Gaza: Still Occupied and Besieged
The Palestinian Authority – Serving Whom?
Infographic: 7 ways the Palestinian Authority helps Israeli occupation, by Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada – 26 Jan.
Palestinian Children in Israeli Custody
Palestinian youths get 15 years in prison for stone throwing they denied, by Charlotte Silver, Electronic Intifada – 29 Jan.
Five Palestinian youths, known as the “Hares boys,” after their home village in the West Bank, have concluded a nearly three-year military trial by agreeing to a plea deal with Israeli occupation authorities.
They will each serve 15 years in prison.
Ali Shamlawi, Muhammed Kleib, Muhammed Suleiman, Ammar Souf and Tamer Souf, all 16 and 17 when they were arrested in March 2013, were charged with 20 counts of attempted murder.
Israel alleges they threw stones on a highway that connects Israeli settlements in the central West Bank to Tel Aviv and other towns in present-day Israel.
The young men all maintained their innocence and said that the Israeli accusations were based on confessions extracted by torture.
A settler crashed her car into a truck, causing significant injury to her three young daughters. The woman claimed she had crashed the car due to Palestinians throwing stones. There were no eyewitnesses.
Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions
When ‘Made In Israel’ Is a Human Rights Abuse, by Eyal Press, New York Times – 26 Jan.
[…] Under a provision of a larger piece of legislation, popularly known as the Customs Bill, that has been approved by the House and is expected to soon pass the Senate, American officials will be obligated to treat the settlements as part of Israel in future trade negotiations.
The ostensible reason this provision was added to a bill on international trade is to combat the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a grass-roots campaign that seeks to pressure Israel to change its policies toward the Palestinians. But under existing law, Washington already forbids American companies to cooperate with state-led boycotts of Israel. Under the guise of an antiboycott provision, the Customs Bill extends similar protections to “Israeli-controlled territories” — meaning settlements. For American trade negotiators, the industrial zones dotting the occupied territories would have the same status as the high-tech industry in Tel Aviv, just as settler zealots insist. […]
The Obama administration has made it clear that it does not accept the conflation of the settlements and Israel. When the Customs Bill reaches his desk, Mr. Obama may take the rare step of issuing a signing statement objecting to its pro-settlement language. But if this provision becomes law, it will be a major victory for the Israeli right, albeit one that it may come to regret. The more the line between Israel and the occupied territories is blurred, the more likely the rest of the world will be to question the legitimacy of not just the settlements but Israel itself.
U.S. Customs recently released a statement reminding American importers that goods produced in the West Bank must be labeled as such, and not as products of Israel.
“…goods produced in the West Bank or Gaza Strip shall be marked as originating from ‘West Bank,’ ‘Gaza,’ ‘Gaza Strip,’ ‘West Bank/Gaza,’ ‘West Bank/Gaza Strip,’ ‘West Bank and Gaza,’ or ‘West Bank and Gaza Strip.’,” the statement said, adding that “it is not acceptable” to mark such goods with the words “Israel,” “Made in Israel,” “Occupied Territories-Israel,” or any variations thereof.
The statement was released on January 23, and was a reminder of an existing regulation dating back from 1995, which states that failure to mark such products “shall result in the levy of a duty of 10 percent of the product’s value,” the Forward reported.
However, the law is barely enforced, if at all, said the Forward.
According to The Forward, the reminder could be a result of recent interest in the 1995 regulation expressed by a major human rights report, several advocacy organizations and the press. It is not clear, however, if it will be followed by stricter enforcement of the rule.
According to the Forward, contrary to the European Union action to label products from the settlements, the 1995 legislation was meant to aid the fledgling Palestinian economy in the wake of the Oslo Accords.
Several pro-Palestinian organizations have recently been making efforts to have the regulation enforced, including The U.S. Campaign to End Israeli Occupation and CODEPINK, which runs a campaign targeting the Israeli cosmetics company Ahava Dead Sea.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) told the Forward it doesn’t object to the 1995 legislation. According to the group, the policy doesn’t stigmatize Israeli products, contrary to the EU labeling initiative, but facilitates duty free access to the U.S. market for Palestinian goods.
Shutting Down a Pinkwashing Event Is a Smart, Legitimate Protest Against Israel’s Occupation, by Liza Behrendt, Ha’aretz – 28 Jan.
Solidarity with Palestine is entering the LGBTQ mainstream, but that doesn’t mean there’s any contradiction between being a queer activist and being Jewish.
Dozens of my queer Jewish friends found themselves in a conundrum last weekend, when a multiracial and intergenerational group of 200 queer and trans leaders shut down a Chicago reception about gay rights in Israel. The host of the reception was Israel advocacy organization A Wider Bridge (AWB), and the occasion was Creating Change, the largest annual LGBTQ conference in the U.S. […]
Israel has a relatively progressive record on gay rights, but Brand Israel deliberately contrasts this record with racist stereotypes about Palestinians and the Arab/Muslim world. This effort to exaggerate homophobia in Palestine and downplay homophobia in Israel, encouraging liberals to excuse Israeli violence, is called Pinkwashing. Pinkwashing is so ubiquitous in LGBTQ spaces that queer Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim people often feel excluded.
Ban Ki-moon vs. Natanyahu
Last week, after the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon expressed frustration with Israel’s seemingly interminable occupied and expressed the obvious truism that an occupied people will always resist, Israel’s rightist premier Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu accused the Sec. Gen. of encouraging Palestinian violence. Ban Ki-moon responded to Bibi in the New York Times:
Don’t Shoot the Messenger, Israel, by Ban Ki-moon, New York Times – 31 Jan.
IN Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, 2016 has begun much as 2015 ended — with unacceptable levels of violence and a polarized public discourse. That polarization showed itself in the halls of the United Nations last week when I pointed out a simple truth: History proves that people will always resist occupation.
Some sought to shoot the messenger — twisting my words into a misguided justification for violence. The stabbings, vehicle rammings and other attacks by Palestinians targeting Israeli civilians are reprehensible. So, too, are the incitement of violence and the glorification of killers.
Nothing excuses terrorism. I condemn it categorically. It is inconceivable, though, that security measures alone will stop the violence. As I warned the Security Council last week, Palestinian frustration and grievances are growing under the weight of nearly a half-century of occupation. Ignoring this won’t make it disappear. No one can deny that the everyday reality of occupation provokes anger and despair, which are major drivers of violence and extremism and undermine any hope of a negotiated two-state solution. […]
Criticism of the United Nations — or attacks against me — comes with the territory. But when heartfelt concerns about shortsighted or morally damaging policies emanate from so many sources, including Israel’s closest friends, it cannot be sustainable to keep lashing out at every well-intentioned critic.
Jerusalem – Discrimination, Apartheid, and Ethnic Cleaning
In Jerusalem, “Religious War” Is Used to Cloak Colonialism, by Nur Arafeh, al Shabaka – 3 Feb.
To deal with the “demographic threat” posed by Palestinians, Israel designated Palestinians living in Jerusalem as “permanent residents” – a civil status usually reserved for foreign citizens and which does not guarantee residency rights. On this basis, resident IDs are often revoked. Between 1967 and 2013, Israel revoked the ID cards of more than 14,309 Palestinian residents. According to the 2003 Temporary Amendment to the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law(amended in 2005 and 2007), West Bank Palestinians married to Jerusalem residents do not qualify for residency status and are only granted temporary permits in exceptional circumstances. In contrast, Jews who immigrate to live in Jerusalem are granted immediate citizenship, reflecting the apartheid nature of the Israeli regime.
While strengthening the Jewish presence in Jerusalem, Israel has sought to contain the urban and demographic expansion of Palestinians via discriminatory urban and zoning policies consistent with ethnic cleansing. More than one third of land in Palestinian neighborhoods has been classified as “open landscape areas” where building is prohibited, constricting Palestinian building to only 14% of the land of East Jerusalem and causing an acute housing crisis. Moreover, since 1967, Israel has destroyed 1,673 housing units, affecting around 8,000 people between 1967 and 2013. With the implementation of all these policies, Israel is aiming to achieve a ratio of 30% “Arabs” and 70% Jewswithin the Jerusalem municipality.
Discriminatory Israeli policies are also apparent in the discrepancies in service provision between Palestinian and Jewish neighborhoods. Less than 10% of the municipal budget is allocated to Palestinian districts despite Palestinians paying the same amount of arnona (property) tax as Jewish citizens.
Settler Violence Or: How Israeli Settlers Celebrate
New Year for trees, nothing new for Palestinians, Americans for Peace Now – 19 Jan.
On Monday, most Israelis will celebrate Tu Bishvat by cherishing the fruit of the land and planting plant trees.
But in the West Bank, extremist settlers routinely destroy trees belonging to Palestinian farmers – not to mention other forms of vandalism and assault.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 11,254 trees have been vandalized in the West Bank in 2015, a 20% increase over the previous year. It is bitterly ironic that many of the trees these cowards choose to uproot or vandalize are olive trees – the very symbol of peace.
The extremist settlers who axe the trees and uproot the saplings do it because they know how much olive trees mean to the Palestinians, and how important fruit orchards are to the Palestinians’ livelihood. And, of course, these cowards don’t stop at trees. They burn and vandalize Palestinian mosques and homes, they brutalize Palestinians, and sometimes even kill them, as we have recently seen in the West Bank village of Duma, where an entire family was murdered in an arson attack.
The New McCarthism
Im Tirtzu’s New Campaign ‘Outs’ Leftist Artists, Including Oz and Grossman, Ha’aretz – 27 Jan.
While American-Jews are increasingly voicing opposition to the occupation, their Israeli peers are being hounded by the far-right Im Tirtzu, which previously attacked anti-occupation Israeli NGOs as foreign moles, and now has turned its sights on Israeli artists:
Under the banner “moles inside culture,” the campaign will mount billboards and will also release a report listing of hundreds of artists considered by the group to be linked to the left.
Matan Peleg, the CEO of Im Tirtzu, told Walla that artists regularly come out against elected officials with “slanderous campaigns,” while “hiding the fact that they’re members of mole organizations.” “The public has all rights to know these details,” Peleg said, adding: “We’ll not allow mole organizations to throw dust in the eyes of the public.”
Writer Ronit Matalon, one of the artists labeled by Im Tirtzu as a Breaking the Silence supporter, called the group “a bunch of hooligans.” “The problem is that the more isolated the country gets, the more it is perceived as a leper, it starts attacking itself, with complete lack of understanding. We should show persistent and determined resistance. We should resist and not be afraid.” […]
Also on Wednesday, one of the founders of Im Tirtzu took to Twitter to defend Joseph McCarthy, who in the 1950s conducted an official witch hunt against communists in the United States.
Israel, Mired in Ideological Battles, Fights on Cultural Fronts, by Steven Erlanger, New York Times – 29 Jan.
Ms. Regev, 50, a rising power in Likud, is one of several stars of a new generation of politicians jockeying for position as the future leader of the so-called nationalist camp. Ms. Shaked, 39, plays a similar role in the Jewish Home party, whose leader, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, 43, has been prominent in this struggle over culture.
The Israel they represent is more religious and less beholden to the values and inheritances of the old, Europeanized elite and its dwindling left. They are unapologetic in their nationalism, supportive of both poorer Jews of Sephardic — Middle Eastern, or Mizrahi — background and of settlers in the occupied West Bank, and unmoved by criticism from international leaders and liberal activists. […]
Yossi Klein Halevi, a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute, said the culture wars reflect “a growing sense of siege” that Israelis feel from the region and the world.
“This has set off the deepest fears in the Jewish psyche, fears that Zionism tried to free us from,” he explained. Instead of feeling as if they are in “a normal nation among nations,” he said, many Israelis are heading back “to a statist version of the old Jewish ghetto, and the Israeli response increasingly is to view those of our fellow citizens perceived to be in league with this process of siege, or encouraging it as collaborators.”
A Guide to Israel’s “Liberal” Condescension:
Seeds of Peace, by David Remnick, New Yorker – 25 Jan.
[Labor party leader] Herzog went on talking almost as if Odeh were not there. “I have my dilemmas and so does Ayman,” he said. “He has to attack extremist terror.”
Which was, for Odeh, maddening. He has attacked extremist terror. He has denounced the second intifada. He finds the breezy condescension of a Laborite like Herzog almost as hard to swallow as the contempt of someone like Lieberman.
“Herzog feels that he has to say a few good words about me, because I talk about universal values,” Odeh told me later. “But because he is part of the hegemony of the state that disregards Arabs he has to keep me over in a corner. There are many ways of pushing us there. There is the way of Lieberman and Netanyahu, who pretend we do not exist, and then there is the way of ‘Yes, but . . . ’ ‘Yes, Ayman Odeh is nice, but . . .’ ”
The mainstream attitude toward Odeh among his colleagues in the Knesset is often one of patronizing skepticism. Almost all are quick to say that they “like” him, but then the trouble begins. “I don’t know how much time he has,” Michael Oren, the former Ambassador to the U.S. and a center-right member of the Knesset, said. “Martin Luther King was supportive of the Constitution and the American right to exist. Would Ayman say the same things about the Jewish state? . . . We have a problem in this country with loyalty. Will Ayman say there was a Second Temple here? Will he say that there is no right of return? Or will he insist on staying well outside the Zionist consensus? I don’t think we should have a loyalty test, but there should be loyalty assumptions.”
Odeh is nearly imperturbable in manner. He reminded me of the way Ellison and Du Bois write about the “doubleness” of black consciousness, the emotional riptides that always have to be negotiated. But, when I repeated Oren’s comments, Odeh closed his eyes and steadied himself before answering.
“Look,” he said, finally. “What does Oren mean about being loyal to the essence and the assumptions of the state? Does that include the nakba and the expulsion of my people? Does it include military law and land confiscations in the first years of the state? I am loyal to universal values. I can throw it back at him and say the government is not loyal, because it is leading the state to disaster. It’s really a patronizing statement. It means justice is one-sided and everyone should fall into place. Who decides who is disloyal? The Jews should understand this above all people. They were condemned as disloyal all the time in Europe. Napoleon also demanded to know of the Jews, ‘Are you loyal?’
State of Palestine
France could become second European Union nation, after Sweden, to officially recognize Palestine:
France to recognise Palestinian state unless deadlock with Israel broken, Reuters – 29 Jan.
France said on Friday it intended to make another push at trying to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and warned that if its efforts failed, it would recognise a Palestinian State.
“France will engage in the coming weeks in the preparation of an international conference bringing together the parties and their main partners, American, European, Arab, notably to preserve and make happen the two-state solution,” French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius said.
A French diplomatic source added that Paris intended to launch this conference by the summer.
Encystation of Palestine
Life inside Hebron’s closed military zone, Mondoweiss YouTube – 27 Jan.
Following the establishment of the closed military zone Israel implemented a new number system in the area. Each household within the zone was given an ID number which is now necessary to be able to access Tel Rumaida. Anyone without a number is barred from entering the town.
A New Generation
Portraits of Palestine’s youth rebellion, ActiveStills/Electronic Intifada – 28 Jan.
The following series of photographs were taken at protests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the past four months. The quotations included are from the two Palestinian youths interviewed, neither of whom are featured in the photos.
Images by Activestills photographers Anne Paq in Bethlehem, Ezz Al-Zanoon in the Gaza Strip, Mohannad Darabee in the Ramallah area, Oren Ziv in Bethlehem and the Ramallah area. Photo editing by Shiraz Grinbaum.
Activestills is an independent collective based in Israel/Palestine which uses photography as a tool for social and political change.
Media Roundup is a regular feature of Palestine Square.