Archives: October 2005

Sat Oct 29, 2005

No US-Backed Israeli Government Has Offered Equal Rights to Palestinians: The Last Moment of Hope

This month marks the fifth anniversary of the Palestinian uprising and may well be the last moment for making peace in Israel and Palestine. Peace is not only important for the people who live there. It will pay dividends to the world and especially to the United States.

This is because a prolonged conflict in Palestine will destabilize the Arab world and allow its leaders to continue ignoring urgent issues such as poverty and democracy. The unsolved Palestinian question means that that the age of colonialism is not over and that dealing with poverty or liberty can be described as a luxury. As long as the Palestinian refugees who were expelled by Jewish newcomers in 1948 cannot return home and as long as the military occupation of the territories conquered by Israel in 1967 persists, there will be no lasting solution. No peace proposal to date has offered a fair solution to either the Palestinian refugees or those continuing to live under a brutal military occupation. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 29, 05 | 10:08 am

Fri Oct 28, 2005

Academics against Israel

The problem of scholars injecting politics into their classroom and published works is an old one. But a powerful new article by Ofira Seliktar demonstrates that Israeli scholars - historians, political scientists, and others - have gone far beyond protesting against their state in these ways. In conjunction with pro-Palestinian and "peace" activists many have actively worked to delegitimize Israel in the eyes of the world, and have proposed its destruction. This is being paid for by Jewish support of higher education in Israel, and of organizations such as the US-based Association for Israel Studies. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 28, 05 | 3:09 pm

The Quiet Occupation: Part II

One of the difficulties in writing regularly about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is, in my eyes, that so little ever changes. The basic constants – above all, Israel's overwhelming military, economic, and political superiority, all serving its colonialist aims – change slightly over years, if at all. The media concentrate on immediate episodes: a violent incident, a statement, a peace plan – but in hindsight, they all make very little difference. In the longer term, the realities on the ground are ultimately derived from the aims and interests of the stronger side, with minor considerations, modifications, or delays due to Palestinian resistance or international reservations. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 28, 05 | 2:54 pm

The Quiet Occupation (Part I)

What is the first picture the term "occupation" raises in our mind? Probably some kind of extreme violence among civilians: lethal fire in the middle of town, terrified kids in pajamas watching heavily armed soldiers searching a house, a helicopter firing a missile in the midst of Gaza. All these violent scenes do happen, but they do not give an adequate picture of what the occupation really looks like.

Very few people realize that Israel has turned life in the occupied territories (Israeli settlers excluded) into complete misery without any need to fire a single bullet. A unique, invaluable glance into the mechanisms that constitute this "quiet" occupation, usually hidden behind the literal smokescreen of violence, is given by the first annual report of the Israeli human rights group Machsom Watch, presented in a press conference in Tel Aviv last week. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 28, 05 | 2:51 pm

The university's fig leaf

Under different circumstances, the appointment of Professor Majd al-Haj as dean of research at the University of Haifa - a position that at other universities is called "vice president for research" - would inspire satisfaction and support. But not under the present circumstances. Every fool knows that through this appointment, the University of Haifa intends to fight a renewed call for boycotting the institution in Britain. What could be better than a scholarly Arab placed in charge of the university's research and international contacts? More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 28, 05 | 1:52 pm

Wed Oct 26, 2005

the Invisibility of Palestinian Nonviolent Resistance in the New York Times

The fact that thousands of Palestinians and hundreds of Israelis are together employing nonviolent tactics similar to those of the U.S. civil rights movement and the South African anti-Apartheid movement would come as surprising and welcome news to most Americans. Americans are largely unaware of the struggling but vibrant grassroots nonviolent movement in Palestine, because the U.S. corporate media prefers a simple, flawed story of Palestinian terrorist attacks and Israeli retaliation. More...

Posted by: LDavidson on Oct 26, 05 | 9:06 pm

Fri Oct 21, 2005

Evangelicals slam efforts by Protestants to divest from Israel

Evangelical Christians on Thursday criticized efforts by some Christian groups to divest from companies associated with Israel and said they planned to counter with a campaign of their own to create partnerships between Israel and international businesses. More...

Posted by: LDavidson on Oct 21, 05 | 9:26 pm

Who will have courage to stand up?

The disconnect between law, justice and truth in Iraq will reach its highest extreme in the show trial of Saddam Hussein, writes Ian Douglas*

This week Iraqis voted on a document written by local agents of an occupying power; a power that regardless of domestic considerations is never leaving Iraq entirely. Now, amid kidnappings, organised crime on an unprecedented scale and a death toll from bombings and assassinations reaching around 500 a month -- in short a situation where everyone is made to feel a target -- Iraqis are being invited to witness the greatest travesty in the history of law: the trial of Saddam Hussein.

Why is Saddam important? To most Iraqis he's not. Since the beginning of the war in 2003, its architects have continually refused to see that being Baathist in Iraq is not synonymous with being Saddamist. The former is anti-imperialist, pan-Arab and socialist in orientation; the geostrategic reasons obvious as to why the neocons in Washington blur the two together. If sympathy with Saddam remains, it is only to the extent that he, particularly since his capture (and parading him in his underwear didn't help), is a mirror of the humiliation that befell the entire country at the hands of the US-led invasion. It is that and the brutality of the military occupation (the turning point being the wholesale decimation of Fallujah) that people in Iraq are so conscious of. How can this occupation, they ask, which has killed, according to the original figure which The Lancet intended to publish but which was deemed too shocking for a Western public to believe, around 200,000 Iraqis, judge anyone else on war crimes? How can the United States, which championed sanctions for 14 years and invaded under the name of "shock and awe", have the audacity to cry with the Iraqis over their loses? As one Iraqi who spoke on condition of anonymity to Al-Ahram Weekly remarked, "Let them execute Saddam; but who will execute them?" More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 21, 05 | 3:37 pm

Thu Oct 20, 2005

Evangelical Christians donate $40,000 to Gaza evacuees

Evangelical Christians have so far donated $40,000 to Gaza evacuees. More donations for settlers are expected in coming weeks, said David Parsons, spokesman of the International Christian Embassy, one of the groups involved in the fund-raising. More...

Posted by: LDavidson on Oct 20, 05 | 4:00 am

Wed Oct 19, 2005

Why I had to wreck a singer's night at the Barbican

Novelist Nicholas Blincoe explains what he hopes to achieve by a boycott of Israeli artists

The moment before I ran on stage at the Barbican, I was more conscious of my pulse rate than I have ever been in my life. The event was MedFest 2002, a celebration of music from the nations of the Mediterranean. I knew I would be nervous, but hoped adrenaline would see me through. My carefully chosen wear included a pinstriped Savile Row suit, orange tie and a large cotton sheet spray-painted with the slogan 'Cultural Boycott of Israel'. I left my seat and edged to the aisle, pausing while mycolleague, Chris Dunham, joined me. Then we ran for the stage to disrupt the act of Israeli folk-singer Noa. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 19, 05 | 9:43 am

The Iraqi Constitution: A Referendum for Disaster

The constitutional process culminating in
Saturday's referendum is not a sign of Iraqi
sovereignty and democracy taking hold, but rather a
consolidation of U.S. influence and control.
Whether Iraq's draft constitution is approved or
rejected, the decision is likely to make the
current situation worse. More...

Posted by: LDavidson on Oct 19, 05 | 12:19 am

Mon Oct 17, 2005

Israel Confesses to its Crimes

LAST week, the mass media discussed the proposal of the Military Prosecution Authority of the Israeli Army on the need to change names of senior officers and pilots to false ones when they set out on missions abroad, lest some European countries arrest them on the charges of committing massacres and war crimes. More...

Posted by: LDavidson on Oct 17, 05 | 10:10 pm

What Awaits Samira

A few days ago, at a conference in Europe, I met a charming young lady. Intelligent, well educated, versed in several languages, and, well, very attractive. After a few hours of shopping, she was as elegant as a model, dressed in the very latest fashion. She happens to be a Shiite from Baghdad, where she has now returned. Let's call her Samira. More...

Posted by: LDavidson on Oct 17, 05 | 12:02 am

Sat Oct 15, 2005

Christian prophetic voices face many battles

Publicly supporting equal rights for Palestinians alongside Israelis has always been a risky venture in the United States, as an American professor who heads the only Middle Eastern studies center at an evangelical American university is discovering these days. The Reverend Donald Wagner, professor and director of the Center of Middle Eastern Studies at North Park University in Chicago for the past 10 years, has had his tenure appointment blocked and, with two other prominent Palestinian clergymen, is being subjected to a campaign of criticism and vilification in the American and Israeli press. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 15, 05 | 4:27 pm

Two-thirds of Israelis against more pullouts

More than two-thirds of Israelis are against any more pullouts from the West Bank until a final peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Posted by: LDavidson on Oct 15, 05 | 1:52 pm

Wed Oct 12, 2005

Turkey tranfers Ottoman land Records Palestinian Authority

The Turkish government on Sunday gave the Palestinian Authority a copy of the Ottoman archive containing all documents pertaining to land ownership in pre-state Israel through 1916. More...

Posted by: LDavidson on Oct 12, 05 | 9:31 pm

Tue Oct 11, 2005

Film Review: Rachel Corrie-An American Conscience

When our daughter Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli bulldozer in the Gaza strip on March 16 2003, an immediate impulse was to get her words out to the world. She had been working in Rafah with a nonviolent resistance organisation, the International Solidarity Movement, trying to stop the demolition of Palestinian homes and wells. Her emails home had had a powerful impact on our family, making us think about the situation in the Middle East in ways we had never done before. Without a direct connection to Israel and Palestine, we had not understood the devastating nature of the Palestinians' situation. Coming from the US, our allegiance and empathy had always been with the people of Israel. More...

Posted by: LDavidson on Oct 11, 05 | 8:59 pm

Qatar Funds New Stadium in Israel

Qatar has become the first Arab country to donate money to a town inside Israel, giving $6 million to a city in northern Israel to build a football stadium.

Posted by: LDavidson on Oct 11, 05 | 8:44 pm

Wed Oct 05, 2005

The house that became a war zone

The first soldiers to arrive on Khalil Bashir's doorstep in Gaza five years ago explained the new geography of his home in terms he understood only too well. His three-storey house was to be like the West Bank, the Israeli officer said, with its areas of divided security and administrative control.

The army designated the living room as "Area A", after the part of the occupied territories where the Palestinians have control, and told all three generations of the Bashirs, from 81-year-old Zanah to her five-year-old granddaughter, that they were confined there for most nights and sometimes for much of the day. It was the only part of the house they could still call their own.

The bathroom, kitchen and bedrooms were "Area B", where Palestinians administer themselves but Israel has security control. In the Bashir home that meant soldiers had priority and the family had to ask permission to cook or go to the toilet.

And then came "Area C", where the Israeli military government runs everything and the Palestinians have no authority. The soldiers warned the Bashirs that all of their home above the ground floor was Area C and if they ventured up the stairs they would be shot.

The Israeli army then set up a machine gun post on the terraced roof facing into Gaza's Deir al-Balah neighbourhood, surrounded it with sandbags, barbed wire and camouflage netting, and took over the lives of Khalil and Suad Bashir and their eight children. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 05, 05 | 1:38 pm

Sun Oct 02, 2005

Case for divesting from Israeli interests

UW System Investment Policy 78-1 states that all investments “made in any company, corporation, subsidiary or affiliate which practices or condones through its actions discrimination on the basis of race religion, color, creed or sex … shall be divested in as prudent but rapid a manner as possible.”

It was on the basis of 78-1 that the UW System divested from apartheid-era South Africa, a state that practiced systematic discrimination on the basis of race. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 02, 05 | 8:13 pm