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April 2019

Gaza now has a toxic ‘biosphere of war’ that no one can escape

Mark Zeitoun and Ghassan Abu Sitta on
Palestinian children fill bottles with water from a public tap in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, July 1, 2014. Israel had bombed the main water line for al-Shati refugee camp and a sewage plant west of Gaza City. (Photo: Eyad Al Baba/APA Images)

A biosphere refers to the interaction of all living things with the natural resources that sustain them. Mark Zeitoun and Ghassan Abu Sitta write that Gaza has become a “biosphere of war”, where “sanctions, blockades and a permanent state of war affects everything that humans might require in order to thrive, as water becomes contaminated, air is polluted, soil loses its fertility and livestock succumb to diseases. People in Gaza who may have evaded bombs or sniper fire have no escape from the biosphere.”

I was wrong about anti-Semitism going away

Philip Weiss on

For the past 25 years or so I have had a running debate with Jewish friends, Is anti-Semitism over? I’ve argued that it is, given the incredible Jewish inclusion. I was wrong. Anti-semitism remains an abiding hatred, and Poway shows it’s recurrent.

PA refuses to accept ‘incomplete’ tax revenues from Israel amid deepening financial crisis

Yumna Patel on

Every month, Israel collects some $190 million in customs duties on goods being imported into the Palestinian territory and transfers it to the PA. But recently it has been withholding $10 million per month, meant to represent the amount paid by the PA to the families of political prisoners and “martyrs” killed by Israel. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is refusing to accept the reduced tax revenues, which has plunged the government into its worst financial crisis in years. This is leading Israel to start discussing a plan of action should the Palestinian Authority collapse completely.

The musical inspiration of Siraj in Rama

Hatim Kanaaneh on

A surprising musical ensemble called Siraj in a Palestinian village in the Galilee has overcome discriminatory and cultural hurdles to put on professional performances and innovatively adapted some of the iconic pieces of Arab composers and singers from the 20th century, from Um-Kalthoom to Fairuz. Hatim Kanaaneh reports.

‘If you’re for justice for Palestinians, you’re for climate justice’: Zena Agha on climate change and the future of Palestine

Adam Horowitz on
Palestinian civil defense volunteers help people to travel across flood waters in Gaza City following rain storms, on December 14, 2013. A fierce winter storm shut down much of the Middle East at that time, burying Jerusalem in snow, and flooding parts of Gaza. (Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA Images)

In her recent paper “Climate Change, the Occupation, and a Vulnerable Palestine,” Zena Agha outlines the threat that climate change presents to Palestine, how it is exacerbated by the Israeli occupation, and the steps being taken, or not being taken, to prepare for it. Adam Horowitz talks with Agha about what climate change means for the future of Palestine and the Middle East, and how it should fit into the Palestine solidarity movement agenda.

It’s time to stop talking about the Occupation, we need to talk about the Israeli Military Dictatorship instead

Yossi Gurvitz on
A Palestinian protester uses a slingshot to throw stones towards an Israeli military truck

Yossi Gurvitz says that as long as we focus on occupied territories, of land, we are bound within the rules of occupation, where the occupier and his “security needs” will always win. Instead he proposes we should start speaking of the Israeli Military Dictatorship: “Avoid all discussions of sovereignty. They’re useless. Speak of night raids intended only to terrify people, of invading houses without warrants, of indefinite imprisonment without trial; speak of the horror lurking beneath all this. Speak, in short, not of territories but of people.”

‘Thou shalt not murder those who resist your oppression’:  #NoPassover reflections on a Jewish theology of liberation

Marc H. Ellis on

“Sometimes I am asked where would I begin if I were to write a Jewish Theology of Liberation today from scratch?” Marc Ellis writes. “A Jewish Theology of Liberation might begin with an addition to Emil Fackenheim’s 614th commandment or, more to the point, the positing of another commandment,” he answers, “after the Holocaust and after Israel – and what Israel has done and is doing to the Palestinian people. The 615th Commandment?  ‘Thou Shalt Not Murder Those Who Resist Your Oppression.'”

In my childhood kibbutz, I reflect on the absence of Palestinians

Jonathan Ofir on

On a trip to a kibbutz where he was born, Jonathan Ofir reflects on the utter denial of the Palestinian presence in Israel. He moves on to the wondrous village of Lifta, a monument to Palestinian life that Israel doesn’t want visitors to see.

From God to art to politics, in Amman

Alice Rothchild on

A natural gas pipeline from the sea through Jordan is Israel’s latest effort to normalize relations with its Arab neighbors. But Palestinians resist. In Amman, Alice Rothchild visits an exhibit of remarkable friezes by Palestinian artist, Abdul Hay Mosallam. “They killed me and my killer denied me while turning cold in my grave,” are the words on the Gaza piece.

What we know about the American peace plan

Yumna Patel on

“Their plan is to put us in a desert and offer us some drops of water so we are forced to accept it,” Palestinian leader Mohammed al-Masri says of the rumored content of Trump’s peace deal. “No power, no borders, and just give us some economic freedom.” Such a proposal will be dead on arrival, Palestinians say.

Palestinians won’t get a peace deal till Abbas goes — Nikki Haley

Philip Weiss on

Pandering to two pro-Israel groups, Nikki Haley calls Sheldon and Miriam Adelson “national treasures.” She says the Obama administration “led” the UN Security Council resolution against settlements in 2016, pressuring other countries that did not want to vote for it, and making other ambassadors “uncomfortable.”

The UAE’s seedy influence operations are a footnote in the Mueller Report

Helena Cobban on
Mohammed Bin Zayed in front of a painting of his father. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump administration was focused on Russian interference in U.S. politics, but his findings highlight some highly questionable contacts that people close to Trump’s transition team had with representatives of another government that has intervened massively in U.S. policymaking in recent years: the United Arab Emirates.

Change cannot happen just by switching political leaders, we need to change the system

Nada Elia on
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz

Nada Elia disagrees with those who say it was good Benjamin Netanyahu won the recent Israeli elections because it will help reveal the nature of Israeli society to the world. “Did anyone who is in any way genuinely interested in politics still believe, up till Netanyahu’s fifth reelection, that the two-state solution is a valid option that simply requires the right Israeli prime minister?” she asks.

Sarsour, Waters and Hill will ‘incite… violence’ against Jewish students, say pro-Israel groups

Philip Weiss on

The “vast majority of world Jewry” perceive Roger Waters, Marc Lamont Hill, and Linda Sarsour to be anti-Semites because they have called for democracy in Israel and Palestine, say 80 groups trying to end UMass’s sponsorship of a May 4 forum on– the quashing of speech on Palestinian human rights. The letter is classic McCarthyism, says organizer Jeremy Earp.

Falling off the edge: Iraqi and Syrian refugees

Alice Rothchild on

Alice Rothchild visits a church in Amman that has gained a regional reputation for caring for refugees from Syria and Iraq, many of whom fled ISIS atrocities and are afraid to return. “Forty percent of the women are widows and many refugees have experienced unimaginably severe and chronic trauma from abuse.”