occupation

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.

(more…)

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.”

(more…)

Tent of Nations Update

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From Beth Moore and Bill Plitt / FOTONNA
November 9, 2016


Following a recent refusal by the Military Court in the West Bank to grant permits to the Nassars for building two structures on their farm, one for a cave for volunteers and one for a machine shop, a demolition order was received by Daoud from the Military Court. It could mean that the two buildings would be demolished at any time by the military. Daoud feels he cannot be away from the farm at such a tenuous time.


Dear Friends,

We heard from Daoud Nassar early this morning, that due to urgent developments on the farm, he has decided, with great regret, that he will not be able to be present for the tour in Colorado this next week.

One of the constraints under which Palestinian’s operate is the requirement to obtain permits to build structures on their land. They follow the law and try to obtain the necessary permits, but they are never forthcoming. Daoud and his family have chosen a path of non-violent resistance, and move ahead to build structures on their land — many of them in underground caves. When this is discovered either by the Israeli military, or the occupation government (COGAT) demolition orders for the structures are ordered. There are some 30 demolition orders on structures on the Nassar’s land. (more…)

Privatizing the Occupation

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Photo courtesy of Mohamad Torokman / Reuters

 How Israel is privatizing its occupation of Palestine — enriching the security industry and allowing the country to evade accountability for human-rights violations

By Antony Loewenstein and Matt Kennard / The Nation
October 27, 2016


 “Earlier this year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report, ‘Occupation Inc.,’ that detailed how ‘Israeli and international businesses have helped to build, finance, service, and market settlement communities.’ It added, ‘In many cases, businesses are “settlers” themselves.’”


It is 4:30 a.m. with the moon still high in the sky, but Palestinians from across the West Bank are already disembarking from buses outside the Qalandia checkpoint near Jerusalem. They’re about to begin a day’s work on the other side of the separation wall, in Israel.

Qalandia is one of the busiest checkpoints through which Palestinians with the required work documents can travel from the occupied Palestinian territories to Israel. With unemployment around 26 percent in the West Bank (in Gaza, it’s far worse — among the highest in the world, according to the United Nations), it’s always extremely busy at this early hour, because Palestinians need work, which is more readily available in Israel, especially in construction, manufacturing, and agriculture. . . .

The warehouse-like checkpoint looks like a cattle pen on the inside: Metal bars on either side and above form a narrow chute, enclosing and herding the workers—many of whom have traveled from villages more than an hour away—toward the point where their documents will be checked by Israeli officials. They then wait on the Israeli side for transport from their employers.

For years, these checkpoints were manned by personnel from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Israeli Border Police. But starting in January 2006, gun-toting private security guards joined the soldiers and police. Today, there are 12 checkpoints in the West Bank and two on the Gaza border that use such guards. Israel is slowly privatizing its occupation.

[Continue reading here . . . ]

Palestinian Minister Condemns Suppression on U.S. Campuses

Education Minister Condemns Undermining Palestinian Narrative at U.S. Universities

By Dorgham Abusalim, Palestine Square
October 19, 2016


“In recent years, the suppression of Palestine solidarity voices on American campuses has become alarmingly widespread, triggering protests and calls for the protection of academic freedom. ‘The crackdown is a nation-wide phenomenon,’ according to Palestine Legal, an organization dedicated to protecting the First Amendment rights of Palestine solidarity activists.”


In an interview with Palestine Square last week, Palestinian Education Minister, Dr. Sabri Saidam, condemned tactics by US academic institutions “undermining the Palestinian narrative or paying lip service to the occupation.” The minister was in Washington, D.C., at the head of a delegation of 19 Palestinian university representatives to take part in a recently established U.S.-Palestinian Higher Education Dialogue, organized by the State Department and the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem. “This initiative is a result of longstanding cooperation between Palestinian and American academic institutions,” Saidam explained.

In recent years, the suppression of Palestine solidarity voices on American campuses has become alarmingly widespread, triggering protests and calls for the protection of academic freedom. A recent case involved the suspension of a student-led course on Palestine at the University of California Berkeley. “The crackdown is a nationwide phenomenon,” according to Palestine Legal, an organization dedicated to protecting the First Amendment rights of Palestine solidarity activists. According to their latest records, from January 1, 2014, through June 30, 2016, there were 563 incidents of censorship, punishment, or other burdening of advocacy for Palestinian rights across the US, 85% of which targeted students or scholars.

[Continue reading here . . . ]

B’Tselem Addresses U.N. Security Council

Netanyahu denounces rights group’s ‘falsehoods’ about settlements

By William Booth, The Washington Post
October 16, 2016


“What does it mean, in practical terms, to spend 49 years, a lifetime, under military rule? Living under military rule mostly means invisible, bureaucratic, daily, violence. It means living under an endless permit regime, which controls Palestinian life from cradle to grave: Israel controls the population registry; Israel controls work permits; Israel controls who can travel abroad — and who cannot; Israel controls who can visit from abroad — and who cannot; in some villages, Israel maintains lists of who can visit the village, or who is allowed to farm which fields. Make a wrong move, and you can lose your freedom of movement, your livelihood, or even the opportunity to marry and build a family with your beloved.”


Israeli leaders blasted the human rights group B’Tselem on Sunday as a traitor and a slanderer after it denounced Israel’s 49-year-long military occupation of the West Bank. The group’s leader last week called the occupation a thriving land grab and a civil rights disgrace that Israel has no intention of ending, no matter what its politicians say.

On Friday, B’Tselem’s executive director addressed the U.N. Security Council and called for “decisive international action” to end the military rule of the occupied territories. The group is respected abroad but finds itself facing withering criticism at home.

Israel’s long-running military rule over the Palestinians, especially the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, have been a target of escalating rhetoric and harsh condemnation by the White House and State Department. The settlements — with a population of 400,000 Jews — are on land in the West Bank that the Palestinians want for a future state.

[Continue reading here . . . ]

[Read the full text of the B’Tselem address here, along with video clips shown to the Security Council.]


Shepherding under Occupation

By the Jordan Valley team, Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI)

“We have been living next to the settlement for many years and we don’t do any harm to anyone, we just want to live and to be able to walk with our sheep and have access to the land”


We arrived early, just after sunrise. We met with Abu Sami [pseudonym] and his family along with members of Ta’yush, an joint Israeli and Palestinian organization. Abu Sami lives close to a settlement in the North of Jordan Valley and his family looked very afraid of the consequences of the land action that was about to take place. Abu Sami and his family were preparing to graze their sheep on land that the settlers have taken control of in Khirbet Tell el Himma. The land is privately owned by a Palestinian family and Abu Sami rents it from them to graze his sheep, however, because of frequent harassment from settlers, the family are no longer able to use it. Today was going to be different. [Continue reading . . .]