Category Archives: occupation

A Palestinian Tahrir

Unrest across the Arab world hasn’t passed Palestinians by. Palestinians will march for unity and against the occupation on March 15th.

Pam Bailey on IPS Newsnet:

“Gazan youth groups are near unanimous in their support of the Palestinian Authority’s call for elections, although – as Abu Yazan points out – that will be impossible until the two parties reach some kind of unity agreement. Hamas has come out firmly against Fatah’s plan for September elections, and without its participation, they would be a farce.

Ali Abdul Bari, a 24-year-old leader of Esha (Wake Up), a liberal, secular group devoted to promoting human rights, tells a story to illustrate just how deep the divide is. His group posted a sign demanding elections near the destroyed Palestinian Parliament building in downtown Gaza City. It was removed by Hamas 90 minutes later, despite the permit they had obtained. Later, many group members were interrogated or had their backgrounds checked.”

There is little prospect of Egypt lifting the blockade of Gaza:

“Meanwhile, there is broad agreement that the blockade against Gaza is the primary cause of their suffering. Many youth leaders interviewed are not optimistic that the regime change in Egypt will reverse its longstanding collaboration with Israel’s blockade of Gaza. “The military (in Egypt) have already said they will honour all prior international agreements,” observes Mohammed Ashekh Yousef, 22, a leader with the youth group Fikra (idea).”

Nevertheless, Sandy Tolan in Al Jazeera:

“In the revolutionary spirit spreading across the Middle East, Palestinian youth groups have become a small but important catalyst in a building wave of discontent with PA repression and complicity in a failed “peace process” backed by the US. The groups’ actions are sparked not only by events in the region, but by the US veto of the UN Security Council’s condemnation of Israeli settlements. A widening circle of Palestinian groups are calling for an end to negotiations with Israel, an end to the political division between the West Bank and Gaza and wholesale reform of the PA and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). Some advocate dissolving the PA completely.

Fatah and Hamas have failed Palestinian society,” says Nader Said, a Palestinian pollster and political analyst. Youth, he says, “represent the pulse and conscience of Palestine”. In Gaza, Said says, young people “are the ones who have demonstrated in the middle of the shooting, covering their faces with paper bags,” so that security forces would refrain from possibly shooting a brother or cousin. “They are the soul of the Palestinians,” but by themselves, “they’re not strong enough to carry the emancipation agenda.”

Yet the message is resonating well beyond the youth groups. As Palestinians under a 43-year occupation watch their Arab neighbours fight for democracy, pressure increases on the PA to reform itself – or at least, to appear to do so. Faced with the threat of the US veto, the PA sought to burnish its resistance credentials by refusing to yield to American pressure to call off the Security Council vote. And Salam Fayyad, the prime minister, recently sent a message to Palestinian youth via Facebook, asking for input as he forms a new Palestinian cabinet. Within hours, he received hundreds of replies – some supportive, some sceptical.”

It is dangerous for Palestinians to demonstrate against their authorities. Omar Karem has an account of police beatings at Gaza City’s equivalent of Cair’s Tahrir Square, the Square of the Unknown Soldier. Modernity has more. Gaza Youth Breaks Out, whose manifesto we reproduced, have been attacked for criticising Hamas. Perhaps including a few slogans about Zionists controlling the international community will persuade the Hamas supporters that GYBO is down?

“Many activists reject our movement and consider us as some Zionist machinery because in the manifesto, we’ve been denouncing Hamas – among others. It’s always amazing to see the shortcuts people’s minds can take and how good they are at condemning without even trying to understand. We’d like to remind all our goal: yes we are frustrated and tired of being oppressed, killed, humiliated and kept from even leaving to study in other countries, yes we denounce political parties governing us because they didn’t help in anything, but we denounce ALL of them, not ONLY Hamas. We are TIRED of the status quo, from all sides. Political parties have all had the time and chances to BRING THE CHANGE, but we haven’t seen anything yet.

We’re NOT calling for a political coup, let’s be clear on this. We’re young people who want to work for the PEOPLE, we denounce the misery we live in, we denounce their division, and reject their fight, because they are not helping us. But more than Fatah and Hamas, who remains Palestinians just like us, ABOVE ALL we denounce the Occupier & its puppet the International Community who fails, day after day, in its duty to impose sanctions on “Israel”.

Our followers, readers, and those who are not supporting us yet must keep in mind THIS message: we have ONE enemy which is the Zionist Occupier. Hopefully this call will shake our political leaders, wake them up and remind them that they are responsible of us! Hopefully they will realize that what we want is UNITY, and NO MORE DIVISION, because it makes Israeli terrorism’s impact on our lives even worse.”

On Harry’s Place, Shlomo Yosef notes that the international solidarity movements for Palestinians have their own agendas, and cautions:

“I urge everyone to look at the careful messaging on the Arabic page, look at the demands and look at the slogans that people will carry on March 15th itself. The Palestinian protest is different from the others across the Arab world due to their liminal situation – listening to what the youth are actually calling for is vital in considering how to respond.”

It can’t be easy. Palestinians can seek a unity along nationalist lines, with hatred of Israel as the glue. Alternatively, Palestinians can pursue a positive agenda of strong democratic civil society against the occupation, and claim the support of the Israeli people.

To end, Gaza free running:

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Gaza Youth Breaks Out – manifesto for change

GAZA’S YOUTH MANIFESTO FOR CHANGE!

Gaza Youth Breaks Out (GYBO), Monday, 13 December 2010

Fuck Hamas. Fuck Israel. Fuck Fatah. Fuck UN. Fuck UNWRA. Fuck USA! We, the youth in Gaza, are so fed up with Israel, Hamas, the occupation, the violations of human rights and the indifference of the international community! We want to scream and break this wall of silence, injustice and indifference like the Israeli F16’s breaking the wall of sound; scream with all the power in our souls in order to release this immense frustration that consumes us because of this fucking situation we live in; we are like lice between two nails living a nightmare inside a nightmare, no room for hope, no space for freedom. We are sick of being caught in this political struggle; sick of coal dark nights with airplanes circling above our homes; sick of innocent farmers getting shot in the buffer zone because they are taking care of their lands; sick of bearded guys walking around with their guns abusing their power, beating up or incarcerating young people demonstrating for what they believe in; sick of the wall of shame that separates us from the rest of our country and keeps us imprisoned in a stamp-sized piece of land; sick of being portrayed as terrorists, homemade fanatics with explosives in our pockets and evil in our eyes; sick of the indifference we meet from the international community, the so-called experts in expressing concerns and drafting resolutions but cowards in enforcing anything they agree on; we are sick and tired of living a shitty life, being kept in jail by Israel, beaten up by Hamas and completely ignored by the rest of the world.

There is a revolution growing inside of us, an immense dissatisfaction and frustration that will destroy us unless we find a way of canalizing this energy into something that can challenge the status quo and give us some kind of hope. The final drop that made our hearts tremble with frustration and hopelessness happened 30th November, when Hamas’ officers came to Sharek Youth Forum, a leading youth organization (www.sharek.ps) with their guns, lies and aggressiveness, throwing everybody outside, incarcerating some and prohibiting Sharek from working. A few days later, demonstrators in front of Sharek were beaten and some incarcerated. We are really living a nightmare inside a nightmare. It is difficult to find words for the pressure we are under. We barely survived the Operation Cast Lead, where Israel very effectively bombed the shit out of us, destroying thousands of homes and even more lives and dreams. They did not get rid of Hamas, as they intended, but they sure scared us forever and distributed post traumatic stress syndrome to everybody, as there was nowhere to run.

We are youth with heavy hearts. We carry in ourselves a heaviness so immense that it makes it difficult to us to enjoy the sunset. How to enjoy it when dark clouds paint the horizon and bleak memories run past our eyes every time we close them? We smile in order to hide the pain. We laugh in order to forget the war. We hope in order not to commit suicide here and now. During the war we got the unmistakable feeling that Israel wanted to erase us from the face of the earth. During the last years Hamas has been doing all they can to control our thoughts, behaviour and aspirations. We are a generation of young people used to face missiles, carrying what seems to be a impossible mission of living a normal and healthy life, and only barely tolerated by a massive organization that has spread in our society as a malicious cancer disease, causing mayhem and effectively killing all living cells, thoughts and dreams on its way as well as paralyzing people with its terror regime. Not to mention the prison we live in, a prison sustained by a so-called democratic country.

History is repeating itself in its most cruel way and nobody seems to care. We are scared. Here in Gaza we are scared of being incarcerated, interrogated, hit, tortured, bombed, killed. We are afraid of living, because every single step we take has to be considered and well-thought, there are limitations everywhere, we cannot move as we want, say what we want, do what we want, sometimes we even cant think what we want because the occupation has occupied our brains and hearts so terrible that it hurts and it makes us want to shed endless tears of frustration and rage!

We do not want to hate, we do not want to feel all of this feelings, we do not want to be victims anymore. ENOUGH! Enough pain, enough tears, enough suffering, enough control, limitations, unjust justifications, terror, torture, excuses, bombings, sleepless nights, dead civilians, black memories, bleak future, heart aching present, disturbed politics, fanatic politicians, religious bullshit, enough incarceration! WE SAY STOP! This is not the future we want!

We want three things. We want to be free. We want to be able to live a normal life. We want peace. Is that too much to ask? We are a peace movement consistent of young people in Gaza and supporters elsewhere that will not rest until the truth about Gaza is known by everybody in this whole world and in such a degree that no more silent consent or loud indifference will be accepted.

This is the Gazan youth’s manifesto for change!

We will start by destroying the occupation that surrounds ourselves, we will break free from this mental incarceration and regain our dignity and self respect.  We will carry our heads high even though we will face resistance. We will work day and night in order to change these miserable conditions we are living under. We will build dreams where we meet walls.

We only hope that you – yes, you reading this statement right now! – can support us. In order to find out how, please write on our wall or contact us directly:freegazayouth@hotmail.com

We want to be free, we want to live, we want peace.

FREE GAZA YOUTH!

Hat-tip: Antigerman Translation

Budrus – non-violence succeeds where violence fails

Richard Lawson on the successful efforts of the villagers of Budrus to unite and re-route Israel’s security barrier, as well as the obstacles – internecine as well as Israeli – which confront Palestinians who adopt non-violent resistance. Non-violent resistance to the occupation, and to violence itself, needs international support, and it needs to see these kinds of results.

The story of the villagers’ campaign has been made into a film.

In support of the Jerusalem Quartet performance

Cross-posted on Engage.

After reading Gene’s reminder “Equally, boycott opponents have a right, and a duty, to express themselves as well”, I just sent this (which I’ve tweaked a bit since sending) to BBC and Cadogan Hall addresses listed on PACBI’s ‘call to action against the Jerusalem Quartet’s Proms Appearance’. I hope the links make it through their spam filter.

***

info at cadoganhall dot com
proms at bbc dot co dot uk
and the Quartet.

Hello,

I understand you are coming under pressure from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel to cancel the performance of the Jerusalem Quartet on August 29th.

Hopefully cancellation is out of the question, but given the intensity of PACBI’s campaign, I thought I should contact you with some reasons to go ahead.

If you look at the boycott, divestment and sanction calls PACBI references, it is clear that PACBI and other boycott campaigners such as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign are not interested in establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Rather, they are interested in eliminating Israel. This was made clear when PACBI successfully cancelled joint simultaneous peace concerts in Israel and the West Bank. PACBI and the PSC cannot tolerate peace work and move to sabotage it.

http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=1479
http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=1547

Some Israeli political groups and human rights and peace-making NGOs draw a distinction between boycotting the occupation on the one hand, which they view as appropriate, and boycotting Israel in its entirety on the other hand, which they recognise as eliminationist. PACBI and other groups pursue the latter – the entire social, cultural and economic exclusion of Israel. PACBI seeks, indiscriminately, to break links between medical institutions and cultural ones alike. Nothing less than the total pariahdom of Israel will suffice. PACBI is attempting to end Israel’s existence.

Unlike the boycott of South Africa, to which the boycott of Israel is frequently compared, hardly any Israelis call for a boycott. Those who oppose boycott include the Israeli socialist party Hadash and peace-making NGOs such as Gisha (legal centre for freedom of movement), the Abraham Fund for coexistence, and Peace Now (for an end to the occupation). The boycott is widely seen by peace-makers on the ground as counterproductive to peace. It is inarticulate, it causes more of the difference and division which are exascerbating the conflict, and it abandons Israeli peace activists.

http://links.org.au/node/968
http://www.peacenow.org.il/site/en/peace.asp?pi=69&docid=3303&pos=0
http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=1715
http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/07/09/a-cringe-making-boycott-letter/

Israeli authorities have attempted to disrupt Palestinian cultural and academic affairs; I and other anti-boycotters have spoken out against these politically-motivated acts, as I do here.

http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/05/26/protesting-the-israeli-security-forces-disruption-of-palfest/
http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=1940
http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=1029
http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/05/29/student-protester-arrested-on-israeli-campus/

Meanwhile even joint anti-war Jewish and Palestinian Israeli productions such as Plonter are prevented from staging performances in Israel’s neighbouring states; performances are held to ransom as if they could lever peace. And even joint Israeli and Palestinian Israeli relationships are the focus of PACBI’s ongoing attempts to drive a wedge into co-existence between Israel’s Jewish and non-Jewish citizens. Wafa Younis’s life was in danger after she took her youth orchestra, Strings of Freedom, to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day.

http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/03/11/pacbi-drives-a-wedge-into-coexistence-inside-israel/
http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/03/28/good-things/

This is the nature of the cultural boycott.

Israel is unlike South Africa in a crucial way: its neighbours have only recently formally accepted its existence, this acceptance cannot be taken for granted, and there are enduring armed movements which hope to eliminate Israel. In South Africa anti-apartheid activists sought majority rule. In Israel there is majority rule. Israel is the world’s sole Jewish state, which came into existence after the attempted genocide of the world’s Jews. Hamas, Hesbollah and other factions continually preach hatred of Jews, and call this resistance to Israel. Beyond Israel antisemitism is a regional norm.

A total boycott of Israel – the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions of which PACBI’s cultural boycott is part – assists Hamas and other eliminationists by posing an obstacle to peace-making. In short, Israel is not and never has been the sole aggressor in this conflict, nor does it act capriciously or sadistically, as you might think if you were to read only PACBI’s, or only the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s, narrative of the conflict. The settlers must leave the occupied land, reparations must be made to refugees, occupation must end, resources must be equitably distributed, infrastructure must not be used to control and subdue, and Israel’s neighbours must permit Israel to live in peace. In Israel and the occupied territories violence feeds on violence, extremism on extremism. The reason the conflict is intractable is because the causes endure, not because Israel is a brutal state.

Anti-Israel politics are frequently expressed as hostility to Jews. PACBI has been complicit in this, and seeks to diminish concerns about this.

http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/01/06/hamas-threatens-to-kill-jewish-children-anywhere-in-the-world/
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/feb/04/gaza-jewish-community

Boycotters will insist otherwise, but hosting an Israeli orchestra does not amount to acceptance of the decisions and actions of the Israeli government. Nor does it amount to a solution to the conflict.

But societies in conflict are vulnerable to the prejudice, demonisation, dehumanisation and despair which haunts conflicts, and without cultural and social exchange there can be no coexistence. And yet cultural exchanges are under attack not from peace-makers but from those who wish to prolong division.

The last time the Jerusalem Quartet was targeted in the name of Palestine solidarity, the protesters were charged with a racially aggravated offence. Separately, protest leader Mick Napier of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign uses far right antisemitic materials in his arguments on behalf of Palestinians. He is part of a current of thinking that perceives anti-Jewish words and acts as a legitimate part of Palestine solidarity.

http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=1752

The attempt he led to disrupt the concert was met with boos from the large audience at the Queens Hall in Edinburgh.

http://www.edinburghguide.com/festival/2008/edinburghinternationalfestival/jerusalemquartet

I could think of many more reasons not to cancel the Jerusalem Quartet. Some of them would be to do with cultural exchange and some of them would be to do with art. None of them would be to do with discrediting solidarity with Palestinians under occupation. Israel is engaged in a violent occupation and ongoing settlement of Palestinian lands beyond its own borders. Israel has demonstrated it is willing to turn large parts of Gaza to rubble and make security for ordinary Gazans meaningless in the name of protecting its own security. But the cultural boycott of Israel will not help end the occupation nor the violence – if anything it will exacerbate the division. Additionally I think (unlike boycotters) that the best way for international community to end the occupation is to learn about the conflict, represent it accurately, and demand and take action which addresses the causes of the conflict. The best way for artistic bodies in Britain to reach out to Palestinians living under occupation is to invite Palestinian artists and performers to this country and pursue their travel permits with the Israeli authorities. I would be more than happy to play a part here, should such an initiative arise.

Thanks for reading and best wishes,

Mira

PS.
http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/05/22/tali-shalom-ezer-won’t-do-ken-loach’s-work-for-him/
http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/05/05/msu-jewish-studies-welcomes-honour-to-tutu-but-calls-on-him-to-renounce-israel-boycott/
http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/05/01/boycotters-target-leonard-cohen-as-a-bhuddist-jonathan-freedland/

A Palestinian state – just do it

Gershon Baskin is an Israeli Green and co-CEO of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information. He has an idea for Palestinian liberation based on a mixture international law and direct action:

“ACCORDING TO INTERNATIONAL law, the recognition of a new state is an act that only states and governments may grant or withhold. The UN does not have authority to recognize a state. It may, however; admit a new state to its membership. Paragraph 1 of Article 4 of the UN Charter states that it “is open to all other peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations.”

Palestine holds observer status in the UN, but it could become a full member in the following way: President Mahmoud Abbas would submit an application to the secretary-general and a formal declaration stating that it accepts the obligations under the UN Charter. The application would be considered first by the Security Council. On May 11, 2009 the Security Council already issued the following statement: “The council reiterates its call for renewed and urgent efforts by the parties and the international community to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, based on the vision of a region where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders.”

Any recommendation from the Security Council must receive the affirmative votes of nine of the 15 members of the council, provided that none of its five permanent members has voted against the application. If the Security Council recommends admission, the recommendation is then presented to the General Assembly. A two-thirds majority vote is necessary for admission of a new state, and membership becomes effective on the date the resolution for admission is adopted.

WHEN THE UN accepts the membership of the state of Palestine, Israel’s occupation of the territories becomes the occupation of a sovereign state which is a member in the UN by another member state. At that point, Israel would be acting in direct violation to the UN Charter and the Security Council would be morally and legally justified to enact Chapter 7 of the charter, enabling the deployment of an international peacekeeping force to Palestine.”

Benjamin Pogrund on Israeli settlers in the West Bank

Benjamin Pogrund understands that an alternative to a two state solution is not a single state solution, but rather ongoing conflict and oppression. On Comment Is Free he hopes that Obama will keep Israel to its promise of removing the settlements.

He has written an informative, well-linked overview of the Israeli governments’ failures and cop-outs to date.

From the middle:

“The fact is that the settlers do pretty much as they want. Many are driven by religious messianic belief that God gave Judea and Samaria to Jews and it is their right and duty to keep it so forevermore. Although the settlers are a tiny minority of the Israeli population they have become the tail that wags the dog. Successive governments have backed away from reining them in out of fear of violent resistance.

The settlers and their supporters – who include those who believe in possession of the West Bank for security purposes – permeate the government. That has enabled the illegal siphoning off of millions upon millions of shekels from departmental budgets to provide houses, build roads and lay on electricity and water to settlements and outposts – and to guarantee permanent protection by the army.”

Via Engage.

Peace Now’s Settlements section, including How To Freeze Settlements: a Layman’s Guide.

Michael Green on West Bank settlers who want out

A substantial piece in the Jerusalem Post by Michael Green who blogs at Green Prophet (and incidentally grew up down the road from where I now live).

“His motives for leaving are explicitly political: “We have to make peace with the Palestinians and to do that we have to leave. I understand that our place isn’t here.”

Raz and others want their homes in the West Bank to be handed over to the Palestinian Authority in the framework of a peace agreement, but aren’t prepared to rely on a peace process which has yielded meager results in the last 15 years. “We’re already living in two states, the State of Israel and a dictatorial state in the territories,” he says.

Izzy echoes a similar view: “I feel like I’m in the state of Palestine when I travel to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. It’s not nice for me to say that.”

“You won’t find a place like this in Tel Aviv or Kfar Saba,” Raz says proudly of his seven-room house, which originally cost him $130,000.

“It’s the greatest place on Earth. I live on top of a mountain and see goats each day,” says Roi Raz. “But I want to leave because it could be the solution to this conflict; it’s a bone stuck in our throats.”

Read the whole thing.