Palestinian

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Uri Avnery raises the question that’s on everybody’s lips.  Will the current turmoil in the West Bank continue to escalate? Is Netanyahu trying to foment that escalation? Is it all timed to strategically coincide with the Obama visit? These questions are difficult to answer, but, as Avnery points out, on one point we can be clear: while the Palestinian resistance is currently non-violent it cannot remain so for ever.

The First Intifada began non-violently. This is often forgotten. Ongoing imprisonments and aggression from the IDF eventually provoked a violent reaction from the Palestinians and hence the whole event is remembered as a virtual war. At the moment the Palestinian resistance is again largely made up of non-violent protests, hunger-strikes, and the world-wide BDS campaign. But continued provocations will eventually take their toll, after which the spin doctors will depict the uprising as an unprovoked explosion of Arab aggression!

Will Obama be able to leverage any positive influence in this process? It is doubtful, but while the influence of the US recedes into the background, the partisan support from the surrounding Arab nations and from the rest of the world is on the increase!

Father Dave

Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery

The Third Intifada?

by Uri Avnery

IS THIS the third intifada? This question was raised this week by a number of Israeli security experts. And not only by them – their Palestinian colleagues were almost as perplexed.

All over the West Bank, Palestinian youth threw stones at Israeli soldiers. All the 3500 Palestinians in Israeli prisons took part in a three-day hunger strike.

The immediate reason was the death of a young Palestinian man during interrogation by the Shin Bet. The autopsy showed no reason for the death. It was no heart attack, as first (and automatically) claimed by Israeli officials and their stooges, the so-called “military correspondents”. So was it torture, as practically all Palestinians believe?

Then there were the four prisoners on a hunger strike which has already lasted 150 days (mitigated by infusions). Since almost every Palestinian family has now – or had in the past – at least one member in prison, this generates much excitement.

So is this IT?

THE UNCERTAINTY of security officials stems from the fact that both the first and the second intifada broke out in an unexpected way. Both the Israeli and the Palestinian leaderships were taken by surprise.

The Israeli surprise was especially – well,  surprising. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip were, and still are, full of Israeli informers. Decades of occupation have allowed the Security Service to recruit thousands of them by bribery or blackmail. So how did they fail to know?

The Palestinian leadership, then in Tunis, was equally in the dark. It took Yasser Arafat several days to realize what was happening and laud the “Stone Children”.

The reason for the surprise was that both intifadas were completely spontaneous. No one planned them. Because of this, no informer could warn his handlers.

The trigger for the first one was a road accident. In December 1987, an Israeli driver killed several Palestinian workers near Gaza. All hell broke loose. The second was triggered by a deliberate Israeli provocation after the failure of the 2000 Camp David conference.

The Israeli army was quite unprepared for the First Intifada. Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin famously exclaimed “Break their bones!” which some commanders took literally and carried out faithfully. A lot of arms and legs were broken with rifle butts.

Though the second intifada was also unexpected, this time the army was prepared for any event. Troops were trained in advance. No bones were broken this time. Instead, sharpshooters were placed near unit commanding officers. When a non-violent demonstration approached, the officer pointed out the ringleader, and the sharpshooter killed him. Very soon the non-violent uprising turned into a very violent one.

I don’t know what the army plans for the third intifada. But one can be certain that even if it starts as a non-violent mass protest, it will not stay so for long.

TWO WEEKS ago, the Israeli Channel 10 showed a documentary about Ariel Sharon’s manipulation of the Second Intifada.

It started when Prime Minister Ehud Barak allowed Opposition Chief Sharon to visit the Temple Mount, accompanied by hundreds of policemen. Since Sharon was a pork-eating atheist, there was no religious motive for the visit. It was a provocation, pure and simple.

When Sharon approached the Muslim shrines, he was greeted with stones. The police killed the stone-throwers with live ammunition. And lo and behold, the Second Intifada was on the way.

Arafat in far-away Tunis had nothing to do with it. But once the intifada had started, he embraced it. The local Fatah cadres took command.

Soon after, Sharon came to power. He did everything possible to stoke the fires. In the documentary, his closest assistants were interviewed at length and disclosed that Sharon did this quite deliberately.

His aim was to cause a general uprising, in order to give him a legitimate reason for re-conquering the West Bank, after parts of it were turned over to the Palestinian authority in the Oslo agreements. And indeed, a large number of suicide attacks and other outrages provided the necessary national and international legitimization for Operation Defensive Shield, in which Israeli troops re-entered all West Bank towns and spread death and destruction. In particular, the Palestinian Authority’s offices were systematically ransacked, including the Education and Social Services ministries. Arafat was surrounded and isolated in the Ramallah Mukata’ah (“Compound”), and kept a virtual prisoners for years, till his murder.

In the film, the advisors readily admitted that Sharon did not even contemplate a political initiative to end the intifada – his sole aim was to vanquish the Palestinian resistance by brute force.  During this intifada 4944 Palestinians were killed, as against 1011 Israelis. (In the preceding intifada, 1593 Palestinians and 84 Israelis found their death.)

Israelis believe that Sharon’s brutal methods were a great success. The Second Intifada sputtered out.

WILL THERE be a Third Intifada? If so, when? Has it already begun or were the recent events only a kind of general rehearsal?

No one knows, least of all our security forces. There is no reliable information from the agents. Again, everything is spontaneous.

One thing is certain: Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat’s heir, is very much afraid of it. He waited for a few days, and then, once he was sure that this was not a general uprising, he ordered his American-trained police forces to intervene and put an end to the demonstrations.

More than that, he publicly condemned the outbreaks and accused Binyamin Netanyahu of deliberately fomenting them.

One of the causes for this suspicion was that on Friday the Israeli police did not prevent young Palestinians from reaching the Temple Mount (“Haram al-Sharif”), as they do frequently when there is the slightest suspicion of coming unrest.

I put the question to a circle of friends: Assuming for a moment that Abbas is right, what might have been Netanyahu’s motive?

One answered: He is afraid that Barak Obama will, in his upcoming visit to Jerusalem, demand the resumption of the “peace process”. Netanyahu will tell him that, in view of the new intifada, that is impossible.

Another volunteered: Netanyahu will tell the President that Abbas has lost his authority and therefore is not a viable partner.

Yet another: Netanyahu will tell the Israeli public that we have an emergency at hand, so we need to set up a Government of National Unity at once. All Zionist parties must be pushed by their voters to join.

And so forth.

BE THAT as it may, the pertinent question is whether a spontaneous outbreak is in the offing.

Frankly, I don’t know. I doubt if anyone does.

The absence of any genuine peace initiative makes another intifada probable at some point. How long can the harsh occupation continue without a serious challenge?

On the other hand, it does not appear that the great mass of the Palestinian people is mentally prepared for a fight. In the occupied territories, a new bourgeoisie has come to life, which has a lot to lose. Under the auspices of the US, the Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, has succeeded in stimulating some sort of economy, in which quite a number flourish.

The prospect of another round of violence does not appeal to these people, nor does it attract poor people, who are already fully occupied with their daily survival. To get these people to rise up, you need an extremely provocative event. This can happen tomorrow morning, or within weeks or months, or not at all.

Abbas accuses Hamas of fomenting unrest in the West Bank, which is governed by Fatah, while Hamas itself, at the same time, is keeping the cease-fire in its own dominion, the Gaza Strip. Actually, both regimes, each in its own part of Palestine, are interested in quiet while accusing the other of collaborating with the occupation.

(A century and a half ago, Karl Marx denounced the efforts of his socialist adversary, Ferdinand Lassalle, to set up workers’ cooperatives. Marx asserted that once the workers had something to lose, they would not rise up anymore. If you want a revolution, Lenin is supposed to have said, “The worse things are, the better”.)

THE MORE people on both sides talk about the Third Intifada, the less it is likely to happen. As the Germans used to say, Revolutions foretold are not going to happen.

But if there is no end to the occupation in sight, the Third Intifada will break out one day, quite suddenly, when nobody has been talking about it, when everybody on both sides was thinking about other things. 

read more wisdom from Uri Avnery on the Gush Shalom website

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This story from China’s ‘Global Times‘ seems to encapsulate everything that is wrong in Israel/Palestine!

Non-violent protests are erupting across the West Bank for all the most understandable of reasons: Israel continues its settlement expansion, the arrests of Palestinians without charge or trial continue unabated, and most recently a young father of two – Arafat Jaradat- seems to have been tortured to death in an Israeli prison! But the Israeli government seems to see none of this, or at least takes none of it into account when it points the finger at the Palestinian authority for failing to quell the unrest!

What will it take for the Netanyahu government to see that the real problem here is not the hunger-strikes or the protest marches but the acts of violence, robbery and intimidation that inspire them? A strong push from the US might awaken Mr Netanyahu, but none is likely to come.

Father Dave

Protesters crowd the streets after the death of Arafat Jaradat

Protesters crowd the streets of Seir after the death of Arafat Jaradat (pic – Palestinian Solidarity Project)

source: www.globaltimes.cn/content/763831.shtml…

Israel demands Palestine reduce tensions

Israel said on Sunday it sent “an unequivocal demand” to Palestinian leaders to quell unrest, as thousands of detainees staged hunger strikes in Israeli prisons and their supporters clashed with security forces in the occupied West Bank.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the same time ordered the transfer of January arrears of tax revenues that Israel collects on the behalf of the Palestinians but has been withholding, the government said in a statement.”Israel passed an unequivocal demand to the Palestinian Authority to calm down the territory,” the statement said.”In order that the non-payment of taxes that Israel collects for the Palestinians should not serve as an excuse for the Palestinian Authority not to calm the territory, Netanyahu instructed the money for January to be transferred,” it added.

A senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gave no indication the Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the occupied West Bank, would issue any call for calm, and blamed Israel for the spike in unrest.

Protests in the West Bank have been mounting, both in support of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, 11 of whom are on open-ended hunger strike, and against settlement expansion.

An official said almost all Palestinians in Israeli prisons were on a one-day hunger strike Sunday in protest at the sudden death of an inmate due to what authorities said appeared to have been cardiac arrest.

“It’s 4,500, nearly everyone in fact,” Israel Prisons Service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman told AFP.

Arafat Jaradat, a 30-year-old father of two, from Sair near Hebron in the southern West Bank, died on Saturday in an Israeli jail from what prison authorities said appeared to have been cardiac arrest.

Protesters in his village and around Hebron city on Sunday stoned Israeli security forces who responded with tear gas and stun grenades, Palestinian witnesses said. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

“In Hebron there are 100 Palestinians hurling rocks and rolling burning tyres at security forces,” an Israeli army spokeswoman told AFP, adding that a smaller group clashed with Israeli forces in the Halhul area, on the city’s outskirts.

She said the army responded with “riot disposal means,” without elaborating.

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip marched in solidarity.

Israeli media link the unrest and Israel’s concerns about possible escalation to next month’s visit by US President Barack Obama to the Jewish state and to the Palestinians.

“Officials in Jerusalem will begin to look for all kinds of ways to appease the Palestinians and to cool tempers on the ground,” the Yediot Aharonot newspaper said on Sunday.

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This story provides a lovely balance to the usual news of tragedy, racism and violence that (sadly) dominates this blog.

The positive light it sheds on San Francisco also provides an encouraging balance to the depressing news that came through earlier this month – that California has made criticism of the government of Israel illegal, at least in its Universities!

No wonder San Francisco is my favourite place on the US West Coast!

Father Dave

San Francisco cable car

From here to Palestine

by Zahir Janmohamed

Oct. 16, 2012

source: www.sfbg.com…

Of the many things I adore about San Francisco, one of them is that the word “Palestine” is not treated like Voldermort’s name, the one that dare not be uttered. You can say you are Palestinian here and no one will freak out. San Franciscans, most of them at least, will not tell you — as Newt Gringrich did — that your culture is invented, or that your identity (or your struggle) is not a valued part of the tapestry of this city.

I am not used to this. I spent the past nine years living in Washington DC, where I became accustomed to meeting Arab shop owners who dodged questions about their country of origin. Some feared a backlash from customers. Others worried about government harassment and eavesdropping. One Yemeni shopkeeper near the Pentagon even went as far as creating to-go boxes with Americans flags imprinted on them, the words “we are proud of you” under each flag. Unfortunately, it’s like this now in many cities in the US, where to be Arab, Iranian or South Asian is to abdicate your ethnic identity, to pretend it’s just not there.

That’s not exactly true in San Francisco. This city isn’t perfect and it has its own ugly past and current struggles with racial integration — but San Francisco at least tries to inculcate its motto on all who are lucky enough to live here: just be who you are. You can fly a Palestinian flag outside your business and chances are you may even attract more customers because of it. And if you show up to work wearing a red, white and blue covered hijab or turban in the city, people may very well laugh at you.

Last week I walked through the Mission district interviewing Palestinian American business owners. On Mission Street, I saw my friend Ashraf sitting on a bar stool at the café he opened two years ago. The San Francisco born Palestinian-American, whose parents were born outside of Jerusalem, wore an SF Giants baseball cap and adjusted it often during our meeting, revealing a full head of hair already graying at the age of 34.

Ashraf remembers car trips with his parents to the Samiramis Grocery just down Mission Street. Samir Khoury, a Palestinian Christian from Ramallah who came to San Francisco in 1953, opened the iconic grocery store in 1972. For the longest time it was the only place where Ashraf’s family could buy zaatar or rent Egyptian movies. It always had everything we had back home, Ashraf says.

Ashraf points out that within a small radius of his cafe, there are a now number of Palestinian owned businesses, including Philz Coffee and Bi-Rite Creamery.

“But no one really knows these are Palestinian owned businesses,” Ashraf says. “And even if they found out, no one would really care.”

I tell Ashraf about a sandwich shop I used to visit in Washington DC where the owner insisted on telling everyone that he was Jordanian. One day the owner pulled me aside and confessed he was really Palestinian from Bethlehem but told people he was Jordanian because he thought it “sounded better.”

When Ashraf hears this he laughs. “It’s not like that here,” he says. “In San Francisco you don’t have to play that act.”

Zahir Janmohamed is a San Francisco writer and former Congressional aide

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Highlights are courtesy of Father Roy: 

source: www.thenational.ae/thenationalconversation/comment/palestinian-christians-swept-aside-as-israel-rewrites-history…

Palestinian Christians swept aside as Israel rewrites history

He vanquished a dragon, saved a princess and passed into myth. What popular culture knows about St George (or Georgius, in Latin) pretty much begins and ends with the children’s fairy tale, but there is a historical figure underneath that legend. Born about 1,800 years ago, St George’s father was a soldier in the Roman army, and his mother was a Palestinian Christian. After his death, he was hallowed by the Catholic Church, but what is less known is that Muslims also venerated his name.

It remains one of history’s curiosities that when European Crusaders invaded Palestine in 1096, they did so under a banner dedicated to a soldier who was born and buried in the Holy Land eight centuries earlier.

Few places on Earth, if any, have inspired so much jealous devotion, not to mention bloodshed, as historical Palestine has over the centuries. More often than not, that blood has been shed by foreign invaders, from both East and West.

After more than 60 years since the Naqba and the start of Israeli occupation, it is natural to be weary of the conflict. It could also be argued that conflict is natural to this land.

But Israeli policy is wreaking a decidedly unnatural consequence. A land that has been home to Christians, Muslims and Jews for millennia is being reshaped.

Evictions of Palestinians from homes and villages increases year by year as Israeli settlements steal more land. It is nothing short of ethnic cleansing. There is serious talk of outright annexation of Area C – 61 per cent of the West Bank – without which Palestine will never be a viable state. Centuries of coexistence may soon be consigned to the history books.

Under the rule of Islamic caliphates since the 7th century, Christians and Jews coexisted with Muslims peacefully for the most part. They were not always afforded the same rights, but they were protected and integrated into society, a marked contrast to the anti-Semitism that persisted in Europe.

The conflict that defined the Holy Land, until the 20th century at least, was the invasion of the Crusaders and so-called clash of civilisations between Muslims and European Christians. Another historical irony is that Jews fought side by side with Muslims in the defence of Jerusalem against the first Crusaders.

The razing of Jerusalem’s Church of Holy Sepulchre in 1009 is seen as the pretext for the European monarchs’ obsession with the Holy Land (although the church was soon rebuilt). What followed less than one century of Crusader rule in Jerusalem, Salaluddin’s retaking of the city in the 12th century and several centuries of intermittent war.

There are still poignant lessons from that history. After the Siege of Jerusalem, Crusaders slaughtered most of the city’s Muslim and Jewish population; after Salaluddin’s victory, Jews and Christians were allowed to settle. And, of course, after centuries of bloodshed, the European incursions were ultimately, completely futile.

After 1948, that land of Palestine became only a historical note, and a dream of Palestinians who were forced from their homes. After the Naksa, the 1967 War, that historical Palestine was further whittled away until, today, less than 22 per cent of the first proposed independent state of Palestine remains. Even that is now under threat.

Palestinian Christians have shared their Muslim compatriots’ pain in the past 64 years, increasingly marginalised in a land they have inhabited for over 2,000 years. Across the region, dwindling Christian communities are often blamed on the rise of Islamists but this is an oversimplification and, in Occupied Palestine, almost wholly a mistake.

Certainly some Islamist groups, heavy on ideology and light on political nous, have been their own worst enemies. Hamas is not blameless in its treatment of Gaza’s Christian minority. Last week, Christians demonstrated after stories emerged that five people, three of them children, had been forced to convert to Islam. The story may just be rumour, but such an act would be indefensible. And Gaza’s Christians are alienated enough to believe it is possible.

In truth, however, Hamas has neither the desire inside Gaza, nor the influence outside of it, to truly marginalise Palestinian Christians. The Christian Palestinian population has suffered, less visibly, just as Muslims have. Christians now account for only 4 per cent of the West Bank population and less than 10 per cent of Palestinians in Israel.

Over the last year in particular, attacks by Israeli extremists on Christians have increased. A Christian cemetery on Mount Zion has been desecrated and two churches vandalised (one of them, Jerusalem Baptist Church, had already suffered arson twice since 1982). “Death to Christianity”, “We will crucify you” and “Jesus son of Mary the whore” graffiti stain the walls. That defilement would cause outrage in almost any country, but not in Israel.

It is in Bethlehem, birthplace of Christ, where the exodus has been most pronounced, with more than 10 per cent of Christians leaving just in the past decade.

Israel’s ill-conceived plan to expand a majority Jewish state in historical Palestine does not distinguish between Palestinian Muslims and Christians. That hollow distinction has allowed Israel to peddle the old line about a “clash of civilisations”, when Palestinians have been living side by side for millennia.

The Palestinian struggle has always been about more than religion. Historical Palestine is not just about 64 years of struggle against an illegal occupation, or Israeli efforts to erase the history books, but about how Muslims, Christians and Jews have lived together for centuries. Palestine, in a modern sense, is not about religion, it’s about justice.

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Peers,let’s put our heads together and do some serious thinking.  Before we find ourselves in another world war which nobody wants.  Please read this report:  Israel blames Iran for Bulgaria bombing.  Now read this report:  Iran blames Israel for Bulgaria Bombing.  The Prime Minister of Bulgaria refuses to support either claim.  Bulgaria’s position is stated clearly in the paper trail:  “We do not want to get involved in this long-standing conflict, as we are very vulnerable.”  “Let’s wait for evidence to support such claims.”

A few days ago Netanyahu was pointing his finger at Hezbollah.  Nasrallah responded:  “Hezbollah doesn’t target Israeli tourists in foreign lands.  We target Israel’s military when it’s occupying Lebanon.”  Peers, when we think about it, it’s unlikely that an Arab group was responsible for the bombing.  Arab groups usually take responsibility for their militant activities, which helps to explain a news report from yesterday:  EU refuses Israeli request to blacklist Hezbollah.

Thinking is hard work, Peers, but somebody has got to do it.  If not us… who?   If not now… when?   Please read on. Peace, Roy

Note:   The highlights in the following report are mine.  I highlighted the concluding paragraph.   Peace, Roy

Click here: BBC News – Bulgaria blast: Burgas bus bomber ‘part of group’

24 July 2012 Last updated at 11:36 ET

Bulgaria blast: Burgas bus bomber ‘part of group’


Israel’s tourism minister paid his respects to the bomb victims at the site of the blast on Tuesday

The suicide bomber who killed six people in Bulgaria last week was part of a sophisticated group of conspirators, Prime Minister Boiko Borisov has said.

He said the group had arrived in Bulgaria a month before the attack.

But he declined to back Israeli claims that Iran and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah played a role.

Five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver died in last Wednesday’s bombing in Burgas on the Black Sea.

The identity of the man who carried out the bombing remains unclear.

As well as those killed, dozens of people were wounded in the blast.

Israeli Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov laid a wreath at the bomb site during a memorial ceremony on Tuesday.

Mr Borisov, who was speaking in Sofia alongside White House counter-terrorism chief John Brennan, said the US was supporting Bulgaria’s investigation into the attack.

Mr Borisov did not say exactly how many people had been involved in the conspiracy he described, but he said they had been “exceptionally skilled” and operated under “strict conspiracy rules” to keep the plot hidden.

Those involved used “leased vehicles, they moved in different cities so as not to be seen together, and no two of them can be seen in one place on any security camera”.

“There was absolutely no chance of preventing such an act of violence,” the prime minister insisted.

“We could have only detected it by chance or if we had been informed by the services that such activities were under way in Bulgaria.”

Shortly after the bombing, Bulgarian authorities released CCTV images of the man they believed carried out the bombing, but they appeared to contrast with some witness descriptions.

Mr Borisov said authorities had shared fingerprints and DNA samples with other security services but no match had been found, and the man’s identity remained elusive.

But he added that they knew “when he arrived, the presumed flight and where it came from”, reported AFP news agency.

Mr Borisov also refused to back Israeli claims of involvement by Iran or Hezbollah, saying “we do not want to get involved in this long-standing conflict as we are very vulnerable”.