Wednesday, 21 May 2008

16 year old boy murdered by Israeli soldiers at Huwarra checkpoint

16 year old boy murdered by Israeli soldiers at Huwarra checkpoint
20 May, 2008
At 7pm on Monday 19th May, a 16 year old boy, Fihme Abdel Jawad Dardouk, was murdered by Israeli soldiers at the Huwarra checkpoint in Nablus.


Death at Hawara - Iqbal Khaldun
I've just been told that a teenage boy was shot dead at Hawara at 7pm yesterday, about 4 hours after I went through there myself. The Israeli news is claiming the soldiers foiled a suicide attack. Eyewitnesses contacted so far say he was not carrying any explosives but had a mobile phone strapped to his belt with headphones in his ears. When told to put his hands in the air he misunderstood and thought the soldiers wanted him to lift his shirt to show he had no explosives around his chest. I've been told the soldiers spoke in Hebrew, a language the boy is unlikely to know owing to the fact that he was Palestinian. More on this soon...

UPDATE: I think one of the soldiers who shot Fehmi was also one of the soldiers trying to give me a hard time yesterday. According to reports she was the soldier in charge of the checkpoint and from what I could gather one of the soldiers I spoke to, the woman, looked like she was the one in charge because she was seated in a booth while others were standing below her. It's like living in an alternate universe over here sometimes.

We're just here to say hi: terror squad

Arjun Ramachandran, The Sydney Morning Herald, May 13, 2008
With its ceramics classes and preschool storytime sessions, Leichhardt library - like most suburban libraries - is usually a pretty calm place.

But the "fear of god'' was reportedly put into its librarian when counter terrorism officers paid a visit to speak about an upcoming exhibition called "Al-Nakba", which means "catastrophe".

"Al-Nakba", a pictorial exhibition about Palestine and Israel, should have opened at Leichhardt municipal library last Friday.

But after the police visit on Thursday night, it was suddenly cancelled the next morning.

Friends of Hebron, a local activitist group, had been working on the exhibition of photos, poems and articles for eight months after the library agreed to host it last year.

"We set up the exhibition at the library on Thursday night and the librarian ... approved the exhibition, and said that it could be seen by children and other people,'' said Carole Lawson, a Friends of Hebron member.

Felt threatened

"But then that night, the [police] anti-terrorism squad visited the library and told her she had to vet the exhibition.

"They wanted to put the fear of god into the library staff and want the staff to feel threatened.''

On Friday morning, Ms Lawson said she received a call to tell her the exhibition had been pulled down.

"It's the censorship of Palestine - apparently the anti-terrorism squad decides what we can see on the public walls of a library.''

The librarian, Marilyn Taylor, would not speak to

Leichhardt mayor Carolyn Allen confirmed police had visited the library on Thursday night, but said council, not police, had decided to pull down the exhibition because it hadn't met the council's criteria for such projects, which include not being divisive.

Counter Terrorism police just saying 'Hi!'

A police media spokesman said the officers were from the community contact unit, which falls within its Counter Terrorism operations. They had not visited the the library to to tell it to cancel the exhibition, but only to "say hi'' to Friends of Hebron members, he said.

"They went to introduce themselves to members of the community setting up the display and just to let them know who they are and what they are about. [Speaking with community groups] is part of their charter.

"When they got there the librarian was the only one there ... they just had a quick chat to the librarian.''

There had only been "a couple'' of officers involved, the spokesman said. He could not say what they said to her.

Cr Allen said the council pulled the exhibition down the morning after police visited because it had not had a chance to properly vet it.

Vetting exhibitions

Last year, council decided all projects - like the Al-Nakba exhibition - would first need to be assessed by a panel of councillors to ensure they were not divisive, she said.

This had not been done with Al-Nakba, and she blamed the late realisation of this on "a breakdown of managerial process''.

"I think it's regrettable that [the library] didn't talk about it earlier.

"I accept people might view it as [censorship] but ... I'm just implementing our policy that any exhibition that has our councils name on it needed to go through this process of making sure its not being divisive.

She said the visit by police had not influenced the decision.

"I suppose the librarian may have been a bit alarmed and concerned they had the anti-terrorism squad. I thought it was quite funny that the anti-terrorism squad would come [to a local library] - I found that a bit alarmist at the time.

Nothing disturbing

Ms Lawson said there was nothing alarming or disturbing about the exhibition, and that it merely raised the plight of "Palestinian refugees'' living in Hebron, about 30 kilometres south of Jerusalem.

"The exhibition was taken down because it was about Palestine, the dispossession of Palestinians and what's going on in Hebron," she said.

But Cr Allen said: "The people doing this exhibition clearly knew it wasn't in the general understanding of our agreement."

She objected to some captions, including one that said Palestinian children going to school needed protection from children from Israel who where throwing stones.

"Being in a public library is different to being in an exhibition space. If you're in an exhibition space and someone knows they are going into the exhibition, they expect to be educated and confronted. But most people going into a library just want to return books."

Two people, one state - deal with them together

Maher Mughrabi, The Age, May 15, 2008
The unique Palestinian-Israeli situation demands a different approach.
In August 2004, the Israeli politician Shulamit Aloni received an invitation to a memorial. The event being commemorated was a massacre of Jews by Arabs in the city of Hebron during British rule of Palestine in 1929. The invitation said that it would be a state occasion, attended by Reuven Rivlin, then speaker of Israel's parliament.

In July 2006, this time in Jerusalem, a ceremony was held to honour the 60th anniversary of the bombing of the King David Hotel by members of the Zionist underground fighting British rule. That attack killed 91 people. The ceremony was not sponsored by the state, but it was attended by Benjamin Netanyahu, a former Israeli prime minister and the country's opposition leader.

The King David ceremony drew a protest from the British ambassador to Israel, who objected to "an act of terrorism" being dignified. Yet for Netanyahu and many other Israelis, that bombing is part of a heroic liberation struggle.

This year, for Israelis and Palestinians, is punctuated by anniversaries from 60 years ago. But as we have seen, who you are can play a big part in what you choose to remember, and how. It can even divide people according to when they remember: Palestinians today mark the 60th anniversary of the Nakba, or catastrophe, using the Gregorian calendar, while Jews mark the same event — Yom Ha'Atzmaut, or independence day — on May 8, using the Hebrew calendar.

That one nation's triumph is another's injury might strike us as obvious — that's history. But what happens when two peoples lay claim to one land?
When she got her invitation to the memorial, Aloni was quick to note that Hebron — which is called al-Khalil in Arabic, in memory of the patriarch Abraham — is not inside the recognised boundaries of the state of Israel. By contrast, Deir Yassin — which in April 1948 was the scene of a massacre of Arabs by Jews — is inside those boundaries.

There is no place in Israel's official memory for those killed at Deir Yassin. The village was razed and a mental health complex built on the site.

Elsewhere in Israel, the Arab village of Ein Houd, near Haifa, still stands, but today is an Israeli artists' colony.

Some of the families driven from its houses can be found two kilometres up the hill, living in "New Ein Houd", a village they built without Israeli government approval.

At the height of the peace process in 1994, the state recognised that village's existence and moved to give its inhabitants — Israeli citizens, lest we forget — mains electricity and roads. Within 18 months, a new government had withdrawn that recognition and funding.

Those who talk about peace between Palestinians and Israelis today frequently talk about separate states for separate peoples, before going on to congratulate Israel on 60 years of statehood.

But as today's armed Jewish settlers in the occupied territories and unrecognised villagers in Israel show, the two peoples do not live in separate spaces but under separate regimes.

It is this separation that affects Palestinians whether they hold Israeli passports, live under occupation in the West Bank or under siege in the Gaza Strip. A Palestinian cannot build a house, plant a tree, buy land, ask someone for their hand in marriage or vote in an election without wondering when Israeli state power might undo their decision.

Israel's supporters often point out that Palestinians suffer discrimination in surrounding Arab countries as well. It is true, and Palestinians haven't forgotten. But there is a crucial difference: when Israel does these things, it does them to Palestinians in the place they come from.

It is the failure to recognise this simple fact — that there is no past and no present between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea without the Palestinian Arabs — that has doomed all talk of peace for more than 80 years.

A few Jewish Israelis have grasped this, forming groups such as Zochrot (Remembrance), dedicated to marking Palestinian presence on the land, or Yesh Gvul (There Is A Limit), which seeks to pull Israeli soldiers back to the Green Line that is the state's only recognised boundary (and which for years has been absent from Israel's school textbooks). There are Israelis fighting alongside Palestinians for equal rights.

But what would it look like if world leaders grasped this principle? Firstly, it would mean no mention of Israel's achievement without connecting it to the facts of Palestinian deprivation and the need for reconciliation.

Reconciliation would require foreign governments to avoid meeting Israeli leaders without democratically elected Palestinian leaders present, and vice versa. Trade and cultural relations would also have to acknowledge that until there are two recognised and sovereign states, Palestinians and Israelis must be engaged with in tandem or not at all.

In modern international relations, this would be a highly unusual arrangement. But to pretend that Palestinians and Jewish Israelis are separate parties on an equal footing, and that the usual approach to peacemaking between states therefore applies, is to condemn both peoples to further years of fruitless photo opportunities in foreign capitals while ordinary people are killed in their streets and homes.

Maher Mughrabi is a staff writer and part of the Palestinian diaspora.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Elite Policy and the "Axis of Evil"

Noam Chomsky, ZNet, 1 May, 2008
In January, the Hamas-led prison break allowed Gazans for the first time in years to go shopping in nearby Egyptian towns, plainly a serious criminal act because it slightly undermined U.S.-Israeli strangulation of these unpeople. But the powerful quickly recognized that these events too could turn into "good news." Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai "said openly what some senior Israeli officials would only say anonymously," Stephen Erlanger reported in the New York Times: the prison-break might allow Israel to rid itself of any responsibility for Gaza after having reduced it to devastation and misery in 40 years of brutal occupation, keeping it only for target practice and, of course, under full military occupation, its borders sealed by Israeli forces on land, sea, and air, apart from an opening to Egypt (in the unlikely event that Egypt would agree).

That appealing prospect would complement Israel's ongoing criminal actions in the West Bank, carefully designed along the lines already outlined to ensure that there will be no viable future for Palestinians there. At the same time, Israel can turn to solving its
internal "demographic problem," the presence of non-Jews in a Jewish
state. The ultra-nationalist Knesset member Avigdor Lieberman was
harshly condemned as a racist in Israel when he advanced the idea of
forcing Arab citizens of Israel into a derisory "Palestinian state,"
presenting this to the world as a "land swap." His proposal is slowly
being incorporated into the mainstream. Israel National News reported
in April that Knesset member Otniel Schneller of the governing party
Kadima, "considered to be one of the people closest and most loyal to
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert," proposed a plan that "appears very
similar to one touted by Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman,"
though Schneller says his plan would be "more gradual" and the Arabs
affected "will remain citizens of Israel even though their territory
will belong to the [Palestinian Authority and], they will not be
allowed to resettle in other areas of Israel." Of course the unpeople
are not consulted.

In December Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the last hope of many
Israeli doves, adopted the same position. An eventual Palestinian
state, she suggested, would "be the national answer to the
Palestinians" in the territories and those "who live in different
refugee camps or in Israel." With Israeli Arabs dispatched to their
"natural" place, Israel would then achieve the long-sought goal of
freeing itself from the Arab taint, a stand that is familiar enough in
U.S. history, for example in Thomas Jefferson's hope, never achieved,
that the rising empire of liberty would be free of "blot or mixture,"
red or black.

For Israel, this is no small matter. Despite heroic efforts by its
apologists, it is not easy to conceal the fact that a "democratic
Jewish state" is no more acceptable to liberal opinion than a
"democratic Christian state" or a "democratic white state," as long as
the blot or mixture is not removed. Such notions could be tolerated if
the religious/ethnic identification were mostly symbolic, like
selecting an official day of rest. But in the case of Israel, it goes
far beyond that. The most extreme departure from minimal democratic
principles is the complex array of laws and bureaucratic arrangements
designed to vest control of over 90 percent of the land in the hands
of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), an organization committed to using
charitable funds in ways that are "directly or indirectly beneficial
to persons of Jewish religion, race or origin," so its documents
explain: "a public institution recognized by the Government of Israel
and the World Zionist Organization as the exclusive instrument for the
development of Israel's lands," restricted to Jewish use, in
perpetuity (with marginal exceptions), and barred to non-Jewish labor
(though the principle is often ignored for imported cheap labor). This
extreme violation of elementary civil rights, funded by all American
citizens thanks to the tax-free status of the JNF, finally reached
Israel's High Court in 2000, in a case brought by an Arab couple who
had been barred from the town of Katzir. The Court ruled in their
favor, in a narrow decision, which seems to have been barely
implemented. Seven years later, a young Arab couple was barred from
the town of Rakefet, on state land, on grounds of "social
incompatibility" (Scott Peterson, Washington Post, December 20, 2007),
a very rare report. Again, none of this is unfamiliar in the U.S.
After all, it took a century before the 14th Amendment was even
formally recog- nized by the courts and it still is far from

For Palestinians, there are now two options. One is that the U.S. and
Israel will abandon their unilateral rejectionism of the past 30 years
and accept the international consensus on a two-state settlement, in
accord with international law—and, incidentally, in accord with the
wishes of a large majority of Americans. That is not impossible,
though the two rejectionist states are working hard to render it so. A
settlement along these lines came close in negotiations in Taba Egypt
in January 2001 and might have been reached, participants reported,
had Israeli Prime Minister Barak not called off the negotiations
prematurely. The framework for these negotiations was Clinton's
"parameters" of December 2000, issued after he recognized that the
Camp David proposals earlier that year were unacceptable. It is
commonly claimed that Arafat rejected the parameters. However, as
Clinton made clear and explicit, both sides had accepted the
parameters, in both cases with reservations, which they sought to
reconcile in Taba a few weeks later—and apparently almost succeeded.
There have been unofficial negotiations since that have produced
similar proposals. Though possibilities diminish as U.S.-Israeli
settlement and infrastructure programs proceed, they have not been
eliminated. By now the international consensus is near universal,
supported by the Arab League, Iran, Hamas, in fact every relevant
actor apart from the U.S. and Israel.

A second possibility is the one that the U.S.-Israel are actually
implementing, along the lines just described. Palestinians will then
be consigned to their Gaza prison and to West Bank cantons, perhaps
joined by Israeli Arab citizens as well if the
Lieberman-Schneller-Livni plans are implemented. For the occupied
territories, that will realize the intentions expressed by Moshe Dayan
to his Labor Party cabinet colleagues in the early years of the
occupation: Israel should tell the Palestinian refugees in the
territories that "we have no solution, you shall continue to live like
dogs, and whoever wishes may leave, and we will see where this process
leads." The general conception was articulated by Labor Party leader
Haim Herzog, later president, in 1972: "I do not deny the Palestinians
a place or stand or opinion on every matter.... But certainly I am not
prepared to consider them as partners in any respect in a land that
has been consecrated in the hands of our nation for thousands of
years. For the Jews of this land there cannot be any partner."

A third possibility would be a binational state. That was a feasible
option in the early years of the occupation, perhaps a federal
arrangement leading to eventual closer integration as circumstances
permit. There was even some support for similar ideas within Israeli
military intelligence, but the grant of any political rights to
Palestinians was shot down by the governing Labor Party. Proposals to
that effect were made (by me in particular), but elicited only
hysteria. The opportunity was lost by the mid-1970s when Palestinian
national rights reached the international agenda and the two-state
consensus took shape. The first U.S. veto of a two-state resolution at
the Security Council, advanced by the major Arab states, was in 1976.
Washingon's rejectionist stance continues to the present, with the
exception of Clinton's last month in office. Some form of unitary
state remains a distant possibility through agreement among the
parties, as a later stage in a process that begins with a two-state
settlement. There is no other form of advocacy of such an outcome, if
we understand advocacy to include a process leading from here to
there; mere proposal, in contrast, is free for the asking.

It is of some interest, perhaps, that when advocacy of a unitary
binational state had some prospects, it was anathema, while today,
when it is completely unfeasible, it is greeted with respect and is
advocated in leading journals. The reason, perhaps, is that it serves
to undermine the prospect of a two-state settlement.

Advocates of a binational (one-state) settlement argue that on its
present course, Israel will become a pariah state like apartheid South
Africa, with a large Palestinian population deprived of rights, laying
the basis for a civil rights struggle leading to a unitary democratic
state. There is no reason to believe that the U.S., Israel, or any
other Western state would allow anything like that to happen. Rather,
they will proceed exactly as they are now doing in the territories
today, taking no responsibility for Palestinians who are left to rot
in the various prisons and cantons that may dot the landscape, far
from the eyes of Israelis travelling on their segregated superhighways
to their well-subsidized West Bank towns and suburbs, controlling the
crucial water resources of the region, and benefiting from their ties with U.S. and other international corporations that are evidently pleased to see a loyal military power at the periphery of the crucial Middle East region, with an advanced high tech economy and close links to Washington.

Envisioning the End of Israeli Apartheid: An Interview With Ali Abunimah

Envisioning the End of Israeli Apartheid: An Interview With Ali Abunimah
Wednesday, 30 April 2008
A Black Agenda Report Interview by BAR Managing Editor Bruce Dixon

Why is Israel an apartheid state? What are the similarities between it and the old South African regime? Is the separate Palestinian state talked about by Bush and the foreign policy elite of both Democrats and Republicans a real solution? Is the separate Palestinian state any different from Indian reservations, or the bantustans South Africa tried to impose on its black citizens? Can the Israeli state as it exists today ever be legitimate? Is there a practical, peaceful way out of the Israel-Palestine dilemma, and if so, what is it?

Chicago-based Palestinian educator Ali Abunimah, co-founder of Electronic Intifada, took the time to explore these questions with us.

Envisioning the End of Israeli Apartheid: An Interview With Ali Abunimah
by BAR Managing Editor Bruce Dixon

B DIXON:: Tell us how long you have been doing Electronic Intifada, and why you started it.

A. ABUNIMAH: Along with several other collaborators I started
Electronic Intifada about four and a half years ago. We did it for
much the same reason that you started Black Agenda Report, because
there were vibrant and important concerns and conversations going on
among the Palestinian people and their allies, conversations of which
we could find no trace in the mainstream media. In the beginning we
did a lot of political analysis, which we still do, along with some
coverage of Palestinian arts and culture. Lately we have been
emphasizing on first-hand, on-the-ground coverage of life as it is
lived by Palestinians under the occupation and blockade.

The conversation about Israel-Palestine in this country might as well
be about some other universe, it contains so many misconceptions and
outright lies. There has been very little very little attention given
to the context, to the history and daily lives of Palestinians living
under Israeli military occupation, living under apartheid-like laws
and practices in Israel. There's been very little attention given to
Palestinian art, music and culture, to the Palestinian Diaspora, which
is world wide by now, including here in the United States,. These are
all things you very rarely find reflected in the mainstream media, and
when you do it's often from a very distorted perspective. The
so-called experts on Palestine and Palestinians are very often those
who do not wish the best for the people of Palestine. That's why
Electronic Intifada exists.

B. DIXON:: You made a reference to apartheid-like laws in
Israel-Palestine. What should Americans know about that situation, and
if there was one thing that black people in particular needed to know
about these apartheid-like laws and situations in Israel-Palestine,
what would that be?

A. ABUNIMAH: I've been focuses a lot on this in recent years. I
devoted a chapter in my book One Country to the lessons of South
Africa for how we can move forward in Israel-Palestine. Looking at
some of the comparisons between Israel and South Africa, there's so
much to know. One of the things to know is we are not having this
discussion in the United States. But in the rest of the world they are
having it. Some of the key anti-apartheid leaders that are known by
Americans, and known by many black Americans, like Archbishop Desmond
Tutu have been very, very forthright in stating that what is happening
to Palestinians is apartheid. Ronnie Kasrils, a minister in the south
African government who happens to be Jewish. He has been one of the
most outspoken allies of the Palestinians, declaring that Israel is an
apartheid state.

And of course many Israeli leaders say it. For example just today
(April 25, 2008) in Ha'aretz, the newspaper of record in Israel, a
former member of Knesset, Israeli politician Yossi Sarid has an
article entitled "Yes, It's Apartheid". In which he compares Israel to
the apartheid state of south Africa.

The other thing I think is important to know is the history, that
throughout the 1970s and 80s, when black Americans were leading the
struggle against apartheid in this country, when they were the
conscience of this country in terms of putting apartheid South Africa
on the American political agenda, Israel was one of the key supporters
of apartheid South Africa. Israel is the country that systematically
violated the international arms embargo on South Africa. The weapons
used to beat and kill black demonstrators and freedom fighters in
South African townships were made in Israel, right down to the water
cannon used in the townships... the fighter jets, the gunboats, all
the heavy armament of the South African military used were in large
part supplied by Israel.

It's less well known, there is less hard evidence about it, although
some information is in the public domain regarding Israeili-South
African cooperation in their nuclear weapons programs.

B. DIXON::: We've in the midst of a presidential election here. What
difference will it make who gets elected US president to someone
living right now, say, in Gaza and to the Palestinian Diaspora?

A. ABUNIMAH: I am very pessimistic that it makes any difference at
all, because the tone and content of the politics on this issue in the
United States is really a competition to see who can be the most
pro-Israel candidate. That has been the case across the board with the
three candidates who are out there now. All three are competing to be
the most pro-Israeli to the point where Hillary Clinton has threatened
to "totally obliterate Iran" on behalf of Israel.

Barack Obama too has been, from his past and I know some of this
because I knew him hack in his Chicago days, he was much more
sympathetic and much more attuned to the plight of the Palestinians.
He used to be a lot more open minded, and now he is busy denying all
that and trying to portray himself as a stalwart and unconditional
supporter of Israel. So I don't see much change coming from mainstream
politics. I think we have to keep pushing from the grassroots for the
kind of change we want to see, that's where it will have to come from.

That's where it came from with the anti-apartheid struggle. The Reagan
administration didn't want to impose sanctions. Congress didn't want
to impost sanctions. There was a grassroots movement from the civil
rights leaders from the black churches and from others that finally
put pressure on the establishment to begin to do the right thing.

B. DIXON:: Back to Obama, we've got a lot of people who say that he's
just shammin', he's just doing what he has to do to get elected, doing
what he has to do to get in, but once he gets in, he's going to bring

A. ABUNIMAH: None of us can know what's deep down in his heart, we
have to take him ast his word. He says he is going to stand by Israel,
tha he's going to veto any UN resolutions which criticize Israel, the
he thinks Palestinians are largely to blame for their own problems..
We have to take his word for that, and hold him accountable for the
positions which he has stated. As for whether he is going to turn
around and do something different, well, I understand that a lot of
people hope that will be the case. But the reality of politics in this
country is that the things you have to do to get elected are the same
things you have to do to stay in office. I don't see what wold really
push him to change.

B. DIXON:: Tell us what is the Nakbah

A. ABUNIMAH: The Nakbah is an Arabic word, el nakbah. It means the
catastrophe. Palestinians use to to describe the events which took
place in late 1947 and continued into late 1948, when three quarters
of the Palestinan population were ethnically cleansed from their that the state of Israel could be established upon the ruins
of their society. In that process, 750,000 Palestinian were forced out
of their homes by an organized campaign carried out by the Zionist
movment. It wasn't yet the Israeli state. More than 500 Palestinian
towns, villages and cities were depopulated and destroyed, and the
Palestinians were driven into exile.

We're now in the third or fourth generation of that, though acutally
for many it's still a first generation experience. My parents for
example, lived though that, so this is very much a live and ongoing
catastrophe, not something that is only in the past because thisof
ethnic cleansing is continuing in Palestine against Palestinians who
are still there.

B. DIXON: How is it continuing?

A. ABUNIMAH: It's continuing in many ways. The irony of it is that
although the Zionist leaders very clearly intended, and this is
something that the Israili historian Ilan Pape talks about in his
latest book, The Ethnic Cleansiing of Palestine. They had a very claer
intentiuon to get rid of the Palestinians because you cn't set up a
Jewish state in a place where the majority of the population is not

They had to get rid of that majority population. Despite that, the
Palestinian population today is actually larger, with more
Palestinians living in Palestine than any time before. They have a
very high birth rate, and they have a very strong commitment to their
land, regardless of the obstacles put in their way.

What Israel has been trying to do is exclude or expel the Palestinians
politically and literally. They do it by taking their land to build
fortified Jewish-only settlements which the American media calls
"neighborhoods". They do it by building walls around entire
Palestinian cities and communities, a wall the rest of the world
outside the United States calls "the apartheid wall". We can see that
not only in Gaza, where almost a million and a half Palestinians are
confined to a vast open air prison. We can see it by the other
Palestinian cities and towns that are surrounded by these walls and
barbed wire fences. It's a process of physical expulsion as well, as
every day more and more land is taken, more and more Palestinians are
pushed off it.

Israel has moved this population in exactly the same ways that the
former South African government did when it tried to pen up its black
population in bantustans.

It's exactly the same thing that South Africa did when they said OK,
blacks are physically present on this land but we are going to make
your politically invisible gy creating these fake independent states.
If you want citizenship, if you want the right to vote, go home to one
of your bantustans and exercise your political rights there, but you
don't get to vote for the real government of the country.

B DIXON Exactly what is goiing on in Gaza right now, and what is
collective punishment

A. ABUNIMAH: Imagine that here on my block in Chicago, a kid is
accused of a crime, let's say robbing a store. Instead of the police
looking for the individual, arresting and charging that person with a
crime, they simply surround the block with armored vehicles and tanks,
order everyone out of their houses, arrest all the men, or simply
destroy the entire block. That is an example of the kind of collective
punishments which have been implemented against Palestinians for
decades. Israelis claim that they are defending themselves against the
Palestinians, but that's just like saying the United States was
defending itself against the Native Americans.

So now Gaza is totally cut off from the outside world. There are a
million and a half Palestinians living there, I have friends living
there. We try to stay in touch by email when they have electricity,
but the electricity is frequently cut off by the Israelis who deny
Gaza the fuel to keep the power plants running. The universities have
shut down because there is no power, cancer patients are dying because
they can't get chemotherapy, the lives of dialysis patients are
threatened because they cannot get the treatment they need. People
cannot get to school to work, can't keep their businesses open. Eighty
percent of the population, and these are proud, independent-minded
people, are subsisting on charity, on rations handed out by the UN,
malnutrition is rampant....

B DIXON: And why would the Israeli government do that?

A. ABUNIMAH: We've reprinted the statements of Israeli officials at
Electronic Intifada which appeared in the Israeli press. They say
their objective is to put pressure on the Palestinian populaiton so
they will put pressure on their leaders to submit to what we want.
Palestinians had a democratic election, back in 2006 and they elected
the "wrong leaders"., leaders which Israel and the United States don't
want, so they have to be starved into submission for that crime.

B. DIXON: We hear all the time from the mouths of the US Secretary of
State, from Bush, from the presidential candidates about what they
call an independent Palestinian state, but which you call a bantustan.
What's wrong with an independent Palestinian state?

A. ABUNIMAH: What's wrong with an independent Palestinian state is
that it' is a bantustan, just like the little back country South
African reservations to which the apartheid government proposed to
relocate most of its black population. A so-called independent
Palestinian state is a complete farce, with no possibility of an
independent economy, since Palestinian territory is divided into
dozens of pieces separated by Israeli-only roads and fortified
settlements, by walls, barbed wire and checkpoints.

In the case of South Africa, nobody bought it. The South African
people didn't buy it, and no country in the world acknowledged these
little puppets as real independent states. Most importantly, the South
African leadership, Nelson Mandela and the ANC refused to play this
game. They said we want our whole country, we want our full rights.

The difference, I would say, between the proposed Palestinian state
and the bantustans is that the bantustans actually had more territory,
and more resources than the fake Palestinian state. The Palestinian
state is simply a ruse to hide and to perpetuate the fact of Israeli

B. DIXON: If a separate Palestinian state is no solution, then what
needs to happen in Israel-Palestine?

A. ABUNIMAH: We have to recognize that in Israel-Palestine today there
are 10.8 million people. 48% of them are NOT Israeli Jews. The
majority population right now are Palestinians and others, with the
numbers of Jews and Palestinians being about equal, at just under
half. Another five percent who are neither Palestinians nor Jews make
up the rest. But the trends are very clear. Within five to ten years
at most, Palestinians will be an absolute majority of the population
of the state of Israel-Palestine, just as they were sixty years ago.

What we need to be saying is that this Jewish minority has a right to
live in peace. It has a right to be secure. It has a right to be part
of the country. It cannot have better rights and special rights over
the rest of the population. It must not have the exclusive right to
determine the destiny of the country. What we need to do, and this is
what I have been arguing with other Palestinians, is we need to be
talking not about a separate Palestinian state because that is a pipe
dream. The geography doesn't work, the economy doesn't work.

We should be calling for full civil and economic rights for everyone
who lives within the boundaries of the country, whether they are
Jewish or Palestinian or anything else. And of course we need to be
calling for full decolonization, for reparations and restitution for
the victims of the current regime.

Those are the two things that have to happen; equality and
restitution. Legal equality without restitution is not enough, as we
know from the history of this country. There also has to be active
restitution for the victims. I don't see why Palestinians and Israeli
Jews cannot live together peacefully under such a situation.

B. DIXON: The picture you have painted for us is not a bright and
happy one. What if anything, makes you hopeful?

A. ABUNIMAH: What makes me hopeful is that 60 years of catastrophe
have not dimmed the will of Palestinians to see justice done. 60 years
of brutality, of oppression, by Israel have not succeeded in
establishing the legitimacy of that regime. Each day, the Israelis
have to wake up and prove to the world that their state has a right to
exist as what they call a Jewish state, and what I call an apartheid
state. They have not been able to succeed. There is growing,
nonviolent global political movement to bring justice to Palestinians,
and only that can bring peace to Israelis.

Apartheid and colonialism lasted for 300 years before they were
brought down. The Soviet Union lasted for eighty years, and nobody
anticipated its collapse either. You look at the history of this
country where there is so much further to go, and yet there was change
here as a result of social movements, not from the top down, but from
the bottom up, coming from the efforts of people who decided they were
not going to take this any more, that they would stand up for their
rights. Every single one of these social movements has prevailed
against overwhelming odds, and against enemies determined to hold onto
power at any cost.

So Palestinians are in good company in this struggle, and we are in a
position to put forth a vision of justice that can serve all the
people living in Israel-Palestine.


Mr. Abunimah is the author of One Country, A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse, and co-counder of Electronic Intifada. EI publishes news, commentary, analysis, and reference materials about
the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict from a Palestinian perspective. EI is the leading Palestinian portal for information about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its depiction in the media.

Bruce Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)