occupation

0

Father Roy writes:

Peers, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has a tangible focal point:Jerusalem.  The word “Jerusalem” means “City of Peace”.  An international debate over the future status of Jerusalem is now in progress, on-line as well as off-line.  To hear from the Palestinian side, read MIFTAH’s latest mailing pasted below.  To learn the extent to which Israeli officials are incensed that the debate has grown international, watch this short video:  BBC Refuses To Name Jerusalem As Israel’s Capital (04:47).

The Rev. Naim Ateek, a Palestinian Christian, states the obvious in the language of diplomacy:  “Jerusalem remains the key to peace.  Ultimately it is what happens to Jerusalem that will determine whether a viable peace is achieved or not.  Unless the International Community can build peace based on a just foundation, it is difficult to imagine a permanent resolution of the conflict.”  Karen Armstrong explains why this is true in an article published in Time Magazine:  Why Jerusalem Was Central To Muhammad.  For additional reading:  www.sabeel.org… and www.cmep.org….

President Obama literally caused global warming when he told an AIPAC conference that Jerusalem must remain “undivided” and “Israel’s eternal capital.  America’s President missed a peacemaking opportunity that day which would have been consistent with even his own foreign policy.  All the President needed to say was that Jerusalem must remain “undivided and SHARED”.  Peers, let’s think about the matter.  Let’s think more and more deeply.  It’s not too late for President Obama to correct his mistake.  All he has to do is finish his sentence.  Let’s Contact The White House and insist that he do.  Please read on.

Peace, Roy+

Journey into Oblivion: Silwan and the City of David

Date posted: 08/08/2012

By: Melkam Lidet for MIFTAH

Image001

Jerusalem lies at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Having occupied east Jerusalem in the 1967 war, Israel claims it is its “eternal and undivided” capital, something the international community including the United States does not recognize (even though president hopeful Mitt Romney begs to differ). For Palestinians, a future Palestinian state will see east Jerusalem as its capital. Thus Jerusalem is a very controversial city where everything that happens there, be it under the guise of religion or science, is controversial and political as well.

Because it is a center for all three Abrahamic faiths– Judaism, Christianity and Islam, it might be obvious how religion meets politics in Jerusalem or in Israel/Palestine in general. Science however, is considered as objective, as close to the ‘truth’ as one can get. In Israel-Palestine nonetheless, science too can be political. The science I am alluding to is archeology; a science that is most relevant to a city with a history of more than 5000 years. As one of the oldest cities in the world which has witnessed multiple layers of civilizations, Jerusalem is indeed historians’ and archeologist’s paradise. Before the city moved to its current, gated location, ancient Jerusalem or “City of David” was located south of what Jews claim is the Temple Mount (Al Aqsa Mosque Compound), in the village of Silwan where several archeological excavations are underway currently.

The City of David or the Palestinian village of Silwan lies in east Jerusalem based on the 1948 Green Line and lies just a few meters from the Dung and Zion Gates of the Old City. It is part of east Jerusalem under Israeli occupation after the 1967 war; hence Israel is the sovereign power there. Archeological excavations are licensed and supervised by the Israeli government though its ministries and authorities. It is managed however, by a private body – the Elad Foundation which is a right-wing ideological foundation affiliated with settling Jews in east Jerusalem. This makes City of David now part of “Jerusalem Walls National Park” the only national park in Israel managed by a private body.

The problem with the ideological affiliation of the managing body is of course in that it dictates the focus of the excavations and the historical narratives that will emerge from the findings in a way would serve its ideology and purpose. In Silwan, the purpose of the excavations is far from seeking the history of ancient Jerusalem objectively. Rather, it has become a search for evidence of events and figures from biblical Jerusalem where interpretation of the findings is based on popular stories associated with the place rather than the find itself. This is not to say that the stories in the Bible are not real or true but to point out that such a narrow research focused on popular figures such as kings overlooks the cultural, political and social aspects of people who lived in the area at different periods in time.

For example, while no substantial finding in the area mentions King David or Solomon, remains from the Abbasid periods as well as Byzantine or Late Roman were found in the Givati parking lot at the northern edge of City of David. But because there is no commutation with the local residents and since the research doesn’t have the interest of the local residents or overall history of the place in mind, the Muslim Abbasid and Byzantine remains were dismantled in search for remains from the Roman/Second Temple period. The reason of course is to tell a single story – that Jews lived here back in history and that they should live here in the present time. In short, its aim is to legitimize illegal Israeli settlements in east Jerusalem.

The plan to grab more Palestinian land without Palestinians under the pretext of sometimes archeology and other times natural conservation is even more evident in the archeological methods employed in Silwan. While digging horizontal tunnels underground is now considered as an archaic archeological method abandoned for many years now, it still remains to be the method used in Silwan where neighborhoods such as Wadi Hilweh will have to bear the consequences of excavation being carried out underneath their houses.

Further, several houses in the neighborhood of Al Bustan are awaiting their demolition because they were built without a permit (since the Israeli authorities do not give construction permits to Palestinians residing in east Jerusalem). With the aim of recreating the “biblical” City of David, their neighborhood will then be transformed to a garden facing what’s believed to be David’s palace. However, neither the remains in the City of David nor Al Bustan neighborhood in Silwan have been proven to be David’s fortress. More land would also be taken away from the residents in realizing the municipality’s plan to build a parking lot for tourists while the neighborhoods in Silwan are in a clear need for schools and hospitals.

If successful in meeting its goal, the City of David will be a closed site where everything is only Jewish with no mention of the Palestinian residents of Silwan or the political sensitivity of the place: walk into the City of David, past narrow alleys with Jewish settlements through the Gardens of David and Solomon, down to the Shiloah (Hezekiah’s tunnel). It will be a journey of oblivion.

Melkam Lidet is a Writer for the Media and Information Department at the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH). She can be contacted at mid@miftah.org….

Source: www.miftah.org…

0

I’ve reprinted below the entirety of Avraham Burg’s article, “Israel’s Fading Democracy’ that appeared recently in the New York Times. It is an important article, not because it says anything new and radical, but because of who Avraham Burg is, and because he’s published this damning critique in such a prestigious journal!

For those of us who are young enough to have only known Israel as an oppressor and never as the oppressed, it is an important article too, for it reminds us that the State of Israel was never supposed to have turned out like this. There was a time when, for many people, Israel was the stuff that dreams were made of! Unfortunately the dream is long gone, and the best we can hope for now is an end to the nightmare!

WHEN an American presidential candidate visits Israel and his key message is to encourage us to pursue a misguided war with Iran, declaring it “a solemn duty and a moral imperative” for America to stand with our warmongering prime minister, we know that something profound and basic has changed in the relationship between Israel and the United States.

My generation, born in the ’50s, grew up with the deep, almost religious belief that the two countries shared basic values and principles. Back then, Americans and Israelis talked about democracy, human rights, respect for other nations and human solidarity. It was an age of dreamers and builders who sought to create a new world, one without prejudice, racism or discrimination.

Listening to today’s political discourse, one can’t help but notice the radical change in tone. My children have watched their prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, kowtow to a fundamentalist coalition in Israel. They are convinced that what ties Israel and America today is not a covenant of humanistic values but rather a new set of mutual interests: war, bombs, threats, fear and trauma. How did this happen? Where is that righteous America? Whatever happened to the good old Israel?

Mr. Netanyahu’s great political “achievement” has been to make Israel a partisan issue and push American Jews into a corner. He has forced them to make political decisions based on calculations that go against what they perceive to be American interests. The emotional extortion compels Jews to pressure the Obama administration, a government with which they actually share values and worldviews, when those who love Israel should be doing the opposite: helping the American government to intervene and save Israel from itself.

Israel arose as a secular, social democratic country inspired by Western European democracies. With time, however, its core values have become entirely different. Israel today is a religious, capitalist state. Its religiosity is defined by the most extreme Orthodox interpretations. Its capitalism has erased much of the social solidarity of the past, with the exception of a few remaining vestiges of a welfare state. Israel defines itself as a “Jewish and democratic state.” However, because Israel has never created a system of checks and balances between these two sources of authority, they are closer than ever to a terrible clash.

In the early years of statehood, the meaning of the term “Jewish” was national and secular. In the eyes of Israel’s founding fathers, to be a Jew was exactly like being an Italian, Frenchman or American. Over the years, this elusive concept has changed; today, the meaning of “Jewish” in Israel is mainly ethnic and religious. With the elevation of religious solidarity over and above democratic authority, Israel has become more fundamentalist and less modern, more separatist and less open to the outside world. I see the transformation in my own family. My father, one of the founders of the state of Israel and of the National Religious Party, was an enlightened rabbi and philosopher. Many of the younger generation are far less open, however; some are ultra-Orthodox or ultranationalist settlers.

This extremism was not the purpose of creating a Jewish state. Immigrants from all over the world dreamed of a government that would be humane and safe for Jews. The founders believed that democracy was the only way to regulate the interests of many contradictory voices. Jewish culture, consolidated through Halakha, the religious Jewish legal tradition, created a civilization that has devoted itself to an unending conversation among different viewpoints and the coexistence of contradictory attitudes toward the fulfillment of the good.

The modern combination between democracy and Judaism was supposed to give birth to a spectacular, pluralistic kaleidoscope. The state would be a great, robust democracy that would protect Jews against persecution and victimhood. Jewish culture, on the other hand, with its uncompromising moral standards, would guard against our becoming persecutors and victimizers of others.

BUT something went wrong in the operating system of Jewish democracy. We never gave much thought to the PalestinianIsraeli citizens within the Jewish-democratic equation. We also never tried to separate the synagogue and the state. If anything, we did the opposite. Moreover, we never predicted the evil effects of brutally controlling another people against their will. Today, all the things that we neglected have returned and are chasing us like evil spirits.

The winds of isolation and narrowness are blowing through Israel. Rude and arrogant power brokers, some of whom hold senior positions in government, exclude non-Jews from Israeli public spaces. Graffiti in the streets demonstrates their hidden dreams: a pure Israel with “no Arabs” and “no gentiles.” They do not notice what their exclusionary ideas are doing to Israel, to Judaism and to Jews in the diaspora. In the absence of a binding constitution, Israel has no real protection for its minorities or for their freedom of worship and expression.

If this trend continues, all vestiges of democracy will one day disappear, and Israel will become just another Middle Eastern theocracy. It will not be possible to define Israel as a democracy when a Jewish minority rules over a Palestinian majority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea — controlling millions of people without political rights or basic legal standing.

This Israel would be much more Jewish in the narrowest sense of the word, but such a nondemocratic Israel, hostile to its neighbors and isolated from the free world, wouldn’t be able to survive for long.

But there is another option: an iconic conflict could also present an iconic solution. As in Northern Ireland or South Africa, where citizens no longer spill one another’s blood, it will eventually become clear that many Israelis are not willing to live in an ethnic democracy, not willing to give up on the chance to live in peace, not willing to be passive patriots of a country that expels or purifies itself of its minorities, who are the original inhabitants of the land.

Only on that day, after much anguish, boycotts and perhaps even bloodshed, will we understand that the only way for us to agree when we disagree is a true, vigorous democracy. A democracy based on a progressive, civil constitution; a democracy that enforces the distinction between ethnicity and citizenship, between synagogue and state; a democracy that upholds the values of freedom and equality, on the basis of which every single person living under Israel’s legitimate and internationally recognized sovereignty will receive the same rights and protections.

A long-overdue constitution could create a state that belongs to all her citizens and in which the government behaves with fairness and equality toward all persons without prejudice based on religion, race or gender. Those are the principles on which Israel was founded and the values that bound Israel and America together in the past. I believe that creating two neighboring states for two peoples that respect one another would be the best solution. However, if our shortsighted leaders miss this opportunity, the same fair and equal principles should be applied to one state for both peoples.

When a true Israeli democracy is established, our prime minister will go to Capitol Hill and win applause from both sides of the aisle. Every time the prime minister says “peace” the world will actually believe him, and when he talks about justice and equality people will feel that these are synonyms for Judaism and Israelis.

And for all the cynics who are smiling sarcastically as they read these lines, I can only say to Americans, “Yes, we still can,” and to Israelis, “If you will it, it is no dream.”

Avraham Burg, a former speaker of the Knesset, is the author of “The Holocaust Is Over: We Must Rise From Its Ashes” and the chairman of Molad, the Center for Renewal of Democracy.

source: www.nytimes.com…

0

Jonathan Cook says that while many of us treat Justice Levy’s decision – that there is no such thing as the Palestinian Occupation – as some sort of bad joke, it is truly no laughing matter. While nobody internationally may take him seriously, the decision could well be used to legalize the annexation of large areas of the West Bank!

Original article in The National

If settlements are ‘legal’, the ground is laid for annexation 

Jonathan Cook

Jul 18, 2012

The recently published report by an Israeli judge concluding that Israel is not in fact occupying the Palestinian territories – despite an international consensus to the contrary – has provoked mostly incredulity or mirth in Israel and abroad.

Left-wing websites in Israel used comically captioned photographs to highlight Justice Edmond Levy’s preposterous finding. One shows an Israeli soldier pressing the barrel of a rifle to the forehead of a Palestinian pinned to the ground, saying: “You see – I told you there’s no occupation.”

Even Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, seemed a little discomfited by the coverage last week. He was handed the report more than a fortnight earlier but was apparently reluctant to make it public.

Downplaying the Levy report’s significance may prove unwise, however. If Mr Netanyahu is embarrassed, it is only because of the timing of the report’s publication rather than its substance.

It was, after all, the Israeli prime minister himself who established the committee earlier this year to assess the legality of the Jewish settlers’ “outposts”, ostensibly unauthorised by the government, that have spread across the West Bank.

He hand-picked its three members, all diehard supporters of the settlements, and received the verdict he expected – that the settlements are legal. Certainly, Justice Levy’s opinion should have come as no surprise. In 2005, he was the only Supreme Court judge to oppose the decision to withdraw the settlers from Gaza.

Legal commentators too have been dismissive of the report. They have concentrated more on Justice Levy’s dubious reasoning than on the report’s political significance.

Under international law, Israel’s rule in the West Bank and Gaza is considered “belligerent occupation” and, therefore, its actions must be justified by military necessity only. If there is no occupation, Israel has no military grounds to hold on to the territories. In that case, it must either return the land to the Palestinians, and move out the settlers, or defy international law by annexing the territories, as it did earlier with East Jerusalem, and establish a state of Greater Israel.

Annexation, however, poses its own dangers. Israel must either offer the Palestinians citizenship and wait for a non-Jewish majority to emerge in Greater Israel; or deny them citizenship and face pariah status as an apartheid state.

Just such concerns were raised on Sunday by 40 Jewish leaders in the United States, who called on Mr Netanyahu to reject “legal manoeuvrings” that threatened Israel’s “future as a Jewish and democratic state”. But from Israel’s point of view, there may, in fact, be a way out of this conundrum.

In a 2003 interview, one of the other Levy committee members, Alan Baker, a settler who advised the foreign ministry for many years, explained Israel’s heterodox interpretation of the Oslo Accords, signed a decade earlier.

The agreements were not, as most assumed, the basis for the creation of a Palestinian state in the territories, but a route to establish the legitimacy of the settlements. “We are no longer an occupying power, but we are instead present in the territories with their [Palestinians’] consent.”

By this view, Oslo redesignated the 62 per cent of the West Bank assigned to Israel’s control – so-called Area C – from “occupied” to “disputed” territory. That explains why every Israeli administration since the mid-1990s has indulged in an orgy of settlement-building there.

According to Jeff Halper, head of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, the Levy report is preparing the legal ground for Israel’s annexation of Area C. His disquiet is shared by others.

Recent European Union reports have used unprecedented language to criticise Israel for the “forced transfer” – diplomat-speak for ethnic cleansing – of Palestinians out of Area C into the West Bank’s cities, which fall under Palestinian control.

The EU notes that the numbers of Palestinians in Area C has shrunk dramatically under Israeli rule to fewer than 150,000, or 6 per cent of the Palestinian population of the West Bank. Settlers now outnumber Palestinians more than two-to-one in Area C.

Israel could annex nearly two-thirds of the West Bank and still safely confer citizenship on Palestinians there. Adding 150,000 to the existing 1.5 million Palestinian citizens of Israel, a fifth of the population, would not erode the Jewish majority’s dominance.

If Mr Netanyahu is hesitant, it is only because the time is not yet ripe for implementation. But over the weekend, there were indications of Israel’s next moves to strengthen its hold on Area C.

It was reported that Israel’s immigration police had been authorised to expel foreign activists from the West Bank. The new powers were on show the same day as the army arrested foreigners, including a New York Times reporter, at one of the regular Palestinian anti-wall protests in Area C.

And on Sunday, it emerged that Israel had begun a campaign against OCHA, the UN agency that focuses on humanitarian harm to Palestinians in Area C from Israeli military and settlement activity. Israel has demanded details of where OCHA’s staff work and what projects it is planning.

There is a problem, nonetheless. If Israel takes Area C, it needs someone else responsible for the other 38 per cent of the West Bank – little more than 8 per cent of historic Palestine – to “fill the vacuum”, as Israeli commentators phrased it last week.

The obvious candidate is the Palestinian Authority, the Ramallah government-in- waiting. But the PA’s weakness is evident on all fronts: it has lost credibility with ordinary Palestinians, it is impotent in international forums and it is mired in a financial crisis.

If the PA refuses to, or cannot, take on these remaining fragments of the West Bank, Israel may simply opt to turn back the clock and once again cultivate weak and isolated local leaders for each Palestinian city.

The question is whether the international community can first be made to swallow Justice Levy’s absurd conclusion.

– Jonathan Cook is a journalist based in Nazareth and the recipient of the 2011 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism

0

This report is taken from the latest ‘Churches for Peace on the Middle East’ bulletin. The highlights are from Father Roy.

July 13, 2012

Israeli Report Rejects Occupation and Outpost Illegality 

On Monday a panel commissioned by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released its final report on the status of settlements in the West Bank. The group decided that Israel’s presence in the West Bank does not constitute an “occupation” and therefore settlement activity does not violate international law. The results are only recommendations at this stage, but nevertheless, they received harsh criticism from Israeli peace groups and much of the international community.

The committee, headed by former Supreme Court Justice Edmund Levy, concluded that the “classical laws of ‘occupation’ as set out in the relevant international conventions cannot be considered applicable” given the unique circumstance of Israel’s presence in the West Bank. Additionally, it found “the provisions of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, regarding the transfer of populations, cannot be considered applicable and were never intended to apply to the type of settlement activity” that is carried out in the West Bank. This means, “the establishment of settlements cannot, in and of itself, be considered illegal.”

There are several recommendations in the report based on these conclusions. Levy and his colleagues believe that since the government provided encouragement and tacit approval for outposts, they should be legalized. In cases where settlers built outposts on private Palestinian land, the report suggests that Israel should create a separate judicial tribunal to investigate claims to the land. This could make the process harder for Palestinians to pursue claims by establishing a “fixed time period” for the owner to take legal action.

The committee convened in January this year after settlers in Netanyahu’s coalition pressured him to resolve the illegal outpost issue that has plagued Israel for years. In 2005, Talia Sasson issued a report at the behest of then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that revealed the Israeli government funded the building of settlements and outposts in the West Bank that were illegal under Israeli law. While the government voted to accept the report’s recommendations, there was no set timetable for evacuations and construction continued at a faster rate, often at odds with Israeli courts. The most recent example of this tension was the court ordered evacuation of Ulpana a few weeks ago, in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu followed the court ruling, but vowed to physically relocate the settlers’ homes and build 850 new ones to compensate.

It is important to remember that the Levy Report’s conclusions are mere suggestions for the Netanyahu government. Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein must examine the findings and approve them before Netanyahu and his cabinet can entertain the idea of legalizing all settlements.

TAKE ACTION! Raise your voice and ask Secretary Clinton to express firm U.S. opposition to the legalization of illegal settlements.

Levy Report Fall Out

A press release from Americans for Peace Now quoted President and CEO Debra DeLee saying, “If the Levy Report’s recommendations become official policy, the Netanyahu government will be taking the country that we love and support one step closer to becoming an international pariah – a country whose government declares openly that it prefers land to peace and ideology over law and justice.”

Legal advisor to Yesh Din, Michael Sfard released a statement which, “The Levy Committee was conceived in sin to legalize a crime, and it has fully accomplished its mission. Its report is not a legal report but an ideological report that ignores the basic principles of the rule of law.”

If Weinstein does accept the findings, Jerusalem Post writer Jonathan Rosen cautions Netanyahufrom making the recommendations law. He writes, “To endorse the Levy report is to unmask the ongoing fraud by the Israeli government; it is to admit openly that the government has lent its tacit support to the establishment of the outposts and, as such, to the ongoing settlement of the West Bank, despite promises to the contrary. In short, to do so would be politically suicidal for Netanyahu.”

The report bolsters the settlers’ claims to the land in the West Bank and many of their supporters in the government praised the findings. Prominent Likud Knesset Member Danny Danon said, “The report will remove any leftist radicalism from previous court ruling on the outposts and bury once and for all the alarming report previously submitted by attorney Talia Sasson.”

The United States government says it has not changed its position on the issue of settlements. A State Department spokesman told reporters, “Obviously, we’ve seen the reports that an Israeli government appointed panel has recommended legalizing dozens of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but we do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, and we oppose any effort to legalize settlement outposts.

This response uses the standard verbiage that has become commonplace in recent years. Several of the statements made by the President Barack Obama’s administration since 2009 involve the illegitimacy of the settlement enterprise but avoid deeming them illegal. However, the State Department says the outposts are illegal, but that view is in agreement with current Israeli law.

0

Sonja Karkar, of Australians for Palestine, writes:

Below is another extraordinary speech given by Professor Nurit Peled-Elhanan, daughter of a general in the Israeli army and a granddaughter of a signer on the Israeli Declaration of Independence.  Nurit lost her daughter in a suicide bombing in Jerusalem, but even in the face of such a personal tragedy, she has never hesitated to speak out passionately about the terrible injustices suffered by the Palestinian people at the hands of her government and its leaders.  Like her charismatic brother Miko Peled who came to speak in Australia last year, Nurit speaks from firsthand experience of Israel’s true intentions to take all of the land and gradually expel the Palestinians from their homeland.  In the meantime, Israel has instituted the worst of apartheid policies and practices against those Palestinians under its military occupation, as well as Israel’s own Palestinian citizens.  As the world remains mute and unhearing at the incredible bravery of the Palestinian hunger-strikers, Nurit’s cries from the heart are her effort to break that silence.  We ignore these pleas at our peril.  Israel’s efforts at normalisation are failing and it will only be a matter of time before the ugly face of Zionism will be fully exposed .  Please take a stand now before more people suffer and die, particularly for the three hunger-strikers to whom Nurit refers below.  Protests have taken place across Europe and more action is urgently needed.

Sonja Karkar

The 45th birthday of the Occupation

Image

by Nurit Peled-Elhanan

Occupation Magazine

9 June 2012

I dedicate my words this evening to three hunger-strikers. Mahmoud Sarsak, who has been striking for 83 days. An excellent football player from Gaza, he was arrested three years ago under the Law against Illegal Combatants, which permits him to be imprisoned for life, without a trial and without charge. Akram Rikhawi, who has been imprisoned since 2004 and has been on a hunger-strike since 12 April, in protest against his not being released despite the fragile state of his health. And Samer al-Barq, who renewed his hunger-strike after he had stopped it, with the signing of the agreement,

because like many who were released, he got a new administrative detention order. Those prisoners are still alive because “when freedom takes hold of a person’s soul, even the gods cannot touch him.” (Jean-Paul Sartre) Not the god of Zionist power and not the Israeli angel of death. Those prisoners, and thousands more like them, including more than twenty Members of Parliament including the Chairman of the Parliament, Dr. Aziz Dweik, are being held without justice or trial, under humiliating conditions, for years, without visits or hope. They are the freedom fighters of this country who remind us again and again that we all live under occupation and that only their liberation will restore our freedom to us.

Arab citizens of Israel have been living under occupation for nearly sixty-five years now, and the Jewish citizens of Israel are living under a siege that they have imposed on themselves. We are all subjects of a colonialist regime that includes the appropriation of lands and water resources, ethnic cleansing, destruction of the landscape and destruction of the human spirit. A language and culture of which they have no need except to express their being conquered has been imposed on the Arabs whose language and culture has been deliberately and institutionally removed from the lives of the Jews, so that we cannot teach our children and remind their children that `there can also be a love story between an Arab poet and this country.` (Mahmoud Darwish). Thus since its establishment Israel has been perpetuating, in the manner of oppressive regimes, an alienated society and a culture cut off from this place, its residents, its aromas and its tastes. Even the trees and the flowers in our gardens are alienated, foreign, and do not belong. This alienation testifies again and again that on the day of its founding Israel emblazoned on its flag the symbol of apartheid and racism, and eschewed the symbol of freedom and brotherhood that ensures democracy.

This year the apartheid regime of the State of the Jews proved its complete loyalty to racism and the principles of racism. Twenty-five racist bills were submitted and more than ten racist laws have been passed this year, and hardly any Jewish citizens went out onto the streets. More than three hundred people imprisoned without trial launched a hunger strike to the death for two months and more, and hardly any Jewish citizens went onto the streets. Thousands of children are not going to school in East Jerusalem because the Jewish ministry of education does not allocate classes or because the racist Citizenship Law makes them the citizens of no-place and no one is going onto the streets. The separation of families, the expulsion of residents, the confiscation of lands, children abducted from their beds and cruelly interrogated, families evicted from their homes out onto the street, farmers tortured by kippa-wearing bullies under the protection of the army and on the orders of the government  and hardly anyone goes out onto the streets. That is the peak achievement of the Zionist movement.

The State of Israel, which was officially declared as an apartheid state, is distinguished by what has always been the most typical and successful method of racism: the classification of human beings. The Hebrew language that keeps getting uglier under the auspices of the army of Occupation and the bureaucracy of Occupation, is full of classifications: there are people who are a cancer in the heart of the nation and there are people who are a security danger, and there are people who are a plague or a demographic nightmare and there are people who are a health risk, all of them classified and categorized in such a way that even the most ignorant and boorish of Israel’s ministers manage to learn this categorization by heart.

We are all subject to classifications. We are all controlled by the racist laws of this place, and voluntarily placed into ghettos. The Zionist ghetto has learned not to see and not to hear anything beyond the walls that surround it: the real walls made of concrete, and the imaginary walls made of obedience, hate and terrible fear. We do not dare protest against the racist laws, we do not dare to defy racist signs, we do not dare to defend tortured children, we do not dare to break the walls of Gaza, and we do not dare go to Hebron and Deheisheh, to Jenin and Ramallah to ask after the neighbours. That is the great victory of the Occupation. Under the cover of the Occupation, we choose again and again to fold under the rule of criminals of every kind, war criminals, ignoramuses and boors. Thus do we punish ourselves for our helplessness and the withering of our spirit. Year after year we take our children to the gates of the schools, let them learn in an education system that burns books of history and citizenship and authorizes books that incite the murder of children. We abandon them to brainwashing and lies about the War of Liberation we won and Jerusalem Day that signifies our conquests, and the parade for Samaria, which is ours, we let them be taken to Hebron, the City of our Patriarchs, and to the City of David who is not alive and not well. The teachers in that system do not flinch when they are called upon to poison their pupils’ minds with mendacious stories about our historical rights to the neighbours’ lands, about heroism and victory when it was really ethnic cleansing, inspired and planned by the institutions of racism. The entire purpose of Israeli education is to prepare children to be obedient soldiers of the Israel Occupation Force.

We bow our heads when the most institutionalized terrorist organization in the world takes our children from us and enlists them into its ranks and teaches them how to classify people, how to classify children, how to classify babies, how to classify pain and how to classify the dead. All that, in order to harden their hearts and to dull their senses so that they can abuse, destroy and kill with a clean conscience. We are occupied to such a degree that even when the human being turns into blood we continue to classify without understanding that all of us, the dead and the living, are victims of the corrupting Occupation.

We feel the pain of the parents of one captive Jewish soldier and do not let the pain of the parents of thousands of abducted Palestinian children penetrate through to us, parents who are not allowed to visit their incarcerated children for years because the price demanded of them for the visit is collaboration with the oppressor. We ignore the sufferings of the children of Gaza who are living on the margins of death, victims of malnutrition and lack of medical care, without electricity, without the right to education and livelihood, without a chance and without hope.

As everyone knows today, the 1967 war was not a war of no choice. It was a bolting from the corral by young generals, hot-blooded colts who had sprouted and grown up in the Zionist ghetto and learned to dream of conquest. They trained and trained until they could do so no longer and then took advantage of a moment of stupidity on the part of the neighbours to breach every obstacle, to cast off all restraints and to conquer and expand and destroy joyfully, with intoxicated senses, with a feeling of omnipotent supremacy but without any plan for the future, without any thought for the day after and the millions of human beings who became subjects overnight. In order to justify the devastation and the destruction, the official mythologists were mobilized to affix a scriptural verse to every profane killing and an entire nation was swept into the stream of plunder and exploitation, surpassing themselves every year, because the Jewish genius, from the moment it was enlisted for the task of ruin and devastation, destruction and killing, has not stopped taking out ever more patents.

Today, when the Occupation is beginning to show its effect on the quality of life of the ruling nation, they are rising up and demanding social justice. But social justice too is classified. Social justice is for residents of this ghetto, not of that ghetto. Residents of that ghetto will only spoil our social justice if we include them in our demands, if we give them a forum, if we let their voices be heard in demand of what is theirs. Because that ghetto is there for security reasons and its residents are not victims of injustice and racism but are a security problem, each and every one of them. And when they are killed it is not from racism but from political considerations and we don’t get involved in politics. Therefore that movement for social justice, the failure of which was written on the wall upon its inception, is the most spectacular product of the Israeli education system.

Woe to us that the criminals of the Occupation today are our children, woe to us that we have so succumbed to racism, that we have thus permitted the apartheid criminals to occupy our spirits and to cut us off from everything that is human, from everything that is just, from everything that is peace and quiet, good neighbourliness, love of humanity, mercifulness and compassion, in order to achieve their base objectives. The spirits of the hunger-striking prisoners in their cramped cells are breathing freedom and liberty, and our spirit is oppressed and expiring.

We are living in a ghetto that has no city and no homeland, the language of which is not the local language, a ghetto that has no place to open onto except the bypass roads that pass by everything that is alive.

The time has come when we must join our neighbours all over the Middle East, to sing the praises of the true rebellion, to declare the opening of the borders and the breaking of the barriers, to break down the doors of the prisons, to return the olives and the vineyards to their owners, to return the Children of Palestine to their borders and their land and to try to recover what was lost and trampled under the hobnailed boots of the fat bullies. Only then, if the true children of this country will permit us to learn how to live in it, we too may be able to liberate ourselves from the Occupation and be free from fear, because as Menachem Begin said:  “The essence of freedom is freedom from fear, because fear is no less terrible a ruler for its being concealed.”

Among us the fear is overt; among us fear is the motivating force behind every action. Fear of refusal to serve in the Occupation army, fear of supporting a justified boycott of the produce of the settlements, fear of visiting the neighbours. Kindergarten children who arrived here from Ethiopia a few months ago already know whom to hate and whom to fear. They are struck with terror and fear of ‘the Arabs’ they have never seen in person. They are sure that it was the Arabs who burned the Temple, who murdered Jews in Germany, who detained them in Gondar, who are lying in wait for them on all sides. We must liberate our children from the walls of fear and teach them the bases of liberty and responsibility, and explain to them and to ourselves that a person who obeys restrictions that prevent him from going wherever he wants, even if it is Hebron or Jenin or Ramallah, is not a free person but a conquered person. A person who invents laws that restrict the ability of their neighbours to get an education and make a living is a repressed person, a person under siege. That siege can be lifted only by resistance of the type that we see in Bil’in and Ni’lin, Babi Salah, Maasara and through courageous civil disobedience, with a blanket “no” as our neighbours are doing.

I will conclude with a few lines written by Almog Behar, who wrote the following to Mahmoud Darwish:

To my brother Mahmoud Darwish:
who made our history conflicted
And placed me among the high towers
Standing watch over the heavy gates of Gaza
Observing the windows of houses through the sights of rifles?
Who erected between us walls of concrete and iron and the eyes of cameras
And divided us into conquerors and conquered
When we should be brothers?

Translated from Hebrew by George Malent

AFP link: www.australiansforpalestine.net…