Gaza Strip

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The following report appeared in the L.A. Times on August 27. The journalist is being generous to the Israeli government in saying that Israeli blockade is intended to ‘isolate and disarm Hamas’.  It certainly hasn’t achieved either. What the sealing off of Gaza does achieve is the de-stabilising of the region and an increase in human misery, and things can only get worse unless there is fundamental change. Father Dave

U.N.: Gaza to be unlivable by 2020 unless serious action taken

 

The Gaza Strip will be drained of safe water to drink and perilously short on schools, homes and hospitals if serious action isn’t taken to help its booming young population, the United Nations said in a new report released Monday. The rising pressures could soon make Gaza unlivable, it warned.

The coastal Palestinian territory controlled by Hamas is expected to swell by half a million people by 2020, putting grave new pressures on an already strained area, the U.N. country team found.

Under an Israeli blockade meant to isolate and disarm Hamas, the Gaza economy "is fundamentally unviable," the U.N. says in its report. Though Israel eased the blockade somewhat two years ago and Gaza’s economy has recently grown, the territory remains heavily dependent on outside aid and illegal smuggling to survive. Nearly a third of its people are unemployed.

Israeli leaders say the blockade is needed to stop weapons from reaching Hamas, an Islamic militant group that has refused to recognize Israel. The blockade remains deeply controversial among aid agencies and human rights activists, who argue that it hurts ordinary Gazans.

Gaza is already suffering a shortfall of 71,000 housing units and as many as 250 schools. Over the next eight years, a projected population increase to 2.1 million from from 1.6 million would require roughly 800 hospital beds and 190 more schools on top of the existing shortfall, the U.N. found.

The boom would also necessitate more than twice as much electricity for Gaza, where people already face regular power cuts, and could irreparably damage the coastal aquifer that supplies almost all of the territory’s water. Palestinians in Gaza already consume far more water than flows back into the aquifer, depleting the water supply and causing salt water to leak in at troubling levels.

With more thirsty mouths to quench, the water source could be unusable in just four years and irreversibly damaged by 2020, the report says.

"The challenges will only become more acute, particularly if the current political status quo continues," the report says, adding, "As a heavily urbanized environment with little room for further growth, Gaza needs to be open and accessible to the world."

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The parents of Rachel Corrie have been working tirelessly since 2003 to see that somebody was held accountable for her tragic death.  It is hard to believe that after such a long journey the case was simply dismissed and that Rachel was blamed for her own death!

This response just in from the International Solidarity Movement – a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli Occupation by using nonviolent, direct-action methods and principles.

Source: palsolidarity.org…

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is deeply concerned by the verdict of Judge Oded Gershon that absolved Israel’s military and state of the 2003 murder of American ISM activist Rachel Corrie. Rachel was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer while protesting the demolition of a Palestinian home in the Gaza Strip.

Despite the American administration stating that the Israeli military investigation had not been “thorough, credible and transparent” and the Israeli government withholding key video and audio evidence, Judge Gershon found no fault in the investigation or in the conclusion that the military and state were not responsible for Rachel’s death. Judge Gershon ruled  that Rachel was to blame for her own murder and classifies her non-violent attempt to prevent war crimes as proof that Rachel was not a “thinking person”.

By disregarding international law and granting Israeli war criminals impunity Judge Gershon’s verdict exemplifies the fact that Israel’s legal system cannot be trusted to administer justice according to international standards.The ISM calls on the international community to hold Israel accountable by supporting the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) and continuing to join the Palestinian struggle in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Describing the situation in Gaza 2 days before she was killed, Rachel said, “I’m witnessing the systematic destruction of a people’s ability to survive. It’s horrifying.” Rachel’s analysis holds true today, confirmed by the United Nations a day before this ruling, which reported that Gaza would not be “liveable” by 2020 barring urgent action.

The verdict is a green light for Israeli soldiers to use lethal force against human rights defenders and puts Palestinian and International human rights defenders in mortal danger.

This will not deter us. As long as our Palestinian sisters and brothers want our presence, the ISM will continue to find ways to break Israel’s siege, and stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people. As Rachel’s mother Cindy put it, “There were children behind the walls of the home Rachel was trying to protect…We should have all been there”.

Judge Gershon’s verdict is a travesty of justice but it is not exceptional.  As a rule the Israeli legal system provides Israeli soldiers impunity to commit murder. The only Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter since the outbreak of the second Intifada in 2000 was Taysir Hayb, a Bedouin citizen of Israel for shooting British ISM volunteer Tom Hurndall in the back of the head with a sniper rifle as Tom was carrying a child to safety. At least 6,444 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli occupation forces in this period, with no justice for them or their families.

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Father Roy writes:  Asa Winstanley is a journalist from London who has lived and worked in occupied Palestine.  His website is:www.winstanleys.org….  Nurit Peled-Elhanan is an Israeli language and education professor.  Nurit is Miko’s sister.   Peace, Roy

Nb. the highlights below are courtesy of Father Roy

electronicintifada.net…

Book review: how Israeli school textbooks teach kids to hate

Asa Winstanley 

London 

The Electronic Intifada 

11 August 2012

 At the height of Israel’s brutal 2008-09 assault on the Gaza Strip, then-foreign minister Tzipi Livni claimed that “Palestinians teach their children to hate us and we teach love thy neighbor” (232).

The first part of this myth is propagated by people like US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and more recently Newt Gingrich, who both spread the baseless claim that Palestinian schoolbooks teach anti-Semitism. This calumny originated with anti-Palestinian propagandandists such as Israeli settler Itamar Marcus and his “Palestinian Media Watch.”

In an important new book, Palestine in Israeli School Books,Israeli language and education professor Nurit Peled-Elhanan buries the second part of Livni’s myth once and for all.

Peled-Elhanan examines 17 Israeli school textbooks on history, geography and civic studies. Her conclusions are an indictment of the Israeli system of indoctrination and its cultivation of anti-Arab racism from an early age: “The books studied here harness the past to the benefit of the … Israeli policy of expansion, whether they were published during leftist or right-wing [education] ministries” (224).

She goes into great detail, examining and exposing the sometimes complex and subtle ways this is achieved. Her expertise in semiotics (the study of signs and symbols) comes to the fore.

Inculcation of anti-Palestinian ideology in the minds of Israel’s youth is achieved in the books through the use of exclusion and absence: “none of the textbooks studied here includes, whether verbally or visually, any positive cultural or social aspect of Palestinian life-world: neither literature nor poetry, neither history nor agriculture, neither art nor architecture, neither customs nor traditions are ever mentioned” (49).

Palestinians marginalized, demonized by Israeli textbooks

On the occasions Palestinians (including Palestinian citizens of Israel) are mentioned, it is in an overwhelmingly negative, Orientalist and demeaning light: “all [the books] represent [Palestinians] in racist icons or demeaning classificatory images such as terrorists, refugees and primitive farmers — the three ‘problems’ they constitute for Israel” (49).

For example in MTII [Modern Times II, a 1999 history text book] there are only two photographs of Palestinians, one of face-covered Palestinian children throwing stones ‘at our forces’ … [t]he other photograph is of ‘refugees’ … placed in a nameless street” (72).

This what Peled-Elhanan terms “strategies of negative representation.” She explains that “Palestinians are often referred to as ‘the Palestinian problem.’” While this expression is even used by writers considered “progressive,” the term “was salient in the ultra-right-wing ideology and propaganda of Meir Kahane,” the late Israeli politician and rabbi who openly called for the Palestinians to be expelled. Peled-Elhanan finds this disturbing, coming as it does “only 60 years after the Jews were called ‘The Jewish Problem’ ” (65).

She reprints examples of the crude Orientalist cartoon representations of Arabs, “imported into Israeli school book [sic] from European illustrations of books such as The Arabian Nights” (74). Arab men stand, dressed in Oriental garb, often riding camels. The cartoons of Arab women show them seated submissively, dressed in traditional outfits. Meanwhile, two Israelis on the same page are “depicted as a ‘normal’ — though caricaturistic — Western couple, unmarked by any ‘Jewish’ or ‘other’ object-signs” (110-11). The message is clear: Arabs do not belong here with “us.”

Justifications for massacre

Peled-Elhanan concludes: “The books studied here present Israeli-Jewish culture as superior to the Arab-Palestinian one, Israeli-Jewish concepts of progress as superior to Palestinian-Arab way of life and Israeli-Jewish behavior as aligning with universal values” (230).

While Israeli war crimes are not entirely ignored, the textbooks do their best to downplay or justify massacres and ethnic cleansing. “[T]he Israeli version of events are stated as objective facts, while the Palestinian-Arab versions are stated as possibility, realized in openings such as ‘According to the Arab version’ … [or] ‘Dier [sic.] Yassin became a myth in the Palestinian narrative … a horrifying negative image of the Jewish conqueror in the eyes of Israel’s Arabs’ ” (50-1).

Deir Yassin was a Palestinian village where, in 1948, a notorious massacre of around 100 persons by terrorists from the Zionist militias Irgun, Lehi and Hagana took place. Yet note in the example above that is is only the negative image of Israel that is “horrifying.” The massacre of unarmed men, women and children is otherwise not a cause for concern.

Israeli education going backwards

With reference to previous studies of Israeli school textbooks, Peled-Elhanan finds that, despite some signs of improvement in the 1990s, the more recent books she examined have if anything got worse. The issue of the Nakba, the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland in 1948, is for the most part not ignored, but instead justified.

For example, in all the books mentioning Deir Yassin, the massacre is justified because: “the slaughter of friendly Palestinians brought about the flight of other Palestinians which enabled the establishment of a coherent Jewish state” — a result so self-evidently good it doesn’t need explaining (178).

Contrary to the hope of previous studies “for ‘the appearance of a new narrative in [Israeli] history textbooks’ … some of the most recent school books (2003-09) regress to the ‘first generation’ [1950s] accounts — when archival information was less accessible — and are, like them ‘replete with bias, prejudice, errors, [and] misrepresentations’ ” (228).

There is some sloppy editing here, and the academic jargon at times slips into the realm of mystifying. But those quibbles aside, Peled-Elhanan’s book is the definitive account of just how Israeli schoolchildren are brainwashed by the state and society into hatred and contempt of Palestinians and Arabs, immediately before the time they are due to enter the army as young conscripts.

Asa Winstanley is a journalist from London who has lived and work in occupied Palestine. His website is: www.winstanleys.org….

Palestine in Israeli School Books: Ideology and Propaganda in Education