Friday, August 28, 2009

[ePalestine] FT: Netanyahu’s peace is a cynical evasion + "Walled Horizons" - Narrated by Roger Waters

Dear friends, 

Coming from an editorial from the Financial Times, this piece below is noteworthy.

Also, this new 2-part YouTube video issued by OCHAopt may interest you too:

"Walled Horizons" - Narrated by Roger Waters (Pink Floyd founding member)

"The film is narrated by and features Roger Waters (founding member of the former Pink Floyd rock band), who visits the Wall and comments on his observations. The film also features Palestinians affected by the Wall and three Israeli senior security officials, two of whom were directly responsible for planning its route and explain the Israeli position for constructing the Wall." Source: OCHAopt

Patiently watching the rising tide against occupation,


Financial Times 



Netanyahu’s peace is a cynical evasion 

Published: August 25 2009 19:33 | Last updated: August 25 2009 19:33 

When Barack Obama told Israel that “part of being a good friend is being honest”, the country’s political elites got an inkling that decades of double-talk on the conflict with the Palestinians were over. In his June 4 speech at Cairo University he spelled it out: “Just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s.” 

The US president could have been addressing Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, who refuses to rein in colonisation of Palestinian land or push a two-state solution to the conflict. Yet, however much Mr Obama tries to change the conversation, in and on the Middle East, Mr Netanyahu keeps trying to change the subject. 

Mr Obama has chosen as his battleground the Jewish settlements on occupied Arab land, all of them illegal under international law. “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements,” the president said. Washington has called for a total freeze, including on the so-called “natural growth” that has enabled the settlements to expand exponentially. Mr Netanyahu, in London and due to see George Mitchell, the president’s special representative, wants to talk economics. This is a cynical evasion. 

It is important to remember that Mr Netanyahu has always argued that the Palestinians cannot expect a nation, only some sort of supra-municipal government. His utterance of the word “state” in the June 14 policy speech he made in reply to Mr Obama does not change this in any substantive way. Beyond the Jewish religious claim to the Israel of the Bible, Eretz Israel, Netanyahu believes Israeli security requires a buffer of occupied land – including most of the West Bank – to insulate it from its Arab neighbours. The whole Arab-Israeli equation is, for him, a zero sum game. That rules out land-for-peace: the United Nations Security Council-mandated approach ever since the 1967 Six Day War. 

During his 1996-99 premiership, instead of land-for-peace he offered peace-for-peace; now he obfuscates about an “economic peace”. 

Economics, and the prospect of a job, are of course, powerful agents of change. The remarkable success of Israel in nation-building and economic development rightly stands as a daily accusation against its Arab neighbours, weakened and stunted by introspective autocracies. Yet Mr Netanyahu’s pitch, that Israel can help the Arabs embrace globalisation and turn the region into one happy family, has a bit of recent history to explain. 

While it is true that Arab leaders use the stalemate of “no war, no peace” to justify their monopolies on power and resources, it is also true they (and their citizens) feel swindled by the experience of Oslo. 

In 1992-96, at the height of the peace process, Israel alone reaped a peace dividend, without having to conclude a peace. Diplomatic recognition of Israel doubled, from 85 to 161 countries, leading to doubled exports and a sixfold increase in foreign investment. During the same period, per capita income in the occupied territories fell by 37 per cent while the number of settlers increased by 50 per cent. Economic development deals in facts; Mr Netanyahu deals in cosmetics. 

With an economic peace, he argues, barriers to growth would be removed and the Palestinian economy would be refloated. But Israel can and should remove most of those barriers anyway. According to the UN, last month there were 614 checkpoints inside the West Bank – an area the size of Lincolnshire or Delaware – compared with 613 in June. The recent removal of, say, the choke-points into Nablus, has led to a pick-up in business. But what this shows is how Israel’s carve-up of the West Bank is stifling all activity. 

Mr Netanyahu’s emotive insistence on “natural” settlement growth is equally bogus. With vast subsidies, these colonies are growing at more than three times the rate of population in Israel proper. The municipal boundaries of the settlements extend far beyond the built-up areas. Combined with the security wall built on West Bank land, the settler-only roads and the military zones, the Palestinians are penned into shrinking and discontiguous Bantustans. 

Any economy needs, among other things, territory and freedom of movement. The prostrate Palestinian economy is no different. Mr Netanyahu knows it, and the Obama administration has made clear to him it knows he knows it. 

In his last administration, Mr Netanyahu turned the drive for peace into pure process: piling up unresolved disputes to be parked in “final status” negotiations he never intended to begin. Under US pressure he has changed tactics – but the aim is exactly the same. 

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009. 


ePalestine Blog:


Everything about this list:

To unsubscribe, send mail to:

To subscribe, send mail to:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

[ePalestine] [M E News Serv] A Hate-Filled Morning

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

[Middle East News Service comments: Sometimes it is the role of a news service to report the news of the future. The name Silwan is not all that well known outside the circle of those who have an intensive interest in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. But it is a name to remember. As the Ir Amim [city of nations] people explained it to me last year in Jerusalem this is where there is an intensive effort by settlers to move in the middle of an Arab neighbourhood. The project is tied in with a lot of archeological work exploring the “City of David” as it is known in Hebrew. Just how much hatred is there already is explored by Meron Rapoport in article he contributed to Haokets [The Sting], a left-wing website concerned primarily with issues of social inequalities and human rights. Until about a year ago Rapoport was a leading reporter for Haaretz – Sol Salbe,]


[Thanks again to Keren Rubinstein for translating this article.]


Hebrew original:


A Hate-Filled Morning


Meron Rapoport , 24th August 2009

Last Thursday was a heat wave, but along the paved stone path that ascends through the centre of Silwan – The City of David, it was more pleasant. Perhaps it was the cool breeze, or the cool stone houses mollifying the air, or maybe it was broad vista of Jerusalem’s mountains. There were three of us – Ilan the director, Michael the cameraman, and me, the interviewee. We were making a film that explores the overt institutional discrimination against this East Jerusalem neighbourhood’s Palestinian residents. It is accompanied by a discrimination in favour of the Jewish settlers who for their part do not hide their desire to “Judaise” the neighbourhood and erase its Palestinian nature.


Even before we manage to position our camera, a group of religious girls comes up the path (we could tell they were religious by their skirts). They were around eight to ten years old, smug and beautiful chatterboxes. One of them slowed down beside us. “Film me”, she said amiably. “What would you like to tell us”, we asked. “I want to say that Jerusalem is a city that belongs to us, the Jews”, she said while walking – “it’s just a shame there are Arabs here. The Messiah will only come when there’s not even a single Arab left here”. She walked on. The girls giggled and sauntered along with her.


Two minutes later, a robust young man arrives carrying a weapon and walkie-talkie, bearing no identification on his clothes. Even before he opened his mouth I surmised that he was a security guard, employed by the private security company, operated by the settlers but financed by the Housing Ministry to the tune of 40 million shekels, annually. This security company has long ago become a private police force that polices the whole neighbourhood and terrorises the Palestinian residents without any legal basis. A committee set up by the Housing Minister determined that this arrangement must be stopped, and that the safety of the inhabitants (both Jewish and Arab) must be in the hands of Israel’s Police force, as applies to the rest of Israel’s citizens. The government adopted the committee’s recommendation in June 2006, but changed its mind six months later. The settlers had been lobbying The private police continue to operate here.


“What are you doing here”, the young man asked. “What are you doing here”, I asked him. “I’m a security guard”, he answered, “tell me what you’re doing here”. “We’re standing here in the street”, I told him. “Tell me what you’re doing here”, he became irate. “It’s none of your business”, I told him. “What’s your name”, he asked me. “And what’s your name”, I ask him. “Doesn’t matter”, he answered, “I’m a security guard”. “So it doesn’t matter what my name is either”, I replied. The irritated guard talks on his walkie- talkie. Were we Palestinian, we would have long ago been gone. That is the unwritten protocol. But we were Israelis, Hebrew speakers and a problem. Headquarters apparently explained to him that there was nothing he could do, that this was a public area. The guard took his position beside us, with his weapon, and didn’t leave us alone throughout our stay.


We moved our position. Two-three minutes later two young women came up the path. They are seventeen or eighteen years old. Secular, evidently not local residents. One of them stood in front of the camera. “Take my picture”, she fawned. “Do you want to be interviewed”, we asked her. “Yes”, she said. She’s from Gan Yavneh, came to visit Jerusalem, the City of David, she said. “Why the City of David in particular”, we asked. “Because this is where David was a king, this is a very important location for the Jewish people. It’s just a shame there are Arabs here. But soon all the Arabs will die, God willing, and Jerusalem will be ours alone”. She walked on.


Two minutes went by. An Orthodox family came up the path. The husband, dressed in black, asked Ilan the director: “say, do both Arabs and Jews live in this neighbourhood?” “Both Palestinians and Jews”, Ilan replied, “but the majority is Palestinian”. “That’s temporary”, the Orthodox man allayed his concerns; soon there will be no Arabs left here.


I look at Ilan and Michael. Barely a quarter of an hour had passed since we arrived; we had not interrogated anyone about their attitude to Arabs, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or about the future of Jerusalem. We just stood in the middle of the street. Like pylons. The hatred poured on in our direction, like a river to the ocean. Freely, naturally. “Say”, I asked Ilan. “Will we encounter anyone who’ll tell us something positive, something humane, something good about humankind?” “Forget about humane”, Ilan replied. “Give us someone who’ll say: “what nice air we have here, in Jerusalem’”.


Silwan. Remember the name. Soon it will help you forget Hebron.



[The independent Middle East News Service concentrates on providing alternative information chiefly from Israeli sources. It is sponsored by the Australian Jewish Democratic Society. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the AJDS. These are expressed in its own statements

Please note that while our own comments are not copyrighted we do appreciate acknowledgement. Items forwarded may be copyrighted and are forwarded to alert you of their existence.]


[Unsubscribe: if you no longer want to receive messages from us, simply reply to this email with the word "unsubscribe" added to the subject line. ]

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


ePalestine Blog:


Everything about this list:

To unsubscribe, send mail to:

To subscribe, send mail to:

Monday, August 24, 2009

[ePalestine] LA TIMES: Boycott Israel (By Neve Gordon)

The Los Angeles Times


Boycott Israel 

An Israeli comes to the painful conclusion that it's the only way to save his country. 

By Neve Gordon 
August 20, 2009 

Israeli newspapers this summer are filled with angry articles about the push for an international boycott of Israel. Films have been withdrawn from Israeli film festivals, Leonard Cohen is under fire around the world for his decision to perform in Tel Aviv, and Oxfam has severed ties with a celebrity spokesperson, a British actress who also endorses cosmetics produced in the occupied territories. Clearly, the campaign to use the kind of tactics that helped put an end to the practice of apartheid in South Africa is gaining many followers around the world. 

Not surprisingly, many Israelis -- even peaceniks -- aren't signing on. A global boycott can't help but contain echoes of anti-Semitism. It also brings up questions of a double standard (why not boycott China for its egregious violations of human rights?) and the seemingly contradictory position of approving a boycott of one's own nation. 

It is indeed not a simple matter for me as an Israeli citizen to call on foreign governments, regional authorities, international social movements, faith-based organizations, unions and citizens to suspend cooperation with Israel. But today, as I watch my two boys playing in the yard, I am convinced that it is the only way that Israel can be saved from itself. 

I say this because Israel has reached a historic crossroads, and times of crisis call for dramatic measures. I say this as a Jew who has chosen to raise his children in Israel, who has been a member of the Israeli peace camp for almost 30 years and who is deeply anxious about the country's future. 

The most accurate way to describe Israel today is as an apartheid state. For more than 42 years, Israel has controlled the land between the Jordan Valley and the Mediterranean Sea. Within this region about 6 million Jews and close to 5 million Palestinians reside. Out of this population, 3.5 million Palestinians and almost half a million Jews live in the areas Israel occupied in 1967, and yet while these two groups live in the same area, they are subjected to totally different legal systems. The Palestinians are stateless and lack many of the most basic human rights. By sharp contrast, all Jews -- whether they live in the occupied territories or in Israel -- are citizens of the state of Israel. 

The question that keeps me up at night, both as a parent and as a citizen, is how to ensure that my two children as well as the children of my Palestinian neighbors do not grow up in an apartheid regime. 

There are only two moral ways of achieving this goal. 

The first is the one-state solution: offering citizenship to all Palestinians and thus establishing a bi-national democracy within the entire area controlled by Israel. Given the demographics, this would amount to the demise of Israel as a Jewish state; for most Israeli Jews, it is anathema. 

The second means of ending our apartheid is through the two-state solution, which entails Israel's withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders (with possible one-for-one land swaps), the division of Jerusalem, and a recognition of the Palestinian right of return with the stipulation that only a limited number of the 4.5 million Palestinian refugees would be allowed to return to Israel, while the rest can return to the new Palestinian state. 

Geographically, the one-state solution appears much more feasible because Jews and Palestinians are already totally enmeshed; indeed, "on the ground," the one-state solution (in an apartheid manifestation) is a reality. 

Ideologically, the two-state solution is more realistic because fewer than 1% of Jews and only a minority of Palestinians support binationalism. 

For now, despite the concrete difficulties, it makes more sense to alter the geographic realities than the ideological ones. If at some future date the two peoples decide to share a state, they can do so, but currently this is not something they want. 

So if the two-state solution is the way to stop the apartheid state, then how does one achieve this goal? 

I am convinced that outside pressure is the only answer. Over the last three decades, Jewish settlers in the occupied territories have dramatically increased their numbers. The myth of the united Jerusalem has led to the creation of an apartheid city where Palestinians aren't citizens and lack basic services. The Israeli peace camp has gradually dwindled so that today it is almost nonexistent, and Israeli politics are moving more and more to the extreme right. 

It is therefore clear to me that the only way to counter the apartheid trend in Israel is through massive international pressure. The words and condemnations from the Obama administration and the European Union have yielded no results, not even a settlement freeze, let alone a decision to withdraw from the occupied territories. 

I consequently have decided to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that was launched by Palestinian activists in July 2005 and has since garnered widespread support around the globe. The objective is to ensure that Israel respects its obligations under international law and that Palestinians are granted the right to self-determination. 

In Bilbao, Spain, in 2008, a coalition of organizations from all over the world formulated the 10-point Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign  meant to pressure Israel in a "gradual, sustainable manner that is sensitive to context and capacity." For example, the effort begins with sanctions on and divestment from Israeli firms operating in the occupied territories, followed by actions against those that help sustain and reinforce the occupation in a visible manner. Along similar lines, artists who come to Israel in order to draw attention to the occupation are welcome, while those who just want to perform are not. 

Nothing else has worked. Putting massive international pressure on Israel is the only way to guarantee that the next generation of Israelis and Palestinians -- my two boys included -- does not grow up in an apartheid regime. 

Neve Gordon is the author of "Israel's Occupation" and teaches politics at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba, Israel. 

Copyright © 2009, The Los Angeles Times 


ePalestine Blog:


Everything about this list:

To unsubscribe, send mail to:

To subscribe, send mail to:

Friday, August 21, 2009

[ePalestine] WSJ: Israel Still Strangles the Palestinian Economy (By Sam Bahour)

Dear friends, 

Last week, Amb. Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the United States, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal titled, West Bank Success Story .  Given the level of half-truths and deliberate attempt to misread the reader, I was inspired to submit my own op-ed (see below) which is published in today's (Aug 21) Wall Street Journal.  If you are so inclined, submit a letter to the editor (keep concise and email to or make an online comment to support the argument that real development and military occupation cannot co- exist. 

Engaged in national economic survival,


Wall Street Journal 


AUGUST 20, 2009, 7:25 P.M. ET 

Israel Still Strangles the Palestinian Economy   

To thrive we need unfettered access to global markets. 


Palestinians are as eager as anyone to see positive economic development for their tormented country. But they know full well that real economic progress awaits their release from Israeli military occupation (West Bank, East Jerusalem) and siege (Gaza Strip). 

Consider the recent media promotion of the Netanyahu government's view that the occupied West Bank is witnessing rapid economic growth. Thomas Friedman picked up on that theme in his New York Times column, as did Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the United States, in this newspaper. The selective economic data they provide ignore the reality: Occupied Palestinian territory is not a sovereign country where traditional economic measures apply. 

I was the manager who oversaw the establishment of the first modern mall in the West Bank—the Plaza Shopping Center in El Bireh. I can attest that the success of a West Bank mall rests on a thin layer of elite consumer privilege poised precariously over a chasm of widespread disempowerment. Until West Bank Palestinians gain free and open access to the world economy, beyond the markets of the occupying power, major enterprises in Palestinian towns will suffer. 

Objective analyses by the World Bank suggest that Israel's repressive practices will not permit the Palestinian economy to develop meaningfully. 

On water, a bank report from April 2009 notes that the "availability of water resources is highly disparate, with fresh water per capita in Israel approximately four times that of WBG [West Bank and Gaza]." 

On mobility: "In the West Bank, restrictions on movement of people and access to natural resources has stifled economic growth." 

On security: "Recurrent destruction of trees, private homes and public infrastructure, as well as [Israeli] settlers' encroachments on private land create a permanent state of insecurity." 

On trade: "[Palestinians] exporting through Israel is becoming more difficult and . . . the current alternative through Jordan is severely limited. For Palestinian exporters to effectively compete on the international market they must be allowed to use modern door-to-door logistical systems." 

David Craig, World Bank country director for the West Bank and Gaza, gave a realistic assessment in summing up a December bank report: "The Palestinian economy has the potential for dramatic growth, even in the midst of the current global recession. This can only be achieved by the private sector through export oriented growth. The new [Israeli] restrictions described in this report undermine this goal." 

Israel's stranglehold over Palestinian economic resources is ongoing. Israel occupies or controls Palestinian land, airspace and electromagnetic spectrum used for telecommunications. By refusing to permit an already-licensed second Palestinian cellular operator to launch, Israel is putting hundreds of new jobs on hold and blocking the first step to liberalizing the Palestinian telecommunications market. I was personally involved in establishing the first Palestinian telecommunications operator in 1996 and can attest to the ongoing hinderance of Israeli practices. 

Peace talk is cheap; actions by Israel that would make real peace—even economic peace—a reality are still the exception rather than the rule. I do not disparage any progress that has been made but, viewed in context, it is no more than window dressing. 

Meanwhile, the continued brutal subjugation of Gaza and coerced Judaization of Arab East Jerusalem call into serious question Israel's true intentions. Absent a political framework to secure Palestinian freedom and independence, "economic peace" initiatives only facilitate the crime of occupation. 

Mr. Bahour is a Palestinian-American businessman from Youngstown, Ohio, who lives in the West Bank. 


ePalestine Blog:


Everything about this list:

To unsubscribe, send mail to:

To subscribe, send mail to:

Monday, August 17, 2009

[ePalestine] U.S. group invests tax-free millions in East Jerusalem land


Last update - 09:45 17/08/2009                          

U.S. group invests tax-free millions in East Jerusalem land 

By Uri Blau, Haaretz Correspondent 

American Friends of Ateret Cohanim, a nonprofit organization that sends millions of shekels worth of donations to Israel every year for clearly political purposes, such as buying Arab properties in East Jerusalem, is registered in the United States as an organization that funds educational institutes in Israel. 

The U.S. tax code enables nonprofits to receive tax-exempt status if they engage in educational, charitable, religious or scientific activity. However, such organizations are forbidden to engage in any political activity. The latter is broadly defined as any action, even the promotion of certain ideas, that could have a political impact. 

Financing land purchases in East Jerusalem would, therefore, seem to violate the organization's tax-exempt status. 

Daniel Luria, chief fund-raiser for Ateret Cohanim in Israel, told Haaretz Sunday that the American organization's registration as an educational entity stemmed from tax considerations. 

"We are an umbrella organization that engages in redeeming land," he said. "Our [fund- raising] activity in New York goes solely toward land redemption." 

Although Ateret Cohanim also operates a yeshiva, Ateret Yerushalayim, in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City, fund-raising for the yeshiva is handled by a different organization: American Friends of Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim." 

American Friends of Ateret Cohanim was founded in New York in 1987. Like all tax-exempt organizations, it must file detailed annual returns with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. An examination of them reveals that the organization describes its "primary exempt purpose" as: "[to] provide funding for higher educational institutes in Israel." 

"That's because of the tax issue," Luria said, explaining that due to American law, the American Friends organization "has to be connected in some fashion with educational matters." 

He also estimated that 60 percent of Ateret Cohanim's money is raised in the U.S. 

The Friends organization's most recent return, filed in 2008 for fiscal 2007, shows that it raised $2.1 million in donations that year. Of this, $1.6 million was transferred to Ateret Cohanim in Israel. 

The remainder was used to cover administrative overhead, including fund-raising expenses and an $80,000 salary for Shoshana Hikind, the American organization's vice president and de facto director, whose husband Dov is a New York state assemblyman and well-known supporter of the Israeli right. 

The organization also raised substantial sums in previous years: $1.3 million in 2006, $900,000 in 2005 and about $2 million in 2004. 

By comparison, American Friends of Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim raised only $189,000 in 2007. 

In its IRS returns, American Friends of Ateret Cohanim said its purpose is to "promote," "publicize" and "raise funds for" Ateret Cohanim institutions in Israel. These institutions, it continued, "encourage and promote study and observance of Jewish religious traditions and culture." 

In reality, Ateret Cohanim in Israel focuses mainly on purchasing Arab property in East Jerusalem. Since its founding in the 1970s, it has bought dozens of Arab buildings for Jews to reside in. Just this April, for instance, it moved Jewish families into an Arab house it purchased in the Muslim Quarter. 

One noteworthy donor to its Friends organization is casino magnate Irving Moskowitz, a well- known supporter of rightist causes, who also owns the Shepherd Hotel in East Jerusalem. That hotel made headlines recently when Moskowitz obtained a permit to build 20 apartments for Jews there, sparking angry protests from the U.S. government. 

In response, Ateret Cohanim chairman Mati Dan insisted that the Friends organization "is an independent organization that decides for itself whom to fund." Moreover, he added, "we engage in education constantly ... I don't know what Daniel Luria told you, but we are active in the field of [educational] institutions." 

As of press time, no comment had been obtained from the Friends organization. 

Nir Hasson contributed to this report. 


ePalestine Blog:


Everything about this list:

To unsubscribe, send mail to:

To subscribe, send mail to:

Friday, August 14, 2009

[ePalestine] John Dugard: Two States or Apartheid?

Huffington Post 

Two States or Apartheid? 

John Dugard
Chairman of the Independent Fact Finding Committee on Gaza 

Posted: August 12, 2009 10:38 PM 

Israel is long overdue to undergo the same racial reckoning and transformation that the United States underwent in the 1960s and South Africa passed through in the 1990s. The dual system of law that prevails in the occupied West Bank and favors Jewish settlers to the detriment of Palestinians is unacceptable in the 21st century. Israel's settlers must decide if they will abide by international law and leave the occupied territories or stay on -- as offered by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad -- provided they live under Palestinian law. 

Two states with security and rights for Israelis and Palestinians is within our grasp today. We must be dogged in our determination to achieve this outcome with the utmost speed. Delay plays into the hands of rejectionists and those who would use time not to advance peace but to further settle the West Bank and East Jerusalem, rendering impossible a contiguous and viable Palestinian state. 

If a Palestinian state becomes impossible and Palestinians appear consigned to a permanent apartheid-like reality then many of us who overcame daunting odds in South Africa will feel obliged to throw our support to one state based on equality for all. Let us, then, determine to make two states for two peoples work during the Obama administration. 

I have no doubt I will be castigated for my plain speaking on behalf of Palestinian rights, Israeli security, and an end to the Israeli occupation. The rhetoric surrounding this conflict is ferocious. Mary Robinson, who on August 12 was awarded with the Medal of Freedom, is currently being vilified by organizations such as AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Zionist Organization of America for vigorously speaking out on behalf of Palestinian human rights. She deserves better and the White House is right to defend her from proponents of a fantasized Israel that reputedly can do no wrong. 

She is not alone. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Senior Adviser David Axelrod are also under attack. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu derided them as "self-hating Jews." Israeli settlers regularly refer to President Obama as a "kushi," a vicious and derogatory term for a black man. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, one of the great moral leaders of our time, has been accused of "anti-Jewish and anti-Israel slurs" by the Zionist Organization of America and last week the ADL's Abraham Foxman referred to him as an "Israel basher." This language is the tip of the iceberg. The anti-Semitism label is so overused it is in jeopardy of losing power as a meaningful term. 

The willingness of the White House to award Robinson and Tutu with the Medal of Freedom leaves me to wonder if the Obama administration is sending such organizations a message that Obama will not be intimidated and will stand firm in advancing America's national interest in a settlements freeze and, more broadly, in a just Middle East peace. 

This week's overheated pro-Israel rhetoric exposes the zealotry of the speaker or organization, but the routine invocation of such labels also serves to intimidate many good people from involving themselves in Israeli- Palestinian peacemaking. Far too many people who were outspoken advocates on behalf of ending apartheid in South Africa have taken to the sidelines in this dispute lest they be accused of being anti-Jewish, anti- Semitic, or self-hating Jews. The terminology is cruel and painful to those on the receiving end even though most know the term is employed only as a political weapon to silence. I believe the silencing tactic has worked to delay Palestinian freedom. 

President Obama was right when he declared in his Cairo speech, "Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and it does not succeed. For centuries black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights." As he suggested, it was nonviolence that carried the day and advanced rights and justice in South Africa and other struggles. 

I would only add that the seeds of a mighty and transformative nonviolent struggle are indeed already visible from the West Bank to the Gaza coast. I have met with Palestinians and Israelis who regularly put their lives on the line to assert nonviolently the injustice of Israeli expansionism and home demolitions. Must we wait for a humanitarian boat of the Free Gaza Movement to be fatally rammed or a Sharpeville massacre in the Palestinian village of Bil'in before we highlight the nonviolent courage of Palestinians and Israelis protesting Israel's siege of Gaza and the land-grabbing barrier that illegally seizes Palestinian agricultural land in the West Bank? Too many young people, most of them Palestinian, have been killed and maimed in Bil'in already. 

Israel's ill-advised attempt to establish demographic facts in East Jerusalem by throwing Palestinian families out of their homes does not advance long- term Israeli interests, but leads more and more people around the world to question whether Israel is honestly interested in making peace with its Palestinians neighbors. 

Israel must make the choice in the weeks ahead whether it intends to continue ruling over the Palestinians indefinitely or will step back from the dual system of law and apartheid it appears poised to embrace under the leadership of Prime Minister Netanyahu. 

John Dugard is a professor of law, a former UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and the chairman of the Independent Fact Finding Committee on Gaza. 


ePalestine Blog:


Everything about this list:

To unsubscribe, send mail to:

To subscribe, send mail to:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

[ePalestine] Israel toughens entry for foreigners with West Bank ties


Last update - 08:37 13/08/2009                          

Israel toughens entry for foreigners with West Bank ties 

By Amira Hass, Haaretz Correspondent 

Israel has recently been putting up more obstacles for foreign nationals who enter the country if they have family, work, business or academic ties in the West Bank. It now restricts their movements to "the Palestinian Authority only." The people concerned are citizens of countries that have diplomatic ties with Israel, mainly Western countries. 

In imposing such restrictions, Israel is in breach of the Oslo Accords. 

For about the last three months, border control officials at the Allenby Bridge have been stamping visitors' passports with a visa and the additional words "Palestinian Authority only." Officials from the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), who are also present at the Allenby crossing, have in some cases told visitors that they must apply to the Civil Administration for a permit to leave the West Bank and enter Israel. 

According to Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabine Haddad, the same procedure also exists at Ben-Gurion International Airport, though Haaretz has not encountered any such cases. However, Interior Ministry officials at the airport have been known to require foreign nationals to sign a pledge that they will not enter the PA without permission from COGAT. 

Officials have also warned tourists who want to visit the West Bank that the next time, they should enter via the Allenby Bridge. Haddad confirmed that anyone "entering Palestinian Authority territory should go via the Allenby Bridge." 

But the practice of restricting visitors to the PA only has not yet been applied to all visitors entering the country via the Allenby Bridge. Haddad declined to answer Haaretz's question as to why this rule was being applied selectively and who decides on its application. 

The people on whom travel restrictions have been imposed, and with whom Haaretz has spoken, include businesspeople and foreign investors, people with relatives in the West Bank, university faculty, and international development and welfare workers. All are citizens of Western countries. 

"PA territory" comprises the 40 percent of the West Bank (Areas A and B) over which the PA has civilian authority. These areas are enclaves interspersed throughout Area C, which is under full Israeli control. Theoretically, therefore, these tourists may not leave one enclave for another, enter the Jordan Valley, or cross to the other side of the separation fence. 

When asked whether the limitation to the "PA only" indeed referred to Areas A and B, Haddad said: "Because this issue involves an army permit, the question must be referred to the army." The Israel Defense Forces Spokesman said the question must be referred to the Defense Ministry. A Defense Ministry spokesman initially said this question and others must be referred to COGAT, while COGAT's spokesman said that "most of the questions" should be referred to the Interior Ministry. On Monday night, Haaretz was told that COGAT's response would be included in the Defense Ministry's response. However, no such response had been received by press time. 

Another question that thus remains unanswered is whether legal experts in the interior and defense ministries are aware of the fact that the travel restrictions Israel is imposing are a violation of the 1995 Interim Agreement, also known as Oslo-2. The agreement states that citizens of countries that have diplomatic ties with Israel may enter the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on their Israeli visa and a valid passport. 

According to Interior Ministry spokeswoman Haddad, the new procedure is based on "a 2006 decision by the interior minister and the defense minister [Roni Bar-On and Amir Peretz, respectively] that any foreign national who wants to enter the Palestinian Authority must have a permit from the army, and entry is permitted only into PA territory." But Haddad refused Haaretz's request for a copy of the text of the decision, and a similar request to Defense Ministry spokesman Shlomo Dror received no response at all. 

In early 2006, Israel annuled a rule that had been in place for decades whereby foreign nationals - whether of Palestinian origin or not - were permitted to visit, live and work in the territories based on tourist visas that they renewed every three months. Thereafter, Israel began preventing the entry of thousands of people, including businesspeople, investors, students, university faculty and spouses of Palestinians. 

Several of these people launched an international public campaign against the restrictions. Foreign embassies protested, and America's then-secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, also voiced criticism. 

As a result of the pressure, the interior and defense ministers canceled the restrictions in December 2006, and GOGAT was told to revise the procedures. However, both the text of the procedures that was sent to the PA on December 28, 2006 and a letter the Foreign Ministry sent to foreign embassies and consulates on March 5, 2007 revealed that Israel had created a new restriction: Entry to the West Bank was henceforth conditioned on "the military commander's consent ... the foreign national will be required to keep the consent form with his/her passport." 

In contrast to Haddad's response, however, the text states that the area in question is "the West Bank," not "PA territory." And neither of these documents states that entry to Israel is prohibited or requires additional bureaucratic steps. 

The new procedure effectively places many tourists and visitors under closure and discriminates against them compared to their compatriots who do not have relations with the Palestinian community and whose main destination is not the West Bank. (Israel has kept the number of foreign nationals it allows into Gaza to a minimum since the August 2005 disengagement.) Closure has been the permanent state of affairs in the occupied territories since January 1991, when Israel forbade Palestinians to enter its territory without a permit from the Civil Administration. 


ePalestine Blog:


Everything about this list:

To unsubscribe, send mail to:

To subscribe, send mail to: