Militarism and Foreign Policy :

End the Siege

The WESPAC Committee for Justice & Peace in the Middle East is a group of concerned people from the Westchester County area formed to educate the general community, promote open discussion and dialogue and advocate for just solutions to the current destructive situations in the Middle East, particularly in Palestine/Israel. WESPAC supports the call by over 200 Palestinian civil society organizations for punitive measures including boycotts, divestment, and sanctions to be maintained until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian People’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law. We call for an end to all occupations in the region. The committee meets regularly and invites participation from the public. Please contact the office at 914.449.6514 or email [email protected] for more information.

Lieberman proposes ethnic cleansing

Lieberman Proposes
Ethnic Cleansing

Israeli foreign minister wants
Palestinian Israelis stripped of
citizenship and expelled

Jonathan Cook
The National
June 25. 2010

Nazareth — Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s far-right foreign minister, set out
this week what he called a “blueprint for a resolution to the conflict” with the
Palestinians that demands most of the country’s large Palestinian minority
be stripped of citizenship and relocated outside Israel’s future borders.

Mr Lieberman said that Israel faced growing diplomatic pressure for a full
withdrawal to the Green Line, the pre-1967 border, and if such a partition
were implemented, “the conflict will inevitably pass beyond those borders
and into Israel”.

He accused many of Israel’s 1.3 million Palestinian citizens of acting
against Israel while their leaders “actively assist those who want to destroy
the Jewish state”.

Mr Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party campaigned in last year’s elections on
a platform of “No loyalty, no citizenship” and has proposed a raft of loyalty
laws over the past year targeted at the Palestinian minority.

True peace, the foreign minister claimed, would come only with land swaps,
or “an exchange of populated territories to create two largely homogeneous
states, one Jewish Israeli and the other Arab Palestinian”. He added that
under his plan “those Arabs who were in Israel will now receive Palestinian
citizenship”.

Unusually, Mr Lieberman, who is also deputy prime minister, offered his plan
in a commentary for the English-language Jerusalem Post daily newspaper,
apparently in an attempt to make maximum impact on the international
community.

He has spoken repeatedly in the past about drawing the borders in a way to
forcibly exchange Palestinian communities in Israel for the Jewish settlements
in the West Bank.

But under orders from Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, he has kept
a relatively low profile on the conflict’s larger issues since his controversial
appointment to head the foreign ministry more than a year ago.

In early 2009, Mr Lieberman, who lives in the West Bank settlement of
Nokdim, upset his own supporters by advocating the creation of “a viable
Palestinian state”, though he has remained unclear about what it would
require in practice.

Mr Lieberman’s revival of his “population transfer” plan – an idea he
unveiled six years ago – comes as the Israeli leadership has understood that
it is “isolated like never before”, according to Michael Warschawski, an
Israeli analyst.

Mr Netanyahu’s government has all but stopped paying lip service to
US-sponsored “proximity talks” with the Palestinians after outraging global
public opinion with attacks on Gaza 18 months ago and on a Gaza-bound
aid flotilla four weeks ago in which nine peace activists were killed.

Israel’s relations with the international community are likely to deteriorate
further in late summer when a 10-month partial freeze on settlement
expansion in the West Bank expires. Yesterday, Mr Netanyahu refused to
answer questions about the freeze, after a vote by his Likud party’s central
committee
to support renewed settlement building from late September.

Other looming diplomatic headaches for Israel are the return of the
Goldstone Report, which suggested Israel committed war crimes in its attack
on Gaza, to the United Nations General Assembly in late July, and Turkey’s
adoption of the rotating presidency of the Security Council in September.

Mr Warschawski, a founder of the Alternative Information Centre, a joint
Israeli-Palestinian advocacy group, said that, faced with these crises, Israel’s
political elite had split into two camps.

Most, including Mr Lieberman, believed Israel should “push ahead” with its
unilateral policies towards the Palestinians and refuse to engage in a peace
process regardless of the likely international repercussions.

“Israel’s ruling elite knows that the only solution to the conflict acceptable
to the international community is an end to the occupation along the lines of
the Clinton parameters,” he said, referring to the two-state solution promoted
by former US president Bill Clinton in late 2000.

“None of them, not even Ehud Barak [the defence minister and head of the
centrist Labour Party], are ready to accept this as the basis for negotiations.”

On the other hand, Tzipi Livni, the head of the centre-right opposition
Kadima party, Mr Warschawski said, wanted to damp down the international
backlash by engaging in direct negotiations with the Palestinian leadership
in the West Bank under Mahmoud Abbas.

Mr Lieberman’s commentary came a day after he told Ms Livni that she could
join the government only if she accepted “the principle of trading territory
and population as the solution to the Palestinian issue, and give up the
principle of land for peace”.

Mr Lieberman is reportedly concerned that Mr Netanyahu might seek to
bring Ms Livni into a national unity government to placate the US and prop
up the legitimacy of his coalition.

The Labour Party has threatened to quit the government if Kadima does not
join by the end of September, and Ms Livni is reported to want the foreign
ministry.

Mr Lieberman’s position is further threatened by a series of corruption
investigations.

However, he also appears keen to take the initiative from both Washington
and Ms Livni with his own “peace plan”. An unnamed aide to Mr Lieberman
told the Jerusalem Post that, with a vacuum in the diplomatic process, the
foreign minister “thinks he can convince the government to adopt the plan”.

However, Mr Warschawski said there were few indications that Mr
Netanyahu wanted to be involved in any peace process, even Mr Lieberman’s.

This week Uzi Arad, the government’s shadowy national security adviser
and a long-time confidant of Mr Netanyahu, made a rare public statement at
a meeting of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem to attack Ms Livni for “political
adventurism” and believing in the “magic” of a two-state solution.

Apparently reflecting Mr Netanyahu’s own thinking, he said: “The more you
market Palestinian legitimacy, the more you bring about a detraction of
Israel’s legitimacy in certain circles. [The Palestinians] are accumulating
legitimacy, and we are being delegitimised.”

Mr Warschawski doubted that Mr Lieberman believed his blueprint for
population exchanges could be implemented but was promoting it chiefly to
further damage the standing of Israel’s Palestinian citizens and advance his
own political ambitions.

In his commentary, Mr Lieberman said the international community’s peace
plan would lead to “the one-and-a-half to half state solution”: “a
homogeneous, pure Palestinian state”, from which Jewish settlers were
expelled, and “a binational state in Israel”, which included many Palestinian
citizens.

Palestinians, in both the territories and inside Israel, he said, could not
“continue to incite against Israel, glorify murder, stigmatise Israel in
international forums, boycott Israeli goods and mount legal offensives
against Israeli officials”.

Jonathan Cook is a British journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His reports
on Israel-Palestine have been published in numerous journals and websites
including the Guardian, the Observer, the Times, Al Jazeera, New Statesman,
International Herald Tribune, Al-Ahram Weekly (Cairo), The National
(Abu Dhabi), Electronic Intifada and Counterpunch. His latest book is
Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books,
2009). His two earlier books are Blood and Religion and Israel and the Clash of
Civilisations
(Pluto Books, 2006, 2008). Visit his website:
http://www.jkcook.net/index.html

http://thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100626/FOREIGN/706259818/1135/NEWS
© Copyright of Abu Dhabi Media Company PJSC.

Battle for Civil Rights

62 years on, the battle
for Palestinian civil rights
in Lebanon is joined

Druze leader Walid Jumblatt
opens the Parliamentary debate

Part V of a six part series
on securing Palestinian Civil Rights
in Lebanon

Franklin Lamb
Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp
Beirut
June 25, 2010


Shatila Camp, Beirut
Photo: FP Lamb

Months before his mysterious death on 11 November 2004, PLO founder and
Chairman, Yassir Arafat arranged a secret telephone conference call with his
shrinking cache of political allies, who remained in Lebanon following the
1982 catastrophes and the 1985-88 “camp wars”.

Reflecting the new political reality that beset his people following the August
1982 departure of Palestinian forces, a departure that left the unprotected
refugee camps to a predictable fate, Arafat’s colleagues assembled in the
Parliamentary office of Speaker Nabih Berri who himself has had a checkered
history with Arafat and the Palestinians in Lebanon.

Their problems stem from a number of factors including PLO abuses in the
Shia South and Berri’s Haraket Amal (Amal Movement) militia’s role
in the above misnomered “camp wars.” They were not of course “wars” but
rather slaughters and attempted starvations of the Palestinian camps
populations designed to weaken Arafat and prevent his return. The results
are still plain today in terms of the more than 600 buried in yet another
Martyrs Square inside the camp, as well as the missing, the crippled, the
psychologically damaged, the still-destroyed homes as well as the loss of
infrastructure including the largest Palestinian hospital, Gaza. Formerly
the largest of the Palestinian Red Crescent Hospitals in Lebanon, Gaza was
heavily shelled and stripped of all its medical equipment and anything
of value. Today 1000 Palestinian refugees are crammed inside the crumbling
shell of Gaza Hospital, lacking privacy as well as minimal water, electricity
or sanitation.

Those in attendance in Berri’s office were friends and representatives from
Lebanon’s confessions, including Christians, Sunni, Shia and Druze.
According to two participants, interviewed separately, what they recall most
vividly about the conference call was the psychological and emotional
condition of “the old man” as many of his friends still affectionately refer
to Abu Ammar or Yassir Arafat.

One former close aid of the Palestine’s iconic figure described the scene:
“there were several Lebanese and Palestinian leaders in attendance. It was a
painful spectacle. Abu Ammar sounded weak and depressed. Maybe he
knew his death would come soon. What I recall so clearly is the sadness in
his voice. His spark and energy were gone. He asked us and asked us to ask
the camp residents forgiveness for his failure to protect Lebanon’s refugees.
We could not see him but we believed he was sobbing. He begged us
to do something for our people in the camps. To get them some rights so they
could at least work and maybe own a home. Perhaps mercifully, the old man
died before he could see the camps as they have become.” (Home ownership
for Palestinian refugees was outlawed by Parliament in 2001 as part of a
campaign to force Palestinians to leave Lebanon. There was an effort in 2001
by Hezbollah and allies to get a court decision overturning the government
ban on Palestinian property ownership but Lebanon’s High Court dismissed
the case for lack of jurisdiction.

Seven years after Arafat’s deathbed confession and plea, on June 15, 2010 ,
Lebanon’s Parliament, for the first time appeared to begin serious debate
over whether to grant the most universal and elementary civil rights to her
hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees who few in Lebanon deny live
in near unimaginable squalor. Over this summer and perhaps the fall,
Civil rights for Palestinian refugees will be hotly debated with the decision
affecting the well being of the refugees and very likely the economy,
international standing and domestic tranquility of Lebanon.

Today a hopeful message is wafting from the narrow, foul and fetid alleys
where the sun never shines in this Palestinian refugee camp known at Shatila,
that the Palestinian refugee civil rights movement recently born, took its
first tentative steps. No less so one could argue, than on December 1, 1955
on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama the American civil rights movement
dramatically intensified and began to achieve substantial, if incomplete,
progress.

The current hero to many in Lebanon’s Palestinian camps is the lanky,
brilliant, mercurial (his friend author Robert Fisk says ‘quixotic’) leader
of the Druze confession. True to his word, MP Jumblatt, moments after the
Parliamentary session opened on June 15, 2010, introduced the first Bill to
enact a law to allow Palestinian refugees in Lebanon certain basic civil
rights. (Another Bill followed yesterday, introduced by the National Syrian
Socialist Party. It is preferred by several human rights organizations and
will be analyzed and discussed shortly.)

“Today, Bey (an honorary Ottoman and Persian title meaning Lord, or these
days, Mister) Wallid Jumblatt is our hero. May Allah hear his supplications
and protect him and his family”, an old lady in Shatila Palestinian Refugee
camp exclaimed to a Palestine Civil Rights Campaign representative
following the submission of the Progressive Socialist Party Bill by Jumblatt.

Walid, son of the venerable Kamal Jumblatt, (1917 –1977) (never, some in the
camps tell visitors, was there a truer friend of Palestine than this leader
of the National Lebanese Movement, until his assassination on March 17,
1977) had, just two weeks earlier on June 2, 2010, told an American delegation
from the Washington DC based US Council for the National Interest
(cnionline.org) that he would be damned if the Palestinian refugees were not
given by basic civil rights including the right to work. Jumblatt’s words
were pure Boston Symphony Jean Sibelius to the American assembly, some of
whom patted Walid’s two friendly mixed breed reddish dogs who obviously
adore their master, as they departed Jumblatt’s Clemenceau residence.

The future is not predictable and many times during the past three
generations Palestinian Refugee hopes were dashed in Lebanon as the
grinding poverty continued to metastasize. But a page may have been
turned.

The reaction in Parliament

Parliamentary Speaker and Hezbollah ally Nabih Berri immediately sent
Jumblatt’s Bill to the Legal Committee and abruptly adjourned the legislative
session. Jumblatt was not happy and protested as he left the Chamber of
Deputies, muttering the words, “Stupid right wing parties,” according to
Agence France Presse.

Some observers, wondered if this was one more betrayal.

Not so, one Parliamentary insider advised. What Speaker Berri did was
brilliant and to act fast and shrewdly to protect Jumblatt’s Bill from a severe
trashing by the right wing Christian Lebanese Forces and Kataib (Phalange)
Parties who in unison quickly howled in opposition. This, despite claiming
they did not know Jumblatt was going to introduce such a bill and their
earlier pledges to this observer and others not to re-fight the civil war when
Palestinian civil rights legislation was introduced but rather apply the
guidance offered in their the New Testament.

To many, an even more convincing explanation of why Berri cut off debate,
was the fact that several members of Parliament were chaffing to rush home
to their TV sets to watch the Brazil team perform in the World Cup, such is
the frenzy here for “that other kind of football”.

On the other side of the Grand Serail [Lebanon’s government palace],
President of Lebanon Michel Suleiman also adjourned an urgent Cabinet
meeting called to consider the State Budget, since his dwindling quorum was
shaky because some Ministers could not attend and others wanted to leave”
due to urgent matters” Some pled with the Presidents staff to be allowed
to leave to watch the Match. Quickly, both Chambers were vacant and silent
with a speed that normally happens only when a car bomb explodes nearby.

As soon as Jumblatt tabled his Bill, the anti-Palestinian rhetoric began and
it continued outside the closed Parliament.

The anti-Palestinian National Liberal Party leader MP Dori Chamoun: “Why
would Lebanon give Palestinians their rights while they don’t recognize
[the] Lebanese State. … When the Palestinians come under the Lebanese law
and they no longer have their own police force, we will see how we can
improve the living conditions and grant them additional rights. But as long
as the situation persists as it is, there’s no need to hurry in this regard,”
(6/16/10). Chamoun, stressed that “Lebanon’s treatment of the Palestinians
doesn’t differ from their treatment in Syria and the rest of the Arab countries,
and thus we shouldn’t succumb to emotional behavior or politically abuse
the issue at the expense of the Palestinian cause.”

One this point Chamoun could not be more in error. Lebanon gives
essentially no rights to her Palestinian refugees. Both Syria and Jordan give
them close to full civil rights including the right to work for the government,
health care, education, social security, and the right to own property. Anyone
visiting a Refugee camp anywhere and then sees one in Lebanon is shocked
by the almost total absence of civil rights.

When asked about the division in Parliament on Jumblatt’s bill to improve
the living conditions of the Palestinian refugees, Chamoun said: “Some
sympathize with the Palestinians more than they sympathize with Lebanon.”

Phalange party leader, and former President of Lebanon, Amin Gemayel
slammed what he called a ‘veiled attempt’ to naturalize Palestinians in
Lebanon. “When we give (them) all these privileges, (it means) we are
helping in their tawtin (naturalization). This is rejected.”

Gemayel knows better but is seeking to slow his family’s political decline
within the Christian community. He knows that under international and
Lebanese law, civil rights are just that, rights, not privileges. In using
the naturalization fear tactic he is aware that it has long been discredited and
that virtually every Palestinian refugee rejects naturalization and Lebanese
citizenship in favor of the full exercise of their Right of Return.

On June 24, 2010 Gemayel issued a policy statement from Phalange
headquarters proposing that “United Nations Relief and Works Agency for
Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) should find a solution to the
camps and help them overcome their difficult situation”. UNRWA as
Gemayel is aware, is essentially broke due to unfulfilled funding pledges
from several countries and that consequences UNRWA has had to reduce
services including in health and education services. UNRWA is in no position
to “find a solution to the camps.” Lebanon on the other hand is, by allowing
the refugees to work.

Hezbollah ally, Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun, following
the Jumblatt Bill, stressed the need for major powers to address the needs
and rights of Palestinian refugees. “We demand the major world powers
address the situation of the Palestinians and allow them to travel the world
freely seeing as they are not responsible for their displacement.” Aoun
scowled that “the Palestinians have weakened Lebanon once in the 1970s and
that was a tragedy on the Lebanese and Palestinian people.” Sometimes
incoherent when he gets upset or speaks about Palestinian refugees, Aoun
stressed: “Those who are demanding the improvement of the situation of the
Palestinians in Lebanon should sever their ties with the United States
because it teaches us about human rights while it builds smart bombs to kill
the innocent.”

Civil Rights campaigners in Lebanon are not too disturbed by Aoun’s
comments for two reasons. One, they have already discounted his earlier
statements that giving Palestinians civil rights will cause Lebanon to
“implode” plus they are confident that when the critical vote is scheduled,
weeks or months from now, Hezbollah will reason with the General.

The Palestinians leaders in Lebanon are trying to lay low and out of the
limelight and keep a modest profile so as not to further inflame the initial
rhetoric.

Hezbollah, well known for its position urging the rights of Palestinians
is also avoiding publicity just now on this subject but has made clear that it
will vote – and work for getting the votes of others – when the key vote is
schedule in order that at least 65 out of the 128 Members vote with the
Palestinian refugees.

On June 24, outgoing US Ambassador Michele Sison, on a cultural visit
with friends to view historic sites in the historic city of Sidon, was asked, as
she held a Lebanese falafel sandwich as if it was a dead rat, did not reply
to a question about Palestinian civil rights in Lebanon but did say when
asked about the U.S. administration’s stance regarding the Lebanese
aid flotilla soon to depart for Gaza, and whether the US Embassy would
accept the invitation of the organizers to inspect the ships to assure only non
military items were on board, said: “We hope everyone would be safe in
this region and we look forward for peace in the Middle East.”

Palestinian Ambassador to Lebanon Abdullah Abdullah did say that granting
Palestinians residing in Lebanon basic rights would benefit Lebanon as well
as Palestine, the National News Agency (NNA) reported. Abdullah added
that there is a Palestinian-Lebanese agreement to refuse Palestinian
naturalization and to push for the right of return. He also said that granting
Palestinians civil rights does not mean they will be integrated into Lebanon’s
politics. “We are here only temporarily, the primary need of Palestinians
is the right to work permits.”

Jumblatt’s opening move on behalf of the Palestinians was not the beginning
of the end of this struggle but rather the beginning of the beginning. Months
or longer may be required to secure the prize. Parliamentary insiders are
predicting a series of clashers with claims being heard from some Deputies
that without the most elementary Palestinian civil rights being granted, there
may be civil war. Others aver, obversely, that if Palestinian civil rights are
granted there may be civil war.

Franklin Lamb is Director, Americans Concerned for Middle East Peace,
Beirut-Washington DC, Board Member of The Sabra Shatila Foundation,
and a volunteer with the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign, Lebanon. He is
the author of The Price We Pay: A Quarter-Century of Israel’s Use of American
Weapons Against Civilians in Lebanon
and is doing research in Lebanon for
his next book. He can be reached at [email protected]

For information and updates on the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign in
Lebanon, and to sign the petition, go to:
http://www.palestinecivilrightscampaign.org

Israel thirsting for the water of the Nile

www.europalestine.com/spip.php?article5872,

 

NB thanks to today's CAPJPO/Europalestinefor the alert re an article by Manlio Dinucci in Feb 12 Il Manifesto Se l'oro bianco del Nilo fa gola anche a Israele (“Israel lusting for the white gold of the Nile” [or, “thirsting for the water of”, as gola is ‘throat’])

The gist: one more little-mentioned reason for Israel ’s support of  the Mubarak regime is the race to control water.  Israel wants the Al-Salaam canal, which brings water from a branch of the Nile delta to the Sinai within 40k of the Israeli border (via a tunnel under the Suez Canal) to be extended to irrigate the Negev . Back in 1979, Sadat (in Haifa ) talked about the possibility of a Sinai-Negev project—this got nowhere because Begin refused to yield on Jerusalem

Israel has never given up on the idea and has been negotiating with Egypt while extending its influence in other countries along the Nile , e.g. financing, arming, supporting the Sudanese secessionists. Note also the 2009 Lieberman trip to Ethiopia , Kenya , Uganda . In 2010 Egypt and Sudan , which under British colonial rule had been allotted the use of 80% of the Nile’s water, both refused to sign an agreement that would give the Nile Basin countries a fairer share.

In any case, the Mubarak regime’s plan for the Sinai was never to feed the people by growing wheat in the Sinai, but to lease water rights (long and short term possibilities) to rich foreign and domestic investors to produce goods for export. While Israel focuses on Southern Sudan—due to be the 9th player along the Nile, the Egyptian regime could tantalize Israel while using control of the water as an instrument of domestic domination of rich over poor– rather like Israel ’s use of the Jordan's water  vis-à-vis Palestinians.

 

http://www.ilmanifesto.it/il-manifesto/in-edicola/numero/20110212/pagina/05/pezzo/297087/

Israel’s Palestinian Minority

Israel’s Palestinian Minority
Thrown into a Maelstrom

The defining image of Israel’s reaction
to the commando raid was of mobs
of young right-wing Jews, almost lost
in a sea of blue-and-white flags,
baying through the night in fury at the
Turkish embassy in TelAviv…

Jonathan Cook,
Middle East Report Online
June 16, 2010

The first reports of Israel’s May 31 commando raid on a Gaza-bound aid
flotilla surfaced among the country’s 1.4 million Palestinian citizens
alongside rumors that Sheikh Ra’id Salah, head of the radical northern wing
of the Islamic Movement of Israel, had been shot dead on the lead ship, the
Mavi Marmara. Salah is alive, but at the time his demise seemed confirmed
when it emerged that large numbers of police had been drafted into northern
Israel, where most of the Palestinian minority lives, in expectation of
widespread violence. 

At the first spontaneous demonstrations in the north, participants expressed
shock that Israel had killed international peace activists in international
waters — a rumored number of 20 dead later dropped to nine. But in a
community used to intermittent bouts of extreme violence from Israel’s
security forces, few seemed to doubt that the order might have been given to
execute Salah. The sheikh, who has repeatedly been arrested and is facing a
series of trials, has long been public enemy number one among Israeli Jews
for his campaign to protect the Haram al-Sharif from what he regards as an
attempted Israeli takeover. The Haram al-Sharif is a compound of mosques in
the Old City of Jerusalem that includes al-Aqsa and is believed by Jews to
be built over two ancient Jewish temples. Half-jokingly, a protester in
Nazareth wondered aloud whether a military commander had overheard the
prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, ask: “Who will rid me of this turbulent
sheikh?” 

Breaking the Siege of Gaza

The flotilla, which was attacked more than 60 miles off Israel’s coast early
in the morning, was not the first to bear aid for Gaza, but it was the first
to include a delegation of Palestinian leaders from inside Israel. Palestinians
are roughly one fifth of Israel’s population. Most of the main Israeli-Palestinian
political factions and institutions were included: Salah and his counterpart
in the Islamic Movement’s more moderate southern wing, Sheikh Hamad
Abu Da‘bas; Muhammad Zaydan, head of the Higher Follow-Up Committee,
the umbrella body dominated by local mayors; and Hanin Zu‘bi, a first-term
member of the parliament, the Knesset, from the nationalist Tajammu‘
party (Balad in Hebrew). Alongside them was Lubna Masarwa, a resident of
Kafr Qara‘ in northern Israel and an activist with the Free Gaza Movement,
which organized the aid convoy. 

Before they set off, the group of Palestinian-Israelis knew their participation
would upset a broad swath of Israeli Jewish opinion. Since 2006, when
Hamas won the Palestinian Legislative Council elections, Israel has been
progressively tightening a blockade of Gaza to the point that today only a
few dozen items are allowed in and less than a quarter of the cargo trucks
that once entered the enclave each day are still permitted to do so. The
policy has become more severe as its goal has become less clear: Is it to
stop “arms smuggling” by Hamas, as Yuval Diskin, the head of the Shinbet,
Israel’s secret police, claimed on June 15; or to wage “economic warfare,”
as suggested by a recent Israeli document, punishing Gaza’s inhabitants for
voting for Hamas; or to act as leverage on Hamas to stop rocket fire on
nearby Israeli communities, although such attacks all but ceased long ago;
or to force the release of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held captive by
Hamas since 2006? Most Israeli Jews do not seem overly concerned which
justification is deployed. 

Meanwhile, in strenuously denying aid agency reports that the blockade has
created a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Israeli officials have left the Jewish
majority to conclude that those who oppose the blockade do so because
they support Hamas — “a terrorist organization committed to the destruction
of Israel,” as commentators regularly remind the public. It was therefore
hardly surprising that, a few days before the flotilla set sail for Gaza on its
stated mission to “break the siege,” the popular news website Ynet claimed
that Knesset member Zu‘bi would be traveling on a ship alongside
“prominent Hamas-affiliated activists,” while the headline asked rhetorically:
“MK in Service of Hamas?” 

But what Zu‘bi and the other Palestinian-Israeli leaders probably could not
have appreciated was that this flotilla, unlike its predecessors, was about
to make waves not only domestically but internationally. They were about to
be thrown into a maelstrom of events that would provoke denunciations
from around the globe, turn a spotlight on the legitimacy of Israel’s blockade,
tear apart Israel’s key regional alliance with Turkey and further embarrass
a weak US administration that is desperately trying to breathe life into a
sham Israeli-Palestinian “peace process” as its own occupations, in Iraq and
Afghanistan, continue to falter. As a result, the participation of Palestinian-
Israelis in the flotilla dangerously reinforced the Jewish majority’s perception
of the minority as a fifth column.

War and Loyalty

‘Adil Manna’*, a Palestinian historian at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem,
notes that, when Israel feels isolated and under threat, “it becomes much
more intolerant of criticism from inside the country, from the [Palestinian]
Arab minority especially. Dissent is seen as a strategic danger.” And
Israel has rarely felt so isolated or perceived its international standing to be
so threatened. 

The raid on the flotilla, in which eight Turks and a dual Turkish-American
citizen were killed and dozens of other passengers wounded by Israeli
commandos, followed two regional confrontations involving Israel still at
the forefront of the international community’s memory: a month-long clash
in 2006 with the Lebanese politicalparty-cum-militia Hizballah, in which
more than 1,000 Lebanese civilians were killed; and a three-week assault on
Gaza in 2008-2009 in which some 1,400 Palestinians died, again most of them
civilians. An international consensus regarded the large-scale loss of
civilian life in both confrontations as constituting at the very minimum a
“disproportionate” Israeli response, whereas Israel maintained it had a
right to wage its own version of the “war on terror.” A UN-mandated report
on the Gaza attack by Richard Goldstone, a respected international jurist,
tipped the balance of world opinion decisively against Israel by suggesting
that, while both Israeli forces and Hamas had committed war crimes, Israeli
forces had committed the bulk of them. 

As international opprobrium has grown, Israel has subjected the leaders of
its Palestinian citizens to ever greater scrutiny, not only over their
positions on the long-running conflict between Israel and the Palestinians
but also on Israel’s regional confrontation with Hizballah and wider
confrontation with the international community. In the minds of most Israeli
Jews, the question of where the Palestinian minority stands on these issues
overlaps with the question of whether Palestinians can be trustworthy
citizens. Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister, and his Yisrael Beiteinu
party rode to success in the 2009 general election, winning 15 seats and
becoming the third largest faction in Knesset, by exploiting popular
suspicions of the minority with the campaign slogan, “No loyalty, no
citizenship.”

The issue of the minority’s loyalty had been widely debated since the
beginning of the second intifada, in October 2000, when Palestinian citizens
protested in support of the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. Police
entered their towns and villages to greet the demonstrators with rubber
bullets and live fire, killing 13 and injuring hundreds in a few days. Those
events were misleadingly presented by the Israeli leadership as an internal
uprising by rebels conspiring with the Palestinians under occupation to
overthrow the state from within. 

But the 2006 bombardment of Lebanon and the later attack on Gaza have
been equally significant for majority-minority relations, expanding the
dimensions of the loyalty debate. The Jewish majority perceived these two
confrontations as the salient battles in a clash of civilizations that pitted Israel
against the region and its aspiring hegemon, Iran. The Palestinian minority,
on the other hand, regarded the confrontations as further proof that Israel
was a militarized and militaristic state with an insatiable appetite for territory
and no ability to make peace with the Palestinians and its other neighbors.
This unbridgeable gulf in worldviews was bound to set Palestinian citizens
on a collision course with their own state.

The Enemy Within

In the summer 2006 Lebanon war, Palestinian communities, like Jewish
ones, came under Hizballah rocket fire from southern Lebanon. Although 18
Palestinian citizens were killed in the north, the minority’s political
sympathies remained largely with Hasan Nasrallah, Hizballah’s leader,
throughout. Most Palestinian citizens were impressed by Nasrallah’s
knowledge of the Israeli political scene and grasp of their experiences inside
a Jewish state, and also believed — unlike their Jewish compatriots —
that Israel, not Hizballah, had willed the hostilities. But even after a truce
was called in its battle with Hizballah, Israel entered a new phase of conflict
with its Palestinian citizens. The first major political casualty would be
Azmi Bishara, the outspoken leader of the Tajammu‘ party, who had been a
thorn in Israel’s side for a decade with his popular campaign to reform
Israel from a Jewish state into a “state of all its citizens.” In the wake of the
2006 war, Bishara found himself facing a new and potent “one-size-fits-all”
accusation of spying for Hizballah. The charge, publicized by the Shinbet
while he was abroad in the spring of 2007, left him in exile. 

The Gaza attack of 2008 further stoked suspicions of Palestinian citizens’
disloyalty. Reflecting the polarization of majority-minority worldviews,
demonstrations against Israel’s three-week attack on Gaza, Operation Cast
Lead, were organized and supported chiefly by the Palestinian minority. 

Historians have noted the decades of quietism from the Palestinian minority
that followed Israel’s establishment in 1948. That trait can be attributed,
initially at least, to the destruction of Palestinian society before and during
the 1948 war: Most Palestinians left in the new Jewish state following
the flight of 80 percent of their compatriots lived in poor, rural communities
that had little direct involvement in national politics and were administered
by the Israeli army until 1966. For two decades, Palestinian society would
struggle to regenerate a leadership under the strictures of military rule.
When a leadership did belatedly emerge in the late 1970s and 1980s, the
minority’s representatives remained largely passive, awaiting directions from
the PLO leadership in exile. In essence, they needed an answer to the
question of what ultimate goal the Palestinian struggle aspired to: Was it to
liberate the minority from its compromised existence in a Jewish state,
presumably in some variation of the one-state model, or to trade the minority
for peace in a partitioned territory? 

When the answer came with the 1993 Oslo accord — they were to remain
inside Israel as an ethnic minority — the Palestinian leadership responded
with a tentative civil rights movement aimed at ending Israel’s self-definition
as a Jewish state. Bishara’s “state of all its citizens” slogan would be the
rallying cry through the late 1990s. But the October 2000 events showed in
lethal fashion that Israel was not ready to concede, or even debate, the
privileges enjoyed by the Jewish majority. Change was not going to occur
from within. 

Looking to the Outside World

Faced with Israeli intransigence, the Palestinian minority’s leadership
began looking outside Israel for support. Civil society organizations led the
way by focusing on advocacy that highlighted the minority’s plight to
international bodies such as the UN and the European Union. In quick
succession in late 2006 and early 2007, two Palestinian NGOs, Mada and
Adalah, and the Higher Follow-Up Committee each published a separate
position paper in English — collectively nicknamed the “Vision Documents”
— that argued for Israel’s transformation into a liberal democracy. The
Shinbet signaled clearly that it regarded these documents as an “existential
threat” to Israel. With the approval of the attorney general, the Shinbet’s
director, Yuval Diskin, issued a stark warning to the authors: “The Shinbet
is required to thwart subversive activity by elements who wish to harm the
nature of the State of Israel as a democratic Jewish State — even if they
act by means of democratically provided tools — by virtue of the principle
of ‘defensive democracy.’”

This political backdrop was on view as Palestinian NGOs in Israel not only
led non-violent demonstrations against Operation Cast Lead in December
2008 but also highlighted to the world the police repression of their protests,
which led to the arrest of many hundreds of activists, including children.
The involvement of Israeli-Palestinian NGOs in assisting the Goldstone
investigations in 2009 only fueled the sense among Israeli Jews that the
minority had been unmasked as a fifth column. And almost as background
music to these developments, the separate prosecutions of two Palestinian
MKs have gathered steam: Muhammad Baraka, head of the joint Palestinian-
Jewish Communist party, Jabha (Hadash in Hebrew), is charged with
attacking security personnel during protests; and Sa‘id Nafa‘, a Druze
member of the Tajammu‘ party, is to stand trial for traveling to Syria with a
delegation of Druze leaders.

In addition, since Cast Lead, Israeli-Palestinian NGOs have deepened their
solidarity with Palestinians under occupation by becoming actively engaged
in a fledgling international movement to boycott Israel. Their intimate
familiarity with the self-defined Jewish state and their direct experiences
of institutional discrimination make them persuasive advocates for such a
boycott, as Israel’s leadership appeared to appreciate. It was not surprising,
therefore, that in May Amir Makhoul, head of Ittijah, an umbrella
organization for Palestinian civil society groups in Israel, became the latest
major public figure to run afoul of the Shinbet. 

During Cast Lead, Makhoul had been called in for interrogation by the
Shinbet over his role in organizing the protests, and threatened that,
if he continued his activities, he might be “disappeared to Gaza.” His brother,
‘Isam Makhoul, a former Jabha MK, said he now regarded that threat as
tellingly prophetic. In early May, Amir Makhoul was arrested and effectively
“disappeared” when a blanket gag order was imposed on his detention.
The gag was only lifted when word spread on the Internet. After nearly two
weeks, during which time Makhoul was denied access to lawyers and says
he was repeatedly tortured, the Shinbet had the confession they were seeking.
(At the same time, another community activist, ‘Umar Sa‘id, was arrested.
Apparently his confession will provide a vital link in the Shinbet’s claims
against Makhoul.) In a pattern now becoming familiar, Makhoul was charged
with spying on behalf of Hizballah, supposedly providing the Lebanese
militia with the locations of security facilities and, more vaguely, helping
it with analyses of Israeli society and political trends. 

Kidnapped on the High Seas

Following the May 31 attack on the flotilla, Palestinians inside Israel waited
anxiously all day for news of Sheikh Ra’id Salah’s condition, and that
of the other four Israeli-Palestinian participants, as nearly 700 peace activists
were forcibly brought to the Israeli port of Ashdod on their captured
vessels. As the world debated the finer points of maritime law, Palestinian
citizens who are Muslims wondered whether their state’s act of piracy —
or “state-sponsored terrorism,” as the Higher Follow-Up Committee referred
to it — had included executing their spiritual leader. In Umm al-Fahm,
Salah’s home town in northern Israel, stone-throwing youths and police
briefly clashed. Apparently keen to preempt further damage to Israel’s image
from the sheikh’s presumed death, the Israeli media reported that
commandos had fired at Salah in an act of self-defense, after shots had been
seen coming from his cabin. Later, Salah’s wife was escorted to a hospital
operating room by Israeli officials who appeared to believe the sheikh was
the seriously injured man on the operating table. He was not. 

A little more than 24 hours after the Israeli navy’s raid, it emerged that
Salah and three other Israeli-Palestinians had been remanded into custody
for a week, while suspicions that they had attacked the commandos were
investigated. The next day, June 2, as Israel was forced to release the
international peace activists under severe US and Turkish pressure, Adalah,
a legal center for the Palestinian minority, pointed out that the four were
facing “selective” investigation and possible prosecution for alleged acts
committed outside Israel’s jurisdiction. The courts released them to a week
of house arrest, though they are still being investigated for possession of
weapons and conspiracy to commit an offense, and are banned from leaving
the country. Salah’s release provoked a flood of complaints from Jewish
politicians. A typical response came from Yisrael Hasson, of the supposedly
centrist Kadima party and a former deputy head of the Shinbet, who equated
the release of Salah with that of the late Sheikh Ahmad Yasin, founder of
Hamas. “In 1997 Bibi [Netanyahu] and Lieberman released Sheikh Yasin, and
in 2010, they’re releasing Salah,” he said. (Yasin was assassinated by Israel
in 2004.)

In his court appearance, Salah confirmed the minority’s suspicions of an
attempted assassination, saying the “soldiers tried to kill me. They fired in
the direction of someone else they thought was me.” Salah’s deputy, Sheikh
Kamil Khatib, claimed Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak had
plotted to kill the sheikh. 

One of the first people on the flotilla to be released, on the morning
following the commando attack, was Hanin Zu‘bi, after police were advised
that her parliamentary immunity ruled out her continuing detention.
In the short time she was held, however, she says she was interviewed three
times by police, who questioned her about possessing a weapon. Zu‘bi
hurried back to her home town of Nazareth to hold a press conference. She
offered an account of the commando raid that would be substantiated by the
other passengers after their release but at this early stage was chiefly
notable for conflicting in almost every respect with a narrative being hastily
constructed by Israeli officials. Israel, which had seized all the passengers’
cameras and video equipment, slowly released heavily edited, and in some
cases doctored, video and audio footage to try to support its claims.
(Huwaida Arraf, a Palestinian-American in the convoy, identified her own
voice in recorded transmissions said by Israel to be from the Mavi Marmara.
But Arraf had been aboard a smaller vessel.)

Israel argued that many of the passengers had been armed with knives and
even guns; that they had attacked and tried to “lynch” soldiers who arrived
“almost barefoot,” as minister Benny Begin told the BBC; that several
soldiers had been “kidnapped” and their lives put at risk by armed
passengers; and that the soldiers had held off opening fire until the last
possible moment, when their lives were in substantial danger. To make this
improbable story seem more plausible, Israel’s deputy foreign minister,
Danny Ayalon, also claimed that many of the passengers, particularly the
Turkish contingent belonging to an Islamic humanitarian organization, were
really terrorists allied with al-Qaeda — an allegation the Foreign Ministry
eventually had to withdraw, though the claim that there were terrorists on
board the Mavi Marmara was maintained.

Zu‘bi, by contrast, argued that their ships had been attacked far out in
international waters in darkness, creating confusion and panic; that the navy
had opened fire on the lead ship, the Mavi Marmara, where most of the
activists were, before a single commando had stepped onto the deck; that she
was sure there were no weapons on board the Marmara and that a later search
by the navy that she witnessed revealed none; that two of the three bodies
she saw had gunshot wounds to the head, indicating executions (later
autopsies in Turkey would reveal five had wounds to the head, and that the
nine dead had been shot a total of 30 times, often from close range); and
that she had witnessed two passengers slowly bleed to death after her
attempts to alert the soldiers in Hebrew were ignored. She concluded: “Israel
had days to plan this military operation. They wanted many deaths to
terrorize us and to send a message that no future aid convoys should try to
break the siege of Gaza.” 

Fisticuffs in the Knesset

A brief but stormy debate between Palestinian and Jewish MKs on Israel’s
attack on the aid flotilla took place the next day, June 2, but was cut short by
Matan Vilnai, the deputy defense minister, who transferred it to the less
public arena of the foreign affairs committee. Zu‘bi, however, managed to
revive the debate in the chamber by demanding her right to make a
five-minute statement. The ensuing scenes took aback even seasoned
politicians such as Yossi Sarid, a dovish former minister. He observed: “For
the first time in its history, the Knesset came dangerously close to fisticuffs,
with only a small step separating an exchange of words and an exchange
of blows.” 

Many MKs, including ministers, had left the chamber in protest as Zu‘bi rose
to speak. As she stood at the podium, a deputy speaker who had been left
in charge struggled to contain the outpouring of loathing directed at Zu‘bi as
Jewish parliamentarians shouted the epithets “traitor,” “terrorist” and worse
at the novice legislator. Anastasia Michaeli, a far-right MK from Lieberman’s
party, charged the podium and was intercepted by security guards as she
tried to grab Zu‘bi. (Michaeli was later invited to address an anti-violence
conference sponsored by the Interior Ministry in which she defended
her actions, saying: “I couldn’t allow myself to stay silent. I acted out of a
conviction that we will not allow anyone to harm Israel’s sovereignty.”) After
five minutes of pandemonium, the speaker, Reuven Rivlin, arrived to
try to restore order. Despite a dozen MKs being ejected, Zu‘bi barely uttered
a few sentences, between long enforced pauses as MKs spewed out abuse
and personal insults — including one who yelled “Check if she has a knife!”
— before Rivlin brought her speech to an abrupt end. 

Some observers were surprised that the insults hurled at Zu‘bi were not
restricted to the right-wing MKs. In fact, legislators from the opposition
Kadima party were as vehement and abusive in their denunciations. One,
Yulia Shamalov Berkovitz, called out that the Palestinian MKs were
“parliamentary spies.” Zu‘bi, an articulate woman who previously headed a
media monitoring center, deftly pressed the buttons most likely to produce
uproar in the Knesset. In her brief address, she told the MKs that it was
a “mitzvah,” or Jewish holy commandment, to join the flotilla and break the
siege of Gaza; she called for an international inquiry to hold Israel to
account; and she demanded the return of photographs and video footage
confiscated from the passengers, noting that this evidence would prove who
was telling the truth about what had occurred. 

Sarid, the former leader of Israel’s tiny left-Zionist party, Meretz, may have
been appalled by the behavior in the chamber but he was no more
sympathetic to Zu‘bi than the rioting MKs. He did not accuse her of treason
like the right wing, but he was equally dismissive of her participation in the
flotilla. He blamed her for grandstanding and, smugly positioning himself
as if separating disputatious children, castigated her in the same terms as her
near-assailant Michaeli. “Don’t think for a moment that the vitriol on either
side was born of genuine outrage. Everything was pre-planned and
calculated to gain the public’s adoration, whatever the constituency,” he
observed.

A Darker Agenda

Sarid’s putdown was by far the gentlest treatment Zu‘bi would receive at the
hands of Jewish politicians, public and the local media. In a poll conducted
by Tel Aviv University for Ha’aretz, 80 percent of Israeli Jews said they
thought Zu‘bi should be punished for joining the flotilla. Shortly after her
Knesset appearance, a Facebook page in Hebrew was set up calling for her
execution, quickly garnering thousands of members who appeared
unashamed to put their names to such a campaign. Death threats poured into
Zu‘bi’s office — more than were ever sent to Azmi Bishara, according to
Zu‘bi’s assistant who once ran Bishara’s office — and flowed at a lesser rate
into the offices of the other Palestinian MKs as well. Overnight Zu‘bi had
swept Salah from the top slot in the Jewish majority’s list of monsters.
Knesset officials outfitted Zu‘bi with a bodyguard after the Shinbet reported
that it was aware of more than a dozen concrete plots to kill her.

The focus in the days following the commando raid has been chiefly on Zu‘bi.
Eli Yishai, the interior minister and demagogic leader of the ultra-Orthodox
Shas party, got the ball rolling by announcing that he was applying to the
attorney general for approval to revoke Zu‘bi’s citizenship. Legal safeguards
should mean he is unlikely to succeed, but the struggle to do so will
strengthen the right and weaken the already besieged legal establishment in
Israel. Yishai has also promised to present legislation to revoke the citizenship
[of] anyone defined as a traitor, saying of such a bill: “I believe most of the
people support this and that the Supreme Court will accept it.”

In a further indication of the right’s ascendancy, the Knesset’s house
committee agreed a week after the attack on the flotilla to strip Zu‘bi of
several parliamentary privileges, including banning her from leaving the
country by confiscating her diplomatic passport and denying her the right to
claim legal costs — moves that are designed to look as though the ground is
being prepared to put her on trial. State prosecutors told the committee
that she is still being investigated for attempting to enter a closed military
zone (that is, Gaza) and violence against commandos. Yariv Levin, head
of the committee and a senior member of Netanyhu’s Likud party, claimed:
“The committee’s decision expresses the feelings of the entire nation that
harsh steps should be taken against MKs who harm Israel Defense Forces
soldiers and question our ability to be here. MK Zu‘bi now knows that she
will be made to foot the bill for her behavior.”

The campaign to denigrate Zu‘bi, as Levin’s comment and Yishai’s proposed
bill suggest, has been hijacked by a darker agenda of suggesting more
generally the treachery of the Palestinian leadership in Israel and, mostly
implicitly so far, the Palestinian citizens whom they represent. The most
significant move against the minority since the commando raid was the
submission of a bill — already nicknamed the “Zu‘bi law” — that would allow
a sitting MK to be expelled from the parliament if he or she does any of
the following: deny Israel’s existence as a Jewish and democratic state; incite
racism; or support the armed struggle of a terrorist group. Given the highly
distorted definitions used in Israeli political discourse, such legislation could
easily be used to expel all ten of the Palestinian MKs serving in Palestinian
parties or the joint Palestinian-Jewish Communist party. The bill’s backers
appear to believe that this may be a more effective way to ban the Palestinian
parties than their previous attempts during general election campaigns
through the partisan Central Elections Committee. The courts have
consistently, if narrowly, overturned the Committee’s decisions.

The Zu‘bi law is only the latest in a steady stream of what have been termed
“loyalty laws” submitted since Netanyahu came to power in 2009. Ja‘far
Farah, director of the Mossawa advocacy group for the Palestinian minority,
says 23 bills have been proposed to limit the freedoms and rights of
Palestinian citizens or their leaders over the past year. The flagrantly
anti-democratic nature of these bills has resulted in most being rejected at
an early stage by a ministerial committee on the advice of legal officials. But
as pressure builds — and incidents like Makhoul’s arrest and Zu‘bi’s
defense of the aid flotilla outrage the Jewish majority — breaches in the
dam are widening. The Nakba Law, which can be used to end state funding
for any organization or institution that commemorates the dispossession
of the Palestinians in the 1948 war, is the most notable to have passed. Many
similar loyalty bills directed at the minority and their leaders are in the
pipeline. One being considered would require MKs to swear allegiance to
Israel as a Jewish and Zionist state, and another would revoke the citizenship
of anyone convicted of spying or terrorism. 

In a commentary in the liberal Ha’aretz newspaper, Ruth Gavison, a
distinguished law professor and founder of the Association for Civil Rights
in Israel, the oldest and largest human rights group in the country, hinted
at an emerging Jewish consensus against the Palestinian minority that cuts
across all Jewish political divisions. While denouncing the demagoguery of
the right, she observed that “it can be argued — even if it is not necessary
to do so — that participation in international activities likely to embarrass the
state and thwart its policies (such as unofficial visits to enemy states)
should be seen as reason enough to prevent a person from serving as a
member of Knesset, in accordance with reasonable judicial review process.”

Darker Still

Unlike the case of Operation Cast Lead, protests by Palestinian citizens
against the lethal raid on the aid flotilla have been mostly muted, apart from
the brief period when it appeared that Salah might have been killed.
The relative quiet may in part reflect the short timeline of the events: The
last peace activists had been deported within three days. But the strength of
feeling among the minority was evident from the strict observation of a
general strike called for June 1 by the Palestinian leadership. More likely,
the reluctance by Palestinian citizens to come out onto the streets to protest
can be ascribed to the current political climate in Israel. When Palestinian
students demonstrated alongside small numbers of Jewish left-wing activists
in the main universities, their numbers were dwarfed by counter-
demonstrations by right-wing students, mobilized by a rapidly growing
nationalist youth movement called Im Tirtzu. The defining image of Israel’s
reaction to the commando raid was of mobs of young right-wing Jews,
almost lost in a sea of blue-and-white flags, baying through the night in
fury at the Turkish embassy in Tel Aviv. 

If the blockade on Gaza is justified in the minds of Israeli Jews as collective
punishment of the enclave’s Palestinian population for supporting Hamas,
a similar skewed logic is being applied to Israel’s Palestinian citizens.
According to this thinking, those who sent Zu‘bi to the Knesset and those
who revere Salah should be held accountable — and punished — for their
representatives’ actions. The minority seems only too aware that the calls to
expel Zu‘bi from the Knesset or revoke her citizenship will not end there. A
poll by Haifa University in May showed that 62 percent of Palestinian
citizens feared they are under threat of expulsion from Israel. And Israel’s
mood is likely to grow darker still.

Jonathan Cook is a British journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His reports
on Israel-Palestine have been published in numerous journals and websites
including the Guardian, the Observer, the Times, Al Jazeera, New Statesman,
International Herald Tribune, Al-Ahram Weekly (Cairo), The National
(Abu Dhabi), Electronic Intifada and Counterpunch. His latest book is
Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books,
2009). His two earlier books are Blood and Religion and Israel and the Clash of
Civilisations
(Pluto Books, 2006, 2008). Visit his website:
http://www.jkcook.net/index.html

http://www.merip.org/mero/mero061610.html
Copyright © MERIP. All rights reserved. 

“Bad for the Jews”

Egypt's revolution and Israel: "Bad for the Jews"
Ilan Pappe, The Electronic Intifada, 14 February 2011

Is Arab democracy bad for Israel? (Matthew Cassel)


The view from Israel is that if they indeed succeed, the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions are bad, very bad. Educated Arabs — not all of them dressed as "Islamists," quite a few of them speaking perfect English whose wish for democracy is articulated without resorting to "anti-Western" rhetoric — are bad for Israel.

Arab armies that do not shoot at these demonstrators are as bad as are many other images that moved and enthused so many people around the world, even in the West. This world reaction is also bad, very bad. It makes the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and its apartheid policies inside the state look like the acts of a typical "Arab" regime.

For a while you could not tell what official Israel thought. In his first ever commonsensical message to his colleagues, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked his ministers, generals and politicians not to comment in public on the events in Egypt. For a brief moment one thought that Israel turned from the neighborhood's thug to what it always was: a visitor or permanent resident.

It seems Netanyahu was particularly embarrassed by the unfortunate remarks on the situation uttered publicly by General Aviv Kochavi, the head of Israeli military intelligence. This top Israeli expert on Arab affairs stated confidently two weeks ago in the Knesset that the Mubarak regime is as solid and resilient as ever. But Netanyahu could not keep his mouth shut for that long. And when the boss talked all the others followed. And when they all responded, their commentary made Fox News' commentators look like a bunch of peaceniks and free-loving hippies from the 1960s.

The gist of the Israeli narrative is simple: this is an Iranian-like revolution helped by Al Jazeera and stupidly allowed by US President Barack Obama, who is a new Jimmy Carter, and a stupefied world. Spearheading the Israeli interpretation are the former Israeli ambassadors to Egypt. All their frustration from being locked in an apartment in a Cairean high-rise is now erupting like an unstoppable volcano. Their tirade can be summarized in the words of one of them, Zvi Mazael who told Israeli television's Channel One on 28 January, "this is bad for the Jews; very bad."

In Israel of course when you say "bad for the Jews," you mean the Israelis — but you also mean that whatever is bad for Israel is bad for the Jews all around the world (despite the evidence to the contrary since the foundation of the state).

But what is really bad for Israel is the comparison. Regardless of how all this would end, it exposes the fallacies and pretense of Israel like never before. Egypt is experiencing a peaceful Intifada with the deadly violence coming from the side of the regime. The army did not shoot at the demonstrators; and even before the departure of Mubarak, already seven days into the protests, the minister of interior who directed his thugs to violently crash the demonstrations had been sacked and will probably be brought to justice.

Yes, this was done in order to win time and try to persuade the demonstrators to go home. But even this scene, by now forgotten, can never happen in Israel. Israel is a place where all the generals who ordered the shootings of Palestinian and Jewish anti-occupation demonstrators now compete for the highest post of Chief of the General Staff.

One of them is Yair Naveh, who gave orders in 2008 to kill Palestinian suspects even if they could be peacefully arrested. He is not going to jail; but the young woman, Anat Kamm, who exposed these orders is now facing nine years in jail for leaking them to Israeli daily Haaretz. Not one Israeli general or politician has or is going to spend one day in jail for ordering the troops to shoot at unarmed demonstrators, innocent civilians, women, old men and children. The light radiating from Egypt and Tunisia is so strong that it also illuminates the darker spaces of the "only democracy in the Middle East."

Nonviolent, democratic (be they religious or not) Arabs are bad for Israel. But maybe these Arabs were there all along, not only in Egypt, but also in Palestine. The insistence of Israeli commentators that the most important issue at stake — the Israeli peace treaty with Egypt — is a diversion, and has very little relevance to the powerful impulse that is shaking the Arab world as a whole.

The peace treaties with Israel are the symptoms of moral corruption not the disease itself — this is why Syrian President Bashar Asad, undoubtedly an anti-Israeli leader, is not immune from this wave of change. No, what is at stake here is the pretense that Israel is a stable, civilized, western island in a rough sea of Islamic barbarism and Arab fanaticism. The "danger" for Israel is that the cartography would be the same but the geography would change. It would still be an island but of barbarism and fanaticism in a sea of newly formed egalitarian and democratic states.

In the eyes of large sections of Western civil society the democratic image of Israel has long ago vanished; but it may now be dimmed and tarnished in the eyes of others who are in power and politics. How important is the old, positive image of Israel for maintaining its special relationship with the United States? Only time will tell.

But one way or another the cry rising from Cairo's Tahrir Square is a warning that fake mythologies of the "only democracy in the Middle East," hardcore Christian fundamentalism (far more sinister and corrupt than that of the Muslim Brotherhood), cynical military-industrial corporate profiteering, neo-conservatism and brutal lobbying will not guarantee the sustainability of the special relationship between Israel and the United States forever.

And even if the special relationship perseveres for a while, it is now based on even shakier foundations. The diametrically-opposed case studies of the so far resilient anti-American regional powers of Iran and Syria, and to some extent Turkey, on the one hand, and the fallen ultimate pro-American tyrants, on the other are indicative: even if it is sustained, American support may not be enough in future to maintain an ethnic and racist "Jewish state" in the heart of a changing Arab world.

This could be good news for the Jews, even for the Jews in Israel in the long run. To be surrounded by peoples who cherish freedom, social justice and spirituality and navigating sometimes safely and sometimes roughly between tradition and modernity, nationalism and humanity, aggressive capitalist globalization and daily survival, is not going to be easy.

Yet it has a horizon, and it carries hope of triggering similar changes in Palestine. It can bring a closure to more than a century of Zionist colonization and dispossession, to be replaced by more equitable reconciliation between the Palestinian victims of these criminal policies wherever they are and the Jewish community. This reconciliation would be built on the basis of the Palestinian right of return and on all the other rights the people of Egypt so bravely fought for in the last twenty days.

But trust the Israelis not to miss an opportunity to miss peace. They would cry wolf. They would demand, and receive, more funds from the American taxpayer due to the new "developments." They would interfere clandestinely and destructively to undermine any transition to democracy (remember what force and viciousness characterized their reaction to democratization in Palestinian society?), and they would elevate the Islamophobic campaign to new and unprecedented heights.

But who knows, maybe the American taxpayer would not budge this time. And maybe the European politicians would follow the general sentiment of their public and allow not only Egypt to be dramatically transformed, but also welcome a similar change in Israel and Palestine. In such a scenario the Jews of Israel have a chance to become part of the real Middle East and not an alien and aggressive member of a Middle East which was the figment of the hallucinatory Zionist imagination.

Ilan Pappe is Professor of History and Director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter. His most recent book is Out of the Frame: The Struggle for Academic Freedom in Israel (Pluto Press, 2010).

WESPAC @ Clearwater

Cely Byrnes and I will be at the WESPAC TABLE at the Festival with

information, a petition and post cards to END U.S. Military Aid to Israel

& the Occupation of Palestine. Please join us if you can.

Women in Black Westchester
Palestine Solidarity Vigil

 

There’s no plan for Sunday, so if you’d like to do it, and/or

can get others to cover Sunday that would be great.

 

 

The Gaza Freedom Flotilla tragedy demands that we step up

our efforts. This is a critical time for Palestinians, so instead of

canceling the June vigil, we will have it on the 4th Saturday.

Hope to see you there. Ceil Lavan

 

Women in Black Vigil

June 26, 2010

2:00 to 3:00 PM
Main St & Memorial Hwy
New Rochelle, 10801


Click here: Map of Main St & Memorial Hwy New Rochelle, NY by MapQuest

 

~~~   ~~~   ~~~   ~~~

RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IPS) – Although Israel successfully
controlled news of its deadly commando raid on the Freedom Flotilla
during the first crucial 48 hours of media coverage, emerging evidence
from witnesses and survivors is challenging the Israeli government’s
version of events.
READ THE STORY:
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11324.shtml
~~~   ~~~   ~~~   ~~~
THe Women in Black Westchester vigil is sponsored by
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Women and Men are Welcome

 

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Possible Revolution in Egypt

From: http://angryarab.blogspot.com/ 2011/02/reflections-on- possible-revolution-in.html

Reflections on the (Possible) Revolution in Egypt
 

As’ad AbuKhalil, The Angry Arab News Service, 11 February 2011
 
This is big: very big.  
 
I was talking to a friend earlier: this is possibly the biggest strategic shift in the Middle East since the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982.  The beauty of it for dreamers (and its alarm for enemies like Israel) is that it is unpredictable.  
 
The biggest victory is that `Umar Sulaman is out of the picture now.  Israel/US/Saudi Arabia were hoping that he would be the extension of Mubarak until some other clone of Mubarak is found.  That was not meant to be.  
 
Don't get me wrong: US and Saudi Arabia will now rush with bags of gold and cash to influence all members of the military command council.  The beauty of that is that there is no one person: it is a collective leadership (even if this rules for a transitional period) and the momentum of the Egyptian people will restrict their powers, notwithstanding wishes to the contrary by US/Israel/Saudi Arabia.  
 
One person in the council will emerge; we don't know who: and there will be leaks and back stabbing and plots and conspiracies.  There will be chaos in Egypt: which is good.  
 
People will come from nowhere: don't memorize the news names of this developing news story: you will hear of new names soon.  
 
This is a big strategic development: if Tunisia affected Egypt: Egypt is destined to affect the entire region (unless you believe that the announcement of cash bonuses from the Bahraini King this morning was a pure act of charity).  
 
Israel is in deep trouble, as is the US; Egypt was an intelligence and sabotage center.  The entire country and its dyamics are now unleashed on the word. There will be new ideas and new currents and trends. 
 
Certainly, the freer the Arabs are, the more trouble for the US/Israel/Saudi Arabia.  Read the 
statement of the Saudi foreign minister: he just yesterday remembered the justice of the Palestinian cause. There is panic in Arab ruling circles.  I spoke to a dear Jordanian friend this morning: he was calling to congratulate me.  I told him: I now think that I will finally see your farm in Jordan.  
 
Those who stood by the Egyptian uprising (the Arab people and Hizbullah–Hamas was too afraid to speak a word–and Aljazeera and Arab nationalists everywhere) will be in the good grace of the Egyptian uprising. And those who were opposed: the Wahhabi Arab liberals, Israel, House of Saud and its propaganda outlets will be in trouble.  Let me put it this way: Saudi princes will not feel comfortable in returning to the brothels of Cairo anytime soon.  
 
The shock for Israel and US is double: not only is Mubarak gone, but so is Sulayman.  The ouster of Sulayman ran against their scheme.  I believe that Mubarak arranged for that (although the people insisted on it) to get back at the US.  Leaving them to scramble.  The good thing is that Minister of Defense Tantawi has the leadership skills of Joe (six pack) Biden.  
 
Stay tuned.
 

 
From: http://angryarab.blogspot.com/ 2011/02/reflections-on- possible-revolution-in.html

Witchhunt for an Israeli MP

Witchhunt for an
Israeli MP

Officials Try to Strip
Haneen Zoubi of Citizenship

Jonathan Cook
CounterPunch
June 8, 2010

Nazareth — An Israeli parliamentary committee recommended stripping
an Arab MP of her privileges yesterday in a move to prepare the ground for
putting her on trial for participating last week in the Gaza-bound aid
flotilla attacked by Israeli commandos.

Haneen Zoubi, who has become a national hate figure since challenging
Israel’s account of the confrontation, said yesterday she was facing “a
witch-hunt”.

The interior minister, Eli Yishai, has submitted a request for her citizenship
to be revoked, and a bill — labelled the “Zoubi Law” — is being considered
that would allow a serving MP to be expelled for “inciting” against the state.

Ms Zoubi has been provided with a bodyguard after receiving a spate of
death threats. A popular Facebook page in Hebrew is calling for her execution
and an online petition for her expulsion from the parliament has attracted
tens of thousands of supporters.

Last week, in unprecedented scenes as she tried to address parliament, Ms
Zoubi was heckled into silence by Jewish legislators shouting out “terrorist”
and “traitor”. Guards only narrowly prevented a far-right parliamentarian
from attacking her.

Yesterday’s hearing of the parliament’s house committee was originally
intended to consider revoking the immunity of six Arab MPs, including Ms
Zoubi, who travelled to Libya in April. All the Arab MPs boycotted the
meeting.

However, the committee chairman, Yariv Levin, of Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu’s Likud Party, switched the focus to Ms Zoubi’s involvement in
the flotilla.

Legal advisers said the MP was still being investigated for attempting to
enter a closed military area and violence against the commandos. After she
disembarked from the Mavi Marmara in Ashdod last week, Ms Zoubi said
she had been questioned by police about possessing a weapon.

The committee approved by a majority of 7-1 stripping her of parliamentary
privileges that take away her diplomatic passport, reportedly to prevent her
fleeing the country, and withdraw help with litigation fees. Parliament must
approve the decision.

Mr Levin accused Ms Zoubi of betraying the country and said she must be
put on trial. “What Zoubi did crossed the line and even in a democracy there
must be red lines. Whoever sails to Hamas is a supporter of terror,” he said.

Ms Zoubi responded: “They conducted a kangaroo court against me. They
have called on the public to harm me.”

An editorial in the liberal Haaretz newspaper warned yesterday that an
atmosphere of “dangerous incitement” was developing against Israel’s
Palestinian minority, a fifth of the population. Two other Arab MPs, Ahmed
Tibi and Taleb al Sana, revealed that they too had received death threats.

In addition to the removal of Ms Zoubi’s privileges, she is also facing the
revocation of her citizenship. The measure has been used only twice before
in Israel’s history — both times against Palestinian citizens accused of
terrorism.

Last week, Mr Yishai wrote to the attorney general asking for the go-ahead,
saying Ms Zoubi had “headed a group of terrorists” and was “undoubtedly
aware of the activists’ preparations for the attack against IDF troops. This
is a premeditated act of treason.”

Orna Kohn, a lawyer with Adalah, a legal centre for the country’s Palestinian
minority, said Mr Yishai’s move was “uncharted legal territory” that could
leave Ms Zoubi stateless, in violation of international law. “There is simply
no precedent for revoking the citizenship of an MP,” she said.

After Ms Zoubi’s release last week, she said she had seen three passengers
shot in the head by soldiers, and two more left to bleed to death. According
to autopsies conducted in Turkey, five of the nine dead passengers were shot
in the head, and many of the lethal shots were fired from close range.

During her address to the parliament last week, Ms Zoubi called for an
international investigation and demanded to know why Israel had not
published photographs and video footage it confiscated from passengers that
related to the nine dead and dozens of wounded.

After the session, she said: “It was so hostile in the chamber that, had MPs
been allowed to carry guns, I am sure someone would have shot me.”

Israel has been swept by rightwing demonstrations in support of the raid on
the flotilla over the past few days.

A Hebrew Facebook page “Execute MP Haneen Zoubi” features a cartoon
image of the MP with crosshairs on her forehead as the figure waves a
Palestinian flag with a bloody Star of David at its centre.

Ms Zoubi said she had been surprised to learn that the armed bodyguard —
normally reserved for government ministers and the head of state — was
supposed to remain with her even inside the parliament chamber. “What
does that say about the threat posed by my fellow MPs?”

Four other leaders of Israel’s Palestinian community who were on the ships
are being investigated by police. After the mass release of detainees last week,
they were freed to house arrest but are banned from leaving the country.

At his remand hearing, Sheik Raed Salah, a leader of Israel’s Islamic
Movement, said of the flotilla episode: “The soldiers tried to kill me. They
fired in the direction of someone else they thought was me.”

Rumours circulating widely that Sheikh Salah had been killed in the
commando raid eight days ago were not denied by Israeli officials and only
ended when his family identified that a body brought to an Israeli hospital
was not his.

Jonathan Cook is a British journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His reports
on Israel-Palestine have been published in numerous journals and websites
including the Guardian, the Observer, the Times, Al Jazeera, New Statesman,
International Herald Tribune, Al-Ahram Weekly (Cairo), The National
(Abu Dhabi), Electronic Intifada and Counterpunch. His latest book is
Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books,
2009). His two earlier books are Blood and Religion and Israel and the Clash of
Civilisations
(Pluto Books, 2006, 2008). Visit his website:
http://www.jkcook.net/index.html

http://www.counterpunch.org/cook06082010.html

Hamas welcomes EU proposal

Hamas welcomes EU proposal
to monitor crossings

Ma’an News Agency
June 7, 2010


A PASSIA map from 2006. Fishing limits
were reduced to 6 nautical miles in 2007
and then to 3 nautical miles in 2008.
MaanImages/PASSIA

Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas officials have supported a proposed EU plan
to monitor Gaza crossings and lift the Israeli-lead siege on the coastal enclave,
statements issued Sunday indicated.

Hamas leader Salah Al-Bardawil welcomed statements by Spanish Minster of
Foreign Affairs Miguel Ángel Moratinos, whose country currently holds the
head of the rotating EU parliament, and said the movement would would be
glad to receive a European presence at all Gaza border crossings.

“We spoke with the team of the chief (foreign) representative yesterday and
we are going to make a proposal over the next few days so that situations
like the ones that happened (this week) will not be repeated,” Moratinos
told Agence-France Presse on Saturday, referring to the Israeli attack on a
Turkish aid ship carrying nationals from around the globe that killed at
least nine.

The ship was carrying 10,000 tons of aid, including cement, books,
prefabricated houses and medical equipment in an attempt to break Israel’s
sea blockade of Gaza, from which it says it unilaterally withdrew in 2005.

The plan reportedly includes the activation of the EU monitoring committee
at Rafah, and developing similar initiatives at at least three other
crossings as well as assisting in sea patrols so that the Gaza Port could
open.

“Hamas welcomes this proposal in all its aspects,” Al-Bardawil said, saying
first that the party “does not mind at all” EU or international presence at
Rafah, and reaffirmed the party’s refusal to accept Israeli policing in the
south.

“Secondly, Israel should not obstruct any convoys or ships coming to the
Gaza port,” the official said, reiterating the importance of having a
“seaport that links Gaza with the world.”

As for the details, Al-Bardawil said, they need to “be studied by the
Palestinian government so a consensus can be reached” on what is acceptable
in terms of having international patrols in Gaza waters.

Breaking the siege on Gaza, the official said, would “contribute to the
building of a modern seaport in Gaza,” which he described as an essential
ingredient to the revitalization of all of Gaza.

http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=290085
All Rights Reserved © Ma’an News Agency 2005 – 2010

Come Celebrate the Removal of Mubarak

 

This is a momentous moment for Egypt

and for the Middle East and for the World.

 

 

Come to the Vigil tomorrow to celebrate

the Egyptian people's victory and to 

support TRUE DEMOCRACY in Egypt.

 
 
   Support Egyptian Civil, Political and Human Rights
Egypt placards: A girl holds a poster during a demonstration in Cairo
Support Self-Determination for the People of Egypt,

Palestine and throughout the Middle East

 

*Come vigil for Freedom and Democracy in the Middle East.
 
*Let the Egyptian people know that you stand in solidarity with them.
 
*Let the people here know that you support the people of Egypt.
 

Women in Black Vigil

February 12, 2011

2:00 to 3:00 PM
Main St & Memorial Hwy
New Rochelle, 10801

 

 

 

 

===========

 

 

Women in Black Westchester
Palestine Solidarity Vigil

Children playing in the rubble of their Gaza Strip homes.

 

Women in Black Vigil

February 12, 2011

2:00 to 3:00 PM
Main St & Memorial Hwy
New Rochelle, 10801
Click here: Map of Main St & Memorial Hwy New Rochelle, NY by MapQuest

 

Women and Men are Welcome

 

Gaza Information  

 

 

See this quick view of the truth through charts: 
Click here: If Americans Knew – what every American needs to know about Israel/Palestine

 

Vigil Information

[email protected]     914 654 8990

 

The Women in Black Westchester vigil

is sponsored by CodePink Westchester & WESPAC

 

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