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
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.
Israel’s Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem has fired one of its guides for making political statements about the plight of the Palestinians during his tours. Visitors complained when Itamar Shapira likened the trauma of European Jews to the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) when Israel was founded in 1948. Israeli media said it was the first such sacking at Yad Vashem. Itamar Shapira accused the museum of having a “flawed approach” that ignored certain historical facts. Yad Vashem’s Estee Yaari told the BBC that Mr Shapira had violated clear prohibitions on employees pushing their own political viewpoints. “Yad Vashem is an apolitical organisation and as such is careful to ensure that the professional work of Holocaust remembrance and commemoration will be separated from any political agenda,” she told the BBC. She said Itamar Shapira had been employed as a freelance guide by Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies for about two years. “Recently, a complaint was lodged noting a number of problems with his guiding,” she said. “After a discussion with school staff, he refused to change his guiding method and was let go.”
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cautioned Israel’s right-wing government on Thursday that it risked losing Arab support for fighting any threats from Iran if it shuns Palestinian peace talks. Signaling U.S. impatience with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reticence over peace talks, Clinton said Arab nations had made clear to her that Israel must be committed to the Palestinian peace process if it wants help countering Iran. “For Israel to get the kind of strong support it is looking for vis-a-vis Iran, it can’t stay on the sidelines with respect to the Palestinians and the peace efforts. They go hand in hand,” she told the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee. Israel sees a nuclear-armed threat as a mortal threat. “They [Arab countries] believe that Israel’s willingness to re-enter into discussions with the Palestinian Authority strengthens them in being able to deal with Iran,” she added. Since coming into power last month, Netanyahu and his right-leaning coalition have avoided recognizing the Palestinians’ right to an independent state as his predecessor Ehud Olmert did. The United States is committed to pushing for a two-state solution, with Israelis and Palestinians living side by side, and would like to revive stalled talks.
A study conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has cast doubt over Israel’s survival beyond the next 20 years.
The CIA report predicts “an inexorable movement away from a two-state to a one-state solution, as the most viable model based on democratic principles of full equality that sheds the looming specter of colonial Apartheid while allowing for the return of the 1947/1948 and 1967 refugees. The latter being the precondition for sustainable peace in the region.”
The study, which has been made available only to a certain number of individuals, further forecasts the return of all Palestinian refugees to the occupied territories, and the exodus of two million Israeli – who would move to the US in the next fifteen years.
“There is over 500,000 Israelis with American passports and more than 300,000 living in the area of just California,” International lawyer Franklin Lamb said in an interview with Press TV on Friday, adding that those who do not have American or western passport, have already applied for them. “So I think the handwriting at least among the public in Israel is on the wall…[which] suggests history will reject the colonial enterprise sooner or later,” Lamb stressed. He said CIA, in its report, alludes to the unexpectedly quick fall of the apartheid government in South Africa and recalls the disintegration of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, suggesting the end to the dream of an ‘Israeli land’ would happen ‘way sooner’ than later. The study further predicts the return of over one and a half million Israelis to Russia and other parts of Europe, and denotes a decline in Israeli births whereas a rise in the Palestinian population. Lamb said given the Israeli conduct toward the Palestinians and the Gaza strip in particular, the American public — which has been voicing its protest against Tel Aviv’s measures in the last 25 years — may ‘not take it anymore’. Some members of the US Senate Intelligence Committee have been informed of the report.
“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?
Support the student occupations against the illegal occupation in Palestine!
The Israeli government has named the UK as the anti-Zionist capital of Europe. They are right! Zionism is really not in favour around here, after years of evidence and proof of what it really is about… At the moment, more than 30 UK universities are under occupation by their students, who are protesting about the Gaza carnage, and are making a range of demands on their Vice Chancellors – Bursaries for Palestinian students, statements in support of Gaza, twinning arrangements, boycott of Israeli links, Divestment where appropriate – the number of universities is growing daily, and they are now coordinating and orchestrating events across the sector, assisting each other, collecting vast sums for Gaza assistance, and raising the level of political awareness in the Higher Education institutions across Britain.
Yesterday, after a large meeting at which Lindey German (Stop the War Coalition) and myself were speaking, the students in my own university, the University of East London, have at last joined the fray and became the 30th to occupy. Since then, three other s have joined. Across this growing group, one gets the clear impression that Gaza and its terrible plight has become the new Vietnam – an iconic case of First World countries – Israel, USA and the EU – subjugating and oppressing a Third World country under aggressive colonisation. Through the action against the continued Israeli crimes of occupation and aggression, students are learning about non-violent direct action, about civic society, about human rights and the ability to make yourself heard, and for one’s voice to make a difference. This is an exciting development for what some have termediPod generation – supposedly made of of young upwardly-mobile Tory voters, without political interests or social commitments. They were wrong, and this generation of students with their just anger about the Gaza carnage and Israel’s illegal occupation seem to just get stronger and clearer as time goes on.
To the Acting Vice Chancellor of the University of East London and any others it may concern
We the student occupation for Palestine demand that the University of East London:
1. Issues a clear statement condemning Israel’s blockade of Gaza and the recent atrocities committed against the civilians of Gaza.
2. Immediately divests itself of any and all interests and investments in companies directly or indirectly linked with arms sales to Israel and to make publicly available all UEL current and future investments.
3. Grants five Palestinian students every year full scholarships funded by UEL (similar to the Commonwealth scholarships)
4. Twins itself with the Islamic University of Gaza and provides support for the rebuilding effort following the recent destruction.
5. Provides any surplus equipment to Universities in Gaza i.e. books, computers etc.
6. Authorises, facilitates and promotes an official DEC collection day around campus.
7. Grants free access at all times to all participants in the occupation and takes no reprisals against any participants in the occupation for their actions. We will continue to occupy WB.G.02 until all of our demands are met.
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.
The Israeli cabinet is set to back an end to offensive military activities in the Gaza Strip, three weeks after attacks began, the BBC understands. Israel’s leaders are expected to approve a ceasefire at a meeting later on Saturday, after which PM Ehud Olmert will address the nation, sources said. The sources said the ceasefire deal did not involve Hamas. It is not clear how Hamas will respond; its officials say the group will ignore any truce unless its demands are met. Ahead of the move violence continued in Gaza, with 50 Israeli air strikes overnight. Rocket fire from Hamas militants also continued. About 1,200 Palestinians have been killed since the violence began on 27 December. Thirteen Israelis – three civilians and 10 soldiers – have been killed during the campaign.
As usual, the Israelis are choosing their own timing to pull out, and their own terms. No one who could force them to stop this did, so why not choose their time and place? They may be out in a day or two, but we must go on, and intensify our work against the murders and war criminals. Let us not rest, use the fact that Israel is the most hated regime anywhere now, and act to end the nightmare of Zionism NOW!
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.