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May 2017

The responsibility of non-Zionist Jews during the ‘year of Zionist anniversaries’

Abba Solomon on

Abba Solomon notes this year is a year of big anniversaries for America’s chief Zionist organization, “As Palestinians prepared to observe Nakba day, the American Zionist Movement(AZM), the American component of the World Zionist Organization(WZO), in early May sent an announcement to its mailing list celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Biltmore Conference, launching the observance of what it calls a ‘Year of Zionist Anniversaries.'”

Through ‘severe pressure,’ U.S. can impose a two-state solution on Israel — Nathan Thrall

Philip Weiss on

Nathan Thrall has an important new book out, “The Only Language They Understand: Forcing Compromise in Israel and Palestine”, arguing that Israel will only end the occupation when it is subject to “severe pressure” from the U.S., and that the U.S. is capable of applying that pressure. In an interview with Phil Weiss and Scott Roth in Jerusalem, Thrall says a two-state solution is the optimal outcome and says that violence on both sides has actually led Palestinians and Israelis to take steps toward such an outcome.

In first statement since end of hunger strike, Marwan Barghouti celebrates ‘the victory of the strike of freedom and dignity’

Allison Deger on

Palestinian hunger strike leader Marwan Barghouti released his first statement today since an announcement that the 42-day strike ended on Sunday, bringing to a close to the longest collective protest organized by Palestinian prisoners in Israel’s history. The statement lauds gains from the strike and describes how Israeli guards punished protesting prisoners during the six-week strike. Barghouti said he could resume the strike in the coming months after the close of the Ramadan holiday if planned negotiations with Israel’s prison service fail.

Why has the Occupation lasted this long?

Gershon Shafir on
A Palestinian stands on his property overlooking the Israeli settlement Har Homa, West Bank, February 18, 2011. (Photo: UPI/Debbie Hill)

Read an excerpt from Gershon Shafir’s latest book, “A Half Century of Occupation: Israel, Palestine, and the World’s Most Intractable Conflict,” which investigates the strategies, policies, and historical continuities that promoted Israel’s colonization of Palestinian territory. In this excerpt Shafir seeks to answer the question, why has the occupation lasted 50 years? “Israeli colonization, to paraphrase William Faulkner, is not dead; it isn’t even past. The tools of colonization, honed before 1948 to a sharp edge, and subsequently deployed within Israel’s new boundaries, were available and ready to be pressed into service in the territories newly occupied in 1967,” Shafir writes.

How Israeli moves in Jerusalem are scotching Trump’s ‘ultimate deal’

Jonathan Cook on

U.S. President Donald Trump faces a deadline this Thursday about whether to renew a presidential waiver to delay recognizing occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocating the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv. Jonathan Cook writes, “Whether Trump signs the waiver or not on Thursday, all indications are that the US president – faced with domestic pressures and an intransigent Israeli government – is going nowhere with his ‘ultimate deal'”.

If it weren’t for our hubris we could learn so much

Howard Cohen on
Noor Abu al-Qia’an sits beside a monument dedicated to his father Yakoub Abu al-Qia’an, in Umm al-Hiran. (Photo: Howard Cohen)

Howard Cohen returns to the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran where he meets more members of his student’s, Noor Abu al-Qia’an, family, and finds a cousin who was nearly lynched by a mob of Israelis, “Noor’s expression grew animated with tension and excitement as he related the story, as if he himself was reliving it. His cousin was working in a supermarket in Tel Aviv and had stepped outside into the street to smoke a cigarette. A young man came up to him and demanded aggressively that he show his ID. The Bedouin youth was indignant at this unwarranted intrusion into his life and replied that he was not a police officer and had no right to demand from him anything. ‘Show me proof that you are a police officer otherwise just leave me alone,’ said the youth proudly. The man refused to show any ID and also refused to accept that the Bedouin Arab could defend his rights according to the law like any other citizen and set upon him brutally. His friends who were nearby came to the scene and joined in the lynching. Noor’s cousin was beaten to a pulp and hospitalized as result. ‘I think I remember hearing about this on the news at the time,’ I said. Noor nodded, confirming that the event indeed reached the mainstream news outlets. ‘A campaign was set up for him and he received 80,000 shekels which was paid into his account.'”

Diaspora Jews go to Palestine to fight the occupation

Jeff Warner on

Jeff Warner traveled to the West Bank with the Center for Jewish Nonviolence’s nine-day summer work camp where 133 Diaspora Jews participated in projects across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, “The very existence of the CJNV delegation, perhaps the largest group of Diaspora Jews ever to come together in Palestine to fight the occupation, makes a powerful statement to American and Israeli political leaders. It is another illustration that Jewish American and other Diaspora Jews do not support Israel’s occupation of Palestine, and are ready to stand up and fight for that principle.”

Fearless Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh defines popular protest

David Kattenburg on

David Kattenburg attends the weekly Friday protest in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, whose spring and adjacent agricultural lands were stolen by the Israeli settlement Halamish. 16-year-old protester Ahed Tamimi tells him, “We have to be strong because if we are not like this they will kill us, and they will destroy our land. When I go to the demonstrations I feel I’m more strong.”

Palestinian hunger strike ends with prisoners declaring victory – but Israel claims nothing happened

Jonathan Ofir on

Saturday, after 41 days, the Palestinian prisoner hunger strike came to what seemed to be an end. Issa Qaraqe, director of the Palestinian Prisoners Affairs Commission, declared “80 percent of the demands” of the prisoners were achieved, calling it “an important achievement to build on in the future on the basis of the protection of the prisoners’ rights and dignity.” Israeli Public Security and Hasbara (propaganda) Minister Gilad Erdan countered claims that certain demands were met, saying that “there is absolutely no pledge to grant” any of the other prisoner demands, and said it “appears that this strike failed”. Jonathan Ofir says, “This should be a major source of concern, since it is the Israelis who are the jailer. If they are claiming this essentially did not happen, then there could be a real chance that they would ignore the reported agreements.”

If Trump is serious we may be seeing the most significant step in 20 years of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations

Yossi Gurvitz on

The Israeli media reported last week that the US government demands Israel will transfer some territory from Area C to Area B. These reports have not been confirmed yet, but they are already causing some trouble in the Israeli political system. What may be hiding behind this opaque formula may be the greatest breakthrough in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in 20 years.

March of the Zealots: a report from ‘Jerusalem Day’

David Kattenburg on

David Kattenburg reports from “Jerusalem Day” where ecstatic Zionists celebrating the 50th anniversary of Israel’s conquest of East Jerusalem were greeted by equally passionate Jewish-American and Israeli protesters intent on blocking the zealots’ march through the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem’s old city, into the heart of the Arab quarter.

Testing nonviolence in the South Hebron Hills: Day 8 of Sumud Freedom Camp

Jodi Melamed on

Jodi Melamed is on the front lines of a joint Palestinian-Jewish effort to reclaim confiscated land through strategic nonviolence: taking back the village with a peaceful protest encampment, “Eight days ago, I woke up with 130 other American and international Jews on a rooftop in the South Hebron Hills and in order to avoid being stopped at checkpoints, hiked into the village of Sarura to take part in an unprecedented number of Jews from abroad who are participating in a Palestinian-led coalition seeking to return families forcibly evicted from that village in the 1990s, and to launch a resistance camp, modeled on Standing Rock, to test the power of nonviolence to reverse the systematic displacement of occupation in the West Bank.”

From Manchester to Jerusalem: The limits of Trump’s terror narrative

Robert Cohen on

Following the deadly attack in Manchester, England, Donald Trump used “terrorism” to avoid confronting the complicated, compromised and messy reality in which we live, especially in the Middle East. For Trump, in all the speeches he made this week in the region, terror appeared to be the only cause of the problem, and its defeat would be sure to bring peace. Robert Cohen writes, “Trump’s narrative lacked understanding, substance, and integrity. And that went for terror in Manchester as well as the Middle East.”

In groundbreaking resolution, California Democratic Party decries US support for Israeli occupation

David L. Mandel on

At the California Democratic Party convention in Sacramento over the weekend Palestinian rights supporters steered to passage a groundbreaking resolution that puts California Democrats far ahead of the national and other state parties. Time will tell whether the new resolution can become a model for other Democratic Party institutions, and more importantly, whether it will help accelerate a shift in the party’s stance on Israel/Palestine.

On Gaza and the horror of the siege

Haidar Eid on

Haidar Eid writes from Gaza that Palestinians there fully understand that the deliberate withholding of food or the means to grow food or the access to food is yet another strategy of Israel’s occupation, colonization, and apartheid in Palestine. But, he writes, “what we in Gaza cannot fathom is: Why it is allowed to happen?”

Baby ‘Aya’ is only 2 months old, and she’s already a victim of home demolition

Nora Lester Murad on

Every single home demolition is devastating to a family. Every single demolished family tells a unique and surreal story about the day when Israeli bulldozers rolled over their children’s schoolbooks, their grandmother’s prescription medicines, and letters from their uncle overseas. Nora Lester Murad tells the story of Ashraf and Islam Fawaqa and their four daughters — Ritaj, 9; Rimas, 7; Saba, 4; and Aya, a newborn whose Jerusalem home was demolished while they were taking Aya to an infant checkup.

From ‘Avalon’ to Madoff: What ‘The Wizard of Lies’ reveals about contemporary American Jewish identity

David Shasha on

Back in 1990 director Barry Levinson gave us “Avalon”, his epic masterpiece on the American Jewish community. In that classic film Levinson skillfully examined the Eastern European Jewish immigrants and their often tumultuous encounter with the complexities of American culture and the assimilation process. It is this debilitating process which becomes the underlying subject of Levinson’s chilling examination of the Bernie Madoff story. In “The Wizard of Lies” we see the pitfalls of ‘making it’ in America and how the Jewish community has reconfigured itself at the end of a very tumultuous century.

Liberal Jews stage sit-in to block annual ‘Jerusalem Day’ march into Muslim Quarter

Allison Deger on

As Israelis marked “Jerusalem Day,” a commemoration of Israel’s capture of the eastern half of the city in 1967 with a parade through the Old City, a group of left-wing American Jews and Israelis blocked their path with a sit-in. Traditionally the march is accompanied by Palestinians protesting outside of the Old City walls, voicing dissent against what is regarded as a celebration of Israel’s occupation of Jerusalem and the West Bank. This year the parade was obstructed by liberal Jews for the first time in recent memory.

Dispatch from Gaza: Trump’s trip will bring ‘less than zero’ to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations

Ahmad Kabariti on

As Donald Trump wrapped his visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory yesterday, Gazans said they felt ignored. They do not expect the president’s travels will improve or lift the decade-long Israeli siege imposed on the coastal Mediterranean strip. Many noted Trump’s pro-Israel rhetoric during the later part of his campaign and first months of the presidency as a signal that their well-being is not on his agenda. Some cynically referred to the president as on an “elegant businessman’s” trip to Saudi Arabia, followed by less important stops to Israel and the West Bank.

The message of the Orb

Carlos Latuff on

Carlos Latuff offers a synopsis of Donald Trump’s visit to the Middle East.