Archives: August 2005

Mon Aug 29, 2005

Press Release: European Delegation calls on European Union and EU Member States to hold Israel to account

JERUSALEM. Between 22 and 28 August, a European Delegation of former ministers from The Netherlands, Ireland and Germany and a high-ranking former ambassador from France paid a fact finding visit to Israel and Palestine (i.e. Occupied Palestinian Territories). The Delegation also consisted of five civil society representatives from Europe. The Delegation was led by Prof. Andreas van Agt, Prime Minister of The Netherlands from 1977 to 1982.

After visiting Israel and Palestine for five days and meeting with numerous civil society representatives on both sides, as well as several parliamentarians, the Delegation calls on the European Union and EU Member State officials and institutions dealing with Israel and Palestine, in particular their own governments, to act decisively and hold Israel to account for its ongoing violations of International Law.

The visit took place shortly after Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip. The Delegation embarked on its trip at this crucial moment in time, to witness and assess at first-hand those facts that (continue to) threaten the prospects for a just peace and that are not being decisively addressed by the international community.

Posted by: Mona Baker on Aug 29, 05 | 11:02 am

Fri Aug 26, 2005

"Disengaging" from ghettos and walls: Challenges to the Palestinian liberation struggle under the myth of victory

Without a doubt, the Zionist Occupation of Palestine did not evacuate the Gaza settlers out of good will. The Occupation understood that it would never be able to defeat Palestinians in Gaza, and despite all the Israeli crimes, sieges, and massacres, that the Palestinian resistance could not be broken. Israel failed in its attempts to create internal Palestinian conflict in Gaza. It became a costly and heavy burden for the Zionists and a perpetual source of fear for its soldiers and settlers.

Yet in the midst of the Palestinian “victory” celebrations - led by various political forces, and the media fanfare that included live Arab and international media coverage of every step of the settler evacuation - the Palestinian people look on with frustration, knowing full-well that Israel will make them pay a heavy price for the so-called “disengagement”. While in the West Bank the construction of the apartheid ghettos and their gates, the expansion of the settlements, and the opening of new settler-bypass roads accelerates, Gaza is becoming an even larger prison. The image of Gaza workers lining-up in the Erez checkpoint is inscribed in our memory, and the West Bank seems destined for a similar future. Concurrently, Jerusalem is treated as if it was already ethnically cleansed and all opportunities to save it have been extinguished. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Aug 26, 05 | 9:02 am

Tue Aug 23, 2005

Divestment, Boycott, and the Idea of Peace in Palestine

I Introduction: Changing the Actors, Rewriting the Script

Divestment and Boycott have recently been embraced by international civil society as a means to achieving a comprehensive and just settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The choice of divestment and boycott as strategies for positive social change has its basis in a number of interrelated considerations. First of all, precedents for successful campaigns exist, the most important being the drive to isolate and exclude apartheid era South Africa from the activities of international civil society. With some significant modifications, past campaigns can serve as models for the movement to divest from and boycott Israel. Activists can restructure and re-conceptualize tactics and particular strategies that proved their usefulness and transformative potency in previous campaigns and less fruitful approaches can be treated with caution and either reformulated to suit present conditions or discarded in their entirety. The historical information available to the burgeoning movement to divest from Israel covers multiple dimensions of social action, ranging from media to outreach to an understanding of institutional constraints in particular settings.

Another important consideration has to do with the way in which divestment facilitates movement building. Although there are significant differences between the struggle for justice in Palestine and other movements for liberation around the world, there are also important and relevant similarities. With the implementation of effective outreach strategies, divestment and boycott can provide a framework for social action that unifies diverse activist constituencies around these common concerns and interests. Under these conditions, Palestine solidarity activism can become more fully integrated into the global social justice movement and can more effectively contribute towards other struggles for basic human rights. To take one example, in addition to being a concrete mode of resistance to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, divesting from companies that supply the Israeli military with weapons is also an effective way of resisting militarism, unethical corporate practices, and the advance of globalized capitalism. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Aug 23, 05 | 11:56 am

How we left Gaza

We will never know with certainty what took place in the mind of Ariel Sharon in February 2004, when he first declared, without consulting anyone, that he is ready to evacuate the Jewish settlements in Gaza. But if we try to put together the pieces of the disengagement puzzle, the scenario that makes most sense is that Sharon believed that this time, as before, he would find a way of evading the plan. This would explain, for example, why the Gaza settlers have not yet received compensation money and why, as the Saturday Supplement of Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot revealed on August 5, almost no steps have been taken to prepare for their absorption into Israel. (1)

Sharon had good reason to believe that he would succeed in his avoidance tactics. In the previous round, when confronted with the Bush administration’s road map, he committed himself to a cease fire, during which Israel was to revert to the status quo of pre-September 2000, freeze settlement construction and remove outposts. None of this was carried out. Sharon and the army claimed that Mahmud Abbas (in the previous round) was not trustworthy and had failed to rein in Hamas. The army continued its assassination policy and succeeded in bringing the Occupied Territories to an unprecedented boiling point, followed by the inevitable Palestinian terror attacks that shattered the cease fire. During the entire time, the first-term Bush administration stood by Sharon’s side and dutifully echoed all his complaints against Abbas. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Aug 23, 05 | 11:30 am

Mon Aug 22, 2005

End the Occupation Conference Report

Campaign to End the Occupation Conference Report

4th Annual National Organizers’ Conference

US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

July 29—August 1, 2005, Atlanta, GA

Overview … 2. Priority Actions … 3. Steering Committee Elections
4. Notes from Presentations and Workshops … 5. Evaluation More...

Posted by: LDavidson on Aug 22, 05 | 8:09 pm

Sat Aug 20, 2005

Nation as trauma, Zionism as question: Jacqueline Rose interviewed

In “The Question of Zion”, Jacqueline Rose applies the insights of psychoanalysis to the inner world of Zionist doctrine and attitudes. openDemocracy’s Rosemary Bechler talks to her.

openDemocracy: The Question of Zion is dedicated to the memory of Edward Said: its title a tribute to his 1979 work, The Question of Palestine. In what sense is this study a continuation of Edward Said’s project?

Jacqueline Rose: There is a neglected strand in Edward’s work, which begins with that book’s key chapter, “Zionism from the standpoint of its victims”, and continues in his 1997 essay, “Bases for Coexistence”. In the latter, he says: “we cannot coexist as two communities of detached and uncommunicatingly separate suffering.”

He argues that there has to be understanding not just of the others’ history, but of the others’ history of suffering. He also asserts: “The internal cohesion and solidity of Israel, of Israelis as a people and as a society, have, for the most part, eluded the understanding of Arabs generally.” He sees that as a failure.

It is my belief that this same understanding has eluded the critics of Israel. So my starting-point is the Gramscian exhortation to anyone wishing to navigate history that runs through Edward Said’s writing also: of knowing yourself as a “product of the historical process”. He described Zionism as having an “immense traumatic effectiveness” for the Palestinians. In such comments he is making a plea for something almost impossible: to hold on to the twin emotions of empathy and rage. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Aug 20, 05 | 4:50 pm

The settlers' retreat was the theatre of the cynical

Contrast the world's overwhelming coverage, especially on television, of the departure of Israeli settlers from Gaza with the minimal reporting of larger and more brutal evictions in previous months.
There was no "sensitivity training" for Israeli troops, no buses to drive the expellees away, no generous deadlines to get ready, no compensation packages for their homes, and no promise of government-subsidised alternative housing when the bulldozers went into Rafah. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Aug 20, 05 | 4:40 pm

The Murder of Muhammad “Niinu” Al-‘Assi

Editors’ Note:

This is a rare eyewitness account (with photographs) of one of the hundreds of illegal “targeted murders” by Israel of young Palestinian men, members of the legal Resistance. As such, its importance cannot be overstated. It is the only eyewitness account of this particular brutal murder and thus supersedes the plethora of erroneous reports that have circulated in the media in recent weeks (see, for example, the press report excerpted at the end of this piece.)

As a professional journalist, an elected member of the National Union of Journalists (UK) and of the International Federation of Journalists, Anne Gwynne is entitled to interview whomsoever she wishes, wherever she wishes and whenever she wishes in pursuance of truth and justice.

Anne was part of a team from ITV Wales which made two films in Balaata/Naablus shown in the UK in January 2004 and January 2005. The second featured Muhammad Al-‘Assi. She was gathering material for a follow-up of that interview, to piece together the story of the Al-‘Assi family’s unequalled suffering since 1948, when they were driven from their home near Jaffa by well-armed, invading Jewish colonists.

* all timings may have 5 minute error.

* the report is not definitive, as she may remember more details of this devastatingly traumatic night as time goes by.

This is her testimony and commentary.

I felt that I must put the record straight as so many lies have been written and spoken about this murder.

What follows is the only true account of what really happened on the night of Wednesday/Thursday, 13/14 July, 2005 at my home in Sharra’ Imreij – a quiet street of villas in the leafy residential neighborhood of Raffidiya, Nablus – a happy place where I have lived contentedly for months, a place whose peace was shattered on an idyllic summer evening by up to 100 Israeli ‘soldiers’ who, without warning, attacked my small villa, brutally murdering an unarmed man within a few minutes, and abducting a student to the dreaded Petakh Tikfah torture center. More...

Posted by: Charles MacKinnon on Aug 20, 05 | 6:31 am

Mon Aug 15, 2005

In Praise of Incitement

The struggle against incitement is the refuge of cowards, who are afraid to attack the inciters for their genuine acts of injustice. The battle by Attorney General Menachem Mazuz against turning incitement into a wholesale offense is an important fight to preserve freedom of expression in Israel. More...

Posted by: LDavidson on Aug 15, 05 | 12:31 am

Sun Aug 14, 2005

US Church Rebukes Israel for Barrier

A five-million-strong US church has rebuked Israel for building a separation barrier along the West Bank, becoming the second major US Protestant denomination to reject policies implemented by the Jewish state. More...

Posted by: LDavidson on Aug 14, 05 | 7:31 pm

Fri Aug 12, 2005

Meanwhile, Israel grabs the rest of Jerusalem

JERUSALEM After more than 38 years of its oppressive military occupation of the Gaza Strip, Israel will soon begin evacuating the few thousand settlers who have been denying freedom to more than a million Palestinians there. Israel has marketed the Gaza withdrawal as yet another historic opportunity to jump-start the peace process. But Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem indicate that Israel's unilaterally imposed disengagement was never meant to start a peace process, but rather to end one.

As the world's attention is diverted by scenes of the removal of settlers who had no right to be in Gaza in the first place, the real strategy behind disengagement is revealed by Israel's aggressive moves to consolidate its occupation of Jerusalem's eastern Palestinian sector.

At stake is the very basis of peace between Palestinians and Israelis - a negotiated two-state solution. Israel's plan is to use "concessions" in Gaza to remove Jerusalem from the negotiation table. But without Jerusalem as a shared capital for Palestinians and Israelis, there is no two-state solution. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Aug 12, 05 | 9:23 am

Mon Aug 08, 2005

Compare and contrast: Review of The Question of Zion

Likening the Israelis' treatment of Palestinians with the Holocaust is outrageous to most Jews. But Jacqueline Rose has dared to do just that in The Question of Zion, says Rafael Behr

The Question of Zion
Jacqueline Rose
Princeton University Press £12.95, pp155

Shortly after the bombs went off in London last week, Ariel Sharon, Israel's Prime Minister, issued a gagging order to stop his ministers from commenting on the event. It was good diplomatic judgment. Sharon knew that his lieutenants would race to draw parallels between Britain's terror threat and Israel's and that the comparison could look like point scoring - 'Now you see it from our point of view' - when the hour demanded apolitical condolence.

But Sharon also knows that the comparison is specious. Britain's war with terrorists and Israel's war with the Palestinians have distinct histories. They merge only inside heads of fundamentalist jihadis, for whom 'British imperialism' makes common cause with 'Zionism' in a conspiracy against Islam. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Aug 08, 05 | 4:20 pm

Sat Aug 06, 2005

U.S. Presbyterian Church targets five companies with Israel links

A Presbyterian committee accused five companies of contributing to "ongoing violence that plagues Israel and Palestine" and pledged to use the church's multimillion-dollar stock holdings in the businesses to pressure them to stop.

The move Friday follows a vote last year by leaders of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to put economic pressure on companies that profit from Israeli policy in the West Bank and Gaza. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Aug 06, 05 | 7:05 pm

Threat to Divest Is Church Tool in Israeli Fight

The Presbyterian Church U.S.A. announced Friday that it would press four American corporations to stop providing military equipment and technology to Israel for use in the occupation of the Palestinian territories, and that if the companies did not comply, the church would take a vote to divest its stock in them.

The companies - Caterpillar, Motorola, ITT Industries and United Technologies - were selected from a list of several dozen possibilities by a church investment committee that met Friday in Seattle. The Presbyterians accused these companies of selling helicopters, cellphones, night vision equipment and other items Israel uses to enforce its occupation.

Posted by: Mona Baker on Aug 06, 05 | 5:23 pm

Tue Aug 02, 2005

Left-Wing Refusenik Movement Shuts Down

The left-wing refusenik movement Courage to Refuse (Ometz Lessarev) shut down its offices Sunday and laid off its only paid employee. More...

Posted by: LDavidson on Aug 02, 05 | 9:30 pm