Bulletin N°280


25 December 2006
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,

According to the Platonic Idea, developed over 2000 years ago, we are all part of a larger hierarchy, a Great Chain of Being which is complete, structured as a graduated scale, and is necessarily interconnected. There are no vacuums in nature and everything has its niche, which is located both above something and below something else. There is no missing link in this Great Chain. Thus, says Plato, what might seem as chaotic to us, is in fact part of a perfect order. Like the close observation of a section of an impressionist painting might reveal disorderly lines and swirls of pigments and oil, but no meaning is derived from this same confusion of colors and contours until you perceive it as a part of the whole configuration. The Medieval Church called this God's Plan.

The Great Chain of Being, or the scala naturæ, is a social construct, a paradigm which has attempted over the past 2 000 years to explain both natural and social orders. Religious like secular thinking in the west is governed by this concept, according to historian Arthur O. Lovejoy . It has been used to override concerns about justice and equality, but it also promotes tolerance and social order. It is a tautology to say that the ruling class rules, and their intellectuals produce ideas that rationalize the benefits they hope to harvest from the system that employees them.

To posture about the antiwar movement today, without knowing about the debates and without knowing the terrible influence the Zionist lobby (including U.S. officials like Paul Wolfowitz) has had on U.S. foreign policy since the 2000 elections, or to remain silent about the conditions in Gaza is simply collaboration with war crimes, like many French did during the Second World War, according to historian Robert O. Paxton, by looking the other way when Jews --both French and non-French-- were taken from their homes and transported en mass by bus and train to death camps. For more information from someone who doesn't look the other way, and who knows very well the conditions which Palestinians are suffering today in Gaza read Israeli journalist Amira Hass. Her articles are easily available for anyone who cares to know the truth about this subject.


Zionist Hate List

(To have your name and even your photo included on this honor list of eight thousands of persons, including Noam Chomsky, Edward Herman, Bertell Ollman who are opposed to crimes against humanity, contact: masada2000org@yahoo.com )

Noam Chomsky on the creation of Hamas and Hizbollah in talk at Simon Fraser University (2002)

Those groups happened to be organised by the West. You can say the same about plenty of others. Take Israel's main terrorist enemies-Hizbollah and Hamas. Where did they come from? The origins of Hamas lie, in part, with Israeli sponsorship of radical Islamist groups meant to undermine the secular Palestinian leadership. Hizbollah came out of a U.S.-backed Israeli invasion of Lebanon 20 years ago, which killed about 20,000 and had no defensive purpose whatsoever. The end result is that it helped create Hizbollah. . . .

Apartheid in the Holy Land
by Desmond Tutu

Apartheid in the Holy Land
by Desmond Tutu

The Guardian, Monday April 29, 2002

In our struggle against apartheid, the great supporters were Jewish people. They almost instinctively had to be on the side of the disenfranchised, of the voiceless ones, fighting injustice, oppression and evil. I have continued to feel strongly with the Jews. I am patron of a Holocaust centre in South Africa. I believe Israel has a right to secure borders.

What is not so understandable, not justified, is what it did to another people to guarantee its existence. I've been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about.

On one of my visits to the Holy Land I drove to a church with the Anglican bishop in Jerusalem. I could hear tears in his voice as he pointed to Jewish settlements. I thought of the desire of Israelis for security. But what of the Palestinians who have lost their land and homes?

I have experienced Palestinians pointing to what were their homes, now occupied by Jewish Israelis. I was walking with Canon Naim Ateek (the head of the Sabeel Ecumenical Centre) in Jerusalem. He pointed and said: "Our home was over there. We were driven out of our home; it is now occupied by Israeli Jews."

My heart aches. I say why are our memories so short. Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, the home demolitions, in their own history so soon? Have they turned their backs on their profound and noble religious traditions? Have they forgotten that God cares deeply about the downtrodden?

Israel will never get true security and safety through oppressing another people. A true peace can ultimately be built only on justice. We condemn the violence of suicide bombers, and we condemn the corruption of young minds taught hatred; but we also condemn the violence of military incursions in the occupied lands, and the inhumanity that won't let ambulances reach the injured.

The military action of recent days, I predict with certainty, will not provide the security and peace Israelis want; it will only intensify the hatred.

Israel has three options: revert to the previous stalemated situation; exterminate all Palestinians; or -- I hope -- to strive for peace based on justice, based on withdrawal from all the occupied territories, and the establishment of a viable Palestinian state on those territories side by side with Israel, both with secure borders.

We in South Africa had a relatively peaceful transition. If our madness could end as it did, it must be possible to do the same everywhere else in the world. If peace could come to South Africa, surely it can come to the Holy Land?

My brother Naim Ateek has said what we used to say: "I am not pro- this people or that. I am pro-justice, pro-freedom. I am anti-injustice, anti-oppression."

But you know as well as I do that, somehow, the Israeli government is placed on a pedestal [in the US], and to criticise it is to be immediately dubbed anti-semitic, as if the Palestinians were not semitic. I am not even anti-white, despite the madness of that group. And how did it come about that Israel was collaborating with the apartheid government on security measures?

People are scared in this country [the US], to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful -- very powerful. Well, so what? For goodness sake, this is God's world! We live in a moral universe. The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic, and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust.

Injustice and oppression will never prevail. Those who are powerful have to remember the litmus test that God gives to the powerful: what is your treatment of the poor, the hungry, the voiceless? And on the basis of that, God passes judgment.

We should put out a clarion call to the government of the people of Israel, to the Palestinian people and say: peace is possible, peace based on justice is possible. We will do all we can to assist you to achieve this peace, because it is God's dream, and you will be able to live amicably together as sisters and brothers.

Desmond Tutu is the former Archbishop of Cape Town and chairman of South Africa's truth and reconciliation commission. This address was given at a
conference on Ending the Occupation held in Boston, Massachusetts, earlier this month. A longer version appears in the current edition of Church Times.

Apartheid : Israelis adopt what South Africa dropped
by John Dugard

Apartheid: Israelis adopt what South Africa dropped
by John Dugard

Atlanta Journal-Constitution 11/29/06
Former President Jimmy Carter's new book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," is igniting controversy for its allegation that Israel practices a form of apartheid.

As a South African and former anti-apartheid advocate who visits the Palestinian territories regularly to assess the human rights situation for the U.N. Human Rights Council, the comparison to South African apartheid is of special interest to me.

On the face of it, the two regimes are very different. Apartheid was a system of institutionalized racial discrimination that the white minority in South Africa employed to maintain power over the black majority. It was characterized by the denial of political rights to blacks, the fragmentation of the country into white areas and black areas (called Bantustans) and by the imposition on blacks of restrictive measures designed to achieve white superiority, racial separation and white security.

The "pass system," which sought to prevent the free movement of blacks and to restrict their entry to the cities, was rigorously enforced. Blacks were forcibly "relocated," and they were denied access to most public amenities and to many forms of employment. The system was enforced by a brutal security apparatus in which torture played a significant role.

The Palestinian territories ¬ East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza ¬ have been under Israeli military occupation since 1967. Although military occupation is tolerated and regulated by international law, it is considered an undesirable regime that should be ended as soon as possible. The United Nations for nearly 40 years has condemned Israel's military occupation, together with colonialism and apartheid, as contrary to the international public order.

In principle, the purpose of military occupation is different from that of apartheid. It is not designed as a long-term oppressive regime but as an interim measure that maintains law and order in a territory following an armed conflict and pending a peace settlement. But this is not the nature of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Since 1967 Israel has imposed its control over the Palestinian territories in the manner of a colonizing power, under the guise of occupation. It has permanently seized the
territories' most desirable parts ¬ the holy sites in East Jerusalem, Hebron  and Bethlehem and the fertile agricultural lands along the western border and in the Jordan Valley and settled its own Jewish "colonists" throughout the land.

Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories has many features of colonization. At the same time it has many of the worst characteristics of apartheid. The West Bank has been fragmented into three areas -- north (Jenin and Nablus), center (Ramallah) and south (Hebron) -- which increasingly resemble the Bantustans of South Africa.

Restrictions on freedom of movement imposed by a rigid permit system enforced by some 520 checkpoints and roadblocks resemble, but in severity go well beyond, apartheid's "pass system." And the security apparatus is reminiscent of that of apartheid, with more than 10,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons and frequent allegations of torture and cruel treatment.

Many aspects of Israel's occupation surpass those of the apartheid regime. Israel's large-scale destruction of Palestinian homes, leveling of agricultural lands, military incursions and targeted assassinations of Palestinians far exceed any similar practices in apartheid South Africa. No wall was ever built to separate blacks and whites.

Following the worldwide anti-apartheid movement, one might expect a similarly concerted international effort united in opposition to Israel's abhorrent treatment of the Palestinians. Instead one finds an international community divided between the West and the rest of the world. The Security Council is prevented from taking action because of the U.S. veto and European Union abstinence. And the United States and the European Union, acting in collusion with the United Nations and the Russian Federation, have in effect imposed economic sanctions on the Palestinian people for having, by democratic means, elected a government deemed unacceptable to Israel and the West. Forgotten is the commitment to putting an end to occupation, colonization and apartheid.

In these circumstances, the United States should not be surprised if the rest of the world begins to lose faith in its commitment to human rights. Some Americans ¬ rightly ¬ complain that other countries are unconcerned about Sudan's violence-torn Darfur region and similar situations in the world. But while the United States itself maintains a double standard with respect to Palestine it cannot expect cooperation from others in the struggle for human rights.

John Dugard is a South African law professor teaching in the Netherlands. He is currently Special Rapporteur (reporter) on Palestine to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The "A" Word: Israel, Apartheid and Jimmy Carter
by Saree Makdisi
http :// www.counterpunch.org/makdisi12202006.html


Why Condemning Israel and the Zionist Lobby is so Important
by James Petras
(December 22, 2006)

[“It’s no great secret why the Jewish agencies continue to trumpet support for the discredited policies of this failed administration.  They see defense of Israel as their number-one goal, trumping all other items on the agenda.  That single-mindedness binds them ever closer to a White House that has made combating Islamic terrorism its signature campaign.  The campaign’s effects on the world have been catastrophic.  But that is no concern of the Jewish agencies.” ]
December 8, 2006 statement by JJ Goldberg, editor of Forward (the leading Jewish weekly in the United States)
            Many Jewish writers, including those who are somewhat critical of Israel, have raised pointed questions about our critique of the Zionist power configuration (ZPC) in the United States and what they wrongly claim are our singular harsh critique of the state of Israel.  Some of these accusers claim to see signs of ‘latent anti-Semitism’, others, of a more ‘leftist’ coloration, deny the influential role of the ZPC arguing that US foreign policy is a product of ‘geo-politics or the interests of big oil.  With the recent publication of several widely circulated texts, highly critical of the power of the Zionist ‘lobby’, several liberal pro-Israel publicists generously conceded that it is a topic that should be debated (and not automatically stigmatized and dismissed) and perhaps be ‘taken into account.’
ZPC Deniers: Phony Arguments for Fake Claims

            The main claims of ZPC deniers take several tacks:  Some claim that the ZPC is just ‘another lobby’ like the Chamber of Commerce, the Sierra Club or the Society for the Protection of Goldfish.  Others claim that by focusing mainly on Israel and by inference the ‘Lobby’, the critics of Zionism ignore the equally violent abuses of rulers, regimes and states elsewhere.  This ‘exclusive focus’ on Israel, the deniers of ZPC argue, reveals a latent or overt anti-Semitism.  They propose that human rights advocates condemn all human rights abusers everywhere (at the same time and with the same emphasis?).   Others still argue that Israel is a democracy – at least outside of the Occupied Territories (OT) – and therefore is not as condemnable as other human rights violators and should be ‘credited’ for its civic virtues along with its human rights failings.  Finally others still claim that, because of the Holocaust and ‘History-of-Two-Thousand-Years-of-Persecution’, criticism of Jewish-funded and led pro-Israel lobbies should be handled with great prudence, making it clear that one criticizes only specific abuses, investigates all charges – especially those from Arab/Palestinian/United Nations/European/Human Rights sources -- and recognizes that Israeli public opinion, the press and even the Courts or sectors of them may also be critical of regime policies.

            These objections to treating the Israeli-Palestinian-Arab conflict and the activities of Zionist Lobbies as central to peace and war serve to dilute, dissipate and deflate criticism and organized political activity directed at the ZPC and its directors in Israel.

            The response of the critics of Israel and the ZPC to these attacks has been weak at best and cowardly at worst.  Some critics have responded that their criticism is only directed toward a specific policy or leader, or to Israeli policies in the OT and that they recognize Israel is a democracy, that it requires secure borders, and that it is in the interests of the Israeli ‘people’ to lower their security barriers.  Others argue that their criticism is directed at securing Israeli interests, influencing the Zionist Lobby or to opening a debate.  They claim that the views of ‘most’ Jews’ in the US are not represented by the 52 organizations that make up the Presidents of the Major Jewish Organizations of America, or the thousands of PACs, local federations, professional associations and weekly publications which speak with one voice as unconditional supporters of every twist and turn in the policy of the Zionist State.

            There are numerous similar lines of criticism, which basically avoid the fundamental issues raised by the Israeli state and the ZPC, and which we are obliged to address.  The reason that criticism and action directed against Israel and the ZPC is of central importance today in any discussion of US foreign policy, especially (but not exclusively) of Middle East policy and US domestic policymaking is that they play a decisive role and have a world-historic impact on the present and future of world peace and social justice.  We turn now to examine the ‘big questions’ facing Americans as a result of the power of Israel in the United States.

The Big Questions Raised by the ZPC and Israeli Power in the USA:

War or Peace:
Critical study of the lead up to the US invasion of Iraq, US involvement in providing arms to Israel (cluster bombs, two-ton bunker buster bombs and satellite surveillance intelligence) prior to, during and after Israel’s abortive invasion of Lebanon, Washington’s backing of the starvation blockade of the Palestinian people and the White House and Congress’ demands for sanctions and war against Iran are directly linked to Israeli state policy and its Zionist policy-makers in the Executive branch and US Congress.  One needs to look no further than the documents, testimony and reports of AIPAC and the Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations to observe their claims of success in authoring legislation, providing (falsified) intelligence, engaging in espionage (AIPAC) and turning documents over to Israeli intelligence (now dubbed ‘free speech’ by liberal Zionists).

If, as the overwhelming evidence indicates, the ZPC played a major role in the major wars of our time, wars capable of igniting new armed conflicts, then it ill behooves us to dilute the role of the Zionist/Jewish Lobby in promoting future US wars.  Given Israel’s militarist-theocratic approach to territorial aggrandizement and its announced plans for future wars with Iran and Syria, and given the fact that the ZPC acts as an unquestioning and highly disciplined transmission belt for the Israeli state, then US citizens opposed to present and future US engagement in Middle East wars must confront the ZPC and its Israeli mentors.  Moreover, given the extended links among the Islamic nations, the Israel/ZPC proposed ‘new wars’ with Iran will result in Global wars.  Hence what is at stake in confronting the ZPC are questions which go beyond the Israeli-Palestine peace process, or even regional Middle East conflicts:  it involves the big question of World Peace or War.

Democracy or Authoritarianism

Without the bluster and public hearings of former Senator Joseph McCarthy, the Jewish Lobby has systematically undermined the principal pillars of our fragile democracy.  While the US Congress, media, academics, retired military and public figures are free to criticize the President, any criticism of Israel, much less the Jewish Lobby, is met with vicious attacks in all the op-ed pages of major newspapers by an army of pro-Israeli ‘expert’ propagandists, demands for firings, purges and expulsions of the critics from their positions or denial of promotions or new appointments.  In the face of any prominent critic calling into question the Lobby’s role in shaping US policy to suit Israel’s interests, the entire apparatus (from local Jewish federations, AIPAC, the Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations etc) go into action – smearing, insulting and stigmatizing the critics as ‘anti-Semites’.  By denying free speech and public debate through campaigns of calumny and real and threatened repercussions the Jewish Lobby has denied Americans one of their more basic freedoms and constitutional rights.

The massive, sustained and well-financed hate campaigns directed at any congressional candidate critical of Israel effectively eliminates free speech among the political elite.  The overwhelming influence of wealthy Jewish contributors to both parties – but especially the Democrats – results in the effective screening out of any candidate who might question any part of the Lobby’s Israel agenda.  The takeover of Democratic campaign finance by two ultra-Zionist zealots, Senator Charles Schumer and Israeli-American Congressman Rahm Emanuel ensured that every candidate was totally subordinated to the Lobby’s unconditional support of Israel.  The result is that there is no Congressional debate, let alone investigation, over the key role of prominent Zionists in the Pentagon involved in fabricating reports on Iraq’s ‘weapons of mass destruction’, and in designing and executing the war and the disastrous occupation policy.  The Lobby’s ideologues posing as Middle East ‘experts’ dominate the op-ed and editorial pages of all the major newspapers (Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post).  In their pose as Middle East experts, they propagandize the Israeli line on the major television networks (CBS, NBC,ABC, Fox, and CNN) and their radio affiliates.  The Lobby has played a prominent role in supporting and implementing highly repressive legislation like the Patriot Act and the Military Commission Act as well as modifying anti-corruption legislation to allow the Lobby to finance congressional ‘educational’ junkets to Israel.  The head of Homeland Security with its over 150,000 functionaries and multi-billion dollar budget is none other than Zionist fanatic Michael Chertoff, head persecutor of Islamic charity organizations, Palestinian relief organizations and other ethnic Middle Eastern or Moslem constituencies in the US, which potentially might challenge the Lobby’s pro-Israel agenda.

The biggest threat to democracy in its fullest sense of the word – the right to debate, to elect, to legislate free of coercion – is found in the organized efforts of the Zionist lobby, to repress public debate, control candidate selection and campaigning, direct repressive legislation and security agencies against electoral constituencies opposing the Lobby’s agenda for Israel.  No other lobby or political action group has as much sustained and direct influence over the political process – including the media, congressional debate and voting, candidate selection and financing of congressional allocation of foreign aid and Middle East agendas as the organized Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC) and its indirect spokespeople heading key Congressional positions.  A first step toward reversing the erosion of our democratic freedoms is recognizing and publicly exposing the ZPC’s nefarious organizational and financial activities and moving forward toward neutralizing their efforts.

Their Foreign Policy or Ours?

Intimately and directly related to the loss of democratic freedoms and a direct consequence of the Jewish lobby’s influence over the political process is the making of US Middle East policy and who benefits from it.  The entire political effort of the Lobby (its spending, ethnic baiting, censorship and travel junkets) is directed toward controlling US foreign policy and, through US power, to influence the policy of US allies, clients and adversaries in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.  The Lobby’s systematic curtailment of our democratic freedoms is intimately related to our own inability to influence our nation’s foreign policy.  Our majoritarian position against the Iraq War, the repudiation of the main executioner of the War (the White House) and our horror in the face of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and destruction of Gaza are totally neutralized by Zionist influence over Congressional and White House policymakers.  The recently victorious Congressional Democrats repudiate their electorate and follow the advice and dictates of the pro-Zionist leadership (Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Rahm Emmanuel, Stephan Israel and others) by backing an escalation of troops and an increase in military spending for the war in Iraq.  Bush follows the war policy against Iran proposed by the zealous Zionist fanatics in the American Enterprise Institute, repudiating the diplomatic proposals of the bi-partisan Baker Commission.  Congress quadruples US arms stored in Israel (supposedly for dual use) in the aftermath of Israel’s bombing of Southern Lebanon with one million anti-personnel bomblets from cluster bombs in direct defiance of US electoral opinion.  While hundreds of millions of undernourished women and children suffer and die in Africa, Latin America and Asia, the Lobby ensures that over half of US foreign aid goes to Israeli Jews with per capita incomes of over $22,000 USD.

No other organized political action group or public relations firm acting on behalf of the Cuban and Venezuelan exiles or Arab, African, Chinese or European Union states comes remotely near the influence of the Zionist lobby in shaping US policy to serve the interest of Israel.

While the Lobby speaks for less than 2% of the US electorate, its influence on foreign policy far exceeds the great majority who have neither comparable organizational nor financial muscle to impose their views.

Never in the history of the US republic or empire has a powerful but tiny minority been able to wield so much influence in using out nation’s military and economic power and diplomatic arm-twisting in the service of a foreign government.  Neither the Francophiles during the American Revolution, the Anglophiles in the Civil War and the German Bund in the run-up to World War Two, nor the (anti-China) Nationalist Taiwan Lobby possessed the organizational power and sustained political influence that the ZPC has on US foreign and domestic policy at the service of the State of Israel.

Confronting the Lobby Matters

The question of the power of the Lobby over US policies of war or peace, authoritarianism or democracy and over who defines the interests served by US foreign policy obviously go far beyond the politics of the Middle East, the Israeli-colonial land grabs in Palestine and even the savage occupation of Iraq.  The playing out of Zionist influence over the greatest military power in the world, with the most far-reaching set of client states, military bases, deadly weapons and decisive voice in international bodies (IMF/World Bank/United Nations Security Council) means that the Lobby has a means to leverage its reach in most regions of the world.  This leverage power extends over a range of issues, from defending the fortunes of murderous Russian-Jewish gangster oligarchs, to bludgeoning European allies of the US to complicity with Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

The ZPC represents a basic threat to our existence as a sovereign state and our ability to influence whom we elect and what agendas and interests our representatives will pursue.  Even worse, by serving Israeli interests, we are becoming complicit with a State whose Supreme Court legalizes political assassinations across national boundaries, torture, systematic violations of international law and a regime which repudiates United Nations resolutions and unilaterally invades and bombs its neighbors and practices military colonist expansionism.  In a word Israel resonates and feeds into the most retrograde tendencies and brutal practices of contemporary American politics.  In this sense the Lobby through its media, Congressional influence and think tanks is creating an Israeli look-alike.  Like Israel, the US has established its own Pentagon assassination teams; like Israel, it invades and colonizes Iraq; like Israel, it violates and rejects any constitutional or international legal restraints and systematically tortures accused but untried prisoners.

Because of these fundamental considerations, we cannot oblige our Jewish ‘progressive’ colleagues and compatriots and refrain from confronting the Zionist Lobby with force and urgency.  Too many of our freedoms are at stake; too little time is left before they succeed in securing a greater military escalation; too little of our sovereignty remains in the face of the concerted effort by the Lobby and its Middle Eastern ‘expert-ideologues’ to push and shove us into a new and more devastating war with Iran at the behest of Israel’s pursuit of Middle East dominance.

No other country, abuser or not, of human rights, with or without electoral systems, has the influence over our domestic and foreign policy as does the state of Israel.  No other Lobby has the kind of financial power and organizational reach as the Jewish Lobby in eroding our domestic political freedoms or our war-making powers.  For those reasons alone, it stands to reason, that we American have a necessity to put our fight against Israel and its Lobby at the very top of our political agenda.  It is not because Israel has the worst human rights agenda in the world – other states have even worst democratic credentials – but because of its role in promoting its US supporters to degrade our democratic principles, robbing us of our freedom to debate and our sovereignty to decide our own interests.  The Lobby puts the military and budgetary resources of the Empire at the service of Greater Israel – and that results in the worst human rights in the world.

Democratic, just and peaceful responses to the Big Questions that face Americans, Europeans, Muslims, Jews and other peoples of the world passes through the defeat and dismantlement of the Israeli-directed Zionist Power Configuration in America.  Nothing less will allow us to engage in an open debate on the alternatives to repression at home and imperialism abroad.

And finally, the following 6 items are sent as an update on the criminal conduct of state terrorism (U.S. and Israeli) in Gaza and beyond.

A., from Dr. Catherine Shamas, is a eye witness account from Sylvaine on the treatment by Israeli forces of visitors passing through the Qalandiya Checkpoint at the Atarot Airport to visit friends in Gaza.
B. is an article from Jamshed Ghandhi on Christmas 2006 in Palestine.
C. from Edward Herman is an article by Daphna Berman on the public beating of a woman by Israeli fundamentalists because she did not sit at the back of the bus.
D., from Jamshed Ghandhi, is an article by Amira Hass on Israeli human rights groups who reject the state imposed travel ban on West Bank htichhikers.
E. from Edward Herman, is a description of daily missery in Palestine by Ilene Prusher, of The Christian Science Monitor

A more democratic view of real life, breaking completely with The Great Chain of Being dogma, was expressed by the
physicist and professor, Albert Einstein, in 1921:
A human being is a part of the whole, called by us, 'Universe,' a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself,
his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest -- a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion
is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must
be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature
in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation
and a foundation for inner security.

We at CEIMSA wish both our religious and our non-religious friends a happy holiday season of information and resistance to tyranny, where ever it raises its ugly head. . . .

Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Dircector of Research
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3

from Dr. Catherine Shamas :
23 December 2006
Sugject : Sylaine's gives her own account after coming back from west-bank

"The Atarot terminal - Welcome"
 Sylvaine - The 123rd Mission
Translated from French by William PETERSON
[Sylvaine, who was with the 123rd Mission, is expressing here the feelings that every person who left for Palestine one day, experienced when they returned...]
 “How can I describe to this “other”, my fellow creature, what they endure, how can I make them understand that it’s a piece of themselves that’s been assassinated; that they are not free, that I couldn’t be entirely free, without fooling myself; that never can we “make this world better”? If we don’t react to what’s happening over there, if we don’t put a stop to the massacres, to the plundering and pillage of their lands, it’s as if they’ve assassinated a part of me.”
Qalandiya Checkpoint, Atarot Terminal, 11/06/2006 “The Atarot terminal - Welcome”
The words are drilled into my head; they weigh me down inside like cement blocks. Qalandiya, Palestinian refugee camp, the Wall covered with graffiti denouncing the horror, the shame. In its extension is the checkpoint where the vehicles pass through, under Israeli control.
All the “passengers” are ordered off the Palestinian bus; the only ones authorized to stay on the bus are the very old and the crippled.
We find ourselves outside, not having much of an idea of where to go. There’s a group of huts over by the side, in a kind of no man’s land. We are ordered to go over there. In front of us is a crowd crammed in front of three turnstiles, banded with steel bars. Overhead, a screen where luminous letters scroll by continuously, like on a telex: “WELCOME TO ATAROT TERMINAL”...
And below...: “Be patient...”
 Women, children, and men are squeezed closely together in front of each turnstile, which open or close according to red and green “traffic lights”.
At the “green light”, they pile in, pushing and shoving, one can barely breathe; women in a crashing hurry block the turnstile; they want, at all costs, to get to the other side. There’s disputing, pushing around, an aggressive brouhaha. I’m smothering, squashed against Annie. Ten people pass the first barrier and line up to show their papers to a soldier in a glassed-in cubicle. The light has turned red; we wait.
I am, we are, livestock. I have in my head the vision of a bull they turn out into the ring. Me too, I want to pass through, me too I push those ahead of me, making a tiny space so as not to “choke to death”.
We pass through, but we don’t take the same bus because it’s already left. A friend who is traveling with us passed through on the vehicle side, and caught up with the bus after having taken pictures of the Wall. He has our luggage. The driver didn’t want to wait for us any longer. Our friend is satisfied with himself, with his “naivety” as he says; us, we went looking for him two times over by the Wall. He doesn’t understand - he managed to slide through all by himself, he says... No comment.
When I got back to France the next day, I didn’t think I’d still be rehashing this checkpoint thing in my head; nevertheless, my stomach is all churned up, I’m feeling vaguely anguished.
I keep waking up in the middle of the night. I’m picking olives again and again... I’m not too sure of where I am; I must make an immense mental effort to bring myself back to my actual surroundings.
Back at work, the first day, the indifference expressed by some of my colleagues troubles me. They “couldn’t care less”. Others realize that this “experience” shook me up. I’m not my normal happy self; I isolate myself from the others. I’m still over there, stuck at that checkpoint. I never dreamed I would be “haunted” like this. I’m feeling the same anguish that I felt, for no apparent reason, just before I found out a very close friend had come down with a case of violent leukemia. I feel like breaking down and blubbering.
Every single night, I’m back over there... I’m picking olives... as if it were a life or death situation.
This inhumanity hurt me profoundly. I have the feeling that images are being jumbled together in my head, films I’ve seen of the Nazi period. That the Jews could treat other human beings as if they were livestock annihilates the time gone by since that period. I am in front of the Wall. I could be a cow mooing. The Wall is in me and my thoughts are crashing against its madness and destroying my nights. I’m smothering, just as they’re smothering, and I’m sinking in my impuissance.
I profoundly believe that it’s absolutely imperative that the greatest number of people possible go to Palestine. One can testify and it’s a duty to do so, but to feel in one’s guts the inhumanity cannot be translated into words. I carry it inside me.
I am free but I know, I feel, that I’m not a Palestinian, nor was I a Jew in 1940, but I am, that is to say I feel part of, the human community, and at that checkpoint, where they welcomed me, I rejoined the rest of humanity, which is being refused the right every day, the right to be A human being.
I’m writing this and I say to myself, “So what?” You got it off your chest a little by putting your pangs of anguish down on paper; 18 dead because, so they say, of “an unfortunate mistake”. You’re going to demonstrate tomorrow against these programmed murders but them, what are you doing for them? What risks are you running for these Palestinians? How can I describe to this “other”, my fellow creature, what they endure, how can I make them understand that it’s a piece of themselves that’s been assassinated; that they are not free, that I couldn’t be entirely free, not without fooling myself; that never can we “make this world better”? If we don’t react to what’s happening over there, if we don’t put a stop to the massacres, to the plundering and pillage of their lands, it’s as if they’ve assassinated a part of me.
I wasn’t born in 1940; I’m not responsible for the Holocaust, but today I can no longer ignore that it’s what makes up the essential essence of a Human Being that they’re killing, that they’re desecrating, over there, in this elsewhere that’s so close to here...
In this world that barricades itself in more and more every day, that closes itself off into walled-in spaces, I am no longer existent. Are they atomizing us, driving us crazy? Because if I’m a member of the human race, how can I accept, how can I tolerate the fact that The Other, preferably Black or Arab, is being liquidated, being taken to the slaughterhouse, that he too is no longer existent. This is not a case of this or that Arabic State or Palestinian political party which doesn’t want a Jewish State, which doesn’t want Israel to exist. This is Israel itself, which is wiping the very existence of Palestine off the face of the Earth and which is guilty of crimes against humanity.  This is what I saw and this is what I want to testify here.

From:  Jamshed Ghandhi
Sent: Thursday, December 21, 2006
Subject: Israeli roadblocks rise by 40% in a year

'We are facing the hardest Christmas yet'
Rory McCarthy

[Israeli road obstacles rise by 40% in a year, strangling the Palestinians, says UN]
On a map the route looks straightforward enough. From Nazareth, amid the ploughed brown farmlands of northern Israel, Highway 60 travels south for nearly 100 miles, winding down through the mountains of the West Bank, through the heart of central Jerusalem and into the narrow streets of Bethlehem.

This is the direct route from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the closest approximation to the journey described in the Bible when Joseph and Mary travelled south to register for taxes in the time of Caesar Augustus.

But to travel the route today is to go through the geographical and political labyrinth of the Middle East conflict, through occupied land, restricted roads, military checkpoints, heavily guarded Israeli settlements, strongholds of Palestinian militancy and the West Bank barrier.

Today, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, and other church leaders from Britain will visit Bethlehem.

Nazareth sits above a broad plain dotted with Arab villages and long plastic greenhouses. A few minutes' drive south the road crosses the 1967 boundary dividing Israel from the occupied West Bank. The Green Line, as it is known, is invisible on the ground and not shown in Israeli school textbooks. The road crosses at the Jalama checkpoint, a large set of yellow metal gates guarded by a two-storey concrete watchtower. A picture of a reindeer has been spraypainted on a wall of army concrete blocks nearby.

At this point the West Bank barrier runs along the Green Line, although for much of its half-completed route it crosses into the West Bank. When finished it will put 10.17% of the West Bank and East Jerusalem between the barrier and the Green Line, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Mark Regev, Israel's foreign ministry spokesman, said the system of checkpoints and closures across the West Bank was based on security concerns. "It is an unfortunate necessity. Hopefully it won't be forever. But this is the reality of the situation," he said.

"In 2006 we had less suicide bombings than we had in one week in 2002 and this is largely because of the measures Israel has taken to prevent suicide bombings and checkpoints are part of that." He said the West Bank barrier had made a significant impact reducing attacks inside Israel. "Where the fence is an issue of quality of life for the Palestinians, for the Israelis on our side of the fence it is an issue of life or death itself."

Cars with yellow Israeli number plates are not allowed to cross Jalama into the West Bank. The road heads into Jenin, one of the main cities of the West Bank, a stronghold of some of the most extreme Palestinian militant groups, including those responsible for suicide bombings. The Israeli military sometimes imposes age restrictions at certain checkpoints, which make it difficult for young men from Jenin to leave the city.

In the centre of town, Sami Jowabri, 44, runs his own taxi company. His drivers have become experts in monitoring the system of checkpoints, road closures and barriers that dot the roads of the West Bank. The number of Israeli military obstacles has risen by 40% in the past year. There are now 528 physical obstacles, the UN said in September. It said closures were a primary cause of the Palestinian humanitarian crisis.

"It's affected our work a lot," said Mr Jowabri. "We have drivers who spend so long at checkpoints they have to sleep in their cars. They tell us it's for security, but I don't think it's about security. If people really want to set off bombs they find a way around the checkpoints."

From Jenin the highway runs down through winding hills and then suddenly runs up against a large series of plastic barriers blocking the road. There is nothing to explain the closure, except a passing Israeli army jeep and the concrete walls of the Shave Shomeron settlement, just north of Nablus.

All the other Palestinian cars on the road turned off a few minutes earlier, avoiding the roadblock as well as a checkpoint nearby at Anabta. Instead, the drivers cross an unofficial dirt road through several fields and over steep ditches. It comes out on a rerouted Highway 60, this time with the occasional car with Israeli plates, driven by residents of the several nearby settlements - settlements considered illegal under international law.

A little further on is a checkpoint. All the Palestinian cars, with their green plates, queue to be checked. The settlers, in their Israeli plated cars, can drive by without stopping.

Soon there is the city of Nablus, closed in by checkpoints where again the Israeli military sometimes imposes age restrictions and where queues at the checkpoints are frequently long and hot-tempered. "It's a humiliation, like we're still living in the 2nd century, not the 21st," said Ali Hassan Ali, 57.

Just before the entrance to Jerusalem, all the Palestinian cars turn off the road. For those West Bank Palestinians who do not have the identity cards needed to enter Jerusalem, they must travel a long and circuitous route along an old British army supply road that runs near Jericho and skirts around the eastern edge of Jerusalem. It takes more than an hour if there are no hold-ups at checkpoints.

Ahmad Shahab, 51, an Islamic studies schoolteacher, is heading from Ramallah to Eizariya, halfway to Bethlehem. "Are these restrictions because they are afraid of attacks? But a person like me over 50, what threat am I for them?"

In Bethlehem itself, Victor Batarseh, the mayor, looks from his office into the doorway of the Church of the Nativity. He blames the checkpoints and closures for the economic crisis that has shaken his town. Unemployment is 65%, large parts of the town's farmland have been taken up by the West Bank barrier, and a financial boycott on the Palestinian Authority has meant no salaries have been paid at the municipality for four months.

"This year is I think the hardest Christmas we are facing," he said. "The wall is turning this city into a big prison for its citizens. There is confiscation of land, closure of the main entrances to the city. All this has a physical and a psychological effect. We can only hope for change."

from: Ed Herman :
Sent: Thursday, December 21, 2006
Subject: Woman beaten on Jerusalem bus for refusing to move to rear seat

Woman beaten on Jerusalem bus for refusing to move to rear seat
by Daphna Berman
 A woman who reported a vicious attack by an ad-hoc "modesty patrol" on a erusalem bus last month is now lining up support for her case and may be included  a petition to the High Court of Justice over the legality of sex-segregated buses.

Miriam Shear says she was traveling to pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City early on November 24 when a group of ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) men attacked her for refusing to move to the back of the Egged No. 2 bus. She is now in touch with several legal advocacy and women's organizations, and at the same time, waiting for the police to apprehend her attackers.

In her first interview since the incident, Shear says that on the bus three weeks ago, she was slapped, kicked, punched and pushed by a group of men who demanded that she sit in the back of the bus with the other women. The bus driver, in response to a media inquiry, denied that violence was used against her, but Shear's account has been substantiated by an unrelated eyewitness on the bus who confirmed that she sustained an unprovoked "severe beating."
Shear, an American-Israeli woman who currently lives in Canada, says that on a recent five-week vacation to Israel, she rode the bus daily to the Old City to pray at sunrise. Though not defined by Egged as a sex-segregated "mehadrin" bus, women usually sit in the back, while men sit in the front, as a matter of custom.

"Every two or three days, someone would tell me to sit in the back, sometimes politely and sometimes not," she recalled this week in a telephone interview. "I was always polite and said 'No. This is not a synagogue. I am not going to sit in the back.'"

But Shear, a 50-year-old religious woman, says that on the morning of the 24th, a man got onto the bus and demanded her seat - even though there were a number of other seats available in the front of the bus.

"I said, I'm not moving and he said, 'I'm not asking you, I'm telling you.' Then he spat in my face and at that point, I was in high adrenaline mode and called him a son-of-a-bitch, which I am not proud of. Then I spat back. At that point, he pushed me down and people on the bus were screaming that I was crazy. Four men surrounded me and slapped my face, punched me in the chest, pulled at my clothes, beat me, kicked me. My snood [hair covering] came off. I was fighting back and kicked one of the men in his privates. I will never forget the look on his face." 

Shear says that when she bent down in the aisle to retrieve her hair covering, "one of the men kicked me in the face. Thank God he missed my eye. I got up and punched him. I said, 'I want my hair covering back' but he wouldn't give it to me, so I took his black hat and threw it in the aisle." 

'Stupid American'

Throughout the encounter, Shear says the bus driver "did nothing." The other passengers, she says, blamed her for not moving to the back of the bus and called her a "stupid American with no sechel [common sense.] People blamed me for not knowing my place and not going to the back of the bus where I belong."

According to Yehoshua Meyer, the eyewitness to the incident, Shear's account is entirely accurate. "I saw everything," he said. "Someone got on the bus and demanded that she go to the back, but she didn't agree. She was badly beaten and her whole body sustained hits and kicks. She tried to fight back and no one would help her. I tried to help, but someone was stopping me from getting up. My phone's battery was dead, so I couldn't call the police. I yelled for the bus driver to stop. He stopped once, but he didn't do anything. When we finally got to the Kotel [Western Wall], she was beaten badly and I helped her go to the police."

Shear says that when she first started riding the No. 2 line, she did not even know that it was sometimes sex-segregated. She also says that sitting in the front is simply more comfortable. "I'm a 50-year-old woman and I don't like to sit in the back. I'm dressed appropriately and I was on a public bus."

"It is very dangerous for a group of people to take control over a public entity and enforce their will without going through due process," she said. "Even if they [Haredim who want a segregated bus] are a majority - and I don't think they are - they have options available. They can petition Egged or hire their own private line. But as long as it's a public bus, I don't care if there are 500 people telling me where to sit. I can sit wherever I want and so can anyone else."

Meyer says that throughout the incident, the other passengers blamed Shear for not sitting in the back. "They'll probably claim that she attacked them first, but that's totally untrue. She was abused terribly, and I've never seen anything like it." 

Word of Shear's story traveled quickly after she forwarded an e-mail detailing her experience. She has been contacted by a number of groups, including Shatil, the New Israel Fund's Empowerment and Training Center for Social Change; Kolech, a religious women's forum; the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), the legal advocacy arm of the local Reform movement; and the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA). 

In the coming month, IRAC will be submitting a petition to the High Court of Justice against the Transportation Ministry over the issue of segregated Egged buses. IRAC attorney Orly Erez-Likhovski is in touch with Shear and is considering including her in the petition.

Although the No. 2 Jerusalem bus where the incident occurred is not actually defined as a mehadrin line, Erez-Likhovski says that Shear's story is further proof that the issue requires legal clarification. About 30 Egged buses are designated as mehadrin, mostly on inter-city lines, but they are not marked to indicate this. "There's no way to identify a mehadrin bus, which in itself is a problem," she said.

"Theoretically, a person can sit wherever they want, even on a mehadrin line, but we're seeing that people are enforcing [the gender segregation] even on non-mehadrin lines and that's the part of the danger," she said.

On a mehadrin bus, women enter and exit through the rear door, and the seats from the rear door back are generally considered the "women's section." A child is usually sent forward to pay the driver.

The official responses

In a response from Egged, the bus driver denied that Shear was physically attacked in any way.

"In a thorough inquiry that we conducted, we found that the bus driver does not confirm that any violence was used against the complainant," Egged spokesman Ron Ratner wrote. 

"According to the driver, once he saw that there was a crowd gathering around her, he stopped the bus and went to check what was going on. He clarified to the passengers that the bus was not a mehadrin line and that all passengers on the line are permitted to sit wherever they want on the bus. After making sure that the passengers returned to their seats, he continued driving."

The Egged response also noted that their drivers "are not able and are not authorized to supervise the behavior of the passengers in all situations." 

Ministry of Transportation spokesperson Avner Ovadia said in response that the mehadrin lines are "the result of agreements reached between Egged and Haredi bodies" and are therefore unconnected to the ministry.

A spokesperson for the Jerusalem police said the case is still under investigation.

from Jamshed Ghandhi :
Sent: Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Subject: Israelis banned from picking up Arabs hitchhikers

Rights groups reject travel ban on West Bank hitchhikers
by Amira Hass
I nternational organizations in the territories are still reviewing the implications of a ban prohibiting Israelis to give rides to Palestinians within the West Bank. The order was issued by GOC Central Command Yair Naveh.

Officials from a few organizations, most of them United Nations groups, told Haaretz that the issue was under legal review. The order, dated November 19, is scheduled to take effect on January 19, 2007. In a letter sent to the international organizations, the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din ­-whose volunteers help Palestinians file complaints against settlers-­ asked the foreign groups to tell Israeli security authorities they would not comply with the directive, by which they must obtain permits to drive Palestinians.

In the meantime, security authorities promised UN-affiliated groups that the order did not apply to them, and they would not be required to obtain permits.

The groups asked for the promise to be put in writing.

The order explicitly includes resident foreign nationals in the ban. The order states: "An Israeli will not transport in an Israeli vehicle within the area a person who is not Israeli, except in accordance with a permit given to him or given to the person who is not Israeli." It clearly states that for this purpose, "Israeli" means "a person registered in the Population Registry ... including anyone given a visa and license to reside in Israel."

A member of one of the organizations told Haaretz the groups were aware of the threat to the rights promised to their employees and that some recognized the possibility that the authorities could at some point require the groups to apply for permits ­ despite the verbal promise.

Anders Fange, head of United Nations Relief and Works Agency activities in the West Bank, told Haaretz that irrespective of the military waiver, "my personal opinion is that the UN is obligated to oppose any order that can be seen as a violation of human rights or international humanitarian law. If it turns out that the law does not meet with international norms, we will bring it up before the Israeli authorities."

Michael Sfard, Yesh Din's attorney, wrote the international organizations that the order was in clear violation of international human rights law. He drew attention to the fact that even if the foreign nationals working for the organization are immune to prosecution for violating the order, any Palestinians they transport will not enjoy immunity. Several Israeli organizations, including the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Machsom Watch and Yesh Din, have already announced their intention to ignore the order and say they will not apply for permits.

from: Ed Herman :
Subject: Moving onto the next scandal...haaretz on dropping story of land theft
20 December 2006

Moving on to the next scandal...
by Uzi Benziman
A month ago, Haaretz ran a sensational story on its front page: Reporter Nadav Shragai gave a detailed description of the findings of a Peace Now report, which said that close to 40 percent of the land under the control of West Bank settlements is privately owned by Palestinians. The report was based on an official state database that Peace Now leaked.

Haaretz was the only Israeli media outlet that adequately covered the report. The Maariv daily gave a synopsis of the report on page six; Israel Radio announced it in its midday broadcast; and it stayed on various electronic news sites for about a day. The remaining media outlets, including Yedioth Ahronoth, the television stations and Army Radio, completely ignored it.

The media was not alone in underplaying the findings of the report and avoiding its implications (except for Haaretz, which ran follow-up analyses by Shragai, Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff). The key subjects of the report also adopted a tactic of minimizing it: No official government response was issued, the Civil Administration put out a statement saying, among other things, that "an initial review of the report shows that it suffers from serious inaccuracies," and the Yesha Council of settlements claimed that there was nothing new in the report and that Peace Now would use any means to fight Jewish settlement.

In contrast to the low-profile response to the report offered by the state and the Israeli media, it received a great deal of attention abroad: The New York Times published it as its lead story, and other large newspapers followed suit; and the report's authors, Dror Etkes and Hagit Ofran, were interviewed by dozens of radio and television stations throughout the world. Etkes and Ofran estimate that their findings were covered by hundreds of media outlets. Etkes was also interviewed by Israel Radio - along with Benny Kashriel, mayor of the Ma'aleh Adumim settlement - but only as a result of a report by the station's Washington correspondent, Yaron Dekel, about the buzz that the findings had produced in the United States.

What is more interesting than the extent of the coverage that the report received in Israel is the impression it left on Israeli public opinion: A day after the modest announcement of its findings, the report disappeared entirely from public discourse, except for one more announcement by the Yesha Council challenging its reliability. The parties on the left did not address it, the Knesset did not deliberate it, the press did not deal with it, the government ignored it, and the justice, defense and prime ministers were not asked to explain the findings that it exposed.

What the Peace Now researchers found is that state organs stole private lands from Palestinians living in the West Bank. The report found that state bodies broke the law, ignored Supreme Court decisions and behaved dishonestly, and certainly unethically. Peace Now claimed that 130 settlements were established, fully or partially, on private lands. Note: These are properties that the state recognized as private land, not private properties that were declared to be state land. This involved the systematic and blatant violation by state agencies of the property rights of thousands of Palestinians. This is the same repugnant, underhanded and apparently criminal modus operandi that attorney Talia Sasson detailed in the report she wrote on the establishment of the illegal outposts.

Israel's conscience is entirely black. Scandal follows scandal, and today's injustice wipes away yesterday's injustice in our consciousness. Israeli society's heart is so hard when it comes to Palestinians in the territories that it remains unmoved even when confronted with a scene of continuous injustice that strips individuals of their property.

The malice, deception and aggression embodied in the way the state took over lands belonging to private individuals, even if they are Palestinians, ought to stir up every honest person, even if he is a settler. This method has nothing to do with the ideological dispute over the establishment of the settlements: The issue at stake is that individuals have been stripped of their basic rights. The settlements could have been set up solely on state land. However, a society that is not shocked by the killing of innocent Palestinians will also not be moved even slightly by the sight of land stolen from any individual Palestinian.

from Jamshed Ghandhi :
19 December 2006
Subject: The Arabs on the outside

Part One: The Arabs on the outside
by Ilene R. Prusher | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

S herifa Shawara wants to get married. She wears fashionable skinny jeans and studies geography and history. The second-year college student doesn't lack for suitors. The problem is where she lives.

One young man trying to visit her in Nuaman, an Arab village inside Jerusalem, was turned away by Israeli soldiers guarding the entrance to her community from the West Bank. Nonresidents cannot enter.

Another suitor backed off when he realized that making her his bride would banish him from Jerusalem, the city of his birth. Although Ms. Shawara lives within the Israeli-drawn boundaries of Jerusalem, she holds a West Bank ID and could be arrested if she's caught inside the city but outside her village. She can't travel, study, or work in Jerusalem.

Palestinian West Bankers can't reach her. Palestinian Jerusalemites don't want her. She is cut off from the city: a similar reality that one-quarter of the city's Arab residents, a new report says, may soon face as Israel's security barrier zigzags around the city, creating a new boundaries.

"I can't move. I can't go anywhere," says Shawara, locking her arms across her chest and gazing bitterly into the distance. "Last week, the soldiers told me my name wasn't on the list and I couldn't go home. Recently, we went shopping and bought a lot, and the soldier wouldn't even let us enter the village in a taxi, so we had to carry it all on foot."

Her story is just one of numerous examples of how life in this city - which lies at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - is fast becoming less penetrable and more gerrymandered. As the boundaries around Jerusalem harden, Palestinians are being shut off not only culturally but economically as well. Critics of the wall say these new burdens will only cultivate more anger toward Israel.

Residents never got Jerusalem IDs

Nuaman is located on land considered by Israeli law to be part of the united city of Jerusalem. Israel annexed the Arab eastern part of the city, which had been under Jordanian rule, after the Six Day War of 1967. But residents of Nuaman were never issued Jerusalem IDs.

Arab residents of the city are affected not just by the concrete barrier, portions of which were being added even as this reporter visited several sites over the course of two months, but by expanded checkpoints and restrictions.

For instance, Israeli authorities have stopped giving Jerusalem ID cards for marriage or "family reunification." Even if Shawara married another Jerusalemite or an Israeli citizen, she wouldn't be allowed to reside in the city legally.

In many places outside urban areas, Israeli officials point out that the barrier is actually an army-patrolled, electronically monitored fence. But here in Jerusalem, it is an almost 30-foot high wall, and parts that are now demarcated with fencing are scheduled to become a concrete wall.

It's unclear why the people of Nuaman wound up living within Jerusalem without Israeli identification. Almost all residents of East Jerusalem whose neighborhoods Israel annexed after the Six Day War were made permanent residents, but Nuaman somehow was left off the map. Israel refers to the area only as Mazmuriya, named for a Roman archeological site.

The Israeli army referred all questions about this issue to the Interior Ministry, which deals with matters of citizenship and residency. An Interior Ministry spokeswoman said all related questions now fall under the aegis of the Ministry of Defense, which not could be reached for comment.

Lt. Col. Shlomo Dror, the spokesman for the Coordinator of Activities in the Territories, an office which is assigned to be a liaison between the Israeli authorities and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, says that Nuaman's difficulties will eventually be smoothed out.

"We know about the people there. Some of them are not legally there, but we are not going to push anyone out," says Mr. Dror. "We'll find a solution for this problem. Maybe, one day, the fence will be in another place, or maybe that part of East Jerusalem will be part of the West Bank."

Security or demographics?

The somewhat amorphous limits of what Israeli politicians call the "Jerusalem envelope" are making an impact on far more than just a few hundred residents of Nuaman, whose numbers are decreasing due to the squeeze. Rather, various nongovernmental organizations say the changes are part of ongoing plans to finish the wall in Jerusalem - and to leave some 50,000 Palestinians outside the city line.

For other Arab Jerusalemites, like the 30,000 residents of Shuafat Ridge, the wall means they are being pushed to the periphery. They are card-carrying Jerusalemites - entitled to Israeli services like healthcare and education - but they are being left on the wrong side of the wall.

The Israeli group Ir Amim ("City of Peoples"), which focuses on bringing local and international attention to the implications of current policy on the prospects of an equitable, sustainable Israeli-Palestinian peace solution that includes Jerusalem, is about to release a report that shows the proportion of the Palestinian population that will soon be excluded from city's population count.

"One of the lesser discussed aspects of the barrier, but one with tremendous bearing on the future of the conflict, is its separation of some 55,000 Palestinians - close to one-quarter of the Palestinian population of the city - from Jerusalem," reads the report, an advance copy of which was provided to the Monitor. "This exclusion drastically reduces residents' quality of life, separates them from their city, and reorients them, by default, to the West Bank."

The report, due to be released later this month, indicates that the barrier will "de facto add 164 square kilometers (63 square miles) of West Bank territory to metropolitan Jerusalem," land that is currently outside Jerusalem's municipal line. "On the other hand," the report continues, "it cuts inside the city line in a number of places, thereby excising Palestinian residents from the city."

Ir Amim's report, based on statistics and maps from Israeli, Palestinian, and UN officials, shows how significantly these changes could tilt the demographic balance here, in which the Jewish majority has been slipping for decades. When Israel occupied and then annexed East Jerusalem, the demographic ratio between Jews and Arabs was 74 percent to 26 percent, the report notes. By 2004, it had shifted to 66 percent to 34 percent.

"We don't say there was no justification for the wall whatsoever, but we look at each piece of it," says Daniela Yanai, staff attorney for Ir Amim. "It seems to us when you're talking about excluding this many people from the city, you can't divorce it from Israeli history and the ongoing drive to maintain a Jewish majority for the city."

The report directly calls into question Israeli proponents' arguments in favor of the wall: that it is an antiterrorism measure and not a land grab. The Ir Amim study, which tracks the impact of the changes on Palestinian Jerusalemites in several areas, is the first indication that the wall is apparently being drawn with the explicit goal of improving Israel's demographic hand.

History of the wall

None of the changes can be properly viewed outside the complicated continuum of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Following the outbreak of the second intifada in September 2000, Israel sought construction of the wall to protect its citizens from an onslaught of suicide bombers. Palestinian workers from the West Bank and Gaza were no longer welcome in large numbers in Israel. The election of Hamas a year ago in January made the prospect of Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation more remote than ever before. That led Israel to clamp down further on travel inside the West Bank and on access routes into Israel, particularly via Jerusalem.

But the long view of the rising ramparts around the city indicates a steady continuation of the unilateralist agenda forged by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who began construction of the wall. Mr. Sharon led the country in the unprecedented step of pulling soldiers and settlers out of Gaza in September 2005. The theoretical underpinning for that move was also based on crunching population numbers: Had Israel not left Gaza, it would have been a few years away from losing its Jewish majority in the total territory under its control.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is drawing the same conclusions - and similar lines.

"Olmert must give Kadima some substance and distinguish himself. Otherwise, this party will simply fall apart," says Shlomo Aronson, a political scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. "Sharon, and, later on, Olmert, had a certain agenda: unilateral disengagement, including from parts of the West Bank, and the completion of the separation fence is part of that."

But for most Israelis, argues Professor Aronson, currently a guest professor at the University of Arizona at Tucson, the bottom line is that the fence works. "The main point is that, wherever the fence is erected, there are no suicide bombings anymore. If we forget the macro part of the picture, we lose sight of reality."

Some Israelis, posits Ms. Yanai, are closing their eyes to a reality that is changing rapidly.

"The terms of Jerusalem have been altered radically, and it doesn't bode well for future negotiations," says Yanai, an American-Israeli lawyer.

"It's such a starkly unilateral act - to the Palestinian street, but also on a policy level. This is a huge shift in the status quo, and that has a major impact on 'my negotiating power' versus 'your negotiating power,' " she explains.

"I think it's possible to say there's also a shift in anger and frustration and despair.... And if you start to make people's lives miserable and impact their economic stability, you start to perhaps undermine the stake people have in maintaining that relatively stable security situation."

As for Shawara, she is still hoping for a marriage ticket out of Nuaman.

But leaving, her mother says, is a mistake: it would mean abandoning their land to Israel, and that, she says, is what Israel wants. At the same time, there isn't much left here for them: "Life was a little better a year ago," says Fatma Shawara. "Now, it's unbearable."

For Israel, the barrier is a 'life and death' issue

Israelis call it a "security fence." Palestinians call it an "apartheid wall." Call it what you like, Israeli officials say, but the barrier has been a effective means of warding off suicide bombings.

"The fence is a success story and the fence is saving lives. In areas where the fence has gone up, there has been something like a 90-percent success rate in stopping suicide penetration," says Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry. "In 2006, we've had fewer successful suicide bombings than we had in one week in 2002. That's in large part because of the fence."

In response to new information indicating that the barrier's route was motivated by the demographic struggle that is one of the underpinnings of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Mr. Regev says that it is natural that the mappers of the barrier took Israel's concerns about a rising Arab population into consideration. "The government's positioning of the fence does take into account demographic realities, topographical realities, and security concerns," Regev says. "The object of the fence is to have as many Israeli citizens as possible protected by the fence."

Regardless of the route, he adds, Israel is bound to be the subject of criticism here.

"If this were a land grab, then we should have included all of Shuafat in the area of the fence," he says. "Look at Jerusalem. If we put areas of East Jerusalem inside the fence, we're accused of annexing Jerusalem. But if we leave them out, we're cutting off Palestinians from their brothers on the other side of the fence. I think the arguments about the route tend to be disingenuous."

"The route can be changed, and one day when there's peace, the fence will come down," Regev says. "This is the fence that is designed to keep suicide bombers out. We have an obligation to let people pass through it and that's why there are gates in the fence."

The Israeli government calls the barrier a fence, he says, because more than 90 percent of the route from north to south is made of fencing. The difficulties it causes, he says, pale in comparison with its success.

"We understand that there has been a negative impact on the quality of life, and it's our obligation to do everything we can to minimize that negative impact," he says. "But we're talking about a quality of life issue, while on my side of the fence, it's a life and death issue."

Full HTML version of this story which may include photos, graphics, and related links