Why the Occupation is No Accident

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Ilan Pappé speaking at the conference The Israel Lobby and American Policy in Washington, DC, on March 24, 2017. (photo: Phil Portlock)

The Biggest Prison on Earth: A History of the Occupied Territories by Ilan Pappe, Oneworld Books (2017)

By Rod Such / The Electronic Intifada
September 18, 2017


Everything that followed the 1967 War, notes Pappe, follows the “logic of settler colonialism” and that logic in turn foresees the eventual elimination of the indigenous Palestinians. That outcome, however, is not inevitable. An alternative is possible, Pappe maintains, if Israel decolonizes and makes “way for the logic of human and civil rights.”


As early as 1963 — four years before the 1967 War — the Israeli government was planning the military and administrative takeover of the West Bank, according to The Biggest Prison on Earth, a new book by the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe.

The planning for that operation — codenamed Granit (granite) — took place over a month on the campus of Hebrew University in the Givat Ram neighborhood of western Jerusalem. Israeli military administrators responsible for overseeing Palestinians within Israel joined military legal officials, interior ministry figures and private attorneys to create the judicial and administrative decrees required to rule over the one million Palestinians then living in the West Bank.

These plans were part of a larger strategy for placing the West Bank under military occupation. That strategy was codenamed the Shacham Plan for the Israeli colonel, Mishael Shacham, who authored it, and was formally presented by the Israeli chief of general staff to the army on 1 May 1963.

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Finding a Voice Under Occupation

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Young Palestinians Speak: Living Under Occupation, by Anthony Robinson and Annemarie Young (2017).

By Fouad Moughrabi / The Electronic Intifada
August 28, 2017


This is a unique book showcasing the voices of young Palestinians who look and sound like other children throughout the world. They live in difficult conditions but nevertheless attempt to lead normal lives and dare to dream of a better future.


This book is a labor of love about young people who are born in the perpetual insecurity of a conflict zone. What does it mean to live under military occupation, when soldiers raid your home in the middle of the night and drag your brother or father to jail?

Words have limited power to accurately describe the fear that grips a child when soldiers come to detain him or her. Media accounts of the Israeli occupation, illegal Jewish settlements, checkpoints and Israel’s wall in the West Bank fail to give the reader a feel for what these words really mean or what they may entail for people in their daily life.

Palestinians as regular human beings are largely absent from mainstream media; they usually simply appear as statistics, or are portrayed as anti-Israeli or as terrorists.

Young Palestinians Speak is an attempt to correct this injustice.

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Human Rights Activist Arrested for Facebook Post

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Human rights activist Issa Amro being apprehended by Israeli security forces in an undated photo. (photo: Mairav Zonszein / +972 Magazine)

Issa Amro declares hunger strike as he remains under detention by the Palestinian Authority because of Facebook post.

By Ariel Gold / Youth Against Settlements, via email
September 5, 2017


“All my writings on social media are part of the freedom of opinion and expression stipulated by the Palestinian Basic Law and are protected by all international laws and conventions. My arrest will not affect my defense of human rights and the rights of journalists to exercise their work freely and without pressure from the government.”
— Issa Amro


Yesterday morning, Palestinian human rights defender Issa Amro was arrested by Palestinian Authority police for posting a message on Facebook stating that the PA should respect freedom of expression after it arrested journalist Ayman Qawasmi. That was yesterday morning around 10:00 AM, Palestine time. Issa is still in custody almost 30 hours later. His detention has now been extended and Issa has declared he is on hunger strike, refusing all food, water and medicine until he is released.

Amnesty International and other human rights groups have condemned the PA’s detention of Issa and called for his immediate release. He was arrested under a new law issued by the PA that gives it broad powers to arrest and imprison Palestinians for statements made online that harm “national unity” and to block access to websites. The PA, which was created under the Oslo Accords during the 1990’s and was supposed to be a temporary body on the way to statehood, operates under the overall control of Israel’s occupying army.

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BBC Profile: Tent of Nations

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Freshly picked apples at the Tent of Nations. (photo: Daniel Silas Adamson)

The Christian family refusing to give up its Bethlehem hill farm.

By Daniel Silas Adamson / BBC News
June 18, 2014

[Ed. note: Although three years old, we thought this article by the BBC might be of interest to our readership.]


“My father always said, ‘We will never achieve peace in Palestine and Israel just by shaking hands — we need to work on people, to start with the grassroots.’ So what we do now, as a family, is fulfilling the dream of my father that people can build bridges, for hope, for understanding, reconciliation, dialogue, to achieve peace. This is the idea.”
— Amal Nassar


On his farm outside Bethlehem, Daher Nassar is picking apples from the ruins of the orchard he planted at least eight years ago. The fruit is scattered across ground freshly opened and imprinted with the tracks of a bulldozer. At the field’s edge, branches reach out from inside a mound of earth, the bark stripped and mangled, unripe almonds still clinging to the trees.

On 19 May [2014] a Palestinian shepherd from the village of Nahalin was out at first light and saw the bulldozer at work in the field, guarded by Israeli soldiers. By the time Nassar arrived the whole orchard — the best part of a decade’s work — was gone. His English is far from fluent, but there’s no mistaking the pain in his voice: “Why you broke the trees?”

A spokesperson for the Israeli military authorities in the West Bank said the trees were planted illegally on state land.

Nassar’s sister, Amal, has a different explanation. The government, together with the Israeli settlers who live around the farm, is “trying to push us to violence or push us to leave,” she says. Amal insists that her family will not move from the land, nor will they abandon their commitment to peaceful resistance.

“Nobody can force us to hate,” she says. “We refuse to be enemies.”

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Mennonite Church Approves Divestment

The Mennonite Church USA approves “withdrawing investments from companies that are profiting from the occupation” of Palestine.

July 6, 2017


“This resolution is a long overdue response to the Palestinian Christian call to the global church. Today we stand in solidarity with their courageous and nonviolent efforts for justice and equality.”
— Joy Lapp, Professor of Religion at Iowa Wesleyan University


The Mennonite Church USA overwhelmingly approved the resolution “Seeking Peace in Israel and Palestine” today at its biennial convention in Orlando, Florida. The resolution garnered approximately 98% of the votes of the 548 delegates.

The resolution declares the denomination’s opposition to Israel’s 50-year-old military rule over Palestinians in the occupied territories and commits to “withdrawing investments from companies that are profiting from the occupation.” The resolution also urges church members to avoid purchase of products associated with the occupation or produced in Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law and longstanding official US policy, and to advocate for an end to U.S. military aid and arms sales in the Middle East.

The Mennonite Church USA joins with the following churches in taking economic action in support of Palestinian Human Rights.

  • Presbyterian Church (USA)
  • United Methodist Church
  • United Church of Christ
  • Quakers
  • Unitarian Universalists
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

The resolution focuses on ways Mennonites have been involved in harms against both Palestinians and Jews, and names concrete steps to address those harms. It addresses the ongoing reality of anti-Semitism around the world, and the extent to which Mennonites in the U.S. are complicit in Jewish suffering historically, currently, and theologically. Church members are encouraged to build relationships with Palestinian-American, Muslim and Jewish communities in the United States.

[Read the full resolution here . . . ]

Israel’s Irrational Rationality

Israeli policemen removing a protester during the eviction of Jewish settlers from the illegal settlement of Amona in the occupied West Bank, February 2017

Israeli policemen removing a protester during the eviction of Jewish settlers from the illegal settlement of Amona in the occupied West Bank, February 2017. (photo: Corinna Kern / NurPhoto / Getty Images)

By David Shulman / The New York Review of Books
June 22, 2017


No amount of coddling and reassuring, no increased bribes in the form of more money or military aid, will have any effect on Israeli policy for the simple reason that Israel considers any sacrifice that would be necessary for peace far worse than maintaining the current situation . . . . The assumption that Israel genuinely wants a peace agreement is simply wrong; the costs of such an agreement are tangible, immediate, and perhaps overwhelming, involving the loss of territory, an end to colonization, and potential political collapse, whereas the costs of maintaining the status quo are for many Israelis, if at times unpleasant, eminently bearable.


This June, Israel is marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Six-Day War. Some Israelis, including most members of the present government, are celebrating the country’s swift victory over Egypt, Jordan, and Syria as the beginning of the permanent annexation of the entire Palestinian West Bank; others, like me, mourn it as the start of a seemingly inexorable process of moral corruption and decline, the result of the continuing occupation of the West Bank, along with Israel’s now indirect but still-crippling control of Gaza. As it happens, my own life in Israel coincides exactly with the occupation. I arrived from the US in 1967, not as an ideological Zionist but as a young student who had fallen madly in love with the Hebrew language. Sometimes I think it is my passion for the language that has kept me here for five decades, although I would now want to add the strong feeling that it is my fate and my good fortune to be able to fight the good fight.

The country I came to live in fifty years ago was utterly unlike the one I live in today. It was no utopia, but its society was broadly moderate and humane, a mildly Mediterranean version of a modern European social democracy. Despite what some would say, it was not a colonial settlers’ society. There was widespread fear and even hatred of Arabs, including Arab citizens of Israel, but it was nothing like the rampant racism one now hears every day on the radio or TV. Shame, sincere or not, had not yet disappeared from public life.

In those early years, most Israelis regarded the occupied territories — which included the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula as well as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip — not as providing an opportunity for enlarging the boundaries of the state through colonization but as bargaining chips in an eventual and hoped-for peace settlement with the Arabs. There were as yet no Israeli settlements in the territories and hence no fanatical, messianic settlers; the Israeli army could still claim, with some justice, to be an army of defense, not a police force sent to ensure that the project of seizing Palestinian land take place without too much resistance from the local population.

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Catholic Church “Cannot Stay Quiet” on Israel-Palestine Conflict

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(photo: Aleksandar Todorovic / Shutterstock)

Recent report condemns normalization of the occupation and its injustice.

By Catholic News Agency
May 19, 2017


“In both societies, Israeli and Palestinian, the life of the Palestinians is far from normal. Acting as if things were normal ignores the violation of fundamental human rights.”


The Catholic Church will speak out against injustice and avoid any attempt to normalize the “festering wound” of the Israeli-Palestinian situation, a commission from the region’s leading Catholic bishops has said.

“The Church, given the nature of her mission, has her own values and criteria to define her position in a situation of conflict, like the one in Israel-Palestine. No single brand of political discourse, no particular party position nor any particular ideological option binds the Church,” the Justice and Peace Commission of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land said May 14. The commission is headed by Latin Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah.

“However, at the same time, the Church cannot ignore fundamental injustice or acts that endanger peace and the welfare of the human person,” the commission said.

“By her very nature, the Church opposes occupation and discrimination and is committed to promote justice and peace as well as the unique dignity and equality of every human person,” it continued. “The Church can never ignore injustice as if all is well but rather is obligated to speak out, resist evil and work tirelessly for change. Like the prophets of old, the Church, a prophetic body, points out injustice and denounces it.”

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