The Elders’ visit to Bilin

September 12, 2009

090911-mcintyrehttp://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10770.shtml

Jody McIntyre writing from Bilin, occupied West Bank, Live from Palestine, 11 September 2009

A delegation of prominent former statespersons and business leaders known as the Elders meets with appointed Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad (third from right) in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, 26 April 2009. (Mustafa Abu Dayeh/POOL/MaanImages) Thursday, 27 August was a special day in Bilin. Dozens of blacked-out SUVs approached the village, disturbing the quiet of a usually peaceful morning. However, unlike the Israeli occupation forces who come at night to arrest boys from the village, this arrival was extremely welcome.The SUV passengers were a truly respected group of international diplomats, known as the Elders. Among the delegation were Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former US President Jimmy Carter, both outspoken critics of the form of apartheid being imposed upon the Palestinians in the occupied territories. Also present were former Brazilian President Fernando Cardoso, Indian “gentle revolutionary” Ela Bhatt, the first woman president of Ireland, Mary Robinson, and former Director-General of the World Health Organization, Gro Brundtland. They were joined by Jeff Skoll, founding president of eBay and Richard Branson, Virgin multi-millionaire and co-founder of the Elders.As part of their four-day trip to the Middle East, the Elders came to Bilin to see the daily impact of Israel’s occupation and its apartheid wall on the daily lives of Palestinians. They were also very interested to hear how residents are responding to the oppression they face through a campaign of nonviolent resistance. After stopping at the Village Council to pick up selected members of the Bilin Popular Committee, the Elders made their way toward the wall and the site of Bilin’s weekly nonviolent demonstrations. With Israeli soldiers looking on, they laid stones at the grave of Bassem Abu Rahme, the Palestinian man killed at one such demonstration in April of this year, when he was shot in the chest with a high-velocity tear gas projectile fired from close range.At the request of gathered reporters, Desmond Tutu made an impromptu statement: “Mahatma Gandhi, as a simple man, led his people to freedom through nonviolent methods. Rosa Parks followed in his footsteps, and now the people of Bilin will do the same!”Former US President Jimmy Carter added that “We are standing here on Palestinian land and on the other side of the wall is also Palestinian land! This occupation must end.”Next was the short drive back to the village council, where the Elders were to have a meeting with members of the local popular committee. Security was extremely tight, and only eight persons, selected in advance, were allowed to attend. But thanks to my wheelchair and some quick thinking, I managed to enter.In the meeting, Abdullah Abu Rahme, coordinator of the popular committee, introduced his fellow attendees and thanked the Elders for their visit, before handing the meeting over to village activist Mohammed Khatib.Khatib explained the origins of Bilin’s popular nonviolent struggle against the wall:
A few years ago, the Israeli army set up a checkpoint at the entrance of Bilin, which you had to pass through on foot. The soldiers had stretched a thin line of tape [over the entrance], one meter from the ground — anyone could cut it, of course, but because of the soldiers you didn’t dare. So, instead, we had to crawl under the tape as if we were praying. This was done deliberately to humiliate us.But there was one young man from the Abu Salim family, someone we knew, who refused to crawl under it. He cut the tape and they shot him in the leg. He sat there bleeding, in front of our eyes, for two hours, and no one was allowed to help or give him treatment. We called an ambulance but the soldiers stopped it. There is nothing more painful than being powerless in this kind of situation.The Israeli media reported that the soldier had shot the Palestinian in self-defense. That was a lie, of course, but it was published as factual.When the story about Abu Salim got out, the al-Aqsa [Martyrs’ Brigade] decided to carry out a response operation. We later heard seven soldiers at the checkpoint were killed.Our first reaction in Bilin was “good for al-Aqsa.” But later we realized that these were not the same soldiers who had killed our friend two weeks before. A new unit had taken over the checkpoint, so these soldiers had taken the punishment for what the old soldiers had done. It made us wonder — this cycle of death, of action and reaction, how can we break it?Next to speak was Rajaa Abu Rahme, a young student from the village. On 10 July, Rajaa’s father, Adeeb Abu Rahme, was arrested while participating in the weekly nonviolent demonstration against the wall. Adeeb was charged with “incitement to violence,” based on the supposed “confessions” of two 16-year-old boys the Israeli military had previously taken from the village, and sentenced to 101 days in prison, renewable for an indefinite period.”I am not talking to you as politicians,” Rajaa told the Elders, “I am talking to you as mothers and fathers.”As she told her story, I could see tears forming in Branson’s eyes.”My sister is getting married soon, I will be graduating,” Rajaa continued, “and our father will not be able to share our joy. I just want to see my father free.”Also present in the meeting was Shai Pollak, an Israeli activist and long-time supporter of the people of Bilin — “a member of the family” as Mohammed Khatib described him.”Twenty years ago, I did my military service,” Shai explained, “but if I knew then what I know now, I never would have served in the Israeli army.””Israeli society today is becoming increasingly closed off,” Shai continued, “making pressure from outside even more important. After the second intifada, I went and met with literally thousands of Palestinians. While my friends in Tel Aviv were telling me they would stab me with a knife, the opposite was true. Everyone I met welcomed me with open arms, because the Palestinian people want a peaceful solution.”The visit of these world leaders to Bilin was a clear message to the Israeli government, that they are opposed to the continuing oppression of the Palestinian people. Now, it is time for the leaders currently in power to follow suit.Jody McIntyre is a journalist from the United Kingdom, currently living in the occupied West Bank village of Bilin. Jody has cerebral palsy, and travels in a wheelchair. He writes a blog for Ctrl.Alt.Shift, entitled “Life on Wheels,” which can be found at http://www.ctrlaltshift.co.uk/. He can be reached at jody.mcintyre AT gmail DOT com. A version
of this article originally appeared in The Huffington Post.

A palestinian Anne Frank?

September 3, 2009

Girl, 15, seeks justice for Gaza in world court

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hx9p9wd31AY9f9Rc0yA8keN2-lJQ

Girl, 15, seeks justice for Gaza in world court

(AFP) – 2 days ago

 

THE HAGUE — A 15-year-old Palestinian girl who says Israeli troops killed her father and two siblings in Gaza in January, sought justice from the International Criminal Court on Monday.

“I am here to lodge a complaint against the occupying army,” Amira Alqerem told journalists in The Hague, seven months after her family was killed in an early-morning assault in the Tal Al Hawa neighbourhood that also left her severely injured.

“I hope this complaint will succeed because it is the truth,” the soft-spoken teenager said, seated next to her lawyer on his way to the ICC to file the complaint with the office of the prosecutor.

In her court filing, Alqerem says her 67-year-old father Fathi, 16-year-old-sister Ismat, and 14-year-old brother Ala, were killed by Israeli army fire in the early hours of January 14.

The three children were awoken by an explosion to find their father’s body, covered in blood, next to a crater near their house, the document claims.

Ismat and Ala went off to seek help, but were killed in another explosion. Amira, who had stayed behind with her dead father, was hit in the right leg.

“This was a crime against humanity, that is why we brought it to the ICC,” said her lawyer Gilles Devers, who claims the attacks were aimed at civilians.

“Israeli politicians and military leaders must be held responsible.”

Israel’s 22-day offensive on Islamist Hamas-controlled Gaza left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead before ceasefire took effect on January 18.

ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo announced in February he had begun a “preliminary analysis” of alleged crimes committed by Israel during the Gaza offensive.

He has to date received complaints and evidence from the Palestinian Justice Minister Ali Kashan, the Palestinian National Authority, and over 360 other individuals and non-governmental bodies, his office said on Monday.

Amira, meanwhile, is undergoing physical and psychological rehabilitation in France.

“I am doing this for all the children of Gaza,” she said through an interpreter.

“I want to do something to change the situation.”

Visit the site of the Elders for an incredible inspiring webcast of the Elders that are currently visiting the Middle East:

 http://www.theelders.org/

Who are the Elders?

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela, who offer their collective influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity.

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)

mother of the world

May 24, 2009

If I was the mother of the world, and countries were my children, Israel would be my problem child. The child that was born out of pain and persecution, its birth itself an act of sin as it had to kill in order to make room for its place in the world. The child that had lost its faith in people before it had a chance to grow up.  Being the mother, I wouldn’t know how to protect my child from itself. I see it kicking and screaming and bullying the others and I instinctively know it is hurting and afraid. And I am hurting for it. I see old anger and new anger mixed with fears in my child and I am afraid for its future. I see my child using its talents and brilliance against itself building walls of security, dividing and exploiting and reigning over its victims. I have seen the body of my child grow more powerful as its soul is contracting. How can I stretch the mind of my child so that it can understand that happiness cannot unfold in a vacuum?  How can I teach my child it is human and that being human means being strong and being weak at the same time? How can I teach my child it doesn’t have to negate the others in order to be? That it doesn’t have to continue to destroy in order to continue to be? That in fact it can only grow into adulthood  as it learns to share the land and the waters and the skies and as it learns that there are no real others, that in our humanity we are essentially the same?  How can I teach my child that it has to let go, that it can inhabit the space between the sea and the Jordan but not own it in any true sense of the word? That ultimately it will also have to let go of all its anger and all its past pains and see in the other his mirror imagine.  That in the end, the answers do not lie in possessions, identity and self-defense, but in community, exchange and vulnerability, and that otherness insofar it is not illusionary is not a thief but a brother.  How can I teach my child that only the future can bring redemption for the past? How can I teach my child that it is not possible for him to fight, undo, or even completely understand the past?  That all one can do with the past is accepting it?

How can I teach my child all these things when my child is raging in anger and won’t listen?  How can I teach my child before it is too late, and my child has destroyed himself in its attempts to destroy the other?

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.

 

A Little Red Light

April 21, 2009

To me Uri Avnery is Israel’s conscience. Voices like his are very rare. 

Uri Avnery’s Column:

 

A Little Red Light    18/04/09

PERHAPS Avigdor Lieberman is only a passing episode in the annals of the State of Israel. Perhaps the fire he is trying to ignite will flicker briefly and go out by itself. Or perhaps the police investigations into the grave corruption affair of which he is suspected will lead to his removal from the public sphere. But the opposite is also possible. Last week he promised his acolytes that the next elections would bring him to power. Perhaps Lieberman will prove to be an “Israbluff”’ (a term he himself likes to use), and be revealed, behind the frightful façade, as nothing more than a run of the mill impostor. Perhaps this Lieberman will indeed disappear, to be replaced by another, even worse Lieberman. Either way, we should candidly confront the phenomenon he represents. If one believes that his utterances sound fascist, one has to ask oneself: is there a possibility that a fascist regime might come to power in Israel? THE INITITIAL gut-feeling is a resounding NO. In Israel? In the Jewish State? After the Holocaust which Nazi fascism brought upon us? Can one even imagine that Israelis would become something like the Nazis? When Yeshayahu Leibowitz coined, many years ago, the term “Judeo-Nazis”, the entire country blew up. Even many of his admirers thought that this time the turbulent professor had gone too far. But Lieberman’s slogans do justify him in retrospect. Some would dismiss Lieberman’s achievement in the recent elections. After all, his “Israel is Our Home” party is not the first one to appear from nowhere and win an impressive 15 seats. Exactly the same number that was won by the Dash party of General Yigael Yadin in 1977 and the Shinui party of Tommy Lapid in 2003 – and both disappeared soon after without leaving a trace. But Lieberman’s voters are not like those of Yadin and Lapid, who were ordinary citizens fed up with some particular aspects of Israeli life. Many of his voters are immigrants from the former Soviet Union, who look upon their “Ivett”, an immigrant from the ex-Soviet land of Moldova, as a representative of their “sector”. Although many of them brought with them from their former homeland a right-wing, anti-democratic and even racist world view, they do not pose by themselves a danger to Israeli democracy. But the additional power that turned Lieberman’s party into the third-largest faction in the new Knesset came from another sort of voter: Israeli-born youngsters, many of whom had recently taken part in the Gaza War. They voted for him because they believed that he would kick the Arab citizens out of Israel, and the Palestinians out of the entire historical country. These are not marginal people, fanatical or underprivileged, but normal youngsters who finished high-school and served in the army, who dance in the discotheques and intend to found families. If such people are voting en masse for a declared racist with a pungent fascist odor, the phenomenon cannot be ignored. FIFTY YEARS ago I wrote a book called ”The Swastika”, in which I described how the Nazis took over Germany. I was helped by my childhood memories. I was 9 years old when the Nazis came to power. I witnessed the agonies of German democracy and the first steps of the new regime before my parents, in their infinite wisdom, decided to escape and settle in Palestine. I wrote the book on the eve of the trial of Adolf Eichmann, after realizing that the young generation in Israel knew a lot about the Holocaust but next to nothing about the people who brought it about. What occupied me more than anything else was the question: how could such a monstrous party succeed in coming to power democratically in one of the most civilized countries in the world? The last chapter of my book was called “It Can Happen Here”. That was a paraphrase of the title of a book by the American writer Sinclair Lewis, “It Can’t Happen Here”, in which he described precisely how it could happen in the United States. I argued in the book that Nazism was not a specifically German disease, that in certain circumstances any country in the world could be infected by this virus – including our own state. In order to avoid this danger, one had to understand the underlying causes for the development of the disease. To the assertion that I am “obsessed” by this matter, that I see this danger lurking in every corner, I answer: not true. For years I have avoided dealing with this subject. But it is true that I carry in my head a little red light that comes on when I sense the danger. This light is now blinking. WHAT CAUSED the Nazi disease to break out in the past? Why did it break out at a certain time and not at another? Why in Germany and not in another country suffering from similar problems? The answer is that fascism is a special phenomenon, unlike any other. It is not an “extreme Right”, an extension of “nationalist” or “conservative” attitudes. Fascism is the opposite of conservatism in many ways, even though it may appear in a conservative disguise. Also, it is not a radicalization of ordinary, normal nationalism, which exists in every nation. Fascism is a unique phenomenon and has unique traits: the notion of being a “superior nation”, the denial of the humanity of other nations and national minorities, a cult of the leader, a cult of violence, disdain for democracy, an adoration of war, contempt for accepted morality. All these attributes together create the phenomenon, which has no agreed scientific definition. How did this happen? Hundreds of books have been written about it, dozens of theories have been put forward, and none of them is satisfying. In all humility I propose a theory of my own, without claiming more validity than any of the others. According to my perception, a fascist revolution breaks out when a very special personality meets with a very special national situation. ON THE personality of Adolf Hitler, too, innumerable books have been written. Every phase in his life has been examined under the microscope, each of his actions has been debated relentlessly. There are no secrets about Hitler, yet Hitler has remained an enigma. One of his most obvious traits was his pathological anti-Semitism, which went far beyond any logic. It remained with him to the very last hour of his life, when he dictated his testament and committed suicide. At the most desperate moments of his war, when his soldiers at the front were crying out for reinforcements and supplies, precious trains were diverted to transport Jews to the death camps. When the Wehrmacht was suffering from a grievous lack of practically everything, Jewish workers were taken from essential factories to be sent to their death. Many explanations for this pathological anti-Semitism have been suggested, and all of them have been debunked. Did Hitler want to take revenge on a Jew who was suspected of being his real grandfather? Did he hate the Jewish doctor who treated his beloved mother before she died? Was it a punishment for the Jewish director of the Art school who failed to recognize his genius? Did he hate the poor Jews he came across when he was homeless in Vienna? All of this has been examined and found lacking. The enigma remains. The same is true for his other personal views and attributes. How did he attain the power to hypnotize the masses? What did he have that made so many people, from all walks of life, identify with him? Whence sprang his unbridled lust for power? We don’t know. There is no full and satisfying explanation. We only know that from among the millions of Germans and Austrians who were living at that time, and the thousands who grew up in similar circumstances, there was (as far as we know) only one Hitler, a unique person. To borrow a term from biology: he was a one-time mutation. But the unique Hitler would not have become a historic personality if he had not met with Germany in unique circumstances. GERMANY AT the end of the Weimar republic has also been the subject of many books. What made the German people adopt Nazism? Historical causes, rooted in the terrible catastrophe of the Thirty-year War or even earlier events? The sense of humiliation after the defeat in World War I? The anger at the victors, who ground Germany into the dust and imposed huge indemnities? The terrible inflation of 1923, which wiped out the savings of entire classes? The Great Depression of 1929, which threw millions of decent and diligent Germans into the street? This question, too, has found no satisfying answer. Other people have also been humiliated. Other people have lost wars. The Great Depression hit dozens of countries. In the US and the UK, too, millions were laid off. Why did fascism not seize power in those countries (except in Italy, of course)? In my opinion, the fatal spark was ignited at a fateful moment when a people ready for fascism met the man with the attributes of a fascist leader. What would have happened if Adolf Hitler had been killed in a road accident in the autumn of 1932? Perhaps another Nazi leader would have come to power – but the Holocaust would not have happened, and neither, probably, World War II. His likely replacements – Gregor Strasser, who was No. 2, or Hermann Goering, the flying ace with a morphine addiction – were indeed Nazis, but neither of them was a second Hitler. They lacked his demonic personality. And what would have happened if Germany had not fallen into the depth of despair? The Western powers could have sensed the danger in time and helped in the reconstruction of the German economy and the reduction of unemployment. They could have abrogated the infamous Versailles Treaty, imposed by the victors after World War I, and allowed Germans to regain their self-respect. The German republic could have been saved, the moral leaders, of which Germany had aplenty, could have regained their leadership role. What would have happened then? Adolf Hitler, whom the widely adored President of the Reich, a Field Marshall, had contemptuously called “the Bohemian lance-corporal”, would have remained a little demagogue on the lunatic fringe. The 20th century would have looked quite different. Tens of millions of casualties of war and six million Jews would have remained alive, without ever knowing what could have happened. But Hitler did not die early and the German people were not saved from their fate. At the crucial moment they met, and a spark was struck, lighting the fuse that led to the historic explosion. SUCH A fateful meeting is not, of course, limited to fascism. It has occurred in history in other circumstances and to other persons. Winston Churchill, for example. His statues dot the British landscape, and he is considered one of the greatest British leaders of all times. Yet until the late 1930s, Churchill was a political failure. Few admired him, and even fewer liked him. Many of his colleagues detested him with all their hearts. He was considered an egomaniac, an arrogant demagogue, an erratic drunk. But in a moment of existential danger, Britons found in him their mouthpiece and the leader who took their destiny in his hands. It seemed as if during all the first 65 years of his life, Churchill had been preparing for this one moment, and as if Britain had been waiting for precisely this one man. Would history have looked different if Churchill had died the previous year of coronary thrombosis, lung cancer or cirrhosis of the liver, and Neville Chamberlain had remained in power? We now know that he and his colleagues, including the influential foreign minister, Lord Halifax, seriously considered accepting Hitler’s 1940 peace offer, based on the partition of the world between the German and the British empires. Or Lenin. If the imperial German general staff had not provided the famous sealed train to take him from Zurich to Sweden, from where he proceeded St. Petersburg, would the Bolshevik revolution, which changed the face of the 20th century, have taken place at all? True, Trotsky was in town before him, and so was Stalin. But neither of the two was a Lenin, and without Lenin it would quite possibly not have happened, and certainly not the way it did. Perhaps one could add to this list Barack Obama. A very special person, of unique origin and character, who had a fateful meeting with the American people at an important moment of their destiny, when they were suffering from two crises at once – the economic and the political one – which cast their shadow on the entire world. BACK TO US. Is the State of Israel approaching an existential crisis – moral, political, economic – that could leave it an endangered nation? Can Lieberman, or someone who could take his place, turn out to be a demonic personality like Hitler, or at least Mussolini? In our present situation there are some dangerous indications. The last war showed a further decline in our moral standards. The hatred towards Israel’s Arab minority is on the rise, and so is the hatred towards the occupied Palestinian people who are suffering a slow strangulation. In some circles, the cult of brute force is gaining strength. The democratic regime is in a never-ending crisis. The economic situation may descend into chaos, so that the masses will long for a “strongman”. And the belief that we are a “chosen people” is already deeply rooted. These indications may not necessarily lead to disaster. Absolutely not. History is full of nations in crisis that recovered and returned to normalcy. Besides the real Hitler, who rose to historic heights, there were probably hundreds of other Hitlers, no less crazy and no less talented, who ended their life as bank tellers or frustrated writers, because they did not meet a historic opportunity. I have a strong faith in the resilience of Israeli society and Israeli democracy. I believe that we have hidden strengths that will come to the fore in an hour of need. Nothing “must” happen. But anything “can” happen. And the little red light won’t stop blinking.

Uri Avnery

Website of Gush Shalom : http://www.gush-shalom.org/

Link to Avnery’s column: http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery

Uri Avnery Demonstrating at a-Ram checkpoint, 2002

 

 

 

Uri Avnery Demonstrating at a-Ram checkpoint, 2002
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