Palestine

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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Tomorrow at Town Hall Seattle! — Ilan Pappé: Prospects for Peace in Palestine

Ilan Pappe (1)

Please join us for an evening with Ilan Pappé, internationally renown historian, speaking on “Prospects for Peace in Palestine.”

Date: Monday, May 22, 2017
Time: 6:00–7:00 p.m. Reception
7:00–9:00 p.m. Program
Location: Town Hall Seattle (Great Hall)
1119 Eighth Ave
Seattle, WA  98101
Information: Event website
Facebook event
Email with questions
Tickets: $10 general / $5 student
Buy tickets here

Event Details

Dr. Ilan Pappé, internationally known historian and author, will address Prospects for Peace in Palestine, at 6:00 pm on Monday, May 22, at Town Hall, Seattle. A native son of Israel, Dr. Pappé is a former senior lecturer of history and political science at Haifa University. Since 2008 he has been a member of the academic staff at the University of Exeter, U.K. and is presently Director of the European Center for Palestine Studies.

Author of 12 books on related subjects, Dr. Pappé is well known for his scholarship and commentary on Middle East, especially the history of Israel and Palestine. The Modern Middle East: a Social and Cultural History (2014) is a textbook on the urban, rural, cultural, and gender histories that influence current political and economic developments in the region.

Pappe’s meticulous research examines the socio/political outcomes of the creation and nature of the State of Israel. In his groundbreaking and controversial work, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006), Pappé traces the roots of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and he raises troubling moral issues around the injustice done to the indigenous Palestinians who were forced to migrate or live as an occupied people in their own land. His struggle for academic freedom led him to leave Israel for England in 2007.

Avi Shlaim, respected Israeli author of The Iron Wall states, “Pappé advocates a peaceful humanist and socialist alternative to the Zionist idea in the form of a bi-national state with equal rights for all its citizens.” (The Guardian, 2014)

Sponsored by the Episcopal Bishop’s Committee for Israel/Palestine, Diocese of Olympia, and the Kairos Puget Sound Coalition, Dr. Pappé will also speak to staff and students at Seattle Pacific University and the University of Washington.

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Six Days of War, 50 Years of Occupation: Israel Still Occupies Palestinian Land 50 Years After Six-Day War

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(photo: Magnum)

Israel has become powerful and rich, but has not found peace with the Palestinians — nor with itself.

Special Report: Six Days of War, 50 Years of Occupation / The Economist
May 20, 2017


The decades of the “peace process” brought much process and little peace. For Israelis, land for peace became land for suicide-bombs and rockets.


In the beginning they destroyed Egypt’s air force on the ground and knocked out the planes of Jordan, Iraq and Syria. That was Monday. Then they broke Egypt’s massive defenses in Sinai. That was Tuesday. Next, they took the old city of Jerusalem and prayed. That was Wednesday. Then they reached the Suez Canal. That was Thursday. They ascended the Golan Heights. That was Friday. Then they took the peaks overlooking the plain of Damascus. In the evening the world declared a ceasefire. That was Saturday. And on the seventh day the soldiers of Israel rested.

In just six days of fighting in June 1967, Israel created a new Middle East. So swift and sudden was its victory over the encircling Arab armies that some saw the hand of God. Many had feared another Holocaust. Instead Israel became the greatest power in the region. Naomi Shemer’s anthem, “Jerusalem of Gold,” acquired new lines after the war: “We have returned to the cisterns / To the market and to the market-place / A shofar [ram’s horn] calls out on the Temple Mount in the Old City.”

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This Monday at Town Hall Seattle — Ilan Pappé: Prospects for Peace in Palestine

Ilan Pappe (1)

Please join us for an evening with Ilan Pappé, internationally renown historian, speaking on “Prospects for Peace in Palestine.”

Date: Monday, May 22, 2017
Time: 6:00–7:00 p.m. Reception
7:00–9:00 p.m. Program
Location: Town Hall Seattle (Great Hall)
1119 Eighth Ave
Seattle, WA  98101
Information: Event website
Facebook event
Email with questions
Tickets: $10 general / $5 student
Buy tickets here

Event Details

Dr. Ilan Pappé, internationally known historian and author, will address Prospects for Peace in Palestine, at 6:00 pm on Monday, May 22, at Town Hall, Seattle. A native son of Israel, Dr. Pappé is a former senior lecturer of history and political science at Haifa University. Since 2008 he has been a member of the academic staff at the University of Exeter, U.K. and is presently Director of the European Center for Palestine Studies.

Author of 12 books on related subjects, Dr. Pappé is well known for his scholarship and commentary on Middle East, especially the history of Israel and Palestine. The Modern Middle East: a Social and Cultural History (2014) is a textbook on the urban, rural, cultural, and gender histories that influence current political and economic developments in the region.

Pappe’s meticulous research examines the socio/political outcomes of the creation and nature of the State of Israel. In his groundbreaking and controversial work, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006), Pappé traces the roots of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and he raises troubling moral issues around the injustice done to the indigenous Palestinians who were forced to migrate or live as an occupied people in their own land. His struggle for academic freedom led him to leave Israel for England in 2007.

Avi Shlaim, respected Israeli author of The Iron Wall states, “Pappé advocates a peaceful humanist and socialist alternative to the Zionist idea in the form of a bi-national state with equal rights for all its citizens.” (The Guardian, 2014)

Sponsored by the Episcopal Bishop’s Committee for Israel/Palestine, Diocese of Olympia, and the Kairos Puget Sound Coalition, Dr. Pappé will also speak to staff and students at Seattle Pacific University and the University of Washington.

(more…)

Next Monday: Ilan Pappé — Prospects for Peace in Palestine (Town Hall Seattle)

Ilan Pappe (1)

Please join us for an evening with Ilan Pappé, internationally renown historian, speaking on “Prospects for Peace in Palestine.”

Date: Monday, May 22, 2017
Time: 6:00–7:00 p.m. Reception
7:00–9:00 p.m. Program
Location: Town Hall Seattle (Great Hall)
1119 Eighth Ave
Seattle, WA  98101
Information: Event website
Facebook event
Email with questions
Tickets: $10 general / $5 student
Buy tickets here

Event Details

Dr. Ilan Pappé, internationally known historian and author, will address Prospects for Peace in Palestine, at 6:00 pm on Monday, May 22, at Town Hall, Seattle. A native son of Israel, Dr. Pappé is a former senior lecturer of history and political science at Haifa University. Since 2008 he has been a member of the academic staff at the University of Exeter, U.K. and is presently Director of the European Center for Palestine Studies.

Author of 12 books on related subjects, Dr. Pappé is well known for his scholarship and commentary on Middle East, especially the history of Israel and Palestine. The Modern Middle East: a Social and Cultural History (2014) is a textbook on the urban, rural, cultural, and gender histories that influence current political and economic developments in the region.

Pappe’s meticulous research examines the socio/political outcomes of the creation and nature of the State of Israel. In his groundbreaking and controversial work, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006), Pappé traces the roots of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and he raises troubling moral issues around the injustice done to the indigenous Palestinians who were forced to migrate or live as an occupied people in their own land. His struggle for academic freedom led him to leave Israel for England in 2007.

Avi Shlaim, respected Israeli author of The Iron Wall states, “Pappé advocates a peaceful humanist and socialist alternative to the Zionist idea in the form of a bi-national state with equal rights for all its citizens.” (The Guardian, 2014)

Sponsored by the Episcopal Bishop’s Committee for Israel/Palestine, Diocese of Olympia, and the Kairos Puget Sound Coalition, Dr. Pappé will also speak to staff and students at Seattle Pacific University and the University of Washington.

(more…)

Tennis Balls and Whittled Bats

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Palestinian women take part in a baseball training session in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. (photo: Mohammed Salem / Reuters)

Palestine starts a baseball federation with scrounged equipment.

By Marissa Payne / The Washington Post
March 21, 2017


“I used to watch baseball at home while I was a child. I love it because it’s full of freedom and the only thing the player needs to do is run. Girls come and practice and the numbers are increasing. There are lots of girls who’d like to sign up despite their lack of knowledge of the sport.”
— Iman Al-Moghayer


There are no baseballs. The bats aren’t regulation. They don’t even have a baseball diamond, but that hasn’t stopped a group of Palestinian athletes from launching the territory’s first federation of baseball and softball.

“The federation seeks to make baseball well known to Palestinians, help male and female amateurs to become professional baseball players and train local coaches and referees,” the team’s coach, Mahmoud Tafesh, told Al-Monitor earlier this month.

The federation, headquartered in the Gaza Strip, was established in late January. By the following month, the territory had fielded its first team, composed of 20 men and 20 women. The women are the most keen, according to Tafesh, who recruited several members from a specialized sports education college in Gaza.

“We targeted this group because they had permission from their families to play sport as sports students,” Tafesh told the Associated Press. “Through them, we started to spread, attracting girls from other fields such as journalism and accountants.”

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Swift Reaction to U.N. “Apartheid State” Report

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U.N. Under-Secretary General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf was fired after refusing to withdraw a report declaring Israel an “apartheid state.” (photo: Mohamed Azakir / Reuters)

Heads roll after publication of damning report.

March 26, 2017

Reaction has been fast and furious to the publication of the report, “Israeli Practices Toward the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid,” by the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UN-ESCWA).

This report concludes that Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole. Aware of the seriousness of this allegation, the authors of the report conclude that available evidence establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crime of apartheid as legally defined in instruments of international law.

Israel and its allies condemned the report and its authors. (Independent)

“The attempt to smear and falsely label the only true democracy in the Middle East by creating a false analogy is despicable and constitutes a blatant lie.”
—Danny Danon, Israeli Ambassador to the U.N.

“The United Nations secretariat was right to distance itself from this report, but it must go further and withdraw the report altogether.”
— Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.

Newly-installed U.N. Secretary General Antonió Guterres demanded the retraction of the report, which U.N. Undersecretary General Rima Khalaf, Executive Secretary of the UN-ESCWA, refused. She was subsequently dismissed, and the report was withdrawn. Read her resignation letter here. (New York Times, Haaretz)

After giving the matter due consideration, I realized that I too have little choice. I cannot withdraw yet another well-researched, well-documented U.N. work on grave violations of human rights, yet I know that clear instructions by the Secretary-General will have to be implemented promptly. A dilemma that can only be resolved by my stepping down to allow someone else to deliver what I am unable to deliver in good conscience.

Richard Falk, one of the authors of the report, Princeton University professor and former U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights in Palestine, describes the thorough process behind the report in an editorial. (The Nation)

Our report concludes that Israel has deliberately fragmented the Palestinian people . . . relying on systematic discrimination . . . to maintain its control, while continuing to expand territorially at the expense of the Palestinian people. On the basis of these findings — backed up by detailed presentations of empirical data, including reliance on Israeli official sources — we conclude that the allegation of apartheid as applied to the Palestinian people is well founded.

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A Palestinian woman argues with Israeli soldiers at a West Bank checkpoint south of Hebron on Aug 16, 2016. (photo: Mussa Qawasma / Reuters)

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New Entry Law Is a Reminder That Palestinians Live in Israel’s Prison

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Palestinian workers stand in line next to a portion of the separation wall, waiting to cross through the checkpoint from Bethlehem into Israel. (Miriam Alster / Flash90)

The reality in the West Bank is one that resembles a prison, where Israel controls the law, the security, who can leave, and now who can visit.

By Noam Sheizaf / Local Call via +972 Magazine
March 7, 2017


There is no peace process, nor is there a real discussion over one state or two states. Even discussions on whether Israel is an apartheid state have become intellectual fodder for Jews and leftists. The reality is one that resembles a prison, and the prisoners will continue to be held by force . . . .


The Knesset passed a law Monday night denying entry visas or residency rights to foreign nationals who call for boycotts against Israel or the settlements. The law won’t have much of an effect on entry into Israel proper, but rather will mostly affect those trying to enter the West Bank — a solid reminder that the ban is yet another example of the way Israel holds Palestinians prisoners. After all, one can assume that most people who enter the Palestinian territories oppose the settlements or support some version of the boycott.

Because Israel controls every point of entry into areas under Palestinian control in the West Bank, Palestinians cannot leave (without a permit) or come back (without a permit). With the passage of the law, they are no longer allowed to have visitors. In other words: they are prisoners, and these restrictions are just the tip of the iceberg.

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Israel Closes Palestinian Office Tracking Illegal Settlements

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A man takes a photo of the sealed offices of Khalil Tufagji, a prominent Palestinian cartographer, in East Jerusalem. Israeli police raided Tufagji’s office on Mar 14, 2017. His office is to remain closed for six months. (photo: Mahmoud Illean / Associated Press)

Israel briefly detains Palestinian cartographer, confiscates computers and files, and closes his office for six months.

By Joseph Federman / AP and The Washington Post
March 14, 2017


Tufagji is considered the foremost Palestinian expert on Israeli settlement activity in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas claimed by the Palestinians for a future state. . . . More than 200,000 Israelis now live in East Jerusalem, along with a similar number of Palestinians. Israel considers its developments to be neighborhoods of its capital, but the Palestinians and most of the international community label them as illegal settlements.


Israeli police on Tuesday burst into the offices of a Palestinian cartographer who tracks Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and detained him for several hours, accusing him of illegally working for the Palestinian Authority.

It was believed to be the first arrest of its kind since Israel banned the Palestinian Authority from carrying out official business in East Jerusalem in 2001. It also illustrated the deep sensitivities over East Jerusalem, an area with deep religious and strategic significance claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians.

Khalil Tufagji, a former Palestinian negotiator, said police entered his office early Tuesday and confiscated computers and files before taking him away. He was released after several hours. Tufagji denied working for the Palestinian Authority.

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Rick Steves Donates $50,000 to Palestinian Cultural Center

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(photo: ricksteves.com)

By Rick Steves / ricksteves.com
March 13, 2017


When I think about the “love thy neighbor” ethic and Golden Rule that is a common denominator of the three great religions that share the region we call the Holy Land, and then hear the leader of my country declare “America first,” I’m troubled by the disconnect.


Over the past weeks, millions of Americans have been inspired, in their own way, to celebrate and defend what they believe makes our country so . . . American. Last Wednesday, I declared that I’d give a donation to an organization helping the youth of Palestine equal to the amount spent on travel gear through last Thursday at ricksteves.com/shop.

More than 600 of you responded, spending a total of $33,287 on our Rick Steves guidebooks, DVDs, accessories, and travel bags. That’s triple our normal total!

As promised, I’m matching your collective shopping spree. And — further motivated by our government’s threat to drastically cut domestic and foreign aid programs — I’m upping my gift to an even $50,000. Thinking about how this money will help that community in such a troubled region brings me (and hopefully all of us) real joy.

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