Subject: ON "MY STATE FORCES, RIGHT OR WRONG",
AS THE MURDERS CONTINUE IN GAZA.
25 December 2006
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
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
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.
SIX USEFUL SOURCES FOR
UNDERSTANDING AND ANALYZING ISRAELI POLICY IN GAZA ;
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: firstname.lastname@example.org )
- 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. . . .
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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.
Why Condemning Israel and the
Zionist Lobby is so Important
[“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.” ]
by James Petras
(December 22, 2006)
December 8, 2006 statement by JJ Goldberg,
editor of Forward (the leading Jewish weekly in the United
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.
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
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
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
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.
Item 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.
Item B. is an article from Jamshed Ghandhi on Christmas 2006
Item 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.
Item 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.
Item E. from Edward Herman, is a description of daily
missery in Palestine by Ilene Prusher, of The Christian
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:
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. . . .
- A human being is a part of the
whole, called by us, 'Universe,' a part limited in time and space. He
- 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.
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
"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
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
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
From: Jamshed Ghandhi
Sent: Thursday, December 21, 2006
Subject: Israeli roadblocks rise by 40% in a year
'We are facing the hardest
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.
[Israeli road obstacles rise by 40% in a year, strangling the
Palestinians, says UN]
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
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
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
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
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
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.
by Daphna Berman
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
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
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
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
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
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
from Jamshed Ghandhi :
Sent: Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Subject: Israelis banned from picking up Arabs hitchhikers
groups reject travel ban on West Bank hitchhikers
by Amira Hass
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
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
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
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
20 December 2006
on to the next scandal...
by Uzi Benziman
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
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
from Jamshed Ghandhi :
19 December 2006
Subject: The Arabs on the outside
One: The Arabs on the outside
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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 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
"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
"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
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
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
"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
"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."