When it comes to Palestine, peace is the whore of anybody with a hidden agenda. The Israelis have used the struggle for peace for over 60 years now as a cover for settling on lands that belong to others, the Americans have used it to cover their complete bias towards Israel, the Europeans have used it to deal with their Holocaust guilt, other Arab governments have used it to deal with their own restless populations. Even the PA and Hamas have used it to get and stay in power. Within the peace movement itself peace is mocked by peace activists that care more about the Zionist dream than about a just peace for both. Nothing is more common than a Zionist talking about peace while maintaining that the right of return is an ‘unfair’ demand. Nothing is more common than hearing those interested in peace talk about how the Palestinians need to ‘compromise’ too. As if they have still anything left to compromise.

The Palestinians are the ones that forever are paying the price of this peace game. Besides still not having any peace, they also have no land, no nationality, no decent living circumstances, no medical care, no security and no dignity. The old peace adagio ‘land for peace’ is a joke because the Israelis over the years have gotten themselves (a lot) more land and more security, while the Palestinians have less land and less security than ever. Palestinians are killed, robbed and harassed by the IDF and the settlers on a daily basis. In a complete asymmetrical conflict situation, the Palestinians have nothing left to bargain with.

With so many parties interested (though not really interested) in peace, it is difficult to navigate possible solutions and possible means to achieve those solutions. The so-called international consensus since Oslo has been a two-state solution. Carter, Clinton, Blair, Barak and Olmert, they all professed a deep belief in two states for two people. The means to achieve such a solution would be a political negotiated process. However, besides the fact that in reality a 15 year long struggle for a two state solution has only led to more land and more security for the Israelis to the extent that whatever land was set out for the Palestinians is now populated with Jews (300000 Jews in West bank and a 150000 in East Jerusalem and counting as they continue to settle both regions!!), it is unclear how even in theory a two state solution could possible produce anything even remotely fair for the Palestinians. In a conflict in which one side is completely intertwined with the world’s superpower, has most of the land already, has the nukes and other hi tech weapons, controls the propaganda war and is economically so much more prosperous than its opponent (who to be frank has nothing), it is hard to understand how a fair deal could ever be negotiated. The underlying idea of a two state solution seems to be that the Palestinians should be happy with whatever they can get and not complain any further. The fact that such a profound unfairness doesn’t seem to bother any of the abovementioned peace activists is the clearest indication that it is not peace they are concerned with but their own agenda.

Besides the two state solution there are peace activists who are promoting a one state solution or some type of binational state. The merits and fairness of such a solution are obvious, but the voices for it are scattered and unorganized. Israel itself remains pathological attached to its ethnicity as the most important criteria for citizenship. It is not clear to what degree the Palestinians would tolerate such a solution, and the peace movement itself with its jargon of peace but lack of intentions for it has not decided upon such a goal. In fact the peace movement as a collective still seems to think a two state solution is within reach.

Besides the lack of common goal of the peace movement, there is also no unity as to what should constitute the means to achieve any kind of goal. Dialogue, interfaith exchanges, political summits, backroom diplomacy, terror, civil disobedience and BDS actions, are all common practices in the peace game. The other day Faris Giacaman wrote an interesting article about the peace industry. You can find the article here: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10722.shtml. The author made the interesting point that a lot of effort is being wasted, a lot of money being spent on efforts that have not made a fig of difference. Giacaman argues for a focus on boycotts, sanctions and divestments as non-violent means to pressure Israel into a deal. There is a lot to be said for such a focus. Besides the fact that it originates in Palestinian Civil Society, is non-violent in nature, does not depend upon the whims of politicians but upon global grassroots efforts and solidarity, such a strategy has proven itself to be successful once before. Israel is similar to south-Africa in the sense that it wants to be part of the global community, wants to be taken serious as a democracy and is vulnerable for economic and cultural pressure. The only reason why such a campaign is not widely promoted is because the Palestinian peace movement is infiltrated by people that have their own agenda in mind rather than a just peace. There is not one solid reason why a peace activist would oppose such a strategy. And yet many do and label it anti-Semitism.

I fear for the Palestinians.  The lack of a common and clear goal, the undermining of the peace movement from within by people with their own agenda, the complete asymmetry and overwhelming bias in favor of the Israeli makes it hard to believe that anything fair will ever be achieved for them. If even a peace movement can become a peace industry and is sabotaged and fractured from within then where is the hope? What means do we as people possess to make this world a little bit more human for us all?

Iqbal Tamimi – Abraham bought a cave, he did not buy Palestine | Palestine Think Tank

I have been reading an article by Robin-Yassin Kassab, entitled ‘A visit to Hebron’. Yassin Kassab is the author of ‘The Road from Damascus’. This time he was not writing about Damascus, he was writing about my home town Al-Khaleel, known to the Western world by the name of Hebron. In his article he describes his visit to Al-Khaleel accompanied by a number of wonderful writers and publishers, amongst them Michael Palin, Henning Mankel, Deborah Moggach, Claire Messud and MG Vassanji, and he describes the misery of the people in my hometown under the illegal Israeli occupation. Those writers have been able to witness the very painful reality when they travelled to Palestine to participate in the Palestine Festival of Literature.

As usual, the Zionists were ready with sharpened teeth to shred his efforts by their usual Hasbara methods of sending their false poisonous comments in an attempt to mask any efforts at explaining what is really going on in Palestine. One of the comments left by one of those Zionists on his blog complained that ‘Hebron Arabs today have access to 98% of the entire city. Jews have only access to 3% of Hebron’.

In the comment of this ‘anonymous’ reader, what seems to look like an innocent number of complaints, should the reader not know much about that part of the world he/she will fall a victim to the false impression that the presence of the Israeli Occupation in my hometown is justified and not an illegal occupation according to international law and even by Israeli standards. His comments sounded like as if they are coming from a victim who is supposed to have equal rights of access.

The 3% of the Jews in Hebron he was talking about are not supposed to be there, the occupying force according to international law is not supposed to allow or facilitate the transfer of its own citizens to the occupied areas.

He complained that the owners of the city – the Arab Palestinians – have access to 98% of their own city and the occupiers who are called for well-known media manipulation reasons ‘the settlers’ have access to 3%. ‘The expression settlers’ seems to be a very benign use of the language for a malignant reason. Of course the total according to his figures makes the population of Al-Khaleel more than 100%, this is a good example of what happens when Israeli authorities employ cyber amateurs to defend its crimes against the Palestinians, they work very fast so that they conjure numbers that do not make any sense. The Zionist state employs thousands every year to work on character assassination of the writers who bring to light any information about the absurdity of the Israeli occupation in Palestine, like Mr Kassab.

This shows how far they can go to fabricate false stories by throwing numbers without any verifications or referencing, and as usual, the Westerners swallow it all because the numbers and figures are connected in their experience with studies and statistics, and methods we all respect and do not doubt their credibility. I want to surprise ‘Mr anonymous’ and tell him that the people in Al-Khaleel are supposed to have 100% access to their own city because it is their home. It seems that the Zionists are full of themselves to a point they think that people can’t figure out that it is unacceptable for a total stranger to come from as far as Russia to occupy the living room of any Palestinian by hooliganism, and deny the owner access to his own kitchen or bathroom. Blocking the way of the locals is preaching their human rights and this is what the claimed 3% Jewish ‘settlers’ are doing in my hometown.

Those Jewish ‘settlers’ who have access to 3 % of my home have killed three students while walking on campus in 1986 for no reason whatsoever. Those 400 gun-wielding settlers are guarded and protected by 1,500 Israeli soldiers who witness their daily attacks on the unarmed local Palestinians and do nothing about it even though they are supposed to protect the locals according to International law. The Israeli authorities tend to demolish any home, should the owner build one brick without their permission, but at the same time claim that they could do nothing to handle the illegal presence of the Jewish settlers in the heart of Al-Khaleel, occupying the roof tops of the Palestinians homes and throwing their rubbish on them every day, and calling the Palestinian women whenever they open their doors ‘whores’.

I guess those ‘chosen by God’ people show the Almighty as an under-achiever, he could not even choose a respected lot who behave themselves when he went to choose his own loved lot. I would imagine no ordinary person would ever choose to be a friend with someone with a bad reputation and despicable manners like the Jewish settlers, let alone a wise compassionate God, but it seems that they know that the Western world is a hypocritical lot, they would support their claims even though they are a secular majority who deny even the presence of God, but when it comes to Israel suddenly they turn to be serious believers of every claim told by the Zionist lot, and the angel halo appears shining, bright and glowing above their heads, you can almost touch their holy wings. Even those who have just converted to Judaism only yesterday for visa reasons to work in Israel and care less about Moses, Jacob, Solomon, or any other prophet mentioned by any holy book, turn by a swift magic wand into very religious people even when they are posing naked in adult magazines to promote tourism in ‘the Holy Land’.

My brother-in-law is a doctor whose clinic is located in the heart of the city of Hebron, where the settlers are turning the people’s lives into living hell because they are God’s chosen brats.  His practice is located in an area where poor, sick, underprivileged people need medical attention. The soldiers who are supposed to be guarding the locals according to international law are not doing so, on the contrary, they are helping the settlers to occupy the rooftops of the neighbouring houses including his clinic, the soldiers themselves used to urinate in the water reservoir on the rooftop of his practice to drive him out, and to evacuate the area from the last few Palestinians who were persevering and trying to get on with their miserable lives against the odds. For years he used to go every single day to his practice and just set there, even though he knew perfectly well that he could not treat the ever-decreasing number of sick people who could reach his clinic, not because of the intimidation of the settlers and the hygiene problems only, but because they are hindered by tens of roadblocks and obstacles as well. But he never gave up on his mission, he continued to go to work every morning anyway – to send the Israeli occupying forces a clear message of ‘I am not leaving’. All his patients knew about his daily struggle and used to knock on his home door asking for help at odd hours, he could not turn them back, but one can imagine what kind of life this must have been for him and for his wife and children who hardly have any privacy at home, and who could not anticipate when the next banging on the door will start.

Many times he would go to his work and could not come back home that day because a new curfew had started while he was in his practice.

This is a reality every single Palestinian in my hometown has to deal with day in day out. I remember asking him once ‘what you were doing in the clinic then if you could not treat your patients’? He smiled and said I used to help my wife in her housework. I have been able to pick the leaves of almost 30 Kg of Oregano one summer to dry them for family use for the rest of the year’.

Storing food to manage during the curfews is another problem. The Israeli authorities used to cut the electricity of the city on purpose until all the stored food kept in homes’ freezers rotted and was no longer edible, besides subjecting the lives of sick people in the operation theatres at the hospital to great danger. My late husband told me about a number of surgical operations he had to perform at Princess Alia Hospital which turned to be a challenge when the electricity was cut off, besides the fact that most drugs including anaesthetics were banned, many patients were stitched without any sedation. Those are only a few kinds of inflicted pains the people had to deal with.

Year after year of hardships taught the Palestinians to find their own solutions, the people knew that the curfews can be imposed at any time, and for no reason whatsoever, no one is allowed to look through a window or walk outside the door during such enforced siege, no shops will be opened, no cars are permitted to take a dying person to hospital. The people of Al-Khaleel had to find solutions to this hard reality. They were forced to become self-sufficient and learn how to survive, no more they rely on freezing their food, they started drying, pickling, salting, and bottling the very little they managed to cultivate in their home gardens.

The same paid Zionist to attack the article and assassinate its writer’s character says ‘Close to 100 Jews have been killed in the Hebron region by Arab terrorists, in cold blood over the years and this number does not include 67 Jews murdered in Hebron 80 years ago, during the 1929 riots and massacre’.

I dare this person who threw at us the first rounded figure using his ‘close to’ expression to come with any evidence of his claim, but still I would like to tell him that according to official statistics by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics the number of reported innocent civilians killed in Hebron by Israeli soldiers in only 8 years not 61 years, between 29 September 2000 – 31 December 2008 is 265 people, those were all innocent civilians.

This same person evidently employed by the Foreign Ministry of Israel to bleach its burned image is complaining about what he described as ‘noise’ in my occupied home town, he claims ‘the Muslim call-to-prayer begins at about 4:00 AM and is repeated five times daily, with other public interludes, until after 11:00 PM, waking up sleeping people and preventing them from sleeping, with this noise being broadcast from numerous points in the city’.

For goodness sake, if you do not like living there just go back where you came from, you are living in our home, you have no right to tell us how to behave or complain about our worshiping rituals, at least the not chosen people who still worship God unlike his own chosen people who smeared his name. So…this chosen by God man considers calling for prayers a ‘noise’, while shelling, bombing, and demolitions of homes, snipers’ bullets whizzing all the time, and hovering military aircrafts since 1967 are not? How about sleeping somewhere else where you will have the right to sleep without being disturbed by the ‘non chosen people by God’.

The same chatterbox complains as well about the Ibrahimi Mosque which no more is treated with the dignity and respect it deserves, he says ‘the largest hall, the Isaac Chamber, is off-limits to Jews so that Moslems may hold their prayers there’. I guess he forgotten to mention that the Israelis occupy more than half the Mosque and as such Muslims have no access to their own place of worship, and the 3 main entrances are fitted with metallic security doors and Muslims have access through one entrance only where they are searched and humiliated, men and women, before every prayer by God’s chosen people. But most of all he forgot willingly to mention that a fundamentalist racist Jew shot down 29 Muslims while kneeling in prayer in that same mosque and was considered a hero by the Jewish Zionist society.

Not only that, he lies through his teeth, he claims that ‘Most of those 400 settlers are children, and they aren’t gun-wielding’. Oh really, that is fascinating information, so…the fourth strongest army in the world could not handle less than 400, people the majority of which are children? I would indicate such a story-teller to the Israeli Foreign office should he want to knit a lie, to do some research… and make a lie-proof story because there are people who read and there are those who do their own research. And by the way, when 4000 years ago, the prophet Abraham came to my city as an Iraqi immigrant, he bought the cave which became later the burial place for his wife from us, we the Palestinians, the people of Al-Khaleel…surely you are not serious to believe that whoever buys a cave owns the whole country, and pass it as an inheritance to his believers wherever they are!!!

Visit Palestinian Mothers to see some films of the scenes this article talks about.

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ps: I was intrigued by the idea that Hebron, a biblical place that drives the settlers crazy, was inhabitated before the israelites conquered the place.  Excavations and Egyption historical records do indeed show a lot of discrepancies with biblical claims. The book of Joshua has the Israelites living in Hebron in the late Bronze age. However, archeology shows that there was no habituation by Israelites in Hebron in the late Bronze Age. But there were people living there in the middle bronze age:

“In contrast, excavations at Tell Rumeideh [note: Hebron] have revealed no evidence of Late Bronze Age occupation, and there seems to have been a gap between the Middle Bronze Age town and the Iron Age I settlement.” (p.283 of  
The Archeology of Ancient Israel, Amnon ben-Tor (ed.), Yale:1992). This suggests that Iqbal Tamini has it right. Somebody was living there first, and it wasn’t abraham. I found this on
http://www.palestinefacts.org/pf_early.php. which isn’t exactly an arab-friendly site. Incidentally I also found the following quote from Ghandi there, I throw it in for curiosity’s sake: “Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs… Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home.” (from ‘The Jews in Palestine 1938’). I guess Ghandi was an anti-Semite. Who would have thought?

(the Owl)

classic optical illusion: how old is this woman?

classic optical illusion: how old is this woman?

We live in a world where there are as many perspectives as there are people. These perspectives are often only a mouse click away. Now more than even we have the opportunity to learn about the many different ways people interpret events, relationships, politics etc. Yet, despite the overwhelming amount of information, people seem to be just as alienated from different perspectives as they were before the internet hit the masses. Democrats hate republicans, and vice versa, Arabs dislike Jews, and vice versa, Europeans don’t understand the Muslims in their midst, the Muslims don’t understand the Europeans, Americans dislike Hugo Chavez, Hugo Chavez dislikes Americans. The French and the Americans, The Turks and the Kurds, the Shii and the Sunni, the Hutu’s and the Tutsi, This list goes on and on.


One would assume that the enormous increases of information at the tips of our fingers would be instrumental in bridging those differences. Not so. One only has to browse through different blogs, articles, message boards, chartrooms, newspapers etc to find out that the wealth of information is being used to reinforce one’s own perspective instead of trying to understand the perspective of the other. Information is being selected, processed and redistributed in such a way that nothing ever changes, and instead of seeing each other as more human, we end up dehumanizing each other further. In conflicts in which lives are on the line, these differences in perspectives matter. As the ability to see something from the perspective of the other goes hand in hand with the ability to have empathy for the other, both necessary and interdependent prerequisites that allow human beings to see other as human. Perspective, empathy and humanity are the three pillars in creating a more human, more peaceful world. Vice versa, conflict resolution and peace negotiations can’t take place in an environment where people no longer see the perspective and therefore the humanity of the other.

In my previous blogs I have written a little about differences in perspectives. They play a role in the Israel-Palestine conflict where two different perspectives on the conflict clash as hard as the people having the perspectives. The Israelis sees the Arabs as the modern day Hitlers, bent on their destruction, while the Arabs see the Israelis as colonizers and land robbers. Differences in perspectives play a role in the rising islamophobia in Europe’s capital where the western mind for example can’t understand the eastern demand for Sharia laws and the eastern mind for example can’t grasp what it sees as western decadence. (see https://owlminerva.wordpress.com/2009/04/15/a-few-thoughts-on-dunbar-ii-and-the-clash-of-civilizations/)

So what is going on?

Perspectives are stranger than we think. They are mental habits, as comfortable to our brain as an old pair of shoes is to our feet. They are mental layers that protect us from too much difference, without telling us however that the price we pay for this comfort is less of the truth instead of more. Perspectives are self-perpetuating. Once they are there they find ways of reinforcing themselves as if they have an existence of their own. Existing perspectives resist competing perspectives by influencing the individual to perceive the world selectively, to process information erroneously and to remember information selectively or worse, wrongly. We can call these the defense mechanisms of narrative perspectives. We think we are in control over the way we judge things. We believe we have chosen our perspectives freely and we believe that we judge fairly. But we don’t own our perspectives. They own us. And to the extent that we are dominated by our perspective, we are incapable of judging anything fairly. For the comfort, safety and stability that perspectives offer us, most of us accept the prison they impose on our minds.

I like to compare perspectives to optical illusions. For example, look at the picture of the young woman above. If you look long enough, you will see a very old woman appear in the same picture. Once you see the old woman, it is very hard to see the young woman. And vice versa. I believe our perspectives of the world around us are like that. Even though these differences in perspective are narrative and not optical in nature, the same dynamic holds. It is possible to see the same event from different narrative angles. There are many reasons why something in us decides upon a certain angle to begin with. The angle can be taught to us, it can fit in with a pre-existing cognitive scheme, it might complement our religious, political, ethical values, or it might be the most convenient angle or most self-serving one. However, once we have decided upon an angle, it becomes nearly impossible to shift and see a different angle. Most of us are not even aware that we have these perspectives to begin with. Our brain resists such awareness. If we are that lucky to be aware of our angle we try our hardest to justify that angle, making it into a matter of right and wrong, thereby decreasing the chances that we would try to shift our perspective. Perspectives are tyrannical in the sense that once they have a hold over us they have strategies to maintain that hold and bar other perspectives from flooding our consciousness.

One might ask: “what if my perspective is the right one? What do I have to gain then from seeing something from a different perspective?” And to that one might answer, that first of all there is no perspective that is 100% correct, as nobody up to this point in history knows everything there is to know. So everybody can learn something from another perceptive. Narrative Perspective Blindness, as I like to call the inability to switch perspectives, deprives ones brain of the information it needs to formulate more appropriate conclusions. Second of all, how can we know whether or not our perspective is right or wrong if we are locked in the perspective to begin with? We have no point of reference in deciding how right or wrong our point of view is. One needs to be able to be outside perspectives in order to be able to judge them. Since we can’t look at anything without a perspective to begin with such outside reference point is in principle impossible. Thirdly, even in the impossible case that our perspective was 100% correct, not understanding the perspective of the other will still prevent us from understanding the humanity of the other. Perspective and empathy are mutually dependent upon each other. Unless one has no interest in creating a more peaceful and just world, there is nothing more important than understanding the perspective of the other so that once can remain in touch with the humanity of the other. Not only is this ability to see different narratives a moral necessity, (one simply can’t be a good person without the capacity of seeing different perspectives); it is also a matter of intelligent strategy. One can’t be a good statesman, a good lobbyist, a good peace activist, a good lawyer or a good humanitarian without this capacity to see something from another human being’s point of view.

The good news is that it is possible to break the oppression of our perspectives. Just like we can practice and we can get better in optical illusions to the point that it is possible to switch perspectives in the blink of an eye, even up to the point that it is possible to see the young woman and the old woman at the same time, and extend this ease to new optical illusions, it is also possible to train our brain in understanding different narrative angles. The more open, flexible and wider we train our brain to be, the less our ‘orthodox’ perspective controls us. Part of this training is getting used to the uncertainty and the anxiety that accompanies seeing different angles at first. Entering a different narrative perspective is as scary as entering a foreign land of which one doesn’t know the rules, the language and the customs. It is leaving behind certainty and opening oneself up to the possibility that what one believed before could have been wrong. It is learning to live with uncertainty and vulnerability. It requires mental strength and moral courage. Not something a lot of us have; but something that a lot of us can learn to cultivate. We don’t have to be the victim of our own mindsets. We can learn to juggle perspectives, learn to hold them in suspension in the air so that we can examine them, study them and learn to understand them. What seems like a miracle now can become a mental habit as familiar to us as brushing our teeth. Surfing the internet and reading the articles, essays and blogs of a lot of smart, well intentioned bunch of people, I am getting the impression that no matter how smart and well intentioned one is, without this capacity for shifting perspectives and empathy, nothing will ever be gained. No matter how well intentioned one is, without the ability to ultimately see the other as human, one will always do more damage than good.

Israel’s conscience: The weekly column of Uri Avnery

Can Two Walk Together?

I AM not saying that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is an agent of the Mossad.Absolutely not. I don’t want to be sued for libel.

I am only saying that were he an agent of the Mossad, he would not behave any differently.

And also: If he did not exist, the Mossad would have had to invent him.

Either way, the assistance he is giving to the government of Israel is invaluable.

LET’S LOOK at last week’s scandal.

Years ago, a conference against racism was convened by the UN in Durban, South Africa. It was natural that such a forum would denounce, among others, the Israeli government for its policy towards the Palestinians – the occupation, the settlements, the wall.

But the conference was not content with this. It turned into a platform for wild incitement against the State of Israel – and only against it. No other state in the world was denounced for violating human rights – and among the denouncers were some of the most obnoxious tyrants in the world.

When preparations were made for a second “Durban Conference”, this time in Geneva, the Israeli government did everything in its power to convince at least the countries of North America and Europe to boycott it. That was not so easy. Well before the start of the conference, the US succeeded in eliminating the reference to Israel in the draft of its final document (leaving only a reference to the resolutions of the first conference), and in the end it decided to boycott the conference anyway. But the European countries agreed to attend.

The Israeli government was anticipating the conference with great apprehension. The atrocities of the Gaza War have turned public opinion in many countries against Israel. The conference could become an outlet for these emotions. The brightest minds in Jerusalem were trying to find ways to prevent this.

And then along came Ahmadinejad. Since he was the only head of state to attend, the organizers could not prevent him from speaking first. He delivered a provocative speech – not being satisfied with criticizing Israel, his words dripped with unbridled hatred. That was a welcome pretext for the European representatives to get up and walk out in an impressive pro-Israeli demonstration. The conference became ridiculous.

If the “Elders of Zion” had planned the conference, it could not have ended better as far as the Israeli government is concerned.

ALL THIS happened on Holocaust Day, when Jews in Israel and all over the world commemorate the millions of victims of the genocide.

The memory of the Holocaust unites all the Jews in the world. Every Jew knows that if the Nazis had reached him, he, too, would have gone to the death camps. We, who were then living in Palestine, knew that if the German general Erwin Rommel had broken through the British lines at El Alamein, our fate would have been that of the Warsaw Ghetto.

All Jews feel that it is their moral duty to keep the memory of the victims alive. To this profound feeling there is added a political consideration: the memory of the Holocaust causes most Jews everywhere to support the State of Israel, which defines itself as the “State of the Shoa Survivors”.

But time passes and memories fade. There is a recurrent need for a present, actual enemy, a “Second Hitler”, who arouses all the latent fears lurking in the Jewish soul. Once it was Gamal Abd-al-Nasser, the “Egyptian Tyrant”. Then Yasser Arafat played this role. Nowadays there is Hamas, but that is hardly sufficient. No way to convince anyone that Hamas could possibly annihilate Israel.

Ahmadinejad is the ideal candidate. He is a consistent Holocaust denier. He declares that the “Zionist entity” must disappear from the map. He is working on the production of a nuclear bomb. This is serious – a few nuclear bombs on Israeli population centers can indeed wipe out Israel.

So we have a “Second Hitler”, who is planning a ”Second Holocaust”. Against him, all the Jews of the world can unite. What would we do without him?

THE PUTATIVE Iranian nuclear bomb fulfills another very important role. It is serving now as an instrument for the obliteration of the Palestinian problem.

Next month Netanyahu will present himself at the White House. That might turn out to be a fateful meeting. President Barack Obama may demand a clear commitment to start a peace process that will lead towards the creation of the Palestinian state. Netanyahu will make a desperate effort to avoid this, since peace would mean the evacuation of the settlements. If he agreed to this, his coalition would fall apart.

What to do? Thank God for the Iranian bomb! It constitutes an existential threat against Israel. It is self-evident that the Israeli Prime Minister should not be bothered with bagatelles like peace with the Palestinians when the Iranian nuclear sword is dangling above his head!

Netanyahu’s predecessors also used this ploy. Whenever somebody raises the matter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and demands that our government start real negotiations, freeze the settlements, dismantle the outposts, release prisoners, end the blockade on the population of the Gaza Strip, remove the roadblocks – the Iranian bomb appears ex machina. No time to think about anything else. The bomb heads our agenda. The bomb is our agenda.

There is a lot of irony in this. Iran has never been the least bit interested in the plight of the Palestinians. Ahmadinejad, too, doesn’t give a damn. Like all other Middle East governments he uses the Palestinian cause to further his own interests. Now he wants to penetrate the Sunni Arab world in order to turn Iran into the dominant regional power. For this purpose, he raises the banner of the Palestinian resistance. But for the time being, he has only succeeded in pushing the Sunni Arab regimes into the arms of Israel.

AHMADINEJAD’S MOST enthusiastic fans sit in the Ministry of Defense in Tel-Aviv. What would they do without him?

Every year, the struggle over the defense budget breaks out anew. This year, with the economic crisis, the debate will be even more acrimonious. Little Israel maintains one of the largest and most expensive military establishments in the world. Relative to the GNP (gross national product), we easily trump the United States, not to mention Europe.

Must one ask why? Israel is surrounded by enemies who are plotting to destroy us! True, Egypt is now the most loyal collaborator of Israel, Iraq has quit the game for the time being, Syria has long since ceased to be a threat. Jordan is humble, the Palestinian Authority dances to our tune. It is hard to justify a giant defense budget for fighting little Hizbullah and tiny Hamas.

But there is Iran, thank God. And there is the fearsome Iranian bomb. Here you have an honest to God existential danger. Our Air Force declares that it is ready to take off any day – no, any minute – and eradicate all the many Iranian nuclear installations.

For that they need money, lots of money. They need the most advanced airplanes in the world, each of which costs many, many millions. They need suitable equipment for reaching the targets and fulfilling the task. That is more important than education, health or welfare. After all, the Iranian bomb will kill all of us – including the children, the sick and the underprivileged. (The tycoons may perhaps succeed in getting out in time.)

The budget will be approved, but the flyers will not fly. It is not clear whether such an attack is at all feasible. Neither is it clear if it would significantly postpone the production of the bomb. But it is clear that such an attack is not possible politically: it cannot be executed without the express confirmation of the US, and there is no chance that this will be forthcoming. The attack would almost automatically cause the closure of the Strait of Hormuz, through which all the Gulf oil is shipped. That would be catastrophic, especially during a world-wide economic crisis, when a huge rise in the price of oil can cripple the already weakened economies. No, our valiant pilots will have to content themselves with bombing residential neighborhoods in the Gaza Strip.

IT COULD be argued: if Ahmadinejad behaves like a Mossad agent, Avigdor Lieberman behaves like an agent of Iranian intelligence.

I don’t say so, God forbid. I really don’t want to be sued for libel.

But Lieberman’s behavior is indeed – how to put it – slightly bizarre.

True, for a moment he looked like a winner. After he sent Hosny Mubarak to hell, the Israeli media reported that the most important Egyptian minister had met with him, shaken his hand and invited him to Egypt. Perhaps he wanted to show him around the Aswan dam, which Lieberman once wanted to bomb. But the next day a furious Mubarak reacted by denying the story and declaring that Lieberman will not be allowed to set foot on Egyptian soil.

In the meantime, an important newspaper in Russia published an interview with Lieberman, in which he asserted that “the US will accept all our decisions.” Meaning: we rule America, Obama will do as we tell him.

Such talk will not increase Israel’s popularity in the White House, to say the least. Especially just now, after it was disclosed that the Israeli Lobby, AIPAC, has asked a congresswoman to intervene in favor of two American Jews indicted for spying for Israel. In return, AIPAC promised to get the Congresswoman appointed as chairwoman of a very important committee. How? Simple: AIPAC will tell the majority leader of the House that if she does not comply. a Jewish billionaire will stop contributing to her election fund. Not a very savory disclosure.

In brief, the Iranian Ahmadinejad and the Israeli Lieberman are Siamese twins. The one needs the other. Lieberman rides on the Iranian bomb, Ahmadinejad rides on Israeli threats.

“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” asked the prophet Amos (3:3). The answer is: Yes, indeed. These two can very well walk hand in hand without agreeing on anything.

http://www.avnery-news.co.il/english/

Why is this allowed to go on?????

 

Tuesday April 28, 2009 15:47

http://www.imemc.org/article/60137

Israeli settlers destroyed Palestarmed_israeli_setters_near_hebron__photo_by_michael_ramallah_3inian farmers’ crops and took over land that belongs to farmers near the southern West Bank city of Hebron, while soldiers searched homes in the old city part on Tuesday.

Famers from the village of At-Tuwani, near Hebron, said Israeli settlers attacked and destroyed an acre of their land which had contained winter crops. The settlers, it is thought, came from Ma’on, an illegal Israeli settlement nearby.

Later in the day another group of Israeli settlers took over Palestinian-owned land and forced the famers away. The settlers intend to use the area to mark the Israeli Independence Day this week, local sources reported.

Meanwhile, Israeli soldiers attacked and ransacked a number of homes in the old part of Hebron city on Tuesday. Witnesses told local media that soldiers searched homes and ransacked belongings before leaving. No kidnappings were reported.

 

Can somebody please explain to me how it happened that Ahmadinejad, first class international buffoon, was given the opportunity to give a speech at the UN conference in Geneva this morning? What is the logic behind such foolishness? Is this bureaucratic thinking at its worse? Some strange flux in the rules that allowed Ahmadinejad to make a mockery out this conference?

I don’t know who deserves the most amount of anger, the UN for allowing this speech to happen, Ahmadinejad for making once again such a fool of himself, or the delegations for walking out of it (if they hadn’t already withdrew before the conference even started) instead of attempting to save the show. I do know though who will be the biggest victims of this travesty: the people this conference was ultimately meant to serve, the people that suffer from racism on a daily basis.
If Ahmadinejad had indeed any concerns for the racism Palestinians suffer at the hands of Israel, he didn’t exactly contribute to their cause, as he has now given Israeli and its allies an excellent opportunity to bail out of a necessary dialogue even more than they already did. Ahmadinejad is a fool, not simply because of his inability to contain his (justifiable) anger at Israel and letting it deteriorate into (unjustifiable) anti-Semitism, but because while doing so he is undermining the cause that he is attempting to address. His speech is exactly what hard lining Israeli need to exacerbate the conflict. Ahmadinejad managed to do the one thing that hard lining Israeli need in order to extenuate their governance through fear.

In my opinion, the rest of the world has only contributed to the hijacking of this by making such a fuss over all this nonsense beforehand and by now walking out on it. They should have stayed and fought over it, with calm and dignity. There is a way that adults who disagree with one another can communicate without creating a circus. This is not the way. I am very disappointed. There is a desperate need for forums where people of different opinions can share those opinions. I am disappointed in all those that have been promoting the demise of the conference, I am disappointed in the way the UN has managed (or rather has not managed) the conference, and I am disappointed in the lack of vision coming from the so called world leaders. Most of all I am disappointed in Obama himself. What is the point of shaking Chavez’s hand and then abstaining from this conference?

I belief that the global economic crisis linked with dissapearing resources and radically different pespectives of East and West, North and South, will only contribute to more racism, xenophobia and antisemitism. The stupid statements of a buffoon or the hurt pride of an Israel should not have been a deterrent to the attempts this conference had made to eliminate all of the above vices. Both Israel and its allies and Iran and its allies will only be more encouraged in its racist beliefs. That the world allowed this spectable to happen is a sad victory of pettiness over wisdom. And maliciousness over good will.

“Norway will not accept that the odd man out hijacks the collective efforts of the many,” Jonas Gahr Store (Norwegian Foreign Minister)

“We all should be mindful that a failure to agree on the way forward would negatively reverberate on the human rights agenda for years to come,” Navanethem Pillay (chairman of the conference)

“After Mr Ahmadinejad’s latest rant against Israel, all the elements are in place for a dangerous escalation”. Richard Beeston

“I fear that today’s economic crisis, if not handled properly, could evolve into a full-scale political crisis marked by social unrest, weakened governments and angry publics who have lost faith in their leaders and their own future, … In such circumstances, the consequences for communities already victimised by prejudice or exclusion could be frightening.Ban Ki Moon

'Strings for Peace'
A little story of hope that lightened up the news in the beginning of the week became a story of despair at the end of it. On March 25th, it was reported that a group of Palestinian children from Jenin (a miserable refugee camp in northern Westbank that was the stage of a bloodbath in 2002) gave a touching musical performance for holocaust survivors in the Israeli town Holon. Interestingly, the children had no idea they were singing for holocaust survivors, and the holocaust survivors had no idea the children had come from Jenin. After the performance they talked. And the holocaust survivors talked about the holocaust, of which the Palestinian children hadn’t heard of, and the children were shocked. And Zeid, one of the Palestinian kids told the survivors how his grandparents had fled from Haifa in 1948 and never were able to go back to their home. He also said how “Only people who have been through suffering understand each other”. The children had never seen Israeli civilians up close. They were surprised at how different the elderly Israeli looked compared to their own elderly.
 
It was too good to be true. This this story was followed up with reports that authorities in the Jenin camp had shut down the children’s orchestra, boarded up its rehearsal studio and banned its conductor from the camp after they had found out about the singing to the holocaust survivors.
 
This story sadly parallels another story involving music, peace, the middle east and too good to be true. A few months ago the Israeli public choose Mira Awad (a Christian Arab) and Achinoam Nini (Israeli and Jewish) to represent them in the 2009 Eurovision song festival (for those so lucky to have never heard of the Eurovision song festival, it is an annual orgy of kitchy music that captures the attention of a 100 million Europeans every year). Achinoam Nini has a long history of reaching out to Palestinians through her music (singing with them, refusing to sing in the settlements etc…) activities that the far right in Israel hasn’t exactly been appreciative of. Not a few of her concerts have been canceled due to bomb threats from the extreme right.
Anyway. as soon as this duo was elected to represent Israel in the festival, opposition and controversy rose up out of nowhere. It was however not the far right in Israel that soured the attempt at reconciliation but the (not that far) left. The duo was accused of prettifying the situation in Israel, of presenting a too rosy and harmonious picture of the situation within Israel. A petition went around to demand their withdrawal from the festival, saying that the duo “is giving the false impression of coexistence in Israel and is trying to shield the nation from the criticism it deserved.” Please note that the duo is not exactly singing kumbayas. Their songs are about the difficulties of reconciliation. They might very well end up being the least kitschy artists of the festival. If they make it.
 
Finally another story comes to mind. The one in which British soldiers and German soldiers in the trenches of WWI interrupted their brutal activities to sing Christmas songs together on a strip of land called no-man’s-land. The question I have is the following: if soldiers, caught up in the middle of one of the most brutal and harsh conditions, living in mud and with the only purpose of killing each other, can get themselves to stop hating each other and sing together for one cold and yet human Christmas evening, then why can’t the Israeli and Palestinians? Is the hatred so deep that even the mere talk of peace, the mere suggestion of reconciliation is enough to turn Palestinians and Israeli red-hot with rage? It made me think of the concept of a no-mans-land. Maybe it was the chunck of land that didn’t belong to anybody (why by the way does land always have to belong to somebody?) that made one evening of peace possible in 1917. No-mans-land as a condition of suspension of hatred between enemies. A neutral, hate-free zone so to speak. Can there be a symbolic or even a real no-mans-land between Israeli and Palestinians? A place where hatred is suspended and stories are shared? A place that belongs to everybody and to nobody at the same time?
 
“And when I cry, I cry for both of us, my pain has no name”
Achinoam Nini and Mira Awad sing.
 
 
 http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3692571,00.html


http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/25/world/middleeast/25israel.html?_r=2&ref=music

 http://www.comcast.net/articles/news-world/20090329/ML.Palestinians.Orchestra/print/

 
Achinoam Nini and Mira Awad

Israeli-Arab singing duo