Friday, May 28, 2010

[ePalestine] Virginia Tilley: "A Palestinian Declaration of Independence: Implications for Peace" (MIDDLE EAST POLICY)

Dear friends,

This esssy is an absolute must read for anyone wanting to understand the depth of the bigger picture we are facing in Palestine.

Prof. Virginia Tilley is a renowned scholar who has the ability to not only shed light on the Palestine-Israel dynamics, but compares the entire mess to South Africa in a way that makes me, as a parent, seriously fear my daughters' future.

Occupation is temporary by definition, THIS IS APARTHEID,



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Monday, May 24, 2010

[ePalestine] Bitterlemons: Civil society in the lead (by Sam Bahour)

May 24, 2010 Edition 11     


Civil society in the lead
by Sam Bahour  

When politicians face failure what do they do? Step down? No way. Not in Palestine at least. Over and over again the Palestinian leadership has hit a cement wall (no pun intended) in its attempts to lead the Palestinian people to freedom and independence. And with every colossal failure, the leadership looks to Palestinian civil society for direction.  

The first intifada was adopted to cover for the failures in Lebanon, and the second intifada was adopted to cover for the collapse of Oslo. The current Palestinian Authority boycott of Israeli settlement products is no different. The boycott is the scaffolding that the PA is attempting to erect and climb in order to retake a leadership position. The dilemma PA leaders face is that it is very possible that they may be expending efforts to build a scaffold that others may climb to assume leadership of the Palestinian struggle for freedom and independence.  

With an insignificant political constituency on the ground, a failed election campaign, and engaged in creating what many fear is a police state in the making, the PA finally jumped on the boycott bandwagon that civil society has struggled to assemble over the past several years, if not decades.  

The PA's newly realized dedication to cleanse Palestinian markets of Israeli settlement products comes at a time when Palestinian markets are overwhelmingly dependent on the Israeli economy. This structural dependency is not new; it was nurtured over decades of direct occupation all the way up to the Oslo agreement. The Oslo period would have been an ideal time for the PA to set the tone that settlements--all settlements, but especially those in East Jerusalem--are not a negotiable issue but are illegal under international law and have no place in a peaceful solution. But that did not happen.  

As a matter of fact, the PA not only ignored the illegal products from these settlements for many years, it also ignored the Israeli services that infringed on Palestinian markets, the most notorious being the unlicensed Israeli telecommunications operators who used their settlement-based infrastructure to provide service to all Palestinian areas, A, B and C. This infringement on the Palestinian marketplace not only caused real losses to the licensed Palestinian operators, who at the time had a monopoly license to provide services to the Palestinian areas, but it allowed for an economic fact on the ground to be created and take root. This fact was, and is, no less an obstacle to peace than the settlements themselves.  

Today's boycott of settlement products is not a new effort, nor was it designed by the PA. It is a product of the hard work of dozens upon dozens of civil society players in Palestine and abroad. The build-up to today's boycott comes from a two-pronged civil society strategy.  

The first prong is a global campaign that is much more comprehensive than just addressing settlement products. It is known as the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) Campaign and emerged from a unified call from Palestinian civil society on July 9, 2005. The last few years have witnessed a series of successes for the BDS campaign that have surely not gone unnoticed by the PA.  

The second prong of the strategy is a multitude of efforts that promote local production. The most notable of these efforts is the Intajuna ("our production" in Arabic) project: a donor- funded project that is managed by the Palestinian private sector player that designed it. This effort can be seen everywhere--retail points of sales, building and construction materials, and most recently in the produce markets. Intajuna provides a depth of analysis and campaigning that goes far beyond the traditional slogan of "Buy Palestinian".  

It is on the backdrop of the BDS Campaign and efforts like Intajuna that the PA had its boycott awakening. The effort is welcomed by the public, and the PA is setting a good example of how non-violent efforts can be amplified when formal leadership assumes the role of leadership grounded in the community. Civil society leaders also welcome the PA's efforts, but are more cautious in their analysis because they understand that the Palestinian leadership has abruptly stifled mass civil society efforts in the past, the first intifada being the prime example when it ended with the Oslo accords.  

But as this all plays out, Palestinians and those in solidarity with them are taking some satisfaction in watching the settlement enterprise run in circles trying to figure out a way to stop the boycott. Perhaps more interesting is that there are those in Israel itself, including the Knesset's Economic Committee, who are running in the same circles, most likely in an attempt to raise the stakes now so that the boycott does not expand to include all Israeli products and services.  

If past experience is any guide, the Palestinian leadership will end up bear-hugging the entire BDS campaign approach in due time, given that the tools of boycott, divestment and sanctions are much more powerful non-violent methods than negotiating in vain with a government bent on ethnic cleansing.  

- Published 24/5/2010 ©  

Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American management consultant living in Ramallah. 


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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

[ePalestine] Gonna Still Be Quoting Emerson When They Lock Me Up (by Deb Reich) - A MUST READ

Baltimore Chronicle 


Gonna Still Be Quoting Emerson When They Lock Me Up 

by Deb Reich 

(Israel/Palestine, May 2010)—When I first came to Israel from New York nearly half a century ago, a youngster in search of my “Jewish roots,” the scariest thing to deal with here was the occasional hot war with the neighbors. But teenagers think they are immortal, so it seemed like no big deal, apart from all the guys who didn’t come back and their shattered families who would never be the same. The suffering and despair of the folks on the other side were barely even blips on my radar back then. 

Today Israel is a much more frightening place, while I am more or less the same person I was when I first got here, except older: still clinging stubbornly to the basic worldview I acquired as a child in the public schools of suburban Westchester County, New York. One person, one vote; equality under the law for all; due process; habeas corpus; no taxation without representation—all that good old revolutionary stuff, however imperfectly implemented. Meanwhile, too many Jews who immigrated here from Western democracies, subsequently traumatized by the seeming intractability of “the situation,” have been pushed or pulled in the Israeli context away from that worldview, toward a hard-edged Jewish supremacist mentality that to me feels—I can’t help it—completely un-American. Few of them, I would guess, stop to ponder how far they have strayed from the pluralist credo they once lived by. Deep down, they must be aware that Israel has gradually found itself morphing into a dark caricature of its original idea of itself, foredoomed by its displacement and exclusion of anyone “not us”: a tragedy for everyone concerned. Mainstream Israelis are clueless, hostile and defensive: Why is everyone picking on us? Circling the wagons and digging in can seem very logical, but it leads nowhere. 

Very few Israelis can envision any alternative shared future for Israeli Jews and Palestinians that would not soon swallow up the Jewish collective national-cultural presence in a Palestinian-Muslim-majority country. This poverty of the imagination insures that any and every Palestinian or other Arab expression of a readiness to live together will seem like a trick to seize the mantle of control over the whole enchilada, pure and simple. To Israeli Jews, the other side’s most forthcoming offer ( the 2002 Saudi-sponsored Arab peace initiative  endorsed by the Arab League in 2007) looks like a Trojan horse, period. We’ll let down our guard and they’ll move in and take over, is what most Israelis seem to expect, and this bitter expectation could easily become self-fulfilling unless there is a transformational course correction. All of that, of course, is only an explanation, not an excuse. 

Meantime, after successive Israeli governments have invested huge resources in promoting fractures in Palestinian civil society along religious, political, and ideological fault lines, in a classic but misguided attempt to stay safe by confusing the opposition, the other side is in terrible disarray. It’s a real mess, but at least it’s our shared mess. Or as the mystics say, the problem is also the solution. 

In the last decades I’ve been privileged to make friends with a goodly number of Palestinians—mostly but not exclusively middle class professionals like me, people with similar interests and enthusiasms . . . and with their children. After a certain amount of ordinary social and vocational interaction with “them,” you come to realize that war is really stupid because the other folks are just like us in every way that matters, while different enough to provide a valuable opportunity for mutual learning and discovery. Even before the walls and the checkpoints, during the years when the barriers were mainly psychological rather than physical, most people here were too afraid to venture into close personal contact with “them” (and vice versa), so they never discovered what they were missing. 

*       *       * 

Back in my college years in Manhattan circa 1970, the progressives’ push for “one secular democratic state in all of Palestine” struck me as a cynical strategy dreamed up by “the Arabs” to take back, from the brave pioneering embattled Jews of Israel, the new homeland they’d won for themselves at such great cost. The post-1948 “Arab boycott” of Israel seemed viciously unfair and prejudiced and cruel. How dare they try to steal back what we won fair and square in a good old-fashioned war? Today all that looks very different to me. Astonishingly different. 

One state? Two states? Parallel states? The galloping fascism in Israel’s legislature and in its public discourse nowadays; the erosion of civil liberties in Gaza; the prevailing Israeli preference for nation-building by continually importing more of “us” and relentlessly hounding (instead of making common cause with) “them”; rampant corruption in high places on both sides—all this certainly suggests that the road we are on is unsustainable. Today, one secular democratic state for all its citizens sounds quite attractive by comparison to what we have now. And those are only the old ideas; consider the newer ones: Numerous forward- looking blueprints that propose neither one state nor two states, but a more creative third way, are available on the web; for one example among many, see my “ Parallel Sovereignty ” essay (2002) or a subsequent restatement, “ Calling All Semites ” (2006). Many other people in different fields have been writing independently about similar proposals as these new paradigms proliferate and are shared around, elaborated and tweaked. Just recently (April 2010) there was an eloquent new call  for parallel states in the Christian Science Monitor, by two authors with truly impressive international credentials. A summary of dozens of other creative approaches makes interesting reading, as in this 2008 paper by Howard Cort

Boycott? As my Palestinian friends in the West Bank and Gaza sink deeper into depression, watching their lives ticking away without the chance to give their kids (never mind themselves) a wholly free and dignified place in the sun, the Palestinian-led BDS movement   for boycott, divestment, and sanctions doesn’t look to me like a nefarious “Arab plot” anymore. Now, with international energy behind it, it seems like the last best hope—both for Israelis and for Palestinians. Maybe the BDS campaign will really develop enough heft to counter Israel’s overwhelming military advantage, by upping the economic and social cost of self-defeating supremacist-separatist policies . . . until even total equality for Palestinians might begin to seem like the less scary alternative! 

Deciding to endorse BDS was not something I have come to out of hatred for Israel, despite what the talkbacks will say. I live here, after all; I’d like to see this country get a life. Everything else has already been tried, and my friend Sam and his family are still locked up in Al Bireh and my friend Maha and her family are still locked up in Gaza City and I cannot, in good conscience, sit here in my pleasant little village near Jerusalem in silence and play it safe while they and millions of other Palestinians sit in their respective cages. I’m not an ideologue and I can’t say I much like the basic idea of boycotts: they are nonviolent but they run on a kind of negative energy (don’t buy, don’t sell, don’t invest, don’t visit . . . ). On the other hand, the relentless, intensifying dehumanization of people I love and respect would seem to leave me no choice. Inaction is not an option. 

Note that the BDS strategy targets, not Israel itself or Israelis as such, but rather Israeli transgressions of international law and the Israeli authorities and institutions that drive those transgressions and the Israeli cultural icons who refrain from denouncing them and the Israeli universities that cooperate with them. As a law-abiding Israeli, I am not in favor of Israel’s (or anyone’s) transgressions of international law and therefore I must not support them with my silence. When I realized that the only thing still keeping me from publicly and prominently endorsing BDS was my fear of punishment (losing friends, losing a job, losing my personal freedom if the BDS activism here is finally, thoroughly, criminalized), I understood that it was time to speak out. 

*       *       * 

As Israel’s dissidents and human rights activists are targeted by the authorities while freedom of thought is likened to treason; as ultra-nationalists dictate the public agenda and ultra- fundamentalist “religious” Jews attack the civil freedoms of ordinary Israelis; as ultra- xenophobic legislators work to eject African and Asian migrants, even their Israeli-born children who might dilute the brand; as new bills are crafted in the Knesset outlawing any Israeli organization that calls on international tribunals to try suspected war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed by Israel’s government or armed forces; as most of my old Anglo friends turn their backs on our shared heritage of pluralism and civil rights, their terror of “the Arabs” blinding them to the reality that, however painful the cost of a paradigm change for Israelis, nonetheless Palestinians are equally entitled to freedom and justice; as people I’ve known all my life seem to have forgotten that human rights are either universal or they are meaningless—I sat down one day and asked myself this question: What happened in the last 40 years that could account for the difference between the way I saw reality in New York in 1970 and the way I see it here, now? 

The answer was not long in coming and it is not complicated. This is what happened: Unlike most of my old friends here or abroad, I found ways to get to know ordinary Palestinians personally, face to face: by living among Palestinian folks in Palestinian towns in Israel, first as a community service volunteer on assignment, and more recently as just an ordinary tenant renting an apartment in a Muslim village; by engaging socially with Palestinian friends and neighbors and inviting them to my home and being welcomed into their homes, where I have played with their children and watched TV with them and cooked and baked with them and broken bread with them; by working with Palestinian professionals as equals, in joint Jewish-Palestinian social-change organizations and in Palestinian Arab civic organizations; by exchanging jokes and book reviews and birthday cards with Palestinian friends by email; by informally “adopting” a few forty-something Palestinian friends from the West Bank and Gaza who are the age my biological children would be today if I hadn’t waited so long to have kids; by listening as my Palestinian friends share their hopes and dreams and troubles and aspirations and frustrations. That’s the difference. 

I learned soon enough that Palestinians are not the faceless, anonymous, scary “Arabs” I was led to fear in my youth. I know they are not the enemy. I know they are not dispensable. They are us, and we are them. I will go to jail, if necessary, rather than sit here passively while their lives are further blighted and more generations of children are cheated, on both sides. I know that our basic civic, economic and environmental burdens must be shared and that there is no way to shoulder them alone. We will prosper together or we will sink together—not driven by philosophy or ideology, but because nothing else works. The simple, empirical, pragmatic outcome of getting to know the other side personally is that I discovered that I am them and they are me. Now I know. That’s why the old-fashioned approach—Rule by Testosterone—just doesn’t make sense any more. It can’t take us to a secure shared future for All Our Children, because the admission tickets to that future are sold only in pairs: us and them, together. Emerson knew. He said: The only way to have a friend is to be one. 

Deb Reich ( is a writer and translator in Israel/Palestine. 

Copyright © 2010 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.


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[ePalestine] Chomsky Denied Entry

An ad and cartoon from Al-Quds Daily Newspaper on 18-MAY-2010.


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Monday, May 17, 2010

[ePalestine] After denied entry to West Bank, Chomsky likens Israel to 'Stalinist regime'


After denied entry to West Bank, Chomsky likens Israel to 'Stalinist regime' 

Linguist Noam Chomsky was scheduled to lecture at Bir Zeit University near Ramallah, meet PA Prime Minister Fayyad. 

By Amira Hass 
Published 02:52 17.05.10
Latest update 02:52 17.05.10

The Interior Ministry refused to let linguist Noam Chomsky into Israel and the West Bank on Sunday. Chomsky, who aligns himself with the radical left, had been scheduled to lecture at Bir Zeit University near Ramallah, and visit Bil'in and Hebron, as well as meet with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and various Palestinian activists. 

In a telephone conversation last night from Amman, Chomsky told Haaretz that he concluded from the questions of the Israeli official that the fact that he came to lecture at a Palestinian and not an Israeli university led to the decision to deny him entry. 

"I find it hard to think of a similar case, in which entry to a person is denied because he is not lecturing in Tel Aviv. Perhaps only in Stalinist regimes," Chomsky told Haaretz. 

Sabine Haddad, a spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, confirmed to Haaretz that the officials at the border were from the ministry. 

"Because he entered the Palestinian Authority territory only, his entry is the responsibility of the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories at the Defense Ministry. There was a misunderstanding on our side, and the matter was not brought to the attention of the COGAT." 

Haddad told Haaretz that "the minute the COGAT says that they do not object, Chomsky's entry would have been permitted." 

Chomsky, a Jewish professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, had spent several months at Kibbutz Hazore'a during the 1950s and had considered a longer stay in Israel. He had been invited by the Department of Philosophy at Bir Zeit. 

He planned to spend four days in the West Bank and give two lectures. 

On Sunday, at about 1:30 P.M. he came to the Israeli side of the border with Jordan. After three hours of questioning, during which the border officer repeatedly called the Interior Ministry for instructions, Chomsky's passport was stamped with "Denied Entry." 

With Chomsky, 81, were his daughter Aviva, and a couple of old friends of his and his late wife. 

Entry was also denied to his daughter. 

Their friends, one of whom is a Palestinian who grew up in Beirut, were allowed in, but they opted to return with Chomsky to Amman. 

Chomsky told Haaretz that it was clear that his arrival had been known to the authorities, because the minute he entered the passport control room the official told him that he was honored to see him and that he had read his works. 

The professor concluded that the officer was a student, and said he looked embarrassed at the task at hand, especially when he began reading from text the questions that had been dictated to him, and which were also told to him later by telephone. 

Chomsky told Haaretz about the questions. 

"The official asked me why I was lecturing only at Bir Zeit and not an Israeli university," Chomsky recalled. "I told him that I have lectured a great deal in Israel. The official read the following statement: 'Israel does not like what you say.'" 

Chomsky replied: "Find one government in the world which does." 

"The young man asked me whether I had ever been denied entry into other countries. I told him that once, to Czechoslovakia, after the Soviet invasion in 1968," he said, adding that he had gone to visit ousted Czechoslovak leader Alexander Dubcek, whose reforms the Soviets crushed. 

In response to the official's question, Chomsky said that the subjects of his lectures were "America and the world," and "America at home." 

The official asked him whether he would speak on Israel and Chomsky said that because he would talk of U.S. policy he would also comment on Israel and its policies. 

He was then told by the official: "You have spoken with [Hassan] Nasrallah." 

"True," Chomsky told him. "When I was in Lebanon [prior to the war in 2006] I spoke with people from the entire political spectrum there, as in Israel I also spoke with people on the right." 

"At the time I read reports of my visit in the Israeli press, and the articles in the Israeli press had no connection with reality," Chomsky told the border official. 

The official asked Chomsky why he did not have an Israeli passport. 

"I replied I am an American citizen," Chomsky said. 

Chomsky said that he asked the man at border control for an official written explanation for the reason his entry was denied and that "it would help the Interior Ministry because this way my version will not be the only one given to the media." 

The official called the ministry and then told Chomsky that he would be able to find the official statement at the U.S. Embassy. 

The last time Chomsky visited Israel and the West Bank was in 1997, when he lectured on both sides of the Green Line. He had also planned a visit to the Gaza strip, but because the Palestinian Authority insisted that he be escorted by Palestinian guards, he canceled that part of the visit. 

To Haaretz, Chomsky said Sunday that preventing him entry is tantamount to boycotting Bir Zeit University. Chomsky is known to oppose a general boycott on Israel. "I was against a boycott of apartheid South Africa as well. If we are going to boycott, why not the United States, whose record is even worse? I'm in favor of boycotting American companies which collaborate with the occupation," he said. "But if we are to boycott Tel Aviv University, why not MIT?" 

Chomsky told Haaretz that he supports a two-state solution, but not the solution proposed by Jerusalem, "pieces of land that will be called a state." 

He said that Israel's behavior today reminds him of that of South Africa in the 1960s, when it realized that it was already considered a pariah, but thought that it would resolve the problem with better public relations. israel-to-stalinist-regime-1.290736



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Saturday, May 15, 2010

[ePalestine] Guardian: Is the Middle East on a peace process to nowhere?

Is the Middle East on a peace process to nowhere? 

Israeli iconoclast Meron Benvenisti says negotiations for a Palestinian state are an illusion that perpetuates the status quo 

* Ian Black, Middle East editor, in Jerusalem 
*, Wednesday 28 April 2010 12.46 BST 

Meron Benvenisti has been talking, writing and arguing about the Israel-Palestinian conflict for much of the last 40 years. Now aged 76 he is as forceful, articulate and unconventional as ever – and convinced that President Barack Obama is doomed to fail in his attempt to cajole the two sides to hammer out a solution at the negotiating table. 

Benvenisti, the Cassandra of the Israeli left, has long held the view that the occupation that began after the 1967 Middle East war is irreversible and that Israelis and Palestinians need to find an alternative to the elusive two-state solution that has dominated thinking about the conflict in recent years. Controversial and iconoclastic when he first advanced it, his thesis is gaining ground. 

"The whole notion of a Palestinian state now, in 2010, is a sham," he told the Guardian at his Jerusalem home as the US intensified efforts to get the long-stalled peace process moving again. "The entire discourse is wrong. By continuing that discourse you perpetuate the status quo. The struggle for the two-state solution is obsolete." 

George Mitchell, the US envoy charged with launching "proximity talks" between Binyamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas – in the absence of direct negotiations – does not agree. Nor do Israelis who believe that without an end to the occupation and the creation of a Palestinian state the Jewish majority and democratic character of their own state cannot survive. Abbas and his technocratic prime minister, Salam Fayyad, are working towards independence, though Palestinian opinion seems increasingly sceptical about the prospects. 

Benvenisti's book, Sacred Landscapes , is one of the very best written on the conflict, interweaving the personal and the political. It is also deeply sympathetic to the Palestinians and their attachment to the land. He defines the Zionist enterprise bluntly as a "supplanting settler society" but also warns that using labels is a way of shutting down debate. He is wary of Holocaust-deniers and antisemites who try to recruit his dissident views to serve their anti- Israel goals. 

Benvenisti, a political scientist by training, served as deputy mayor of Jerusalem after the 1967 war and was heavily influenced by his academic research on Belfast, another bitterly divided city. In the 1980's his West Bank Data Project collated and analysed the information that showed how the settlers were becoming fatefully integrated into Israeli society – under both Likud and Labour governments. 

Israel's domination, he says, is now complete, while the Palestinians are fragmented into five enclaves – inside Israel, in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, and the diaspora. 

In this situation, the concept of two states is misleading. "What does it mean, a state? It's a solution for less than one quarter of the Palestinian people on an area that is less than 10% of historic Palestine." Palestinian leaders who are ready to accept this "are a bunch of traitors to their own cause". Ramallah, prosperous headquarters of Abbas's Palestinian Authority and the recipient of millions of dollars in foreign aid, is a "bubble in which those who steal the money can enjoy themselves". 

Benvenisti's territorial assumptions are not based on the 2000 "Clinton parameters" which Yasser Arafat turned down, nor proposals submitted by Ehud Olmert to Abbas – which talk of Israel withdrawing from some 97% of the West Bank with compensating land swaps – but a far smaller area hemmed in by Jewish settlements, settler-only roads and military zones. 

"For the last 20 years I have questioned the feasibility of the partition of Palestine and now I am absolutely sure it is impossible," he says. "Or, it is possible if it is imposed on the Palestinians but that will mean the legitimisation of the status quo, of Bantustans, of a system of political and economic inequality which is hailed as a solution by the entire world – unlike in South Africa. 

"The entire paradigm is wrong. We are doing this because it is self-serving. It is convenient for us to stick to the old slogan of two states as if nothing has happened since we began advocating it in the 1980s." 

Taken the salience of the settlement issue in the peace process – rows over Netanyahu's temporary freeze in the West Bank and new building in East Jerusalem triggered the recent crisis in US-Israel relations – it is startling to find that Benvenisti is so dismissive of it. 

"Israel's domination of the West Bank does not rely on the numbers of settlers or settlements," he argues. "The settlements are totally integrated into Israeli society. They've taken all the land they could. The rest is controlled by the Israeli army." 

Benvenisti relishes overturning conventional wisdom. "The Israeli left would like to make us believe that the green line (the pre-1967 border) is something solid; that everything that is on this side is good and that everything bad began with the occupation in 1967. It is a false dichotomy. The green line is like a one-way mirror. It's only for the Palestinians, not for Israelis." 

He avoids speculating about future scenarios and makes do with the concept "bi-nationalism" – "not as a political or ideological programme so much as a de facto reality masquerading as a temporary state of affairs … a description of the current condition, not a prescription." And he sees signs that the Palestinians are beginning to adjust to the "total victory of the Jews" and use the power of the weak: demanding votes and human rights may prove more effective than violence, he suggests. 

"The peace process," Benvenisti concludes, "is more than a waste of time. It is an illusion and it perpetuates an illusion. You can engage in a peace process and have negotiations and conferences - which have no connection whatsoever to reality on the ground." 

* © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010 


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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

[ePalestine] PRESS RELEASE: Palestinian civil society slams OECD over Israel's accession



May 10, 2010 

Ziyaad Lunat, BNC 
+351 938349206, 

Palestinian civil society slams OECD over Israel’s accession 

Occupied Palestine – Palestinian civil society represented by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), a wide coalition of the largest Palestinian mass organizations and trade unions, issued a strong condemnation of OECD’s decision today to welcome Israel as a member of the organization at its ministerial meeting to take place on May 27-28. A BNC spokesperson commented, “By accepting Israel, OECD member countries show a blatant complicity with Israeli war crimes, destroying the very foundations of international law. Rewarding Israel entrenches its impunity and dashes any realistic hope for achieving a just peace in the region.” 

The OECD’s decision is the culmination of a process that began in 2007 whereby Israel had to pass a number of technical tests and implement reforms to be eligible for accession. According to the “Road Map for the accession of Israel to the OECD Convention”, it was required to demonstrate commitment to the “fundamental values” of the OECD. The BNC had released a paper showing how Israel has consistently breached these requirements, making it ineligible for accession (see: ).  A BNC spokesperson commented: “Officials of OECD member states are perfectly aware that Israel does not comply with any of the objective criteria put forth. Yet, they have decided to single out Israel, elevate it above all these objective criteria, reward it for its defiance of the OECD, not to mention of international law, and make the entire accession process a farce.

In the run-up to the OECD decision, the BNC coordinated with the PLO, unions and other civil society actors in all thirty OECD member states as part of an intensive campaign to oppose Israel’s membership for its persistent and systematic violations of the rights of the Palestinians, especially after its atrocities in Gaza in 2008-2009, described as “war crimes” in the UN report authored by Justice Richard Goldstone and his colleagues. 

Most important for OECD member states should be the fact that they themselves are violating their own legal obligations, in the moment they accept Israel into the OECD as currently agreed upon. The PLO, supported by renowned international law experts, presented to the OECD and its member states a legal opinion that highlights this serious legal matter and requested that it be clarified prior to Israel’s accession. Governments are yet to respond. 

Having accepted economic data from Israel that include its illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, the OECD is, in legal terms, considering Israel’s accession into the OECD as a state and an Occupying Power. The Fourth Geneva Convention (GCIV) requires that Israel as an Occupying Power ensures the economic wellbeing of the occupied Palestinian population. Under the Convention, Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank constitute population transfer, which is defined as a war crime. OECD member states are under legal obligation to ensure compliance with the Fourth Geneva Convention (GCIV) under international humanitarian law and the law on state responsibility. Accepting economic data of the illegal settlements makes it absolutely required to ensure that the protected Palestinian population is also included in this data.  Under the Convention, Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank constitute population transfer which is defined as a war crime. 

Moreover, accepting Israel into the OECD based on economic data which include the illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank but arbitrarily exclude the four million Palestinians living there constitutes a direct and blatant breach by the OECD and member states of their legal obligations under both bodies of international law. OECD member states as High Contracting Parties to the GCIV would thereby endorse and become complicit in Israel’s war crime of population transfer. 

The only legally sound course of action for OECD governments would have been to put Israel’s accession process on hold and give due consideration to the serious legal ramifications put forth by prominent legal experts,” said a BNC spokesperson, “not doing so means that these states are actively abetting Israeli war crimes against the Palestinian people and cementing Israeli impunity in maintaining its occupation and apartheid system.” 

Kindly direct any interview or information requests to Ziyaad Lunat at +351 938349206 or



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Friday, May 07, 2010

[ePalestine] Prof. John Mearsheimer on the Future of Palestine (AN ABSOLUTE MUST READ/VIEW)

The Palestine Center 

Hisham Sharabi Annual Lecture

"The Future of Palestine: Righteous Jews vs. the New Afrikaners" with Professor John J. Mearsheimer 

Thursday, April 29, 2010 

You can download and read the transcipt of his talk here .

To view or download the 1hr talk, which is worth every minute, click here:

This sober, no-nonsense analysis is worth holding town meetings and viewing collectively with a follow-up discussion.

NOTE: Professor John J. Mearsheimer  co-authored the renowned book, Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007) which has been translated into Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Korean, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, and Turkish. 

The power of justice,


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Thursday, May 06, 2010

[ePalestine] Israel's repression of its Palestinian citizens unites us in struggle

Electronic Intifada 


Israel's repression of its Palestinian citizens unites us in struggle 

Ameer Makhoul, The Electronic Intifada, 6 May 2010 

Ameer Makhoul, director of Ittijah and chairman of the Popular Committee for the Defense of the Political Freedoms, was arrested by Israeli forces today during a raid of his home, two weeks after a travel ban was imposed on him by the Israeli Ministry of the Interior . Police have also raided the offices of Ittijah and confiscated equipment and documents. Makhoul, a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship, submitted the following op-ed to The Electronic Intifada prior to his arrest: 

Last month, when I traveled from Haifa to the land border between Jordan and Israel, the Israeli border police prevented me from leaving my country. The police handed me an order issued by the Israeli Minister of the Interior Eli Yishai prohibiting me to leave Israel for two months. The travel ban imposed on me is part of an increased campaign to intimidate and to spread fear among Palestinian civil society. The repression is meant to divide us, but it has had the opposite effect. We Palestinians in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and the diaspora are only more determined and united to claim our rights and to build a nation where we can live in freedom and have equal rights. 

The Israeli minister of the interior holds the opinion that my travel outside the country "poses a serious threat to the security of the state," according to article 6 of the 1948 emergency regulations. I am the director of Ittijah, Union of Arab Community-Based Associations and the chairman of the Popular Committee for the Defense of Political Freedoms, which is a sub- committee of the High Monitoring Committee of Arabs in Israel. All three bodies unite Palestinian Arabs in Israel and we jointly decided not to appeal my travel ban at the Israeli high court. 

Any meeting in the Arab world or with any Arab person anywhere in the world arouses the suspicion of the authorities. The accusations against me are made on the basis of secret evidence that I am not allowed to see, and the high court merely acts as an extension of the Israeli General Security Services (GSS), or the Shin Bet. Israel does not need to prove that there is reason for suspicion; instead, I have to prove that there is no need for their suspicion. The Israeli legal system is far from fair for Palestinians. 

Israel is intimidating Ittijah and the Popular Committee for the Defense of Political Freedoms because we are reasserting our community's stake in the Palestinian struggle. Twenty years ago few considered the Palestinians in Israel as a part of the Palestinian people or the Palestinian cause. During the Oslo process of the 1990s, we were considered an internal problem for Israel to deal with, but our networking, advocacy and lobbying has changed this. Israel is increasingly repressing us to divide Palestinians from each other and isolate us from the outside world. 

The repression and persecution of Palestinians in Israel is not new. Since 1948 Israel imposed a policy of control under the guise of security. In 2007, Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin introduced a new policy targeting the whole Palestinian community as a security risk to thwart democratic efforts such as the issuing by Palestinian civil society in Israel visions of a state for all its citizens. 

Repression has increased dramatically since then and more than 1,000 Palestinian youths in Israel were interrogated by the Shin Bet after the Gaza massacre of winter 2008-09. Leaders of the Palestinian civil society, like myself, are under attack. Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the Islamic movement, is being persecuted for his involvement in the protection of Jerusalem from ongoing Israeli colonization and extremist settlers. Palestinian member of the Israeli parliament (Knesset) Mohammed Barakeh was shot in the leg with a sound bomb when he tried to protect protesters from the aggression of Israeli forces in the West Bank village of Bilin. MK Said Nafa was stripped of parliamentary immunity because of his visit to Syria, while former MK Azmi Bishara found himself in an imposed exile since three years for the same reason. One year ago, the Shin Bet ordered me to come to their offices and they interrogated me for one day in an attempt to silence my protest of the Israeli massacre in Gaza. 

Israel applies a multi-track approach to attack our struggle: the authorities repress and persecute Palestinians while they prohibit foreign solidarity activists, organizations and journalists from visiting the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Additionally, right-wing groups within Israel commit public violence against Palestinian families in places like Acre and Jaffa, with total impunity. One week ago the right-wing group Im Tirtzu published posters inciting violence against individual members of Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights. 

Palestinian civil society protests Israel's repressive policies of intimidation but at the same time resolves to continue our struggle. We have achieved unity, and it is important for us to protect this. We will not allow Israel to isolate members or parts of our community. We have become more influential in the Arab media and we will use this influence. We have built our international networks and we call on them to support us. The attacks that are meant to divide us have had the complete opposite effect. Injustice unites us; we are all together in this struggle. 

©2000-2010 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, May 05, 2010

[ePalestine] THE HILL: Political will is the missing ingredient in construction of a new Palestine (By Dr. Mohammad Mustafa)


Political will is the missing ingredient in construction of a new Palestine 

By Dr. Mohammad Mustafa - 05/04/10 

Last month, in two separate reports, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) corroborated what the Palestinian private sector has been saying for years, that the hope for sustainable economic development in the West Bank, as well as East Jerusalem and Gaza, is being structurally stymied by the Israeli government. 

The World Bank report qualified the oft-observed growth in the Palestinian Authority by noting that the growth comes, in  part, via “large inflows of donor assistance…Sustainability of the growth, given the reliance on donor assistance, is a cause for concern.”  This “concern” should be shared by all involved, particularly President Obama as he contemplates what to do next. The World Bank’s analysis did not shy from next steps when it asserted, “the largest impediment to private sector investment in the West Bank and Gaza remains the restrictions on movement and access to resources and markets imposed by the Government of Israel (GoI).” 

The international community seems more determined than ever to undo the Gordian knot created between Israelis and Palestinians over the past several decades.  This comes not a moment too soon, at a truly decisive crossroads both politically and economically.  So long as Israel’s military occupation remains in place, serious progress for investment in Palestine requires an intention – on the part of all stakeholders, including the occupier – to permit development to happen. 

I manage the Palestine Investment Fund (PIF) – a publicly-owned investment company with an independent board and transparent governance system. PIF invests in Palestine’s future through an investment strategy focused on value creation. PIF is the national incubator of several strategic investment initiatives and a major contributor to building Palestine as the Middle East’s new “startup” nation. 

The PIF has developed and is currently implementing an ambitious US$4 billion investment program which aims to create over 100,000 jobs in the private sector.  Yet Israel’s complete control of our movement and access stifles job creation and upholds a choking dependency: Palestine’s airports, seaports, and bridge crossings – the gateways to world trade – are not under our control.  Without control of our economic gateways, the task of building an economic foundation for statehood is daunting. 

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ vow to breathe economic life into the notion of “viable” (as in a viable Palestinian state), however, inspires investment today for the post- occupation era. 

Economic Viability 

Palestine does not intend to remain dependent on donor handouts.  As the Palestinian government painstakingly proceeds with public institution building, a parallel dynamic is underway – this one aiming to upgrade the Palestinian economy and make it competitive and economically integrated, both regionally and internationally, by incubating the development of several leading companies. 

Our strategic projects are diverse, ranging from natural gas extraction from the seacoast off Gaza to affordable housing, including in areas currently designated as “Area C” (the 60 percent of the occupied West Bank remaining under full Israeli military and administrative control), and development of our tourism markets in Jericho, the Dead Sea, and East Jerusalem.  These are live projects being implemented today.  However, until the Israeli occupation is rolled back, these projects also share a common bottleneck – they require the international community’s support to obtain the necessary Israeli approvals. 

Every strategic economic initiative we launch contributes to improving the quality of life across Palestine.  Economic development cannot replace a political resolution to the conflict that provides full Palestinian freedom.  But such development can tangibly reduce tensions and build much needed confidence between the parties so long as it’s not used by Prime Minister Netanyahu as a means to postpone Palestinian aspirations by giving the false appearance of substantive political movement. 

Moving Forward 

If allowed to succeed, our economy is poised to take its natural place in the community of nations. Palestinians, with their economic partners, are ready to change the economic reality in their cities, starting today. Unlock the gates and watch it happen. 

The international community and President Obama have repeated their full commitment to realizing a free, viable and independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.  The mantra of a viable Palestinian state, however, only acquires significance when joined to an economic program restoring Palestinian economic life and integrating us with the global economy. From our side, we stand ready with capital, labor, know-how and an open invitation for partners in these state-in-the-making endeavors. 

Beyond the facilitation of our economic development while under occupation, our long- awaited independent statehood will ultimately allow us to reach new trade arrangements and establish our own gateways to the world. 

The missing ingredient is the requisite political will from the international community – and the Quartet in particular – to assist us in building a new Palestine. 

Dr. Mohammad Mustafa is CEO of the Palestine Investment Fund and Economic Advisor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. 


The contents of this site are © 2010 Capitol Hill Publishing Corp., a subsisiary of News Communications, Inc. 


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