Posts tagged Palestine
Posts tagged Palestine
In the latest scandal involving the Israeli military, soldiers stand by and refuse to intervene as extremist Jewish settlers open fire on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
May 3, 2012
Loai Odeh is a former political prisoner who was released from Israeli prison in the prisoner swap deal last year and forcibly transferred from Jerusalem to Gaza; before his release, Loai took part in the 22-day mass hunger strike launched at the end of September 2011 to protest cruel conditions and an escalating series of punitive measures against Palestinian prisoners.
Loai has published on Facebook very expressive, moving and informative diaries chronicling the experience of a hunger striker (see my translation of the first eight installements of Loai’s hunger strike diaries, pubilshed on 24 April). His last status update was on the 15th day of the hunger strike, just before he went on open hunger strike along with fifty other people on the 16th day of the mass hunger strike. They have taken the sit-in tent in Gaza as their shelter, which they say they will not leave unless our prisoners stop suffering. They couldn’t stand watching our prisoners going through slow death without doing anything in solidarity, so they have gone on a symbolic hunger strike that aims to draw attention locally and internationally to the prisoners’ just cause.
I took the initiative to translate the rest of Loai’s diaries from Arabic, hoping to inspire everyone who reads it, just like they inspired me.
On April 25, Loai wrote:
Today is the ninth day of heroism. Our strikers have already endured a long time of suffering and loss of weight. The provocative practices of the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) keep escalating. The searches get more intensive and violent. But we should keep in mind that “search” policy according to Israel’s oppressive administration involves different processes.
During ordinary days, the purpose of searches is to find the contraband that our prisoners managed to smuggle in to ease their difficult lives. However, during a hunger strike, the only purpose of a search is to tire our strikers physically and psychologically. Soldiers burst into strikers’ rooms aggressively as if they were confronting armed fighters on a battleground, not hunger strikers with feeble bodies that can barely stand. Knowing that strikers are intolerant of noise, soldiers break into their rooms with loud screams and initiate a hand search in a way that one feels that he’s being beaten rather than searched. Whoever refuses to undergo these “searches” gets beaten up and is plunged directly into solitary confinement. The prisoners are then left in a yard outside with no place to sit for hours while their rooms are turned into a complete mess. The contents of the rooms are heaped into a single pile, indiscriminate of who they belong to, disheartening the prisoners when they return and discover the pile that they are faced with sorting through and straightening out. Moreover, they tear off their mattresses’ cover sheets that take strikers a long time to put back or replace. Even during ordinary days these searches are tiring, so imagine how they are during hunger strikes. Jailers subject prisoners to these searches several times a day, leaving them for hours under the burning sun or in the cold night air while conducting the searches.
However, our heroes’ determination and their solid commitment help them to neglect the guards’ provocative and humiliating practices as they realize that challenging is a needed weapon to go on and win over the IPS’s oppression. Solidarity movements have to use all the means available to help them have fewer days of suffering.
Prominent Palestinian activist and writer Salameh Kaileh was arrested overnight at his home in Damascus by Syrian authorities, human rights lawyer Anwar Bunni said on Tuesday.
“The security services entered Kaileh’s home in the suburb of Barzeh at 2:00 am (2300 GMT Monday) and arrested him without explanation,” said Bunni.
He said Kaileh’s detention was clearly intended to “muzzle freedom of expression.”
The 57-year-old author, born in Birzeit in the West Bank, is a well-known leftist who has authored a number of books on subjects ranging from Marxism to Arab nationalism.
He was imprisoned by the Syrian government in the 1990s for eight years.
Bunni, who heads the Syrian Centre for Legal Studies and Research, called for Kaileh’s immediate release.
He accused the regime of also targeting doctors known to be providing aid to those wounded in the government crackdown against a 13-month revolt that has left more than 9,000 people dead according to the United Nations.
“The Syrian authorities are not content to violate human rights on all levels, or to pursue and arrest those who denounce their violations, they also are working to stop all who treat the victims of those violations,” the lawyer said.
Tamimi was released despite the Military Posecution’s appeal. His release conditions still include harsh restrictions on his movement.
After 13 months in an Israeli prison, the military court accepted a petition to release leading Palestinian activist, Bassem Tamimi from The village of Nabi Saleh. Earlier today the court rejected the prosecution’s appeal against his release, but imposed restricting conditions on his release, including confining his movement to the city of Ramallah and imposing a house arrest every Thursday to Saturday, until the court issues the verdict.
Thirteen months after his arrest during a raid on his house, a military judge ordered Bassem Tamimi’s release on bail from an Israeli prison. The decision was given after Tamimi’s elderly mother has fallen gravely ill. Bassem Tamimi, a Palestinian activist from the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, has been in jail since March 24th last year, indicted on protest-organizing charges.
Tamimi has been recognized by the European Union as a human rights defender and recently pronounced a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.
During the course of Tamimi’s trial, new evidence has emerged, including first hand verification given by a military commander of disproportional use of force by the army in response to peaceful demonstrations, as well as police admittal of systematic violations of Palestinian minors’ rights during police interrogations, when a police interrogator who questioned both material witnesses against Tamimi, said on the stand that in his 25 years as an officer, he cannot recall a single time in which a Palestinian minor was allowed the presence of his parents during questioning.
The number of hunger-striking Palestinian political prisoners, held by Israel in various prisons, detention camps and interrogation facilities around the country, will likely reach 3,000 persons as waves of detainees intend to join the strike, demanding their rights guaranteed under international law.
Dozens of detainees are currently on hunger-strike that officially started last Tuesday. The strike, described as “the battle of empty bowels”, aims at ending Israel’s illegal administrative detention polices, halting all violations against the detainees and their families, and improving the living conditions of the detainees.
Head of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS), Qaddoura Fares, told the Ma’an News Agency that the first group of detainees, held under administrative detention without charges, have reached the “no return point” as they have been on hunger-strike since 56 days, and insist on not breaking their strike until they are released.
Fares added that the second group of detainees have been on hunger strike for seven days now, and are demanding Israeli to improve their living conditions, allowing visitation rights, halting violations against their visiting family members, ending all solitary confinement policies, allowing them the right to education, and ending all night raids, and searches, targeting them and their rooms.
“The current number of detainees who are on hunger-strike is 1,400-1,600, and will likely increase to 3,000 in the coming few days” Fares said and added that it is unlikely that all 4,700 detainees will join the strike, but could hold solidarity hunger strikes, such as two days a week.
Fares said that the striking detainees are from different political factions and groups, and that they are all united in their legitimate demands regardless of their political affiliation.
It is worth mentioning that Israel conducted punitive measures against 1,200 Palestinian detainees by denying their visitation rights, and isolating them from the detainees who are not part of the protests yet.
Furthermore, a spokeswoman of the Israeli Prison Administration, stated that all “privileges” have been taken away from the detainees, including family visitations, and all electrical equipment has been removed.
Have you heard much lately about the 1.5 million Palestinians illegally imprisoned by the Israeli government in the world’s largest open-air Gulag? Their dire living conditions, worsened by a selective Israeli siege limiting the importation of necessities of life – medical items, food, water, building materials, and fuel to list a few – has resulted in an 80 percent unemployment rate and widespread suffering from unlawful punishment, arbitrary arrests and imprisonment in Israeli jails.
The horrific conditions were a result of the Israeli invasion of Gaza in late 2008, ignited by Israel’s breaking of a truce with Gaza on November 4. Fourteen hundred people died, nearly three hundred of them children, and thousands were injured. The terror bombing of the Gazan population smashed into homes, hospitals, schools, ambulances, mosques, subsistence farms, UN facilities, and even the American International School. Israeli bombers destroyed over 30 members of one extended family in their home. That toll alone was three times the amount of Israeli fatalities, which included friendly fire.
The humanitarian crisis in crowded Gaza – about twice the size of the District of Columbia – “is now more dire than ever.” That is the judgment of Norwegian physician and professor of medicine, Dr. Mads Gilbert, who just finished a ten-day speaking tour in the U.S. Dr. Gilbert, returning from a recent visit to Gaza, was one of the only two foreign doctors inside Gaza during the massacre of December 2008 to January 2009.
He says: “During the Israeli attack, I saw the effects of new weapons including drones, phosphorous and also DIME [Dense Inert Metal Explosives], which leave no shrapnel, but I witnessed their capacity to cut a child in two; they also leave radioactive traces.”
Today, anemia and protein deficiency are widespread, reports Dr. Gilbert, especially among little children. UN and other relief supplies are inadequate, and UN humanitarian relief staff is often harassed by Israeli officials. Rebuilding pulverized Gaza is seriously obstructed by Israel blocking the imports of building materials.
Dr. Gilbert comments that he has “worked in other desperate situations in other places and Gaza is unique in a number of respects. It’s a captive population – usually if civilians are being attacked, there’s a safe place they can take refuge and then come back to their homes when the fighting has stopped. That doesn’t exist for the people in Gaza since they are effectively imprisoned by the Israeli siege.”
Writing in the prestigious British medical journal “The Lancet” in early 2009, Dr. Gilbert provided clinical details of the slaughter, including the destruction of ambulances and medical facilities that tend to the dying and the wounded.
He described a “shattered, attacked, and drained health-care system trying to help an overwhelming amount of casualties in a war between clearly unequal powers, where the attacker spares no civilian lives – be it man, woman, or child – not even the much-needed health workers of all professions.”
It is no wonder the Israelis banned all foreign reporters, including those from the U.S. – the very country that provided the weaponry – thereby preventing the world from seeing the carnage as it happened.
Two years ago, Dr. Mads Gilbert (right) told me that his experience in Gaza during Israel’s assault in 2009 was the “most horrific experience” of his life, a grim honor previously held by Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, which Gilbert also witnessed. Gilbert spent over two weeks as one of the only foreign doctors in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, and worked at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.
Currently a professor of medicine at the University of North Norway, Gilbert is the co-author of the book Eyes in Gaza, which chronicles what he witnessed during the Israeli assault and invasion.
Today, Gilbert says Gaza remains in ruins, betrayed by the international community. The blockade of Gaza remains, and Israeli air strikes continue to kill civilians.
Gilbert, who is known for his deeply personal and riveting presentations on the Gaza Strip, recently concluded a speaking tour in the United States.
I caught up with Gilbert before his talk at Columbia University. We discussed his recent impressions of Gaza, the decision by the International Criminal Court to reject a probe into war crimes committed during Cast Lead, and much more.
Alex Kane: So, what brings you back to New York?
Mads Gilbert: Actually, it’s my sixth invited speaking tour on Gaza since Operation Cast Lead. This time, it’s a speaking tour of ten days to Washington, obviously New York, up north, to Madison and a number of universities. The tour is organized by Jennifer Loewenstein and the Carol Chomsky Memorial Foundation. So they are the ones that invited me, actually. So I think it’s interesting that I’ve been here six times on speaking tours, speaking at a large number of universities, in church groups, at the Sabeel conference, and so forth, and I’ve been twice to Canada on a week-long stretch of tours and twice to the UK on week-long speaking tours. So it amounts to, all together, ten speaking tours on Gaza.
AK: And have you been back to Gaza since your time spent during Cast Lead?
MG: Yes. In fact in August 2009, with the manuscript for the families to review and to review the pictures. And I was back in January. I came the same route in and out as I did during Operation Cast Lead. So I traveled in through Rafah on New Year’s Eve, to follow the footsteps of the mission during Operation Cast Lead, and went up to Shifa Hospital, met with my colleagues, did some clinical work, had meetings, gave lectures, and most importantly, met many of the patients that I had treated.
AK: What are your most recent impressions of Gaza?
MG: My impressions as of 2012—that’s what I’m going to speak about tonight. The human rights abuses of the Israeli government, of the Israeli army, continues.
There is widespread lack of human security, ongoing killings, military attacks, week by week people are getting killed and injured. The siege is as brutal as it has been, resulting in lack of everything, from construction materials, to power—the power cuts are more extensive than they have been in a long time because of the lack of diesel and gasoline to fuel the generators. The lack of solid waste trucks makes it almost impossible to collect the solid waste. In Gaza City, they have contracted 280 donkey cart drivers to manually handle the solid waste. Many of the sewage cleaning installations are not working because they lack spare parts and maintenance, so sewage is pumped into the Mediterranean. And of course there is widespread deficiencies in nutrition. The malnutrition is well documented, and it causes anemia and stunting in children, not only in Gaza but also in the West Bank, but it’s more pronounced in Gaza.
The people of Gaza maintain their dignity and their humanity, I would say. I was well received with great hospitality. People don’t weep, they don’t beg, they don’t complain, but of course life is exceedingly difficult. Many are so tired and sick of the siege and the ongoing bombing, and they really want to see an end to that. Also, they want to see Palestinian unity. Many of the patients that participated in the treatment, they need follow-up, they need rehabilitation. Some of them need surgery. And of course the health care system in Gaza is quite overburdened by the number of people needing medical support, and the siege takes its tool on equipment, maintenance, spare parts, everything you can imagine. So, taken all together, the situation has not become easier. The attacks continue, but the people will not give up. The 600 tunnels are the lifelines of the influx of goods and animals to Gaza. The smuggler economy will increase the level of costs for all types of goods, so there is increasing poverty, and more and more people are living under the line as extreme poverty as defined by the UN.
AK: And obviously you’ve spent a lot of time dealing with the victims of Israeli airstrikes. Recently, there was a decision by the International Criminal Court that essentially said there will not be a war crimes tribunal for Operation Cast Lead. What’s your response to that?
MG: I very much regret the decision by the ICC. I’m saddened, and in fact, quite provoked by it, because I think the ICC had a golden opportunity to tell the world, and to tell Israel, that they are not exempt from international law and the laws of war. As it now stands, because of the lack of formalities—that is, an international recognition of Palestine as a state—they use this as an excuse to let Israel off the hook, which I very much regret because it sends a signal to the superpowers and the military forces of the world that, you can get away with it.
And Israel always gets away with its war crimes, which is really demoralizing, because the types of warfare that Israel is waging, with siege and collective punishment, with starvation and with the destruction of civilian infrastructure in occupied territories is really taking us back to medieval times, yet they claim to be one of the most moral armies in the world. And this contradiction does not fit together. So the only thing we could have hoped for was that all the reports on the table—the Goldstone report, the Arab League fact finding mission, the B’Tselem report (PDF), the Amnesty International report and our book—should have served as strong testimonies and documentation sources that there was no way that the ICC could not open a case against Israel. As it now stands, nobody will be held responsible for 1,400 killed and 5,400 injured, and nobody is accountable for the ongoing siege of Gaza. And this, of course, is a heavy burden of responsibility for President Obama and your government.
AK: When you recently went back to Gaza, did you speak with some of the patients you saw during Cast Lead?
Three European airlines have canceled the flights of passengers from the Airflotilla2, or flytilla, the campaign in which activists challenge Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories by flying into Tel Aviv and announcing to customs their intent to travel to the West Bank. The campaign started last year with a similar “Welcome to Palestine” fly-in, where some were also refused entry onto their purchased departure flights, at the behest of Israeli security.
Again, this year based on “Israel’s orders,” Lufthansa Airlines, Brussels Airlines and EasyJet all have canceled flytilla passenger tickets. As of today, European airlines have canceled up to 40 passenger tickets.
Campaign organizers with Bienvenue Palestine also found the tickets of two passengers unaffiliated with the flytilla were included in the mass cancellations.
After arriving in-country, activists are expected to tour the West Bank with Bienvenue Palestine. I translated from French Bienvenue Palestine’s full statementon flight cancellations:
Several dozen passengers who bought plane tickets to travel to Tel Aviv Sunday, April 15 were notified Thursday by Lufthansa airlines that their reservations were canceled, “by Israel’s orders.”
“Israel produced a list of names of persons to whom this country denies entry. Yours is on it, which brings us to cancel your ticket and we will immediately refund your credit card,” said Lufthansa employees to the passengers.
Unable to distinguish between those who intended to participate in the Welcome to Palestine mission and those who were not involved, the Israeli government, long accustomed to mass “collateral damage,” apparently decided to blacklist passengers in bulk. As of Thursday evening we had reports of at least two people who are not connected to the campaign and were planning to travel to Israel whose tickets were also canceled.
Passengers on Lufthansa flights have not committed any infractions, and do not accept the mafia-methods, favored by governments complicit in the imprisonment of the Palestinian people, starting with the French government.
Therefore, with the support of many friends, passengers with the campaign will arrive at their departing airports as scheduled this weekend, as a reminder that the West Bank and the rest of Palestine do not belong to Israel, and to demand respect of international law.
Passengers also received cancellation notices from the other European airlines, stating “Israel Immigration Authorities have informed us that you will be refused entry to Israel and instructed us to refuse you carriage.” Bienvenue Palestine posted the text of the notices. Below is one from EasyJet:
I returned ten days ago from a week of teaching international humanitarian law in Jericho. It was my first time in the West Bank, and I won’t soon forget it. I was particularly struck, not surprisingly, by the limitations on Palestinian life and movement — the endless checkpoints, the hideous wall, the massive illegal settlements dotting the landscape. You know you’re not in Melbourne or New York when you have to wait an hour for a taxi to come from Jerusalem to take you to the Dead Sea, less than 10 minutes from your hotel, because the local taxi drivers don’t have the permits needed to make the journey.
All that is a backdrop to a recent article in The Guardian that I found indescribably sad:
Two large solar panels jut out of the barren landscape near Imneizil in the Hebron hills. The hi-tech structures sit incongruously alongside the tents and rough stone buildings of the Palestinian village, but they are fundamental to life here: they provide electricity.
Imneizil is not connected to the national electricity grid. Nor are the vast majority of Palestinian communities in Area C, the 62% of the West Bank controlled by Israel. The solar energy has replaced expensive and clunky oil-powered generators.
According to the Israeli authorities, these solar panels – along with six others in nearby villages – are illegal and have been slated for demolition.
Nihad Moor, 25, has three small children. The family live in a two-room tent kitted out with a fridge, TV and very old computer. She also has a small electric butter churn, which she uses to supplement her husband’s small income from sheep farming.
“The kids get sick all the time. At the moment, because of a change in the weather, they all have colds. Without electricity I wouldn’t even be able to see to help them when they need to use the [outdoor] toilet at night,” Moor says. “I don’t want to imagine what life would be like here if [the panels] were demolished.”
Imneizil’s solar system was built in 2009 by the Spanish NGO Seba at a cost of €30,000 to the Spanish government. According to the Israeli authorities, it was built without a permit.
The problem for Palestinian communities here is that permission to build any infrastructure is very hard to come by. According to figures from the civil administration quoted by the pressure group Peace Now, 91 permits were issued for Palestinian construction in Area C between 2001 and 2007. In the same period, more than 10,000 Israeli settlement units were built and1,663 Palestinian structures demolished.
The Jewish settlements in Area C are connected to the national water and electricity grids. But most Palestinian villages are cut off from basic infrastructure, including water and sewage services. Imneizil, which borders the ultra-religious settlement of Beit Yatir, currently has nine demolition orders on various structures, including a toilet block and water cistern for the school.
One UN expert, speaking anonymously as they are not authorised to talk to the media, believes the crackdown on the alternative energy movement by the Israelis is part of a deliberate strategy in Area C. “From December 2010 to April 2011, we saw a systematic targeting of the water infrastructure in Hebron, Bethlehem and the Jordan valley,” the source said. “Now, in the last couple of months, they are targeting electricity. Two villages in the area have had their electrical poles demolished.
“There is this systematic effort by the civil administration targeting all Palestinian infrastructure in Hebron. They are hoping that by making it miserable enough, they [the Palestinians] will pick up and leave.”
It’s a vicious logic: don’t connect Palestinian communities to the national electrical grid; deny permits to build solar alternatives; then demolish solar panels that are “illegally” built. All to open up room to expand Israel’s illegal settlements.
There is no question that Israel has legitimate security interests in the West Bank. But that doesn’t justify depriving people of their basic human needs.
أوقفْ تطبيعَ النكبة وألغِ محاضرتك في جامعة تافتس احتفاءً باستقلال
Stop Normalizing the Nakba; Cancel your Lecture at Tufts University for Israeli
Arabic text follows English النص باللغة العربيّة يتبع
Dear Mr. Kashua,
We are deeply troubled to learn that you will be giving a lecture for Israeli Independence Week at Tufts University in Massachusetts on the 16th of April.
As Palestinian citizens of Israel and supporters of the Palestinian cause from around the world (including in Palestine/Israel), we are truly shocked that you would give a lecture to celebrate 64 years of so called “Israeli independence” when Palestinians from around the world are mourning 64 years of ethnic cleansing, oppression, ongoing dispossession, and exile.
To celebrate 64 years of Israeli independence in this way not only whitewashes the actual events of the Nakba, including the exile of more than 700,000 indigenous Palestinians from their homes and the complete destruction of more than 500 Palestinian villages and towns, but also serves to legitimize almost two decades of brutal military rule that Palestinians with Israeli citizenship lived under between 1948-1967, as well as masks the policies of systematic land expropriation, state-sponsored racism and political persecution Palestinians in Israel continue to face.
Your lecture further legitimizes the recent anti-democratic legislation in the Israeli Knesset that aims to penalize those who commemorate the Nakba and erase our collective memory.
While you may believe that this event will allow you to tell the so-called “Friends of Israel” the truth about the Nakba, we believe that your participation will be exploited in order to “brown-wash” apartheid.
We recognize that you are entitled to your own political views, but we ask that you not allow supporters of the continuing military occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestinian lands to use your lecture as a way to deflect criticism of these abuses that continue today.
As deeply concerned Palestinians and citizens of the world, we ask that you cancel your event out of respect for your fellow Palestinians and all people struggling to have their personal and shared histories of heinous abuses to our rights as human beings recognized, commemorated, and legitimized.
نودّ التعبير عن انزعاجنا الشديد لسماعنا أنّك عازمٌ على إلقاء محاضرةٍ
احتفالًا بأُسبوع “الاستقلال الإسرائيلي” في جامعة تفتس في ولاية
ماساشوستس في السادس عشر من نيسان.
كفلسطينيّات\ين من الخطّ الأخضر ومناصرات\ين للقضيّة الفلسطينيّة من جميع
أنحاء العالم، تكتنفنا صدمةٌ شديدةٌ من قرارك بإلقاء محاضرة تحتفي بما
يُعرف ب”استقلال إسرائيل” بينما ت\يحيي الفلسطينيّات\ون الذكرى الرابعة
والستّين لنكبة شعبنا والتطهير العرقي والاضطهاد وسلب الأرض والنفي
الاحتفال باستقلال إسرائيل يشوّه حقيقة ما جرى في النكبة، التي هُجّر
خلالها أكثر من 700.000 فلسطيني ودُمّرت إبّانها أكثر من 500 بلدة وقرية
فلسطينيّة. أضف إلى ذلك أنّ مشاركتك في الاحتفال باستقلال إسرائيل تضفي
الشرعيّة على زهاء عقدين من الحكم العسكري الاستبدادي الذي رزح تحته
فلسطينيّو الداخل (بين الأعوام 1948-1967) وتلمّعُ سياسات مصادرة
الأراضي الممنهجة والعنصريّة الممأسسة والقمع السياسي الذي يعاني منه
محاضرتك المُزمع إلقاؤها تمنح الشرعية ل”قانون النكبة” الذي ينصُّ
بمعاقبة وتغريم كل المؤسّسات التي تحيي ذكرى النكبة والذي يهدف إلى طمس
قد تظنّ أنّ هذه المحاضرة ستمكّنك من إخبار المدعوّين ب”أصدقاء إسرائيل”
بحقيقة ما حصل في النكبة، إلّا أنّنا موقناتٌ أنّ “أصدقاء إسرائيل”
سيستغلّون مشاركتك لتجميل صورة نظام الفصل العنصريّ الذي تنتهجه إسرائيل.
ليس هدفنا الإملاء عليك بتبنّي آرائنا السياسيّة ولكنّنا نناشدك ألّا
تتيح الفرصة لمناصري الاحتلال العسكريّ والتطهير اعرقي المستمرّ
باستخدامك كأداة لغض الطرف عن انتهاكات إسرائيل وجرائمها.
إنّنا وإذ نطالبك بإلغاء محاضرتك فإننا نريدك أن تفعل ذلك من منطلق
احترام أبناء وبنات شعبك وجميع أولئك الذين يناضلون من أجل حقّهم
بالحرّيّة وإناطة اللثام عن الجرائم الوحشيّة التي ارتُكبت ولا زالت
The fiftieth anniversary of the death of revolutionary, writer and psychiatrist Frantz Fanon was commemorated this past December. In late February, the not-so-revolutionary judge Asher Grunis was elected President of the Israeli Supreme Court.
The fanfare that accompanied Grunis’ inauguration was an opportunity to extol Israeli democracy by playing out the ritualized Supreme Court induction ceremony. Yet, there was a disquieting stink about the celebration. Mum among the lot of Hatikva-singing judges was Justice Salim Jubran, the Arab. His refusal to join the chorus likely stemmed from not identifying with the lyrics, “as long as in the heart, within, a Jewish soul still yearns…” His silence, however, prompted loud condemnation from the public and Israeli Knesset members, leading some to propose legislation that would impeach Jubran and effectively bar Arabs from serving on the bench.
This article reads Fanon’s death anniversary and Grunis’ appointment and inauguration ceremony against one another, as an opportunity to recycle Fanon’s ideas to better situate the place of Palestinians, as a colonized people, within the imagination of Israeli law today. In particular, the article traces the outlines of Fanon’s historico-racial schema in Israel/Palestine, emphasizing the legal experience of Palestinians from the Beersheba region, or the Naqab.
Look Mama, an Arab!
Fanon’s historico-racial schema builds on Merleau-Ponty’s (1964) corporeal schema, which is the body’s agency in relating to itself and its historical world (surrounding environment) wherein there is a communication between the two through a perpetual contribution to and reordering of one another. Therefore, as the world contributes to how the body sees itself, the body is an agent that continually transforms and disrupts the historical world, their mutual constructions always being altered and differentiated. For Fanon, the colonial context describes a historico-racial schema rather than a corporeal one. The colonized self does not contribute to this schema as a full sovereign (i.e., citizen) because in an encounter with whiteness, the black body constructs a self-image that is deficient, owing to signifiers by a white mythos that weaves the black body from “a thousand details, anecdotes and stories” (Weate 2001, Fanon 1967: 89-119). This article shows how Israeli law functions as a powerful element of a similar white mythos, weaving the ”Bedouin, Palestinian” subject out of anecdotes of comparable mythical proportion. As a result, the possibilities are similarly thin for Naqab Palestinians to effect free agency and participate fully in the schematization of the historical world they inhabit.
The legal status of Palestinians in other locales in Israel/Palestine also reveals how Israeli law is in fact, vis-à-vis Palestinians, not only illiberal and undemocratic, contrary to the claims of certain enthusiasts, but even more harmful. After the Arab Supreme Court Justice stood out like the reluctant elephant in a room full of Hatikva-singing comrades, the liberal and democratic court could be forced to ask very existential questions. Why were the Court’s most touted values denied to one of its own members by the larger society, including the legal community? Why was a Supreme Court judge, who happened to be Arab, not allowed the liberal privilege of being “tolerated” for his silence? And why was he condemned for exercising his democratic right to non-participation and silent expression?
The heterogeneous strands of Fanon’s works can be applied in the Israeli/Palestinian context to speak about the need for an episteme of colonialism to inform the power-knowledge system of Palestinians’ habitation, to highlight the shortcomings of national consciousness, and to probe the psychiatric treatment of political prisoners in a colonial context. Edward Sa’id (1989) also mobilized Fanon to criticize fixed ideas of identity as a mark of colonial thought.
To discover how the Fanonian white mythos is propagated by Israeli courts, we look at the discursive effects of a few cases over the past two decades. Law is a major propagator of the white mythos, though the media (see Kabha), education and the medical establishment are also contributing factors (Fanon 1963: 249-310).
Legal rules, decisions, settings, negotiations, confrontations, affidavits, minutes, appeals, orders nisi and other temporary remedies, press releases, news reports and analyses recycle the facts of the case and the ways in which Palestinians are mythified. As each textual form peters down to the lived conditions of those who are immersed in but unequal before the law, or all Palestinians, it leaves an imprint on how the senses see the self and the historical world they inhabit.
The dominant legal framing of Palestinians from the Naqab is within the strictures of criminality by a homogenous mass, even in cases that achieve legal victories for the community. Other characteristics that the courts contrive are those of violent, irresponsible Palestinians, and those who deserve “a minimal right to life in dignity,” or in layman’s terms, the right to be ”the living dead.”
“The native…a sort of quintessence of evil… invisible to ethics… the corrosive element, destroying all that comes near him” (Fanon 1963: 41).
The first case we will examine is the 1984 “landmark” el-Hawasheleh decision (CA 218/74). This decision set the precedent for future courts to undermine Bedouin settlement and pastoral lifestyle, thereby classifying their lands as mawat (dead), thus providing the basis to conclude that Bedouin had no historical rights to the land. In reaching this conclusion, the court cited the work of the nineteenth-century British explorer E.H.Palmer, who “found a wasteland, ruins of antiquities, Bedouin vagabonds, who did not work the land in any particular manner.” Later in the same text Palmer wrote that “the Bedawí… wherever he goes… brings with him ruin, violence and neglect.”
“The fellaghas are ambitious peasants, criminals… (1963: 287)… The Algerian people: they were born slackers, born liars, born robbers, and born criminals” (1963: 296).
Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land U.S. Media & the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict How Israel manipulates and distorts American public perceptions Through the voices of scholars, media critics, peace activists, religious figures, and Middle East experts, Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land carefully analyzes and explains how—through the use of language, framing and context—the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza remains hidden in the news media, and Israeli colonization of the occupied terrorities appears to be a defensive move rather than an offensive one.
I’ve been duped.
Do you know the frustration you feel when you believed in something strongly and then you realize that the information that made you believe was from a source with an agenda to deceive?
I just watched a powerful and courageous documentary called Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land. It certainly has its own agenda and doesn’t present balanced coverage. Still, it showed me how my understanding of the struggles in the Middle East has been skewed by most of our mainstream media. I saw how coverage of the Israeli/Palestinian problem is brilliantly controlled and shaped. I pride myself in understanding how the media works… and I find I’ve been bamboozled.
Invest 75 minutes in watching this, because most of the time we only hear one viewpoint when it comes to the interminable struggle in the Holy Land. While this documentary would never be shown on commercial TV in the USA, it can be viewed online (Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land). In my view, many Palestinians live under inhumane conditions, and U.S. taxpayers help to make it happen. Please, watch this and then share your impressions.
Criticism of Israel’s policies is not automatically anti-Semitic (see J-Street for an example of a pro-Israel, pro-peace group). In fact, the irony is that for Israel’s hard-liners, their clever PR strategy could be their own worst enemy. While Israel certainly deserves security on its land, the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory (in Gaza and the West Bank) degrades Israel and drives Palestinians to desperation. The question of whether Israel is conducting a brutal military occupation or a reasonable defense against terrorism gets no real airtime. If we care about the long-term security of Israel, we have a responsibility to understand what our government is funding and supporting.
I believe that watching this documentary is a painful first step to finding a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. If you are a friend of Israel, you must watch Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land.
Outrage in Germany, Nobel Laureate Günter Grass has, once again told the truth about Israel being the greatest threat to world peace.
Günter Grass, Germany’s most famous living author and the 1999 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, sparked outrage in Germany on Wednesday with the publication of a poem, “What must be said,” in which he sharply criticizes Israel’s offensive approach towards Iran.
Once again, it is the artist rather than the politician, who tells the truth as it is. Once again it is the Artist rather than the academic who speaks out.
Why did I wait until now at this advanced age and with the last bit of ink to say: The nuclear power Israel is endangering a world peace that is already fragile?” Wrote Grass.
In the poem, published by Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitungnewspaper and other European dailies on Wednesday, Grass also calls for an
unhindered and permanent monitoring of Israel’s nuclear potential and Iran’s nuclear facility through an international entity that the government of both countries would approve.”
Israel and some German Jewish prominent voices were quick to react. The Israeli Embassy in Berlin issued a statement offering its own version of ‘What must be said.’
What must be said is that it is a European tradition to accuse the Jews before the Passover festival of ritual murder,” the statements reads.
Pretty outrageous, don’t you think? In the open Israel together with its supportive Jewish lobbies (AIPAC, AJC) are pushing for a new global conflict. Yet, shamelessly the embassy defies criticism tossing in the air the old blood libel. The appropriate timely question here is why Israel and AIPAC are pushing for a world war and a potential nuclear conflict just before Passover? Can they just wait for another Yom Kippur (atonement day)?