Briefing Paper June 2008

Palestine’s War of Independence

“If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights [also for the Palestinians in the territories] then, as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished.” Ehud Olmert

First-hand report on current conditions in the “Holy Land” Ed Abington, former U.S. Consul-General in Jerusalem     (Glenn Bowman, University of Kent 23/03/2008)

I got back Saturday morning from ten days in Jerusalem and Ramallah where I met with many Palestinians and Israelis. I came back convinced more than ever that the two-state solution is dead as a doornail. There is absolutely no willingness on the part of the IDF to change the situation on the ground from the stranglehold they now have. In fact several Israelis said that there are an increasing number of IDF officers serving in the West Bank who live in the settlements and do everything they can to frustrate any dismantlement of roadblocks or other barriers. The head of a well-respected Israeli organization told me that former Defense Minister Amir Peretz’s advisor for the West Bank said that the IDF does everything it can to frustrate positive changes on the ground per the Roadmap and Tony Blair’s mission. The Israeli said Peretz’s advisor said that the IDF had recruited Palestinian youngsters from Nablus to try to get through the Hawara checkpoint wearing a suicide belt. They were caught (since it was a set-up), the IDF trumpeted their arrest and used that to justify the continuing seige of Nablus. The boys were released within a short time after their arrest.

The Office of the UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs has the absolute best — and most depressing — power point presentation of the situation on the West Bank that I have seen, layering information on a map showing Palestinian cities and villages, areas a, b and c, closed military areas, Israeli-declared nature reserves, the separation barrier, settlements, including their master plan for development, the Israeli road network for settlements, barriers and roadblocks — all of which puts forty percent of the West Bank off limit to Palestinians. When one looks at the presentation and sees how fragmented and disjointed the West Bank has become, and how East Jerusalem is almost totally surrounded by Israeli settlements, it is beyond imagination that there can ever be a viable Palestinian state.

There is a sense of despair among almost all Palestinians I talked to. They see no willingness on the part of the Israelis to engage in meaningful final status talks. In fact, they say, the talks are frozen, yet settlement expansion is going on at a steady and growing rate. Tenders for new housing units are being approved almost every day, not only in East Jerusalem but elsewhere in the West Bank. No Palestinian building for any purpose is allowed in area c, even if

Palestinians have owned the land for generations. The IDF destroys any building done by Palestinians in area c. The West Bank is now truly fragmented by checkpoints, Israeli-only roads, closed military areas and permanent “bordercrossing”-like terminals around all the major Palestinian cities. Someone shipping goods to or from Nablus, for example, must off-load/on-load their trucks at least twice on any trip.

The IDF has clamped down even tighter on the daily lives of Palestinians. Nabil Kassis, the president of Bir Zeit University, said that he has not been able to hire foreign faculty for the university for several years. The Israelis refuse to give foreign faculty work permits. In the past, foreigners would get a three month visa at the Israeli point of entry and after three months, go out to Jordan or elsewhere for a day or two and then come back in and get another three month visa. That practice has now stopped by the Israelis, making it even more difficult for anyone in the West Bank who overstays their visa.

I found no Palestinian who had anything positive to say about Tony Blair’s mission. One Palestinian involved in negotiations said Blair comes two or three days a month and spends only a couple of hours with the Palestinians. They see no positive changes on the ground as a result of his efforts. I heard that a State Department official will shortly join the Blair mission as chief of party. One wag unkindly commented that his assignment was a rare example of a rat jumping on a sinking ship.

The situation in Gaza is truly horrific and on the brink of a humanitarian disaster. UNRWA says fully 80 percent of the people in Gaza depend on food aid to meet the absolute minimum daily caloric intake. UNRWA only supplies 60 percent of daily food requirements to the refugees to whom it distributes food packets and depends on a functioning economy to supply the rest. The economy in Gaza, however, is close to collapse. Unemployment is over 50 percent and rising. Many factories have closed down altogether and have laid off their workers because they can’t get inputs into Gaza nor distribute their products.

The agricultural sector is collapsing. The IDF allows no fertilizer into Gaza, nor chicken feed, very little fuel, no spare parts for the water and sewage systems and is increasingly cutting off supplies of electricity. At least forty percent of Gaza City is permanently without electricity and the situation is even worse in other parts of the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians are pumping tens of thousands of cubic meters of raw, untreated sewage into the Med because sewage plants are breaking down. There is a huge reservoir of raw sewage in northern Gaza that could flood villages at any time. Ground water is increasingly being contaminated (it has been increasingly saline for some time). Drinking water is increasingly untreated because of a deterioration in the water treatment system due to a lack of spare parts, creating the danger of a pandemic in Gaza. UNRWA is worried about malnutrition and seeing signs of stress in pregnant women, usually the harbinger of malnutrition. Undernutrition is widespread among children and adults

In general, Palestinians recognize that it is only the international community that is keeping Gaza from collapsing altogether, but Palestinians hold out little hope that the international community will do much to make the situation better. And the Bush Administration is seen as aligning itself totally with Israel on punishing Gaza and unwilling to do much of anything to persuade Israel to ease the pressure on Gaza. I heard one anecdote that summarized US impotence vis-a-vis Israel. The Consulate in Jerusalem sent a Palestinian from Gaza to the US on a Fulbright fellowship. The Palestinian scholar returned to Amman almost a year ago but has been unable to get back to Gaza. The US has been putting him up in a hotel in Amman and paying him per diem for close to a year. His plight reminds me of the Tom Hanks movie, The Terminal, of someone who got stuck at JFK for a year because his country went out of existence. There seems to be a sense that, sooner or later, the IDF will go into Gaza in a big way to try to destroy the Hamas government and its infrastructure, which will make the humanitarian situation even worse, as well as result in heavy casualties. Despite the grim situation in Gaza, no Palestinian I talked to thought Hamas was in the slightest danger of being overthrown. Fatah in the West Bank has done little or nothing to rehabilitate itself, some two years after the 2006 parliamentary elections.

There is uncertainty what will happen when Mahmoud Abbas’ term of office expires in January 2009. One Palestinian said that the Presidency is considering a draft election law, which would be promulgated by president decree since the Legislative Council has not met (and cannot meet) for over a year. Interestingly, the draft election law states that legislative and presidential elections will be held in 2010, thereby giving Abu Mazin another year in office. I don’t know whether this is true or not, but so much for the Bush Administration emphasis on democracy. Palestinians to whom I spoke could see no way, in any case, that elections could be held, given the political fragmentation between the West Bank and Gaza. And elections held only in the West Bank (and perhaps East Jerusalem) would have zero credibility.

Palestinians see Salam Fayyad as imposed upon them by the Bush Administration. Some Fatah members were critical of Fayyad, probably because Fatah no longer feeds at the public trough. Other Palestinians praised his efforts but suggested that if neither the US nor the Israelis (much less other members of the Quartet) were doing much to make Fayyad succeed, then what hope is there?

I first went to Gaza and the West Bank and have been returning regularly for the past fifteen years, although this is my first visit for 14 months. I always think the situation could not get worse, at least since 2000 and the outbreak of the second intifada, but somehow it does. I fully expect that conditions will be even worse on the ground when I next visit.

60 years of Nakba simply is my life and add to that the one or two more generations of Palestinian refugees. And because of what is happening in Palestine these days, we – the Palestinian refugees – are now more attached to our cause and land than ever.

Mustapha Sumayriyya Al Majdal issue 36/37

Mother, four children amongst victims of Israeli Gaza strike

Al Mezan, 28 April 2008

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) killed four children and their mother when they shelled their home in Ezbet Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip today. Another man was killed in the attack which occurred during an IOF incursion in different parts of the town of Beit Hanoun. Al Mezan Center for Human Rights’ monitoring finds that the IOF stepped up their aggression on Gaza. In April 2008 alone, the IOF killed 66 Palestinians, 20 of whom were children and one was a woman. One hundred and thirty-nine others were injured, including 18 children. IOF launched 29 incursions into the Gaza Strip during the same period.

According to Al Mezan Center’s field investigations, at approximately 8:15am on 28 April 2008, IOF scouting drones fired two rockets that landed in front of the house of Ahmed Eid Abu Me’teq, which is located near Abdullah Azzam mosque in Ezbet Beit Hanoun. As a result, four children and their mother were killed, and their sister was wounded. One man was also killed. Those who were killed were identified as:

*             Five-year-old Saleh Abu Me’teq;

*             Four-year-old Rodina Abu Me’teq;

*             Three-year-old Hana’ Abu Me’teq;

*             One-year-old Mos’ad Abu Me’teq;

*             Their mother, 40-year-old Myassar Abu Me’teq; and       * 40-year-old Ibrahim Hajouj.

Eleven other people were also injured, including four children. Five of the injured were reported to have sustained serious wounds.

Meanwhile, according to the Center’s monitoring, IOF’s incursion in the area continues. At approximately 6:00am on 28 April 2008, IOF ground troops, backed by 20 armored vehicles and drones, penetrated the vicinity of Beit Hanoun (Erez) Crossing. They took positions in the streets of al-Sultan Abdul Hamid and al-Shanti, and in the Thakanet al-Ghazalat, Talet al-Haowuz and Um al-Nasser areas. The IOF took combat positions and opened fire towards Ezbet Beit Hanoun, al-Seka and al-Sultan Streets in western Beit Hanoun.

The IOF’s incursion continues at the time of issuance of this release. At approximately 9:30am today, IOF tanks fired ten shells that landed in the vicinity of al-Nada and al-Awda Towers. One of the shells hit the fourth floor of building number four in al-Nada Towers; and another shell hit the seventh floor of building number seven in al-Awda Towers. No injuries were reported; however, the shelling caused damage to apartments in the two towers. The shelling also traumatized the residents, particularly children. At approximately 10:20am, also today, IOF drones fired one missile that landed in an open area in al-Wad Street in western Beit Hanoun, but no injuries or damages were reported.

This new IOF aggression comes as the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip continues. Al Mezan emphasizes that IOF’s conducts represent serious violations of the population’s human rights in a gross way that infringes upon the different aspects of their life.

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights condemns strongly the IOF’s brutal aggression and the escalation of arbitrary killing of civilians, especially children, in the Gaza Strip. This conduct has taken a systematic manner as IOF blatantly and indiscriminately targets residential buildings with artillery shells and guided missiles.

These conducts, in addition to the IOF’s collective punishment of the entire population of Gaza through the tight blockade that seriously infringes upon Gazans’ humanitarian conditions, constitute grave breaches of the rules of international humanitarian law (IHL) and are acts that must be investigated and whose perpetrators must be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity under international law.

Al Mezan calls for immediate international action to end the siege of Gaza and alleviate the risks it poses on people’s lives and well-being. The siege threatens to stop hospitals and medical crews from operating at the very time when IOF escalate their acts of killing and maiming. Al Mezan also reiterates its warning about the consequences of the international community’s silence while the IOF conduct such grave breaches of IHL, especially after the Israeli government’s numerous statements threatening of more military attacks on Gaza.

Al Mezan calls on the international community to take urgent action to bring to an end the IOF’s crimes, and to provide protection for the civilian population of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. These acts represent part of the legal and moral obligations towards the civilians who live under control and occupation.

Although it is hard to live again with people who affected our life as refugees very badly, I do not mind to go back to Palestine and live with Jewish people, all together on the same land. The most important thing for me is to go back to the land I always dreamed of Rawan, Al-Tira. I miss everything, the mint, the tomatoes, the water, the freedom to go to the sea or walk in the mountains. I miss the air.

Fatima, Deir Aban Al Majdal issue 36/37

Gaza`s sewage `tsunami`

Jeremy Bowen BBC 19/04/2008

A five-month-old baby lay on a blanket in the shade of a hut made of metal sheets. Thin tree branches, with leaves and twigs intact, were laced around the ends of the hut to insulate it against the hot wind that blows into the sand dunes, rolling away to the border fence and on to Israel. The baby`s mother sat with her legs tucked under her, hiding most of her face behind her black head-scarf. It flapped slightly in the breeze, and she used it to wipe her tears and muffle her sobs.

The woman`s name is Aziza Abu Otayek. She wept because she was remembering the death of another baby son, one morning in March last year, just after the older children had gone to school. Until that day their home was just downhill from a deep pond of sewage, pumped into a depression in the dunes and held there by earth walls because the water authorities in the Gaza Strip had nowhere else to put it.

On 27 March 2007, the walls gave way.

Aziza heard someone shouting, telling her to run away. She got out of the hut, then went back in because she had forgotten her head covering. The wall of raw human waste slammed into them. It knocked her down and tore the baby from her arms. He drowned. They found his body against the wall of the mosque a hundred metres away.

He was nine months old. His grandmother was also drowned.

Aziza worried about her new baby until he was born at the end of last year, because when she was hit by the flood she swallowed some of the sewage and she thought it might have harmed him. They named the new baby Mohammed, after his dead brother. While she talked, he gurgled happily, untroubled by the flies that buzzed around his eyes and lips. Aziza has an older son, a four-year-old called Ramadan. His father said he asks about his dead brother, and when he is cross he says he prefers the first Mohammed to the second one.

But Ramadan seems a cheery little soul, though he has nightmares about the flood. He looks around the lakes of almost raw sewage that still lie near their home and asks his parents if another wave is going to come.

A Palestinian water engineer called Sadi Ali gave me a tour. He explained that the sewage lakes have grown so big because Gaza`s growing population – 1.4 million, half of whom are under 16 – has overwhelmed what were anyway inadequate facilities for dealing with waste water. Even though, to his great regret, they pump tens of thousands of litres of untreated sewage into the Mediterranean every day, they have to do something with the rest. Sadi said that the lakes are 11m (36ft) higher than the surrounding land, and only the earth walls around them hold the muck in. In this single spot alone – and he said other parts of Gaza were as bad – the lakes were so big that if the dykes burst a tsunami of sewage 6m (20ft) or 7m (23ft) high would swamp an area inhabited by 10,000 people.

Conflict with Israel

Sadi Ali worries that a stray bomb or missile could break a dyke. There is a £40m ($80m) plan, funded by international donors, for a proper sewage treatment system for north Gaza. Sadi Ali is trying to build it. But it is well behind schedule. The problem is the same one that dominates every part of life here – the conflict with Israel.Gaza has been battered by years of fighting Restrictions imposed by the Israelis – which they say are vital to protect their own people – have slowed down, and sometimes completely stopped the import of raw materials for construction like cement and piping. Contractors have not been able to move freely. The latest problem is the lack of fuel.Try building a sewage system in a war.

When we set up the television camera near the sewage lakes a little barefoot boy, barely more than a toddler, came up and asked if we were going to attack the Israeli positions. He might have been asking if it was going to rain. For him, and several hundred thousand other Gazan children, explosions are part of the soundtrack of their lives. The boy must have assumed the camera and its tripod looked like a weapon. After that we worked faster, in case the Israelis thought the same thing.

We counted on the UN to implement its resolutions for 60 years, mainly Res 194. Had it been implemented, a lot of bloodshed would have been spared.

Hussein, al-Danoun

The peace process has to be for all Palestinians or there will be no peace.

Sa’diya Yaffa al Majdal issue 36/37

The Great Lake of Gaza

Suzanne Baroud 29/03/08

At that time (1967), Israel built the sewage treatment facilities which are still in operation today, built then to serve a population of 380,000 people, a number that has grown to 1.5 million.

The United Nations publication, IRIN recently interviewed Rebhi al-Sheikh, the head of the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) in Gaza, who stated that at present, 75 percent of Gaza’s drinking water is polluted.

In January 2008, UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur, John Dugard travelled to Palestine and assessed the situation, one that he described as “catastrophic” under Israel-imposed restrictions.

Many children are treated in our health centres for illnesses induced by infestations of small organisms such as amoeba. These ailments progress and lead to internal diseases which affect the small and large intestine and hamper or impede their functions, such as abdominal colic, diarrhoea and constipation. Other complications include anaemia, failure to thrive, and mental disturbances. More, we have seen growing numbers of children who suffer from conditions such as insomnia, low self-esteem and self-confidence.

Add to this a big number of patients who are treated in our clinics in summer for skin infections resulting from insect bites. There is an overwhelming problem with such insects which thrive in the conditions under which we suffer, with intense heat and standing sewage and water.

30,000-50,000 cubic metres of partially treated waste water and 20,000 cubic metres of raw sewage end up in rivers and the Mediterranean Sea. Some 10,000-30,000 cubic metres of partially treated sewage end up in the ground, in some cases reaching the aquifer, polluting Gaza’s already poor drinking water supply.

Looking at the end of Israel?

Jonathan Power

Even Jimmy Carter, who single-handedly (without much Jewish appreciation) has done more to make Israel secure than any other living person, can’t change the march of demographics. Within the boundaries of the state of Israel and the occupied territories, there are 5.4 million Jews and 4.6 million Palestinians. The Palestinian birth-rate is almost three times that of the Israelis. If anything, the Jewish population is starting to fall as an increasing number of Jews decides that Israel has no future for them and emigrate in significant numbers.

The far-seeing Richard Nixon, when asked by Patrick Buchanan and his wife how he saw the future of Israel, turned down his thumb “like a Roman emperor at the gladiators’ arena”. Perhaps we are witnessing the death of Israel by a thousand cuts, the attrition of conflict and the attrition of population. Maybe after all, the rabbis of Vienna who were sent in 1897 on a fact-finding mission to Palestine to investigate whether it was a suitable place for Jewish settlement were right. They reported back that the “bride was beautiful but married to another man”.

The rabbis had been moved to visit Palestine by Theodore Herzl, an Austrian journalist who had just published his highly influential book, “The Jewish State”, which launched the movement called “political Zionism”. Herzl, a broad-minded man, was happy to think of the new Israel in Argentina, which had a considerable Jewish migration in the 19th century and was well away from the clutches of anti-Semitic Europe. He was also inclined to accept the offer of Joseph Chamberlain, then the British colonial secretary, for a site on the Uasin Gishu plateau, near Nairobi, in what was then British East Africa. The Zionist Conference overruled him. But when the British government finally gave in to Zionist lobbying and, in the words of the Balfour Declaration of 1917, favoured “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”, the only Jewish member of the Cabinet, Edwin Samuel Montague, denounced the whole project as a reconstruction of the tower of Babel. “Palestine”, he said, “would become the world’s ghetto.”

Lord Curzon, the former viceroy of India, observed that Britain had “a stronger claim to parts of France” than the Jews did to Palestine after two millennia of absence. He denounced it as an act of “sentimental idealism”. There are few rewards in this life for being farsighted on political questions. The Zionists still have the bit between their teeth on the creation of a permanent Jewish state, even as they face self-destruction. A few perhaps can see it coming and among the few is Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. In an interview last November, he said: “If the day comes when the twostate solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights [also for the Palestinians in the territories] then, as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished.”

For the Zionists, this would be a terrible end. But need it be for rank and file Jews who just want to bring up their families and live in an atmosphere emptied of violence? (Read Israeli novelist Shifra Horn’s book “Ode to Joy” if you want to smell the cordite and sense deep in the soul their everyday fear of being blown up.) But unmistakably this is the direction events and demographics are moving and arguably the best thing that outsiders can now do for Israel is to stop trying to help organise the creation of two states and let the Israelis themselves look the Palestinians in the eye as the demographics bite. If the white South Africans can do it, so can the Israelis. If this were the solution, the Israelis would find that the only thing that most Palestinians would now want is a prosperous capitalist economy that lives in peace with its neighbours. The Jews would not be driven into the sea. But those who wanted to return to Europe, America or even Russia would be more than welcome. Both Germany and Russia, the great centres of anti-Semitism in the past, have seemed to have flushed that horror away. Life does move on. Some problems, like apartheid, do get solved, even if not very long ago they seemed intractable.

The Jews should never have tried to turn back the historical clock by returning to Palestine after fleeing in AD 70. But now they are there in such significant numbers their only solution is to honour the rest of the text of the Balfour Declaration.

“Nothing should be done that may prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine,” it said.

This was the British condition. The Israelis overlook it today at their peril.

Leaving is in the end the last thing I would do – that is exactly what they want from us, the Palestinians inside – to leave.

Ziad, Saffuryya al Majdal issue 36/37

The loathsome smearing of Israel’s critics

Johann Hari (The Independent 8 May 2008)

In the US and Britain, there is a campaign to smear anybody who tries to describe the plight of the Palestinian people. It is an attempt to intimidate and silence – and to a large degree, it works. There is nobody these self- appointed spokesmen for Israel will not attack as anti-Jewish: liberal Jews, rabbis, even Holocaust survivors. My own case isn’t especially important, but it illustrates how the wider process of intimidation works. I have worked undercover at both the Finsbury Park mosque and among neo-Nazi Holocaust deniers to expose the Jew-hatred there; when I went on the Islam Channel to challenge the anti-Semitism of Islamists, I received a rash of death threats calling me ‘a Jew-lover’, ‘a Zionist-homo pig’ and more.

Ah, but wait. I have also reported from Gaza and the West Bank. Last week, I wrote an article that described how untreated sewage was being pumped from illegal Israeli settlements on to Palestinian land, contaminating their reservoirs. This isn’t controversial. It has been documented by Friends of the Earth, and I have seen it with my own eyes.

The response? There was little attempt to dispute the facts I offered. Instead, some of the most high profile ‘pro-Israel’ writers and media monitoring groups – including Honest Reporting and Camera – said I an anti-Jewish bigot akin to Joseph Goebbels and Mahmoud Ahmadinejadh, while Melanie Phillips even linked the stabbing of two Jewish people in North London to articles like mine. Vast numbers of e-mails came flooding in calling for me to be sacked.

Any attempt to describe accurately the situation for Palestinians is met like this. If you recount the pumping of sewage onto Palestinian land, ‘Honest Reporting’ claims you are reviving the anti-Semitic myth of Jews ‘poisoning the wells.’ If you interview a woman whose baby died in 2002 because she was detained – in labour – by Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint within the West Bank, ‘Honest Reporting’ will say you didn’t explain ‘the real cause’: the election of Hamas in, um, 2006. And on, and on.

The former editor of Israel’s leading newspaper, Ha’aretz, David Landau, calls the behaviour of these groups ‘nascent McCarthyism’. Those responsible hold extreme positions of their own that place them way to the right of most Israelis. Alan Dershowitz and Melanie Phillips are two of the most prominent figures sent in to attack anyone who disagrees with the Israeli right. Dershowitz is a lawyer, Harvard professor and author of The Case For Israel. He sees ethnic cleansing as a trifling matter, writing: ‘Political solutions often require the movement of people, and such movement is not always voluntary … It is a fifth-rate issue analogous in many respects to some massive urban renewal.’ If a prominent American figure takes a position on Israel to the left of this, Dershowitz often takes to the airwaves to call them anti-Semites and bigots.

The journalist Melanie Phillips performs a similar role in Britain. Last year a group called Independent Jewish Voices was established with this mission statement: ‘Palestinians and Israelis alike have the right to peace and security.’

Jews including Mike Leigh, Stephen Fry and Rabbi David Goldberg joined. Phillips swiftly dubbed them ‘Jews For

Genocide’, and said they ‘encourage’ the ‘killers’ of Jews. Where does this come from? She says the Palestinians are an ‘artificial’ people who can be collectively punished because they are ‘a terrorist population’. She believes that while

‘individual Palestinians may deserve compassion, their cause amounts to Holocaust denial as a national project’. Honest Reporting quotes Phillips as a model of reliable reporting. These individuals spray accusations of anti-Semitism so liberally that by their standards, a majority of Jewish Israelis have anti-Semitic tendencies. Dershowitz said Jimmy Carter’s decision to speak to the elected Hamas government ‘border[ed] on anti-Semitism.’ A Ha’aretz poll last month found that 64 per cent of Israelis want their government to do just that.

As US President, Jimmy Carter showed his commitment to Israel by giving it more aid than anywhere else and brokering the only peace deal with an Arab regime the country has ever enjoyed. He also wants to see a safe and secure Palestine alongside it – so last year he wrote a book called Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. It is a bland and factual canter through the major human rights reports. There is nothing there you can’t read in the mainstream Israeli press every day. Carter’s comparison of life on the West Bank (not within Israel) to Apartheid South Africa is not new. The West Bank is ruled in the interests of a small Jewish minority; it is bisected by roads for the Jewish settlers from which

Palestinians are banned. The Israeli human rights group B’tselem says this ‘bears striking similarities to the racist Apartheid regime’. Yet for repeating these facts in the US, Carter has widely called ‘a racist’. Several universities have even refused to let the ex-President speak to their students.

These campus battles often succeed. Norman Finkelstein (SEE comment below) is a political scientist in the US whose parents were both Jewish survivors of the Warsaw ghetto and the Nazi concentration camps. They lost every blood relative. He made his reputation exposing a hoax called From Time Immemorial by Joan Peters which claimed that Palestine was virtually empty when Zionist settlers arrived, and the people claiming to be Palestinians were mostly impostors who had come from local areas to cash in. Finkelstein showed it to be scarred by falsified figures and gross misreading of sources. From that moment on, he was smeared as an anti-Semite by those who had lauded the book. But it was when Finkelstein revealed two years ago that Alan Dershowitz had, without acknowledgement, drawn wholesale from Peters’ hoax for his book The Case For Israel, that the worst began. Dershowitz campaigned to make sure Finkelstein was denied tenure at his university. He even claimed that Finkelstein’s mother – who made it through Maidenek and two slave-labour camps – had collaborated with the Nazis. The campaign worked. Finkelstein was let go by De Paul University, simply for speaking the truth.

Are the likes of Dershowitz and Phillips and Honest Reporting becoming more shrill because they can sense they are losing the argument? Liberal Jews – the majority – are now setting up rivals to the hard-right organisations they work with, because they believe this campaign of demonisation is damaging us all. It damages the Palestinians, because it prevents honest discussion of their plight. It damages the Israelis, because it pushes them further down an aggressive and futile path. And it damages diaspora Jews, because it makes real anti-Semitism harder to deal with. We need to look the witch-hunters in the eye and say, as Joseph Welch said to Joe McCarthy himself: ‘You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? H ave you left no sense of decency?’

From: Democracy NOW! 23/05/08

The American academic Norman Finkelstein has been arrested and ordered deported from Israel. Finkelstein arrived in Tel Aviv earlier today on his way to the Occupied Territories. He was immediately detained and told he is banned from Israel for ten years. He’s expected to be deported tomorrow. Finkelstein is known as one of the most prominent academic critics of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. He was detained by the Interior Ministry and Shin Bet.



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