Israel and Palestine
I can’t imagine any job in the world that would be more disheartening than being Palestine’s representative at the United Nations. Every morning you get up and plan the next statement to be brought before the General Assembly or the Security Council or whatever UN body you think can best be targeted. Every day you prepare statements, liaise with fellow delegates, and make the case for Palestine. And every day your efforts take you absolutely NOWHERE!
So Palestine has complained again to the UN about settlement expansion. What is the best that the Palestine can hope for? If they are lucky the UN will eventually issue a resolution condemning the Israeli government’s actions. And what will that achieve? The historical record is unambiguous. It will achieve absolutely NOTHING!
Recourse to diplomacy has been spectacularly unsuccessful for Palestine now for so many years, and yet what alternative does that leave us? Hamas can point to a number of things that they’ve achieved through the use of force. Is this really the alternative that the Israeli government is looking for? God help us!
UNITED NATIONS, June 14 (KUNA) — Palestine on Friday complained to the international community about the reported expansion of Israeli settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and urged the Security Council to urgently respond.
“We reiterate our appeals to the international community, including the Security Council, to act with urgency to uphold the law, to safeguard the rights of the Palestinian people, and to salvage the waning hopes for peace,” Palestinian Charge d’Affaires Feda Abdulhadi Nasser wrote in identical letters to the Security Council President (UK) and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
“The international community must firmly reject Israel’s empty, offensive pretexts and must be resolute in demanding a halt to all illegal Israeli practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,” she said.
This, she added, must include an end to the settlement campaign, which is gravely diminishing the viability of the two-State solution and sabotaging the hopes for meaningful peace negotiations to be resumed to bring an end to this tragic conflict.
“To remain permissive of settlement activities, regardless of the manifestation, is to allow for the trampling of international law and the destruction of the two-State solution, with far-reaching consequences for the prospects for Palestinian-Israeli peace as well as for the region and for our global community,” she warned.
She also complained about the provocative statements by Israeli officials, including the Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon, who in recent media comments stated that “there will never be a Palestinian State” and suggested Jordan as an alternative.
These provocations, she argued, reveal the “true nature and intentions of the current (Israeli) Government, and which undermine the serious peace efforts of US Secretary of State John Kerry and regional and international partners.”Earlier in the day, Ban described as “worrisome” reports about continued Israeli expansion of settlements and urged Israel to freeze such activities which are in violation of international law.
“If Syria falls, so will Palestine” - this was the claim made by Hassan Nasrallah in his May 25 address to a rally in Beirut. It sounds like an extraordinary claim. The far less contentious claim, I would think, is that if Syria falls, so will Lebanon.
Lebanon is a country that is already crowded with its population of 4.3 million. It is also already home to 600,000 Palestinian refugees. If the conflict in Syria continues, there will soon be more than a million Syrian refugees added to that mix! There is no way that the infrastructure of the country will handle a refugee population that could number more than 50% of its citizenry!
Perhaps Nasrallah was only throwing Palestine into the mix to broaden the appeal of his message. After all, support for Palestine against Israel is the common denominator between all states in the Arab and Muslim worlds. Even so, the fate of Syria certainly has broad implications for the region.
Apart from the threat to Lebanon, the isolation of Iran would be the most immediate ramification of the fall of Syria, and this is surely what Syria’s enemies are striving for. It is Iran that is resisting US/Israeli control of the region. As far as the super-powers are concerned, the Syrian people are just the canon-fodder in the broader battle for regional hegemony.
If Syria falls, so will Palestine, Hezbollah’s Nasrallah warns in speech
By Jack Khoury
In a televised speech, Nasrallah says Israel ‘fears rockets’ and cautions that militant factions taking over Syria ‘pose a threat to Lebanon.’
Hezbollah Chief Hassan Nasrallah opened a front against al-Qaida and its affiliated groups, especially in Syria, stressing on Saturday that his organization was prepared to send tens of thousands of combatants to defend Syria.
In a televised speech marking the 13th anniversary of the Israeli pullout from southern Lebanon, Nasrallah also said that “if Syria falls, so will Palestine, the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem. We will enter a very dark phase.”
He also spoke about Israeli preparations for a possible conflict with Hezbollah and said that Israel formed a new government portfolio dedicated to protecting the home front. “In Israel everything is geared up for a conflict year round and all year they hold maneuvers. Israel fears rockets, because we have no air force. The Israelis built towns along its borders. They are bringing in Jews from Ethiopia, Romania, and Argentina, and placing them by our borders and providing them with money and arms. On our side of the border, our towns are nearly empty.”
Nasrallah did not present the fighting as a conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, but rather as one waged between heathens serving a Western Zionist agenda and the Syrian resistance that refuses to accept the dictates of the West.
Nasrallah unequivocally stressed that the fall of the Syrian regime would be a blow to the “resistance.” “Syria is the backbone of the ‘resistance,’ that cannot sit still and wait while its backbone is being broken,” he said. “If Syria falls in the hands of the Americans and the Israelis and the American representatives in the region, the ‘resistance’ will be isolated and Israel will enter Lebanon and force its laws upon it. Lebanon will return to the Israeli era.”
In his speech, Nasrallah tied the U.S. and Israel to Jihadist organizations working under the aegis of al-Qaida in Syria: “These combatants coming from many countries received many allowances to leave their countries and arrive at Syria, this is the American method of destabilizing Syria from the inside, using these organizations that brand everyone is heathens, those organizations that had killed more Sunni Muslims than anyone else. An example of this is what is happening in Iraq, Pakistan, and Somalia. We think that the armed forces taking over Syria are a great danger to Lebanon and all the Lebanese, not only Hezbollah or the Lebanese Shiites.”
A great deal of Nasrallah’s speech was devoted to the situation in Syria, with Nasrallah reiterating his support for Assad’s regime. He added that “What is taking place in Syria is very important to Lebanon and is crucial to our future. We are on the border. We have the courage to talk and act and thus we will speak honestly – our position was clear from the get go. The demand for reforms is acceptable and this government has a place. Reforms should begin along with political dialog.”
Regarding Hezbollah’s involvement in the fighting in Syria, Nasrallah said: “We started getting involved only a few months ago. We tried to initiate contact through all our channels but they didn’t listen, stubbornly they decided to reject the dialogue – they want to overthrow the government at any costs.”
Nasrallah went on to say “We are in a delicate point in history. There is no time to burry our heads in the sand, it is time to raise our heads and stand tall in the face of the hurricane. So, in all honesty, what has this country [Lebanon] done? The Lebanese nation isn’t prepared to face the Israeli threat.”
According to him “The Lebanese resistance changed the Israeli equation. Currently, we are protecting Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria.”
This is an excellent essay from my friend, Paul Larudee.
What does the Palestinian struggle have to do with Anti-Semitism? What indeed?! Cries of ‘anti-Semitism’, like references to the Holocaust, only function to distract us from the real issues.
The Palestine Liberation Movement is not about Anti-Semitism
by Paul Larudee / May 23rd, 2013
Without regard to the validity of Joseph Massad’s exposition of the historical and dialectic relationship between Zionism and anti-Semitism, why is Massad trying to justify the Palestine liberation movement on the basis that it is a battle against anti-Semitism? Of course, Massad is by no means the only Palestinian to make Jewish issues and anti-Semitism central to the Palestinian struggle. Ali Abunimah has made something of a campaign of assuring the Jewish community that the Palestine liberation movement is free of anti-Semitism. In addition, several large Palestinian solidarity organizations and coalitions have anti-anti-Semitism as one of their core statements.
Since when are Palestinian rights and liberation about Jews, Jewish issues and anti-Semitism? Why are Palestinians allowing Jews and Jewish issues – including Zionism and anti-Semitism – to set the Palestinian agenda?
The term “Semite” was born of the assumption that all the languages of the world are the result of the sons of Noah – Shem, Ham and Japheth – going to different parts of the globe after the flood and creating different language groups: Semitic, Hamitic and Japhetic. The sons of Noah? Are we seriously entertaining such nonsense?
To make matters worse, this absurdity was extended to fictitious “races,” not just languages. “Anti-Semitic” therefore is descriptive of the Hamitic and Japhetic races turning on the descendents of Shem, the third brother. No one seriously speaks of Hamitic and Japhetic races. Is it not time to recognize the absurdity of the Semitic “race” as well?
Even more absurd is the attempt to use such mythological concepts to measure the virtue of the Palestinian cause. The Palestinian cause has nothing to do with Jews, Semites, anti-Semitism, God, Abraham, Jesus, Mohammed, Moses, Noah, Jacob, Ishmael, Shem, Ham and Japheth, whether you believe in them or not. It has nothing to do with the Holocaust, colonialism, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Arabs, the Crusaders, the Turks or the British.
It has everything to do with the expulsion of Palestinians from their land and with denial of their right to sovereignty, to self-determination and above all their Right to Return. It does not matter who expelled them. It is their land and they have the right to return. It does not matter who denies their existence. They have a right to return.
It does not even matter if they are nice people or despicable, whether they are racists or humanists, whether they are Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhist or Shinto, whether they are clean or dirty, educated or ignorant, rich or poor, democrats or monarchists. They have the right to return to their homes and to reclaim their country.
Their rights cannot be held hostage to the rights of others. If justice for Palestinians cannot be bought at the price of injustice for others, neither can justice for others be bought at the price of injustice to Palestinians. Justice may be indivisible, but we need not wait for justice to happen everywhere in order for it to happen in Palestine.
Palestinians cannot wait for CO2 levels to drop below 350 parts per million, nor for the population of blue whales to rise, nor for the persecution of Rohingyas to end in Myanmar, nor even for ethnic cleansing to end in Congo, nor for the European victims of World War II and their descendants to be made whole, nor for indigenous peoples everywhere to regain their rights and heritage.
Justice may be indivisible, but the restoration of justice anywhere raises the level of justice everywhere. The restoration of justice in Palestine benefits the entire world and gives hope to justice that is still struggling to restore itself in other places and to other peoples.
Anti-Semitism is no more relevant to Palestinian liberation than anti-Hamitism or Anti-Japhetism or any other attempt to gauge the worthiness of the Palestinian cause by its endorsement or rejection of someone else’s values. Please remove such irrelevance from the discussion of Palestinian rights.
Paul Larudee is one of the founders of the Free Gaza and Free Palestine Movements and an organizer in the International Solidarity Movement.
The real horror of this sort of abuse is that it is just so everyday. If 14 year-old Mohammad hadn’t been an American we probably would never have heard about this incident.
Shining a light on Israel’s military detention abuses
By George Bisharat, professor, Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco
At 2 am on April 5, eight heavily armed Israeli soldiers burst into the home of Mohammad Khaleq, a 14-year-old New Orleans honors student on a family visit to Silwad in the West Bank. Jolting Mohammad and his family awake, the soldiers arrested the youth, tied his hands, and threw him roughly onto the floor of a jeep. Later, Mohammad reports, the soldiers beat him and pushed him down, damaging his orthodontic braces on a rock.
He was shackled, blindfolded, handcuffed and held for 12 hours in Ofra, an Israeli settlement, before being transported to a police station. Two hours of incommunicado interrogation later, the boy admitted to charges of throwing rocks at Israeli cars. He says he confessed after Israeli interrogators promised him that was the only way to see his father.
Mohammad was eventually released after serving 14 days and paying a fine of about $800. His case fits a pattern chillingly familiar to many Palestinian youngsters, and one that is increasingly condemned.
A June 2012 report authored by nine distinguished British lawyers found Israel to be violating legal obligations to Palestinian children under both the Fourth Geneva Convention and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
In August 2012, an organization of Israeli soldiers called “Breaking the Silence” published testimonies by more than 30 troops describing a reign of terror against Palestinian youths, with beatings, intimidation, humiliation, verbal abuse, night-time arrests and injuries at the hands of Israeli forces. One soldier, while justifying arrests of children, marveled at a “kid who actually lay there on the ground, begging for his life, was actually nine years old… A loaded gun is pointed at him and he has to plead for mercy? This is something that scars him for life.”
Meanwhile, according to a UNICEF study published in February 2013,
“Ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized.” Approximately 7,000 Palestinian juveniles, including some as young as 12, have been detained by Israeli forces in the last 10 years, and 236 are in Israeli prisons today. Many are convicted of throwing stones – an offense punishable under Israeli military law by up to 20 years imprisonment.
The military court system established by Israel soon after seizing the West Bank in 1967 was found in recent years to have a conviction rate of 99.74 percent. A special military juvenile court established in 2009 has failed to quell concerns over mistreatment of Palestinian youths. Few juveniles receive timely representation, and most admit guilt under coercive interrogation, often involving beatings or threats of sexual assault against them or other family members. Physical abuse of detainees of any age – torture – is absolutely barred under international law.
Ironically, the Jewish settlers commonly targeted by Palestinian stone-throwing youths inhabit settlements that, outside of Israel itself, are almost universally regarded as illegal. Jewish settler violence – including, per a 2013 U.N. report, 383 attacks causing injury to 169 Palestinians and damage to more than 8,000 olive trees – is rarely investigated. When charges are filed against Israelis, they are tried with the full protections of domestic Israeli law.
Sentences have often been lenient. None of this justifies Palestinian stone-throwing, which can be lethal. But a justice system that overlooks violence by Jews while crushing Palestinian defendants, including vulnerable and impressionable youths, will never command legitimacy. Instead it ensures a future generation of Palestinians who will know Israelis primarily through their cruelty.
Mohammad was atypical as a U.S. citizen caught up in Israel’s military detention grinder. Yet his case should be a wake-up call for U.S. citizens. As Israel’s principal military and diplomatic protector in the world today, we neglect our ally’s misdeeds at the peril of being tarnished by association. Abusing children is a hard one to live down.
Bisharat is a professor at Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, and writes frequently on the Middle East.
We visited the refugee camp in Baalbek, near the Lebanese/Syrian border in the first week of May, 2013. The camp has been housing around 4,000 Palestinian refugees, mainly from the Galilee area, for more than a generation. In the last two years though they’ve had to cope with an influx of 7,400 Syrian refugees!
The camp manager received our delegation warmly when we arrived, mid-afternoon without an appointment. He spoke to us briefly in the dim light of his office (there was no electricity). We asked him how an already crowded refugee camp could possibly absorb an influx of new refugees that is twice its original size! His answer was simple. “Every family adopts two new families … in some cases three!”
The Palestinians of Baalbek are simply an inspiration, though it’s hard to know how long these people can continue in this impossible situation. One small contribution I think we could make is to run some boxing camps for the young people during their summer holidays. I think Denning would be the ideal person to manage it! Does anyone else want to volunteer?
The first video is Luke Waters’ coverage of the camp, screened for SBS TV. Luke was a valued member of our team until his employer said that he couldn’t join us on our trip into Syria (or so I was told)!
(if you can’t view this video, click here)
The second video is Denning clowning around. I don’t know the prelude to this scene but when I arrived he’d been teaching his charges to be ‘Aussies‘ for some time!
(if you can’t view this video, click here)