Sunday, January 29, 2006

[ePalestine] BAHOUR: New Paradigm After the Victory of Hamas

New Paradigm After the Victory of Hamas
The US and Israel shouldn't set pre-conditions on duly elected leadership

By Sam Bahour 

Policies have repercussions, sometimes bitter ones. The historic election landslide victory of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, in Palestine on January 25 was merely a confirmation of this basic fact. Palestinians simply voted in a manner that reflects their reality. 

Secular Palestinians, such as myself, are not thrilled to see an Islamist movement come to the forefront of the historically secular Palestinian struggle to end the occupation and continue with the state-building process. However, those of us willing to look beyond the daily headlines, which emerge out of professionally spun mainstream media, are fully aware that Hamas' victory does not emerge from a vacuum. 

Palestinian reality in year 2006 is three-fold. There is the bitter reality of 39 years of a non- stop Israeli military occupation that has battered the Palestinians beyond recognition, but failed to break the Palestinians' will and determination to ascertain the basic human and national rights that are justly due to every indigenous people. 

Then, there is a decade, some would say four decades, of a monopoly on Palestinian politics by the moderate Fatah movement which mismanaged and abused its position of power to a point where the average Palestinian saw their governance serving the Israeli occupation more than serving the needs of a people hemorrhaging from an unrelenting Israeli onslaught. 

Non-violent resistences have failed 

Lastly, Palestinian reality today, after trying all possible non-violent methods to jerk the international community, particularly the U.S., into assuming its responsibility toward a people under occupation (as per the Geneva Conventions) have been left naked to take on their occupier single-handily, all the while, being coerced into becoming totally dependent on the crumbs and political agendas of donor aid. 

Initial knee-jerk reactions from Washington D.C. and Tel Aviv indicate that, not only have the U.S. and Israel failed to acknowledge that decades of aggression against Palestinians was sooner than later bound to result in bitter repercussions, but they arrogantly abolish themselves of any responsibility for this reality. Palestinians under occupation were left with little other choice, but to express their despair and frustration by electing into government a movement that many believe speak the same language as Israel has been speaking to Palestinians for almost four decades now, the language of force, both political and military. 

The U.S. and Israel seem overly surprised at Hamas' victory. We must ask why? Back in 2002, following a suicide bomb attack in Jerusalem the United Press International's Terrorism Correspondent, Richard Sale, wrote the following: 

Israel and Hamas may currently be locked in deadly combat, but, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials, beginning in the late 1970s, Tel Aviv gave direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas over a period of years. 

Israel "aided Hamas directly -- the Israelis wanted to use it as a counterbalance to the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization)," said Tony Cordesman, Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic Studies.

Israel's support for Hamas "was a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative," said a former senior CIA official. 

The UPI article went on to say, 

But even then, some in Israel saw some benefits to be had in trying to continue to give Hamas support: "The thinking on the part of some of the right-wing Israeli establishment was that Hamas and the others, if they gained control, would refuse to have any part of the peace process and would torpedo any agreements put in place," said a U.S. government official who asked not to be named. 

"Israel would still be the only democracy in the region for the United States to deal with," he said. 

All of which disgusts some former U.S. intelligence officials. […]

According to former State Department counter-terrorism official Larry Johnson, "the Israelis are their own worst enemies when it comes to fighting terrorism." 

"The Israelis are like a guy who sets fire to his hair and then tries to put it out by hitting it with a hammer." 

"They do more to incite and sustain terrorism than curb it," he said. 

Although the magnitude of Hamas’ victory took all by surprise, the fact that the Palestinian electorate booted from office the 40-year ruling party of Fatah was no surprise to anyone familiar with the facts on the ground. 

Bankrupt in its ability to frame the just Palestinian struggle in a manner understandable to the external world and after reaching levels of corruption and nepotism unheard of in occupied Palestine, Fatah deserved to lose, and lose big. 

This writer wrote back in May 18, 2001, following the start of the second intifada: 

Israel grasps to solve the conflict by inventing new political jargon and by engaging well- designed public relation blitzes instead of facing its core international obligation of ending occupation. The truth is becoming harder to hide with every passing Israeli warplane. The world has spoken -- Israeli occupation is the source of contention and must end, illegal Israeli settlements must end, imprisonment of Palestinian political prisoners must end. There is no other way. 

Mr.[Ariel] Sharon has returned the Palestinian society back to a culture of resistance. Soon, he will move the international community to a new culture of responsibility toward protecting Palestinian civilians and realizing a negotiated solution to the conflict based on peace with justice. In the meantime, a new generation of Palestinians will learn and live the meaning of Intifada while the State of Palestine continues to be built amongst the backdrop of Israeli bombings. 

A month later, in a subsequent article on June 13, 2001, I continued, 

If Sharon's Israeli war drums are translated into an all-out war on the Palestinian people or its leadership, the world -- Americans and Israelis in particular -- should not expect the frameworks of the Oslo Peace Accords, the Mitchell Report, or the numerous antiquated UN resolutions to remain as reference points for any future resolution of the conflict. 

If Palestinians must choose between their annihilation and their collective memory, their choice is most likely to be the latter and their time frame, the future. Likewise, Israel must choose between continuing an illegal occupation and preserving the State of Israel. To think that both can peacefully co-exist is an utter ignorance of history and human development. 

The end of Israel's occupation should be the priority 

So as we move forward, we cannot but remind ourselves of all the warnings that were made, mostly by Palestinians, over and over, advising the U.S. and international community that without intervention and without a serious approach to ending Israel's occupation, once and for all, moderate secular voices in Palestine would be drowned out. 

Instead of heeding to Palestinian’s advice and to the facts on the ground, the international community preferred to only send international observers to oversee the most democratic elections process that has ever happened in the Middle East, despite the occupation's boot remaining on the neck of the Palestinians. 

Now it is the world's duty and responsibility to accept the outcome of the elections. Each and every country will need to redefine how it will deal with the sober reality that, once again, now by way of the ballot box, the Palestinians have provided them. 

The U.S. would be wise not to continue to set pre-conditions on yet another duly elected Palestinian leadership. That policy has failed twice already, once with Yaser Arafat and again with Mahmoud Abbas. The editorial of The Jewish Week said it best, “Hard and fast proclamations at a time of tremendous ferment will only make it harder for regional leaders to find a way to make the best of the newest tough hand dealt to them.” (1/27/06). 

The U.S., under President Bush, has caused so much havoc within U.S. foreign policy that the U.S. will now find itself a hostage of its own hastily drafted internal polices. Political wisdom, not Presidential evangelism, is what is required from Washington today. 

For the first time since the Oslo Peace Accords, Palestinian priorities are being set independent of foreign agendas. The donor community, led by the U.S., can choose to bring the Hamas government to its knees financially. This would be short-sighted and catastrophic for the region at large. Alternatively, Hamas can be given the needed time to reflect on their election victory and define a set of policies that coincide with their new position which will require them to be held accountable on a national and global level. 

Speculation is a risky business in the Middle East, but if Hamas’victory is viewed as a pilot project by Islamist movements in the region, we could expect them to excel in installing a better system of governance which has the potential to positively affect every Palestinian citizen. If they fail, they should only be removed through the same ballot box that they won by. 

As I wrote elsewhere, the Palestinian's "election season [should be viewed] as concrete that has now been poured. What remains to be seen is whether it will actually dry in time and remain in place to hold the Palestinian political house together."

Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American businessman living in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian city of Al-Bireh. He is co-author of HOMELAND: Oral Histories of Palestine and Palestinians (1994) and can be reached at 

2006/01/29 -- 6:18 
© 2006 Ohmynews 

Friday, January 27, 2006

[ePalestine] Introducing Hamas - the new Likud -- A MUST READ

w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m
Last update - 21:24 27/01/2006
Introducing Hamas - the new Likud
By Bradley Burston,

Friday, 27 January (60 days to [Israeli] election day) 

Presenting, the unthinkable. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, may we introduce ... Hamas - the new Likud. 

It's 1977 all over again, People of Israel. Once again, everything we knew, is wrong. 

Sound familiar? The party in power, the only party which has ever held power, the party which made a people, has shown itself to be bottomlessly corrupt. It has long been unresponsive to crying social needs. It has proven incapable of making peace. It is ineffectual at bringing its people security. 

There is no end to the cronyism, the economic inequality, the graft, the hidebound, unwieldy construction of interlocking, profoundly anti-democratic institutions. 

Then one day, voters who have swallowed and suffered this for decades, revolt. Overnight, a virtual one-party system is overturned in a stunning victory by a lean, clean, dynamic rival, a movement long shunned for a violent past and an unbending, maximalist take on who should own the entirety of the Holy Land. 

If the stage of history is often lit by irony, the proximity of the implosion of the Likud and the rise of Hamas may hold lessons for us, and for Hamas as well. 

In 1977, the Likud of Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir was derided abroad - and by the left at home - as a group led by terror warlords, a movement with roots in armed wings that had engaged in bombings and cold-blooded shootings. 

It was seen - incorrectly - as inexperienced in everything except opposition. It was seen - ingenuously, by the left - as little more than an outgrowth of the Irgun and Lehi, heirs to Deir Yassin, implacable in its opposition to sharing or ceding land. 

It was on May 17, 1977 that Begin's Likud defeated Labor. Exactly six months and two days later, the first leader of an Arab nation to publicly set foot on Israeli soil - a man who had ordered his armies to attack Israel on Yom Kippur - shook Begin's hand and drove with him to Jerusalem, where he would address the Knesset the next day. 

It was the Likud that would trade away every last inch of the Sinai desert - 89 percent of all the land mass captured in the 1967 war - in exchange for a peace treaty with Egypt. 

It was the Likud, in what was effectively its last, arguably suicidal act as a political party, that would recast the nature of political discourse in Israel by leaving the Gaza Strip unilaterally. 

Even if Anwar Sadat was fated to become a shahid for peace, his journey to Jerusalem suggests a broader concept: If both Israel and its Arab enemy can claim victory in the same war, they may both be able to leverage that claim into some form of peace. 

There were analysts abroad who have called this week's Hamas victory "the end of unilateralism." It may, however, be just the beginning. 

Whether it is or not, whether Israel will actually withdraw from more of the West Bank, will depend to a great extent on what Hamas decides its guns are for. If they are for attacking Israelis, no government in Jerusalem will be able to suggest a further pullback. But if the rifles are for keeping order, and for enforcing a truce, a withdrawal could well take place, and Hamas will be able to claim yet another victory. 

Moreover, if calm is maintained, Israel will be able to claim another victory as well. 

It won't be simple for either side. The grief over thousands of casualties is still fresh. 

For Hamas, the ideological leap will be tremendous. Though some in Hamas have made noises about finding a way to live with the 1967 borders, the concession for them will be as painful as that of Begin's creed of Greater Israel, which originally called for a Jewish state in all of what is now Israel, as well as all of the territories and the present kingdom of Jordan. 

How likely is the scenario that Hamas will see to calm in hopes of an Israeli withdrawal? 

Just how likely a scenario is our present reality? 

In a matter of 20 days, both Israel and Palestine have witnessed the passing of their founding generation, the generation that seemed capable of burying us all. 

God is in the unexpected. Left to our own devices, our fossilized expectations, our unwillingness to believe in a better future, we?ll mess up His work every time. 

Thank God that we can be so wrong. 


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By John V. Whitbeck 

If one views the world through the eyes of Israeli and Western governments and media, one is likely to believe that the primary obstacle to Middle East peace has for the past several years been Fatah's failure to "dismantle the infrastructure of terror" and has now become Hamas' desire for the "destruction of Israel".   

A greater obstacle may be the failure to question what, if anything, such catch phrases actually mean and to move beyond them to rational thought.   

What does "dismantling the infrastructure of terror" mean? What "infrastructure"? Roads? Bridges? Office buildings? Given the distinctly personal and low-tech nature of the acts characterized as "terror" in the Palestinian context, "dismantling the infrastructure of terror" sounds rather like tearing arms and legs off people.   

It was not surprising that Israel and the West never sought to be precise about what they had in mind, since the objective of insisting that negotiations could not be resumed until the "infrastructure of terror" was dismantled was never to stimulate any conceivable action on the Palestinian side but, rather, to justify inaction on the Israeli side -- the avoidance of negotiations, which Ariel Sharon, with his unilateralist proclivities, was determined to avoid while building walls and fixing "permanent borders" as he saw fit.   

What was surprising was that the former Palestinian leadership did not point out the absurdity of this demand, choosing instead to issue public assurances that it would love to do so and would when it could, thereby implicitly accepting the Israeli and Western argument that the Palestinians, uniquely, have no right to resist occupation -- reason enough (even if there were no others) for them to be voted out of office.   

Now that Hamas' smashing election victory has rendered "dismantling the infrastructure of terror" moot, it appears that the "destruction of Israel" (already recited in the Western media virtually as though it formed part of Hamas' name) will become the new catch phrase used to justify avoiding negotiations or even "talks", as well as Israel's withholding of Palestinian customs revenues, the West's withholding of financial aid for Palestinian subsistence under occupation and a concerted effort to make the Palestinian people regret their flirtation with democracy and starve them into submission.   

It is therefore worth asking, early on, what wishing for the "destruction of Israel" actually means. The country's land surface sinking beneath the waters of the Mediterranean? Not likely. All Israelis being "pushed into the sea"? Neither likely nor practical. The end of the current settler-colonial state structure, which discriminates, both in law and in practice, in favor of the immigrant ethnic group and against those members of the indigenous population who have not already been ethnically cleansed?   

People may in good faith believe that such state structures are a good thing and deserve to endure (or, uniquely, to endure in this one instance), but is it really "beyond the pale" to believe otherwise -- particularly if one belongs to the people whose homeland has been conquered and occupied? Is anyone who believes that that the transformation of the Arab land of Palestine into the Jewish state of Israel, necessarily involving the dispossession and dispersal of the Palestinian people, represents a great injustice that should be rectified, by virtue of so believing, so morally debased that they should not even be spoken with?   

When the South African liberation movement called for the replacement of their country's settler-colonial, white-supremicist state structure by a fully democratic state, free of any form of discrimination based on race, religion or national origin and with equal rights for all who live there, this was not characterized as advocating the "destruction of South Africa" -- except by the apartheid regime itself. The peaceful transformation of that race-based state into a fully democratic one has been the most inspirational event in human and international relations in recent decades. 

Concepts and aspirations may be formulated in positive or negative ways. The "destruction of Israel" is clearly a negative formulation. The "creation of a fully democratic state with equal rights for all" in all of Israel/Palestine could be a positive reformulation which would be recognized by the world as just and offer genuine hope for peace and reconciliation. 

Israel and the West appear to be gearing up to punish the Palestinian people for having achieved the Arab world's first peaceful change of government through a genuinely democratic election (a truly breathtaking achievement), recycling the old mantra that "we will never talk with terrorists" ("never" having historically meant "until we wish to do so"). 

If Israel and the West were genuinely interested in peace, it would surely be wiser and more constructive to preemptively de-demonize Hamas (as the PLO was de-demonized when finally deemed convenient), to draw some enlightening conclusions from its election victory and to try, through engagement, to encourage it to adapt its aspirations and its quest for justice in a more positive and universally acceptable direction.   

John V. Whitbeck, an international lawyer, is author of "The World According to Whitbeck". 


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[ePalestine] The Palestinian Elections

Dear friends, 

I pass this insightful analysis on the elections.  I look forward to writing my opinion very shortly, but right now I'm overwhelmed with media interviews - the next at 1pm Palestine time (6am EST) with BBC World. 

Working toward change management under occupation,


The Palestinian Elections 

By Rifat Odeh Kassis 

25, January 2006 

Elections are a normal practice in any democratic and free society. People go voluntarily to the voting polls to freely choose their political representatives. This democratic practice should be conducted in an open, transparent, regular and systematic manner. Unfortunately, most nations in the Middle East have not yet had the chance to enjoy this right on a regular basis. Ironically, the only countries in the region that do practice this right, with a reasonable degree of transparency, are Israel, Iran, occupied Iraq and occupied Palestine.  

In occupied Iraq and occupied Palestine, however, this democratic practice of elections has a paradoxical nature. If a prerequisite for elections is democracy and a prerequisite for democracy is freedom, then the obvious conclusion is that no elections could legitimately take place in Palestine and Iraq, because neither of them is free. Both are under military occupation and denied their full rights and any meaningful political autonomy. Cue the entrance of the phenomenon “democracy under military occupations”. This phenomenon, quite remarkably, appears to flourish in Iraq and Palestine and is accepted by the outside world, but at the same time, the US and European governments refused to recognise the Lebanese election results because the election took place under Syrian occupation. Faced with the conundrum of these glaringly double standards, one can only reach the conclusion that it must be the kind of occupation that matters and the democratic process itself takes a secondary role. So one is left doing absurd mental gymnastics, asking oneself if it logically follows that one can consider elections under occupation as democratic as long as the occupying powers can be deemed “democratic” too….Has there ever been such a thing as a democratic occupation??? The conundrum still stands. 

The parallelism between the “democratic” elections in occupied Iraq and occupied Palestine ends there however. The elections in occupied Iraq were completely orchestrated by the US administration in a smokescreen attempt to demonstrate to the world that democracy had reached that part of the globe and that their self-proclaimed mission had been accomplished, whereas elections in occupied Palestine are a condition dictated by the Oslo Accords. At the time, the US and Israel wanted a Palestinian elected body with legitimacy to sign the Oslo Accords, which- as many will remember all too painfully- were rejected by a substantial percentage of the Palestinian people. Furthermore, if we compare the candidates from both sides, we can note that there were no candidates from the Iraqi resistance movement that ran in the election, with the result that Iraq now has a parliament that is completely co-opted by the US. In Palestine, on the other hand, many of the candidates are directly involved in the liberation struggle or stem from the various resistance factions. They are patriots and not puppets for the occupation, and all are pushing for independence. 

So, if these elections are a by-product of the Oslo Accords, why is Israel not facilitating the process for Palestinians? Surely, being the only “democracy” in the Middle East, it would want to lend a helping hand in bringing this wonderful political system to its neighbours? Instead Israel has dedicated these past weeks to obstructing and intervening in the Palestinian election campaign in as much as it can. 

To begin with, the continued military presence inside or surrounding all major towns and cities has far-reaching implications with regards to elections. Palestinian people are confined to their areas of residence and cannot move from one area to another without a permit from Israel. The candidates themselves have needed permits from Israel to move within the West Bank and to go from the West Bank to Gaza and vice-versa. Israel prohibited campaigning inside Jerusalem and detained or beat up any campaigners who tried to defy this rule. Similarly, Israel made many threats that it would ban Jerusalemites from going to the polls. In the end, they did not make this ban but have instead concentrated their efforts on trying to reduce the participation of voters in Jerusalem to a minimum. The majority of eligible voters will vote outside Jerusalem and those who will vote inside will cast their ballots in post offices, just like the members of any migrant community when voting from abroad. Meanwhile in the West Bank and Gaza, Israel even interfered in the contents of some candidates’ campaigns and the way they were carried out. It arrested some of the candidates and issued many warnings to the Palestinian people at large, threatening that the elections would be null and void if Hamas or certain other political parties were to win. Denying whole collectives of Palestinians their right to vote is another of Israel’s obstructionist tactics, including thousands of Palestinian prisoners, the entire Palestinian Diaspora and even Palestinians with Palestinian passports, who live temporarily outside the occupied Territories. The latter should be allowed to vote in their respective country’s embassy, as any normal free citizen living outside their native country would be able to do in their place. Finally, with election day already upon us, today will tell whether Israel will use or abuse its position of power to allow or prevent people from effectively reaching the election polls or not. 

Intervention in the election campaign has not only come from Israel- the US and EU, has joined Israel in threatening the entire Palestinian electorate not to vote for Hamas or any other armed resistance faction. Lately we learned that the USA forwarded money to Fatah candidates and other “democratic” candidates supporting them over Hamas. The EU as well has threatened to stop foreign aid to the Palestinian people if they elect Hamas. 

Here we have the international community, espousing democratic principles on the one hand, while willing to collectively punish the Palestinian people, if their electorate “democratically” elects candidates from a party that in their eyes is unsavoury. 

Yet, despite all this interventionism by Israel et al., I bet Palestinians would be willing to put up with it if they thought it would stop once the elections are finished. On the contrary, the fate of our newly elected Palestinian Legislative Council will ultimately be in the hands of Israel. How will Israel deal with the new PLC? How much effective authority will it grant the PLC over Palestinian land and people? Will it let the members of the new PLC move freely around the Territories? Will prisoners elected to the PLC be released from Israeli prisons? 

Despite the limited authority I insinuate the PLC will remain with, I am not preaching to boycott the election. On the contrary, these elections are an important step in rehabilitating internal Palestinian political life and they will bring diversity to the Palestinian political arena. They will usher in an end to Fatah’s long-standing monopoly of the political scene. It will bring new voices that will hopefully fight corruption and bring, if Israel does not intervene, the rule of law to the Palestinian Territories. It will encourage a more democratic voice than Fatah and Hamas. At the same time, it is important to keep these potential bonuses in perspective –they are a sign of internal growth and health, NOT a sign that we are free from the occupation.

So today all eyes are peeled on Palestine. By the end of the day, if the elections go smoothly, those well-wishing pillars of democracy, the international community and entourage will release a big sigh, feeling relieved that we unruly Palestinians have now been successfully democratized, and so they can go home or switch the channel. Let’s help to remind them not to switch the channel just yet- This chapter of history has not yet ended and will not end until the Israeli occupation has ended. Until that day, Palestinian democracy will continue to limp along. 


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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

[ePalestine] Palestine/Israel Media Cards 3 cents a piece!

From: Alison Weir <>

Date: Jan 24, 2006 12:42 AM

Subject: Media Cards 3 cents apiece!

We have created a series of 5 glossy cards that expose the media distortion on Palestine and discuss the causes of this distortion: 

These can be given out at events, placed on car windshields, posted on bulletin boards, put in cafes, handed out at vigils, used in tabling, given to friends and neighbors, etc. 

We believe that the distortion in the US media is the greatest obstacle to peace and justice in the Middle East. Therefore, we are subsidizing a project where we are making these cards available to people at 3 cents apiece -- minimum order 50 (ten of each card). 

Please let us know how many you can distribute! 

It will take all of us to overcome the information blockade on  Palestine. This is something tangible to do about it! 

To order these send an email to orders@ifamericansknew with "Clue Cards" in the subject line. In your message tell us how many cards you want and give us your mailing address. You can pay online at or by sending a check payable to "If Americans Knew" to the address below. 

Thank you for helping us give the facts to the American people. 

Best wishes,
Alison Weir
If Americans Knew
914 Westwood Blvd., #235
Los Angeles, CA 90024


Thursday, January 19, 2006

[ePalestine] The soldier knows what he's saying - REVEALING!

Dear friends,

Renowned Israeli journalist, and dear friend, Amria Hass, is on to a very serious issue here...the Israeli occupation's phenomena of putting policy into proactive without formally making it policy.  This is a recipe that has allowed the Palestinian pressure cooker to rise in temperature.  Any ill-notion that elections on the Palestinian side will be able to divert an explosion of the situation is naive at best.

Calling on all Palestinian leadership, starting with Abu Mazen, to visit a checkpoint before elections,


w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m
Last update - 14:34 18/01/2006

The soldier knows what he's saying
By Amira Hass

No, it cannot be assumed that all soldiers at checkpoints always behave the way those stationed recently at the Hawara checkpoint south of Nablus do. Other soldiers do not necessarily speak as rudely to the hundreds of people waiting in the cold and the rain to cross from one side to the other at the checkpoint the Israel Defense Forces placed on their own land in the heart of the West Bank. 

To the person who says "people are dying here," in an attempt to make clear that closing the crossing hurts the sick, they do not all answer, "Go ahead and die, and take your bags with you." They do not all push them with their rifles, as was documented by Machsom Watch in a report published here. They certainly do not all name a stray dog that frightens those standing behind metal turnstiles that turn and jam, "Mohammed." They may think it, but they do not announce over the loudspeaker while closing the crossing four hours before the declared time, "Remember, this land belongs entirely to the Jewish people and not to anyone else." 

The women of Machsom Watch, who for five years have been monitoring the checkpoints and who have witnessed varying degrees of rudeness and abuse by soldiers, felt the need to make public a detailed report of the soldiers' behavior witnessed by some of them during their afternoon watch. They also sent the report to the GOC Central Command, Yair Naveh, who ordered an investigation due to the seriousness of the incidents described. 

However the rude, indifferent or polite behavior of soldiers is merely a by-product of the basic state of affairs. For five years the IDF has limited to the minimum the freedom of movement of Palestinians on their land, in the occupied West Bank. This is accomplished by a combination of dozens of checkpoints, roads closed to Palestinians, hundreds of roadblocks and locked gates that have divided the West Bank into enclaves, or "territorial cells" in military jargon. 

In many cases, entry to these cells is prohibited to those who do not live there. The IDF has made sure every territorial cell has only one or two entrances, depending on its size, on "security alerts" and on the number of settlements and outposts in the area. At every entrance is a military post and a roadblock of some kind, at which soldiers may detain those wanting to cross for an unlimited amount of time. No other Israeli political-security tool can match the severity and impact on geopolitical-economic change that Israel has wrought in the West Bank like these territorial cells, which Israel has turned into a fact on the ground thanks to lack of interest on the part of the Israeli public and the world. 

Each territorial cell is surrounded, like an ocean, by Area C. That is a category Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat agreed on when they signed the Taba agreement in 1995 - an area in which Israel has full civilian and military control. The Palestinians innocently believed at the time that this was temporary, and that all of Area C (except for the constructed areas of settlements) would become Area A (full Palestinian control) by May 1999. 

In September 2000, Area C comprised 60 percent of the West Bank. Many Israelis do not consider this area occupied, but at most "disputed" as a bargaining chip over which the stronger side would win. 

Many IDF commanders may be convinced when they set up checkpoints in the heart of the occupied West Bank and prevent the occupied from making a living, visiting family, or obtaining medical care, that everything is truly "for security." The security of the home front, the security of the outposts, the security of the illegal settlements and the security of the occupying force. 

They may truly believe that when they prevent 800,000 people from traveling further south than the Tul Karm-Nablus line for more than a month as part of measure named "differentiation," and since August have closed the main roads to them, they are utilizing a legitimate tool of the ruler. Perhaps the Nablus Brigade commander who ordered the closing of the Hawara roadblock at 6 P.M. instead of 11 P.M. is convinced it was necessary for security. As his soldiers who name a stray dog Mohammed are convinced of their patriotism and Zionist sentiment. 

But the closing of roads to Palestinians and the creation of choked-off enclaves also dovetails Israel's plan to force a political solution on the Palestinians, by which their state will be composed of "territorial cells" connected somehow or other by roads and surrounded by a wide sea of settlement blocs, Jewish territorial contiguity and roads for Jews only. 

People will always remember the headline "92 percent of the West Bank" that Sharon or Barak supposedly considered "giving" the Palestinians. People will always be tired of hearing the stickling, irritating details of the methods by which Israel, using some security pretext or other, is consistently crumbling the Palestinian people into communities cut off from each other, on their own land. The voice of the soldier over the loudspeaker saying, "This land belongs only to the Jewish people" aptly echoes the policy he is carrying out. 


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[ePalestine] Why an Economic Boycott of Israel is Justified - BRIEF AND POINTED - A MUST READ

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Dear Friends, 

Please ask your local papers to reprint this article.  If you have not yet read Dr. Finkelstein's most recent book, you are missing something. See attached cover. 

Plain and simple,


Economic boycott of Israel?  

Editor's Note: This article appears in the January 14 issue of the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.  

Why an Economic Boycott of Israel is Justified  

by Norman G. Finkelstein
Aftenposten | 01.14.2006 

The recent proposal that Norway boycott Israeli goods has provoked passionate debate. In my view, a rational examination of this issue would pose two questions: 1) Do Israeli human rights violations warrant an economic boycott? and 2) Can such a boycott make a meaningful contribution toward ending these violations? I would argue that both these questions should be answered in the affirmative.  

Although the subject of many reports by human rights organizations, Israel's real human rights record in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is generally not well known abroad. This is primarily due to the formidable public relations industry of Israel's defenders as well as the effectiveness of their tactics of intimidation, such as labeling critics of Israeli policy anti- Semitic.  

Yet, it is an incontestable fact that Israel has committed a broad range of human rights violations, many rising to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity. These include:  

Illegal Killings. Whereas Palestinian suicide attacks targeting Israeli civilians have garnered much media attention, Israel's quantitatively worse record of killing non-combatants is less well known. According to the most recent figures of the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B'Tselem), 3,386 Palestinians have been killed since September 2000, of whom 1,008 were identified as combatants, as opposed to 992 Israelis killed, of whom 309 were combatants. This means that three times more Palestinians than Israelis have been killed and up to three times more Palestinian civilians than Israeli civilians. Israel's defenders maintain that there's a difference between targeting civilians and inadvertently killing them. B'Tselem disputes this: "[W]hen so many civilians have been killed and wounded, the lack of intent makes no difference. Israel remains responsible." Furthermore, Amnesty International reports that "many" Palestinians have not been accidentally killed but "deliberately targeted," while the award-winning New York Times journalist Chris Hedges reports that Israeli soldiers "entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport."  

Torture. "From 1967," Amnesty reports, "the Israeli security services have routinely tortured Palestinian political suspects in the Occupied Territories." B'Tselem found that eighty-five percent of Palestinians interrogated by Israeli security services were subjected to "methods constituting torture," while already a decade ago Human Rights Watch estimated that "the number of Palestinians tortured or severely ill-treated" was "in the tens of thousands - a number that becomes especially significant when it is remembered that the universe of adult and adolescent male Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza is under three-quarters of one million." In 1987 Israel became "the only country in the world to have effectively legalized torture" (Amnesty). Although the Israeli Supreme Court seemed to ban torture in a 1999 decision, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel reported in 2003 that Israeli security forces continued to apply torture in a "methodical and routine" fashion. A 2001 B'Tselem study documented that Israeli security forces often applied "severe torture" to "Palestinian minors."  

House demolitions. "Israel has implemented a policy of mass demolition of Palestinian houses in the Occupied Territories," B'Tselem reports, and since September 2000 "has destroyed some 4,170 Palestinian homes." Until just recently Israel routinely resorted to house demolitions as a form of collective punishment. According to Middle East Watch, apart from Israel, the only other country in the world that used such a draconian punishment was Iraq under Saddam Hussein. In addition, Israel has demolished thousands of "illegal" homes that Palestinians built because of Israel's refusal to provide building permits. The motive behind destroying these homes, according to Amnesty, has been to maximize the area available for Jewish settlers: "Palestinians are targeted for no other reason than they are Palestinians." Finally, Israel has destroyed hundred of homes on security pretexts, yet a Human Rights Watch report on Gaza found that "the pattern of destruction…strongly suggests that Israeli forces demolished homes wholesale, regardless of whether they posed a specific threat." Amnesty likewise found that "Israel's extensive destruction of homes and properties throughout the West Bank and Gaza…is not justified by military necessity," and that "Some of these acts of destruction amount to grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention and are war crimes."  

Apart from the sheer magnitude of its human rights violations, the uniqueness of Israeli policies merits notice. "Israel has created in the Occupied Territories a regime of separation based on discrimination, applying two separate systems of law in the same area and basing the rights of individuals on their nationality," B'Tselem has concluded. "This regime is the only one of its kind in the world, and is reminiscent of distasteful regimes from the past, such as the apartheid regime in South Africa." If singling out South Africa for an international economic boycott was defensible, it would seem equally defensible to single out Israel's occupation, which uniquely resembles the apartheid regime.  

Although an economic boycott can be justified on moral grounds, the question remains whether diplomacy might be more effectively employed instead. The documentary record in this regard, however, is not encouraging. The basic terms for resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict are embodied in U.N. resolution 242 and subsequent U.N. resolutions, which call for a full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza and the establishment of a Palestinian state in these areas in exchange for recognition of Israel's right to live in peace and security with its neighbors. Each year the overwhelming majority of member States of the United Nations vote in favor of this two-state settlement, and each year Israel and the United States (and a few South Pacific islands) oppose it. Similarly, in March 2002 all twenty-two member States of the Arab League proposed this two-state settlement as well as "normal relations with Israel." Israel ignored the proposal.  

Not only has Israel stubbornly rejected this two-state settlement, but the policies it is currently pursuing will abort any possibility of a viable Palestinian state. While world attention has been riveted by Israel's redeployment from Gaza, Sara Roy of Harvard University observes that the "Gaza Disengagement Plan is, at heart, an instrument for Israel's continued annexation of West Bank land and the physical integration of that land into Israel." In particular Israel has been constructing a wall deep inside the West Bank that will annex the most productive land and water resources as well as East Jerusalem, the center of Palestinian life. It will also effectively sever the West Bank in two. Although Israel initially claimed that it was building the wall to fight terrorism, the consensus among human rights organizations is that it is really a land grab to annex illegal Jewish settlements into Israel. Recently Israel's Justice Minister frankly acknowledged that the wall will serve as "the future border of the state of Israel."  

The current policies of the Israeli government will lead either to endless bloodshed or the dismemberment of Palestine. "It remains virtually impossible to conceive of a Palestinian state without its capital in Jerusalem," the respected Crisis Group recently concluded, and accordingly Israeli policies in the West Bank "are at war with any viable two-state solution and will not bolster Israel's security; in fact, they will undermine it, weakening Palestinian pragmatists…and sowing the seeds of growing radicalization."  

Recalling the U.N. Charter principle that it is inadmissible to acquire territory by war, the International Court of Justice declared in a landmark 2004 opinion that Israel's settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the wall being built to annex them to Israel were illegal under international law. It called on Israel to cease construction of the wall, dismantle those parts already completed and compensate Palestinians for damages. Crucially, it also stressed the legal responsibilities of the international community:  

"all States are under an obligation not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem. They are also under an obligation not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction. It is also for all States, while respecting the United Nations Charter and international law, to see to it that any impediment, resulting from the construction of the wall, to the exercise by the Palestinian people of its right to self- determination is brought to an end."

A subsequent U.N. General Assembly resolution supporting the World Court opinion passed overwhelmingly. However, the Israeli government ignored the Court's opinion, continuing construction at a rapid pace, while Israel's Supreme Court ruled that the wall was legal.  

Due to the obstructionist tactics of the United States, the United Nations has not been able to effectively confront Israel's illegal practices. Indeed, although it is true that the U.N. keeps Israel to a double standard, it's exactly the reverse of the one Israel's defenders allege: Israel is held not to a higher but lower standard than other member States. A study by Marc Weller of Cambridge University comparing Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory with comparable situations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, East Timor, occupied Kuwait and Iraq, and Rwanda found that Israel has enjoyed "virtual immunity" from enforcement measures such as an arms embargo and economic sanctions typically adopted by the U.N. against member States condemned for identical violations of international law. Due in part to an aggressive campaign accusing Europe of a "new anti-Semitism," the European Union has also failed in its legal obligation to enforce international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Although the claim of a "new anti-Semitism" has no basis in fact (all the evidence points to a lessening of anti-Semitism in Europe), the EU has reacted by appeasing Israel. It has even suppressed publication of one of its own reports, because the authors -- like the Crisis Group and many others -- concluded that due to Israeli policies the "prospects for a two-state solution with east Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine are receding."  

The moral burden to avert the impending catastrophe must now be borne by individual states that are prepared to respect their obligations under international law and by individual men and women of conscience. In a courageous initiative American-based Human Rights Watch recently called on the U.S. government to reduce significantly its financial aid to Israel until Israel terminates its illegal policies in the West Bank. An economic boycott would seem to be an equally judicious undertaking. A nonviolent tactic the purpose of which is to achieve a just and lasting settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict cannot legitimately be called anti- Semitic. Indeed, the real enemies of Jews are those who cheapen the memory of Jewish suffering by equating principled opposition to Israel's illegal and immoral policies with anti- Semitism.  


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[ePalestine] MAP...UN on Palestine...a crisis in the making...

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Dear friends,  

This may seem petty, but it speaks volumes when joined with the all out US/Israeli barrage against Palestinians, both here in Occupied Palestine and abroad.  By the way, just about EVERY Palestinian home, ours included, have this exact same map proudly hung.  

We are in for more very difficult times.  I fear the worse during the next 2-6 weeks as we close in on legislative elections on 1/25/2006. 

When does regime change happen in Washington DC?

Refusing the annihilating of our history too,


January 13, 2006 Edition > Section: Foreign 

Bolton Scores U.N. on Stance Toward Israel 

BY BENNY AVNI - Staff Reporter of the Sun
January 13, 2006

UNITED NATIONS - The American ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, upped the ante in an escalating confrontation between America and Turtle Bay on the issue of Israel's place at the world body. In a sharply worded letter to Secretary-General Annan, Mr. Bolton threatened to cut funding to the United Nations if it continues to promote anti-Israel events. 

Mr. Bolton's January 3 letter, which was seen yesterday by The New York Sun, is a response to a November 29 event celebrating an annual "International Day of Solidarity With the Palestinian People." At the event, which was attended by Mr. Annan and other top diplomats, a map that "erases the state of Israel," as Mr. Bolton wrote, was displayed. 

"Given that we now have a world leader pursuing nuclear weapons who is calling for the state of Israel to be wiped off the map, the issue has even greater salience," Mr. Bolton wrote. 

A photo of Mr. Annan standing below the map - several days after President Ahmadinejad of Iran made his statement - was carried last month on the Web site, creating a storm of criticism. The site also highlighted the seven-figure budget of U.N. bodies dedicated to promoting what Israel and America consider one-sided, anti-Israel propaganda in the guise of solidarity with Palestinian Arabs. 

A U.N. spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, told the Sun yesterday that Mr. Annan was "grateful" to Mr. Bolton and others who have alerted him to the map, and that he "much hopes" that the U.N. body that organized the annual event will "consider not displaying the map in the future." Mr. Dujarric stopped short of saying that Mr. Annan would cancel his participation in future events that display such maps. 

Mr. Dujarric said that Mr. Annan plans to answer Mr. Bolton, but 10 days after sending the letter, which contained very specific questions, Mr. Bolton's spokesman, Richard Grenell, yesterday said, "We have not received an answer as of yet." 

"Who is the high-level official within the secretariat who approved use of the map for the event?" Mr. Bolton asked in the letter. "Does the United Nations intend to use the map in future U.N.-sponsored functions and events?" 

Most ominously for the United Nations, Mr. Bolton wrote, "In light of prohibition under U.S. law to fund events such as this one, do you consider it appropriate for the United Nations to advertise and promote the event on its general Web site and other venues, which do in fact benefit from U.S. funds?" 

Although America opposes funding for several U.N. bodies that one-sidedly promote Palestinian Arab rights, the threat to further cut its support for U.N. general advertising budgets is a matter of serious concern to Mr. Annan's aides, who have been under intense pressure to reform the United Nations in the wake of last year's scandals. 

The Palestinian observer at the United Nations, Riad Mansour, defended the use of the map yesterday, telling the Sun that a pre-1948 date is clearly marked on it. "That map has been there for tens of years," he said, adding that in 2004, one of the participants in the event was the American ambassador at the time, John Danforth. 

Israel and America might object to funding for the pro-Palestinian Arab bodies, Mr. Mansour said, but the vast majority of member states "think they are useful" and vote annually to continue their activities. 

Mr. Dujarric told the Sun that since 1977 the secretariat "has been mandated by the General Assembly" to promote the "Day of Solidarity." He said in 1981, the "committee for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people" decided that the map and the flag of "Palestine as it existed in 1948" should be displayed in the room. Disregarding an official objection by Israel's then ambassador, Yehuda Blum, "the practice has remained unchanged ever since," Mr. Dujarric said. 

The fact that the map has been displayed at the United Nations for such a long time and was only noticed this year "only strengthens our position," Israel's deputy ambassador, Daniel Carmon, said. "You can't have a U.N.-sponsored event that displays a map that obliterates a member-state." He added that even if the issue of the map is resolved, the central problem remains: the existence of "automatic" anti-Israel resolutions that provide funds for one-sided bodies at the secretariat. 

The organizer of the "solidarity" event is the Division for Palestinian Rights, which in the 2004-2005 U.N. budget received $5,449,600. Other bodies include the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories,($254,500); the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, ($60,800), and the Information Activities on the Question of Palestine ($566,000). 

Similar funding has just been approved for the next biannual budget. America "strongly opposes the use of scarce U.N. resources to support the biased and one-sided political activities" of these bodies, America's deputy U.N. ambassador, Anne Patterson, said in October as the General Assembly was discussing the current budget. With the exception of America, Israel, and some small Pacific nations, the General Assembly approved their funding. 


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