Category Archives: Palestine

Rejecting the Deal of the Century

Jared Kushner’s idea that bribing Gazans with jobs in industrial sites built in North Sinai with finance coerced out of the Saudis by the Trump administration, in order for them to agree to a peace deal which will lose them Jerusalem and all Palestinians the right of return, faces Palestinian ire at both the popular and governmental level – in fact- across the board.

The fifteenth week of the Great March of Return culminates today, Friday, with “Down with the Deal of Century” day to express the disdain of Palestinians for the proffered bribe. It is hard to see how this coiled Trumpist monstrosity can succeed if the Palestinians don’t sign on the dotted line. It is also hard to see Egyptian tyrant Sisi accepting the project.

As much as Sisi wants Israeli support for his bloody rule, the proposals will have implications he won’t exactly relish. A new destabilising factor would come wrapped in the proposed new industrial sites that are nothing other than an extension of the penal colony that is Gaza into Egypt, for which Egypt would be totally responsible. If the project goes through, the Gazans and their leaders (Hamas) will be able to avail themselves of a new influence on different levels of the Egyptian state.

Furthermore, Sisi’s sale of the Islands of Tiran and Sanafir, two small desert islands, to Saudi Arabia, lost him a good deal of support amongst his base. Besides the problem of having to take responsibility for an effective expansion of Gaza into North Sinai, therefore, the Tiran and Sanafir precedent, was a warning to Sisi from such supporters as he still has in Egypt, which he looks like he is taking on board. He seems to be quietly encouraging the Palestinian rejection of the plan to bail him out of having to do the bidding of Trump, Kushner, and Netanhayu.

 

Israel tested new deadly weaponry against protesters in the Great March of Return

When he was hit by a bullet fired by Israeli forces during demonstrations in Gaza on April 6, Mohammed al-Zaieem lost so much blood, and his left leg was so deformed, he feared he wouldn’t survive.

His arteries, veins and a large piece of bone were destroyed. His right leg wasn’t spared either as the round created a massive exit wound and then hit it as well.

By the time he was transferred to Istishari Arab Hospital in Ramallah after undergoing seven surgeries in Gaza, there was nothing doctors could do to save his left leg. It had to be amputated, unbeknown to al-Zaieem, 22, who was unconscious at the time. Al-Jazeera reports ‘Palestinians face explosive bullets, dangerous gas bombs’

 

The spirit of Gaza prevails over Israeli savagery and American religious extremism

As US President Donald Trump speaks on video from the White House, and his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner lead the American dedication of the “new” American embassy in Jerusalem, they are accompanied by anti-Semitic and Islamophobic Christian evangelicals, Robert Jeffress and John Hagee offering prayers.

This is a culmination of a Christian Zionist history begun by William Blackstone and Louis Brandeis, who manoeuvred Woodrow Wilson to accept and endorse American Zionism and the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which set the course for the establishment of the State of Israel. It has little to do with the interests of the Jews or the Israeli population, but is a drive by irrational adherents of magical religion in a Bible-thumping White House to bring about “end times”.

The Palestinian people are thus being sacrificed on an altar of madness in furious savagery that has become absolutely explicit in the mowing-down of peaceful protesters in Gaza in the past weeks by Israeli forces. Only a deranged White House can believe that the Palestinians will ever bow to Trump’s “Deal of the Century” (“Final Solution”?), and that the acquiescence of illegitimate Arab rulers to their insanity will help them. The latter are cowards, frightened of their own shadows, with little chance of medium-term survival in their respective countries.

It is a sign of a steep decline in the status of the US in the world that its interests have been hijacked by a small group of extremists and that its political and intellectual classes appear to carry on unperturbed by this insanity in an oxygen-free, helium-filled bubble . The chaos that the Christian Zionists have always wished for will now occur. This will not be at a cost to Arabs – that has already been paid long ago as their countries already lie in ruins.

As most sane Americans realise, it will principally be at a severe and irreversible cost to America’s reputation and interests. Even the opinion pages of the New York Times bristle with anguish at the absurd and painful spectacle in the media of “juxtaposed images of dead and wounded Palestinians and Ivanka Trump smiling in Jerusalem like a Zionist Marie Antoinette” on the day of the opening of the American Embassy in Jerusalem.

Gaza: The ultimate indictment of European Liberalism

Gaza is among the most densely populated places in the world. Two-thirds of its inhabitants are refugees, and more than half the population is under eighteen years of age. Since Israel occupied Gaza in 1967, it has systematically de-developed the economy.

After Hamas won democratic elections in 2006, Israel intensified its blockade of Gaza, and after Hamas consolidated its control of the territory in 2007, Israel further tightened its illegal siege. In the meantime, Israel has launched no less than eight military operations against Gaza-culminating in Operation Cast Lead in 2008-9 and Operation Protective Edge in 2014-that left behind over three million tons of rubble. Recent UN reports predict that Gaza will be unlivable by 2020.

Norman G. Finkelstein new book GAZA: AN INQUEST INTO ITS MARTYRDOM presents a meticulously researched and devastating inquest into Israel’s actions of the last decade. It argues that although Israel justified its blockade and violent assaults in the name of self-defense, in fact these actions were cynical exercises of brutal power against an essentially defenseless civilian population.

Based on hundreds of human rights reports, the book scrutinizes multifarious violations of international law Israel committed both during its operations and in the course of its decade-long siege of Gaza. It is a monument to Gaza’s martyrs and a scorching accusation against their tormenters.

‘Deal of the century’: dead on arrival

Hatem Bazian writes: US President Donald Trump’s impending “deal of the century” intended to resolve the Palestinian issue once and for all and with it bring “peace” to the region will be dead on arrival. The leaked details of the deal provide recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem and sets-up a “Palestinian state” while possibly annexing the settlements with 20 percent of the West Bank to Israel proper. Other ideas include the total demilitarization of Palestine, thus leaving the already tormented population to face never-ending Israeli violence. Ideas on what to be done with the Gaza Strip are hazy, but the possibility of maintaining the status quo in the area is a distinct possibility. A Palestinian official familiar with Trump’s “deal”-of-the-century” said: “The plan calls for having a Palestinian state with provisional borders on half of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, without Jerusalem, and calls for humanitarian solutions to the refugee issue … The deal calls for building a “new Jerusalem” for Palestinians from the surrounding villages and communities.”

Critically, and based on the above report, the deal of the century will not include the implementation of the right to return for refugees to their stolen homes and lands, but instead offers a vague “humanitarian solution” to it. The multilateral Oslo framework offered various ideas on dealing with refugees but none focused on U.N. Resolution 194. All the plans centered on serving Israel’s needs by offering to take Palestinians to a third country — including offers from Canada and Australia. The involvement of European countries and U.S. in the so-called “peace process” is fundamentally designed to protect Israel and punish Palestinians for seeking a peace based on justice.

The “deal” is everything that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government are looking for and provide iron-fist control of all historical Palestine, despite the fictitious illusion of an independent “Palestinian state.” Here, Palestinians have arrived at the South African independent homelands model set-up under the Apartheid regime to give the impression that black South Africans were enjoying “independence and freedom” while, in reality, they had neither under white racist rule.

Preparatory steps are underway to push Trump’s “deal” through with the Arab states to be framed as something other than a continuation of upgraded Apartheid. The ongoing preparation includes a critical concession from Saudi Arabia — which has extended a de facto recognition of Israel while downgrading the status of the Palestinian issue to a secondary status and elevating confrontation with Iran as the primary strategic threat to the region. Under this alignment, Israel becomes a critic strategic ally for Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States seeking confrontations with Iran and the containment of that supposed threat.

“It is about time Palestinians take the proposals and agree to come to the negotiation table, or shut up and stop complaining,” was a statement attributed to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in a meeting held in New York with the heads of the American Jewish Organization. The wheels in the region are moving fast, and the new public alignment has led to a total abandonment of the Palestinians by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the other Gulf States. More importantly, the arrival of John Bolton to the National Security Council means the drums of war with Iran are beating ever louder and the pressure to silence the “Palestinian noise” will accelerate in the days and months ahead.

In response to the preparatory steps, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called into session the Palestinian National Council (PNC) with an agenda focused on the deal and the possible response, a call to suspend the recognition of Israel. The PNC has not met in over nine years and it is doubtful that the call for suspension will have any real impact considering the regional and global alignment of forces. Furthermore, the membership of the PNC was handpicked by Abbas and his allies, thus lacking real representation of the broader Palestinian society inside and outside historic Palestine. The PNC meeting and whatever comes from it will have limited, if any, impact outside of the Palestinian Authority circle and will further cement the fragmentation of Palestinian society.

Critically, Abbas’ opening session speech veered into a condemnable and entirely wrong framing of the causes of the Holocaust. Blaming the victim is not ethical or moral since it is the same argument often deployed by Zionists on the causes of Nakba and currently some Arab States against the Palestinians for lack of just peace and implementation of the right of return. Palestinians are ill-served by Abbas’ linking of Palestinian rights to the Holocaust. We must assign the responsibility to Nazi Germany first and foremost and Europe in general for the crimes committed against the Jews before and after World War II.

At the same time, Great Britain, and currently the U.S., should be held responsible for their continued support of Israel, as a settler colonial  state. Europe’s Jewish question has been “solved” by facilitating the transfer of European Jews to Palestine and aiding and abetting in the expulsion of Palestinians. This basic fact and the strategic thinking behind Great Britain’s creation of the Zionist State as a buffer state to protect trade routes passing through Egypt should not be confused with the long history of anti-Semitism — and I would add Islamophobia — dating back centuries before the 1492 expulsion and inquisition. Rejecting anti-Semitism and all that is connected to it is part of the de-colonial struggle that we must undertake with like-minded Jews and others that want to pursue a liberation of the mind first, then break the physical chains that are locking the human potential.

Palestinians are burdened with the arduous but achievable task of taking on the Zionist occupation and dispossession and at the same time, challenging the European roots of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia that were planted during the colonial and post-colonial period. Anytime we fall into anti-Semitic and Islamophobic thinking, an epistemological trap constructed by a certain European mode of thinking, we breathe life into a major trans-historical lie that has led to the deaths of millions. Reconstituting Palestine does not mean replicating or imitating the European nationalist and ultra-nationalist model that got the Muslim world and the region as a whole into the ongoing bloodbath. Reconstituting historical Palestine means a total rejection of all forms of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and racism while affirming the dignity and equality of Jews, Christians and Muslims as well as for all freedom-and-justice-loving people.

Trump’s “deal of the century” is dead on arrival because it continues to build upon the original sin of Zionism and European dispossession of Palestinians. The “deal” rewards settler colonialism, attempting to push the clock back by embracing Israeli Apartheid and attempting to cloak it in legitimacy, extracting maximum concessions from Palestinians under duress. What this “deal” fails to recognize is that the wheels of justice are moving faster than the walls of Apartheid. Trump and the Israeli leadership are attempting to rescue and revive a dying settler-colonial project. Read original article.

Palestine and the American First Amendment: A victory for the BDS movement in Arizona

Hatem Bazian writes: Friday, March 17, I reached an agreement with Arizona State University (ASU), the Arizona Board of Regents and Arizona attorney general that will allow a speaking event on the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement on April 3, 2018, at the university. The agreement is a victory for the BDS movement since the speaking contract previously included an unconstitutional anti-BDS clause that prohibited me from speaking on a boycott of Israel during my visit.

The agreement with ASU is a victory for the First Amendment and the rights of free speech. Again, pro-Israel forces worked hard to silence the voices of justice and human rights, but hard work and dedication made the difference. This is a victory for the BDS movement and a victory for Palestine’s voice in the U.S. I am deeply indebted to the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) hard work that will make it possible for me to exercise the rights enshrined in the First Amendment of the U.S. constitution – the right to speak at ASU on BDS and to oppose the Israeli apartheid. This success was made possible through the hard work of CAIR Arizona, CAIR National and the American Muslims for Palestine’s (AMP) team on this important legal challenge.

Last month, I received an invitation from the Muslim Student Association to deliver a lecture on Palestine, the current crisis resulting from the U.S. president’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and the effectiveness of the BDS movement at ASU. As per the regular procedure for such an engagement, the students sent me ASU’s contract detailing all the conditions that must be fulfilled as well as the costs associated with travel, accommodations and stipend.

I read the contract and started filling it out but stopped as soon as I got down to item 20 on the list of contractual conditions. Surprisingly, ASU’s contract included the following text for item number 20: “No Boycott of Israel. As required by the Arizona Revised Statutes § 35-393.01, Entity certifies it is not currently engaged in a boycott of Israel and will not engage in a boycott of Israel during the term of this Contract.” This text was added to all ASU and other Arizona state public agencies contracts to adhere to the new law, which, at the root, seeks to protect Israel from the BDS movement.

I stopped filling out the contract as a matter of principle. I cannot and would not sign this contract in full conscience, being one of the key BDS organizers in the U.S., an academic who writes on BDS and an activist on Palestine with the strategy to use a nonviolent, human rights-focused movement to address Israel’s continued violations of international law. The contractual condition creates an ethical dilemma since it stipulates individuals to sign provided they are “not currently engaged in a boycott of Israel and will not engage in a boycott of Israel during the term of this Contract,” something that I cannot do as a precondition to be able to speak at a public university on BDS.

This contractual condition boils down to ASU and Arizona setting up a prior restraint on speech. “In the First Amendment law, a prior restraint is government action that prohibits speech or another expression before it can take place,” as the Cornell Law School explains. The government or any power has “two common forms of prior restraints. The first is a statute or regulation that requires a speaker to acquire a permit or license before speaking, and the second is a judicial injunction that prohibits certain speech. Both types of prior restraint are strongly disfavored, and, with some exceptions, generally unconstitutional.” Here, the ASU contract included language that clearly sets up prior restraint on my ability to speak about BDS during my upcoming visit to the campus.

Consequently, and with the help of the CAIR office in Arizona, I challenged the law so as to not accept the prior restraint imposed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) through its work in the U.S. political system to prevent those points of view that are critical of the ongoing Israeli occupation. I believe that this regulation in Arizona and other states like it is an attempt by AIPAC, other major Zionist organizations and the Israeli government itself to win an unwinnable cause, to maintain support for an apartheid state that constantly violates international laws. The law attempts to defend the indefensible by restricting freedom of speech and academic freedom so as to rescue and protect Israel and its continued apartheid and occupation. More critically, the condition and the Arizona law treats Israel as an exception to the norm. The law restricts free speech that is foundational to the First Amendment and a constitutionally protected right – the ability to ask for public adherence to a call for BDS of Israel.

On a national level, AIPAC and all the major, mainstream and established Zionist organizations – the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), Anti-Defamation League(ADL), Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and American Jewish Committee (AJC) – are engaged in a full campaign to restrict free speech on BDS and curtail criticism of Israel and its continued human rights violations. The attempts at legislation supported by all the major mainstream Zionist organizations is intended to shield Israel from criticism and possibly cause American people to abandon Israel as they did in the past when it chose to divest from South Africa. Here, a heavily Israeli funded and full national campaign is underway to counter the BDS movement. This campaign attempts to use federal and state legislation to target individuals with structured and systematic defamation, as well as to work to recruit voices that normalize Zionism among segments of the Arab and Muslim communities through the Shalom Hartman Institute Muslim Leadership Initiative and fictitious interfaith projects that focus on silencing Palestine. Israel’s supporters have been the leading agents on restricting free speech and academic freedom on many college campuses by advocating a whole host of civility codes and conflating anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and criticism of Israel while using university administrations and administrative regulations to limit the free expression of solidarity with Palestinians. The cases of San Francisco State University with professor Rabab Abdulhadi’s Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative (AMED) program and the University of California Berkeley in relation to a course on Palestine is a case in point where university administrations became part of the strategy to limit pro-Palestine free speech and academic freedom while coordinating these strategies with local Zionist leadership and, at times, with the Israeli Consulate in San Francisco – the representative of a foreign state given access and solicited for ideas on how to limit the constitutional rights of American students and professors.

AIPAC and many of its regional affiliates have been working overtime to push for legislation across the U.S. to restrict free speech on BDS, and in some cases to criminalize advocacy for Palestinian human rights. The victory in Arizona is very important and serves as a model to challenge legislation that seeks to protect Israel at the expense of constitutional rights, the right of free speech and freedom of association, since considerable demonization and criminalization efforts on college campuses are directed at Students for Justice in Palestine. Israel and its supporters should not have veto power over the First Amendment and legal challenges should be mounted to expose the efforts of a foreign government and its agents to undermine the right of anyone in the U.S. to critique a country that is addicted to human rights violations and U.S. foreign aid. BDS is out of the bottle and attacking the First Amendment is a battle Israel and its supporters will certainly lose. Read original article