied. I inquired as to where was the sign indicating this fact and instructing [other] drivers not to use it. His answer was nothing short of amazing. “It is his responsibility to know it, and besides, what do you want us to do, put up a sign here and let some antisemitic reporter or journalist take a photo so he that can show the world that Apartheid exists here?”

From now on, Israelis and International humanitarian organisations’ volunteers are prohibited from assisting a woman in labour by taking her to the hospital. [Israeli human rights group] Yesh Din volunteers cannot take a robbed and beaten-up Palestinian to the police station to lodge a complaint. (Police stations are located at the heart of the settlements.) Is there anyone who believes that this is not Apartheid?

Tali Fahima released from prison

Tali Fahima released from prison today
Dorothy Naor, January 4, 2007
Tali lost her job and spent 877 unnecessary days in prison, that is to say a total of 2 years, 5 months, and 26 days. Yet Tali claims that she has no regrets. Today I heard her say, after she’d been released, that she would even be willing to serve a life sentence if necessary, but not to give up her desire to learn.

Why Rebels Must Be Middle Class
Daphna Baram, 20 Sep. 2004
Perhaps Tali Fahima's misfortune is being poor and of Moroccan background. Israeli authorities don't treat ashkenazi university students with the same harshness.
It is not unheard of for Israelis to visit Zbeide, who has survived at least five Israel Defence Forces attempts on his life. I personally know of five lefty activists who have enjoyed his hospitality during the past month. None was arrested or interrogated. So why was Fahima?The answer is that her profile does not fit the bill. The Israeli security services know what a lefty activist should be like: a student or academic from a middle-class background, preferably of Ashkenazi (European Jewish) descent, who is a member of one of the tiny leftist groups. Such people are tolerated because they can be supervised and controlled.

My Personal Hero: Tali Fahima
Michael Warschawski, AIC, Thursday, 04 January 2007
While my arrest occurred following more than two decades of political activity, Tali began having troubles with the Israeli authorities already during her first political moves; while the forbidden relations I had with Palestinian activists were the result of a long process of political maturation, Tali’s decision to go to Jenin and meet with Palestinian activist Zakariya Zbeideh, was, as she explained during her trial, a “natural thing to do” as a free human being interested in understanding the roots of a conflict that is shaping our lives.

Monday, 8 January 2007

The Temples of Occupation

The Temples of the Occupation
Meron Benvenisti, Ha'aretz, 01.01.2007
So far, of the dozens of checkpoints promised to be removed from the West Bank in a "gesture" to Mahmoud Abbas, not a single checkpoint has been dismantled.It will be interesting to see what excuse they come up with after the weather improves. The plan to remove the roadblocks has been delayed over some excuse or another for several years, and in the meantime their number has multiplied.


Haaretz probe finds little has changed at West Bank roadblocks
Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz, 11 January 2007
Israel has made it only marginally easier for Palestinians to get through roadblocks in the West Bank, and in many cases, no changes have been made at all, a Haaretz investigation yesterday of roadblocks in the Hebron, Bethlehem, Ramallah and Nablus areas reveals. The insignificant improvements fail to meet the commitment Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas during their December 24 meeting in Jerusalem.

Virtual concessions / Making a mockery of the state
Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff, Ha'aretz, 11 January 2007
When the government and defense establishment declare their intention to mitigate some of the restrictions on the Palestinians in the territories, they're counting on the Israeli media's short attention span.

Announcing alleviations to the press is immediately rewarded with large headlines, the improvement of Israel's image overseas and an easing in U.S. pressure for concessions. Usually nobody checks whether the alleviations were actually carried out.

If the Palestinians complain that the mitigations were not implemented, we can always accuse them of ungrateful whining and issue a bunch of confusing data in response.

However, after a trip along West Bank roadblocks yesterday, Haaretz found that while the traffic flow in a small number of the roads improved, the situation is very far from the rosy picture Israel has painted.

Sunday, 7 January 2007

Israel conducts arrest raid in Nablus

January 07, 2007
Israel conducts arrest raid in Nablus
NABLUS, West Bank - Israeli troops carried out an arrest raid in this West Bank city early Sunday, surrounding a building and detaining at least four people, Palestinian security officials said.

About 20 army jeeps drove into Nablus before dawn, and the sound of explosions and gunfire could be heard across the city for several hours, residents said.

The Israeli military had no immediate comment.

The Nablus raid came just three days after a similar operation in the West Bank town of Ramallah, in which four Palestinians were killed and more than two dozen wounded.


January 04, 2007 - Al Jazeera's David Chater said in Ramallah that the incursion was a routine operation for the Israelis." These sort of things happen most weeks in Nablus and Jenin. The only difference was that the brutality was captured on film."


PNN: “Invasions are a way of life in southwest Nablus town”
Amin Abu Wardeh, January 4th, 2007
Midnight raids carried out by Israeli patrols are the norm in the northern West Bank’s Nablus area. They hit the southwestern town of Sarra when residents are sleeping. Regardless of the frequency, the invasions still come as a shock and have turned lives into living nightmares.

Saturday, 6 January 2007

Israeli troops kill four in Ramallah raid - 4 Jan 2007

Israeli troops kill four in Ramallah raid
Report, Ma'an News Agency, 4 January 2007

The IDF and my daughter's hamburger
Sam Bahour, Fri, 05 Jan 2007 10:17:11 +0200

Living the New Year's Raid on Ramallah
Dana Shalash writing from Ramallah, occupied Palestine, Live from Palestine, 5 January 2007
I have just come back from Ramallah where together with my sister I was locked inside a building at Al Manara, Ramallah's city center, for four hours.


Footage from Al Jazeera:

Israeli incursion in Ramallah live on Al Jazeera Arabic

Israeli incursion in Ramallah live on Al Jazeera English -1

Israeli incursion in Ramallah live on Al Jazeera English -2

Al-Jazeera News Jan. 4, 2007
News from Al-Jazeera English, recorded at 15:30 hrs UTC on January 4, 2007. Israel's incursion into Ramallah, Israeli-Egyptian talks, Hamas-Fatah fighting in Gaza. 09:18


IDF enter Ramallah Again; Israel calls the invasion “routine”
January 4, 2007
On my first trip to Ramallah, I immediately noticed strange track patterns scrapped into many of the street curbs. I later learned that these markings were impressions made by the heavy weight of Israeli tanks as they policed the streets during frequent invasions into the West Bank city. It seems the whole of Palestine is littered with physical reminders of occupation, from checkpoints and home invasions and demolitions to travel restrictions and an archaic and discriminatory permit system forbidding many Palestinians from ever entering Al-Quds (Jerusalem).

The "Normal" Violence of Everyday Life in Palestine
Magdalen Hess writing from Ramallah, occupied Palestine, Live from Palestine, 11 January 2007
I am amazed at people's capacity for horror and kindness. In the middle of an outrageous Israeli attack (using American-supplied weapons) on civilians, a Palestinian woman gave me (an American) a ride to safety before she saw her own son safely home.

When I got back to my family's apartment -- when I was safe -- I fell apart, shaking uncontrollably from head-to-toe. Afterwards, when I watched English Al Jazeera and saw video clips of one of the shooting victims it hit me differently than those kinds of images ever have before.

What struck me most was the relative calm of my friend who drove me to safety. I was visibly frightened, but for her, and many other Palestinians, today's events in Ramallah were part of the "normal" landscape of daily life.

Magdalen Hess is a 26-year-old US citizen whose mother, step-father and brother live and work in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Though she has not lived in the West Bank since her girlhood, Magdalen continues to feel connection with and commitment to the Palestinian quest for statehood. She is visiting her family in Ramallah during the first weeks of January 2007 and witnessed the January 4 Israeli assault on Ramallah.