With all the appalling anti-Palestinian rhetoric coming from Republican Presidential candidates at the moment, it’s worth remembering that they are not the only politicians in the world to have shunned this struggling community.
30 Years after Sabra-Shatilla Massacre Lebanese Politicians Still Block Palestinian Rights
We all know it is not just American and Lebanese politicians who use Palestinian refugees as political footballs during electoral campaigns. But they are currently the two most egregious apart from most Zionist politicians in temporarily occupied Palestine.
In the US, it would not be a difficult task to find even more revolting and groveling intellectual "half-men" to borrow a phrase from Syria’s beleaguered President Bashar Assad than Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich during their recent "debate" in Jacksonville Florida.
While a high percentage of Republican Jewish voters will go to the polls in this winner take all primary, Mitt and Newt are also pondering their national fundraising networks as they gratuitously misrepresented history and betrayed their claimed religious and moral beliefs.
Romney repeated his screed that President Obama "threw Israel under the bus" by following international law, seven UN Security Council Resolution and World opinion by designating the pre-1967 borders as the starting point for peace talks. He also complained that America’s President "disrespected" Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu when Obama spoke recently at the UN and mentioned in passing illegal Israeli settlement building but did not discuss retaliatory rockets being fired from Gaza into occupied Palestinian territory.
Genuflecting just as obsequiously to the Zionist lobby, Gingrich insisted to Florida voters once again that "Palestinians are an ‘invented people who historically were considered Jordanians and Syrians." No one in the audience was so impolite as to remind the claimed student of history that Jordan did not even exist until created by the pro-Zionist British occupiers of Palestine, well into the 20th Century, while Palestinians have lived in Palestine for more than 3000 years. While more than 95% of Zionist colonists have zero historical links to Palestine and their genealogical roots are in Europe, Russia and elsewhere, despite the fact that millions have invaded Palestine seeking free land and US government funded cash and housing handouts. Morally and legally these colonists have no right to even one grain of sand in Palestine.
Newt again promised his audience that on his first day as President, he will for sure issue an Executive Order moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, another violation of International law.
Florida’s nearly 640,000 Jews are just 3.4 percent of Florida’s population. But because they vote in extraordinarily high numbers, they are 6 to 8 percent of Florida’s general election turnout but not of course when it comes to Republican primaries. Yet one recent poll estimates that 52% of the state’s registered Jewish voters would support a Republican presidential ticket such is their mistrust of Obama and what he might do in a second term with respect to occupied Palestine.
As with his rival Mitt, President Newt’s first foreign trip will be to Israel. With these latter two pledges Newt joins 19 Presidential primary aspirants who since 1967 have made similar promises. Fortunately, for what is left of American Humanitarian values, not one has been elected President.
Lebanese style anti-Palestinian political speech is more sophisticated and subtle, like the Lebanese people themselves, and nearly always devolves to the gut wrenching warning, delivered with a straight face, that "if we allow Palestinian refugees the right to work or to own a home (as required by International Law and currently enjoyed by refugees in 192 other countries) it might encourage them to get lazy and become too comfortable in Lebanon and they might, God save us all, seek naturalization. And this could interfere with the Palestinian refugees internationally guaranteed Right to Return to their homes in occupied Palestine which Lebanese strongly support for their brotherly and sisterly guests.
Lebanese politicians, including every party and religious grouping bar none, except the Druze and the National Syrian Socialist Party, use voter’s fear of naturalization (in American think immigration) to undercut growing human rights pressure for Lebanon to give Palestinians elementary human rights.
A rare exception for a Lebanese politician shocked many here when earlier this month, to his eternal credit and honor, Social Affairs Minister Wael Abu Faour became the first Lebanese Cabinet member to make an official visit to a Palestinian refugee camp in six years when he toured south Beirut’s Burj al-Barajneh camp before signing a memorandum of understanding with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA). The agreement will enable UNRWA for the first time to work in coordination with the Social Affairs Ministry to provide some services to some of the most vulnerable people in the camps.
The lack of employment opportunities for Palestine refugee prolong and intensify their hardship and poverty. In the five Southern Lebanon camps, according to a recent Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and UN International Labor Organization study, more than 81 per cent of all refugees are living in abject poverty. Young people are particularly affected, with unemployment for Palestinians between 15 and 24 reaching 60%. The employments figures are not must better in the northern camps.
Speaking at the event, Faour called on his fellow politicians to follow his lead and experience firsthand conditions in Lebanon’s 12 Refugee camps. "Whoever wants to rediscover his humanity has to see the living conditions in Palestinian camps in Lebanon" Minister Faour told Lebanon’s Parliament. "We are used to bringing Palestinians to discussions in fancy hotels and then sending them back to the misery in the camps. We decided to invert these traditions by coming to the camps."
Unfortunately Minister Abu Faour undercut some of the positive contribution of his visit by emphasizing to the media "the difficult relationship between Lebanon and the Palestinian population. The Lebanese government has consistently declined to grant rights to Palestinian refugees for fear that it would pave the way to naturalization, which it argues would diminish their right to return to Palestine."
It would be difficult to find one Palestinian in Lebanon, or any advocate of human rights here, who truly believes the Lebanese politicians claimed notion of concern for the sanctity of the Palestinians Right of Return justifies keeping a quarter million human being in the most degrading squalor while outlawing even the right to work or to own a home out of an altruistic concern to keep hallow some of the refugees other international rights. Palestinian refugees in Lebanon reject more than any of the politicians here any form of settlement, naturalization, implantation or tawtin. They have a county just across the southern Lebanese border and their goal, now in its 64th year, is to return without more delay.
Many Palestinians in Lebanon’s camp mention a new energy among their fellow refugees as a result of the continuing, broadening and deepening Arab and Islamic Awakening which erupted one year ago in Tunisia and whose spread continues.
The swelling bud of intifada! is also being observed by foreigners here and as Palestinian camp residents invite Pope Benedict to visit their camps in the Spring during his reported visit to Lebanon, one idea from kids at Ramallah school in Shatila Camp is for the Vicar of Christ to hold a Mass for tens of thousands in the new Cite Sportiff, on the edge this Camp. For it was at this sports center 30 years ago that part two of the Massacre at Sabra-Shatilla was organized by Israeli and Phalange troops on September 18th and for which, like the other 43 hours of uninterrupted slaughter, no one person has ever been held accountable.
It would be an enormously powerful historic event should Pope Benedict fill Cite Sportiff with people of good will, and there are many here like Minister Faour, from all the confessions and political parties, joined by all religious and civil society leaders in Lebanon, and with the Pope’s blessing and admonition for all of us to follow in the path of Mohammad and Jesus and their deciples, that Palestinian refugees in Lebanon might be granted even the most elementary human rights.
Father Roy writes:
Please see: AJC Calls on Presbyterian Church (USA) To Rein in Israel/Palestine Mission Net. Also see: Wiesenthal Center Denounces Latest U.S. Presbyterians’ Call for Israel Boycott. Google for more. Now please read FOSNA’s response in the e-mail pasted below. Thanks to Claudia, a Roman Catholic, for forwarding it.
The Presbyterians are planning for their next National Assembly, and they need our support. A few months later the United Methodists will need our support at their National Conference. A few months later there will be Episcopalians at General Convention needing our support.
Peers, notice the tone in FOSNA’s response. There’s not a shred of hypocrisy or animosity in it. No unnecessary adjectives. No dramatic effects. Just pure and simple honesty.
Friends of Sabeel–North America
Voice of the Palestinian Christians
Presbyterian Mission Network Condemns Smear Campaign
February 8, 2012
NEW YORK – This week has brought broad-side attacks on the Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) from the organized Jewish community in the U.S. In order to understand the latest vitriol coming from the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) towards the IPMN, and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), one has to imagine the feeling of sheer desperation that results when a fantasy world comes crashing down. The world where Israeli government policy cannot be criticized is a thing of the past. There is vigorous debate within the Jewish community around Israel’s military occupation, and groups like the JCPA and others are losing control of the narrative.
For the record, the Israel Palestine Mission Network is not an anti-Semitic organization. It does oppose Israeli government policy that sustains illegal occupation and violates Palestinian human rights every day. The IPMN is also a proponent of open dialogue and debate about the issues that prevent a just peace. The truth is that the JCPA, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and other “pro-Israel” organizations do not desire open and free discussion about these issues in America, and when they don’t want to talk about the facts on the ground, they resort to slanderous smear campaigns.
The recent attack by the JCPA on IPMN, as well as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mirrors exactly the criticism leveled at these same faith groups at roughly the same time of year back in 2010. What is the correlation? This is the run-up to the national summer gathering of the Presbyterian General Assembly that deliberates on church policy every two years. In 2010 the bogeyman was the Middle East Study Committee Report that came before that body for approval. For all the critical hype from the JCPA, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and others at that time, and all the credit these organizations shamelessly took for supposedly changing the document to their liking, the reality is that the report was never substantially changed. All the original recommendations were approved, but JCPA leadership somehow called that a win. That final report is on record and can be compared to what had been originally proposed. The comparison shows no substantive difference between what was recommended and what was ultimately approved. But in today’s climate, if you say you won loud enough, you actually start to believe it yourself.
This year the JCPA concern comes in trying to stem the unstoppable tide of a growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Presbyterians and Methodists are leading the way in the faith community, along with many other Christian, Jewish and secular grassroots organizations across the United States, to stop profiting from the Israeli Occupation. The BDS movement is saying the government of Benjamin Netanyahu is wearing no clothes; you can’t say you want a just peace and at the same time build settlements on Palestinian land at break-neck pace. With Archbishop Desmond Tutu publicly stating that the present state of affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is akin to what he vividly remembers as South African Apartheid, the pro-Israeli groups are desperately losing ground. Part of their tactics, as outlined by the Tel Aviv-based Reut Institute, is to delegitimize any opposition to Israeli government policy by accusing those who disagree with it of engaging in anti-Israel, anti-Zionist and even anti-Semitic behavior. It is a campaign known as “delegitimizing the delegitimizers” and it has millions of dollars behind it.
For too long pro-Israel groups in the United States have promoted a two-state solution even while Israeli policy insures that such a thing cannot possibly exist (all one needs to do is travel there to witness the facts on the ground). They have perpetuated the lie that those city-sized, Jewish-only settlements being built nonstop deep into Palestinian territory are not really illegal colonies; and have disingenuously insisted that the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Palestine has not been on the Zionist agenda since the days of Theodore Herzl, the father of modern Zionism, long before 1948.
Answering every false charge leveled against IPMN by these groups accomplishes nothing more than plunging a peace-dedicated volunteer mission network, whose projects are funded by small pledges by its members, into a mud pit where paid “pro-Israel” lobbyists desperately fight to take back control of a debate they can no longer win through their bullying behavior. The JCPA, AJC and others should spend their time and energy on the issues that are barriers to peace, not on name-calling and attacks in an attempt to change the subject.
About IPMN: According to our General Assembly mandate, in joyful obedience to the call of Christ, and in solidarity with churches and our other partners in the Middle East, the IPMN covenants to engage, consolidate, nourish, and channel the energy in the Presbyterian Church (USA) toward the goal of a just peace in Israel/Palestine by facilitating education, promoting partnerships, and coordinating advocacy.
Friends of Sabeel–North America
(503) 653-6625; fosna.org…
Sonja Karkar – editor of australiansforpalestine.com… – writes:
As 2012 begins in earnest, Ilan Pappe’s words are certainly worth reflecting on. For too long have our leaders particularly, but also much of the public, been held in thrall by the dramatic Israel tableau – biblical entitlement, land redemption, the light of the world – without any regard for the real human drama going on behind the pastiche of concocted stories. Only very recently have the cracks begun to show a very ugly side to the Jewish narrative of longing for Zion and another people’s narrative that has been deliberately hidden and demonised. Aside from the gross injustice Israel’s creation had perpetrated on the indigenous Palestinian population and society of the time and which its subsequent actions have never attempted to make right, Israel’s apartheid character is being exposed
every day, and with it the quest for Jewish supremacy. It is impossible to ignore when even Israel’s politicians are quite blatant about their intentions to make all of the land – historic Palestine – exclusively Jewish.
For more than 60 years, most Palestinians have been living as prisoners and pariahs in their own land or as stateless people caught frozen in time in the refugee camps still clinging to their inalienable right to return home. Others in the Diaspora may have been more fortunate, but it does not make
the pain of loss, indignity and separation any less. If Israel hoped to see the Palestinian identity ground into the soil of their homeland or wither away waiting to return, it is beginning to realise that no matter what atrocities or hardships it imposes on the Palestinians, these long-maligned people are not about to go quietly into the sunset. Millions of Palestinian men, women and children have not forgotten, will not forget and remain steadfast in their determination to get justice. Finally, public
opinion is seeing Israel for what it is, but timidity and intimidation still prevent a good number from speaking out and holding Israel accountable. Too many of our politicians, journalists and other public figures fear that their positions, ambitions and good standing will be compromised if they criticise Israel, so they “cower” says Ilan Pappe. Turning public sentiment into political action is the challenge we face today. It is not impossible.
working for justice in Palestine
by Ilan Pappe
The Electronic Intifada
9 February 2012
If we had a wish list for 2012 as Palestinians and friends of Palestine, one
of the top items ought to be our hope that we can translate the dramatic
shift in recent years in world public opinion into political action against
Israeli policies on the ground.
We know why this has not yet materialized: the political, intellectual and
cultural elites of the West cower whenever they even contemplate acting
according to their own consciences as well as the wishes of their societies.
This last year was particularly illuminating for me in that respect. I
encountered that timidity at every station in the many trips I took for the
cause I believe in. And these personal experiences were accentuated by the
more general examples of how governments and institutions caved in under
intimidation from Israel and pro-Zionist Jewish organizations.
A catalogue of complicity
Of course there were US President Barack Obama’s  pandering appearances
in front of AIPAC,  the Israeli lobby, and his administration’s continued
silence and inaction in face of Israel’s colonization of the West Bank,
siege and killings in Gaza, ethnic cleansing of the Bedouins  in the
Naqab  and new legislation discriminating against Palestinians in
The complicity continued with the shameful retreat of Judge Richard
Goldstone  from his rather tame report on the Gaza massacre  — which
began three years ago today. And then there was the decision of European
governments, especially Greece,  to disallow campaigns of human aid and
solidarity from reaching Gaza by sea.
On the margins of all of this were prosecutions in France  against
activists calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS)  and a
few u-turns by some groups and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in
Europe caving in under pressure and retracting an earlier decision to cede
connections with Israel.
Learning firsthand how pro-Israel intimidation works
In recent years, I have learned firsthand how intimidation of this kind
works. In November 2009 the mayor of Munich was scared to death by a Zionist
lobby group and cancelled my lecture there. More recently, the Austrian
foreign ministry withdrew its funding for an event in which I participated,
and finally it was my own university, the University of Exeter, once a haven
of security in my eyes, becoming frigid when a bunch of Zionist hooligans
claimed I was a fabricator and a self-hating Jew.
Every year since I moved there, Zionist organizations in the UK and the US
have asked the university to investigate my work and were brushed aside.
This year a similar appeal was taken, momentarily one should say, seriously.
One hopes this was just a temporary lapse; but you never know with an
academic institution (bravery is not one of their hallmarks).
Standing up to pressure
But there were examples of courage — local and global — as well: the student
union of the University of Surrey under heavy pressure to cancel my talk
 did not give in and allowed the event to take place.
The Episcopal Bishops Committee on Israel/Palestine in Seattle faced the
wrath of many of the city’s synagogues and the Israeli Consul General in San
Francisco, Akiva Tor,  for arranging an event with me in September 2011
in Seattle’s Town Hall, but bravely brushed aside this campaign of
intimidation. The usual charges of “anti-Semitism” did not work there — they
never do where people refuse to be intimidated.
The outgoing year was also the one in which Turkey  imposed military and
diplomatic sanctions on Israel in response to the latter’s refusal to take
responsibility for the attack on the Mavi Marmara . Turkey’s action was
in marked contrast to the European and international habit of sufficing with
toothless statements at best, and never imposing a real price on Israel for
Do not cave in to intimidation
I do not wish to underestimate the task ahead of us. Only recently did we
learn how much money is channeled to this machinery of intimidation whose
sole purpose is to silence criticism on Israel. Last year, the Jewish
Federations of North America  and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs
 — leading pro-Israel lobby groups — allocated $6 million to be spent
over three years to fight BDS campaigns and smear the Palestine solidarity
movement. This is not the only such initiative under way.
But are these forces as powerful as they seem to be in the eyes of very
respectable institutions such as universities, community centers, churches,
media outlets and, of course, politicians?
What you learn is that once you cower, you become prey to continued and
relentless bashing until you sing the Israeli national anthem. If once you
do not cave in, you discover that as time goes by, the ability of Zionist
lobbies of intimidation around the world to affect you gradually diminishes.
Reducing the influence of the United States
Undoubtedly the centers of power that fuel this culture of intimidation lie
to a great extent in the United States, which brings me to the second item
on my 2012 wish list: an end to the American dominance in the affairs of
Israelis and Palestinians. I know this influence cannot be easily curbed.
But the issue of timidity and intimidation belong to an American sphere of
activity where things can, and should be, different. There will be no peace
process or even Pax Americana in Palestine if the Palestinians, under
whatever leadership, would agree to allow Washington to play such a central
role. It is not as if US policy-makers can threaten the Palestinians that
without their involvement there will be no peace process.
In fact history has proved that there was no peace process — in the sense of
a genuine movement toward the restoration of Palestinian rights — precisely
because of American involvement. Outside mediation may be necessary for the
cause of reconciliation in Palestine. But does it have to be American?
If elite politics are needed — along with other forces and movements — to
facilitate a change on the ground, such a role should come from other places
in the world and not just from the United States.
One would hope that the recent rapprochement between Hamas  and Fatah
 — and the new attempt to base the issue of Palestinian representation
on a wider and more just basis — will lead to a clear Palestinian position
that would expose the fallacy that peace can only be achieved with the
Americans as its brokers.
Dwarfing the US role will disarm American Zionist bodies and those who
emulate them in Europe and Israel of their power of intimidation.
Letting the other America play a role
This will also enable the other America, that of the civil society, the
Occupy Wall Street movement,  the progressive campuses, the courageous
churches, African-Americans marginalized by mainstream politics, Native
Americans and millions of other decent Americans who never fell captive to
elite propaganda about Israel and Palestine, to take a far more central role
in “American involvement” in Palestine.
That would benefit America as much as it will benefit justice and peace in
Palestine. But this long road to redeeming all of us who want to see justice
begins by asking academics, journalists and politicians in the West to show
a modicum of steadfastness and courage in the face of those who want to
intimidate us. Their bark is far fiercer than their bite.
The author of numerous books, Ilan Pappe is Professor of History and
Director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of
ORIGINAL LINK: electronicintifada.net…
Question: What do you and Benjamin Netanyahu have in common?
Answer: you will both be at in Washington DC for policy conferences in just a few weeks…
It’s true. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will be in Washington DC once again for the 2012 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference. But while he will be beating the drums of war against Iran, you’ll be across the street with us at our counter-conference and protest for peace, Occupy AIPAC. Register today! In its largest convention yet, AIPAC will be pushing its pro-war on Iran agenda more than ever before. Yesterday AIPAC had its pre-meeting conference call featuring a talk and Q&A session with Bret Stephens, a foreign affairs columnist for the Wall Street Journal. "The window of opportunity for diplomacy and sanctions has closed," he said, "Israel will come under fire for ‘sparking an unnecessary war’ and ‘causing the next recession’, but we have to have iron stomachs."
Father Roy writes: Israel is “stepping up its demand”. The highlights in this report are mine. Peace, Roy
By HERB KEINON 02/09/2012 23:15
Amid continuing uncertainty regarding what the Doha agreement between Fatah and Hamas actually means, Israel is stepping up its demand that the international community not accept an unreformed Hamas as part of the Palestinian Authority government.
“The international community can play a role in promoting peace,” the Foreign Ministry wrote in a paper circulated Thursday on the Hamas- Fatah deal. “It must stand by the Quartet’s three principles. By clarifying to the Palestinian Authority that impenitent terrorist organizations cannot be partners with those seeking peace, the world will be telling the Palestinians that terrorism will not be tolerated or rewarded.”
The Quartet established three criteria for engaging with Hamas: that it give up terrorism, recognize Israel and accept previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements.
The agreement signed Monday in Doha calls for the establishment of an interim unity agreement, with PA President Mahmoud Abbas replacing Salam Fayyad as the PA’s prime minister.
Many, however, are skeptical the agreement will be implemented.
According to diplomatic officials, Israel has made clear to the international community that a package of largely economic incentives to entice the Palestinians back to talks that started last month in Jordan will be taken off the table if the Hamas-Fatah deal is consummated.
“Israel is not going to come with any confidence-building measures if this agreement is implemented,” one diplomatic official said. A sign of its implementation, he added, would be Fayyad’s replacement.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, meeting in New York Thursday with the UN ambassadors from 15 countries, said Israel would not accept a Palestinian government with Hamas as a member if it did not accept the international community’s three criteria. He said the Doha agreement contributed neither to the promotion of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations nor to Palestinian interests, and only served the personal interests of the two men who had signed it: Abbas and Hamas head Khaled Mashaal.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said that the PA has to choose: peace with Israel or peace with Hamas.
Jerusalem’s position on the Hamas- Fatah agreement, as presented in the foreign ministry paper, is that Hamas is an unrepentant terrorist organization, supported by Iran and dedicated to the destruction of Israel.
Mashaal made his position clear after signing the agreement, the paper said, adding that the deal would create greater unity “in order to be free for confronting the enemy.”
The paper asserted that the reconciliation of the main Palestinian factions could have meant that Hamas adopted Fatah’s line and would be willing to engage in negotiations with Israel. Instead, “it now seems that Fatah, the main component of the Palestinian Authority, is the one rallying behind Hamas’s extremist views.”
In addition to waiting to see whether this deal will be implemented, diplomatic officials were also waiting for a Palestinian decision on whether to continue with the preliminary talks in Jordan. The Palestinians have come under considerable pressure from the US and EU to do so, and Quartet envoy Tony Blair is continuing to consult intensively with Israeli and Palestinian officials, as well as other leaders in the region, to put together a package that would lead to a continuation of the Jordan talks.
An Arab league meeting to discuss whether Abbas should return to these talks is scheduled for the coming week. That meeting has already been postponed twice since the last Israeli- Palestinian meeting in Jordan on January 25.