You don’t have to be anti-Zionist to listen to Palestinian voices


A Palestinian woman at an Israeli checkpoint. (photo: Getty Images)

An essay on “admitting Israel’s imperfections.”

By Matthew Gindin | The Forward | Nov 29, 2017

Harassment and inhumane conduct sometimes practiced by members of the IDF towards Palestinians has been well documented. It should horrify us, and we should make no excuses for it.

On November 27, the Forward published an opinion piece by Palestinian activist and journalist Mariam Barghouti, who asserted that one cannot be both a feminist and a Zionist. Despite the fact that the Forward’s opinion section published, on the same day, an essay promoting the point of view of “Zioness,” a feminist Zionist organization, The Forward’s opinion editor, Batya Ungar-Sargon, was besieged by hate mail from Jewish writers, including a threat to “rape and behead” her, as well as one calling her a “demented scumbag kapo.”

Although I am proud to write for an outlet that is committed to a pluralism of opinions and that publishes Palestinian voices, I don’t agree with Barghouti’s fundamental thesis. I do think one can be a feminist and Zionist, though of course, as many commentators pointed out, it depends on how you define Zionism and how you define feminism. In her essay, Barghouti makes feminism synonymous with general humanism. As she writes, “Fundamentally speaking, feminism cannot support racism, supremacy and oppressive domination in any form.”

Continue reading

Israel’s last chance to end the occupation


BDS supporters protest in Paris, Oct 31, 2012. (photo: Jacques Brinon / AP)

Paradoxically, the anti-BDS bill could very well hasten the end of the repression and subjugation of the Palestinian people.

Ilana Hammerman and Dmitry Shumsky | Haretz | Dec 05, 2017

Only when all of us, men and women, Israelis who are partners in and responsible for the continuation of the occupation, begin to pay a real price for it will Israel receive a chance to be a sane and civilized country with diplomatically recognized and moral borders based on international law. Without that we will not have security or peace.

If the new bill is passed imposing a seven-year sentence on activists in the BDS movement against Israel and its products for harming the country and its foreign relations, it will mark a giant step in the constitutional revolution the right-wing nationalist government has been making in recent years.

This revolution is progressing at a terrifying pace under the patronage of a fraud that’s second to none. It’s as if the struggle for human rights (and not the attacks on them) could be considered harming the country; as if a country and its policies, citizenship and ideology were one. As if ideologies hadn’t yet brought about the destruction of countries in which power was awarded to the ideologues.

Continue reading

Planning the ethnic cleansing of Palestine


Then-Prime Minister Levi Eshkol and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan onboard a helicopter while touring army installations in the West Bank, Sep 1967. (photo: Ilan Bruner / GPO)

Newly declassified Israeli Security Cabinet documents show government ministers planning to force Palestinians from their land.

By Ofer Aderet | Haaretz | Nov 17, 2017

“We should deal with this issue quietly, calmly and covertly, and we should work on finding a way for [the Palestinians] to emigrate to other countries and not just over the Jordan [River]. Perhaps if we don’t give them enough water they won’t have a choice, because the orchards will yellow and wither. Perhaps we can expect another war and then this problem will be solved.”
— Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, 1967

“Empty” the Gaza Strip, “thin out” the Galilee, rewrite textbooks and censor political cartoons in Haaretz: These are among the proposals discussed by cabinet ministers after the Six-Day War that will be available to the public in a major release of declassified government documents by the Israel State Archives on Thursday.

The material being posted on the state archives’ website includes hundreds of pages of minutes from meetings of the security cabinet between August and December 1967. From reading them, it is clear that in the several months that followed the June 1967 war, members of the security cabinet were perplexed, confused and sometimes helpless in the face of the new challenges to the state.

Israel conquered East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula in under a week. It was not even remotely prepared for this scenario, and had to hit the ground running. Continue reading

50 years of occupation, 50 years of labor struggle


A Palestinian worker on a construction site in the city of Bethlehem, in the southern occupied West Bank, Sep 27, 2017. (photo: Chloé Benoist / Equal Times)

The land isn’t the only thing that is occupied in Palestinian — so is the economy.

By Chloé Benoist | Equal Times | Nov 17, 2017

The hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who found themselves under Israeli military control in 1967 quickly became a source of blue-collar labor for the Israeli economy, performing jobs that few Israelis were willing to do, for far less money and with far fewer legal protections.

Despite having spent 30 years of his life working as a carpenter in Israel, and the past 17 years as a farmer in the southern part of occupied West Bank, Mohammad Issa Salah, 70, still finds himself struggling to make ends meet.

“Here, the cost of living is like Europe, but the wages are like Africa,” the elderly Palestinian from the village of al-Khader tells Equal Times, in what little English he remembers from school.

The old man’s situation is hardly an exception. With a quarter of Palestinians living under the poverty line, and a similar unemployment rate, Palestinians have struggled for decades to make a living and assert their rights in the workplace.

Continue reading

Why the Occupation is No Accident


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.

Continue reading

Finding a Voice Under Occupation

2016-12-13 youngpalestiniansspeak-72

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.

Continue reading

Human Rights Activist Arrested for Facebook Post


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.

Continue reading