News from Palestine & Israel


Saturday, June 29, 2002

Francis Boyle's comments on Bush's lack of vision
The following is from a letter to the editor of "The Independent" from Professor Francis A. Boyle, Legal Advisor to the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East Peace Negotiations from 1991 to 1993 and author of the forthcoming book on "Palestine, Palestinians and International Law" (Clarity Press: 2003)

"At least President Arafat was democratically elected by the vast majority of his people, unlike President Bush. The time-frames seem deliberately designed by the Bush administration to punt on all critical issues beyond the 2004 presidential elections. Obviously, the Bush administration is attempting to pander to the Israel lobby and their Christian fundamentalist supporters in the United States. As Israel repudiates Oslo and resumes its outright occupation of the West Bank, there is nothing for the Palestinians but vague promises of good intentions by the United States government that have never materialized during the past 35 years. Basically, Bush gave Sharon the proverbial green light to dump Arafat. Violence will continue and escalate."
--Francis A. Boyle
posted by Hagerty 12:13 PM

Israeli forces keep 700,000 Palestinians under curfew
(Phil Reeves, The Independent, 28 June 2002)
Six weeks after the end of the bloody siege of the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, another stand-off has developed between Israeli forces and Palestinians, which has so far claimed four lives. It began after the Israeli army, trying to stop suicide bombings, reoccupied all but one of the big Palestinian towns in the West Bank. The sweeping military operation left 700,000 people under curfew. Israeli forces have killed at least five small children in the West Bank in the past week; reports yesterday suggested that another Palestinian child, aged six, had been added to the death toll. . . . Information about the events in Hebron, as in all but one of the main Palestinian-run towns on the West Bank, has been patchy because the Israeli army has declared the area to be a "closed military zone" – barring access to journalists. . . . Elsewhere, Palestinian officials said two Palestinians were killed yesterday. In the Balata refugee camp near Nablus, a 17-year-old was killed when troops opened fire on stone-throwers. Eight people were reported wounded. Palestinians said soldiers shot and wounded three Palestinians in Qalqilya after a curfew was lifted. A six-year-old boy later died of his injuries.

[Hagerty comment: I wonder, do Israel's soldiers get medals for murdering children who throw rocks at them? Rocks vs. guns, children vs. cowards.]
posted by Hagerty 12:08 PM

Against Israeli Apartheid
(Desmond Tutu & Ian Urbina, The Nation, July 15, 2002)
Divestment from apartheid South Africa was fought by ordinary people at the grassroots. Faith-based leaders informed their followers, union members pressured their companies' stockholders and consumers questioned their store owners. Students played an especially important role by compelling universities to change their portfolios. Eventually, institutions pulled the financial plug, and the South African government thought twice about its policies. . . . Similar moral and financial pressures on Israel are being mustered one person at a time. Students on more than forty US campuses are demanding a review of university investments in Israeli companies as well as in firms doing major business in Israel. From Berkeley to Ann Arbor, city councils have debated municipal divestment measures. . . . Almost instinctively, the Jewish people have always been on the side of the voiceless. In their history, there is painful memory of massive roundups, house demolitions and collective punishment. In their scripture, there is acute empathy for the disfranchised. The occupation represents a dangerous and selective amnesia of the persecution from which these traditions were born. . . . The growing Israeli refusenik movement evokes the small anticonscription drive that helped turn the tide in apartheid South Africa. Several hundred decorated Israeli officers have refused to perform military service in the occupied territories. Those not already in prison have taken their message on the road to US synagogues and campuses, rightly arguing that Israel needs security, but that it will never have it as an occupying power.
posted by Hagerty 11:59 AM

Arafat’s successor will not be an America-loving Palestinian poodle
(The Scotsman, June 28, 2002)
Mr Bush wants to dump Arafat as leader of the Palestinian people and replace him with some moderate, America-loving, gum-chewing, Coke-drinking, hamburger-eating Palestinian politician of his imagination. If such a Palestinian politician did exist, he would never be elected by the Palestinian people. But since he does not exist, Mr Bush’s so-called "vision" for the Middle East is already stillborn. . . . This raises a fundamental question about President Bush. Does he really not understand any of this? Or does he not care? His Middle East speech has finally blown away the convenient fiction that Washington is even-handed. Instead, Mr Bush merely parrots the views of the hawks within his administration, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and they in turn echo the views of Israel’s prime minister, Ariel Sharon. . . . The hawks have triumphed in Washington. The Bush "vision" has humiliated Colin Powell, dismayed Israeli and Palestinian moderates and could encourage extremists. But it probably will not harm Yasser Arafat, though it will help Republican candidates in November’s elections.
posted by Hagerty 11:51 AM

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | EU peace move amid fears of West Bank breakdown
(Ian Black and Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian, June 29, 2002)
The EU is to launch a Middle East peace initiative next week amid fears that George Bush's policy switch has left a dangerous vacuum in the region. European diplomats are worried by Mr Bush's focus on removing the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat. This creates problems because the Palestinian elections are not due until January. . . . "We have a gap between now and January," said one EU official. "The US does not accept Arafat and this gives us a very dangerous situation. . . . The European plan has three main elements, according to a European diplomat: resurrection of the proposed international peace conference; speeding up reform of the Palestinian Authority, including its security forces and the judiciary; and help with the elections. . . . While Mr Bush has threatened to cut off funding if the Palestinians do not heed his call, the EU has made clear it will continue to back the Palestinian Authority. . . . Palestinian officials have said Mr Arafat plans to run in the elections but they insist that no polls can be held while Israeli forces remain inside Palestinian areas.
posted by Hagerty 11:43 AM

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

State Terrorism in Israel?
(Lev Grinberg, Tikkun, May/June 2002)
What is the difference between state terrorism and individual terrorist acts? If we understand this difference we'll also understand the evilness of U.S. policies in the Middle East. Israel's state terrorism is defined by U.S. officials as "self-defense," while individual suicide bombers are called "terrorists." Yassir Arafat is kept hostage in his own offices for not doing "enough" to condemn and combat terrorism, while Ariel Sharon is given the OK to continue his invasion of Palestinian cities. . . . There is a difference between Israeli and Palestinian acts of agression—the difference is that Israeli aggression is the direct responsibility of Ariel Sharon, Benjamin Ben Eliezer, Shimon Peres, and Shaul Mofaz, while individual terrorist acts are done by individuals in despair, usually against Arafat's will. . . . Every Israeli terror attack is always justified in terms of the last Palestinian terror attack, ignoring the fact that each attack is part of an unfinished circle of mutual violence and futile retaliation. . . . Suicide bombs killing innocent citizens must be unequivocally condemned; they are immoral acts, and their perpetrators should be sent to jail. . . . I would like to ask: Who should be arrested for the targeted killing of almost 100 Palestinians? Who will be sent to jail for the killing of more than 120 Palestinian paramedics? Who will be sentenced for the killing of more than 1,200 Palestinians and for the collective punishment of more than 3,000,000 civilians during the last eighteen months? And who will face the International Tribunal for the illegal settlement of occupied Palestinian lands, and for disobeying UN decisions for more than 35 years? When is Sharon going to be defined as a terrorist, too? . . . As Israelis in the opposition, we are fighting against our government, but the international support that Sharon receives is constantly jeopardizing our struggle. International public opinion must be reversed, and the UN must deploy intervention forces to stop the bloodshed and restore water, electricity, medical aid, and other necessities to Palestinian cities whose supplies have been cut off by Israel. The obstacle to this deployment is the United States, whose policies still define Israel as the side that is suffering terrorist attacks, and de-legitimize the Palestinian struggle for independence as terror. No nation has reached independence without struggle. It is absurd that we are still witnessing, in the twenty-first century, a case of occupation where the dominant side is seen as the victim.
posted by Hagerty 8:31 PM

A Speech to End All Peace
(Mitchell Plitnick, The Palestine Chronicle, June 25, 2002)
Few speeches could be considered to be as destructive as today's address from the American president. The primary message Bush sent was that his "vision" of the Palestinian future did not include Yasir Arafat. Surely, the message is not lost on Ariel Sharon, who has made clear his hatred of Arafat, to the extent that he has even expressed his regret at not killing him during the Lebanon invasion twenty years ago. While Sharon is likely not foolish enough to make a martyr of Arafat, it is clear that Bush has given a green light to eliminating him as the leader of the Palestinians, whether through exile, or some other means. . . . The Palestinian people are surely not going to pressure their leadership to step down when this is what is being demanded by Israel and the US. What people could tolerate their leaders being assigned by an external power, especially one with which it is locked in an increasingly heated conflict? And these cynical developments have completely overshadowed the important statement of many Palestinian leaders calling for an end to attacks on Israeli civilians. . . . Bush, in his speech today said, "... if all parties will break with the past and set out on a new path, we can overcome the darkness with the light of hope." Beyond the obvious silliness of the terminology, this reflects an unrealistic and untenable view of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
posted by Hagerty 8:24 PM

Both sides are wrong
(Amira Hass, Ha'aretz, June 26, 2002)
Israeli political consciousness has rejected and continues to reject any attempt or proposal to grasp the sum total of the details, characteristics and consequences of the continued Israeli rule over another people. . . . Today, reports on "Palestinian suffering" are perceived as national treason. Israelis conclude that the suicide attacks are the result of a murderous tendency inherent to the Palestinians, their religion, their mentality. In other words, people turn to bio-religious explanations, not social or historical ones. This is a grave mistake. If one wants to put an end to the terror attacks in general, and to the suicide attacks in particular, one must ask why the majority of the Palestinian population supports them. Without their support, the Palestinian organizations would not dare to send suicide attackers and "invite" the expected escalating Israeli response. The Palestinians support the attacks, even the cruelest ones, because they are convinced that they, their existence and their future as a nation are the real targets of the Israeli regime. . . . The Palestinians are now driven by the same misguided notion that directed Barak, Mofaz and the commanders on the ground at the beginning of the intifada, and the entire Israeli society that stood behind them: "More force and more killing and suffering, as quickly as possible, will teach the other side a lesson and foil their plans." . . . The suicide attacks in Israel indicate an impaired analytical ability on the part of the majority of Palestinian society. They fail to grasp that just as the daily killings by IDF soldiers and unbearable living conditions under the tightening siege policy only strengthen them, the Israeli response to the death sown in their midst by the Palestinians is much the same. Both sides are convinced that only more deadly and devastating force will restrain the opposing force. Both sides are wrong.
posted by Hagerty 8:20 AM

Blair in rift with Bush over Israel
(Paul Waugh, Phil Reeves, and Stephen Castle, The Independent, 26 June 2002)
George Bush was facing his first serious rift with Tony Blair last night after Britain joined the European Union and the United Nations in rejecting American calls for Yasser Arafat to be ousted as leader of the Palestinian authority. . . . President Bush's speech delighted the Israeli government, but was greeted with anger and despair in the Arab world, bringing protests that the US is trying to dictate to the Palestinians who should be their leader. . . . The British Government's stance echoed that of the EU and foreshadowed similar conflict with the US over Third World debt and trade tariffs that could dominate the G8 summit that begins today in Canada. . . . Mr Bush has always refused to meet the Palestinian leader but Mr Blair has received him in Downing Street as well as meeting him in Gaza.
posted by Hagerty 8:10 AM

What the US papers say about Bush being Sharon's spokesman
George Bush may find the reaction to his Middle East speech a little cooler than he expected. . . . The president was right to tell Israel that it had to stop building Jewish settlements in Palestinian areas, the paper says, but there was no suggestion that Ariel Sharon should withdraw his forces from the West Bank: "How the Palestinians can be expected to carry out elections or reform themselves while in a total lockdown by the Israeli military remains something of a mystery." . . . Getting rid of Mr Arafat is an "emotionally satisfying idea" but an "impotent demand", agrees the Los Angeles Times. "No matter how contemptible Arafat may be, the US needs to tread warily in declaring who is, and is not, a proper leader of other countries or peoples. . . . Despite the talk of an elected leader, what the president really wants to see is a coup d'etat, suggests the indefatigably loyal New York Post. "Which likely also explains Israel's new, aggressive campaign to destroy the Hamas infrastructure." . . . it seems that most of the US papers, nine months in, would like to see Mr Bush become a little more engaged with the Middle East. They can live with the notion of an independent Palestine. Now they want to see the detail.
posted by Hagerty 8:06 AM

Interview: Professor Edward Said
Talks About the State of Palestinian

NPR Weekend Edition Sunday: June 23, 2002

No. The Palestinian Authority is, at this moment--you know, I don't know whether to laugh or cry--issuing calls for a return to the Clinton plan of 2000 or 2001. I mean, you know, that's like saying, `Could we please, please, please go back to playing in a nursery?' You know, `We're tired of being grown-ups. Let's go back.' After all the damage and the killing and the extraordinary suffering imposed on us as a people, for this authority to suddenly say, `Well, we really think we can come to terms with Sharon and the occupation,' has had the most terrible, demoralizing effect on the people. And this committee has said, `We are here to organize not only rebuilding but also resistance in the best way that we can.' We can't pretend, as the authority pretended all along, that it was a military force; it was wiped out in a matter of hours and most of the people ran away, because they were paid by Arafat to, you know, dress up in military clothes and do little else. There was a lot of brave fighting, resisting tanks and so on. But you can't fight F-16s and helicopter, you know, gunships with conventional means. The only way to do it, in my opinion, is to do it collectively and constantly appealing, as we have done, to the world community for solidarity, for monitoring, for presence on the ground, you know, of volunteers.
posted by Hagerty 8:01 AM

I wonder why Bush doesn't let Sharon run his press office
(ROBERT FISK, The Independent, 26 June 2002)
[Bush] reads the Israeli government press handouts and accurately quotes them to his American people. . . . Ariel Sharon, wants the destruction/ liquidation/ resignation of Yasser Arafat. So does Mr Bush. "Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership so a Palestinian state can be born," Bush told the fearful American people, waiting for the next apocalypse, be it on 4 July or after. . . . So, no Palestinian state unless Arafat goes. There were no Bush conditions for Israel. He did not secure an end to the continuing building of Jewish settlements for Jews and Jews only on Arab (that is somebody else's) land. Nor did he secure a halt to continuing Israeli military "incursions" ­ how I love that word "incursions". . . . Why, I wonder, doesn't Mr Bush let Ariel Sharon run the White House press bureau? Not only would it be more honest ­ we would at least be hearing the voice of Israel at first hand ­ but it would spare the American President the ignominy of parroting everything he is told by the Israelis. . . . For it is becoming ever more obvious that Arafat did not fail in his duties as Palestinian leader. He failed in his duties as Israel's ­ and thus America's ­ proxy colonial apparatchik in the West Bank and Gaza. The fact he is a corrupt little despot does not change this. . . . George Bush insulted the Palestinians and enraged the leadership of the Arab world. Who cares about the latter? Most of them were appointed by us. But I have a feeling that the Palestinians will not accept this nonsense. Which is why they will be condemned ­ as never before ­ as "terrorists".
posted by Hagerty 7:48 AM

Monday, June 24, 2002

Listening to Ted Turner
(Gideon Levy, Ha'aretz, June 24, 2002)
Media tycoon Ted Turner said that the Israelis and the Palestinians are using terror tactics against each other. Cherie Blair, wife of the British prime minister, stated that progress in the Middle East is not possible as long as the Palestinian suicide bombers feel there is no hope; and Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh asserted that Israel is guilty of "crimes against humanity." All this in one week. . . . What was the reaction of Israel and the Jewish world? They threatened boycotts and pressure campaigns. What was the result of the threats? Turner and Blair recanted and apologized. Israel won. But this is a very dubious victory. Does anyone seriously think that they changed their minds? . . . What all these statements have in common is that they reflect the true frame of mind that exists almost everywhere in the world, apart from the United States. No apologies will alter that fact. If international status is an element in a country's strategic strength, we have to take into account that part of the price of Israel's occupation of the territories is a weakening of its standing in the international community. . . . Not even the cruelest of the suicide bombers was born to kill; it is despair that brought them to that moral abyss. Their actions cannot be justified but their despair must be recognized, and it must be understood that as long as it is not eradicated their appalling deeds will not stop. . . . Entrenched and isolated as it has probably never before been, both because of its policy and because of its enemies, Israel is not responding with a sharp attack against all its critics, even the fairest among them. That is not only a sign of weakness, it is also perhaps something of an admission, a partial one at least, that the critics are right in what they say. Deep in our hearts we are perhaps beginning to understand that we, too, have a part in the deterioration that has brought us and the Palestinians to our present state, which is more fraught with despair than anything in the past, and to which our only response is to attack.
posted by Hagerty 1:44 PM

CNN blinks first in battle with Israeli officials
(Peter Hirschberg, Ha'aretz, June 24, 2002)
After the founder of the 24-hour news network, Ted Turner, last week described IDF actions in the West Bank as "terrorism," and reports emerged Sunday that the YES satellite company was considering taking CNN off the air as a result, the Atlanta-based company hastily dispatched a high-level official to Jerusalem. . . . Over the weekend, it also suddenly began airing a promo for a five-part series on the Israeli victims of Palestinian suicide bombings. "A special CNN series will take you inside everyday life in Israel and introduce you to the people whose lives are turned around by the fear and the violence," the promo announces. "In part one - living the nightmare of losing a loved one." . . . For all the refined talk about journalistic ethics and balance, it also emerged Sunday that the cable companies acute sensitivity to the public's dislike of the news network's coverage appears to have a strong economic component . . . Asked about how he views CNN coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Ahmed Sief, a lecturer in communications at Bir Zeit University, offered an explanation: "CNN covers the Israeli point of view and tends to ignore the suffering of the Palestinian people. The Palestinian side is considered less important from the news point of view and the language of the broadcast is pro-Israeli."

posted by Hagerty 1:38 PM

Ethnic Cleansing And The Establishment Of Israel
(John Pilger, The New Statesman, June 19, 2002)
In May 1948, more than 200 Palestinians were killed by the advancing Jewish militia in the coastal village of Tantura, south of Haifa. According to the recorded testimony of 40 witnesses, both Arab and Jewish, half the civilians were shot in a "rampage". The rest were marched to the beach, where the men were separated from the women and children. They were taken to a wall near the mosque where they were shot in the back of the head. . . . The "cleansing" of Tantura (a term used at the time) was a well-kept secret. When they were interviewed four years ago, several Palestinian witnesses said they feared for their lives if they spoke out. One survivor, who as a child witnessed the murder of his entire family in Tantura, said to the interviewer: "But believe me, one should not mention these things. I do not want them to take revenge against us. You are going to cause us trouble." . . . Professor Ilan Pappe is one of the few to have read all the transcripts of more than 60 hours of Katz's taping of eyewitness evidence. "They include," he wrote, "horrific descriptions of executions, of the killing of fathers in front of children, of rape and torture." He describes Katz's thesis "as a solid and convincing piece of work whose essential validity is in no way marred by its shortcomings". The shortcomings, he says, come down to four minor mistakes. But the importance of the Katz research is its illumination of Israel's history in terms of "the expulsion, direct and indirect, of some 750,000 Palestinians, the systematic destruction of more than 400 villages and scores of urban neighbourhoods, as well as the perpetration of some 40 massacres of unarmed Palestinians." . . . In challenging the Zionist version of Israel's past, Ilan Pappe is one of Israel's "new historians", a distinguished and courageous critic. He has likened the Israeli state to apartheid South Africa, with its Palestinian "bantustans" and plethora of humiliating controls which now restrict the movement of people within their own communities. He says that Sharon's goal is to begin the mass expulsion of Palestinians across the Jordan; only a pretext is required. . . . Pappe has been a consistent opponent of Israel's illegal military occupation of Palestine. He describes the university "court" that threatens to punish him as a "McCarthyite charade". He has called upon "universities worldwide to debate a boycott of Israeli institutions, given their contempt for basic principles of academic freedom and dispassionate research". He says that only international shaming, free of the intimidation that equates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, will break the silence about "horrific deeds in 1948, and so prevent their repetition". . . . Others in Israel, as courageous as Ilan Pappe, are also under pressure, both crude and insidious. In Ha'eretz, Israel's equivalent of the Guardian, two outstanding journalists, Amira Hass and Gideon Levy, have consistently reported the unpopular truth about Israel's occupation of the remaining 22 per cent of the Palestine it conquered in 1967. They live daily with threats and hate mail. Upholding the bravest traditions of Jewish humanity, they need international solidarity.
posted by Hagerty 1:28 PM

The whole world's against us
(Aviv Lavie, Ha'aretz, June 24, 2002)
All Turner essentially said was "both sides use terror," making a comparison between the attributes of military occupation and Palestinian terrorism. In other words, there are no "good guys" in this story, just terrorists on both sides. He did not express any support for terror by either side. Even with a microscope it is impossible to find anything he said justifying terrorism . . . Turner's statement reflected the narrative accepted by most of the world about what has been going on here for the last two years. There are some - not many, and led by America - who accept Israel's official version, which says Palestinian terror is the only problem, and that Israel's activities in the territories are only meant to protect itself and its citizens. Others believe the occupation is violent and criminal, and that the suicide bombings are a particularly horrifying way to resist occupation. And there are some - mostly in the Arab world - who regard Palestinian terror as a legitimate means in the national liberation struggle. . . . The attack on CNN is particularly ridiculous because the veteran network belongs to the ruling establishment in America, and its broadcasts generally reflect the Israeli-American view that terrorism is the main obstacle to peace in the Middle East. . . . When Israelis hand out grades of objectivity to the journalists of the world, they are reminiscent of football fans who are always convinced the referees slighted their team. . . . Shai Bazak, former spokesman for former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and then consul-general in Miami, recalled what happens when the American media gets into a tussle with Jewish capital. "I have a friend in Miami who used to take out a lot of advertising in the Miami Herald. There was a time when the paper's reporting was very hostile to Israel. He told them `I'm going to pull all my advertising.'" Two weeks later, their reporter here was recalled, a new reporter showed up and since they they've reported objectively and he's advertising with them again. The Americans understand only money."
posted by Hagerty 1:16 PM

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