amira hass


There’s a lot of excitement in the air right now about the apparent resuscitation of the Israeli/Palestinian peace process, with new talks scheduled to begin at any moment!

Former US President, Jimmy Carter, and ‘The Elders’ praised John Kerry for his “tireless commitment to bringing Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table after five years of stalemate” while Christian Zionists blasted the US President for actions that they see as compromising the safety of the state of Israel!

It seems to me that Amira Hass is one of the few who really grasps the situation, even if hers is a truth that nobody wants to hear. The ‘peace talks’ haven’t got a chance! If they serve any purpose at all it will only be to enhance Netanyahu’s political career by portraying him as a willing negotiator.

Father Dave


Amira Hass

Amira Hass

After the peace talks fail

A Palestinian generation has come of age that is in no hurry to reach an agreement with the Israelis, because the Israelis aren’t ready for a fair agreement. 

By Amira Hass

Don’t worry, in this round of talks with the Palestinians, Israel will again miss the opportunity to change and be changed – just as the Rabin-Peres government and the Barak government missed their opportunities. Discussions over a referendum ignore the essence: Any future worth living for the Jewish community in this part of the Middle East depends on the ability and will of that community to free itself from the ethnocracy (“democracy for Jews only”) that it has built here for nearly seven decades. For this we desperately need the Palestinians.

But military and economic superiority is blinding us. We are sure that they need us and that we have pushed them into such a weak position that we can extricate a yes from them regarding what they have been saying no to for 20 years; that is, much less than the 1967 borders.

The negotiations expected now, with the very non-neutral American participation (if we even get to that after the pre-negotiation phase), will not produce independence for the Palestinians. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition problems can’t be blamed for that. It’s the Israelis who are not yet ready to demand that their leaders work toward a peace agreement, because they’re still enjoying the occupation too much.

It’s not for nothing that we have been blessed with 6,800 weapons exporters, the title of the sixth largest weapons exporter in the world, and first or second place among countries selling unmanned aircraft, which were upgraded by trying them out on the Lebanese and mainly the Gazans. Even if few of our people are involved in the manufacture and export of weapons and in the defense industry in general, that’s a minority with an extensive influence and a great deal of economic power that shapes politics and produces messianic and technocratic rationalizations.

The European Union’s directives on noncooperation with the settlements and companies linked to them have come at least 15 years late. As early as the 1990s it was clear to Europe that the colonization of the West Bank and Gaza contradicted its interpretation of the Oslo Accords, but that didn’t prevent it from spoiling Israel with favorable trade agreements. Neither these agreements nor massive support for the Palestinian Authority (that is, compensation for damage done by Israeli rule and its restrictions on movement), gave Europe real political clout in Israel’s eyes and in the corridors of the negotiations. And then a determined first step by Europe rehabilitated its political standing.

The Palestinians have made clear that if the Europeans back down on these directives, as Israel has demanded and the United States wants, they will stop the talks (when they start). But the directives’ main psychological impact will dissipate without quick implementation. When and if implemented, the results will not be felt immediately in Israel, and even then, they will be felt only gradually. That is, it will take time before more and more Israelis realize that the occupation isn’t worth it. That will be enough time for us to continue feeling that we’re stronger than the Palestinians.

But depending on the Palestinians’ weakness is an optical illusion of the arrogant. True, the PLO’s leadership is fossilized and controlled by one individual who rarely consults and rarely takes his people’s opinions into consideration. But even he can’t accept what the Netanyahu-Bennett-Lapid government plans to offer. True, Palestinian society is more fractured geographically and politically than it was 20 years ago, but it has great stamina, which the Israelis lack.

The PA and the Hamas government are groaning under the financial burdens of economies under siege. The social and economic rifts have deepened and an atmosphere of depoliticization has taken over. But beneath the surface there are new developments. Initiatives are afoot to turn the Palestinian people – in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the diaspora – into one deciding body. Ideas are being seriously discussed for methods of struggle outside negotiations. A generation has come of age that is in no hurry to reach an agreement with the Israelis, because the Israelis aren’t ready for a fair agreement. And when we, the Israelis, wake up and beg for an agreement, it might be too late.


The following article by veteran Israeli journalist and peace activist, Amira Hass, has generated a storm of controversy. Many Israelis think that this time she has gone too far – encouraging violence, inciting murder, etc. 

Hass herself is committed to non-violence. As an Israeli though who has spent considerable time living in Gaza and West Bank, she understands the frustrations of a subjugated people, and she understands that such frustrations will inevitably bubble over, one way or another.

Father Dave

Amira Hass

Amira Hass


The inner syntax of Palestinian stone-throwing

It would make sense for Palestinian schools to give classes in resistance: how to build multiple ‘tower and stockade’ villages in Area C; how to behave when army troops enter your homes; how to identify soldiers who flung you handcuffed to the floor of the jeep, in order to submit a complaint.

Throwing stones is the birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule. Throwing stones is an action as well as a metaphor of resistance. Persecution of stone-throwers, including 8-year-old children, is an inseparable part − though it’s not always spelled out − of the job requirements of the foreign ruler, no less than shooting, torture, land theft, restrictions on movement, and the unequal distribution of water sources.

The violence of 19-year-old soldiers, their 45-year-old commanders, and the bureaucrats, jurists and lawyers is dictated by reality. Their job is to protect the fruits of violence instilled in foreign occupation − resources, profits, power and privileges.

Steadfastness (Sumud) and resistance against the physical, and even more so the systemic, institutionalized violence, is the core sentence in the inner syntax of Palestinians in this land. This is reflected every day, every hour, every moment, without pause. Unfortunately, this is true not only in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza, but also within Israel’s recognized borders, although the violence and the resistance to it are expressed differently. But on both sides of the Green Line, the levels of distress, suffocation, bitterness, anxiety and wrath are continually on the rise, as is the astonishment at Israelis’ blindness in believing that their violence can remain in control forever.

Often hurling stones is borne of boredom, excessive hormones, mimicry, boastfulness and competition. But in the inner syntax of the relationship between the occupier and the occupied, stone-throwing is the adjective attached to the subject of “We’ve had enough of you, occupiers.”

After all, teenagers could find other ways to give vent to their hormones without risking arrests, fines, injuries and death.

Even if it is a right and duty, various forms of steadfastness and resisting the foreign regime, as well as its rules and limitations, should be taught and developed. Limitations could include the distinction between civilians and those who carry arms, between children and those in uniform, as well as the failures and narrowness of using weapons.

It would make sense for Palestinian schools to introduce basic classes in resistance: how to build multiple “tower and stockade” villages in Area C; how to behave when army troops enter your homes; comparing different struggles against colonialism in different countries; how to use a video camera to document the violence of the regime’s representatives; methods to exhaust the military system and its representatives; a weekly day of work in the lands beyond the separation barrier; how to remember identifying details of soldiers who flung you handcuffed to the floor of the jeep, in order to submit a complaint; the rights of detainees and how to insist on them in real time; how to overcome fear of interrogators; and mass efforts to realize the right of movement. Come to think of it, Palestinian adults could also make use of these lessons, perhaps in place of their drills, training in dispersing protests, and practice in spying on Facebook posts.

When high school students were drafted two years ago for the campaign of boycotting settlement products, it seemed like a move in the right direction. But it stopped there, without going further, without broadening the context. Such lessons would have been perfectly in tune with the tactics of appealing to the United Nations − civil disobedience on the ground and defiance of power in diplomacy.

So why are such classes absent from the Palestinian curriculum? Part of the explanation lies with the opposition of the donor states and Israel’s punitive measures. But it is also due to inertia, laziness, flawed reasoning, misunderstanding and the personal gains of some parts of society. In fact the rationale for the existence of the Palestinian Authority engendered one basic rule in the last two decades − adaptation to the existing situation. Thus, a contradiction and a clash have been created between the inner syntax of the Palestinian Authority and that of the Palestinian people.


God bless Amira Hass. As ever she is on the cutting edge – exposing lies in the official narrative that we’ve heard so often that they’ve become a part of general wisdom.

The apartheid wall, the checkpoints, the permit restrictions – all seem to be designed to protect ordinary Israelis from suicide bombers and other forms of Palestinian aggression. Hass puts the lie to the entire package!

Father Dave

Amira Hass

Amira Hass


Israeli crackdown on Palestinian mobility began well before suicide bombings

Most Israelis labor under the misconception that restrictions on Palestinian movement were a result of suicide bombings, but they started long before that.

“I didn’t know you were such an empiricist,” a friend told me impatiently, a veteran peace activist with a doctorate, when I insisted at some meeting on specifying the prohibitions on the movement of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

That was in 1995, and he thought I didn’t see the big picture, the positive direction, the vision, the beat of the wings of history, and instead was merely insisting on going into detail, into temporary malfunctions. He wasn’t alone in thinking that. One of my editors at the time told me I lacked perspective because I lived in Gaza, and so my reports looked the way they did. In short, wearisome.

The signs were there right from the start − signs that the so much talked-about Peace Process was a process of subjugation; signs that Israel intended to impose on the other side an agreement whose terms were far from the Palestinian minimum, and far from what many countries in the world envisioned as a two-state solution.

But it was hard for these signs to infiltrate public awareness (as well as the Israeli and international media) through the powerful interest in seeing the outward manifestations of something that you believe exists: in Gazans bathing in the sea; in the head of the Israeli Shin Bet security service meeting with the head of the Palestinian security service; in Shimon Peres visiting Gaza; in joint security patrols; and in our soldiers no longer patrolling in the heart of the Palestinian towns.

From the supposedly narrow perspective of the Strip, though, the reality of incarceration was, looked and felt like the complete opposite of a peace process.

The chronology is important here − I’ve repeated it countless times and will repeat it countless more times − because local readers like to think that the blanket prohibitions on Palestinian mobility were a response to the suicide attacks from 1994 on. That is not the case.

It began in January 1991, on the eve of the Gulf War. The Israel Defense Forces GOC Central and Southern Commands then revoked an earlier order, from the 1970s, of a “general exit permit to Israel” − in other words, one that allowed the Palestinian residents of the occupied territory to enter Israel, and move freely within its borders and between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Initially, the revocation was interpreted as something temporary, a preventive measure during the unclear period of wartime. But after a lengthy curfew, the residents of the Strip woke up to a new reality. If up until 1991 Israel had respected (for reasons of its own) the right to freedom of movement for all Palestinians, but withheld it from a few people, after 1991 the situation was reversed: Israel denied all Palestinians (those in the West Bank as well) the right to freedom of movement, aside from a few groups and numbers that it determined.

Since then, this is the rule in effect, aside from shifts in the various categories and specific numbers of those permitted to leave. The expectation that signing the transfer of powers from the Civil Administration to the Palestinian Authority in May 1994 would restore freedom of movement was soon dashed. That was the first clear sign.

Incarceration within the Gaza Strip bagged several birds during this process of subjugation:

Just how important and deliberate that fourth step was may be gleaned from two other signs. Under the Oslo Accords, the PA has the power to change a person’s home address on his or her identity card, and only has to report the change to the Civil Administration (as the representative of Israeli’s Interior Ministry), which enters the new details in the database of its Population Registry. But in 1996, it emerged that Israel was refusing to register address changes from Gaza to the West Bank.

In 1997, another military order was issued: Gazans now needed a permit even when entering the West Bank via the Allenby Bridge. That closed a loophole which students and others had exploited until then: They would depart Gaza through Egypt, fly to Jordan, and then continue westward, through the Allenby Bridge crossing.

‘No reason to leave’

As early as 1995 I asked a woman in the Israeli security establishment why, if “confidence-building measures” between the Palestinians and Israel had been declared, there would be no easing up with respect to mobility permits and the convoluted bureaucracy that developed around them. Why not, for example, grant women and children exit permits that were valid for a year − if not to Israel, then at least to the West Bank? This woman, though not a decision maker, was placed in the right junction to answer my question: “Because they have no reason to leave,” she told me, honestly.

Clerks and junior officers in the system hear and grasp what is planned in the corridors of power, but are less careful than their superiors about what they say, and do not bother to hide certain intentions. In 1997, when I was already in the West Bank, I started to become acquainted with the traditional Palestinian farming communities in the Jordan Valley, whose tent encampments and shacks had been systematically destroyed by the Civil Administration’s inspectors and soldiers.

Several of the people whose homes had been demolished told me: “I asked the inspector, ‘So where will we go now that you’ve destroyed our home?’ And he replied: ‘Go to Arafat, go to Area A [the small area which was then designed to be under Palestinian administrative-civilian control].’”

These soldiers also divulged the intentions of their superiors. To this day, 16 years later, that is the policy behind the destruction of the water cisterns and of tent encampments there. To this day, that is the state’s answer to the High Court of Justice in petitions by residents of the southern Hebron Hills against intentions to evict them from their communities: “They have somewhere to live in Area A.”

“Area A” and “Area B” (under Palestinian civil control and Israeli military control) are the code names for the Palestinian enclaves that formed in the past 20 years − the years of the “peace process.” The Israeli battle to create the detached and separate Gaza enclave succeeded better than expected when Hamas − aided by foolish decisions of the PA − created its own separate institutions of government.

The Israeli campaign strategy to create Palestinian enclaves in the West Bank has also been crowned a great success, and its name is Area C (which is under full Israeli administrative and security control). Areas A, B and C were established in the Oslo Accords as purely temporary categories, to mark the gradual nature by which the military forces would leave the Palestinians’ territory. Fourteen years later, Area C − the last area the military was supposed to vacate (in 1999) − still covers about 62 percent of the West Bank, and is the expansion space reserved for the outposts, settlements, industrial zones and multilane highways. Permanent and sacred and ours, like the Temple Mount.

  • Separation and creation of distance between senior officials and ordinary folks by granting “generous” mobility permits to a select class of Palestinians: freedom of movement for senior PA officials who came from abroad and gave no thought to the reality that existed before, without a need for permits, and to several prisoners who had been released and positioned themselves high in the PA leadership;
  • Satisfying the PA and then PLO leader Yasser Arafat’s sense of pseudo-control − closing the crossings and requesting permits necessitated coordination between the Civil Administration and its Palestinian twin (the Ministry of Civil Affairs);
  • Giving the PA a chance to develop the commercial monopolies of its people and cronies − by sheer dint of the need to coordinate exits between the PA and Israel;
  • Most important of all: Severing the society in Gaza from that of the West Bank. In other words, undermining the basic condition for a Palestinian state, in both parts of the territory conquered in 1967.

Just how important and deliberate that fourth step was may be gleaned from two other signs. Under the Oslo Accords, the PA has the power to change a person’s home address on his or her identity card, and only has to report the change to the Civil Administration (as the representative of Israeli’s Interior Ministry), which enters the new details in the database of its Population Registry. But in 1996, it emerged that Israel was refusing to register address changes from Gaza to the West Bank.


This damning analysis was published in Haaretz by veteran reporter, Amira Hass.

Hass is the daughter of two Holocaust survivors. She is unique as an Israeli journalist reporting on the Palestinian situation as she has chosen to live in the West Bank and Gaza and do her reporting from there.

Her reporting of events, and her voicing of opinions that run counter to both official Israeli and Palestinian positions regularly exposes her to verbal attacks and opposition from both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities.

Amira Hass

Amira Hass


Israel’s ‘right to self-defense’ – a tremendous propaganda victory 

By Amira Hass 

By supporting Israel’s offensive on Gaza, Western leaders have given the Israelis carte blanche to do what they’re best at: Wallow in their sense of victimhood and ignore Palestinian suffering. Israels right to self defense a tremendous propaganda victory 

One of Israel’s tremendous propaganda victories is that it has been accepted as a victim of the Palestinians, both in the view of the Israeli public and that of Western leaders who hasten to speak of Israel’s right to defend itself. The propaganda is so effective that only the Palestinian rockets at the south of Israel, and now at Tel Aviv, are counted in the round of hostilities. The rockets, or damage to the holiest of holies – a military jeep – are always seen as a starting point, and together with the terrifying siren, as if taken from a World War II movie, build the meta-narrative of the victim entitled to defend itself. 

Every day, indeed every moment, this meta-narrative allows Israel to add another link to the chain of dispossession of a nation as old as the state itself, while at the same time managing to hide the fact that one continuous thread runs from the 1948 refusal to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, the early 1950s expulsion of Bedouin from the Negev desert, the current expulsion of Bedouin from the Jordan Valley, ranches for Jews in the Negev, discrimination in budgets in Israel, and shooting at Gazan fishermen to keep them from earning a respectable living. Millions of such continuous threads link 1948 to the present. They are the fabric of life for the Palestinian nation, as divided as it may be in isolated pockets. They are the fabric of life of Palestinian citizens of Israel and of those who live in their lands of exile. 

But these threads are not the entire fabric of life. The resistance to the threads that we, the Israelis, endlessly spin is also part of the fabric of life for Palestinians. The word resistance has been debased to mean the very masculine competition of whose missile will explode furthest away (a competition among Palestinian organizations, and between them and the established Israeli army ). It does not invalidate the fact that, in essence, resistance to the injustice inherent in Israeli domination is an inseparable part of life for each and every Palestinian. 

The foreign and international development ministries in the West and in the United States knowingly collaborate with the mendacious representation of Israel as victim, if only because every week they receive reports from their representatives in the West Bank and Gaza Strip about yet another link of dispossession and oppression that Israel has added to the chain, or because their own taxpayers’ money make up for some of the humanitarian disasters, large and small, inflicted by Israel. 

On November 8, two days before the attack on the holiest of holies – soldiers in a military jeep – they could have read about IDF soldiers killing 13-year old Ahmad Abu Daqqa, who was playing soccer with his friends in the village of Abassan, east of Khan Yunis. The soldiers were 1.5 kilometers from the kids, inside the Gaza Strip area, busy with “exposing” (a whitewashed word for destroying ) agricultural land. So why shouldn’t the count of aggression start with a child? On November 10, after the attack on the jeep, the IDF killed another four civilians, aged 16 to 19. 

Wallowing in ignorance 

Leaders of the West could have known that, before the IDF’s exercise last week in the Jordan Valley, dozens of Bedouin families were told to evacuate their homes. How extraordinary that IDF training always occurs where Bedouin live, not Israeli settlers, and that it constitutes a reason to expel them. Another reason. Another expulsion. The leaders of the West could also have known, based on the full-color, chrome-paper reports their countries finance, that since the beginning of 2012, Israel has destroyed 569 Palestinian buildings and structures, including wells and 178 residences. In all, 1,014 people were affected by those demolitions. 

We haven’t heard masses of Tel Aviv and southern residents warning the stewards of the state about the ramifications of this destruction on the civilian population. The Israelis cheerfully wallow in their ignorance. This information and other similar facts are available and accessible to anyone who’s really interested. But Israelis choose not to know. This willed ignorance is a foundation stone in the building of Israel’s sense of victimization. But ignorance is ignorance: The fact that Israelis don’t want to know what they are doing as an occupying power doesn’t negate their deeds or Palestinian resistance. 

In 1993, the Palestinians gave Israel a gift, a golden opportunity to cut the threads tying 1948 to the present, to abandon the country’s characteristics of colonial dispossession, and together plan a different future for the two peoples in the region. The Palestinian generation that accepted the Oslo Accords (full of traps laid by smart Israeli lawyers ) is the generation that got to know a multifaceted, even normal, Israeli society because the 1967 occupation allowed it (for the purpose of supplying cheap labor ) almost full freedom of movement. The Palestinians agreed to a settlement based on their minimum demands. One of the pillars of these minimum demands was treating the Gaza Strip and West Bank as a single territorial entity. 

But once the implementation of Oslo started, Israel systematically did everything it could to make the Gaza Strip into a separate, disconnected entity, as part of Israel’s insistence on maintaining the threads of 1948 and extending them. Since the rise of Hamas, it has done everything to back up the impression Hamas prefers – that the Gaza Strip is a separate political entity where there is no occupation. If that is so, why not look at things as follows: As a separate political entity, any incursion into Gazan territory is an infringement of its sovereignty, and Israel does this all the time. Does the government of the state of Gaza not have the right to respond, to deter, or at least the masculine right – a twin of the IDF’s masculine right – to scare the Israelis just as Israel scares the Palestinians? 

But Gaza is not a state. Gaza is under Israeli occupation, despite all the verbal acrobatics of both Hamas and Israel. The Palestinians who live there are part of a people whose DNA contains resistance to oppression. 

In the West Bank, Palestinian activists try to develop a type of resistance different from the masculine, armed resistance. But the IDF puts down all popular resistance with zeal and resolve. We haven’t heard of residents of Tel Aviv and the south complaining about the balance of deterrence the IDF is building against the civilian Palestinian population.  

And so Israel again provides reasons for more young Palestinians, for whom Israel is an abnormal society of army and settlers, to conclude that the only rational resistance is spilled blood and counter-terrorizing. And so every Israeli link of oppression and all Israeli disregard of the oppression’s existence drags us further down the slope of masculine competition.