Sunday, March 28, 2010

[ePalestine] Happy Passover from Gaza (By Sam Bahour)

Happy Passover from Gaza 

By Sam Bahour

In 2010, Jews in Israel and around the world will celebrate Passover beginning on March 30th. Passover is the seven-day holiday of the Feast of Unleavened Bread commemorating the ancient Hebrews' escape from enslavement in Egypt. (In Israel, March 30th is also Land Day: the day when Palestinians commemorate and protest the confiscation of their lands by the Israeli government; but that’s another story.) 

As I’m learning, the Passover holiday begins with the Seder, a traditional ceremonial meal. Its centerpiece is a special Seder plate containing six symbolic foods. Each has its own significance in the retelling of the story of the Hebrews’ exodus from Egypt. The stack of three matzos, or unleavened bread, a kind of cracker made of plain white flour and water, has its own separate plate on the Seder table. 

For each of the six traditional items on the Seder plate (as per Wikipedia and the Chabad website) —listed here by its Hebrew name—I note its traditional symbolic role and offer an additional, alternative interpretation. I hope my alternative can help Jews around the world, and especially in Israel, connect with a broader perspective on the meaning of Passover right here, right now, in the land that became the eventual endpoint of that ancient exodus. 

Maror and Chazeret  — Bitter herbs, symbolizing the bitterness and harshness of the slavery which the Jews endured in Egypt. Slavery: severe curtailment of one’s freedom. Today, one and a half million Palestinians in Gaza are tasting the bitterness of unfreedom, hermetically sealed in their encircled enclave with no end in sight. Sixty percent are under the age of 16. The Jewish citizens of Israel have hardened their hearts to this reality and they have expected the rest of the world’s Jews to do likewise. For how long will you wait for Palestinians to vanish? 

Charoset — A coarse mixture of chopped nuts, apples or dates, and wine, meant to symbolize the mortar used by the Jewish slaves to build the storehouses of Egypt. Today, Israel permits no mortar, or cement, or any other building materials, to enter Gaza. Let them sleep in tents! This, after last winter’s assault on Gaza, internationally documented war crimes (and possibly crimes against humanity), causing over 1,400 deaths in 22 days between December 2008 and January 2009– leaving scores homeless in the rubble. Is this the freedom Moses envisioned? The freedom to attack civilians with the tanks, planes and warships of the “Jewish” State? Doesn’t sound very Jewish to me. Not at all. 

Karpas — A vegetable other than bitter herbs, dipped into salt water (which represents tears) to recall the pain felt by the Jewish slaves in Egypt. Tears! Pain! In your name, my Jewish friends, Israel continues its inhuman siege on Gaza. The folks there shed tears as salty as anyone’s; their pain is beyond description. Two of every three of today’s Gaza residents originally lost their homes in what is now Israel when the state was established. Six decades later, they find themselves living a nightmare, a kind of living death: their economy in ruins, their neighborhoods in ruins, their educational and health systems in ruins, even their sanitation systems in ruins. Israel refuses to allow reconstruction. What comes after stripping Gazans from their last remaining sense of sanity? 

Z'roa — A roasted lamb shankbone (or a chicken wing, or chicken neck) symbolizes the paschal sacrifice offered originally on the eve of the exodus and later in the Temple in Jerusalem. Sacrifice!  Do you insist on sacrificing the possibility of a sustainable future for modern Israel in the name of its founding myth – since discredited – that Palestine was “a land without people, for a people without a land”? A million of today’s Gazans are from the families that Israel expelled. Gazans have remained steadfast under conditions even the early Hebrews might have found intolerable in Egypt. Gazans, together with all Palestinians, are the people that Jews in Israel are destined to live with, today, tomorrow, and forever.  The only uncertainty is how much more hate will be generated by military occupation and armed assault before a process of shared rehabilitation can begin. 

Beitzah — A hard-boiled egg, symbolizing the main festival sacrifice that was offered in the Temple in Jerusalem and roasted and eaten as part of the meal on Seder night. The egg is a symbol of mourning. Eggs are the first thing served to mourners after a Jewish funeral. The egg on the Seder plate evokes the mourning over the destruction of the Temple and the subsequent inability to offer sacrifices there in honor of the Pesach holiday.  Mourning!  As Jews, you know a lot about mourning; consider the sixty-two years of mourning, consider every day of every one of those years, among the people--real people, with real names and real children—in Gaza and in squalid refugee camps all around Israel who can see their homeland with the naked eye, but are denied their basic human right of returning home. Sixty-two Passovers and counting. All I ask of you on this year’s holy day, as you contemplate the egg on the Seder plate, is to remember them, no more. 

My Jewish sisters and brothers, you can continue to look away as Israel claims to speak and to act in your name.  It kills and maims in your name.  It dispossesses and occupies in your name.  It talks peace and wages war in your name.  If you turn a deaf ear to their mourning again this year, if you harden your heart again this year, if your voice is not raised this year in protest – then you are acquiescing in the ongoing ethnic cleansing of another people, in your name.  If you cannot see Palestinians as fully human now, you will hear them trying to give voice to their humanity in your nightmares, year after year, until you can see and until you can hear. 

It is written in the Talmud: We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are. I urge you, while you commemorate the Hebrews’ ancient slavery and deliverance, to see yourselves finally as equals in this world: equal with your neighbors, neither their masters nor their slaves.  I urge you to see yourself and your children in the image of every Palestinian mother, father and child in Gaza. Let this year be the year of your shared redemption! 

Free Gaza now!  End the occupation now!  Happy Passover from Gaza! 

Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American living under Israeli occupation. He may be reached at and blogs at


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Friday, March 26, 2010

[ePalestine] EI: Israel's inclusion in OECD a threat to democracy + Cartoon + Action Item

Dear friends, 

This is a very important article.  It clearly shows one of the scores of actions that President Obama and every other democracy can take if serious about stopping Israel's illegal settlement enterprise. 

Sadly, I think reality is more like the attached cartoon (Al-Quds AlArabi 18-3-2010).

Nevertheless, the OECD issue gives each of us an action item.  Bring this issue up in your local media (get the below op-ed published locally, if possible) and write letters to your country's Permanent Delegation to the OECD.  Get their contact info here .

Strength to Gaza tonight, and every night,

P.S.  I'm aware that a few of my last posts may have not arrived in your inbox in the usual way.  This was due to a workaround I had to use due to a technical problem.  All is back to normal now. If you missed any of the last posts (which included several of my own writings) they may be found at .



Israel's inclusion in economic organization a threat to democracy 

Shir Hever, The Electronic Intifada, 25 March 2010 

Membership in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which includes 30 of the world's most developed countries, does not provide money or any special economic benefits. Yet it is easy to see why the Israeli government attributes great importance to Israel becoming one of its members. For Israel, membership in the OECD would mean a victory of legitimacy, and a major setback for the worldwide movement calling on Israel to be held accountable for its crimes against the Palestinian people. Only democratic countries are allowed to join the OECD. With 35 percent of the population under Israel's control and sovereignty disenfranchised, denied their basic human and civil rights and repeatedly attacked by the Israeli army, Israel is finding it increasingly difficult to portray itself as a democracy. 

What appears less obvious is why the member countries would want to include Israel in the OECD. Israel's membership would be a confirmation of Israeli policies, thus eroding the organization's prestige while undermining the efforts of these very same countries to achieve peace in the Middle East. The OECD would be inviting the world to see how it prefers to ignore the crimes committed by Israel, and reward it instead. This would do no less than feed into the argument of extremists who claim that only violence can safeguard the rights of occupied Palestinians. 

Ironically, however, the OECD seems to be working harder than Israel to facilitate the latter's acceptance, which is expected to occur in May. Israel has refused to comply with the OECD demand to provide statistical data which applies only to the internationally-recognized parts of Israel, excluding the illegal settlements in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Yet despite Israel's refusal, the OECD's Committee on Statistics is acting to find ways to accept Israel anyway. 

According to a leaked report, "Ascension of Israel to the Organization: Draft Formal Opinions of the Committee on Statistics" ( download the PDF ), the committee proposes to accept Israel based on the statistics currently available, which includes Israeli citizens in the OPT. However, it requests that Israel provide more detailed statistical data which will allow the OECD to conduct its own calculation in order to separate the OPT data from that of Israel. However, Israel will only commit to provide this data after it becomes a member of the organization. Yet as soon as Israel becomes a member, it will have the right to veto this decision, rendering the commitment an empty statement. 

It should be noted that in this way the OECD is adopting the Israeli approach -- an approach that eliminates the Palestinians and Israel's effective sovereignty over the OPT, and focuses solely on Israeli citizens. This approach is tantamount to recognizing Israel's illegal occupation, which stands in direct contradiction to international law and the foreign policies of virtually all OECD countries. 

It should also be noted that the OECD takes decisions by consensus. It only takes one OECD country to oppose the integration of Israel into the organization in order to block the process. So far, not a single OECD country has voiced its intention to vote against including Israel in the organization. 

The reason for that is twofold. First, there is the usual fear that any country (especially a European country), that voices its objection to Israel's joining the OECD will be accused of anti-Semitism. Israel enjoys the unflinching support of the United States, and few European politicians have the courage to take a moral stand against either Washington or Israel. 

Second, right-wing parties around the world see Israel as the Mecca of anti-immigration policies, Islamophobia and the "war on terror." With every new line that Israel crosses in abusing the human and national rights of Palestinians, right-wing parties are emboldened to deepen their own politics of hatred toward immigrants. If Israel conducts extra-judicial assassinations, why won't other countries be allowed to do the same? If Israel installs surveillance mechanisms that invade the privacy of its citizens, what would stop other countries from doing so also? Legitimizing Israel by inviting and facilitating its ascension to the OECD is thus a tool to legitimize the extreme measures promoted by far-right parties in Europe, which are eager to do away with democratic mechanisms and human rights of minorities in the name of nationalism and "security." 

European law clearly forbids European countries from recognizing the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, as has been affirmed by the Russell Tribunal . Yet by granting Israel membership in the OECD, they will be doing exactly that. OECD members will knowingly accept Israel to the organization based on deceptive statistics provided by the latter, statistics which conceal the occupation while simultaneously treating it as a permanent fact. 

Israel's acceptance into the OECD would be a grave mistake. It will reward violations of international law, feed the extreme right wing which is growing in developed countries and render all OECD countries as accomplices in Israel's illegal occupation. 

Shir Hever is an economist at the Alternative Information Center. 

©2000-2007  unless otherwise noted. Content may represent personal view of author. This page was printed from the Electronic Intifada website at You may freely e-mail, print out, copy, and redistribute this page for informational purposes on a non-commercial basis. To republish content credited to the Electronic Intifada in online or print publications, please get in touch via 


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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

[ePalestine] ACTION ITEM: Presbyterian Church under attack for their "Breaking Down The Walls" report

Dear friends,

A few days ago I posted a report issued by the Presbyterian Church USA's Middle East Committee titled, "Breaking Down The Walls" ( As could be expected the Church is now under a vicious attack from the pro-Israel lobby in the US.

I urge you to read the report, if you have not already, and send a letter of support to:

Rev. Dr. Ronald L. Shive, Chair
Committee on Mideast Study
Presbyterian Church USA

Rev. Dr. Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian church USA

Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow
Moderator, Presbyterian Church USA

Elder Linda B. Valentine
Executive director of the
General Assembly Mission Council of the PC (USA).

Lastly, bring the report to the attention of your local media. For example, by meeting with your newspaper's editorial board, or submitting a Letter to the Editor referencing the report as you comment on their coverage of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Make a call to your local talk shows and get a buzz happening around the report. People, especially churchgoers, must be shaken out of their spiritual trance on the Holy Land and act to save it.

Actions, and only actions, lead to progress,



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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

[ePalestine] Targeted Citizen - Israel's Palestinian Citizens - A MUST WATCH


Targeted Citizen - Israel's Palestinian Citizens

The online film "Targeted Citizen" (15 minutes), produced by filmmaker Rachel Leah Jones for Adalah, surveys discrimination against the Palestinian citizens of Israel. With the participation of experts Dr. Yousef Jabareen of the Technion and Dr. Khaled Abu Asbeh of the Van Leer Institute, as well as Adalah attorneys Sawsan Zaher, Abeer Baker and Hassan Jabareen, inequality in land and housing, employment, education and civil and political rights are eloquently addressed. These interviews are reinforced by the contrasting informality of on-the-street conversations conducted by Palestinian comic duo Shammas-Nahas and punctuated by the hard-hitting rhymes of Palestinian rap trio DAM. The film's theme song "Targeted Citizen," written and recorded by DAM especially for Adalah, tells it like it is without missing a beat.




Haifa, Israel
Adalah ("Justice" in Arabic) is an independent human rights organization and legal center. Established in November 1996, it works to promote and defend the rights of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, numbering 1.2 million people or close to 20% of the population, and Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).


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Sunday, March 21, 2010

[ePalestine] Why Israel Always Prevails (By JEFFREY BLANKFORT)


Weekend Edition - March 19 - 21, 2010

A Crisis in U.S. / Israeli Relations? Sure. But ...

Why Israel Always Prevails


If the State Department had issued travel advisory warnings to US government officials about to travel to Israel, Vice President Joe Biden would have no doubt ignored them. A better friend to Israel could not have been found in the 36 years that Biden represented Delaware in the US Senate and there was speculation that his popularity among Jewish voters and major Jewish donors was the primary reason he was added to the Democratic ticket. According to all reports, Biden's trip was to mend fences with the Israeli officials and with the Israeli Jewish public which had become disenchanted with the Obama administration where the president's popularity is measured in the low single digits.

Indeed, even a day after having been blind-sided by the announcement that Israel would build 1600 new and exclusively Jewish housing units in East Jerusalem, Biden was still trying. In a prepared speech, he once again bragged, this time to a Tel Aviv university audience, that he was a Zionist and that, "Throughout my career, Israel has not only remained close to my heart but it has been the center of my work as a United States Senator and now as Vice President of the United States," a statement that should raise questions about dual loyalties and which, curiously, was omitted from all reports on his speech in the US press.

In addition, Biden repeated what he said on his arrival in Jerusalem, that, "There is no space -- this is what they [the world] must know, every time progress is made, it's made when the rest of the world knows there is absolutely no space between the United States and Israel when it comes to security, none. No space. That's the only time when progress has been made." Biden did not offer any examples of such progress and would have had a hard time doing so.

It was not until the end of his speech, after he had thoroughly regurgitated the standard Israeli line on the threats to its existence from Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah, that he felt safe to offer words of criticism for his treatment at the hands of his hosts. The words of condemnation issued the previous day, however, were patently missing. Almost apologizing for doing so, Biden told his audience: "Now, some legitimately may have been surprised that such a strong supporter of Israel for the last 37 years and beyond… as an elected official, how I can speak out so strongly given the ties that I share as well as my country shares with Israel. But quite frankly, folks, sometimes only a friend can deliver the hardest truth.

"And I appreciate… the response your Prime Minister today announced this morning that he is putting in place a process to prevent the recurrence of that sort of that sort of events [sic] and who clarified that the beginning of actual construction on this particular project would likely take several years … That's significant, because it gives negotiations the time to resolve this, as well as other outstanding issues. Because when it was announced, I was on the West Bank. Everyone there thought it had meant immediately the resumption of the construction of 1,600 new units."

What, of course, Biden meant was not that Israel should not be able do as it pleases in East Jerusalem, but that announcements of its plans should be handled in a more tactful manner, when, presumably, he, or other US officials are several thousand miles away. Biden, of course, was patently ignoring repeated statements by Netanyahu that Israel's decisions to build in East Jerusalem will not be subject either to pressure from Washington or negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

Moreover, as Ha'aretz noted, those projected 1600 units are only a small part of 50,000 units planned for the eastern part of the city, which was annexed in 1967, and which are designed to preclude it not only from becoming the capital of a Palestinian state but also to prevent Palestinian residents of the city from traveling to the West Bank.

According to Yediot Ahronoth, Israel's most widely read newspaper, Biden had privately complained to Netanyahu that Israel's behavior was "starting to get dangerous for us." "What you're doing here," he reportedly said, "undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us, and it endangers regional peace." That Biden made such a statement has been denied by the White House, but it follows closely an earlier memorandum sent by General Petraeus to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and his testimony before a US Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.

In his prepared statement, Petraeus depicted the Israeli-Arab conflict as the first "cross cutting challenge to security and stability" in the CENTCOM area of responsibility [AOR]. "The enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests in the AOR."

Treading in an area where few members of the US military have dared to go before, Petraeus observed that "The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the AOR and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world." It should be noted that neither the NY Times' Elizabeth Bumiller nor the Washington Post's Anne Flaherty included any reference to these comments by Petraeus in their coverage of his testimony.

In other words, in the view of Gen. Petraeus, resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict is critical to the US national interest and that, plus his reference to the "perception" of Washington's pro-Israel bias, is what may have been what, for the moment, occasioned President Obama through Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to ratchet up the criticism and publicly brand Israel's treatment of Biden as "insulting."

Rather than letting the issue die, she had her office publicize the fact that she had given a piece of her mind to Netanyahu in a 43 minute phone call in which, according to her spokesperson, P.J. Crowley, she described the planned units in East Jerusalem as sending a "deeply negative signal about Israel's approach to the bilateral relationship and counter to the spirit of the vice president's trip" and that "this action had undermined trust and confidence in the peace process and in America's interests."

Moreover, she made three demands of Netanyahu that were spelled out in the Israeli press but which were only alluded to in the US media: cancelling the decision to approve the 1600 units, making a "significant" gesture to the Palestinian Authority to get it back to the bargaining table, and issuing a public statement that the indirect talks will deal with all the core issues, including Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees. Pretty heady stuff for those used to see Clinton falling all over herself to show her loyalty to Israel.

To emphasize the US position, the Obama administration cancelled the scheduled visit of Middle East envoy George Mitchell who had planned to meet with Israelis and Palestinians in what had been touted by the administration as "proximity talks."

The gravity of the situation was not lost upon Israel's new ambassador, American-born historian, Michael Oren, who, in a conference call with Israel's US consulates, reportedly expressed the opinion (which he now denies) that this was the worst crisis in US-Israel relations since 1975 when Pres. Gerald Ford and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger publicly blamed Israel for the breakdown of negotiations with Egypt over withdrawing from the Sinai. As a consequence, Ford announced that he was going to make a major speech calling for a reassessment of Israel-US relations. Although hardly the powerhouse that it has become today, AIPAC, the only officially registered pro-Israel lobby, responded to the threat by getting 76 senators to sign a harsh letter to Ford, warning him not to tamper with Israel-US relations. Ford never made the speech and it would not be the last time that AIPAC got three quarters of the US Senate to sign a letter designed to keep an American president in check.

Others point to the nationally televised speech on September 12, 1991 of the first President Bush, who, upon realizing that AIPAC had secured enough votes in both houses of Congress to override his veto of Israel's request for $10 billion in loan guarantees, went before the American public depicting himself as "one lonely little guy" battling a thousand lobbyists on Capitol Hill. A national poll taken immediately afterward gave the president an 85 per cent approval rating which sent the lobby and its Congressional flunkies scuttling into the corner but not before AIPAC director, Tom Dine, exclaimed at that date, Sept. 12, 1991, "would live in infamy." Following the election of Yitzhak Rabin the following year and up for re-election himself, Bush relented and approved the loan guarantee request.

There are those who, while aware of what happened to Ford and of the subsequent humiliations visited by Israel upon American presidents and secretaries of state, view the Biden affair as a charade designed to placate the heads of Arab governments as well as their respective peoples and give the impression that there is a space between Israel and the US when it comes to resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict when, they assert, none exists.

Viewing the unrelenting expansion of Jewish settlements and settlers in the West Bank through one US administration after another for the past four decades they would appear to have a solid argument. It is undermined, however, by one obvious fact: while the rest of the world considers the Israel-Palestine conflict to be a foreign policy concern, for Washington and both Democrats and Republicans it has been and remains primarily a domestic issue. In that arena there is only one player, the pro-Israel "lobby" which is represented by a multitude of organizations, the most prominent of which is AIPAC.

As if it needed more help, flocking to Israel's side in increasing numbers over the past several decades have come the majority of America's Christian evangelicals whose doomsday theology fits in nicely with that of Israel's ultra right wing settler movement. The result is that in each election cycle anyone with any hope of being elected to a national political office, be it in the White House or Congress, whether incumbent or challenger, feels obligated to express his or her unconditional loyalty to Israel by shamelessly groveling for handouts from Jewish donors and the nod from Jewish voters who make up critical voting blocs in at least six states.

This being the case, it is not so strange that a string of leading elected American officials would willingly submit to public humiliation by a country so politically and militarily dependent on the U.S. and whose population is less than that of New York City or Los Angeles County, even when doing so has made the U.S. seem weak in the eyes of a world in which Washington has other, more pressing interests, than pleasing Israel. There is no better example of this phenomenon than Barack Obama whose stature as leader of "the world's only superpower" has been severely undercut by repeated verbal face-slappings at the hands of Netanyahu and his cabinet ministers.

It clearly has been in the US interest that the Israel-Palestine conflict be peacefully resolved. There is nothing in the proposed "two-state solution" that would interfere with Washington's regional objectives. On the contrary, the creation of a truncated Palestinian statelet, allied and dependent, politically and financially on the US, as it most certainly would be, would be a boon to US regional interests and ultimately viewed as a setback for anti-imperialist struggles worldwide. It was not just to expend some US taxpayers' money that the GW Bush administration built a four story security building for the PA in Ramallah (that Sharon later destroyed), brought PA security personnel to Langley, VA for training with the CIA, and had Gen. Dayton build a colonial army to maintain order.

Israeli officials view all of this from a very different perspective, as should be obvious, and will do everything they can to prevent any kind of a Palestinian entity from coming into existence since this would interfere not only with its expansion plans but would also create a junior competitor for US favors in the region. This was why Sharon targeted the US built institutions on the West Bank and the CIA trained personnel during the Al-Aksa Intifada despite the fact that they were non-participants, which raised the hackles at CIA headquarters, as reported at the time in the Washington Post.

What the insult to Biden was clearly designed to do, as were the previous humiliations, was to remind the current and future occupants of the White House that when it comes to making decisions concerning the Middle East, it is Israel that calls the tune. As Stephen Green spelled it out in "Taking Sides: America's Secret Relations with Militant Israel" (Morrow, 1984) a quarter century ago, "Since 1953, Israel, and friends of Israel in America, have determined the broad outlines of US policy in the region. It has been left to American presidents to implement that policy, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, and to deal with tactical issues."

That Netanyahu was also taken unawares by the announcement concerning the housing units as he claimed is questionable, particularly since he has apologized only for its timing, not its content and the offending minister remains unpunished. Netanyahu was surely cognizant that next week he will be coming to Washington to speak before AIPAC's annual policy conference where he will find a greater degree of support than anywhere in his own country. Last year's conference attracted a record 7,000 attendees plus half of the US Senate and a third of the House and it is likely to be ever larger this year in response to the administration's perceived hostility to Israel.

Netanyahu will no doubt happily recall that before he met with President Obama for the first time last year, 76 US senators, led by Christopher Dodd and Evan Bayh, and 330 members of the House, sent AIPAC- crafted letters to the president calling on him not to put pressure on the Israeli prime minister when they met. The only report of this in the mainstream media was by a Washington post blogger who noted the AIPAC tagline on the pdf that was circulated among House members. Netanyahu will also be succored by memories of the House's near unanimous support of Israel's assault on Gaza and by its 334 to 36 vote condemning the Goldstone Report in its aftermath.

In addition, during last year's Congressional summer recess, 55 members of the House, 30 Democrats led by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and 25 Republicans, led by Eric Cantor, the House's lone Jewish Republican member, visited Jerusalem. Both groups met with Netanyahu and afterward held press conferences in which they expressed their solidarity with Israel, particularly with its claims on East Jerusalem, at a time when the Obama administration was calling for a settlement freeze. These visits, too, went unreported in the mainstream media.

Under the present circumstances, we can expect to see AIPAC extend every effort to make this year's event the largest and more successful yet and there should be no doubt that those attending will give a far more rousing welcome to Netanyahu and to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is also on the AIPAC program, than to Secretary of State Clinton.

AIPAC is already posting statements on its website from members of Congress who are taking the Obama administration to task for making its differences with Israel public and for keeping the issue alive when the focus should not be on Jewish settlements but on the growing threat of a nuclear Iran which has been at the top of AIPAC's agenda since the beginning of the Iraq War.

Nevertheless, given that the Democratic Party remains dependent on wealthy Jewish donors for the bulk of its major funding, estimated to be at least 60 per cent, and that this is an election year, we can expect Clinton to reach out and once again embrace Israel as she did at the 2008 AIPAC conference when, Biden-like, she said, "I have a bedrock commitment to Israel's security, because Israel's security is critical to our security….[A]ll parties must know we will always stand with Israel in its struggle for peace and security. Israel should know that the United States will never pressure her to make unilateral concessions or to impose a made-in-America solution." For those with short memories, here is a sampling of past humiliations of US presidents and secretaries of state at the hands of our loyal ally:

March, 1980, President Carter was forced to apologize after US UN representative Donald McHenry voted for a resolution that condemned Israel's settlement policies in the occupied territories including East Jerusalem and which called on Israel to dismantle them. McHenry had replaced Andrew Young who was pressured to resign in 1979 after an Israeli newspaper revealed that he had held a secret meeting with a PLO representative which violated a US commitment to Israel and to the American Jewish community.

June, 1980 After Carter requested a halt to Jewish settlements and his Secretary of State, Edmund Muskie, called the Jewish settlements an obstacle to peace, Prime Minister Menachem Begin announced plans to construct 10 new ones.

In December, 1981, 14 days after signing what was described as a memorandum of strategic understanding with the Reagan administration, Israel annexed the Golan Heights "which made it appear that the US either acquiesced in the move or else has absolutely no control over its own ally's actions. In both cases the US looks bad….he has once again poked his ally, the source of all his most sophisticated weapons and one third of his budget in the eye." (Lars Erik-Nelson)

In August, 1982, the day after Reagan requested that Ariel Sharon end the bombing of Beirut, Sharon responded by ordering bombing runs over the city at precisely 2:42 and 3:38 in the afternoon, the times coinciding with the two UN resolutions requiring Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories.

In March, 1991, Secretary of State James Baker complained to Congress that "Every time I have gone to Israel in connection with the peace process.., I have been met with an announcement of new settlement activity… It substantially weakens our hand in trying to bring about a peace process, and creates quite a predicament." In 1990, he had become so disgusted with Israel's intransigence on the settlements that he publicly gave out the phone number of the White House switchboard and told the Israelis, "When you're serious about peace, call us."

In April 2002, after Pres. George W Bush demanded that Ariel Sharon pull Israeli forces out of Jenin, declaring "Enough is enough!," he was besieged by a 100,000 emails from supporters of Israel, Jewish and Christian and accused by Bill Safire of choosing Yasser Arafat as a friend over Sharon and by George Will, of losing his "moral clarity." Within days, a humiliated Bush was declaring Sharon "a man of peace" despite the fact that he had not withdrawn his troops from Jenin.

In January 2009, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert publicly boasted that he had "shamed" Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice by getting President Bush to prevent her from voting for a Gaza cease-fire resolution at the last moment that she herself had worked on for several days with Arab and European diplomats at the United Nations.

Olmert bragged to an Israeli audience that he pulled Bush off a stage during a speech to take his call when he learned about the pending vote and demanded that the president intervene.

"I have no problem with what Olmert did," Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, told the Forward. "I think the mistake was to talk about it in public."

That episode and Foxman's comment may have summed up the history of US-Israel relations.

Jeffrey Blankfort is a long-time pro-Palestinian activist and a contributor to

The Politics of Anti-Semitism. He an be contacted at

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

[ePalestine] Book Review: Zionism’s Invented State (By Sam Bahour)

Book Review 

Zionism's Invented State 

By Sam Bahour 

Israeli Exceptionalism : The Destabilizing Logic of Zionism
by M. Shahid Alam
Palgrave Macmillan, 272 pp., £55.00

Israeli Exceptionalism: The Destabilizing Logic of Zionism arrived in the mail shortly after I completed sending a thank you note to two other authors and friends, Kathleen and Bill Christison.  The Christison's had just released their newest title, Palestine in Pieces: Graphic Perspectives on the Israeli Occupation (Pluto Press) and I felt that they deserved a huge thank you for encapsulating their eyewitness report of Israeli military dispossession and occupation in the warped ideological framework of Zionism.  I felt such a framing depicted a high sense of rarely found political maturity on behalf of American analysts.  Israeli Exceptionalism was a natural next read for it peeled the onion of Zionism to reveal how deeply flawed this ideology was and is and how it has become a destabilizing factor which puts people of the region—and arguably beyond—in serious jeopardy. 

Israeli Exceptionalism is not only a must read, it is a must think about book.  To add intellectual spice, every chapter starts with a few quotes of prominent individuals related to the topic at hand.  Reading these quotes alone speak volumes of the human tragedy, in thought and lives, that Zionism evoked. 

Author M. Shahid Alam, a non-Arab, professor of economics at Northeastern University in Boston does a fascinating job of creating a repository of references on Zionism by way of narrative and footnotes.  Although I think of myself as well-read on the topic, I attest that I learned much from Israeli Exceptionalism, not only in terms of identifying new references, but also in terms of analysis and context. 

It was not the first time I have read the word "exceptionalism" in relation to Israel.  New York Times columnist Roger Cohen recently wrote that Israel "lives in a perpetual state of exceptionalism." (New York Times, Oct. 16, 2009).  However, Professor Alam explored this Israeli phenomenon on a deeper level of its underlying ideology to shed light on why this abnormal state seems to be unable to come to terms with modern day realities.  The book addresses three principal forms of Israeli exceptionalism: 1) the "divine right" of Jews, 2) "Israeli achievements," which at first glance seem impressive, and 3) the Jews' "uniquely tragic history."  Alam explains that, "In order to secure itself against these "unique" threats to its existence, Israel claims exemption from the demands of international laws."  Sadly, so long as Israel resists permitting international law to be its reference point, despite the fact that Israel's own birth is owed to the same body of law, the only alternative Israel allows for is the age-old Law of the Jungle—the law of might is right

Throughout the book the author uses a new term, "Islamicate," which this writer, a secular Palestinian, found a sober source of food for thought, especially given the state of global and regional affairs today.  As a foil for his historical review of the development of Zionism, its trials and tribulations, and the existence of Israel, the author gives us the Islmicate—the Muslim world, or the "Islamic heartland"—which forces the reader to see the larger context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Given the events of 9/11 and all that proceeded it, including the shift from a Cold War paradigm to a War on Terror one, this backdrop is a key framing for the analysis.  However, the author speaks at some length of the Arab nationalist movement which unsuccessfully attempted to face off with Israel, but skips the depth of the secular Palestinian national movement that broke away from official Arab nationalism leadership and kept the Palestinian struggle for freedom and impendence alive all these years, albeit under threat today from an Islamist trend in the region.  That noted, Alam is correct when he ended the book by saying, "The Islamicate world today is not what it was during World War I. It is noticeably less inclined to let foreigners draw their maps for them." 

The thesis of the book is that "The Zionist movement in Palestine has generated endemic violence between Jewish settlers and Palestinians.  Since 1948, this violence has repeatedly pitted Israel against the Palestinians and its neighbors. It has dragged Western societies, especially the United States, into ever widening and deepening conflicts with the Islamicate." Professor Alam argues that "the history of these ever-expanding circles of conflict and instability was contained in the Zionist idea itself." 

This approach to understanding Zionism and Israel —the notion that an all-encompassing plan has and is guiding Israel—is a constant source of debate between myself and many Israeli friends.  I argue that a macro plan, one that has a guiding thrust to force the realization of the original Zionist myth that Palestine was a "land with no people for a people with no land" is in place and motivating many on the Israeli side.  Many Israelis argue that this notion gives too much credit to their society and leadership and contend that minimal planning, chance, luck, and near total haphazardness have brought them to their precarious state of affairs.  After a careful reading of Israeli Exceptionalism I tend to believe that the truth is somewhere in the middle.  Like the founders of Zionism, Israel's current leadership is too politically savvy to try and micromanage the future.  Instead it provides an overall framework and lets its constantly adapting organizations—the World Zionist Organization, then Israel—deal with the required, real-time maneuvering based on the ever-changing realities and interests of the moment. 

Professor Alam carefully follows the intertwining interrelationships among many seemingly disparate movements that have, collectively, driven the State of Israel—the exclusionist ideology of Zionism, interests of shifting global powers, anti-Semitism, Christian Zionism, Jewish Diaspora, the Israeli lobby, and the clout ascertained by serving the short term political interests of individual western leaders.  Although the text is heavily footnoted, the author's many insights prompt the reader to want to learn more and corroborate some of the information provided: particularly in the chapter devoted to "Jewish Factors in Zionist Success," for example, where the author's historical portrayal of Jewish influence in the service of Zionism/Israel around the world suggests much more of a monolithic dynamic among these communities than I tend to find plausible.  For example, and Alam also makes mention of this aspect of Jewish Diaspora: "Jews of 19th century Germany founded the Reform movement, rejecting the idea of a Jewish nation …The Reform movement of those days was a compromise between total apostasy (assimilation) and orthodoxy." (Ami Isseroff, Opposition of Reform Judaism to Zionism - A History, August 12, 2005).  Given such strong trends within world Jewry that opposed Zionism for considerable periods in the movement's history, Alam's monolithic view seems tendentious. I would claim that superior organization and dynamic leadership among committed Zionists is what led to the "success" of Zionism, more so than any natural Jewish leaning toward a desire for an exclusionist state, with all that that means for others. A significant minority of Jews alive today in fact continue to oppose Zionism on the grounds that it is very "un-Jewish." 

Meantime, the book chronicles the emergence of an influential trend of Jewish-only exceptionalism long before the horrific misery of Jews after WWII, and as a matter of fact, even before the recognized founder of Zionism, Theodore Herzl, wrote The Jewish State (a book I re-read annually.)  However, Alam correctly notes that "Israel's creation and survival are anomalies" and that, after nearly 100 years of Zionist/Israeli exclusionism evinced in a policy of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, "It would appear that Israel's demographic constraints are binding: and these constraints may well determine the ultimate destiny of this exclusionary colonialism."  "The tragedy of Zionism," proclaims Alam, "is written into its design; its end is contained in its beginning."  That may be true for many –isms of this world, some which have already collapsed of their own weight. 

A Zionist friend and writer, Bernard Avishai, recently wrote in his latest book, "Israel is a society where institutional discrimination against individuals for an accident of birth or a profession of faith has been so routine it is hardly noticed—not, at least, by Jews." (The Hebrew Republic, Harcourt, pg. 25).  Another Zionist, albeit of a completely different school of thought, Israel's current Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, was quoted earlier this month as saying "If, and as long as between the Jordan and the sea, there is only one political entity, named Israel, it will end up being either non-Jewish or non-democratic ... If the Palestinians vote in elections, it is a binational state, and if they don't, it is an apartheid state."  These words coming from across the Zionist spectrum should not be taken lightly.  Remember: apartheid is a crime against humanity! 

Professor Alam states that "at first, Zionists did not seek to conceal the colonial character of their movement…concealment was not necessary in the age of high imperialism and triumphant racism."  The United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379, adopted on November 10, 1975 by a vote of 72 to 35 (with 32 abstentions), "determine[d] that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination". The resolution was revoked by Resolution 46/86 on December 16, 1991. In the history of the UN, this is the only resolution that has ever been revoked.  As a Palestinian experiencing the real-time impact of the racialist policies of a Zionist-motivated Israeli state, I believe that revoking this resolution was a mistake because it only postponed the inevitable day of reckoning when Israel would have to look at itself in the mirror and accept what it found there as real.  Reading Israeli Exceptionalism can help us to understand how such historical oddities evolve. 

Another Israeli friend, Deb Reich, a non-Zionist but someone who has lived—sometimes painfully—the Zionist reality, expressed it rather succinctly when I asked her about Zionism. She said, "I have come to believe that lecturing people about their badness is the last thing on earth that can solve our problems and will rarely change their behavior one iota; in fact, it can make them more stubborn. I know that we have no choice but to try to hold people accountable for their actions in terms of both the intended and unintended consequences for others, because without accountability there is chaos; but at the same time, if we want positive change, then we MUST open a window for people on how they can redeem themselves, and redeem the situation.  That endeavor is what leadership is supposed to be about." 

Understanding history is one thing, but being able to come to terms with it and survive it is something materially different:, just ask Palestinians living today.  Is turning back the clock of history doable or even desirable today?  Left to the tools of our day—international law, compensation, and hopefully reconciliation—will history correct itself in the future with the emergence of smarter generations of Israelis and Palestinians?  Can we Palestinians survive as a people to see that day?  These are questions we ponder daily while under the influence of Israeli occupation and dispossession. 

Professor Alam believes that the tide of Zionism will begin to turn when the banana republics of the Middle East begin to fall and are "replaced by Islamist governments" at which time "it may become difficult for the United States to maintain its presence in the region."  I beg for the international community to uphold their obligations under international law and resolve this conflict before that day. 

The writer is a Palestinian-American living in the Palestinian City of Al-Bireh in the West Bank. He is co-author of HOMELAND: Oral Histories of Palestine and Palestinians (1994) and may be reached at

Note: An edited version of this review was published in Arab News on March 17, 2010 and may be found at:


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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

[ePalestine] Hats off to the Presbyterian Church USA

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

[ePalestine] America To The Rescue, (Not) Again (By Sam Bahour)

America To The Rescue, (Not) Again

By Sam Bahour

We are told that President Obama has taken a leap of political faith in trying to bridge a final peace settlement between Palestinians and Israelis.  The United States' new weapon is "proximity talks": if either side fails to meet American expectations, the US will squarely and publicly lay blame.  If this was a sitcom it would be the opportune time to crack up laughing; regretfully this is not the case.  Real people - whole generations - of Palestinians are on the verge of being locked into another decade of protracted and violent military occupation.  Many Israelis' lives and hopes are at stake as well.

It has been reported in Ha'aretz that President Obama submitted a letter of commitment to the Palestinian side to get these indirect "proximity talks" off the ground.  The letter notes, "Our core remains a viable, independent and sovereign Palestinian State with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967."  This is not the first time a US administration has used its creativity in creating new terminology to deal with the conflict instead of relying on the time-tested body of international law that provides the keys to real progress. In the past, in place of "independent state" the US has attached such adjectives to the word "state" as "contiguous," "viable," "economically viable," "territorial continuity," and the like.  In his use of words, President Obama has just picked up where the failures of past administrations left off. 

International law clearly defines what an independent state is and any attempt to redefine it is an act of bad faith.

Israeli failed state

The timing of the US move toward new talks is rather conspicuous as well. Israel is proving itself to be a 'failed state'; a 'rogue state' which has become a liability to its allies. How are its leaders greeting this latest move?

None other than Israeli Ministry of Defense, Major General Ehud Barak, who was behind the failed Camp David peace talks back in 2000 and the 2008/2009 onslaught in Gaza, recently made a bold statement while addressing a policy conference in Israel.  He said, "If, and as long as between the Jordan and the sea, there is only one political entity, named Israel, it will end up being either non-Jewish or non-democratic ... If the Palestinians vote in elections, it is a binational state, and if they don't, it is an apartheid state." (Herzliya Conference 2/2/2010) Yes, even Israel's currently serving top brass is using the "A" word.  Only a short few years ago, any Israeli politician would shiver at someone making the comparison between Israeli actions against Palestinians and South African Apartheid.

Another round of US diplomatic acrobatics is just what is needed to introduce a new red herring.

Palestinian leadership

The Palestinian leadership has historically failed to understand that the US' "special relationship" with Israel will require countering through much more serious mobilization, organizing, and activism to complement their diplomatic efforts.  After the utter failure of the US-sponsored (and micro- managed) Oslo peace process, anyone treating the US as a neutral mediator must be suffering from some form of delirium, all the more so if they are Palestinians.

The US has armed Israel to the teeth, including allowing it to develop a deadly arsenal of nuclear and chemical weapons, not to mention their turning a blind eye on Israel's outright refusal to sign the non-nuclear proliferation treaty.

The US funds Israel to the tune of $7 million a day, every day!

The US has used its UN Security Council veto power in the service of covering up for Israeli war crimes spanning from Beirut to Gaza.

The US congress regularly passes non-binding resolutions that incite and provoke more violence against Palestinians.  The most recent of these embarrassing resolutions was one that dismissed out-of-hand the findings of the UN's fact-finding mission led by world renowned Jewish and Zionist Judge Richard Goldstone.

The US took sides in this conflict long ago and any backroom negotiations are bound to produce the same results as previous attempts - a reflection of the might is right equation on the ground today in the Holy Land.  If anyone should know better, it should be the Palestinian leadership.

A Way Out

Negotiations do not always need to be doomed to failure.  There is a way the US could play a positive role if they could free themselves from the bear hug the Israeli lobby has on the US political system.

The internationally recognized reference point of international law is the only guiding light that can produce an equitable (not necessarily just) resolution to the conflict.  The occupation started in 1967 is merely one part of the problem.  The refugees created when Israel was established in 1948 are another, as is the institutional discrimination against non-Jews in Israel. International law addresses all these problems.

For starters, before trying to find the button to solve all issues in one push (a strategy that has failed multiple times) the US could demand that those items that are absolutely clear in international law be acted upon.

All elements (and there are plenty) of the 1967 Israeli occupation that can be ended should be immediately ended.  The siege on Gaza, Jewish-only settlements, the separation barrier built on Palestinians lands, draconian restrictions on Palestinian movement and access, etc., should be removed or ended immediately, so that genuine peace talks can begin in earnest to resolve this historic catastrophe once and for all.

Allowing Israel to hold every piece of the conflict hostage until some yet-to- be found final status resolution is reached is a recipe for more of the same death and destruction.

President Obama has taken the leap; let's hope he finds some remaining Palestinian ground to land on. Given his new commitment, if he fails, I wonder if he is willing to lay blame where it duly resides for Israel's continued rogue action—in Washington D.C.

The writer is a Palestinian-American business consultant living in the Palestinian City of Al-Bireh in the West Bank. He is co-author of HOMELAND: Oral Histories of Palestine and Palestinians (1994) and may be reached at

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[ePalestine] My unpublished letter to NYT Editor

To the Editor: 

Mr. Segal’s call for Palestinian statehood, before resolution of the core issues, is a recipe for total disaster and incongruent with international law. 

Why would any honest person, well-informed about history and committed to the rule of law, suggest recognizing a Palestinian state without borders?  This same international blunder created the State of Israel and has cost innumerable lives ever since. 

Declaring a Palestinian state is not the issue. Palestinians issued a Declaration of Independence back on 15 November 1988 and, at the time, more countries formally recognized it than officially recognized the State of Israel originally. Sadly, the US and Israel were on the wrong side of history then, as now. 

Any diplomatic attempt to fragment Palestinian rights—first and foremost among them the right of Palestinian refugees to return home—is merely arm-twisting: selling a fragmented diplomatic reality to match the tortuous and fragmented reality on the ground, created by Israel, using force. What for? Palestinians aren’t buying. 

Sam Bahour 
Al-Bireh, occupied Palestine


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Friday, March 05, 2010


Gaza still hemorrhages, in open view of the world,


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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Palestine’s Economic Pieces

A new building in Ramallah, or 100 for that matter, make for good ribbon-cutting ceremonies, but are as far from economic state-building as is wrong is from right.

Sam Bahour

A serious misconception is being propagated by the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah. Media, international organizations, foreign governments and Palestinians- at-large are being coaxed into believing that the flurry of economic activity in the West Bank is economic development towards statehood. The facts on the ground rip this argument to pieces, just as Israel continues to micromanage the economic pieces of the intended future state of Palestine toward systemic stagnation.

I can already hear the voices – “but be positive; we must start from somewhere; we are acting unilaterally toward statehood; but we had 7% GDP growth last year, etc, etc.” Being positive is one thing, but being delusional and acquiescing in a military occupation that controls every serious aspect of our lives, especially the economic ones, is unacceptable.

The economic players

I don’t question the well-meaning intentions (with the exception of the occupier) of all the economic players involved, in promoting this misconception that West Bankers are on a rapid train of economic growth.

The Palestinian leadership has very little - or no - political capital left, so focusing on economic activities – something, I maintain, that is very different from economic preparation for statehood – is expected. Add to this, the fact that some key Palestinian players, namely Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, have already started campaigning for the possible upcoming Presidential elections, and one can readily see the self-serving need to participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony every day or two.

The Israelis could not ask for better. Under the cloak of Israel’s Prime Minister’s slogan of ‘Economic Peace’, Israel has been able to pull the wool over the world’s eyes as they create irreversible facts on the ground like illegal Jewish-only settlements, while continuing to squeeze Palestinian society so hard that many Palestinians are voluntarily emigrating, something Israel has failed to totally secure forcibly during multiple military adventures, most notably in 1948 and 1967. This slow but study exodus is emptying Palestine of its human capital which is already severely depleted by dint of the restrictions placed upon us.

The donor community, which continues to generously prop up the Palestinian government in Ramallah also can’t really be blamed for wanting to have an economic framework to justify their continued financial support to the Palestinian Authority. The states behind these funds have been politically handicapped for decades, as they await the next US political cue about what will happen next. The next best thing for them is to claim some laurels for institution-building and reform within the context of ‘economic peace’. The Quartet’s special envoy, Tony Blair’s mission is exactly that, an economic mission and not a political one, despite the fact that the Quartet is a highly political animal (U.S., Russia, EU, and the UN) carrying with it the last remaining available clout to address core political issues that are bottlenecking serious resolution of the conflict.

International organizations are not to be fully blamed either. These organizations only have the tools that they use to measure the economies of sovereign states, the likes of GDP, GNP, and growth ratios. So, when I must drive one hour farther to reach my destination because Israel has erected an illegal separation barrier, or when roads throughout the West Bank are prohibited from being repaired by the Israeli military which causes constant damage to my car, this is all great news for Palestine’s GDP since I’m spending more on gas and visiting my car repair shop more frequently. That said, almost every one of the reports emerging from these specialized organizations such as the World Bank, are more truthful to the reality on the ground than most others. This can be seen by a few sentences in the World Bank’s latest report:

“Over time, however, the apparatus of control itself has gradually become more sophisticated and effective in its ability to interfere in and affect every aspect of Palestinian life, including job opportunities, work, and earnings. Extensive and multilayered, the apparatus of control includes a permit system, physical obstacles known as closures, restricted roads, prohibitions on entering large areas of land in the West Bank, and most notably the Separation Barrier. It has turned the West Bank into a fragmented set of social and economic islands or enclaves cut off from one another.” (Checkpoints and Barriers: Searching for Livelihoods in the West Bank and Gaza, World Bank, Gender Dimensions of Economic Collapse, February, 2010)

I could go on.

In broad daylight

The facts are sitting in broad daylight for those willing to seek them out. The Israeli military occupation is alive and well in every nook and cranny of Gaza and the West Bank, especially in Jerusalem. Forty percent of our population under occupation in Gaza is being purposely strangulated. Sixty percent of our total population - refugees and those in the Diaspora – do not even enter the consciousness of most players’ minds.

Economic activity, in which I am (proudly) involved, is happening and that should not be news in and of itself. It should also not be touted around as economic development. Yes, Palestinians wake up every morning and go to work just like the rest of the world, despite the most strangling economic restrictions that they have ever faced. The resilience of Palestinians, especially the private sector, is worthy of a Grammy Award for Persevering In Survival Economics.

However, economic development and growth worthy of building the foundations of the economy of a future state is nowhere to be found. How could it be? All key aspects of a true economy are squarely in the hands of Israel, our occupier. Israel, alone, holds the levers to our water, movement, access, all borders, airspace, electricity, electromagnetic spectrum, just to name a few. A new building in Ramallah, or 100 for that matter, make for good ribbon-cutting ceremonies, but are as far from economic state-building as is wrong is from right.

An Israeli friend noted to me the other day a different way to look at what’s on the table. Being positive, I’m willing to accept Benjamin Netanyahu’s ‘Economic Peace’ when he and his country become serious in releasing the economic resources of Palestine that they fully control. Short of that, we Palestinians will keep picking up the pieces of our lives until that inevitable day of reckoning arrives when Israel will have to look at itself in the mirror and accept what it sees there for real - one apartheid state!

The writer is a Palestinian-American business consultant living in the Palestinian City of Al-Bireh in the West Bank. He is co-author of HOMELAND: Oral Histories of Palestine and Palestinians (1994) and may be reached at