03 May 2008

60 years of Israel in Palestine

Israel: 60 years of oppression

60 years of violence, ethnic cleansing, and dispossession.

60 years ago, over 530 Palestinian villages and towns were destroyed. Half of the Palestinians were ethnically cleansed by Zionist militia even before Israel was unilaterally declared a state. Palestinians call these events of the late 1940s the ‘Nakba’ (Catastrophe).

Palestinian refugees are the largest remaining refugee population in the world, with seven million refugees or displaced people. They are prevented from returning to their homes and lands even though International law and UN resolutions demand it.

The Israeli Knesset adopted a set of laws that are contrary to International law that ensured no refugees are allowed to return and that their land is confiscated for use by Jews only. The removal of 75-80% of non-Jews from what became Israel by 1950 was a necessary but not sufficient condition for creating and maintaining a Zionist-defined Jewish state. What the nascent state did subsequently was expand its borders and continue to appropriate native Palestinian lands, expel many of them and discriminate against those who remained at all odds.

Israel has no constitution but promulgated a set of basic laws that govern it essentially for the benefit of the Jewish people. These laws recognize members of a particular religion (including converts) as nationals of the state regardless of where they live or their current citizenship. In Israeli law, all Jews are part of Am Yisrael (the people of Israel). To get papers of citizenship all they have to do is show up in the state and claim their automatic citizenship.

Israel is unique among the nations in not being a country of its citizens but of Jewish people everywhere. No other country defines itself as a country for members of a particular religion (including converts) regardless of where they live. No other country has supranational entities that have authority superseding state authority and native rights. For example, the Jewish National Fund is not a state agency but it has on its own website the amazing statement that ‘The Jewish National Fund is the custodian of the land of Israel on behalf of its owners, Jewish people everywhere’. 91% of the land (most taken from the 530 Palestinian towns and villages depopulated between 1947-1949) is not privately owned but turned over from the custodian of absentee property to the JNF for lease by Jews.

Israeli law considers one fourth of the remaining Palestinians (300,000 of the 1.3 million Palestinians with Israeli citizenship) as present absentees. This means that their land and/or homes were confiscated from them and turned to the Jewish Agency/JNF. By international law they are considered internally displaced people (refugees).

Israel maintains an illegal occupation and colonization of the West Bank and Gaza for 40 years. This includes: 133 illegal Israeli settlements, 562 military checkpoints, 610 flying checkpoints, Israeli-only roads and settlements built on Palestinian lands, denial of residency rights, 11,500 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails and, just in the past 7 years alone, 35,000 more Palestinians were made homeless by home demolitions and land confiscations. The Gaza Strip was turned into a large concentration camp were 1.5 million Palestinians (most refugees) are held in a desert strip with what the UN Human Rights commissioner declared as catastrophic conditions.

Israel is funded to the tune of $5 billion (3 billion in direct aid, 2 billion other) from US taxes and shielded from International law and basic human rights conventions by the US government (37 vetoes at the UN security Council).

Israel is an Apartheid state

Israeli Artists declaration of 2002:
"If the state of Israel aspires to perceive itself as a democracy, it should abandon once and for all, any legal and ideological foundation of religious, ethnic, and demographic discrimination. The state of Israel should strive to become the state of all its citizens. We call for the annulment of all laws that make Israel an apartheid state, including the Jewish law of return in its present form"

Zionism is not Judaism

Albert Einstein
"My awareness of the essential nature of Judaism resists the idea of a Jewish state with borders, an army, and a measure of temporal power, no matter how modest. I am afraid of the inner damage Judaism will sustain - especially from the development of a narrow nationalism within our own ranks, against which we have already had to fight strongly, even without a Jewish state."

Zionism is Nazism

Ehud Olmert, 5 December 2003
"The formula for the parameters of unilateral solution are: To maximize the number of Jews; minimize the number of Palestinians; not to withdraw to the 1967 border and not to divide Jerusalem.

A Palestinian Holocaust

Yitzhak Rabin, 23 October 1979
"We walked outside, Ben-Gurion accompanying us. Allon repeated his question, ‘what is to be done with the Palestinian population?' Ben-Gurion waved his hand in a gesture which said 'Drive them out!'"

From oppressed, to oppressor

Israeli psychologist Avigail Abarbanel
"If a day comes, and I hope it does, when Israelis decide to stop living in denial, they will have to realise that real peace will only come through justice. Justice in this context means one thing- that the ideal of an exclusively Jewish state at the cost of an entire people might have to be abandoned. Only a bi-national state and a right of return for the Palestinian refugees will come close enough to rectifying some of the injustices committed in 1948 and since. Having been ethnically cleansed, this is also what the Palestinians are entitled to under international law and common human decency."


Anonymous said...

The "Palestinian" Arabs didn't give themselves this "identity" until 1964. There have been much larger "refugee" groups that have been resettled (Indian Muslims, for instance, upon the "creation" of the modern Pakistani state). The Palestinians remain refugees by force of their fellow Arabs, not by anything Israel does.

Saudi Arabia doesn't allow citizenship to Christians, Jews, Hindus, Bhuddists, etc., etc. Is Saudi Arabia "no other country?"

The "illegal occupation" to which you refer is a direct result of an aggressive war begun with the closure of the Straits of Tiran, an international waterway, to Israeli shipping prior to the 1967 war. The constant repetition of "illegal occupation" and "occupied territories" has made this non-fact a "fact."

The UN is a viper's nest of undemocratic and totalitarian states. It has no standing except in the eyes of the evil people who subjugate their own population as a means of staying in power.

Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people. It is the exact opposite of Nazism.

There is no "Palestinian holocaust." There is no systematic rounding up and displacement of Arabs. There are no "killing fields." There are no concentration camps. You are turning the truth upside down.

Get ahold of yourself.

Bilal said...

From darkness into light

By Daphna Golan
The writer teaches on human rights at the Hebrew University's Law School.

Haaretz Wed., May 07, 2008

Again we celebrated the holiday of freedom while Gilad Shalit remained in captivity. We spoke of going from darkness into a great light, but left the talks about releasing the abducted soldiers in the dark. We have become accustomed to let our future depend on Shin Bet people who negotiate covertly, and we have stopped asking what we could do to release the abducted soldiers.

Why not talk with all our neighbors, Hamas, Fatah and Hezbollah, the presidents of Syria and Egypt and the Arab states, about releasing the abducted soldiers, about stopping the Qassam fire, about reconciliation?

We boast of Israel's democracy and freedom of information, but let the Shin Bet security service direct our reality, although they act in darkness. We have no idea what our future map is, but we have been asked for years not to ask too many questions. Advertisement

Since 1967, Israel has imprisoned more than 700,000 Palestinians, about one-fifth of the Palestinian population. According to the last United Nations report, Israel is holding behind bars more than 11,000 Palestinian prisoners, including 118 women and 376 children, who are incarcerated - in violation of international law - outside the occupied territories. The Shin Bet decides which prisoners are to receive visits and which family members will be barred from entering Israel.

We could release first, as a goodwill gesture, some 800 "administrative" Palestinian prisoners, who have been jailed in Israel for months with no trial. These prisoners, who have not been charged and do not know why they are being jailed for months (sometimes years) with no trial, must be released as the first stage of releasing the political abductees and prisoners. Releasing prisoners can be the first step of a reconciliation process, as it has been in many countries worldwide.

Reconciliation processes everywhere in the world are not conducted in the dark but in a bright light. They include a public debate on victims' testimonies and public recognition of the pain, rights and compromises made by all the parties concerned. Some 22,000 people testified before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, and millions heard and watched their testimonies on television. Testifying before the committees made it possible for the victims to tell their story and win recognition, enabled many South Africans to hear for the first time about the extent of the apartheid regime's oppression and gave society a chance to deal with the pain of the past in order to build a more just future.

In Israel the authorities prefer to conduct secret talks and not to hear the Palestinian story. We keep telling the story of our renewed return to the land of our fathers. What is the story of the Palestinians who have lived here, whom this country also belongs to? Why don't we want to hear their story, about the deportation of hundreds of thousands from their homes in 1948, destroying their villages and looting their property? Why shouldn't we hear of their dream to return to their homes in Jaffa and Ramle and Lod? About their life under occupation, when their universities were closed for years at the military governor's order? Why don't we hear about children growing up in crowded homes during months of curfew, about roadblocks and fences and family members being beaten, humiliated and arrested, and life without rights?

It is time to talk with the Palestinians about the way we will live here together. Is there really nobody to talk to? Why aren't we willing to talk with everyone about everything, about the past, present and future?

Is it possible that Gilad Shalit is still in captivity and the Qassam fire is continuing not because there is no one to talk to, but because we don't want to hear what the Palestinian leaders have to say? We must speak out loudly and openly with everyone - about the past, present and future, about a life of fair, decent neighborly relations. Without red and green lines and with no prior conditions. Only about how we will live here together and separately, Jews and Arabs, in reconciliation.

Khadija said...

brilliant piece.