Monday, February 27, 2012

[ePalestine] JTA: U.S. congresswomen see Israel, Palestinians in the eyes of J Street

JTA: The Global News Service of the Jewish People 

U.S. congresswomen see Israel, Palestinians in the eyes of J Street 

By Linda Gradstein · February 27, 2012 

KALANDIYA, West Bank (JTA) -- The U.S. congresswomen get off the bus and stand in the chilly shadows of the Kalandiya crossing point between the West Bank and Jerusalem. 

It’s late morning, well past the rush hour when thousands of Palestinians congregate here, and only a few dozen Palestinians stand in line. To cross, the Palestinians go through a series of metal turnstiles and wait with their documents until they are called, one by one, to approach the Israeli soldiers sitting behind bullet-proof barriers. 

One Palestinian man strikes up a conversation. 

“I have American citizenship but I am not allowed to travel through Ben Gurion Airport because I have a Palestinian ID card,” Hamad Hindi of Louisiana tells the congresswomen. “We are seen as guilty of something because we are Palestinian.” 

After crossing to the Palestinian side, the congresswomen -- part of a trip to Israel and the West Bank organized by the J Street Education Fund -- head to Ramallah. 

“This is a ticking bomb waiting to go off,” says Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.) “There must be some other way to do this. After so many years there should be some resolution for this issue.” 

The congresswomen clearly are moved by their experience at the checkpoint, and that’s the point. 

J Street, the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobbying group that heralds itself as a left-wing alternative to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, is trying to present an alternative to the usual pro-Israel fare on congressional missions to Israel. The trip last week included six U.S. congresswomen and a group of women from the Women Donors Network, a coalition of women involved in progressive and social causes. 

A spokeswoman for J Street, Jessica Rosenblum, said the trip was part of the organization’s overall effort to promote a two-state solution. 

"Our hope is that this and future delegations will help to open up and deepen the conversation in Congress about American policy in the Middle East,” Rosenblum told JTA. “In particular,” she said, the trips are meant to “encourage participating members to convey to their colleagues the urgency of the situation and the need for sustained and vigorous American engagement to reach a two-state solution.” 

Over six days, the delegation met Israelis and Palestinians, both leaders and “ordinary women.” 

Among the Palestinian business leaders the group met in Ramallah was Sam Bahour, a Palestinian-American entrepreneur who says he has had difficulty acquiring an Israeli residency permit. 

“I really appreciate what J Street is doing -- it’s a breath of fresh air that there is not one line of thought in the American Jewish community,” he told the delegation. “We are at a fork in the road. Either there will be a two-state solution or it will be too late.” 

On the way to the Kalandiya checkpoint, two women from Machsom Watch, an Israeli organization that monitors Israeli soldiers at checkpoints, spoke to the group. 

“We believe occupation is ruining our society and threatening our democracy and future existence,” said Neta Efrony, director of a 2008 documentary about the Kalandiya checkpoint. “We need your help and to hear your voice. Israelis don’t want to hear and don’t want to know what is happening.” 

If the delegation members’ reactions were any gauge, J Street’s strategy shows promise. 

“There’s no awareness of this in the U.S.,” Donna Hall, the president and CEO of the Women Donors Network, said in reference to difficulties faced by Palestinians. “The congresswomen are so brave to be here, especially in an election year.” 

The congresswomen also heard from Palestinian businesswomen and female hedge fund managers who described ways to empower Palestinian women in business. 

“To see people who are building and hopeful and looking forward to the future is so important,” said Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) “We are already figuring out how to change the dynamics of U.S. policy in the region.” 

A single mother living on welfare, Moore began her public career as a community organizer and today is also the Democratic chairwoman of the Congressional Women’s Caucus. 

The J Street trip also included visits with Jewish settlers in the West Bank. 

From Ramallah, the group drove to Shiloh, a Jewish town in the heart of the West Bank halfway between Ramallah and Nablus that because of its location likely would not be incorporated into Israel in any two-state settlement. 

A group of Jewish women from several area settlements met with the congresswomen and told them they have no intention of leaving their homes. 

“I’m holding the Bible; Shiloh was our first capital before Jerusalem and it has layers and layers of history,” Tzofiah Dorot, the director of Ancient Shiloh, told the women. “This is the heart of Israel and I don’t see a future for the state if you take the heart out.” 

All of the women said they were sure that their settlements would remain part of Israel. 

“This is our homeland, the homeland of the Jewish nation -- period,” Tamar Aslaf told the delegation. “A Palestinian who lives here is welcome to stay. It’s his home but it’s our homeland.” 

Several of the settlers described a scenario in which Palestinians could stay in their homes but not receive national or voting rights. That drew a sharp reply from the congresswomen, five of whom are African Americans. 

“Some people would call that apartheid,” said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), the only white congresswomen on the trip. 

“It’s easy to sit in your comfortable house and decide what is good for the Jews,” Dorot responded. “I’m begging you to see that we’re not pieces of Lego you can move around. This is life and death. We all need to think out of the box. I’m asking you to forget about the two- state solution.” 

Several members of the delegation said the trip gave them a more sophisticated understanding of the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

“In Jerusalem and Tel Aviv it’s so easy not to see much of what we saw,” said Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.). “But what does it mean for democracy when you are willing to sacrifice so much in the name of security?”


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Friday, February 24, 2012

[ePalestine] My friend Walid Abu Rass..update from Israeli High Court hearing

Dear friends,

You may recall my article about my friend Walid Abu Rass  who was arrested by Israel and placed under 6-month administrative detention. You may also remember reading his daughter's  passage about her visit to the prison.

By the way, Israeli peace activist/historian Uri Avnery wrote  today about this infamous process of administrative detention.

Many of you acted to free Walid and I'm pleased to report that we achieved partial progress. Under military occupation all progress is partial!

After losing his appeal, which was a joke given the judge is a military judge from the occupation forces, he took his case to the only other court that Israel, the occupying power, respects (and even that, not always), the Israeli High Court.

I just heard from Walid's wife and the organization legally representing him, Addameer . Walid's wife attended the High Court hearing. It too was a joke. 

At the appeal last month the state claimed that Walid was a PFLP operative. The PFLP is a left-wing, political part of the PLO, the same PLO that Israel signed the Oslo Accords with. Now, at the High Court hearing the state presented to the 3 judges a letter saying he was an Islamic Jihad operative. The Islamic Jihad is a Palestinian Islamic party not part of the PLO. Even the judges were embarrassed and questioned the state prosecutor about how the same person can be viewed so differently. After the some back-and-forth between the state and the judges, the state withdraw the latter submission.   

Walid was not even present in the courtroom! When Walid's attorney inquired about the absence of his client, the judges told the attorney if he wanted him to be in the courtroom they would need to postpone the hearing. An old game to buy time until the administration detention order expires. Walid's attorney and wife agreed to continue without Walid's presence.

After hearing the case, Walid's wife and attorney were asked to step out of the courtroom. Thirty minutes later, after the judges deliberated, they returned and were told that the court decided to reduce Walid's detention time by two months, which gives him a new release date of March 22. The judges added that this would be the release date unless concrete evidence is presented by the state. It's all so sick. He should have been released today! How can a court of "law" keep a person imprisoned AFTER deliberating that the state's case was flawed to the point of accepting to release the detainee!

I just wanted to let everyone know where things stand. Walid is in high spirits. Walid's two girls are looking forward to see their dad soon. Walid's wife is correctly worried that the administration order may get renewed, which happens frequently.


Insanity rules military occupation,


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Thursday, February 23, 2012

[ePalestine] NYT/IHT: Palestine Securities Exchange a Bright Spot in Equities



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Sunday, February 19, 2012

[ePalestine] You Can’t Get There From Here: The Need For “Collapse With Agency” In Palestine (by Jeff Halper)



by Jeff Halper  
February 18th, 2012 | Add a Comment  

Even as I write this, the bulldozers have been busy throughout that one indivisible country known by the bifurcated term Israel/Palestine. Palestinian homes, community centers, livestock pens and other “structures” (as the Israel authorities dispassionately call them) have been demolished in the Old City, Silwan and various parts of “Area C” in the West Bank, as well among the Bedouin – Israeli citizens – in the Negev/Nakab. This is merely mopping up, herding the last of the Arabs into their prison cells where, forever, they will cease to be heard or heard from, a non-issue in Israel and, eventually, in the wider world distracted from bigger, more pressing matters.  

An as-yet confidential report submitted by the European consuls in Jerusalem and Ramallah raises urgent concerns over the “forced expulsion” of Palestinians – a particularly strong term for European diplomats to use –from Area C of the West Bank (the 60% of the West Bank under full Israeli control but which today contains less than 5% of the Palestinian population). Focusing particularly on the rise in house demolitions by the Israeli authorities and the growing economic distress of the Palestinians living in Area C, the report mentions the fertile and strategic Jordan Valley (where the Palestinian population has declined from 250,000 to 50,000 since the start of the Occupation), plans to relocate 3000 Jahalin Bedouins to a barren hilltop above the Jerusalem garbage dump and the ongoing but accelerated demolition of Palestinian homes (500 in 2011).   

At the same time the “judaization” of Jerusalem continues apace, a “greater” Israeli Jerusalem steadily isolating the Palestinian parts of the city from the rest of Palestinian society while ghettoizing their inhabitants, more than 100,000 of which now live beyond the Wall. Some 120 homes were demolished in East Jerusalem in 2011; over the same period the Israeli government announced the construction of close to 7000 housing units for Jews in East and “Greater” Jerusalem. “If current trends are not stopped and reversed,” said a previous EU report, “the establishment of a viable Palestinian state within the pre-1967 borders seems more remote than ever. The window for a two-state solution is rapidly closing….”   

In fact, it closed long ago. In terms of settlers and Palestinians, the Israeli government treats the whole country as one. Last year it demolished three times more homes ofIsraeli citizens (Arabs, of course) than it did in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The demolition of Bedouin homes in the Negev/Nakab is part of a plan approved by the government to remove 30,000 citizens from their homes and confine them to townships.  

None of this concerns “typical” Israelis even if they have heard of it (little appears in the news). For them, the Israeli-Arab conflict was won and forgotten years ago, somewhere around 2004 when Bush informed Sharon that the US does not expect Israel to withdraw to the 1967 borders, thus effectively ending the “two-state solution,” and Arafat “mysteriously” died.  

Since then, despite occasional protests from Europe, the “situation” has been normalized. Israelis enjoy peace and quiet, personal security and a booming economy (with the usual neoliberal problems of fair allocation). The unshakable, bi-partisan support of the American government and Congress effectively shields it from any kind of international sanctions. Above all, Israeli Jews have faith that those pesky Arabs living somewhere “over there” beyond the Walls and barbed-wire barriers have been pacified and brought under control by the IDF. A recent poll found that “security,” the term Israelis use instead of “occupation” or “peace,” was ranked eleventh among the concerns of the Israeli public, trailing well behind employment, crime, corruption, religious-secular differences, housing and other more pressing issues.  

A for the international community, the “Quartet” representing the US, the EU, Russia and the UN in the non-existent “peace process” has gone completely silent. (Israel refused to table its position on borders and other key negotiating issues by the January 26th “deadline” laid down by the Quartet, and no new meetings are scheduled). The US has abandoned any pretense of an “honest broker.” Months ago, when the US entered its interminable election “season,” Israel received a green light from both the Democrats and Republicans to do whatever it sees fit in the Occupied Territory. Last May the Republicans invited Netanyahu to address Congress and send a clear message to Obama: hands off Israel. That same week, Obama, not to be out-done, addressed an AIPAC convention and reaffirmed Bush’s promise that Israel will not have to return to the 1967 borders or relinquish its major settlement blocs in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. He also took the occasion to promise an American veto should the Palestinians request membership in the UN – though that would merely amount to an official acceptance of the two-state treaty that the US claims it has been fostering all these years. No, as far as Israel and Israeli Jews are concerned, the conflict and even the need for pretense is over. The only thing remaining is to divert attention to more “urgent” global matters so that the Palestinian issue completely disappears. Voila Iran.  

Oh, but what about the “demographic threat,” that “war of the womb” that will eventually force a solution? Well, as long as Israel has the Palestinian Authority to self-segregate its people, it has nothing to worry about. While the Palestinian Authority plays the “two-state solution” game, Israel can simply herd the Palestinians into the 70 tiny islands of Areas A and B, lock the gates and let the international community feed them – and go about placidly building a Greater Land of Israel with American and European complicity. Indeed, nothing demonstrates self-segregation more than Prime Minister Salem Fayyad’s neoliberal scheme of building a Palestinian …something… “from the ground up.” By building for the well-to-do in new private-sector cities like Rawabi, located safely in Area A, by building new highways (with Japanese and USAID assistance) that respect Israeli “Greater” Jerusalem and channel Palestinian traffic from Ramallah to Bethlehem through far-away Jericho, by expressing a willingness to accept Israeli territorial expansion in exchange for the ability to “do business,” Fayyad has invented yet a new form of neoliberal oppression-by-consent: viable apartheid (viable, at least, for the Palestinian business class). And as in the Bantustans of apartheid South Africa, the Palestinian Authority maintains a repressive internal order through its own American-trained/Israeli-approved militia, a second layer of occupation. (During the 2008 assault on Gaza, one of the few places in the world in which there were no demonstrations was the West Bank, where they were forbidden by the Palestinian Authority. Then-Prime Minister Olmert crowed that this was evidence of how effectively the Palestinians had been pacified.)  

Indeed, by clinging to the two-state solution and continuing to participate in “negotiations” years after they have proven themselves a trap, the Palestinian leadership plays a central role in its own people’s warehousing. The reality – even the fact – of occupation gets buried under the diversions set up by the fraudulent yet unending “peace process.” This only enables Israel not only to imprison the Palestinians in tiny cells; witness today’s mini-ethnic cleansing, just one of thousands of micro-events that have the cumulative effect of displacement, expulsion, segregation and incarceration. It also enables Israel to then blame the victims for causing their own oppression! When a Palestinian leadership assumes the prerogative to negotiate a political resolution yet lacks any genuine authority or leverage to do so, and when, in addition, it fails to abandon negotiations even after they have been exposed as a trap, it comes dangerously close to being collaborationist. For its part, Israel is off the hook. Instead of going through the motions of establishing an apartheid regime, it simply exploits the willingness of the Palestinian Authority to perpetuate the illusion of negotiations as a smokescreen covering its virtual imprisonment of the Palestinian “inmates.” Once the current mopping up operations are completed, the process of incarceration will be complete.  

Today the only alternative agency to the Palestinian Authority is segments of the international civil society. The Arab and Muslims peoples for whom Palestinian liberation is an integral part of the Arab Spring, stand alongside thousands of political and human rights groups, critical activists, churches, trade unions and intellectuals throughout the world. Crucial as it is for keeping the issue alive and building grassroots support for the Palestinian cause that will steadily “trickle up” and affect governments’ policies, however, civil society advocacy is a stop-gap form of agency, ultimately unable to achieve a just peace by itself. We, too, are trapped in the dead-end personified by the two-state solution, reference to a “peace process” and their attendant “negotiations.” There is no way forward in the current paradigm. We must break out into a world of new possibilities foreclosed by the present options: a “two-state” apartheid regime or warehousing.  

In my view, while advocacy and grassroots mobilization remain relevant, several tasks stand before us. First, we must endeavor to hasten the collapse of the present situation and subsequently, when new paradigms of genuine justice emerge from the chaos, be primed to push forward an entirely different solution that is currently impossible or inconceivable, be that a single democratic state over the entire country, a bi-national state, a regional confederation or some other alternative yet to be formulated. The Palestinians themselves must create a genuine, inclusive agency of their own that, following the collapse, can effectively seize the moment. Formulating a clear program and strategy, they will then be equipped to lead their people to liberation and a just peace, with the support of activists and others the world over.  

A necessary and urgent first step towards collapsing the otherwise permanent regime of oppression in Israel/Palestine is that we stop talking about a two-state solution. It’s dead and gone as a political option – if, indeed, it ever really existed. It should be banned from the discourse because reference to an irrelevant “solution” only serves to confuse the discussion. Granted, this will be hard for liberals to do; everyone else, however, has given up on it. Most Palestinians, having once supported it, now realize that Israel will simply not withdraw to a point where a truly viable and sovereign state can emerge. The Israeli government, backed by the Bush-Obama policies on the settlement blocs, doesn’t even make pretence of pursuing it anymore, and the Israeli public is fine with the status quo. Nor does the permanent warehousing of the Palestinians seem to faze the American or European governments, or the Arab League. Even AIPAC has moved on to the “Iranian threat.”  

Behind the insistence of the liberal Zionists of J Street, Peace Now, the Peace NGOs Forum run out of the Peres Center for Peace and others to hang on to a two-state solution at any cost is a not-so-hidden agenda. They seek to preserve Israel as a Jewish state even at the cost of enforcing institutional discrimination against Israel’s own Palestinian citizens. The real meaning of a “Jewish democracy” is living with apartheid and warehousing while protesting them. No, the liberals will be the hardest to wean away from the two-state snare. Yet if they don’t abandon it, they run the risk of promoting de facto their own worst nightmare of warehousing while providing the fig-leaf of legitimacy to cover the policies of Israel’s extreme right – all in the name of “peace.” This is what happens when one’s ideology places restrictions on one’s ability to perceive evil or to draw necessary if difficult conclusions. When wishful thinking becomes policy, it not only destroys your effectiveness as a political actor but leads you into positions, policies and alliances that, in the end, are inimical to your own goals and values. Jettisoning all talk of a “two-state solution” removes the major obstacle to clear analysis and the ability to move forward.    

The obfuscation created by the “two-state solution” now out of the way, what emerges as clear as day is naked occupation, an apartheid regime extending across all of historic Palestine/Israel and the spectre of warehousing. Since none of these forms of oppression can ever be legitimized or transformed into something just, the task before us becomes clear: to cause their collapse by any means necessary. There are many ways to do this, just as the ANC did. Already Palestinian, Israel and international activists engage in internal resistance, together with international challenges to occupation represented by the Gaza flotillas and attempts to “crash” Israeli borders. Many civil society actors the world over have mobilized, some around campaigns such as Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS), others around direct actions, still others engaged in lobbying the UN and governments through such instruments as the Human Rights Council, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and international courts. There have been campaigns to reconvene the Tribunal that, under the Fourth Geneva Convention, has the authority and duty to sanction Israel for its gross violations. Dozens of groups and individuals alike engage in public speaking, mounting Israel Apartheid Weeks on university campuses and working through the media. And much more.  

And here is where Palestinian civil society plays a crucial role, a role that cannot be played by non-Palestinians. If it is agreed that the Palestinian Authority must go if we are to get beyond the two-state trap – indeed, the dismantling of the PA being a major part of the collapse of the present system – then this call must originate from within the Palestinian community. Non-Palestinians must join in, of course, but the issue of who represents the Palestinians is their call exclusively.  

Non-Palestinians can lso suggest various end-games. I’ve written, for example, about a Middle East economic confederation, believing that a regional approach is necessary to address the core issues. The Palestinian organization PASSIA published a collection of twelve possible outcomes. It is obvious, though, that it is the sole prerogative of the Palestinian people to decide what solution, or range of solutions, is acceptable. For this, and to organize effectively so as to bring about a desired outcome, the Palestinians need a new truly representative agency, one that replaces the PA and gives leadership and direction to broad-based civil society agency, one that has the authority to negotiate a settlement and actually move on to the implementation of a just peace.  

As of now, it appears there is only one agency that possesses that legitimacy and mandate: the Palestinian National Council of the PLO (although Hamas and the other Islamic parties are not (yet) part of the PLO). Reconstituting the PNC through new elections would seem the most urgent item on the Palestinian agenda today – without which, in the absence of effective agency, we are all stuck in rearguard protest actions and Israel prevails. Our current situation, caught in the limbo between seeking the collapse of the oppressive system we have, and having a Palestinian agency that can effectively lead us towards a just resolution, is one of the most perilous we’ve faced. One person’s limbo is another person’s window of opportunity. Say what you will about Israel, it knows how to hustle and exploit even the smallest of opportunities to nail down its control permanently.  

“Collapse with agency,” I suggest, could be a title of our refocused efforts to weather the limbo in the political process. Until a reinvigorated PNC or other representative agency can be constituted, a daunting but truly urgent task, Palestinian civil society might coalesce enough to create a kind of interim leadership bureau. This itself might be a daunting task. Most Palestinian leaders have either been killed by Israel or are languishing in Israeli prisons, while Palestinian civil society has been shattered into tiny disconnected and often antagonistic pieces. At home major divisions have been sown between “’48” and “’67” Palestinians; Gaza, Jerusalem and the West Bank have been effectively severed; and within the West Bank restrictions on movement among a bewildering array of “areas” – A, B, C, C- Restricted, H-1, H-2, nature reserves, closed military areas – have resulted in virtual, largely disconnected Palestinian mini-societies. Political divisions, especially among secular/traditional and Islamic factions, have been nurtured, not least by Israel. Overall, the Palestinian population, exhausted by years of sacrifice and resistance, impoverished and preoccupied with mere survival, has been left largely rudderless as many of its most educated and skilled potential leaders have left or are forbidden by Israel to return.  

For its part, the Palestinian leadership has done little to bridge the wider divisions amongst those falling under PA rule, Palestinian citizens of Israel, residents of the refugee camps and the world-wide Diaspora, divisions that have grown even wider since the PLO and the PNC fell moribund. Indeed, major portions of the Palestinian Diaspora (and one may single out especially but not exclusively the large and prosperous communities of Latin America), have disconnected from the national struggle completely. The Palestinian possess some extremely articulate spokespeople and activists, but they tend to be either a collection of individual voices only tenuously tied to grassroots organizations, or grassroots resistance groups such as the Popular Committees that enjoy little political backing or strategic direction.     

Ever aware that the struggle for liberation must be led by Palestinians, our collective task at the moment, in my view, is to bring about the collapse of the present situation in Palestine in order to exploit its fundamental unsustainabilty. The elimination of the Palestinian Authority is one way to precipitate that collapse. It would likely require Israel to physically reoccupy the Palestinian cities and probably Gaza as well (as if they have ever been de-occupied), bringing the reality of raw occupation back to the center of attention. Such a development would likely inflame Arab and Muslim public opinion, not to mention that of much of the rest of the world, and would create an untenable situation, forcing the hand of the international community. Israel would be put in an indefensible position, thus paving the way for new post- collapse possibilities – this time with an effective and representative Palestinian agency in place and a global movement primed to follow its lead.  

But given the underlying unsustainability of the Occupation and the repressive system existing throughout historic Palestine – the massive violations of human rights and international law, the disruptive role the conflict plays in the international system and its overt brutality – collapse could come from a variety of places, some of them unsuspected and unrelated to Israel/Palestine. An attack on Iran could reshuffle the cards in the Middle East, and the Arab Spring is still a work in progress. Major disruptions in the flow of oil to the West due an attack on Iran, internal changes in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, instability in Russia and even the fact that China has no oil of its own could cause major financial crises worldwide. Sino-American tensions, environmental disasters or Pakistan’s nuclear weapons falling into the hands of the Taliban with unpredictable Indian reactions may all play an indirect yet forceful role. Who knows? Ron Paul, President Gingrich’s newly appointed Secretary of State, might end all military, economic and political support for Israel, in which case the Occupation (and more) would fall within a month.    

Whatever the cause of the collapse – and we must play an active role in bring it about – it is incumbent upon us to be ready, mobilized and organized if we are to seize that historic moment, which might be coming sooner than we expect. Effective and broadly representative Palestinian agency will be critical. Collapse with agency is the only way to get “there” from “here.”  

Jeff Halper is the Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD).


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Friday, February 17, 2012

[ePalestine] Al-Monitor Originals: Hamas and the New Mideast Puzzle (By Sam Bahour)

Al-Monitor Originals 

Hamas and the New Mideast Puzzle 

By Sam Bahour 


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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

[ePalestine] Al-Shabaka Policy Brief: Defeating Dependency, Creating a Resistance Economy

Al-Shabaka Policy Brief 

Defeating Dependency, Creating a Resistance Economy 

14 February 2012
Alaa Tartir, Sam Bahour, Samer Abdelnour

In an important recent piece - Economic Hallucination - Ramallah-based Al-Shabaka policy advisor Sam Bahour exposed the charade played by both Western donors and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to cover up the occupied territory’s inexorable economic meltdown after decades of Israeli military occupation. Arguing that the combined donor-PA approach poses major obstacles to freedom and rights, Bahour concluded: “It’s time for a new economic model, one built on economic justice, social welfare, solidarity, and sustainability.” What would such an economic model look like and how can Palestinians living under occupation move from today’s grim reality to an economy that sustains the quest for self- determination? Al-Shabaka policy advisors Alaa Tartir and Samer Abdelnour join Bahour to debate these questions and explore alternatives. 


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Thursday, February 09, 2012

[ePalestine] "My dignity is more precious than food"


"My dignity is more precious than food"

Palestinian Prisoner Enters 53rd Day of Hunger Strike 

Dying to live,


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Sunday, February 05, 2012


Dear friends, 

On December 09, 2011, I wrote about my friend, Walid Abu Rass, who was arrested by Israeli soldiers from his home at 1:30am in front of his wife and two young daughters. To read that story visit:  

I must thank all of you who took action based on the news of Walid’s arrest. Some of your letters and efforts have reached high levels in the Israeli executive and legislative bodies, but sadly, none have brought about his release, just yet, that is. 

Walid is still being held under what Israel calls Administrative Detention, which means he is detained without charge and neither he, his family, nor his attorney are told why. His fear now is the same that it was when he went through this nightmare of Administrative Detention before, that the six month sentence will be extended for another six months. As Walid’s wife recently noted, “Administrative detention has a beginning but doesn’t have an end.” This is the routine Palestinians have become accustomed to. I refuse to accept all of this, his arrest and his possible sentence extension. 

Last week, I met with Walid’s attorney and the prisoner’s support organization following up his case, Addameer ( ). Walid appealed his six month sentence and lost, as most Palestinian prisoners do, given the military court system is part and parcel of the military occupation. He is being held in the Ofer Detention Center on the outskirts of Ramallah. This detention center is ill-equipped and overcrowded. Prisoners are complaining of many human rights abuses, but most critical right now is the lack of heat and blankets. Ramallah is facing one of its coldest winters in recent memory. 

Yesterday, I visited Walid’s wife, Bayan, and two beautiful daughters, Mays, 13 years old, and Malak, 4 years old. His daughters are only slightly younger than my own. The burden that befalls mother in such situations is worthy of acknowledgement. Palestinian women remain the backbone of this society, albeit many times as silent heroes.  

Mays explained to me how her last visit to the prison to visit her father went. She spoke in great detail. I asked if she could write it so I may distribute it for others to see how families are treated. She did. Below is Mays recollection of her last visit to see her dad. The are allowed a visit behind a glass wall every other Sunday. 

I urge each and every one of you to continue demanding Walid’s release. There is no reason, whatsoever, for him to be detained. If Israel thinks otherwise, they should charge him. If they can’t, then let the man return to his wife and daughters now! And in the meantime, Israel must let the Red Cross deliver ample blankets to the thousands of Palestinian prisoners who they are detaining! 

Given legal proceedings have been exhausted, there is a single person who can issue the order to release Walid:

Deputy Prime Minister &
Minister of Defence
Ehud Barak
Ministry of Defence
37 Kaplan Street
Hakirya, Tel Aviv 61909
Fax: +972.3.691.6940

Pleading for common sense to prevail, for Mays and Malak’s sake,



“No permission for the blanket!” This sentence is the only sentence I heard from them. 

Sunday is my day. My mom told us that we had permission to visit my dad. That night I did not sleep at all from my excitement. It has been one and a half months without seeing my dad. He was taken by the Israeli occupation with no reason! My dream is to know why he was taken. 

I wake up really early that day and wear my best clothes. My sister was really exited and kept asking me how we are going to visit our dad.  I was debating my answer because explaining the way is too complicated to tell such a young girl. We took some clothes and a blanket for my dad because it’s so cold over there. We also took some sandwiches for us in order to eat them while we wait. 

We are now standing in front of the big door of the prison. We are WAITING, WAITING and WAITING. Nothing new is happening; every time we saw a couple of soldiers coming we jump up like crazy people thinking they are coming to open the door. Then we go back to the same position, WAITING, WAITING and WAITING. My sister is asking me “do we need more time? I am really bored.” I don’t have any answer for her. 

Two hours pass, finally the huge door opens; at that moment, I thought all the hard part is gone and now the easy thing is coming: joy for just seeing my dad. We hold all the clothes and the blanket that we brought to give to my dad. But it is not the end yet; we got to the window where we can give the soldiers what we brought for the prisoners. I hold the clothes and stand in the row for hours. When the solider called me I ran to the window and put every single thing I have including the blanket. He told me, “NO PERMISSION FOR THE BLANKET.” I was shocked. I started asking WHY? He told me with anger, “NO PERMISSION FOR THE BLANKET!” I told him please, just this blanket. It’s cold inside. He said with blunt words: “NO PERMISSION FOR THE BLANKET!” I took everything and put them back inside my bag with a sad face. There is only one thing turning in my mind, I think how really precious this blanket is right now. It is the most precious thing for my dad. 

Another huge door is opened and we enter to be checked now. They took our phones, wristwatches, and keys—everything that is related to the free life outside. 

It is not the end yet. We go trough another small door in order to take off our shoes and jackets. Now we are told to pass through some big machine. My mom tries to tell the solider that children are not supposed to be exposed to this radiation machine. He says enter or leave. So we enter, all of us, including my baby sister. 

After getting checked, they put us in a small room. We are around 50 people, children, women, and men. They closed the door and we are left together with just one small disgusting bathroom. Time is not moving. We are waiting in a room without a clock, no talking is allowed. A group of silent faces are just waiting and any sound of keys make us all stand up, thinking that it is the end of our wait. Hours are gone and we do not know the exact time. Finally, a solider came, but it was another one of their games to let us jump up again to think that it is time to enter. After few minutes, he went away. And here we are still WAITING, WAITING, WAITING. 

Then, the door is open. Now every single person, young and old, are laughing running inside in order to use every single minute of the visit. The room is too small. I start looking around trying to find my dad, finally I saw him. He was smiling right at my face. My sister was dazzled, she starts kissing the glass between us and my dad. Between me and my dad are only a few centimeters. I can’t touch him or hug him. We pick up the phones that allow us to talk to him. There is no voice. The phones are still turned off. The stopwatch on the wall is at 00:00:00. Then the timer starts, we can start talking for 45 minutes, exactly, but this passes like seconds. I could not tell him everything I feel because every single thing we say is listened to by the soldiers. After 45 minutes, exactly, the phone goes silent again. Visiting time is over. The soldiers start pushing us outside of the room. Their words were, “go out, out!” 

I still keep thinking about the blanket that I couldn’t give to my dad. I left, holding the blanket and looking back at the door of the prison. I was crying. My dad is going to sleep in the winter cold forever. All of you are sitting in your warm houses and my dad is locked up without a blanket. 

Your daughter, 
Mays Abu Rass 
February 5, 2012 


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[ePalestine] HRW: Israel’s Control of Palestinian Residency in the West Bank and Gaza

Human Rights Watch


“Forget About Him, He’s Not Here”

Israel’s Control of Palestinian Residency in the West Bank and Gaza 


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Wednesday, February 01, 2012

[ePalestine] TWIP: Globalized Palestine The National Sell-Out of a Homeland (By Khalil Nakhleh)

This Week in Palestine

Book of the Month

Globalized Palestine The National Sell-Out of a Homeland 

By Khalil Nakhleh 

The Red Sea Press, Inc., 2012; 286 pages 

An introductory comment 

I started working full time on the initial draft of this book, in English, about three years ago. While I was seeking a publisher for the English edition, I was determined to have it appear in Arabic first, and in Palestine, because I sought for it to generate national public discourse on our transformation and future, as a people struggling for freedom and emancipation. Indeed, the Arabic edition was published in Ramallah in May 2011. It must be mentioned with appreciation that the translation into Arabic, the publication, and the distribution to public libraries in historical Palestine were possible because of the support of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, and the total commitment and determination of its Ramallah staff. 

Why now? 

Over a span of twenty-five years, or since I stopped being engaged in teaching and research as an academic anthropologist, and shifted to becoming an “applied” anthropologist, or working in the field of so-called “development,” I became preoccupied with how to transform Palestinian society and people - my society and people - from an occupied, colonised, and fragmented society towards a liberated, productive, free, and self-generating society, not dependent on external financial aid. It was, and continues to be, a deeply reflective, agonising, and personal process of thought, analysis, and action, in which I was engaged as a genuine “participant observer,” through which I was aspiring to see at the end of the tunnel a society with a tightly knit social fabric empowered by coherent political, economic, and liberating human values that would rise against colonialism, oppression, and despotism. This book is, in a certain sense, a partial end result of this reflective and analytic process. 

Through an introduction and four chapters, and by relying on a micro-analytic approach, benefiting from my personal experience as an engaged participant- observer, the book challenges and criticises the various fragmented, non-cumulative, deceptive, and mythological attempts to “develop” Palestinian society over the span of the last thirty years. It is a study of Palestinian “development”: the development of the people, the society, and the political-economic system. It is about how truncated, distorted, and mythological the official claim of Palestinian “development” is and has become. Basically, it is about the role of an informal tri-partite coalition of Palestinian capitalists-political elite, Palestinian “developmental” NGOs, and transnational “aid” agencies in impeding, obstructing, and negating what I call, “People-Centered Liberationist Development” (PCLD). As argued throughout this work, PCLD is inherently a process of social and political self-determination and liberation; and, as such, it aims primarily at resisting and ending foreign occupation, colonialism, and hegemony, as well as internally perpetuated apartheid, be it political, economic, or social. 

I claim throughout this book that there is an inherent incongruence between Palestinian absolute dependence on Western transnational aid and the Palestinian official expectation that financial aid, whose primary source emanates from Western governments and/or agencies, is the avenue to developing and emancipating Palestinian people and society from the poverty and pauperisation created by the colonial system of occupation, and is supported and sustained by these same sources. I assert that aid advanced to Palestine under prolonged occupation and colonialism is political aid par excellence, advanced to my people, specifically to acquiesce and submit to an imposed political agenda and programme. Such aid shackles, mortgages, and holds hostage the entire current society and future generations in political and economic debt. It is aid that focuses on consumption and mortgaging people. It is aid that is anti-production and anti-liberation. 

Although this book is about Palestine, it is not exclusively so. It is also about the important lessons that we can learn from South Africa since 1994, when apartheid was transformed into a social category of control, oppression, and a system of exploitation by the people’s own indigenous self-proclaimed leadership. It is also about Latin America and about many other struggling peoples, in whom the current Palestinian struggle is embedded, and cannot be but embedded, thanks to the global process of colonisation and emerging re-colonisation. 

Since Palestine is still effectively under the hold of Zionist settler colonialism, I benefitted from carefully re-reading and reviewing the work of Frantz Fanon about colonised countries in Africa, and countries where colonisation was formally terminated, but where developments strike an eerie resemblance to twenty-first- century Palestine. From this vantage point, the current analysis cannot be only an analysis of Palestine today; it is an analysis of a wider scope: how the “political economy of the oppressed,” or the “political economy of the occupied,” may look in the globalised twenty-first century. 

I am sounding serious “alarm bells” for what may happen to us - the Palestinian people and society - if we persist on this path of zealous acquiescence to neoliberal agendas imposed on us by the United State, Israel, Western transnational aid agencies, and corporate finance. In this book, I call clearly and openly for strategic counter “re-engineering” measures that span our perceived collective national consciousness, our prevalent political environment since Oslo, our prevalent economic investment environment, and the abusive role of Palestinian capitalists to maximise their profits. I advocate a need for a determined and purposeful “re- engineering” of the prevalent environment of the tyranny of transnational aid agencies, and the function of such aid, as well as a conscious effort at “re- engineering” the prevalent social, cultural, and normative environment. 

I don’t claim to offer magical recipes for our collective emancipation. I claim that together we can and should be able to harness our collective creative indigenous energies if we’re determined to liberate ourselves. I hope that this book will be helpful towards this end. 

Khalil Nakhleh is a Palestinian anthropologist from Galilee who has been residing in this part of the homeland for the last 19 years. He may be reached at


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