Don't be part of Apartheid

I am impressed by the creativity of the young and young-at-heart activists who are willing to put so much effort in in Boycot, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign.


love thy enemy

You know what? I just love Liberman! He simply tells the whole world what we, Palestinians, have always been saying all along. There has never been an Israeli politician who was as open about Israel's intentions and actions.
We always knew, and said, that Israel loves the situation as it is now and tries to keep it this way because it helps it get what she wants: more land and less people. Liberman doesn't hide his satisfaction when he claims that they should keep the situation as it is, and 'manage the conflict' instead of resolving it. This is also exactly what he does, put one obstacle after another in the face of reaching a just peace.
We have always said that the conflict is not about creating an independent Palestinian state. We always said it is about justice. Here is Liberman expressing his desire to force upon the Palestinians who have Israeli citizenship loyalty to the enemy or a choice to leave their country.
We always said that Israel wants more land and less people, and here he declares to the whole world, that he wants to reassess the citizenship of Palestinians in Israel.
We always said that Israel is more interested in land than in peace, and here goes Liberman declaring unrelenting support to the settlement enterprise, of which he himself is a pioneer.
In short, if people can only hear what Liberman says and compare it to the actions of Israel for the past 63 years they will only see that Liberman is the only honest politician Israel has had. They will know that such policies are exactly what led Palestinians to frustration, year after year and that these are the policies that will keep the conflict raging for decades to come.


Only free men can negotiate

The beginning of this month was marked by a seemingly hopeful declaration of the relaunch of direct negotiations, but eyes were firmly fixed on the deadline of 26th September when Settlement building would be allowed to continue unhindered.
Of course, both sides entered into negotiations under pressure from the Americans after a long process of foot dragging the Palestinians into negotiations through a 'settlement building freeze' which looked nothing like a freeze. For 10 months I traveled around the west bank and could easily see construction activity going as usual especially in the southern areas of the West Bank. Jerusalem of course was excluded from this freeze. Of course, even Israelis didn't consider this as a freeze as Dror Etkes, in his op-ed, likens settlements to water as 'the only substance that expands instead of contracting when it freezes.'

Israel is trying to sell the idea that Palestinians are placing pre-conditions on the negotiations. But this is far from true. The negotiations are on the area of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) that will be under a proposed Palestinian state. Every new house and every new settler is actually an addition to the problem. Settlement building is in itself creating new facts that will mean less Palestinian land, more land to Jews. Each housing unit, is a further 4-5 settlers added to the problem, or maybe 10 in orthodox settlements. Each one of these settlers is an addition to the problem. each of them a new pre-condition on peace.

The situation in Jerusalem is even worse. An intifada is on the verge of breaking out. Settlers have the backing of the whole system to take land and houses, evict Palestinians residents and use them for Jews. A landmark court ruling, would entitle jews not only to houses they bought but also to houses they leased before 1948, putting dozens of families at risk of eviction from their houses. a further 80 houses are set for demolition in Silwan, just south of the old city, to make way for a park, courtesy of the settler organisation Elad. It is hard to envision such a grand plan to besiege the old city without the orchestrated efforts of all state organs working diligently to remove Palestinian presence in and around Jerusalem in favour of creating a Jewish majority in the area of the 'holy basin', the old city and its surroundings.

Abbas, entered into negotiations shouting and screaming that he will not tolerate the relaunch of settlement building, when settlement building was ongoing throughout. This illustrates the leadership crisis we are in. The Palestinian leadership is not capable of making a stand and standing by it. The are not masters of their free will. They declare that they will negotiate, and that negotiations are the only option they will explore. doesn't this mean that they are not free to walk out of negotiations? that they are not free to determine the course of negotiations?
This reminds me of Mandella's famous quote: Only free men can negotiate.


I think i should go back to writing

When I write, i get all these bad thoughts off my mind and on the web. they don't really go off my mind, but i guess i can understand them better when i see them there on the post. right now, there are so many bad thoughts with all that is going on, that's why i think i should go back to writing. I always used to tell myself, that when i get enough time, i will rearrange my blog and go back to writing, but this is not going to happen, so i will write then go back to rearranging it.
There are so many hot things going on in this country. peace talks are on the rail with a huge bumper ahead. Jerusalem is on the brink of exploding. Settler violence is escalating. Stupid half-men are running the show almost in every single country involved. Someone has to talk about this. I hope i can do that.


on bullying and sanctions

On 30 Januray 2006, representatives of the Middle East Peace quartet came out in London to commend the Palestinian elections that were held earlier that week and to set 4 conditions that any new Palestinian government must adhere to in their policy: commitment to non-violence; recognition of Israel; acceptance of previous agreements; and, engaging in negotiations aimed at realising the two state solution. These conditions became a basis for a later international boycott against the Palestinian Authority when Hamas came to power in March that year. This boycott, in turn brought the Palestinian economy to ruins and was a major factor in the ongoing schism between Hamas and Fateh.

Four years later, we find ourselves in a similar situation: we have a government that is not, in any way, committed to non-violence; a government that does not recognise previous agreements, specifically the road map; a government that does not recognise the two state solution; and, one that is not committed to any meaningful negotiations. Had this government been not Israeli, it would have been brought to its knees by economic sanctions. Instead, the Americans, despite the ongoing row over Israel’s stance have just signed a quarter of a billion dollars arms deal with Israel. How could all of this be true, and yet this reward be given to the Israelis? I will try to discuss these allegations that I have just made to support the argument that similar actions necessitate similar reactions- in a fair world, that is.

Speaking about Israel’s commitment to non-violence can only be a sub story in Alice in Wonderland. I won’t put a lot of effort into discussing the four people killed earlier this week by Israeli soldiers while plowing their fields or demonstrating against the wall. neither will i spend more time discussing the continuous Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.

Israel is clearly not committing itself to its obligations under peace understandings, specifically the Road Map. While the Palestinians have met all their commitments to stop incitement and violence, Israel is committed to continuing the building of settlements, a clear violation of the Road Map. Even the announced ‘freeze’ by Israel which does not include Jerusalem, ‘natural growth’, building in progress and social infrastructure is short of its obligation to cease all settlement activity. To add fuel to fire, the Israelis keep on announcing new plans everyday, especially in Jerusalem where they recently announced that plans in the pipeline include over 50,000 housing units. That’s at least 250,000 more obstacles to any peace process.

Israel’s only commitment to the two state solution came in the form of a Palestinian state that is non-contiguous, has no sovereignty over airspace, no control over its borders, no armed forces… practically nothing that can make it a state. We are currently in the same situation, under such circumstances the PA cannot free electromagnetic spectrum for a mobile communications company nor can it find a suitable place to establish a dumpster for Ramallah without getting Israeli consent.

As for peace negotiations, it is clear that Netanyahu is interested in gaining political capital by standing up to the US in its efforts to restart the negotiations. Every time things start moving he finds the perfect way to put them back to square one, just as he did during Biden’s visit.

So it is clear that the Israelis are not keeping with the requirements of the quartet. When the Palestinians were in the same position, they had to suffer from 2 years of sanctions. Why shouldn’t the Israelis be directed to the same treatment now? It is easy to come up with all sorts of excuses against this. Some might say we cannot interfere in Israel’s democracy- but isn’t that exactly what the world did to the Palestinians in 2006, dealing a strong blow to Palestine’s nascent democracy?

Israel is acting like a school bully. Such behaviour calls for measures that would put an end to it. The only conceivable measure, taking into consideration that diplomatic effort the world has put into managing it so far, is to impose sanctions on Israel.


a sense of purpose

Um Salamona is a village south of Bethlehem can be seen en route to Hebron surrounded by the settlement of Efrata and an Israeli industrial park built on its land. The village faces yet another threat of being shrunk by the relentless Israeli appetite to confiscate more and more land. Half a mount is under threat of confiscation by the Israelis, under the claim that it should be government land, which would then be allocated to yet more settlement growth.
The people of Um Salamona petitioned the matter to an Israeli court, which ruled that they can keep THEIR land if they changed it into agricultural land. Otherwise, it would be up for land grab.
The challenge, as unfair as it is was taken up by the owners of the land. They also went on in recruiting volunteers for help in preparing the land and making it into agricultural land. Tens of volunteers have been flecking to the village over the past 3 weeks with trees and shovels and their bare hands to do the best they can to change how this plot looks on areal photographs in order to protect it from from being stolen.
It was a hard day, trying to remove the thorny bushes that covered the slopes of this mount. I believe the volunteers were able to work on more than 20 dunums on that day, maybe even more. But it was not the size of the plot that mattered to us, but rather the feeling that each of us felt that he was doing something of purpose.
Sitting in an office all day, typing on a computer or meeting with professionals, I often get into a mood of dissatisfaction from myself and the purpose of what I do. On that day, I felt that everything I have done was meaningful. I can hold the excitement of actually participating in a positive act of resistance that is not meant to harm anyone, but rather to revive the land.


The story of Samarah

This is a story from a friend of mine about her daughter trip to Palestine/Israel.

As you know she is a British subject who wanted to spend a couple of weeks Christmas holiday. seeing friends and family in Jerusalem and Haifa to “have a bit of fun” as she puts it. She arrive Sunday at 3:30 pm at Tel Aviv airport not expecting any problems . Sammarah is 17 years of age and is in year 12 of school in a school in the UK.

What she went through from the moment she arrived at the airport until she was sent back to U.K was unbelievable. She was taken in a white van to what I presume the detention center at the airport. There she was questioned by a “bulky big man who kept shouting at me and asking silly questions about my friends and family. I kept saying yes to everything he asked so that he would stop shouting”. The reason given to her for refusing to allow her in was that they thought she may not leave the country, even though it was clear from what she said and the school books she carried with her that she was a school girl .

At any rate after the interrogation , she was put in a cell “filthy small cell with a double bunker bed . the bottom mattress was filthy, the top one was rubber with many holes in it but looked cleaner than the bottom one. No bed cover apart from a very dirty looking blanket. I slept on the top bed with my Palestinian “kufia” for a cover. They initially said they would leave the door open as I was under age. But woke up at some point to find the door locked and kept that way all the time. I screamed my head off to get them to open the door but they did not. The food they gave me was a sandwich part eaten. I was given some water to drink and some tea which I held very tightly to warm my very cold hands. They took all my things away from me including my telephone and they refused to let me call anybody from my family to let them know what was happening. At 6:30 am I was taken by a police car to board a plane to UK, only to find out they managed to put me on the wrong plane which was heading to Denmark! Eventually I was on the right plane to London”.