For the Palestinian citizens of Israel, life is becoming a collective Kafkaesque experience. For years, their state has been determined to buttress its Jewish identity by legal, constitutional, cultural, and political means, in spite of the fact that one in five of its residents is an Arab. This latest series of bills is just another part of that effort. In addition to the discrimination they already face in all walks of life, Palestinians will not be able to mourn the Nakba, the loss of their homeland, or express their opposition to Israel as a Jewish state. It is not only that they have been excluded from belonging to their homeland, which has been claimed by people who immigrated there and made exclusively Jewish; it is not only that their people have been expelled, occupied or dispersed to all corners of the world; it is not only that they are legally unequal citizens and even treated as enemies in many areas of life by the very state in which they are citizens. They also have to accept this reality: express loyalty, show no opposition, and even refrain from mourning their loss in public. The expression of the natural feelings of losing their people and homeland, the yearning to rectify injustice, and the quest to transform Israel into a democratic state will be criminalised and punishable by law if the bills are enacted. The Arab citizens have to accept Jewish superiority anchored in constitution and law, accept that their homeland is not really theirs. They have to stop being themselves if they are to avoid being punished by the Jewish state; they have to stop being human altogether. People are short of words to describe what is happening in Israel. It is becoming clear that Israel is fearful not only about the future, it is most fearful about history – and for a reason. Israel can suppress among its Jewish citizens – those who enjoy the privileges of superiority and of taking over a whole homeland – the history of the Nakba and the reality of its continuation for every Palestinian. But Israel must believe that Palestinians are subhuman if it thinks that it can suppress their feelings about the Nakba and their desire for democracy and equality and the yearning for the return of their people. For Israel to face its fear of the future it must first face history. Instead, in defiance of human nature, it is hopelessly seeking to suppress it. The author is the director of the Arab Centre for Applied Social Research in Haifa, Israel, and a professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, Boston
Leading article: Thought crimes in Israel: The Independent
Any hope that bringing Israel’s right wing party, Yisrael Beiteinu, into government and making its leader, Avigdor Lieberman, Foreign Minister would blunt its extremist edge has been rudely shattered. Barely had the ink dried on the coalition agreement than one of the party’s members introduced a bill making it punishable by three years’ imprisonment for any Israeli Arab to mark Nakba, the Palestinian day of mourning for lost lands which coincides with Israel’s independence day. At the same time, Yisrael Beiteinu’s spokesman announced his party’s intention to bring forth legislation enforcing an oath of loyalty to Israel as a “Jewish state”. One can see the populist appeal of these measures. Lieberman owed much of his success in the recent election (his party was the third largest in the vote) to playing the “loyalty card” at a time when Israel’s Arab citizens were openly critical of the invasion of Gaza. What he and his party now want are measures which force the one million Arab citizens in the country to pledge absolute loyalty to the state. The Nakba bill, which was approved by the ministerial committee on legislation this week, is bad enough. But the bill for a compulsory oath, which is also due to go before the committee, would be a disaster. It would require anyone seeking citizenship to “make a declaration in which they commit to being loyal to the State of Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state, to its symbols and values and to serve the state as much as required through military or alternative service”. Arab citizens at the moment are not required to do military service given the sensitivities of their situation. There are many in the British National Party who would no doubt like a similar oath over here. But any democracy committed to freedom of expression knows that the road to oppression lies though just such attempts to control the thoughts of its people. And that is especially true of Israel, whose founding fathers expressly committed the new nation to principles of freedom of expression and protection of minorities. Of course Israel is a Jewish state. But it is also a democracy set in an Arab world. Its founders knew that. Let us hope that its current legislature does too.
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Israeli War Criminals – to the International Criminal Court, NOW!
Palestinians killed in Israeli raid: Al Jazeera
An Israeli air raid targeted Islamic Jihad members in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday [AFP ]
At least three Palestinians have been killed after Israel conducted an air raid on the Gaza Strip. Medical workers said two people were killed at the scene of the attack on Thursday near the Israel-Gaza border and a third died later in hospital. An Israeli army spokesman said the raid targeted a group of fighters who had fired an anti-tank missile at troops across the border. Shortly after the attack, three rockets fired from the territory landed in southern Israel, the military said. There were no reports of casualties.
The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility and vowed to continue its attacks against Israel. “Our rockets and our resistance will not stop,” Abu Ahmed, an official of the armed Palestinian group, said.
Support the student occupations against the illegal occupation in Palestine!
Boycott & Picket Batsheva at BAM & Everywhere: Dance Insider
“I think it’s not really going to make a difference to boycott a dance company…. The boycott is just preventing something that is good…. I think artists belong to a group of people who don’t represent the ugly side of Israel.” — Ohad Naharin, artistic director, Batsheva Dance Company, commenting in Straight.Com, February 12, ahead of Batsheva’s Feb. 20-21 Vancouver engagement. “The Brand Israel project, which was created during [foreign minister Tzipi] Livni’s tenure, seeks to counter the country’s aggressive and religious image abroad, using common marketing tools. If Israel is perceived as a hard, unpleasant place, resembling an armed evangelical village in Texas, then it is worthwhile to reveal softer sides to the West.” – Aluf Benn, Ha’aretz, February 18 “What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground…. A fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the Earth.” – The Bible Here’s the context of Batsheva’s North American tour, which culminates March 4 – 7 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music: Rather than alter its genocidal policies towards the Palestinians whom, as an occupying power, it has a legal obligation to *protect*, Israel has responded with a PR campaign, “Brand Israel,” designed to portray its ‘softer’ side and give a veneer of Western civilization to a country whose most recent slaughters in Gaza were barbaric. How could the beautiful bikini-clad Israeli soldiers featured in Maxim magazine in 2007 — in a photo-spread *sponsored* by the Israeli Foreign Ministry — possibly be guilty of the kind of war crimes reported by objective observers in Gaza, including dropping illegal phosperous bombs on a United Nations facility and bombing UN schools as well as hospitals and civilian homes, mowing down civilians after ordering them to leave buildings, killing more than 1300 people a third of whom were children, preventing medical aid from getting to the wounded, etcetera, etcetera?
Make Zionism History!
Support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of the Israeli regime
Israeli War Criminals – to the International Criminal Court, NOW!
Academic Boycott of Israel and the Complicity of Israeli Academic Institutions: Alternative Information Centre
The idea of an academic boycott of Israel first emerged in 2002 as part of the growing boycott and divestment campaign
against Israel, itself a part of the struggle against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and the violation of Palestinian human and national rights. Compared to other types of boycott, the academic boycott has gathered a relative amount of widespread support amongst academic unions and organizations, primarily in Great Britain. Not surprisingly,
this relative success has stirred a public debate and opposition to the boycott, mostly by pro-Israeli organizations and academics. The campaign for academic boycott has wavered under these pressures and various degrees and measures of boycott have since been approved and then often canceled by academic organizations. The arguments in favor of this kind of boycott have relied largely on the facts of the Israeli occupation and the idea of pressuring Israel through its academic
world; often, they have not utilised details relating to the specific academic institutions that they call to boycott.
Through this report, however, the Alternative Information Center (AIC) aims to inform and empower the debate on an academic boycott by giving information not on Israeli violence and violations of international law and human rights, but on
the part played in the Israeli occupation by the very academic institutions in question. The report demonstrates that Israeli academic institutions have not opted to take a neutral, apolitical position toward the Israeli occupation but to fully support the Israeli security forces and policies toward the Palestinians, despite the serious suspicions of crimes and atrocities hovering
over them. Any who argue either for or against an academic boycott against Israeli institutions, we believe, should.
To read this excellent first proper article in English about Academic complicity in Israel’s occupation, use the link above. This is amust for anyone wondering about the justification for academic boycott! It is 64 pages long, and has more than 180 references!
Gaza 2009: We Will Never Forget
An edited video made up of some of the most famous media moments of Israel’s criminal war in Gaza
• Suspected collaborators shot during and after war
• Escaped criminals killed by relatives of their victims
Evidence is emerging of a wave of reprisal attacks and killings inside Gaza that have left dozens dead and more wounded in the wake of Israel’s war. Among the dead are Palestinians suspected of collaborating with the Israeli military. Others include criminals who were among the 600 prisoners to escape from Gaza City’s main jail when it was bombed as the war began. Their attackers are thought to be their victims’ relatives.
More than 935 Palestinians dead, over 311 children,
Steve Bell in The Guardian
Israel faces the prospect of intervention by international courts amid growing calls that its actions in Gaza are a violation of world humanitarian and criminal law. The UN general assembly, which is meeting this week to discuss the issue, will consider requesting an advisory opinion from the international court of justice, the Guardian has learned. “There is a well-grounded view that both the initial attacks on Gaza and the tactics being used by Israel are serious violations of the UN charter, the Geneva conventions, international law and international humanitarian law,” said Richard Falk, the UN’s special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories and professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University.
London Demo against Gaza carnage Content Eyewitness report – Sunday December 28th
The London Metropolitan Police have managed the impossible – they made hundreds of people ona peaceful demonstration in the heart of London feel a bot like the people they were trying to represent – the Palestinians of Gaza. At the demonstration beside the gates of Palace Green, the leafy avenue of the embassies in Kensington, and the road leading to the Israeli embassy. The Israelis who may have been in the embassy – not many, one assumes, on Sunday evening – had nothing to worry about. The BBC website tells us that there were 2000 demonstrators there – a figure I very much doubt – then there were about two policemen for every demonstrators. The roads between Kensington Church Street and Kensington Gore – just over half-a-mile stretch, where all blocked and coked full of police forces, including the much loved dog unit, which indeed was drafted in to intimidate the protesters, once they really got into the rhythm of brutal policing. Beside me, a young man was trying to argue with the police using logics: “what are you afraid off? Of those people who have come to pray for the Gaza people? Are you not ashamed standing here, protecting the embassy of murderers?” It was to no avail, obviously. I have asked him to move along, telling him I had the feeling they are about to get nasty, and he will make an ideal target. He saw the point, seemingly, and retreated to the back. The demonstrators were made of people of all ages, from babies to very old and frail men and women, including two people in wheel chairs. At about 16:00, immediately after the official start of the protest, many of the protesters have kneeled down for the evening prayer, men and women in different groups, and prayed peacefully. It will be wrong to say that people were not angry – every one of us there was madly angry with the barbaric Israeli murder and destruction – but this did not translate itself into violence against the police, who kept the road to the embassy blocked by lines of sturdy policemen and women. There was something ugly in the air, though. As I was few inches away from the policemen, taking one of the photographs below, at about 16:20, I overheard one of the policemen advising a young man who found he could not get to the other side of the cordon, and just wanted to get there, being a tourist on shopping tour “just go back and scram, I tell you, do it now. There will some action in few minutes and you don’t want to be here”. So, it became clear to me that the violence will be manufactured pretty soon. It did indeed take less than five minutes, and the police cordon was swiftly reinforced by a large number, joining and starting to hit those close to them and push them with enormous force. Democracy in action, I suppose. I tried to take as many photographs as I could of this, until a well aimed hit on camera finished off the flash, so I continued to take photos as best I could, but many of the more brutal ones are, as a result, too dark. In the mad melee which followed, a SKY TV reporter in a beautiful red coat, in mid sentence facing her cameraman, was knocked down and about to be trampled upon by the advance of the forces of law and order, but for the efforts of the protesters which have surrounded her, hammered by the police for so doing, until she could be got up, very badly shocked and quite shaken. Things were happening so fast you could do nothing bur get pushed, and pandemonium was really frightening, with the police behaviour something to be seen to be believed. It well reminded me of the last time I was on demo at one of the checkpoints in Palestine, which seemed apposite. I have tried to pose as a press photographer, with my large professional camera, as I attempted to film the police getting the dogs into the crowd, and snatching individual protesters and hammering them into the road surface, four policemen to one demonstrator. Blood was flowing freely by that point, and as snatched a couple of shaky images, a huge policeman grabbed me with force I can only describe as brutal, and joined by another one rammed me back into the crowd but hitting me on the back for good measure. I could see some ten demonstrators at least led away, or rather dragged away with blood pouring from their wounds, and I moved rather quickly not to become the next prey. This is where I saw the CNN reporter, in mid sentence, on the background of all this violence, speaking of ‘extremists’, of Hamas and Hizbollah flags, as well as the flag of the ‘Palestinian State’. This was too much even for me, and I stopped him in his flow to ask since when did we havea Palestinian state, a comment he dod not really appreciate, but at least it got him packing and reteating before the obviously superior forces of the Met. At this point, there was nothing to do but disperse or be hit and arrested. The road was filled with shocked and shaken people, and one was saying to his friend as they ran past me “this is almost as bad as the Israelis”. He had a point. Haim Bresheeth A link toa BBC report which is not totally useless, but misses the point: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7802078.stm The pictures below were taking by me:
|At this point, despite the seriousness of the issues which brought the demonstrators out into the cold London evening, all was well organised and civilised|
|The large PSC Palestine flag we have seen on so many demonstrations, is unfurled and displayed|
|Demonstrators at about 16:10, when the whole thing may have looked as if it will pass without serious incidents|
|It was at this point in time, as I took numerous photos of the police line, that I heard one of them referring to ‘some action in few minutes’, and realised it all going to turn nasty. But as you can see, this was reason for jollity|
|All around the place about two hundred men and women were praying, in small groups, as the police charged|
|Just a couple of minutes before the explosion of violence, This rabbi takes a minute to explain his position on Zionism to a newcomer to the political scene|
|This is the demonstrator who was the first one to be taken and beaten up brutally, and then arrested|