Monday, 31 March 2008

Gaza one of the top ten most dangerous places in the world

Stories for Monday, 31 March 2008

Produced by Kate Pinnock, THE WIRE

Listen HERE

The Gaza strip and the West Bank are ranked in the top ten of the worlds most unstable and dangerous areas, according to Jane's Information Group. The group does a check on every country recognized as an individual state or territory by the United Nations.

As Kevin Rudd seeks to make Australia a middle power, creative force in international politics, what are they doing about Gaza? This was the critical issue at the weekly forum "Politics in the Pub" held in Sydney's Surrey Hills last Friday night. Featured in story: Ross Burns Australia's former ambassador to Israel and Dr. Izzat Abdulhadi, the Australian representative for the Palestinian Authority.

Hawara Checkpoint - West Bank

Hundreds of Palestinians clashed with Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint protesting on the day of Palestinian land day.

Land Day at Sakhnin

March 30, 2008

Israel has agreed to remove about 50 of its more than 500 checkpoints in the occupied West Bank - a move it says is designed to help the Palestinian economy.

The announcement came on what Palestinians call Land Day, an annual day of protest triggered by the deaths of six Arabs during a demonstration in 1976.

Monday, 24 March 2008

This land was theirs

The Jewish Advocate

This land was theirs

On March 20, 1941, Yosef Weitz of the Jewish National Fund wrote: “The complete evacuation of the country from its other inhabitants and handing it over to the Jewish people is the answer.” On this day in 1948, almost two months before the first "Arab-Israeli war" technically began, the 1,125 inhabitants of the Palestinian village Umm Khalid fled a Haganah military operation. Like their brethren from more than 500 villages, they likely thought they would return to their homes within a few weeks, after the fighting blew over and new political borders were or were not drawn.

Instead, more than 6 million Palestinian people remain refugees to this day, some in refugee camps not far from their original towns, others in established communities in Europe and the US, all forbidden from returning to their homeland for one reason: they are not Jewish.

Yosef Weitz’s wish was granted. In my name, and in the name of Jewish people throughout the world, an indigenous population was almost completely expelled. Village names have been removed from the map, houses blown up, and new forests planted. In Arabic, this is called the Nakba, or catastrophe. In Israel, this is called "independence."

Last month I went with a man from Umm il Fahm (a Palestinian city in Israel) to his original village of Lajun, only a few miles away. Adnan’s land is now a JNF forest “belonging” to Kibbutz Megiddo. As we walk the stone path he points to each side of the road, naming the families that used to live there: Mahamid, Mahajne, Jabrin…. The land there is not naturally rocky; the stones that we walk on are a graveyard of destroyed houses. Adnan was only six years old when the Haganah’s bullets flew over his head and he and his family fled. But he remembers. He tears up as we stop at the site of his destroyed house and says, “Welcome to my home.”

Adnan is an Israeli citizen, yet the land that was stolen from him has been given to a body that refuses to let him live on it. As an American Jew, I could move to Lajun/Megiddo tomorrow, gain full citizenship rights, and live on the land that Adnan’s family has tended for centuries. Adnan, who lives just a few minutes away, is forbidden from doing so.

As we approach the 60th anniversary of the state of Israel, the 60th anniversary of the Nakba, let us remember Adnan. Let us remember the inhabitants of Umm Khalid. Let us remember more than 6 million people whose basic human rights have been deprived for 60 years, and let us, as Jewish people with a history of oppression and a tradition of social justice, work for the right of indigenous people to return to their land. This is our only hope for true peace and security in the region.

Hannah Mermelstein is a co-founder of Birthright Unplugged and lives in Boston, Philadelphia and Ramallah.

FOR MORE INFO ON Birthright Unplugged see:

Sunday, 23 March 2008

VIDEO: Al-Jazeera News - March 23, 2008

Talks between Hamas and Fatah and other news on Western Easter from Al-Jazeera English, recorded at 16:00 hrs on March 23, 2008.

Gaza's lost childhood

March 23, 2008
Gaza's children are loosing their childhood, according to at least one study that has outline a grim picture of what it is like growing up in there. Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros reports from Gaza.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Israel kills five, kills peace

Extrajudicial assassinations by Israel set the Palestinian-Israeli arena again aflame
Saleh Al-Naami, Al Ahram Weekly, 20 - 26 March 2008, Issue No. 889
Mohamed Shehada, head of Islamic Jihad's military wing in the West Bank and one of the most prominent men wanted by Israel, returned last Wednesday to the rubble of his family's home in Bethlehem. Bulldozers had destroyed it three days earlier. He went, in the company of four other resistance fighters wanted by Israel, only after feeling reassured by an unannounced truce reached between Israel and Palestinian resistance factions via Egyptian mediation. As the five were preparing to leave the site, they were hit by a hail of bullets shot by 12 members of a special undercover unit that is one of the elite death squads of the Israeli army in the West Bank. All five were killed.

The scene as viewed on television shook the Palestinian public and put an end to seven days of calm in the Palestinian-Israeli arena. During that period, resistance movements had halted operations, particularly in the Gaza Strip where they committed to not firing rockets on Israeli settlements near the Strip. Yet Israeli Minister of Defence Ehud Barak spoke proudly of the assassinations, saying, "Israel is committed to pursuing Palestinian resistance fighters who have been involved in operations that have struck Jews." Official Israeli spokespersons stressed that the truce could not imply halting assassinations of members of the resistance in the West Bank.

There is no dispute among Palestinian and Israeli commentators over
one fact: that through the assassinations in Bethlehem, Israel wanted
to impose new rules in the game with Palestinian resistance factions.
Avi Sekerov and Amos Harel, commentators in Haaretz newspaper,
stressed that the person who ordered the operation realised that it
would lead to an explosion of the security situation in the Gaza Strip
and would take matters back to square one.

Israeli Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai announced: "We will not
allow the Palestinians to determine for us the timing, location, or
conditions of security operations we see as serving Israeli
interests." Vilnai added that the most that Israel could commit to was
halting its operations in Gaza in return for an absolute end to the
firing of rockets.

Observers in Israel also point to the role of political and personal
considerations in motivating Israeli leaders to escalate the
situation. Akifa Elder, an Israeli political commentator, holds that
Barak, who heads the Labour Party, intends to compete in the upcoming
legislative elections for the post of prime minister against
right-wing opposition leader Benyamin Netanyahu. "Barak wants to
exploit his position as the minister of defence to display himself to
Israeli public opinion as a decisive political and security leader by
issuing instructions to execute more military operations that catch
attention," he said.

Barak's role in destroying efforts at a truce has been discussion
material for the Israeli media. Israeli writer and intellectual Gideon
Levy says that Barak works with all his might to destroy efforts at a
truce. "Barak hasn't talked about peace for a long time, and he surely
doesn't believe in the peaceful efforts made by Olmert. In fact, he
does all he can to destroy what little remains of them," he wrote in
Haaretz. He added: "Whenever a ray of hope is seen for reaching a
truce agreement, Barak has rushed to issue orders for stupid and
dangerous assassinations, as happened in calm Bethlehem, just to set
the situation aflame again. When the Palestinians stop firing
missiles, Barak does all he can to resume the firing so that he has an
excuse to wage a major invasion in the Gaza Strip."

Levy noted that the security establishment led by Barak was insulting
the authority of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, "as though there
were no negotiations or Israeli commitments... on peace".

In the Palestinian arena, the assassinations were embarrassing for the
leaders of Palestinian factions that had promised Egypt to halt
attacks on settlements in southern Israel so as to allow Cairo to
reach a comprehensive deal. Islamic Jihad, the most compromised before
their popular base, had little alternative but to respond by firing
tens of rockets on settlements near the Gaza Strip. Observers in the
Palestinian arena hold that Israel's violation of the truce is a slap
in the face for Egyptian efforts to reach a mutual truce. Nafidh
Azzam, a prominent leader in Islamic Jihad, considers the
assassinations in Bethlehem an Israeli response to Egyptian efforts.
"Until Israel is convinced about reaching a mutual, concurrent and
comprehensive peace, and lifts the siege on the Palestinian people, we
are free in responding to any aggressive act from Israel with all our
might," he told Al-Ahram Weekly.

Ayman Youssef, professor of international relations at the American
University in Jenin, says that decision- makers in Israel hold that it
is not in their interest to reach a truce at this time. "Israel is
distributing the cards of the game over a large area, and then will
collect them in a manner that serves its interests and benefits from
the internal struggle between Fatah and Hamas and the separation of
the West Bank from the Gaza Strip," he told the Weekly.

Youssef holds that Israel is worried about Egyptian efforts to secure
a comprehensive deal because such a deal would threaten Israel's most
important accomplishments -- internal Palestinian conflict and the
separation of the West Bank from the Gaza Strip. Youssef suggests that
the Israelis realise that any comprehensive agreement between Israel
and the Palestinian factions will not succeed unless a settlement is
reached on the conflict between Fatah and Hamas.

Reopening the Rafah Crossing, for example, will not be possible if
there is no domestic Palestinian accord that allows administration of
the crossing. Youssef also rejects the view that the United States has
changed its position on a truce between Israel and Hamas. He believes,
alternatively, that the position of the US on a truce between Hamas
and Israel is tied to Washington's intentions towards Iran. "If
expectations that President Bush will attack Iran during the final
three months of his term spell true, the American administration will
at that time be interested in a truce on all fronts in the region,
including Palestine; but it will be a temporary truce aiming only to
enhance Washington's ability to execute its plans," he said.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians participated in the funeral of
Mohamed Shehada and his companions, and called on Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas to halt negotiations with Israel and return to
dialogue with Hamas. Fatah's military wing, Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades,
also called on Abbas to dismiss his prime minister, Salam Fayyad. In a
statement passed to the Weekly, Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades stated that
continued Israeli aggression leaves one option open: "working
faithfully to regain the unity of the Palestinian people since that is
the most important source of strength it has."

Saeb Erekat, director of the Negotiations Department in the Palestine
Liberation Organisation, holds that Israel is persistently working to
weaken Abbas and shame him before the Palestinian people. "Through
escalating the aggression, Israel aims to extricate itself from its
commitments in the roadmap, make negotiations fail before they begin,
and cut off the path for Egyptian efforts to reach a comprehensive
truce," he told the Weekly.

Erekat does not hide his bitterness towards the American position, saying, "at the time when American security coordinator Keith Dayton announced that the Palestinian Authority (PA) was upholding its security commitments as best as possible, and frankly accused Israel of impeding the PA's security efforts, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice insisted on holding the PA and Israel equally responsible for the exploding security situation causing negotiations to stumble. This is injustice and bias."

(c) Copyright Al-Ahram Weekly. All rights reserved

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner visits Bethlehem

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner In Bethlehem
Al-Kull Channel - March 19, 2008

Stop the War demo - London, 15 March 2008

Stop the War Demonstration - London, March 15th 2008

Troops out of Iraq

Don't attack Iran

Free Gaza / End Israeli Occupation

Monday, 17 March 2008

YNet : Ilan Pappe Interview

Interview with Ilan Pappe, author of "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine" and supporter of academic boycott of Israel
Ayelet Negev, YNet, 15th March, 2008
Controversial historian Ilan Pappe left Israel last year after his endorsement of an academic boycott of Israel exposed him and his family to death threats. Now a professor in England, Pappe maintains that a cultural boycott on his homeland is the only way to end the occupation. Last summer, the Pappe family packed its belongings, rented out its spacious house in Israel and moved to Britain. Ever since his support of an academic boycott on Israel's universities became public, historian Ilan Pappe, 54, has felt like public enemy number one. Pappe says he had received death threats by phone almost on a daily basis.

Did it not occur to you that calling for an academic boycott on Israel might incite the public against you?

"I supported the boycott because I believe that without pressure, Israel will not end the occupation. Even before then I reached the conclusion that the peace process enables Israel to stall for time. When in 2003 several international organizations approached me and asked whether I would support the boycott I replied positively.

"I believe that things would change only if Israel receives a strong message that as long as the occupation continues it would not be a legitimate member of the international community, and that until then its academics, doctors and authors would not be welcome. A similar boycott was imposed on South Africa. It took 21 years, but it eventually led to the end of Apartheid."

Do you also call for an economic boycott of Israel?

"I am currently editing a book that compares the situation in Israel to the situation in South Africa, and I'm becoming convinced that there too, the economic boycott was less effective than the cultural one. As the son of German Jews, I know how important it is for our elites to be a part of Europe."

Did you wholeheartedly support the boycott?

"No, you can't wholeheartedly recommend a boycott of your society, especially when it includes you place of work, the Haifa University? The last thing I enjoy is being the person that holds up a
mirror to his society's face and says, 'Look how ugly you are.' Some people like to challenge and incite their neighbors. I'm not like that, I don't write in order to annoy and I certainly don't hate myself, and I also love many people in Israel. I did not commit treason.

"But, I'm a historian, and this is the truth the way I see it: The story of a victim and a victimizer. And the victim is the Palestinians. Without idealizing the Palestinians - victims are not necessarily nice people, but they are still victims."

Pappe claims that his promotion at Haifa University has been blocked
due to his political activity. "Provincial Haifa was
unwilling to grant me the rank of a professor. I left for England as a
doctor and in two days I climbed two ranks and became
a faculty professor at the University of Exeter," he states.

However, Haifa University President Aharon Ben-Zeev claims that the
university applied only relevant considerations in the
question of Pappe's promotion. "We applied the regular criteria
according to the university's constitution: Not only the list and
quality of publications, but other considerations pertaining to the
contribution to the university, teaching and so on," he explained.

Claims of ethnic cleansing In an article published in the Israeli
Mita'am Review for Literature and Radical Thought this week,
titled "On the destruction of the Palestinian cities, spring 1948,"
Pappe maintains that the claim that the Arab residents
fled or left their homes willingly during the war is false, and that a
policy of "cleansing" the area from Arabs was employed as
part of a plan to establish a Jewish-only state.

Pappe made similar claims in his book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, which was published in England in 2006, in which he also presented testimonies of alleged massacres of Palestinians by Jewish soldiers.

These claims have been contested by many historians in Israel and
abroad. Dr. Mordechai Bar-On, a research fellow at the
Yad Ben-Zvi Institute and a former MK, calls Pappe "a propagandist, not
a historian." Bar-On said that "the term ethnic
cleansing is a vicious one, because it has never been used prior to the
wars in former Yugoslavia. Indeed, there were places where
Arab were expelled, but to say that there was an evil plan since the
inception of Zionism for a forceful transfer - this is simply
wrong and vicious."

However, Pappe insists that allowing the Palestinian refugees to return to Israel is the only thing that could secure peace in the region.

Would you be willing to vacate your home when they return to what used to be their villages near your house in Tivon?

"After years of working with refugees around the world and attending conferences on the right of return, I believe that no such notion exists on the Palestinian side. They want to return while understanding that they will live alongside the Jews. They don't want to expel anyone. What turned me into a great lover of the Palestinians is the will of many among them to share the land with us. Even people in Hamas.

"The reason most of my friends in the territories voted for Hamas
wasn't because they didn't want to share the land with the Israelis,
but because they thought Hamas would be more effective in the struggle
against the occupation."

By using terror?

"They don't consider this to be terror. Fatah and Hamas employ the
tools of the weak, because they don't have planes or tanks.
They are as violent as the Israelis, no more or less, with only one
difference: The difference between the violence of the occupier
and the violence of those fighting occupation."

An article you wrote titled "Genocide in Gaza, ethnic cleansing in the
West Bank" was published in the Tehran Times about a month
ago. Are you providing the enemy with weapons against us?

"On the contrary, I wish to speak to the people in Iran. A Jordanian
newspaper wrote in its editorial a year ago that absurdly, I am
Israel's best ambassador in the Arab world, because they say, if such
Israelis exist, maybe there's hope for peace with the Jewish state."

Would you like your sons to serve in the army?

"It's their decision, but I preferred it if they didn't. As long as
Israel has an occupying army, a rather cruel army, I wouldn't want them
to be part of it. I don't think there is one moral person in the world
that supports what Israel stands for. And it pains me to say this. I
truly love the country, I would very much like to live in it, but I
very much dislike my state. Everything related to its policy against
the Palestinians makes me very angry."

Pappe denies being more sensitive to the suffering of Palestinians than
to that of Israelis. "I'm shocked when I see the child who lost
his leg in Sderot, and I'm shocked when I see a child killed in Gaza.
But as long as Israel maintains its stance that the Palestinian issue
can be resolved by force, the Palestinian side will respond with force.

"Once we realize that the only way is to relinquish some of our holy
ideas, and once the Palestinians give up the idea of nationalism,
and once they realize that there needs to be one state here that isn't
Jewish nor Palestinian, but a state of all its citizens, like the US,
we will have peace."

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Rachel Corrie play debuts in Israel

Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian, March 15, 2008
· Work based on writings of US activist killed in Gaza
· Mixed audiences to see Palestinian interpretation

A play about the US activist Rachel Corrie, who was killed at the age of 23 by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza, will be performed for the first time in Israel tomorrow, on the fifth anniversary of her death.

The single-actor play My Name is Rachel Corrie will be performed in Arabic in Haifa, northern Israel, before touring the country and the occupied West Bank.

The play is based on Corrie's diaries and emails edited by the actor Alan Rickman and the Guardian journalist Katharine Viner. It has been translated into Arabic and adapted by the director Riad Masarwi and the actor Lana Zreik, who most recently appeared in the film Lemon Tree, which won the audience award at last month's Berlin Film Festival.

Born in Olympia, Washington, Corrie left a liberal, comfortable life in the US to act as a human shield in the Gaza Strip at a time of intense conflict between the Israeli military and the Palestinians. She wrote about the extraordinary situation she found herself in and the challenges she embraced. She told a reporter: "I feel like I'm witnessing the systematic destruction of a people's ability to survive."
On the day she died, Corrie, dressed in a fluorescent orange vest, was trying to stop the demolition of the home of a Palestinian in Rafah. She was crushed under a military bulldozer and died shortly afterwards. A month later, the military said an investigation found that Israeli troops were not to blame and accused her and the activist group she was with, the International Solidarity Movement, of "illegal, irresponsible and dangerous" behaviour.

Last September, a US federal appeals court ruled that her parents, Craig and Cindy, and four Palestinian families who lost relatives in similar incidents could not sue Caterpillar, the firm that supplied bulldozers to the Israeli military.

Masarwi and Zreik, who are Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, spent more than two months translating My Name is Rachel Corrie into Arabic before they began working on the production.

"We tried to focus more on the human point of view that Rachel tried to talk about," said Zreik. "She could have been in Bosnia or Rwanda or any other place but it was fate that brought her here.

"This will be unique because it is a different Rachel Corrie, it is a Palestinian interpretation. I think her family and the creators, and the public themselves, will feel the difference. It won't be like a production in London or New York because we are so connected to the events here."

The play will be performed before mixed audiences of Palestinians and Jewish Israelis and may at a future stage have Hebrew subtitles.

Masarwi, who sought out the rights to bring the play to that audience, said the greatest challenge was drawing drama and action from the words of her diaries.

"What made Rachel, an American girl, come to Gaza and die here? Why? That is the question," he said. "And at the same time the audience must ask themselves what are they doing now? Not only what are they doing for the Palestinians but what are they doing in their lives?"

Al Jazeera English: Jerusalem's new housing plans

March 12, 2008
Jerusalem remains a bone of contention between Israelis and Palestinians.

Now, new moves to consolidate the Jewish presence there are increasing tensions.

For the first time since 1967, Jewish owned buildings and properties in the Old City are being officially registered by the state.

Two-state dreamers

Jonathan Cook, The Electronic Intifada, 14 March 2008
If the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the world's most intractable, much the same can be said of the parallel debate about whether its resolution can best be achieved by a single state embracing the two peoples living there or by a division of the land into two separate states, one for Jews and the other for Palestinians.

The central argument of the two-staters is that the one-state idea is impractical and therefore worthless of consideration. Their rallying cry is that it is at least possible to imagine a consensus emerging behind two states, whereas Israelis will never accept a single state. Thus, the one-state crowd are painted as inveterate dreamers and time-wasters.

This argument is advanced by Israel's only serious peace group, Gush Shalom. Here is the view of the group's indefatigable leader, Uri Avnery: "After 120 years of conflict, after a fifth generation was born into this conflict on both sides, to move from total war to total peace in a single joint state, with a total renunciation of national independence? This is total illusion."

Avnery's high-profile opposition to a single state has inspired many in the international solidarity groups to adopt the same position. They have been joined by an influential American intellectual, the philosopher Michael Neumann, who wrote the no-holds-barred book The Case against Israel. He appears to be waging a campaign to discredit the one-state idea too.

Recently in defense of two states, he wrote: "That Israel would concede a single state is laughable. ... There is no chance at all [Israelis] will accept a single state that gives the Palestinians anything remotely like their rights."

Unlike the one-state solution, according to Neumann and Avnery, the means to realizing two states are within our grasp: the removal of the half a million Jewish settlers living in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Both believe that, were Israel to withdraw to the pre-1967 borders, it would be possible to create two real states. "A two-state solution will, indeed, leave Palestinians with a sovereign state, because that's what a two-state solution means," argues Neumann. "It doesn't mean one state and another non-state, and no Palestinian proponent of a two-state solution will settle for less than sovereignty."

There is something surprisingly naive about arguing that, just because something is called a two-state solution, it will necessarily result in two sovereign states. What are the minimum requirements for a state to qualify as sovereign, and who decides?

True, the various two-state solutions proposed by Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and George Bush, and supported by most of the international community, would fail according to the two-staters' chief criterion: these divisions are not premised on the removal of all the settlers.

But an alternative two-state solution requiring Israel's withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders might still not concede, for example, a Palestinian army -- equipped and trained by Iran -- to guard the borders of the West Bank and Gaza. Would that count? And how likely do the campaigners for two real states think it that Israel and the US would grant that kind of sovereignty to a Palestine state?

Importantly, Neumann and Avnery remind us that those with power are the ones who dictate solutions. In which case we can be sure that, when the time is right, Israel and its sponsor, the United States, will impose their own version of the two-state solution and that it will be far from the genuine article advocated by the two-state camp.

But let us return to the main argument: that the creation of two states is inherently more achievable and practical than the establishment of a single state. Strangely, however, from all the available evidence, this is not how it looks to Israel's current leaders.

Prime minister Ehud Olmert, for example, has expressed in several speeches the fear that, should the Palestinian population under Israeli rule -- both in the occupied territories and inside Israel proper -- reach the point where it outnumbers the Jewish population, as demographers project will be the case in the next few years, Israel will be compared to apartheid South Africa. In his words, Israel is facing an imminent and powerful "struggle for one-man-one-vote" along the lines of the anti-apartheid movement.

According to Olmert, without evasive action, political logic is drifting inexorably toward the creation of one state in Israel and Palestine. This was his sentiment as he addressed delegates to the recent Herzliya conference: "Once we were afraid of the possibility that the reality in Israel would force a bi-national state on us. In 1948, the obstinate policy of all the Arabs, the anti-Israel fanaticism and our strength and the leadership of David Ben-Gurion saved us from such a state. For 60 years, we fought with unparalleled courage in order to avoid living in a reality of bi-nationalism, and in order to ensure that Israel exists as a Jewish and democratic state with a solid Jewish majority. We must act to this end and understand that such a [bi-national] reality is being created, and in a very short while it will be beyond our control."

Olmert's energies are therefore consumed with finding an alternative political program that can be sold to the rest of the world. That is the reason he, and Sharon before him, began talking about a Palestinian state. Strangely, however, neither took up the offer of the ideal two-state solution -- the kind Avnery and Neumann want -- made in 2002. Then Saudi Arabia and the rest Arab world promised Israel peace in return for its withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders. They repeated their offer last year and Israel has steadfastly ignored them.

Instead, an alternative version of two states -- the bogus two-state solution -- has become the default position of Israeli politics. It requires only that Israel and the Palestinians appear to divide the land, while in truth the occupation continues and Jewish sovereignty over all of historic Palestine is not only maintained but rubber-stamped by the international community. In other words, the Gazafication of the West Bank.

When Olmert warns that without two states "Israel is finished," he is thinking primarily about how to stop the emergence of a single state. So, if the real two-state camp is to be believed, Olmert is a dreamer too, because he fears that a one-state solution is not only achievable but dangerously close at hand. Sharon, it seems, suffered from the same delusion, given that demography was the main impulse for his disengaging from Gaza.

Or maybe both of them understood rather better than Neumann and Avnery what is meant by a Jewish state, and what political conditions are incompatible with it.

In fact, the division of the land demanded by the real two-staters, however equitable, would be the very moment when the struggle for Israel to remain a Jewish state would enter its most critical and difficult phase. This is precisely why Israel has blocked any meaningful division of the land so far and will continue to do so.

In the unimaginable event that Israel did divide the land, a Jewish state would not be able to live with the consequences of such a division for long. Eventually, the maintenance of an ethnic Israeli state would (and will) prove unsustainable: environmentally, demographically and ultimately physically. Division of the land simply "fast-forwards" the self-destructiveness inherent in a Jewish state.

Let us examine just a few of the consequences for the Jewish state of a genuine two-state solution.

First, Israel inside its recognized, shrunken borders would face an immediate and very serious water shortage. That is because, in returning the West Bank to the Palestinians, Israel would lose control of the large mountain aquifers that currently supply most of its water, not only to Israel proper but also to the Jewish settlers living illegally in the occupied territories. Israel would no longer be able to steal the water, but would be expected to negotiate for it on the open market.

Given the politics of water in the Middle East that would not be a trivial matter. However impoverished the new sovereign Palestinian state were to be, it would lose all legitimacy in the eyes of its own population were it to sell more than a trickle of water to the Israelis.

We can understand why by examining the current water situation. At the moment Israel drains off almost all of the water provided by the rivers and aquifers inside Israel and in the occupied territories for use by its own population, allowing each Palestinian far less than the minimum amount he or she requires each day, according to the World Health Organization.

In a stark warning last month, Israel's Water Authority reported that over-drilling has polluted with sea water most of the supply from the coastal aquifer -- that is the main fresh water source inside Israel's recognized borders.

Were Palestinians to be allowed a proper water ration from their own mountain aquifer, as well as to build a modern economy, there would not be enough left over to satisfy Israel's first-world thirst. And that is before we consider the extra demand on water resources from all those Palestinians who choose to realize their right to return, not to their homes in Israel, but to the new sovereign Palestinian state.

In addition, for reasons that we will come to, the sovereign Jewish state would have every reason to continue its Judaization policies, trying to attract as many Jews from the rest of the world as possible, thereby further straining the region's water resources.

The environmental unsustainability of both states seeking to absorb large populations would inevitably result in a regional water crisis. In addition, should Israeli Jews, sensing water shortages, start to leave in significant numbers, Israel would have an even more pressing reason to locate water, by fair means or foul.

It can be expected that in a short time Israel, with the fourth most powerful army in the world, would seek to manufacture reasons for war against its weaker neighbors, particularly the Palestinians but possibly also Lebanon, in a bid to steal their water.

Water shortages would, of course, be a problem facing a single state too. But, at least in one state there would be mechanisms in place to reduce such tensions, to manage population growth and economic development, and to divide water resources equitably.

Second, with the labor-intensive occupation at an end, much of the Jewish state's huge citizen army would become surplus to defense requirements. In addition to the massive social and economic disruptions, the dismantling of the country's military complex would fundamentally change Israel's role in the region, damage its relationship with the only global superpower and sever its financial ties to Diaspora Jews.

Israel would no longer have the laboratories of the occupied territories for testing its military hardware, its battlefield strategies and its booming surveillance and crowd control industries. If Israel chose to fight the Palestinians, it would have to do so in a proper war, even if one between very unequal sides. Doubtless the Palestinians, like Hizballah, would quickly find regional sponsors to arm and train their army or militias.

The experience and reputation Israel has acquired -- at least among the US military -- in running an occupation and devising new and supposedly sophisticated ways to control the "Arab mind" would rapidly be lost, and with it Israel's usefulness to the US in managing its own long-term occupation of Iraq.

Also, Israel's vital strategic alliance with the US in dividing the Arab world, over the issue of the occupation and by signing peace treaties with some states and living in a state of permanent war with others, would start to unravel.

With the waning of Israel's special relationship with Washington and the influence of its lobby groups, as well as the loss of billions of dollars in annual subsidies, the Jewish Diaspora would begin to lose interest in Israel. Its money and power ebbing away, Israel might eventually slip into Middle Eastern anonymity, another Jordan. In such circumstances it would rapidly see a large exodus of privileged Ashkenazi Jews, many of whom hold second passports.

Third, the Jewish state would not be as Jewish as some might think: currently one in five Israelis is not Jewish but Palestinian. Although in order to realize a real two-state vision all the Jewish settlers would probably need to leave the occupied territories and return to Israel, what would be done with the Palestinians with Israeli citizenship?

These Palestinians have been citizens for six decades and live legally on land that has belonged to their families for many generations. They are also growing in number at a rate faster than the Jewish population, the reason they are popularly referred to in Israel as a "demographic time-bomb."

Were these 1.3 million citizens to be removed from Israel by force under a two-state arrangement, it would be a violation of international law by a democratic state on a scale unprecedented in the modern era, and an act of ethnic cleansing even larger than the 1948 war that established Israel. The question would be: why even bother advocating two states if it has to be achieved on such appalling terms?

Assuming instead that the new Jewish state is supposed to maintain, as Israel currently does, the pretense of being democratic, these citizens would be entitled to continue living on their land and exercising their rights. Inside a Jewish state that had officially ended its conflict with the Palestinians, demands would grow from Palestinian citizens for equal rights and an end to their second-class status.

Most importantly, they would insist on two rights that challenge the very basis of a Jewish state. They would expect the right, backed by international law, to be able to marry Palestinians from outside Israel and bring them to live with them. And they would want a Right of Return for their exiled relatives on a similar basis to the Law of Return for Jews.

Israel's Jewishness would be at stake, even more so than it is today from its Palestinian minority. It can be assumed that Israel's leaders would react with great ferocity to protect the state's Jewishness. Eventually Israel's democratic pretensions would have to be jettisoned and the full-scale ethnic cleansing of Palestinian citizens implemented.

Still, do these arguments against the genuine two-state arrangement win the day for the one-state solution? Would Israel's leaders not put up an equally vicious fight to protect their ethnic privileges by preventing, as they are doing now, the emergence of a single state?

Yes, they would and they will. But that misses my point. As long as Israel is an ethnic state, it will be forced to deepen the occupation and intensify its ethnic cleansing policies to prevent the emergence of genuine Palestinian political influence -- for the reasons I cite above and for many others I don't. In truth, both a one-state and a genuine two-state arrangement are impossible given Israel's determination to remain a Jewish state.

The obstacle to a solution, then, is not about dividing the land but about Zionism itself, the ideology of ethnic supremacy that is the current orthodoxy in Israel. As long as Israel is a Zionist state, its leaders will allow neither one state nor two real states.

The solution, therefore, reduces to the question of how to defeat Zionism. It just so happens that the best way this can be achieved is by confronting the illusions of the two-state dreamers and explaining why Israel is in permanent bad faith about seeking peace.

In other words, if we stopped distracting ourselves with the Holy Grail of the two-state solution, we might channel our energies into something more useful: discrediting Israel as a Jewish state, and the ideology of Zionism that upholds it. Eventually the respectable facade of Zionism might crumble.

Without Zionism, the obstacle to creating either one or two states will finally be removed. And if that is the case, then why not also campaign for the solution that will best bring justice to both Israelis and Palestinians?

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His new book, Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East is published by Pluto Press. His website is

Blinkers off for the other side of story

Alan Ramsey, Sydney Morning Herald, March 15, 2008
At 11.58am on Wednesday one half of the Australian Parliament "celebrated" the 60th anniversary of the state of Israel. More than a third of that one-half was absent, whatever their reasons. A number of MPs deliberately excluded themselves. Labor's Kevin Rudd, as the host, did not. He spoke for eight minutes. "Celebrate" was the word Rudd used to begin his remarks. "Congratulations" was the word he used to end them. The Liberals' Brendan Nelson spoke for seven minutes in supporting the Prime Minister. He concluded: "Shabat shalom forever."

Nobody else spoke. The whole affair, carefully orchestrated, carefully bi-partisan, lasted just 15 minutes. The press gallery was almost empty.

So, too, were the two public galleries. About 100 invited guests, each wearing a security pass, filled the first three rows of the Speaker's gallery upstairs and spilled into the fourth. These were the people who, after Rudd's seven-part, 191-word motion had been "put and passed" without a vote, applauded enthusiastically. The only other person who spoke - or attempted to - was a middle-aged woman.

She got to her feet, in the seats behind the VIP guests, and held up a T-shirt, exclaiming, "What about UN resolution 242?", as Rudd had begun speaking. Two attendants moved in quickly. Taking her by the arm, they escorted the woman outside, without fuss. Unlike what is still happening in Israel's military occupation, after 41 years, of the Palestinian people of the West Bank and its siege of the Gaza strip, it was a very civilised eviction.

On this day, in the Australian Parliament, normal legislative business resumed at 12.13pm. The VIP guests upstairs in the Speaker's gallery filed out. Most of the MPs downstairs drifted away to their offices. At 4pm the Israeli ambassador hosted a reception in the Parliament's second-floor Mural Hall for invited guests only. Rudd and Nelson reappeared, as suitably Uriah Heepish as their midday speeches had been.

That night, back on the floor of the House of Representatives, the woman MP who took Tim Fischer's southern NSW seat off the Nationals in 2001 and, in two elections, turned it into safe Liberal territory, did an extremely courageous thing.

Her name is Sussan Penelope Ley.

She is the daughter of a British colonial police officer who served in British-mandated Palestine in the 1930s, before the United Nations ceded half of it to become a Jewish state in May 1948. Born in Nigeria in 1961, Ley spent most of the first 13 years of her life in what was then the Trucial States, later the United Arab Emirates. Her family migrated to Australia in 1974. She has lived here ever since, working as an air traffic controller, a commercial pilot, a shearer's cook, a farmer, and a senior taxation department official. She has a bunch of degrees, three children and is now a member of the Nelson shadow ministry.

What Sussan Ley did in Parliament on Wednesday night was speak for the Palestinian people. She was the only MP who did. In fact, the only MHR of the House's 150, apart from the two leaders, to even raise the issue.

When Rudd and Nelson had spoken at midday I counted 53 Government MPs present, including six ministers, and 39 Coalition MPs. When Ley got the call 7½ hours later, at 7.38pm, to speak on the adjournment, there were five people in the public gallery, four Labor MPs and two Coalition MPs in the chamber, and one journalist in the press gallery. She was the fourth-last speaker before Parliament shut down for the day, after 11 hours, and she was allowed five minutes.

Here is an edited version of what she said:

"Today the Parliament passed a motion honouring Israel's 60 years. My purpose tonight is not to diminish Israel's achievements but to note the interests and legitimate aspirations of the people of Palestine.

"Israel has many friends in this country and in this Parliament. The Palestinians, by comparison, have few. Theirs is not a popular cause. But it is one I support, in part out of knowledge that the victors of World War II, including Australia, wrote a 'homeland' cheque to cover the sins of the holocaust and centuries of anti-Semitism in Europe, but it was the Palestinians who had to cash it.

"Israel has much to celebrate after 60 years. It has built a modern, accomplished and intelligent society, one whose scientific and technological expertise offers a great deal to the world. It has a robust democracy, a free press, a secular state with freedom of faith, and an unfettered opposition, regrettably rare in the Middle East. If there were peace between Israelis and Palestinians, one can only imagine the achievements of these two cultures today.

"Israel's 40-year occupation of the Palestinian territories, its continued expansion of [illegal Israeli] settlements [on Palestinian land] and its refusal to allow the return of expelled refugees have caused deep resentment in the Arab world. Palestinian corruption in government and failure to abandon violence against civilians as a political tool have meant Israel does not feel secure behind secure borders. Sixty years have seen a great deal of bloodshed - Arab, Israeli and others, including 34 US soldiers killed by Israeli forces on the USS Liberty during the 1967 war. I do not find it helpful to engage in a forensic apportionment of blame; each side has legitimate grievances.

"The current blockade of Gaza, confiscation of Palestinian land, and the expansion of settlements must be mentioned in the context of today's motion. Gaza is besieged, contained and on the brink of starvation. Rockets are fired into Israel every day, and Israel has a right to self-defence, but the crushing economic embargo feeds fury and resentment both in Gaza and the West Bank. [A total] 2679 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli [military] forces in the Gaza Strip since September 2000, [while] an Israeli human rights organisation reported 1259 of those were not participating in hostilities when they were killed, and 567 were minors …

"We ought not be naive or simplistic about the challenge faced by the Israelis in moving towards peace with a [popularly elected] counterpart, in Hamas, that is funded and supported by a foreign power [Syria] and which retains an explicit commitment to [terrorism] as a political instrument. But may I remind the House of the example of the Northern Ireland peace process [which succeeded] after a more than 40-year struggle.

"There are signs the Israeli people are developing a renewed hunger for peace. A recent Tel Aviv University poll indicates 64 per cent of Israelis believe the [Israeli] Government must hold direct talks with the Hamas government in Gaza towards a ceasefire. Military occupation, blockades and hostility against civilians in the name of security will result in [more] violence and terror. We must think what we can do [for] ordinary Israelis and Palestinians to give them some faith in the peace process …

"We are the leaders of our generation. We are accountable for results. If the principal protagonists and the rest of the world community hand Palestine on to the next generation as a twisted mess of grievance, hatred and retribution, then we have failed. The last two generations of leaders have failed to produce peace. Let us renew our efforts."

Unlike earlier in the day, nobody applauded - though I wished I could have. Many Australians, too, had they been present, surely would have wanted to acknowledge such a speech of such honesty and sensibility, about the Israelis as much as it was about the Palestinians. Ley put the grovelling Rudd and Nelson to shame. The truth is there is no real debate in this country about the travesty of what is happening in the Middle East, and there are those in the community who, with their money and influence, do all they can to ensure no such open debate occurs, either in the national Parliament, in the media or anywhere else.

So why was the Rudd Government, in its first four months of office, doing what no Australian government or parliament had done, to acknowledge any of the decades of Israeli statehood since the Six-Day War in 1967 saw the Israeli military occupy the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza and ignore 40 years of mutual violence and barbarity as well as 40 years of United Nations resolutions, to withdraw?

The Howard government did not "honour" Israel's 50th anniversary in 1998, nor the Hawke government the 40th anniversary in 1988, nor the Fraser government the 30th anniversary in 1978. Why the 60th in 2008 the instant a Labor Government comes to power?

When the Labor caucus met on Tuesday, as it does every week the Parliament sits, Sydney's Julia Irwin asked Rudd this very question.

Why? Irwin never takes a backward step in her defence of Palestinian rights, but all she got from Rudd this time was waffle. He did not explicitly respond as to why 60 might be different from earlier decades when the Parliament had done nothing and neither had earlier governments. And no Labor MP supported Irwin in pushing it.

She was a lone voice in the Labor caucus as Sussan Ley was in the Parliament. How's that for political ticker?

Leaders vie to ladle on the gush
When our Prime Minister spoke in the Parliament this week before a select audience of 100 VIP guests, including the Israeli ambassador, he was speaking to a 191-word proposal he had drafted, in consultation with a range of people, which read:

"That the House [of Representatives]

"(1) celebrate and commend the achievements of the state of Israel in the 60 years since its inception;

"(2) remember with pride and honour the important role which Australia played in the establishment of the state of Israel as both a member state of the United Nations and as an influential voice in the introduction of Resolution 181 which facilitated Israel's statehood [in 1948], and as the country which proudly became the first to cast a vote in support of Israel's creation;

"(3) acknowledge the unique relationship which exists between Australia and Israel, a bond highlighted by our commitment to the rights and liberty of our citizens and encouragement of cultural diversity;

"(4) commend the state of Israel's commitment to democracy, the rule of law and pluralism;

"(5) reiterate Australia's commitment to Israel's right to exist and our ongoing support to the peaceful establishment of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue;

"(6) reiterate Australia's commitment to the pursuit of peace and stability throughout the Middle East; and

"(7) on this, the 60th anniversary of independence of the state of Israel, pledge our friendship, commitment and enduring support to the people of Israel as we celebrate this important occasion together."

Make of this splendid piece of mutual back scratching what you will, but know that the supposed virtue of Australia "proudly" becoming "the first to cast a vote in support of Israel's creation" at the United Nations in 1948 is sophistry. We were the first for no other reason than, in voting by alphabetical order, Australia was the first country to vote.

Some excerpts from the speeches of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in support of the bipartisan motion make the point that when politicians seek to trowel on the gush, Australia loses nothing now that Rudd and Nelson have replaced Howard and Beazley.

Rudd: "… The 60 years since the establishment of Israel have been full of challenges and full of trials. Similarly, the process for the emergence of a Palestinian state has come along a tortuous path. There has been too much bloodshed. But over those 60 years there has also been cause for hope.

"We think today of prime minister Menachem Begin standing with Jimmy Carter and Egypt's Anwar Sadat at the White House on March 26, 1979 at the signing of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty that followed the Camp David accords. Prime minister Begin used both the Hebrew and Arabic words for peace when he urged: 'No more war, no more bloodshed, no more bereavement. Peace unto you. Shalom, salaam, forever.' "

Nelson: "In a region of the world that is characterised more by theocracies and autocracies, the state of Israel is the custodian of the most fragile yet powerful of human emotions, and that is hopeful belief in the freedom of man, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of assembly. There are many things for which Israel stands and which characterise the modern state of Israel, but included among them is the celebration of knowledge for its own sake and knowledge as the driver of economic development and emancipation from human poverty…

"Israel, like all democracies, is far from perfect, but it is, in every sense of the word, on the front line of the struggle for the things that we hold dear, not only as Australians and free people but as human beings. And it is far too frequently on the front line of the struggle against all the things repugnant to universal human ideals …

"Israel is home to many things that are spiritual, but it is home in the end to the human spirit of resilience, of confidence, of determination and of respect for one another, irrespective of political, religious or other affiliations … No Australian who believes in the dignity of man, in freedom and in democratic principles should ever, through neglectful indifference, allow Israel to be a stranger. To do so would be to diminish ourselves and our own true security …"

How can you top that lot?

Life goes on in Bethlehem in spite of the wall

A small montage of the lives of Bethlehemites
"Al-Kull" Channel - March 15, 2008

Friday, 14 March 2008

At-Tuwani - Israeli Soldiers and Border Police Assault Palestinian Shepherds


14 March 2008

While Palestinian shepherds grazed their sheep and worked in their olive groves in Khoruba valley, near the Palestinian village of At-Tuwani, Israeli police threatened them with arrest and assaulted them. A border police officer twisted the wrist of one shepherd and pushed him to the ground. Police grabbed another by his collar and pushed several other Palestinians. Palestinians were attempting to graze their sheep and repair olives trees damaged by Israeli settlers over the last month. Police also pushed and assaulted international volunteers accompanying the Palestinians, threatening them with arrest. No one was seriously injured.

Around 10 am, two border police jeeps, two army jeeps, and an Israeli civilian police vehicle arrived and spoke with Israeli settlers from the Havot Ma'on settlement outpost. When international volunteers approached the police and invited them to observe the damaged olive trees, an officer of the District Coordinating Office [a branch of the Israeli military that deals with civilian affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories] told them that the area was a closed military zone.

Police threatened to arrest two shepherds and assaulted two more. Police also threatened to arrest international volunteers and shoved and grabbed them as they attempted to leave the area. Police stomped on the feet of five internationals, calling one of them a whore, and twisted the wrists of two volunteers in an attempt to grab their video cameras. They also pushed another international into a rock.

Palestinians and international volunteers left the area and proceeded to the grove of olive trees where the village men prayed. Over the past month, Palestinians have found broken branches on a total of twelve trees. They believe that Israeli settlers are responsible for the damage, as settlers have destroyed trees in the past.


Christian Peacemaker Teams is an ecumenical initiative to support violence reduction efforts around the world. To learn more about CPT's peacemaking work, visit our website Photos of our projects are at

A map of the center of Hebron is at$File/ocha_OTS_hebron_oPt010805.pdf?OpenElement

The same map is the last page of this report on closures in Hebron:

PM snubbed from all sides over Israeli motion

13 Mar 2008 MURPHY, Katherine
Praise for Israel draws MPs snub
THE AGE (Read it Here)

13 Mar 2008 EDITORIAL
PM snubbed from all sides over Israeli motion

12 Mar 2008
Lib MP speaks up for Palestinians

12 Mar 2008
PM marks Israeli anniversary
THE AGE (Read it Here)

12 Mar 2008 JENKINS, Melissa
Israel protester ejected from parliament

12 Mar 2008 EDITORIAL
Bipartisan support for state of Israel


Australians for Palestine

Full Text of the Australian Prime Minister's Motion on Israel

13 March 2008

Attached is the full text of the motion put forward by the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, and also the Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson's statement seconding it, in the Australian Parliament on 12 March 2008.

Both their statements warrant letters pointing out the inappropriateness of even putting such a motion forward. No one could imagine from these statements that Israel is brutally oppressing the Palestinians under its occupation or that Palestinian citizens of Israel are living there as second class citizens.

What a shameful day for Australia!


House of Representatives

Australian Parliament
12 March 2008
Mr RUDD (Griffith—Prime Minister) (11.58 am)—
by leave—I move:
That the House:

(1) celebrate and commend the achievements of the State of
Israel in the 60 years since its inception;

(2) remember with pride and honour the important role which
Australia played in the establishment of the State of Israel as both a
member state of the United Nations and as an influential voice in the
introduction of Resolution 181 which facilitated Israel’s statehood,
and as the country which proudly became the first to cast a vote in
support of Israel’s creation;

(3) acknowledge the unique relationship which exists between
Australia and Israel; a bond highlighted by our commitment to the
rights and liberty of our citizens and encouragement of cultural

(4) commend the State of Israel’s commitment to democracy, the Rule of Law and pluralism;

(5) reiterate Australia’s commitment to Israel’s right to exist and our
ongoing support to the peaceful establishment of a two-state solution
to the Israeli-Palestinian issue;

(6) reiterate Australia’s commitment to the pursuit of peace and
stability throughout the Middle East;

(7) on this, the 60th Anniversary of Independence of the State of
Israel, pledge our friendship, commitment and enduring support to
the people of Israel as we celebrate this important occasion together.

Today the parliament of Australia notes the occasion of this year,
being the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel.

The story of the establishment of the state of Israel begins with the
unimaginable tragedy of the Holocaust. At the Holocaust memorial
at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem the words of the Australian delegate to
the 1938 Evian Conference are recorded. He said that Australia could
not encourage refugee immigration because, ‘as we have no real
racial problem, we are not desirous of importing one’. Thankfully,
later in 1938 the Australian government took the decision to admit
15,000 Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. But by the time the war
began only 6,500 had reached Australia.

By war’s end, six million Jews had been murdered. By war’s end, the
international community finally began to look again in earnest at the
question of a homeland for the Jewish people. Australia is proud to
have played a significant part in the international process that led to
the foundation of the state of Israel. Australia’s then Minister for
External Affairs, Dr Evatt, was part of the United Nations Special
Committee on Palestine, which recommended in August 1947 the
termination of the Mandate for Palestine. And he was chairman of
the Ad Hoc Committee meeting on the Palestinian Question that
proposed the partition of Palestine. He strongly believed that the
fundamental right of self-determination for the Jewish people and for
Palestinians could only be achieved by each having their own state.

The resolution that the United Nations adopted in November 1947
reflected that. It proposed the establishment of two independent
states—one Arab and one Jewish. And Australia was the first state in
the historic vote of the international community on that resolution to
cast its vote in support of the modern state of Israel. On 14 May 1948
David Ben-Gurion declared the foundation of the modern state of

Prime Minister Ben Chifley, too, was closely involved in Australia’s
policy towards Israel. In June 1948 he reinforced Evatt’s strong
support for a two state solution when he cabled British Prime
Minister Clement Attlee and urged early recognition of Israel,
saying that:

Such [a] declaration would properly indicate willingness to agree in
principle to the recognition of the Provisional Government of Israel,
and at the same time willingness to recognise de facto the Arab
authorities in actual control of Arab Sections of Palestine.

On 29 January 1949 he announced that Australia would become one
of the first countries to recognise the new state of Israel, describing it
as ‘a force of special value in the world community’. As President of
the General Assembly ‘Doc’ Evatt then presided over the historic
May 1949 vote admitting Israel as the 59th member of the United
Nations. On 11 May 1949 the Chifley Labor government opened an
embassy in Tel Aviv. Evatt later said that, when working on the
question of Israel, he wanted to ensure that the ‘new State of Israel,
whose people had in the past done so much for humanity, would be
welcomed, not merely formally but with good heart and good
conscience’ into the international community.

The 60 years since the establishment of Israel have been full of
challenges and full of trials. Similarly, the process for the emergence
of a Palestinian state has come along a torturous path. There has been
too much bloodshed. But over those 60 years there has also been
cause for hope.

We think today of Prime Minister Menachem Begin standing with
President Jimmy Carter and Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat, at the
White House on March 26 1979 at the signing of the Israel-Egypt
Peace Treaty that followed from the Camp David Accords. Prime
Minister Begin used both the Hebrew and Arabic words for peace
when he urged: ‘No more war, no more bloodshed, no more
bereavement. Peace unto you. Shalom, salaam, forever.’ We can
think, too, of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, shaking hands with his
lifelong enemy Yasser Arafat on the lawns of the White House on
September 13 1993, saying:

We, the soldiers who have returned from battles stained with
blood; we who have seen our relatives and friends killed before our
eyes; we who have attended their funerals and cannot look in the
eyes of their parents; we who have come from a land where parents
bury their children; we who have fought against you, the
Palestinians—we say to you, in a loud and clear voice, enough of
blood and tears. Enough!

All peoples of goodwill yearn for that vision to be realised. It has
not been realised yet. To borrow again from former Yitzhak Rabin,
a man who tragically paid the ultimate price while pursuing peace
‘The risks of peace are preferable by far to the grim certainties of

We firmly believe the establishment of an independent and
economically viable Palestinian state must remain a key objective in
the Middle East peace process. This is important for the future. It was
important in the vision of 1947. It remains the vision today, just as
our objective must be for Israel to exist within secure and
internationally recognised boundaries.

Today, we in Australia support the ongoing negotiations between
Israel and the Palestinian Authority towards a final status agreement
by the end of 2008, as launched at the Annapolis Conference in

November last year. To support the establishment of a viable and
sustainable Palestinian state Australia pledged a $45 million
assistance package at the donors conference for the Palestinian
territories in Paris on 18 December. Australia remains, as we have in
the past, committed to an effective two-state solution.

Over the past 60 years Israel has preserved its robust parliamentary
democracy and has built a vibrant society and economy. If anyone
wants a dictionary definition of the term ‘robust’ they should spend
an afternoon in the Israeli Knesset. That is where you see the
definition of ‘robust’ at work. By contrast we are a pack of pussycats
in here!

Over the past 60 years governments from both sides of politics in
Australia have supported our strong relationship with Israel. That
relationship is strong and it is deep—and it will remain so. Because
we are both democracies, as democracies sometimes we will agree
and sometimes we will disagree. That is in the nature of strong
relationships. But the underlying friendship between us does not

Australia offers our congratulations to the government and people of
Israel on this the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the modern
Israeli state. We acknowledge our special history and relationship
and we look forward to its continued strength and development into
the future.

I commend this motion to the House.

Dr NELSON (Bradfield—Leader of the Opposition)
(12.06 pm)—

I rise on behalf of the alternative government to provide our very
strong support for this motion and to support the remarks on the
historical circumstances of the development of the state of Israel, the
role that Australia played in that, the relationship between our two
countries, the initiatives that are being taken by the current
Australian government and indeed those taken by the most recent
government to further the peace process between Israel and the

Jewish identity over the last 100 years has been shaped by three
things. The first is anti-Semitism, which remains a virulent and
repugnant force still in far too many parts of the world and in the
dark recesses of some people’s hearts. The second is the holocaust,
which saw the systematic extermination of more than six million
Jews through the course of the Second World War. The third is the
continued threats to the very existence of the state of Israel, which is
constantly embattled and, every single day, every week and every
year, needs to struggle to defend its very existence.

In a region of the world that is characterised more by theocracies and
autocracies, the state of Israel is the custodian of the most fragile yet
powerful of human emotions, and that is hopeful belief in the
freedom of man, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom
of assembly. There are many things for which Israel stands and
which characterise the modern state of Israel, but included amongst
them is the celebration of knowledge for its own sake and knowledge
as the driver of economic development and emancipation from
human poverty. Israel also stands for personal independence, a free
parliament and an independent judiciary. It is a nation where
Christians, Baha’is, Muslims and Arabs enjoy equal rights. Israel, like
all democracies, is far from perfect, but it is, in every sense of the
word, on the front line of the struggle for the things that we hold
dear, not only as Australians and free people but as human beings.
And it is far too frequently on the front line of the struggle against all
the things that are repugnant to universal human ideals.

On 14 May 1948, the day that the British mandate expired, the Jewish
People’s Council gathered at Tel Aviv Museum and approved the
Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel. It read, in part:

THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration
and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the
development of the country for the benefit of all its
inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as
envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete
equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants
irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom
of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will
safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be
faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

Israel is home to many things that are spiritual, but it is home in the
end to the human spirit of resilience, of confidence, of determination
and of respect for one another irrespective of political, religious or
other affiliations. It is a land that boasts many ancient buildings, but
its people are firmly focused on building the future. That it is difficult
to achieve a peaceful resolution to the tensions surrounding Israel’s
existence should only strengthen our resolve to reach out not only to
Israel but also to Palestinians of good heart who genuinely seek and
should achieve a two-state solution. No Australian who believes in
the dignity of man, in freedom and in democratic principles should
ever, through neglectful indifference, allow Israel to be a stranger. To
do so would be to diminish ourselves and our own true security.

To any Australian who has not done so already and who has the
privilege and the opportunity to visit Washington: I urge you to visit
the Holocaust Memorial Museum. There is a very large sign out the
front of the museum that says: ‘Never forget what you have seen
here’. There are piles of shoes that were worn by Jews exterminated,
photographs of men and women and children looking out into lives
that were never lived, and many other things to remind us of why
our relationship with Israel and our respect for the Israeli cause and
the two-state solution is so important to our own beliefs, our own
values and ultimately our own freedoms and security. Shabbat
shalom forever.

Question agreed to.
Hansard Reference


Neve Gordon, The Nation: posted March 6, 2008 (March 24, 2008 issue)
Book Reviews: Army of Shadows: Palestinian Collaboration With Zionism, 1917-1948 by Hillel Cohen;Haim Watzman, trans. Aravim Tovim by Hillel Cohen
As dawn broke on March 22, 2004, an Israeli helicopter gunship hovered over the al-Mujama al-Islami mosque in Gaza City. Suddenly, the whoosh of missile rockets was heard, and then explosions. Shouts and screams filled the streets, followed by news bites from all over the world: Hamas's spiritual and political leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, had been killed as he was leaving the mosque to return to his nearby home. About three weeks later, on April 17, Gaza's­ newly chosen Hamas leader, Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi, was also assassinated from the air. Rantisi had taken extra precautions to protect himself--surrounding himself with bodyguards, con­stantly switching hiding places and never traveling in his own car. Still, he could not es­cape the long arm of Israel's security serv­ices either.

Yassin and al-Rantisi are just two of the more prominent Palestinian political leaders and militants assassinated by Israel since the eruption of the second intifada in September 2000. To date, more than 400 people have been killed in similar operations. While the morality and legality of Israel's assassination policy are debated in the Israeli press, little has been said or written about the logistical dimensions of such extrajudicial executions. This is unfortunate, since seemingly mundane questions--such as how Israel manages to ascertain the exact whereabouts of people like Rantisi--can broaden our understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in unexpected and val­u­able ways.

Although the Israeli military does not re­­veal its intelligence sources, it's well-known that despite innovations in surveillance tech­nology (a pilotless drone, for instance, aided the helicopter gunship that fired on Yassin), Palestinian collaborators are indispensable to Israel's covert operations in Gaza and the West Bank. Brig. Gen. Yair Golan, who until recently headed Israel's military forces in the West Bank, said as much at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem last year. Moreover, meticulous readers of assassination coverage in Israeli newspapers have long been able to detect the fingerprints of collaborators at the crime scene. Consider a few lines from an article about the murder of Aiman Halaweh, published on October 23, 2001, in the Israeli paper Ma'ariv: "Halaweh, 27 years old, was driving in the middle of Nablus in a new car he had received a few days earlier, when suddenly a forceful bomb detonated inside the vehicle. The car was totally ruined from the blast, while Halaweh was killed on the spot." The careful reader understands that the "new car" was the bomb and that Halaweh must have received the vehicle from a Palestinian collaborator working for Israel.

The recruitment and deployment of Palestinian collaborators is not a new phenomenon. It is a longstanding Zionist practice, almost as old as Zionism itself. Already in the early 1920s, the Zionist Executive's Arab department employed collaborators to establish the Muslim National Associations as a counterweight to the Muslim-Christian Associations, which at the time was the hub of the Palestinian national movement. During the same era the Zionist movement adopted a similar scheme, establishing a loose network of Palestinian political parties, known as the farmers' parties, to challenge and undermine Palestinian urban nationalists. In fact, Zionist institutions employed collaborators throughout the British Mandate period to advance their goals. In 1932 a collaborator relayed informa­tion about sermons given by sheikh Izz al-Din al-Qassam, a Palestinian militant who was killed by British troops in 1935 and is remembered by Palestinians to this day, not least because the military wing of Hamas has appropriated his name.

In his groundbreaking book Army of Shadows, Hillel Cohen, a research fellow at Hebrew University's Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace, exposes this particularly nefarious side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Cohen has spent years in numerous Israeli and British archives gathering information that many would pre­fer to forget, and in Army of Shadows he sum­mons his findings to document the actions of a seemingly endless number of Palestinian mukhtars (village leaders), land merchants, in­­formers, weapons dealers, journalists, busi­nessmen, farmers and teachers who collaborated with the Jews between 1917 and 1948. By focusing on them, Army of Shadows chron­icles a tragic chapter in the people's history of Palestine, one that many Arab scholars have refrained from writing because it contradicts the dominant ethos of Palestinian national unity. Zionists have ab­­stained from recording it as well because it undermines their claim that the Palestinians were able to unify and fight against the es­tablishment of a Jewish state after the UN partition resolution of November 29, 1947. Cohen reveals that many Palestinians signed pacts with the Zionists during the 1948 war and that some even fought with the Jews against the Arab armies.

Collaboration is a very thorny issue, primarily because of its corrosive blend of betrayal, exploitation and deceit, so it's not surprising that Army of Shadows created a stir when the Hebrew edition was published in 2004. Both liberal Jews and Palestinians found the book difficult to digest because each group found its side portrayed in unflattering terms. Many Jewish readers were upset by Cohen's revelation that the prestate Zionist intelligence agency, Shai, and the Jewish Agency's Arab bureau exploited almost every honest Jewish and Palestinian relationship to advance narrow Zionist interests. There were, Cohen notes, many Jews who desired only friendship or good business relations with Palestinians but were eventually identified by the Shai, which used them to collect information and enlist Palestinian collaborators. The Jewish Agency even helped establish and finance Neighborly Relations Committees, which initiated mutual visits and Jewish-Palestinian projects, ranging from pest control to the sending of joint petitions to the Mandatory government. The rationale for the creation of these committees was not only to enhance coexistence but also to recruit informers.

Ezra Danin, head of the Shai's Arab department from 1940 to 1948, identified twenty-five occupations and institutions in which Jews and Palestinians mixed company, among them trucking, shipping, train and telecommunications systems, journalism, Jewish-Arab municipalities, prisons and the offices of the British Administration. He proposed that the Jews in these walks of life enlist Arab collaborators, adding that "such activity should be similar to the way the Nazis worked in Denmark, Norway, and Holland--touching on every area of life." Cohen explains that this approach was different from that of British intelligence, which allowed only political and military organizations and subversive bodies to be targeted as pools for potential informers. This revelation, besides shedding light on some of the ruthless tactics employed by the intelligence agencies, helps explain why, from Zionism's very beginnings, it was almost impossible for many Jews to develop loyal relationships with indigenous Palestinians.

Army of Shadows also disturbed Palestinian readers because it reveals for the first time the extent of Palestinian collaboration with the Jews during the Mandate period and the ensuing 1948 war. Some Palestinians were opportunists who collaborated with the Zionists to make money or advance their careers--these were primarily land brokers and people seeking administrative jobs. Others were mukhtars who wished to advance their regional or village interests or, in cases of internal competition, to solidify their leadership with the Zionists. Still others can be characterized as Palestinian patriots who simply disagreed with the dominant national leadership. Finally, there were those who had Jewish friends and did not view Zionist immigration as a catastrophe. The problem, though, as Cohen points out, is that regardless of the motivation, collaboration contributed to the fragmentation of Palestinian society at a time when its very fate was being determined.

Simultaneously, Cohen underscores the Palestinian leadership's failure to cultivate a unified national ethos. While disunity among a people is in no way unique, in this case, as Cohen shows, it was aggravated in two ways. First, a totally different and competing national movement was making claims on the same territory, and this movement knew how to profit from splits within Palestinian society in order to undermine national aspirations. Indeed, the Zionists exploited the fissures to recruit and deploy collaborators, and this ultimately served to deepen internal Palestinian discord and frustrate Palestinian nation building.

Second, and more disturbing for a Palestinian readership, Cohen stresses that instead of capitalizing on the fact that Palestinian Arabs shared a national consciousness and were divided mostly on pragmatic questions about how to achieve their goals, the dominant Palestinian group, led by Hajj Amin al-Husseini and loosely organized under the auspices of the Arab Party (established in 1935), defined all competing nationalist views and actions as treasonous. Collaborators, accordingly, were no longer just those who aided the Zionists' military efforts; they were local and regional leaders, merchants who traded with Jews, journalists who wrote in favor of the Zionist project and, most important, land dealers who helped Jewish institutions locate and purchase Palestinian land. Cohen tells us that

On a clear day in mid-May 1936, an Arab boy set out on a trip from Jerusalem. With him in his car were two Jewish girls. The boy's name was Victor Lulas. To the nationalists he was a criminal two times over. He was driving a car, in violation of the leadership's strike orders, and he had maintained his social ties with Jews. When he reached the turn in the road by the village of Abu-Ghosh, a group of young men stopped him. They dragged him out of the car, beat him, and then sent him on his way.

People like Victor Lulas were the new traitors. Without changing their ways and habits, they found themselves outside the norms of Palestinian society. Patronizing a Jewish doctor, employing a Jewish worker or being employed by a Jew--all became illegitimate. Thus, Husseini's uncompromising maximalist positions, alongside his camp's unwillingness to tolerate the views of its opponents, paradoxically ended up expanding the definition of traitor and collaborator. Simply put, many of those who continued to live as they had in the past were branded as collaborators; collaboration not only became a common occurrence but a defining aspect of Palestinian society and politics.

Army of Shadows joins a growing shelf of books about Mandatory Palestine written by the so-called Israeli New Historians, among them Benny Morris and Tom Segev. (Segev has furnished Cohen's book with a nice blurb.) Like Morris and Segev, Cohen is a positivist: a scrupulous archivist who spends hours poring over files and old newspapers in order to make sense of the past and to bring it, as it were, to light. (Cohen's fluency in Arabic gives him an important advantage over Morris and Segev.) As die-hard positivists, though, these New Historians are uninterested in theory; they refrain from examining the implications of their revelations and claims on our understanding of important concepts such as nationalism, hegemony and collaboration. There is little, if any, abstraction in their writings.

Devotion to the archives hasn't hampered Segev's storytelling talents. In One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate (2000), he beautifully and masterfully interweaves remarkable anecdotes to create a gripping and irresistible tale. Yet after reading it, I find myself agreeing with Segev's thesis--that the British were more pro-Zionist than many Israelis have traditionally believed--but unsure about the proof. Segev's great narrative skills are also his Achilles' heel: the fabric of his story is too tightly woven. Where are the messy contradictions and ambiguities that characterize history? This is not the question one is left with after reading Cohen, another great storyteller, whose narratives accommodate the inconsistencies and variations that history is made of. Cohen distinguishes himself even more from Morris, who in Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-1999 (1999) chronicles the history of national institutions while eliding the people's history of Palestine. The significance of unearthing the people's history is that it often brings to light a story less amenable to hegemonic perceptions and existing paradigms, if only because the people talk in many voices: they contradict the dominant ethos, they resist authority, they tell the truth, they lie.

If, for instance, Morris presents the 1948 war as a conflict between Jews and Arabs, Cohen documents numerous cases of Palestinians refusing to attack Jews. This unwillingness to do battle pervaded the country. In December 1947, Cohen writes, "the inhabitants of Tulkarm refused to attack Jewish towns to their west, to the chagrin of the local Holy Jihad commander, Hasan Salameh. Sources in Ramallah reported at the same time that many were refusing to enlist, and reports from Beit Jibrin indicated that 'Abd al-Rahman al-'Azzi," the head of a very influential family, "was doing all he could to keep his region quiet. The villagers of the Bani-Hassan nahiya southwest of Jerusalem decided not to carry out military actions within their territory, and the people of al-Maliha refused a request from 'Abd al-Qader al-Husseini to attack the Jewish neighborhoods of Mekor Hayyim and Bayyit va-Gan." In these places as well as in many others mentioned in the book, Palestinians did not feel that war with the Jews would advance their interests. In some cases local Palestinian leaders were collaborators; in others, fear of the Jewish forces was the source of reluctance; and in still others it was friendship that had survived many years of national strife. "Palestinian Arab interest in fighting the Jews seems not to have been very high," Cohen concludes.

In the late 1990s, in the midst of writing Army of Shadows, Cohen stumbled on an array of documents in the Israeli State Archives that had been declassified by mistake. Whereas most of these files dealt with thieves, brothels and numerous petty crimes, some relayed sensitive information about the employment of Palestinian informers during the 1950s and '60s. Before the archivists' error was discovered and the material reclassified and sealed, Cohen managed to read and take extensive notes on thousands of files, which provided him with a unique glimpse into the clandestine techniques used to recruit and deploy Palestinian citizens as undercover agents within their own communities. Cohen revealed the guarded secrets of scores of Palestinian collaborators in the sequel to Army of Shadows, Aravim Tovim (Good Arabs), which was published in 2006 and stayed on Ha'aretz's bestseller list for thirteen weeks. Pickups filled to the brim delivered the paperback edition to Palestinian villages throughout Israel, where people waited impatiently to peruse the book. Many of them turned first to the index to see whether family members or acquaintances were implicated, making Aravim Tovim probably the only book written in Hebrew that is read backward--that is, from left to right.

Like Army of Shadows, Aravim Tovim, which covers the years 1948 to 1967, questions pervasive truths. In 1948, during what Israel calls the War of Independence and the Palestinians refer to as the Nakba, or "catastrophe," the vast majority of Palestinian leaders and intelligentsia either fled or were expelled from urban centers. The relatively small percentage of Palestinians who stayed put were unorganized rural dwellers who found themselves in a new state that did not want them. They were ultimately granted citizenship but were nonetheless considered a fifth column and forced to live under the Emergency Regulations, which restricted the movement of Palestinian citizens within the Jewish state until 1966. For years, it has been a widely held assumption that the first generation of Palestinian citizens of Israel was timid, afraid to challenge the Israeli government and demand basic rights. Such is the story told in Coffins on Our Shoulders: The Experience of the Palestinian Citizens of Israel (2005), in which Dan Rabinowitz and Khawla Abu-Baker distinguish the 1948 generation of Palestinians from their grandchildren, "the stand-tall generation," which Rabinowitz and Abu-Baker describe as being assertive, confident, determined and possessed with a sense of entitlement.

But is this really the case? The same mistakenly declassified archival files that Cohen used in Army of Shadows to open a window on Palestinian collaboration also reveal the existence of ongoing Palestinian resistance to Israeli rule. I vividly recall my friend Fareed Ghanem, a Palestinian Druse from Mghar, calling to tell me that he had just finished reading Aravim Tovim and that his father, Qassem, who was a schoolteacher in the early 1960s, figures in the book. Qassem Ghanem appears in a chapter about the governmental Committees for Arab Affairs, the major objective of which was to monitor and control the Palestinian minority within Israel. Cohen quotes an Israeli memo about Qassem Ghanem's hometown. Mghar, the memo states, had been "known in the past as outstanding in its loyalty to Israel, [but] recently nationalistic activities and incitement against the government have been exposed. At the center of these activities," the memo continues, "are a group of teachers who in broad daylight oppose the government.... The village notables and collaborators stand helpless in light of these activities and are certain that if the culpable teachers were harmed a bit it would do a great deal towards pacifying the spirits in the village and restoring the calm." Cohen goes on to suggest that the Regional Committee for Arab Affairs invoked the Emergency Laws in order to fire Qassem, together with two other teachers, from the education system.

This relatively minor incident, which takes up no more than seven lines in Cohen's book, conveys a sense of the vast covert world of informers and operators, backed by government offices, responsible for fragmenting the Palestinian minority and cultivating Palestinian Arab support for the Jewish state. While many Israelis--Jews and Palestinians alike--already had a sense that these shadowplays were part of the state's history, Aravim Tovim supplies the evidence. Case after case is summoned to illustrate how collaboration permeated all aspects of Palestinian society. The schools were a major arena for spying. Students squealed on teachers, teachers informed on colleagues and principals reported on their students. Other arenas where collaborators operated included mosques, where an imam might criticize the government; cafes, where friends might discuss recent political events; and even weddings, where Palestinian nationalist songs were at times sung. Big Brother's eyes and ears were always on the alert.

Cohen's riveting chapter about the Jewish-Arab Communist Party illustrates especially well how the mechanisms of control were put to use. During the first two decades of Israel's existence, the Communists were practically the only ones to fight for egalitarian treatment of the Palestinian minority. They also led the campaign against the expropriation of Palestinian land and fought for the right of refugees to return to their villages. Cohen shows how every dirty trick in the game was used to sabotage their efforts. Collaborators were tapped not only to listen and report but also to burn down Communist clubs and offices, to violently attack Communist leaders and to sway votes in municipal councils. Aravim Tovim proves for the first time that allegations voiced by the Communists fifty years ago about the dirty tricks of the government and its agents were true.

The intelligence agencies recognized that it would be easier to control individuals than to manage a politically conscious and organized public. Therefore, they instructed their subordinates to prevent the establishment of municipal councils, sports associations, neighborhood clubs and the like, while simultaneously using an array of methods to create friction and strife among different Palestinian families, neighborhoods and villages. The objective was to create endemic distrust among the indigenous inhabitants, to monitor public opinion and to identify Palestinians who could potentially act against the state. By frightening and silencing the population, the different government agencies hoped to fabricate the Israeli-Arab, a "new Arab" whose first and only loyalty was to the Jewish state.

By chronicling the deep penetration of Israeli collaborators into all pockets of Palestinian life, Aravim Tovim ends up--perhaps necessarily--producing a people's history of Palestinian resistance within Israel, since collaboration is, after all, firmly linked to the existence of resistance. First-generation Palestinians did not keep their heads low, and through their resistance they achieved a number of things. One was their ability to hide and defend thousands of Palestinian refugees who, after the 1948 war, infiltrated back into Israel. Despite clear government injunctions to surrender such "infiltrators" and the ongoing work of hundreds if not thousands of collaborators, about 20,000 refugees, who at the time made up approximately 15 percent of the Palestinian population in Israel, managed to settle down and ultimately received citizenship.

The second achievement involved the establishment of numerous Palestinian municipal councils, despite the Committees for Arab Affairs' stated policy of crushing all efforts to establish such councils. The third has to do with Palestinian collective memory. The Israeli Ministry of Education, together with the Israeli security services, tried to undermine Palestinian nationalism by attempting to prevent the development and dissemination of a national historical narrative. School curriculums were limited to a Zionist interpretation of events, while any form of Palestinian nationalistic expression was vigorously suppressed. Yet despite all the state's efforts, Cohen shows how ongoing grassroots defiance guaranteed that the national history of the people was not erased.

Considering the prominent place of resistance in Aravim Tovim, it's not surprising that those first-generation Palestinians who participated in such activities in the 1950s and '60s are not only proud to read the book but are also insisting that the "stand-tall generation" read it too. This is one reason the book made it to the bestseller list. Another reason has to do with the fact that many Palestinians read the book as a manual for understanding the current situation in Gaza and the West Bank. In this sense too, Aravim Tovim cannot be separated from Army of Shadows. Both books describe the methods and tactics used by Israel's security agencies to penetrate, fragment and control Palestinian society through the production of profound distrust. In turn, they provide the necessary background for understanding how Israel effectively exploits existing conditions in order to recruit collaborators.

Today a request to exit the Gaza Strip to receive medical treatment, visit a dying relative or study in the West Bank or abroad is often contingent upon one's willingness to collaborate. In early January a number of patients were referred from Gaza--where they could not receive medical treatment--to Maqassed Hospital in East Jerusalem, and received permits to leave the region. At the border, though, they were interrogated by Israeli security service officers, who demanded that they become collaborators. According to Hadas Ziv of Physicians for Human Rights, Israel, those patients who refused had their travel permits annulled and were sent back home. While these patients managed to resist the temptation to collaborate, despite their medical ills, others do not. The persistence of collaboration is a result of not only the historical processes Cohen eloquently describes but also the harsh conditions under which Palestinians currently live.