Saturday, December 30, 2006

[ePalestine] Longer stays in the Palestinian territories possible, but two Israeli visas required 

Longer stays in the Palestinian territories possible, but two Israeli visas required  

PNN, (Ramallah) Rashid Hilal Friday, 29 December 2006  

Foreigners going into the West Bank are going to need another visa. In addition to the visa generally received at the border, all of which are controlled by the Israelis, foreigners will need to go to offices inside Israeli boundaries to apply for a visa to enter the West Bank. This is already the case with the Gaza Strip.  

Head of the Department of Negotiations in the Palestine Liberation Organization, Dr. Sa'eb Erekat, reported Friday that President Abbas received a letter from the Israeli government relating to the issue.  

New stipulations include spouses, international institution employees, representatives of international organizations, businesspeople, investors, pilgrims, journalists, and volunteers. They will be eligible to receive a three- month visa, as is the current case. But now it will be possible to obtain a 27 month renewal visa without having to leave.  

However, foreigners will be required to obtain visas from embassies and consulates inside Israeli boundaries before entering the “Palestinian territories,” as the Israelis put it. As it stands, the first question at the border is whether one intends to “go to any Palestinian areas.” This is asked of Palestinians and foreigners alike and if answered in the affirmative, more often than not, leads to a refusal to grant a visa. But for Palestinians holding foreign passports and residing in the West Bank, this could make their lives much easier.  

Dr. Erekat said that in the following days more information will be available as this is the preliminary answer to a question President Abbas' posed to the Israeli Prime Minister during their recent meeting.  


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Friday, December 29, 2006

[ePalestine] The temples of the occupation (By Meron Benvenisti) - A MUST READ

Ha'aretz Daily Newspaper (Israel)
Last update - 23:27 28/12/2006
The temples of the occupation
By Meron Benvenisti

So far, of the dozens of checkpoints promised to be removed from the West Bank in a "gesture" to Mahmoud Abbas, not a single checkpoint has been dismantled. 

It will be interesting to see what excuse they come up with after the weather improves. The plan to remove the roadblocks has been delayed over some excuse or another for several years, and in the meantime their number has multiplied. We can assume with reasonable certainty that the newest attempt to ease the lives of the Palestinians will fail like its predecessors, because the regime of roadblocks is not a matter of a marginal gesture, nor a matter of quantity, whose reduction is likely to signal change in the situation prevailing in the occupied territories. Instead, the roadblocks are the foundation of Israeli control of the West Bank, and they fulfill three major roles: symbolic, geo-strategic and socio-political. Therefore anyone who attributes only tactical-security or settlement-dependent significance to them is missing the point. 

In this respect, the IDF officers (who sabotage any effort to remove obstructions) are more faithful to Israel's basic perception than are the prime minister and the defense minister, who are using the roadblocks as a short-term political means. The hundreds of permanent and mobile roadblocks, the constructed and improvised ones, the cement blocks and the revolving gates, the mounds of earth and the ditches, are all designed for one purpose: to show who has the power to control the lives of the Palestinians. Small groups of young, inexperienced and frightened soldiers serve as the agents of the power that forces millions of people to behave according to arbitrary rules that interrupt the most basic routines of their lives. This domination is implemented for the most part without any need for force, by exploiting the fear of the Palestinians. 

The disdain for the Palestinians and the arrogant use of a mentality of submissiveness is reflected not only by the roadblocks themselves but by the checking procedures, which are conducted without any sensitivity to the dignity and needs of the Palestinians, who are expected to wait in line in silence or else be "punished." Colonial regimes have always been based on the arrogance of a small number of soldiers who controlled the lives of million of natives with minimal force, and a dependence on deterrence, which guaranteed the inferior status of those subject to their authority. 

The Israelis have improved on the colonial system: Instead of the occupying powers dictating the lives of the natives on a daily basis in their towns and their villages, they for ce an indirect regime of imprisonment on the natives, fencing them off and interfering in their daily routines. Here, the ruler does not encroach on their space, but they are forced to plead with him in the temples of the occupation, the roadblocks; and as long as they surrender to the rules imposed on them, the occupier knows his status is secure. 

The roadblocks serve as a first-class geo-strategic means: They institutionalize the expropriation of the physical space and the public infrastructure of the West Bank and their transference to the exclusive use of the Israelis. The map of the hundreds of roadblocks erected in Palestinian populated areas outlines the physical division of the West Bank into areas west of the separation fence that have been annexed de facto, and the Jordan Valley that has been cut off from its surroundings, and 10 Palestinian enclaves from Jenin in the North to Mt. Hebron in the South. 

The mounds of earth and the cement blocks, which are ostensibly scattered randomly, in effect constitute a complete geo-strategic system, and therefore the "removal" of several mounds of earth or obstructions is liable to spoil the scheme so carefully planned out. And those who believe that "the ideology of Greater Israel has been shelved" should understand that the roadblocks symbolize the expropriation of the West Bank territories without annexation, albeit with the addition of the creation of Palestinian "reservations." The geographical division has fragmented the Palestinian community into weak and impoverished sub-communities, where centers are disconnected from peripheries, urban centers are eroding and rural areas becoming poor, families are separated, and medical treatment is denied along with access to higher education. This division is imposed in the hopes that the political and social siege will result in demographic distress and perhaps to emigration. 

The planners of the roadblock regime devoted great effort to the planning and implementation of the system, but apparently were mistaken in their assessments of the efficacy of their method. Palestinian society is demonstrating signs of strong cohesion and adjustment to the cruel living conditions forced on it, and there are no signs that the strategic goals have in fact been achieved. Therefore, the planners feel that they must increase the number of roadblocks each year, and this number has already reached 522, i.e. an obstruction for every 3,500 Palestinians. Anyone who seriously desires to stop this march of folly - when even its limited usefulness for security is in doubt, and its damage clear to everyone - must order the dismantling of all the roadblocks that are not deployed on the borders of sovereign Israel, and must not surrender to the army officers' wheeling-and-dealing. 


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Thursday, December 28, 2006

[ePalestine] WSJ: Jimmy Carter's Book: A Palestinian View (By ALI ABUNIMAH)

Wall Street Journal


Jimmy Carter's Book:
A Palestinian View
December 26, 2006; Page A12

President Carter has done what few American politicians have dared to do: speak frankly about the Israel-Palestine conflict. He has done this nation, and the cause of peace, an enormous service by focusing attention on what he calls "the abominable oppression and persecution in the occupied Palestinian territories, with a rigid system of required passes and strict segregation between Palestine's citizens and Jewish settlers in the West Bank." 

The 39th president of the United States, the most successful Arab-Israeli peace negotiator to date, has braved a storm of criticism, including the insinuation from the pro-Israel Anti-Defamation League that his arguments are anti-Semitic. 

Mr. Carter has tried to mollify critics by suggesting that his is not a commentary on Israeli policy inside Israel's own borders, as compared with the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem -- territories Israel occupied in 1967. He told NPR, "I know that Israel is a wonderful democracy with equal treatment of all citizens whether Arab or Jew. And so I very carefully avoided talking about anything inside Israel." 

Given the pressure he has faced, it may be understandable that Mr. Carter says this, but he is wrong. In addition to nearly four million Palestinians living under Israeli rule in the occupied territories, another one million live inside Israel's pre-1967 borders. These Palestinians are descendants of those who were not forced out or did not flee when Israel was created in 1948. 

They have nominal Israeli citizenship, and unlike blacks in apartheid South Africa, they do vote for the country's parliament. Yet this is where any sense of equality ends. In Israel's history, no Arab-led party has ever been asked to join a coalition government. And, among scores of Jewish ministers, there has only ever been one Arab minister, of junior rank. 

Discrimination against non-Jewish citizens both informal and legalized is systematic. Non-Jewish children attend separate schools and live in areas that receive a fraction of the funding of their Jewish counterparts. The results can be seen in the much poorer educational attainment, economic, health and life outcomes of Palestinian citizens of Israel. Much of the land of the country, controlled by the quasi-governmental Jewish National Fund, cannot be leased or sold to non-Jews. This is similar in effect to the restrictive covenants that in many U.S. cities once kept nonwhites out of certain neighborhoods. 

A 2003 law stipulates that an Israeli citizen may bring a non-citizen spouse to live in Israel from anywhere in the world, excluding a Palestinian from the occupied territories. A civil rights leader in Israel likened it to the American anti-miscegenation measures from the 1950s, when mixed race couples had to leave the state of Virginia to marry legally. 

For Palestinians, the most blatant form of discrimination is Israel's "Law of Return," that allows a Jewish person from any country to settle in Israel. Meanwhile, family members of Palestinian citizens of Israel, living in exile, sometimes in refugee camps just a few miles outside Israel's borders, are not permitted to set foot in the country. 

The rise of Avigdor Lieberman, the new deputy prime minister, who openly advocates stripping Palestinians in Israel of citizenship and transferring them outside the state, reflects increasingly extremist politics. In response to growing discrimination, leaders of Palestinians inside Israel recently issued a report, "The Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel." It calls for Israel to become a state where all citizens and communities have equal rights, regardless of religion. Many Israeli commentators reacted angrily, calling the initiative an attempt to dismantle Israel as a "Jewish state." However, even if Mr. Carter's recommendations are implemented, and Israel withdraws from the territories occupied in 1967, the struggle over the legitimacy of a state that privileges one ethno-religious group at the expense of another will not disappear. 

As other divided societies, like South Africa, Northern Ireland and indeed our own are painfully learning, only equal rights and esteem for all the people, in the diversity of their identities, can bring lasting peace. This is an even harder discussion than the one President Carter has courageously launched, but ultimately it is one we must confront if peace is to come to Israel-Palestine. 

Mr. Abunimah is the author of "One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse" (Metropolitan Books, 2006). 


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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

[ePalestine] Haaretz: Expected rule change could re-unite thousands in West Bank

Last update - 08:24 26/12/2006 
Expected rule change could re-unite thousands in West Bank 
By Amira Hass, Haaretz Correspondent 

Enaya Samara, Hayan Ju'beh and Somaida Abbas are only three of the thousands of Palestinians with foreign passports who are waiting impatiently for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories to publish its new regulations. 

These regulations, to be formulated in coordination with deputy defense minister Ephraim Sneh, will allegedly enable them to return to their families and their homes in the West Bank, after forced six- to 12-month stays abroad. The changes are meant to prevent the forced separation of families, and to allow thousands of Palestinians married to citizens of Western countries, especially the United States, to come to and stay in the West Bank. They should reverse a 2006 decision by Israel to deny thousands of people entrance to the West Bank. 

On December 13, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, Major General Yussef Mishlav, met with European Union representatives to inform them of the promised changes, and various diplomats in Israel passed the news on to their citizens. Sneh confirmed to Haaretz that the Defense Ministry is working on implementing the new policy "to ease and not to burden, to simplify and not to complicate." He preferred not to go into detail, since the regulations have not yet been finalized. 

As soon as Sneh took up his post, he initiated a meeting with Interior Minister Roni Bar-On to discuss the matter of denied entry. At the meeting, which took place on November 13, it was decided to post representatives of the coordinator's office at the Allenby Bridge and Ben- Gurion International Airport. They would determine, in consultation with the Interior Ministry, who would receive a visitor's permit (the authorities' term for entrance to the territories). 

But meanwhile, Haaretz has learned that the Interior Ministry and the coordinator's office are continuing to block foreign citizens married to Palestinian Authority residents from entering the country. Others have received permits good for a week to a month at border crossings. In addition, 105 people, all spouses and children of Palestinian residents, have submitted visa extension requests through the Civil Administration (which is under the authority of the government coordinator). On November 19 their passports were returned, stamped with the words "last permit." Sneh said this was a "remnant of the previous situation," and that on December 10 the category of "last permit" was canceled. 

But meanwhile, new cases of denied entries have disappointed and frightened others who have not left to renew their visa. Some have sought legal aid. 

"There will be no 'laundering' for those who have broken the law and remained in the country without a valid visa," said Sneh. The change of policy would not apply to tens of thousands of women married to Jordanian citizens who are Palestinian residents, or a few hundred Eastern European spouses of Palestinians, who live abroad - away from their families - because they have been denied entry, or who have remained in the territories even though their visa has expired. 

The stories of Samara (a U.S. citizen), Ju'beh (an Irish citizen), and Abbas (a Swedish citizen) have been told here over the past few months. They, like a few hundred others from Europe or America, have been hurt over the past year by the drastic change in Israel's policy regarding the entrance of Westerners to the territories. Most are spouses of Palestinian residents, and some were born in the territories (including East Jerusalem) but lost their residency status due to a pre-1994 Israeli policy. Over the years they were allowed to stay with their families as "tourists," and a small number received residency. The others renewed their tourist visas every three months. 

As first reported in Haaretz in July 2006, the government initially changed this policy without declaring or admitting it. But at Israel's sea and land crossings, the number of people denied entry increased. Some estimates put the number at a few tens of thousands of U.S., European and South American citizens who were permanently living in the territories as "tourists." 

There are no statistics showing how many of them did not return to their families this year. Many others did not leave to renew their visa, out of the fear that they would not be allowed to return. As a result, they are now considered to be breaking the law. Among them are many elderly people who were born in the territories. Apparently, thousands passed up family or business trips after learning of the policy change. Palestinian citizens of the U.S. and Europe who live in Ramallah established a group that gained world media attention, presenting the denied entry as discrimination between Jews and Palestinians. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressed her displeasure with Israel's policy, the State Department complained to the Israeli Embassy in Washington, and representatives of the European Union submitted complaints of their own. 

Sneh says he initiated the change not because of American pressure, but because the policy was "stupid and contravened Israeli interests." The EU representatives reported to their citizens that according to Mishlav, the Interior Ministry headed by Ronnie Bar-On is the body that decided to deny entry to U.S. and European citizens heading to the territories. 

The Interior Ministry told Haaretz that the entrance of tourists to the territories has always been the responsibility of the Defense Ministry and the coordinator of government activities in the territories, and that the decision to deny entry was made at a joint meeting between the Interior Ministry, the Defense Ministry and the coordinator. 


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Sunday, December 17, 2006

[ePalestine] Cancer didn't kill my mother, the occupation did (From my friend Raed)

Dear friends,

This came from a good friend of mine who is now earning his PhD in the US.  For those of you that followed the story of Laila El-Haddad  as she tried to enter her hometown of Gaza last week, you will relate to the issue of our inability to have free movement.

May Raed's mother's memory give us all the strength to end the occupation,

DISCLOSURE: I serve as a Trustee and Treasurer of Birzeit University.


Electronic Intifada

Cancer didn't kill my mother, the occupation did
Raed M. Sharif writing from Syracuse, U.S., Live from Palestine, 11 December 2006

Early this morning, I received the sad news that my mother (54 years old) passed away after serious health complications last night. 

I am sending this message to you and many other people around the world because I promised my mother before she died to let everybody know that it wasn't cancer that killed her, it was the occupation. 

Yes, the Israeli occupation killed my mother, but this time not using missiles and tank rockets, but through collective punishment and humiliation. Most cancer patients (and those suffering other serious diseases) from Gaza go to Egypt for treatment because we don't have the health infrastructure and latest technologies to do so in Gaza. This is a result of the continuous siege and control imposed by the Israelis over the Palestinian cities, especially Gaza. My mother was one of those patients who was diagnosed, at a very early stage, with bone cancer and was supposed to go to Egypt for treatment early June 2006. 

Because of the collective punishment policies that Israel imposes, nobody from Gaza was able to travel (in or out) to any place in the world for three months, because the Israelis control the borders. It wasn't until August 25th that my mother was able to make it to Egypt. During these three months, I and many other people both inside and outside of Palestine tried to talk to international and human rights organizations and ask them to intervene and help in this humanitarian situation. Unfortunately, our appeals failed to change the situation or to make any special arrangements. All these requests were rejected by the occupiers. By the time my mother made it to Egypt, it was unfortunately a bit late because the cancer was rapidly growing in her body and at that stage, doctors didn't have much to do but to try the chemotherapy to see if it could help. Unfortunately, this didn't help much and she peacefully passed away last night. My mother is not the only case; she is just one the cases that someone could talk about. In addition to the tens of people being killed by the Israelis every day through the use of traditional weapons, tens, if not hundreds, of others die every day because of lack of access to health services, because of movement restrictions imposed by the Israelis and the restrictions on delivering medicine and health equipment to Gaza and other Palestinian cities. 

Siege and movement restrictions don't only separate patients from health services and facilities (or even from local hospitals; many women gave birth at the checkpoints and many other women, children and seniors die before making it to the nearest hospital). They also separate students from schools and universities, believers and worshipers from mosques and churches, and families from seeing each others for many years. 

There are currently more than 500 movement restrictions in the West Bank. Five hundred movement restrictions in an area that is probably smaller than most of the cities in the U.S. -- its size is around 2000 square miles and this area is currently surrounded by the new Apartheid Wall. These checkpoints separate villages, cities, refugee camps and sometimes neighborhoods in the same city. These are the same restrictions that made me unable to see my family in Gaza (when I was living in the West Bank) for more than five years. Even when I was here in the U.S. and wanted to go back and see my mother during the last two months, I wasn't able to do so because the borders were still closed (the Rafah border with Egypt, which is the only gate for Gazans to access the world, was open only six days during the last six months). 

What really breaks my heart is not the fact that my mother died, because it's something that everybody will experience one day and I really have great faith in God that this may be better for her. What really makes me feel very sad is that, again, because of the occupation, I haven't seen her for more than six years and that I wasn't even able to see her one last time and say goodbye. It also makes me feel very sad because one of the main motivations for me to pursue a Ph.D. was my great mother. When I was six years old my cousin got his Ph.D. and when we were coming back from visiting him my mother asked me this question (she was probably joking at that time as I was a little kid and wouldn't even know what the Ph.D. is, but I know she meant it). She asked me, "Would you do it for me one day and get your Ph.D.?" I kept this in my mind and heart all the time and I was always encouraged by her and her high spirit to succeed and to make it to Syracuse University to get my Ph.D. Unfortunately, she will not be able to see this day and know that yes, I did it for her. 

Goodbye my great mother, you were all the time the source of my inspiration and you will always be, even in your physical absence. May God have mercy on you and bless your soul, mother. 

Friends and colleagues, unfortunately, our world is full of similar sad and unjustified cases of unfairness and humiliation, but always remember, we can always make a difference if we want. Think of it and see what you can do to make others live the same way you and your children live. Even a little change can make a difference. 

Raed M. Sharif is in the Ph.D. Program in Information Science and               Technology at the School of Information Studies, Syracuse University. 

Raed has subsequently sent the following message:

From:                 Raed M S Sharif < >
Subject:            Thank You All and Donations in Memory of my Mother
Date sent:            Thu, 14 Dec 2006 23:26:50 -0500

Dear All, 

Thanks for all your love and support letters and calls. Much Appreciated. 

Many of you asked if and how they can make charitable donation in  memory of my mother (Laila Sharif). I thought about it and found that  nothing can make my mother happier than supporting one of her main interests: Education. 

If you want to be part of this effort to make a difference, please  donate whatever you can to the Women Studies Institute at Birzeit University, West Bank-Palestine. The Hala Atalla Scholarship Fund at the institute assists women  students, especially those from remote villages and poor backgrounds,  to fulfill their ambitions for higher education. Each semester 30  women students are awarded full tuition scholarships from the Fund. In  addition, at least 90 women students are helped partially by the  scholarship, either through tuition payments or other areas of support  (e.g., housing fees, books, transportation for women from remote areas, psychological counseling, employment resources and training). I  worked with this program for two years when I was working at Birzeit  University and know exactly what difference any donation can make in  those students? lives. 

Please contact the program at 970-2-2982959 or write your checks  (individually or as a group) directly to "Birzeit University/ Hala Attala Scholarship Fund" and send it to the following address: 

Birzeit University/ Hala Attala Scholarship Fund
Co/ Eileen Kuttab
P.O.Box 19684 Jerusalem, Israel.

Note: Tax-deductible donations are possible in the United States (EIN # 38-287-0089). 

Thanks again for your love and support and thanks in advance for your donations. Please spread the word.


Raed M. Sharif
Ph.D. Program in Information Science & Technology
337 Hinds Hall, School of Information Studies
Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 13244-13210,USA
E-Mail: .  Mobile: +1(315)751-6815


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[ePalestine] What Are You Going to Do Now, Israel? (By VIRGINIA TILLEY)

December 15, 2006

When There's No One Left to Blame
What Are You Going to Do Now, Israel?

Johannesburg, South Africa

What are you going to do now, Israel? 

Now that three small boys have been killed by assassins' bullets, and a Hamas judge dragged from his car and murdered, perhaps you are pleased. The Palestinians are finally succumbing to your plots, you think. The long-planned bottle has finally been sealed, in which the "drunken cockroaches" can only crawl around, shooting each other. 

Maybe you are sitting back in your national chair, rubbing your hands together in triumph, watching the Palestinians finally turn on each other, slowly becoming what you always claimed they were. Maybe you are repelled, secure in your sense of superiority. 

But have you thought about what you are you going to do, if Palestinian leadership you despise finally disintegrates? 

You have brought them to this pass, of course. You worked for decades to achieve exactly this. You bribed, terrorized, expelled, maimed or killed their leadership, banned or killed their visionaries and philosophers, fanned and funded Hamas against Fatah or Fatah against Hamas, trashed their democracy, stole their money, walled them in, put them on a "diet", derided their claims, and lied about their history to the world and to yourself. 

But what are you going to do, Israel, if five million Palestinians are finally living leaderless under your sovereignty? What will you do, when they lose their capacity to negotiate with you? Have you thought that, within the territory you control, they are as many as you? And that now you are destroying their unified voice? Have you thought about what will happen to you if they truly lose that voice? 

Maybe you really believe that, if you only feed Fatah money and guns, Fatah will reclaim power from the Hamas and restore the craven puppet Palestinian government of your dreams. Maybe you actually believe that Fatah can revive the wreck of Oslo, step out of the rubble of PA offices, and reclaim the driver's seat of the Palestinian nation as before. Maybe you are telling yourself that, with just a few more inter-factional scuffles and assassinations and little more starvation, the entire Palestinian people will turn on Hamas and eject it from power in favor of grinning Mr. Abbas. 

But why would you believe all this, when the only other test-case, Iraq, is in ruins and the US and UK are desperately trying to flee? 

Do you really still live so deeply in your own fantasies that you believe Palestinian resistance is just the product of bad or obdurate leadership? That no collective memory of expulsion and dispossession sustains the spirit of collective resistance that will always and inevitably transcend that leadership? Do you really believe that, if only you can crush or co-opt Hamas and Fatah, five million people will simply disappear forever from your world--trail off across the Jordanian or Egyptian borders into the endless desert, clutching clothes, kids, and tarnished mementos, in some great reprise of 1948? 

Do you actually think that, if the international community finally lets you off the hook of negotiating with the people you have dispossessed and discredited, you will somehow walk free at last, your crimes against them forgotten? 

We know you are still pursuing the old, fatal, futile fantasy: finally to redeem the Zionist dream by demolishing Palestinian nationalism. To break Palestinian national unity on the rocks of occupation. To reduce the Palestinians to Indians on reservations who decline into despair, alcoholism and emigration. To make them irrelevant to you. 

But here is news for you, Israel. The Native Americans haven't given up to this day. Damaged and reduced as they are, they know their history and remember their grievances. They are marginal only because they are one percent of the US population. The Palestinians are five-million strong, equal to you in numbers. And they live within your borders. When their leadership ruins itself, bashing each other like rams fighting to the death, they will finally turn their five million pairs of burning eyes on you, for you will be the only power left over them. And you will be defenseless, because your paper shelter - your Fatah or PA quislings - will be damaged goods, cracked vessels, discredited, gone. And it will then be you and those you have disenfranchised - you and the Palestinians, in one state, with no Oslo or Road Map myth to protect you. And by then, they will truly hate you. 

Then perhaps it will dawn on you what you have done, when the disintegration of Palestinian national unity spreads out like a tsunami through the Middle East, meeting up with the tsunami spreading out from Iraq, to lay the region waste and rebound on you. 

Watching you create this catastrophe for yourself, we think you are simply suicidal. We could just watch, but your road to ruin promises too much suffering to too many people. Still, to avert your unilateral suicide pact with the Palestinians, to whom can we turn? 

We could appeal to Hamas at last to mobilize the rank and file, who alone have the capacity to launch civil disobedience on the mass scale necessary to paralyse Israel's iron fist, but Hamas has no experience with this method, and now its statesmen are cornered by the guns you gave to Fatah thugs. 

We could appeal to the leader of the Fatah thugs, Mr. Abbas, shuffling at the feet of Israeli power, to find some spine. Or to the ubiquitous Mr. Erekat, who never had a political vision in his life, to develop one overnight. 

We could appeal to the Fatah thugs to reject Mr. Abbas and Mr. Erekat and the fat cement contracts you gave them to build the Wall that imprisons them, and seek a high road they have never glimpsed. 

We could appeal to the microscopic PFLP and DFLP, clutching their old programs too stale to chew and consumed by their acrid, decades-old bitterness and rivalry with Fatah, to lift their heads at long last beyond the old and new grievances. 

We could appeal to the US, but no one bothers to do that. 

We could appeal to the EU, but no one bothers to do that, either. 

We could appeal to the world, but it only stands aghast. 

We could appeal to the world media, but it is frozen with its ass in the air. 

We can only appeal to you, Israel. To think what you are doing, if not to care. 

For you are crafting your own destruction. 

You have been so effective in this great national project because you work from experience. Even the most courageous, principled, and sensible people, as you learned, cannot withstand a concentration camp indefinitely. At some point, as the Holocaust historians have tracked with such pathos, humanity breaks down. Individual heroism may survive as memoirs, but order, humanity, and finally human feeling decays into factional squabbles and man's inhumanity to man. You learned all too well and bitterly how this cauldron can melt down the very fabric of a society and shatter people. The lesson is burned, literally, into your national memory. And you are bringing those lessons to bear, attempting to purge Zionism's tragedy by bringing Gaza to ruin. 

But if you actually reap the chaos you are crafting for the Palestinians, you will find that no one else is responsible for these five million civilians except you. 

So what will you do, Israel, with five million people living under your rule, when you can no longer pretend to the world that you intend to negotiate with them? What will you do with people you detest, and who finally utterly detest you, when visions of coexistence have finally failed? You will be the only sovereign power over them. You will be able neither to digest them nor to vomit them out. And they will stare at you. 

And we will stare at you, too. 

Because there will be no one left to blame, and no one to take care of them, except you. 

* Virginia Tilley is a professor of political science, a US citizen working in South Africa, and author of The One-State Solution: A Breakthrough for Peace in the Israeli-Palestinian Deadlock (University of Michigan Press and Manchester University Press, 2005). She can be reached at 


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Friday, December 01, 2006

[ePalestine] Update from the border from Laila...(ANOTHER ACTION ALERT)

Dear friends,

First, I must applaud you all.  Your reply to yesterday's appeal to send letters to the editor to support John Dugard's opinion piece generated a unprecedented reply.  Those of you are that acted are not only prompt, but your letters were superb.  I apologize that time does not permit to reply to each and every one of you, as I started to do before I received so many that it was became impossible.  Your action shed a stay of hope in an otherwise sea of despair!

Today, I regret to feel the need to plead to you again.  Please read this update from my friend Laila who is still stranded with her son and parents while trying to enter her home in Gaza. You will recall the post a few days ago that was written by Laila.

I wonder, how many future suicide bombers or missile shooters are being groomed at this border crossing as we speak, 1, 10, 50, 100, 1,000!!!

Where do we write, yell, scream...hard to know, but let's try with those that have the key to the gate.  It's not that I think they will reply, but they need to know the world is watching:

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Address:     3 Kaplan St, Jerusalem 91919
Phone:        +972 2 6705555
Fax:            +972 2 -6705475

Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz
Address:     Defense Ministry, 37 Kaplan St, Tel Aviv 61909
Phone:        +972 3  6975349
Fax:            +972 3  6976218 / 691 6940 / 696 2757 / 691 7915/
Email:; ;

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
# Main Switchboard: 1-202-647-4000
To email a message click here

What REALLY needs to happen in every country on this globe is more of this:


Ya'alon leaves New Zealand in wake of arrest warrant for war crimes

By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent

Former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff Lieutenant General (res.) Moshe Ya'alon left New Zealand this week, after a warrant was issued for his arrest for suspected war crimes. 


Please have the patience to read this entire account of a living hell!  If you want, send Laila a message of support too then print her account and drop in the mail to your elected "free world" representatives.


------- Forwarded message follows -------

Date sent:    Thu, 30 Nov 2006 11:18:38 +0200
From:          "Laila El-Haddad" <>
Subject:              Update from the border

Dear friends,

its been a while since I've written, mainly because I have taken to updating my blog, which I know many of you read.

But I've decided to take this opportunity to also update you on our situation by email.

As many of you know Yousuf and I, along with my parents, left the US to Gaza nearly 3 weeks ago.  For two of those weeks, we have been stuck 50 km from the Rafah Crossing, in the face of an ongoing Israeli-imposed closure of the passage.

We are staying in the Egyptian border town of Al-Arish, but for the past two days, we were literally stuck on the Egyptian side of the crossing itself, waiting to be let through, after we- and thousands of others, recieved word about the imminent (temporary) opening of the crossing, which has been shut down by Israel since late June. It has only been opened for 20 days since that time.
We stood and we waited and we cried and we returned back to Egypt Wednesday, and again Thursday.

It was anguish. Anguish and misery and desperation personfied in every woman, man and child.

One hour turned into two, then three, then five, as we stood shielding our eyes from the piercing midday sun on Wednesday, when we were told the Crossing would be opening for a few hours.

Some wailed in exhaustion, others fainted, still others cracked dry humor, trying to pass the time. We stood, thousands of us, packed together elbow to elbow like cattle, penned in between steel barriers on one end, and riot-geared Egyptian security guards on the perimeter, who were given orders not to allow anyone through until they hear otherwise from the Israelis-and to respond with force if anyone dared.

Many of the people had been waiting for more than two weeks to cross back into Gaza, sometimes making the trip to the crossing several times a day upon receiving word of its imminent opening.

"We have been waiting for 15 days now. Only god knows when it will open-today, tomorrow, the day after?" said 57-year-old Abu Yousuf Barghut, his shrapnel-riddled arm trembling by his side.

His tearful wife, Aisha, added: "God knows we only went to seek treatment for him and to come right back. And now we are stuck and waiting us in Gaza are my four children. This is the most basic of rights-to be able to return to our homes, and we are even denied that."

"The only way anyone will actually pay attention to our plight is if one of us dies here, and even then, I'm not sure the world will care," stammered one young man, Isam Shaksu, his eye heavily bandaged after having received an corneal implantation in Jordan.

In July, seven Palestinians waiting to be let into Gaza from Egypt died waiting to cross Rafah.

The Crossing is Gaza's gateway to the world-and the only passagway in and out of the area for 1.4 million Palestinians.  Without it, Palestinian cannot seek medical treatment unavailable in Gaza; cannot re-unite with family members or attend universities or jobs abroad; and those on the outside cannot return home. There is simply no other way into Gaza for residents of the the Strip: our only airport's runway was destroyed in 2001, and Israel denies us access to other borders passages through Israel or the West Bank.

After the hours and the sun, one would have thought the black steel gates ahead of us were the gates to Heaven, but in fact they only led to more masses, more waiting, more hell.

There is something you feel as you stand there, and sometimes squatted, for hours at a time, waiting to be let through the Egyptian side of Rafah Crossing. It is something of your humanity slowing drifting away. It is gradual, but unmistakable.

And you are never quite the same again.

There were mixed Israeli orders-first to open the crossing for three days, starting Wedneday, yesterday; then breaking news at 11pm retracted that order, and by Wednesday morning, another about-face saying that the border would in fact be opened. By the time we arrived, it was 11am, and already somewhere around 2000 has amassed in front of the gates. And no one was budging.

Yousuf waited along with us, asking incessantly "When would the crossing open??", and begging me to pose the same quetion to the Egyptian officers manning it. Everytime he'd see the gate budge open he would get excited and yell "Its open!! Its open!!". And everyone would heave a heavy sigh.

When we finally did make it inside the "Second sector" of the Egyptian side, the relief was overwhelming-we had moved 50 metres!! And we could wait another four hours if it meant we'd finally be allowed through. But instead we faced yet another uncertain wait; it was like some sadistic game with no certain ending.

As we waited, we saw members of the Palestinian athletic teams heading to the Asian games after a two week delay.

We also saw Ismail Haniya on his way out to his Arab tour. He stopped to mingle with the desperate crowds, some hailing him, some complaining about how long they had waited.

We finally learned that the crossing had been closed this entire time, and the Egyptians were only allowing people through to give them some hope to cling on to-and to prevent the masses from rioting, which has happened before.

We thought once he'd passed, we'd be allowed through. But it is then we learned that Mahmud Zahar had crossed earlier that morning-carrying suitcases full of $20 million.

The European Monitors-whom the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights have accused of contributing to the strangulation of Gaza- were not pleased. How could he not declare the money, and how could he have the audacity to try and bring in money to feed his peole in the first place??

They filed a "complaint" with the Israelis, who immediately told them to shut down the crossing, without giving a reason, leaving thousands-including Yousuf, my parents and I, stranded.

My mother and Yousuf had gone ahead of my father and I-and our bags-into the terminal, and Yousuf fell asleep in the mosque. It was then that the officers had informed us the crossing was no longer operational-and everyone who was inside, even those who had already made it as far as the Palestinian side, would have to go back.
we pleaded with an Egyptian Officer: "It took us 6 hours to get as far the inside of the terminal, please let us through".

"Big deal-it took me ten hours to get here from Cairo," he retorted, as I reminded myself they get paid a measly 180 Egyptian pounds a month and couldn't care less.

Another officer was more sympathetic.

"What you lot have to understand is that no one gives a damn what happens to you-you could sit here and suffocate for all they care. You are simply not human enough for them to care."

When is it that we lost our humanity, I wondered? And when is it that the humanity and desperation of a people, waiting desperately to be let through to their homes, was less important than the call of duty? And that a government was made to choose between feeding their own people, or giving them passage to their homes?

Inside the terminal, the scenes were dizzying. Already disoriented form lack of sleep and little food, I looked around in awe. It was nothing short of an interment camp, and I lost myself somewhere between the silent anguish of old men, aching, teary eyed-women on the verge of collapse, and children, some strewn across the floor in exhaustion, others who were sick, in wheelchairs, wailing...

We returned to Arish, exhausted and sleep deprived, only to find that all of the apartments were occupied by returning passengers. The only flat we found was one without hot water and leaky ceiling pipes, but we couldn't care less. By 9pm we were all out.

The next morning, we left again to the border-where we had left our suitcases-despite word from taxi drivers that the crossing would not open. We waited again, this time for only 5 hours, until we decided it was an exercise in futility.

Everyone was looking for answers-some answers, any answers. When would the crossing open? Was there hope it would open today? If so, what time? Should we wait, should we return to Arish? Nobody knew.

Every now and then someone would make a call to some secondary source they knew in Gaza or on the border, and rumors would spread like wildfire across the masses. "At noon- they say at noon there is a possibility it will open! Patience, patience!".

And then we wait some more.

One man, frustrated, took his bags and began to push them back on a trolley and out through the throngs of exhausted passengers.

"Where the hell do you think you're going??" bellowed one of the Egyptian officers.

"To Jerusalem! Where do you think??" he snapped.

It was nearing the end of our long day, and overcome by exhaustion, we didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

A friend in the UN told me the Europeans had left their posts after yesterday's "incidents" and thus the Palestinian side of the crossing has shut down indefinitely now.

Rice is scheduled to come for talks with Abbas and Israel today, to discuss extending the "truce" to the West Bank, and re-implenting the lost Agreement on Movement and Access (AMA), which she one brokered one year ago this month.  IT was supposed to hand over control over Rafah, among other crossings, to Palestinians.  The year has come and gone, and all of our crossings, our air, our water, and our lives, remain under Israeli control.

And so now, we return to square one. Back in Arish, waiting, as ever, for the border to open.


Laila M. El-Haddad

------- End of forwarded message -------


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