A few scenes from the occupation

Israel/Palestine
on 48 Comments

irishThe other day Hillary Clinton repeated the Obama administration’s mantra: the status quo in Israel and Palestine is “unsustainable.” And then she winked and said that it could go on forever: 

[Israeli President Shimon Peres] understands better than most the fundamental reality facing the State of Israel, that the status quo is unsustainable – now, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be sustained for a year or a decade, or two or three, but fundamentally, the status quo is unsustainable.

Two or three decades? Why is she saying such a thing?

But let’s not talk politics. I’d much rather try to convey to readers the most simple truth about the status quo: Every Palestinian I’ve met hates the occupation, and groans under it. Here are a few scenes from my first week:  

–I go through the Qalandiya checkpoint, the dispiriting checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem, famous for its galvanized-steel cattle chutes and gates. I am with a dozen other people lined up behind a turnstile that the guards control– they let a few people at a time into the inspection zone. A Palestinian woman is stopped at the front, and her son has been let through. He is about eight, and frightened. He can’t get his papers right and the soldier behind the glass keeps yelling at him and he keeps looking to his mother, who is locked in the turnstile. Men in line call out to let the woman through. At last she is let through to take care of her son.

I’m with three men who are permitted to go through next. They all look well off. The young man next to me has a barrel chest and gleaming hair, he looks like a Palestinian Travolta. He removes his belt and gets out his thick wallet and keys and coins, drops them on the conveyor, then walks through the metal detector and presents himself to the guards. I’ve been silent the whole time, but when we come out the other side and I ask where the bus is, he points the way and then fixes me with a fierce look, as if charging me to be a witness.

“You see– they treat us worse than animals.”

I say “How many Palestinians feel that way?”

“Every one of us.”

I wonder: Why are American network news shows not going through the Qalandiya checkpoint with hidden cameras to document this routine humiliation on a racial basis that is made possible by American support?

–I go on a hike through hills north of Ramallah with an outdoorsy/historical group of Palestinians and internationals. We come to a Crusader ruin on a hilltop. Inside the rambling old fortifications, there is a large fresh crater, about 10 feet deep– you can see its rim at the bottom of this picture. pitOur leader, a professor at Bir Zeit University, is upset about the hole. He explains that grave robbers and antiquities collectors who care nothing about Palestinian history have ripped this place apart. We all curse the thieves, and wonder what anyone can do about such vermin.

Just down the hill we run into a shepherd with a small herd of goats. He tells us that Israelis brought Jeeps and a backhoe to the site and dug it up, for what reason he has no idea. In an instant the emotion about the thieves changes, from one of dismay and contempt to one of rage and helplessness. Remember, we are deep inside the West Bank, on the land of Palestinian villages.

An hour later our walk takes us out near this Israeli control tower (below), surveying road and village.

Is it any wonder that, when we sit down to lunch in a glade, I discover that the 20 people on the walk have all taken care not to bring any food produced in Israel? tower

–Driving north through East Jerusalem, my friend stops at a traffic light where the road we are on, which serves the Palestinian neighborhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Beit Hanina, intersects a big new east-west road that serves the settlers who live in Pisgat Ze’ev, a largely-Jewish settlement in occupied territory. We wait a while for the light to turn. He explains that the light is green for Palestinians for about 15 seconds. Then the red lasts for over a minute as the Israelis come and go.

I can’t believe him. We stop across the intersection and I count the seconds; he is right.

Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland did a piece about this discriminatory traffic light. Why not an American media outlet?

–I meet a Palestinian intellectual who is a West Bank resident but who lives with his wife and children in East Jerusalem. He needs a permit to live in East Jerusalem, and every six months he must renew the permit at what he calls the Ministry of Horrors–the Israeli Ministry of the Interior–providing proof that he is actually living in Jerusalem. Electric bills, rent payments, and even his children’s school certificates. Every six months, he must waste half a day sitting in waiting rooms at the Ministry of Horrors with a packet of papers, taking a number, going from room to room. You wouldn’t be able to tell this lean cheerful bespectacled man from an American columnist or professor; but this system makes him hate Israel, and it is easy to see why.

He tells me of other ways the red tape snarls Palestinian institutional life and says that there is a method to the madness: Israel is trying to convince highly-educated Palestinians, the natural leaders of this society, to leave this place for opportunities in the Gulf and in Europe. There is a brain drain, the smart ones leave; they say, Who needs this crap?

–I’ve heard so many tales of tyrannical bureaucracy that it is worth relating a couple more. A businessman who gives me a ride through Bethlehem in his BMW tells me that he was arrested at 15 for violating curfew coming home from school– and spent five months in jail. “I died every day in that prison.” Now Bethlehem is a walled city; and he has not been to Jerusalem in ten years. His children have never been there. His voice cracks as he tells me this.

On a bus, a friendly doctor tells me that both his brothers were arrested when they were young because they were drawn to resistance. Each spent only a few months in jail but the arrests were timed to interfere with the tawjihi, the Palestinian equivalent of the SATs, which determine college entrance. Each brother lost a year of his education.

A friend had to interrupt his studies overseas because though his family has lived in this land from time immemorial he is a ”permanent resident” of East Jerusalem who knows that if he is away too long, the Israelis will declare that his “center of life” is no longer Jerusalem, and revoke his status here. Thus are families divided and the educated dispersed.

I know I sound like an innocent: I’ve read about Palestinians prevented from seeing dying parents or getting their children to hospitals countless times. But it is something else to be here and meet Palestinians just like me, affluent, educated people, and to see their ambitions souring before their eyes, and their hopes for their children curdling. 

And I don’t understand why this despotic bureaucracy is not the subject of a panel at J Street on actual Palestinian conditions, or is not a 60 Minutes piece, or on the nightly news.

grave

–We all know about the weekly demonstrations in Bil’in, a village in the western West Bank, against Israel seizing village farmland so as to build out another settlement. The people of Bil’in have been demonstrating for five years. But think about it: this is a tiny village, on which this desperate situation has been thrust. Bil’in feels a lot like a hamlet in the hills of Vermont or upstate New York; and Dr. Rateb Aborahmah, a leader of the popular committee, points out to me what a large price his little village is paying for rising to the occasion. Two of its leading young men have been in jail for over a year without any indication of when they’ll be released, just for organizing demonstrations!

And the doctor’s own relative, Bassem Abu Rahme, was killed a year ago by a tear gas canister fired at his chest. At left is his grave, just over the cemetery wall from the main road through Bil’in.

–Demonstrations against the Israeli occupation are taking place in about 40 different sites around the West Bank and East Jerusalem and drawing global attention, from idealists. Many people are coming great distances out of solidarity with fellow human beings under occupation. Below is a photo of Julie Smit, an executive with a Luxembourg-based NGO who has come out to work on Palestinian issues.julie 1

She needed to see for herself. She went to the demonstration at Bil’in, and held that shirt across her face against the tear gas. She says the occupation is unique in international affairs today–because of the racial distinction between the parties, because of its longevity, and because of Israel’s claim to be a western-style democracy.

At the top of this post is a photo of a young man from Ireland at the same demonstration holding the Gandhi mask that the village’s creative popular committee handed out last Friday. Behind him in that photo are other youths from Ireland and Spain. And below are two more Irish men talking to two Americans. They’ve just been teargassed. The Irish youths are Labour Party and say that they are particularly sympathetic to Palestinians because of their history of colonization. One Irish youth said that the Hebrew signs on the walls of Palestinian businesses in occupied Hebron reminded him of the stuff he’s read about Nazis.

Europe is paying attention to this desperate arrangement. When will Americans stir– and shake off the endless status quo?

 irish1

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48 Responses

  1. eljay
    September 20, 2010, 7:20 am

    >> Just down the hill we run into a shepherd with a small herd of goats. He tells us that Israelis brought Jeeps and a backhoe to the site and dug it up, for what reason he has no idea. In an instant the emotion about the thieves changes, from one of dismay and contempt to one of rage and helplessness. Remember, we are deep inside the West Bank, on the land of Palestinian villages.

    Bloody shameful stuff. I’m sure a self-important “humanist” could rationalize it all away with several paragraphs of pseudo-intellectual flatulence, but to real people it is a real disgrace that calls for real accountability and justice.

    >> [Israeli President Shimon Peres] understands better than most the fundamental reality facing the State of Israel, that the status quo is unsustainable – now, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be sustained for a year or a decade, or two or three …

    It sure does take a while to get “better wheels” up to speed! I wonder if that’s because:
    – It’s hard for those wheels to get good traction on the blood of Palestinians.
    – The old wheels of theft and oppression take a while to spool down, and they have to come to a complete stop before the “better wheels” can spool up.
    – The dream of a Greater Israel – democratic, of course – has not yet been realized.
    – Israel doesn’t give a rat’s @ss about the injustices it commits against Palestinians.

  2. Elliot
    September 20, 2010, 7:42 am

    Thank you, Phil. This is great reporting.
    – These personal stories are where the Israeli occupation translates into reality – and are the whole point of the Israeli campaign.
    South African novelist Nadine Gordimer writes eloquently about “waking up” to all the lies she had believed about Africans as a child. She realized in retrospect that she had believed that Black Africans didn’t want to swim in the pool, go to the library, get an education etc because the sum total of all the small acts of discrimination was that Blacks’ humanity became invisible. Israelis do not think of Palestinians as fellow human beings.

    – When I was in Israel in January a Palestinian taxi driver told me how the concrete security wall had cut his home and small neighborhood off from Jerusalem. Getting his kids to school in Jerusalem each day was a time consuming, draining effort.
    They were saved eventually by the Vatican. Since they are Christian they petitioned the Vatican repeatedly through various means until they succeeded in becoming a political issue between the Holy See and Israel. Under diplomatic pressure, Israel moved the wall and now this Palestinian’s neighborhood is inside the wall, in Israel.
    He told me he knew how lucky he was.

  3. Psychopathic god
    September 20, 2010, 8:13 am

    Our leader, a professor at Bir Zeit University, is upset about the hole. He explains that grave robbers and antiquities collectors who care nothing about Palestinian history have ripped this place apart. We all curse the thieves, and wonder what anyone can do about such vermin.
    Just down the hill we run into a shepherd with a small herd of goats. He tells us that Israelis brought Jeeps and a backhoe to the site and dug it up, for what reason he has no idea.

    naming the vermin:

    The large foyer opened into a vast space comprising a living and a dining area, with minimalist modern furniture. Near the white upholstered sofas was a floor-to-ceiling display case filled with antiquities from Israel, and large Chagall paintings hung on the walls. “We have only Chagalls,” he said.
    Saban enjoys playing the part of a man exasperated by his wife’s extravagance. “She left only the Jerusalem tile in the guest bathroom, and she left this room, but she made the wood darker, and she put leather on the ceiling,” he told me.
    Haim Saban: The Influencer

  4. Les
    September 20, 2010, 8:14 am

    After demonizing all Palestinians as terrorists, how will the US media, let alone US politicians who function as Israel’s hand maidens, give a positive spin to having 100,000 Palestinians getting US citizenship?

    Olmert: To further peace, US will give citizenship to 100,000 Palestinian refugees

    By Agence France-Presse
    Sunday, September 19th, 2010 — 8:14 pm

    Former Israeli premier Ehud Olmert said on Sunday the United States had agreed to accept 100 000 Palestinian refugees within the framework of an eventual Middle East peace deal, media reported.

    Washington had agreed to absorb and give citizenship to 100 000 refugees, while Israel would accept less than 20 000, Israeli media quoted Olmert as telling a conference.

    link to rawstory.com

    • Psychopathic god
      September 20, 2010, 8:45 am

      Palestinians should be welcomed and embraced into US society.

      However: 1. it smacks of population transfer
      2. Israel had damn well better be required to send each and every one of those 100,000 Palestinians with a check for at least $1 million, drawn on the Israeli treasury, not the US treasury, in his/her hand.
      Israel has got to be made to pay for its crimes against humanity; what better way then by compensating in an extremely generous fashion the humanity that Israel has so shamefully harmed.

      • seafoid
        September 20, 2010, 2:50 pm

        They wouldn’t be able to get 100,000 Palestinians. Neither Israel nor the US, both settler societies, understand the Palestinian love of their land. Gaza may lack the facilities of other places but it’s home and nobody is going to swap it for a nothingness in the US. At times the attachment of the residents of Balata refugee camp in Nablus to their home may appear deluded but theose people have been dispossessed once and it isn’t going to happen a second time. Michael Oren in yesterday’s LA Times talked about the Jews of Israel who “defend their ancestral home” . He couldn’t explain why the adjective ancestral was so important and where the Zionists were for most of history.

      • eljay
        September 20, 2010, 7:44 pm

        >> 1. it smacks of population transfer

        Hmmm…looks like ethnic cleansing, after being “currently not necessary” for many years, may once again become “currently necessary”.

    • MRW
      September 20, 2010, 9:01 am

      What if these 100,000 Palestinians don’t want to become Americans. What if they don’t want to leave their land?

      This is the Middle East peace deal?

      Would the solution in Northern Ireland have been ‘give 100,000 Catholic Northern Irishmen US passports’?

      • Citizen
        September 21, 2010, 4:00 am

        Having the Palestinians transferred to the USA and Europe have been part of the inside deals of the peace process since Clinton’s days. Arafat posed your question back then, MRW.

    • Les
      September 20, 2010, 2:51 pm

      I have previously suggested that since it was the UN that made the decision to take Palestinian land and give it to Israel, the refugees are a UN problem. At the minimum all refugees living outside of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza, ought to be offered UN passports which all UN members would be obliged to honor. It is unconscionable that they continue to live in refugee camps or remain stateless people scattered across the globe. This does not mean they are precluded from returning to their homes within Israel but it ends their stateless status, gives them the option of leaving the Middle East whose countries cannot afford the cost of maintaining such a high number of refugees, and as well ends the practice of using them as pawns in the fight between Israel and the states that claim to defend the rights of the Palestinians but do not offer them citizenship.

      • radkelt
        September 21, 2010, 6:41 pm

        Terrific idea. How about this: offer settlers same deal, but they must surrender their domicile to Palestinian refugee. I’ve always felt the US should have taken every Jewish refugee fleeing European pogroms,
        today they would be so throughly integrated as to obviate the horror
        show unfolding in the middle east.
        My cohort was overwhelmingly secular, progressive, diversity
        embracing and mutually supportive within neighborhood enclaves.
        Like my contemporaries they would have intermarried, joined the PTA,
        golf clubs etc.
        Of course it caused some pain to parents who wished to maintain some
        religious or ethnic continuum, but the love of grandchildren conquers all such divisions.

    • Shmuel
      September 21, 2010, 1:03 am

      Former Israeli premier Ehud Olmert said on Sunday the United States had agreed to accept 100 000 Palestinian refugees within the framework of an eventual Middle East peace deal

      That’s a pretty safe bet. As soon as I heard about the “generous” US offer, I told my wife I thought we could offer to accept at least half a million refugees (living room and spare bedroom), “within the framework of an eventual ME peace deal”.

  5. Richard Witty
    September 20, 2010, 8:23 am

    Excellent post.

    Witness.

    One theme that you and Ethan Bronner conveyed about Gazan and Palestinian society was of the resilience and energy of it.

    Did you see that in your travels?

    The basis of prejudice often is that the “other” is of a different species almost. It would be a great breaker of stereotypes to describe fully the ways that the Palestinian society really is common with all of us, not different, more familiar than foreign (allowing for its uniqueness).

    • Bumblebye
      September 20, 2010, 11:07 am

      RW

      “describe fully the ways that the Palestinian society really is common with all of us, not different, more familiar than foreign (allowing for its uniqueness)”

      HOW?

      It is a society that labors under arbitrary laws imposed to deliberately destroy the fabric of a non-Jewish society. I suggest you imagine that your life had been led as an African American in the southern states, or that you’d been born a black South African. Then multiply the state applied insults to your existence by a factor of at least 10. You’d be trying to live a life just as normal as that lived by the “other” but thwarted at every turn by their state apparatchiks.

      • Richard Witty
        September 20, 2010, 12:15 pm

        Bumble
        Does your post construct or denounce sympathy?

      • Bumblebye
        September 20, 2010, 12:30 pm

        RW

        I responded to your post, in which I didn’t spot any kind of sympathy, merely offhand curiosity.

      • Richard Witty
        September 20, 2010, 1:05 pm

        You project a real lot Bumble.

      • Shingo
        September 20, 2010, 2:52 pm

        “Does your post construct or denounce sympathy?”

        Why should it do either? Are facts of no interest to you?

      • Donald
        September 20, 2010, 6:13 pm

        This is one of those rare occasions where I think RW was attempting to be positive. RW did describe Phil’s post as “excellent”.

        What I’d say in reply and will say now is that those stereotypes about Palestinians that he mentions are a deliberate propaganda creation of the pro-Israel side, not something that just happened.

    • Citizen
      September 21, 2010, 4:04 am

      Right, Witty; we know how much you favor assimilation of Jewish Americans.

  6. MRW
    September 20, 2010, 8:23 am

    Two of its leading young men have been in jail for over a year without any indication of when they’ll be released, just for organizing demonstrations!

    In the Middle East’s only western democracy?

    • eljay
      September 20, 2010, 8:32 am

      >> One theme that you and Ethan Bronner conveyed about Gazan and Palestinian society was of the resilience and energy of it.

      Gazans and Palestinians probably thank Israel every day for its past and on-going brutalit…I mean, for its help in shaping their resilient and energetic society.

    • lysias
      September 20, 2010, 11:45 am

      If there is an only democracy in the Middle East these days, doesn’t Turkey better qualify as that?

  7. RoHa
    September 20, 2010, 8:29 am

    “Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland did a piece about this discriminatory traffic light. Why not an American media outlet?….And I don’t understand why this despotic bureaucracy is not the subject of a panel at J Street on actual Palestinian conditions, or is not a 60 Minutes piece, or on the nightly news.”

    Gee! That’s a real puzzle!

  8. MHughes976
    September 20, 2010, 8:36 am

    A number of rich men’s Israeli antiquities may be the direct results of grave robbery but I suspect that another large proportion is – because of very strong, very uncritical demand – simply forged, perhaps using materials and models retrieved from genuine sites. The most conspicuous forgery of recent years, the James Ossuary, cannibalised a genuine first-century box, putting a spurious inscription on it.
    Thucydides says of the Messenian helots, the Palestinians of their days, that they would gladly have eaten the Spartan occupiers raw. Can the Palestinians avoid the same feelings?

  9. Kathleen
    September 20, 2010, 10:20 am

    thanks for the up front reports Phil. Have been hearing very similar reports from several friends who have lived with the Palestinians for several decades. They have witnessed Palestinian children being spit on by illegal settlers, screamed at and humiliated by illegal Israeli settlers. They have witnessed Palestinian homes and businesses being bulldozed, olive trees being cut, bulldozed. Have been hearing their direct witness testimonies for decades. It is a good thing others are taking the time to see it for themselves. Feel it

    Phillip “And I don’t understand why this despotic bureaucracy is not the subject of a panel at J Street on actual Palestinian conditions, or is not a 60 Minutes piece, or on the nightly news.”

    You know why. And to pretend that the Israeli lobby has not had a powerful strangle hold over our MSM on this issue is just complete denial.

    Rachel Maddow will report about protest in Iran and Gay human rights issues in Ghana because her owners allow her to go there. Period.

    Chris Matthews and those so called liberal talking heads, Ed, Dylan Ratigan, Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow will not go there. Too much CCHHING at stake.

    Contact them and ask them why they do not report about this issue?

    link to msnbc.msn.com

    Contact

    • chet
      September 20, 2010, 2:06 pm

      At the risk of being categorized as a ‘broken record’ on this issue, let me again emphasize that the 5 million Jews in the US comprise 1.7% of the total US population – again the question that begs to be asked is how does such a small segment of the population wield such disproportionate power?

      The answer seems obvious – disproportionate influence over the politicians and the media.

      However, any possibility of effecting any change in this situation requires extensive coverage and consequent discussion in the media – since even the most liberal or progressive voices in the MSM absolutely refuse to touch this topic, any future change seems extremely unlikely.

      So the tiny pro-Zionist tail will continue to wag the willing US dog.

      • Psychopathic god
        September 20, 2010, 7:01 pm

        again the question that begs to be asked is how does such a small segment of the population wield such disproportionate power?

        understand the mindset, chet; here’s a glimpse of the “light unto the nations”, aka whiteJewish man’s burden belief link to youtube.com — the notion that Jews were chosen by god to be the moral leaders of the universe.

        Herzl endorsed the concept in “Der Judenstaat,” and Rabbi Ken Spiro teaches it to the 200,000 or so members of his AISH.org website.

        I think there is a resurgence of anti-Semitism because at this point in time Europe has not yet learned how to be multicultural. And I think we are going to be part of the throes of that transformation, which must take place. Europe is not going to be the monolithic societies they once were in the last century. Jews are going to be at the centre of that. It’s a huge transformation for Europe to make. They are now going into a multicultural mode and Jews will be resented because of our leading role. But without that leading role and without that transformation, Europe will not survive.

        Her comment is an example of the age-old Jewish self-concept of a “Light Unto the Nations”: Jews saving Europe by leading it to multiculturalism.

        similar thinking and attitudes brought down Weimar Germany, to disastrous outcome.

      • Antidote
        September 21, 2010, 10:19 am

        I don’t know what they are talking about: Europe has never learned how to be multicultural? At the time of Herzl and Hitler, there were about a dozen official languages in Austria-Hungary, the successor state of the Habsburg Empire, see here:

        link to en.wikipedia.org

        And I completely fail to see how Zionism, the historical analogue of German and Italian nationalism, and Israel, which has been strutting as representative of all Jews, and has done all it can to spread and fuel Islamophobia in order to justify its colonialism, would be of any help here?

  10. thankgodimatheist
    September 20, 2010, 10:35 am

    Reading all this, the N word (no not this one, the other) comes to mind, but we’re made not to feel comfortable saying it. But in the privacy of our homes, make no mistake, we don’t shy or pussyfoot. Everyone does because when we see a spade we recognise it for what it is..Israel in more regards than few, is a Nazi state, my friend. Who needs goose stepping when you have the settlers’ macabre dance? Have you seen them encircling a house they’re coveting ? They hop up and down chanting their religious incantations as in a trans. No relenting until the house is taken..
    Give me a break…

  11. seafoid
    September 20, 2010, 11:09 am

    Phil – your should go to Hebron to see the modern day Zionism in its full logical flowering.

    Have you seen any Stars of David painted on buildings or roadblocks as a sign to the Palestinians of who is master ? Judaism doesn’t have a central authority to stop such deluded and grossly political misuses of an important religious symbol . For better or worse, Zionism= Judaism in that part of the world.

    • Mooser
      September 20, 2010, 1:23 pm

      “Judaism doesn’t have a central authority to stop such deluded and grossly political misuses of an important religious symbol . For better or worse, Zionism= Judaism in that part of the world”

      Thanks, seafoid, for saying that. I’ve been saying for years that the lack of any central authourity is very significant in Zionism and its relationship to Judaism.

      • Citizen
        September 21, 2010, 5:08 am

        Jared Malsin: Starting with the controversy around your appointment as head of the National Intelligence Council: You said at the time that you were forced out by the Israel lobby. Do you see that happening with other appointments in Washington?
        Charles Freeman: Oh yes. It probably shouldn’t be called the Israel lobby because that includes J Street. And that is why I later suggested it should probably be called the ‘Likud lobby’ or the ‘Lieberman lobby,’ sort of the right-wing settler mentality at work in American politics. I think that’s actually an important point because the American Jewish community is very diverse in its views, the bulk of it is quite liberal in its orientation, not in favor of adventures in the Middle East like Iraq and so on, and I think the polling data shows that those who agree with the right wing views of AIPAC [the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee] and those to right of it, like the Zionist Organization of America and other such organizations, is only something around a fifth or a little more of American Jews.
        So, I think it’s important to make a distinction between the right wing [that] arrogates to itself the right to speak for all American Jews and the actual American Jewish population, which I don’t think is behind them. 
        But having said that, the highly visible right-wing lobby in Washington is highly effective at opposing the appointment of officials they think might not tow the line, or who object to various elements of the Israeli agenda of the day. We have a very strange government in power in Israel now that this lobby supports and advocates for, and it is a government composed of religious fanatics, settlers, and people of that sort, plus Russian Mafiosi, really. So it represents the usual sort of Israeli coalition, but this one is composed of people who really profess values and interests quite at odds with the general American public.
        Nevertheless I think the lobby here for them [the current Israeli government] has been quite effective in blocking the appointment of anyone who might go up against the settlement enterprise or whom might advocate dialogue with Palestinian groups like Hamas who don’t buy into the largely dead framework of the two-state solution, or who object to the push to have a war with Iran over Iran’s supposed nuclear weapons program.
        I think they’re very effective, yes. I think the reason they went after me was not personal. I didn’t take it personally, although it was very personal in its method of attack, I think it was directed at intimidating others from taking jobs unless they towed the line.
        link to palestinenote.com

  12. Jim Haygood
    September 20, 2010, 11:16 am

    ‘And I don’t understand why this despotic bureaucracy is not the subject of a panel at J Street on actual Palestinian conditions, or is not a 60 Minutes piece, or on the nightly news.’

    This question is worthy of further investigation when you return. Perhaps it’s that Jewish culture contains a strain of self-serving tendentiousness (as most do). Or maybe it’s because the US press senses that it needs to suck up to the federal government by remaining silent about its more shameful policies.

    Strange that they can report freely on Afghan corruption, yet the raw ugliness of the US-funded Israeli occupation is simply glossed over.

    Your hard-hitting reports from the West Bank make a powerful unstated point: that through selective emphasis and omission, the coverage of Israel-Palestine in the NYT and WaPo amounts to lies and propaganda. The more you write, the more you erode the tattered credibility of the MSM’s threadbare official liars.

  13. lysias
    September 20, 2010, 11:47 am

    Two or three decades? Why is she saying such a thing?

    According to Sasha Polakow-Suransky’s The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa, that was about the time span Israeli intelligence reported in the mid-19080’s that South African apartheid would survive.

  14. Kathleen
    September 20, 2010, 11:58 am

    My dear friend (died this summer) Art Gish had spent a great deal of time in Hebron over the last 15 years
    link to palsolidarity.org

    His book about his experiences in Hebron is a good read
    “The soldiers tried their best to ignore me, but I am sure they heard me. I ignored their commands for me to leave. One soldier spit at me, so I walked right up to him and invited him to spit on me. He declined the offer.

    Three soldiers aimed their guns at and moved toward a group of Palestinian bystanders. It looked to me like they were going to shoot. I quickly jumped in front of the soldiers, raised my hands in the air and shouted, “Shoot me, shoot me, go ahead and shoot me.” The soldiers immediately left.

    A tank came roaring toward me, its big gun barrel aimed at me. I raised my hands in the air in prayer, and shouted, “Shoot, shoot, Baruch hashem adonai.” The tank stopped within inches of me.”

    He added: “The Israeli military had put all of Hebron under total curfew today, saying they were looking for terrorists. Now I wonder if there really were terrorists hidden among the apples and oranges. Or, are the Israeli soldiers committing acts of terrorism against the civilian population of Hebron?”

    link to store.mpn.net
    Arthur G. Gish records a moving story of the turmoil and suffering of the Palestinian people, the agony experienced by Israelis, and a vision of hope and new possibilities of reconciliation between Jews, Muslims, and Christians.

    From 1995 to 2001, Gish experiences living with Muslim families, engaging in nonviolent actions with Israelis and Palestinians, and struggling to find creative responses to situations of injustice. Selected excerpts from his journal tell of the Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) work and give a vision of how small peacemaking groups can make a difference in violent conflicts.

  15. Kathleen
    September 20, 2010, 12:22 pm

    ot but not really Iran/Israel

    Great writing over at Race for Iran and Informed Comment about the Iranian President’s visit.
    link to raceforiran.com

  16. Kathleen
    September 20, 2010, 1:19 pm

    An uproar about Jon Stewart’s call for a rally of “moderates” as if millions of moderates have not all ready been involved protesting unnecessary wars etc.
    link to salon.com

    the comments are really covering a great deal of territory

  17. David Samel
    September 20, 2010, 2:24 pm

    When I first saw that quote about two or three decades, I thought Hillary had been talking extemporaneously and let slip the obvious truth that Israel and the US are just fine with the status quo. But the video makes it clear that she was reading from carefully prepared remarks and did not depart from her script. I am completely mystified as to why she would be so forthcoming in admitting that 30 more years of occupation is perfectly fine. What does she propose the “peace talks” are going to achieve – a torturously slow timetable for resolving the conflict decades in the future? Common sense dictated that these talks should not be taken seriously, but I thought Hillary was supposed to pretend otherwise. Is she laying the groundwork for calling the talks “productive” despite the utterly predictable failure to make any progress at all?

  18. Shmuel
    September 20, 2010, 4:40 pm

    Far be it from me to defend Sec. Clinton, but what she said is absolutely correct. The status quo (apartheid) is fundamentally unsustainable. It may indeed drag on for decades, but it will come crashing down, and the sooner Israelis understand that the better.

    I don’t think Peres gets it though. Maybe she was just being diplomatic.

  19. Richard Parker
    September 21, 2010, 4:38 am

    The ‘peace talks’ will achieve nothing at all. What I don’t understand is the US interest in making certain that they go nowhere. Israel has no positive value whatsoever as a US ally (no ally in any war, no US bases, etc, but a lot of cost) so why all the effort to protect that shitty little Levantine country?

    • Citizen
      September 21, 2010, 7:40 am

      Easy, beginning with Truman, the American leaders’ first priority is to personally get and keep political power, influence, and ever more wealth.
      The first condition this happen is to publically follow the AIPAC et al line.
      Putting Israel first pays well. It’s the American Dream in the political context.

  20. Antidote
    September 21, 2010, 11:34 am

    “We all curse the thieves, and wonder what anyone can do about such vermin.”

    Objection to such dehumanizing name-calling: vermin. I don’t care how despicable their actions are. Surely, ‘human’ is not equivalent to ‘good’ or ‘morally superior’ to the creepers and crawlers?

    excerpt from Margaret Atwood’s “The Shadow over Israel”, published in Haaretz:

    The Shadow is not the Palestinians. The Shadow is Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, linked with Israeli’s own fears. The worse the Palestinians are treated in the name of those fears, the bigger the Shadow grows, and then the fears grow with them; and the justifications for the treatment multiply.

    The attempts to shut down criticism are ominous, as is the language being used. Once you start calling other people by vermin names such as “vipers,” you imply their extermination. To name just one example, such labels were applied wholesale to the Tutsis months before the Rwanda massacre began. Studies have shown that ordinary people can be led to commit horrors if told they’ll be acting in self-defense, for “victory,” or to benefit mankind.

    • Psychopathic god
      September 21, 2010, 12:29 pm

      one of The Eight Stages of Genocide as formulated by Greg Stanton:

      3. DEHUMANIZATION: One group denies the humanity of the other group. Members of it are equated with animals, vermin, insects or diseases. Dehumanization overcomes the normal human revulsion against murder. At this stage, hate propaganda in print and on hate radios is used to vilify the victim group. In combating this dehumanization, incitement to genocide should not be confused with protected speech. Genocidal societies lack constitutional protection for countervailing speech, and should be treated differently than democracies. Local and international leaders should condemn the use of hate speech and make it culturally unacceptable.

      Those to whom the article referred as “vermin” do, however, deserve to be called out as falling short of the moral norms of civilized society. Hairs could be spllit: “vermin” is not applied to a targeted group but to a set of individuals who engage in an unacceptable behavior. A different name should be crafted for them, to distinguish them from participants in a moral culture.

  21. Antidote
    September 21, 2010, 3:38 pm

    “A different name should be crafted for them, to distinguish them from participants in a moral culture”

    There is a perfectly good word for them: Criminals. Includes thieves.

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