Palestine’s Intifada: the Process of Liberation is Irresistible

By: Vijay Prashad

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Yes, there is violence in the streets. It is the violence that fixates the viewer. Its context is set aside. Why are they using knives or why do they throw stones – that is the horizon of the question. The Western media is always surprised by the paroxysm of violence from the Palestinians – why do they resist? There is no parallel perplexity when Israel bombs Gaza and kills thousands or when Israeli bulldozers and helicopters target the homes of innocent families in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The bewilderment is uneven. Yes, there is violence in the streets, but it is not the only violence.

There is the hot violence of the Israeli army. But there is also what Teju Cole calls the cold violence of Israeli state policy. Right wing Israelis will name the Occupied Palestinian Territories by their own words (Judea and Samaria). Their Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked refuses – against international opinion – to acknowledge that there is even an occupation; she says that the West Bank and East Jerusalem is an “area under dispute.”

Having renamed the territory, Israel’s considerably powerful settler class – under cover of their government and in violation of international law – build exclusively Jewish settlements on this land. This provokes Palestinian reaction. Then come the walls, the checkpoints, the bulldozers, the destruction of Palestinian life, the humiliation – all designed to raise the cost of life and allow the Palestinians to decide to flee. Teju Cole calls the process “cold violence,” in his contribution to Letters to Palestine. “Putting a people into deep uncertainty about the fundamentals of life, over years and decades,” he writes, “is a form of cold violence.”

For Israel there is no peace process, no possibility of a Palestinian state or of justice for the Palestinians. As Justice Minister Shaked said to al-Jazeera’s Mehdi Hassan, “The status quo is the best option.”

If you are suffocating someone with a pillow, you cannot expect that person to passively welcome asphyxiation.

The 1960 UN Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, which applies to the Palestinian case, allows occupied people the right to resistance. “The process of liberation is irresistible,” says the Declaration.

What Non-Violence?

From the First Intifada’s opening days in 1987 onwards, liberals have scoffed at the Palestinians for their failure to become like Gandhi. Stone throwing children were mocked then for their lack of strategy as knife-wielding children are now painted as merely terrorists. “Why don’t the Palestinians follow a nonviolent agenda,” is the question in the salons of the West.

It is a fair, but disjointed question. The real question is why does Israel – the occupying power – refuse to allow the Palestinians a political path. The Israeli occupation has Orijit posterproduced what Baruch Kimmerling called, at the time of the Second Intifada, “politicide,” the death of politics. Kimmerling argued that Ariel Sharon’s policies eviscerated the Palestinian political and civic institutions, destroyed the Palestinian economy and threw the people into general despair. The ultimate goal, Kimmerling argued, was “the dissolution of the Palestinian people’s existence as a legitimate social, political and economic entity.”

One aspect of politicide was the refusal to allow Hamas, which decisively won the Palestinian legislative elections in 2006, to govern within the narrow confines of the Oslo Accords. Even that was not permitted. Meanwhile, any political leader who had a genuine mass constituency that would pose a challenge to the Israeli occupation had to be jailed. Marwan Barghouti, the immensely popular Fatah leader who was one of the leaders of the Second Intifada, has been in prison since 2002. Last November, Barghouti called for a Third Intifada. He has his finger on the pulse of his people. So does Ahmad Sa’adat, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), also in prison since 2002. In April this year, the Israelis arrested Sa’adat’s PFLP comrade, Khalida Jarrar, who languishes under administrative detention. Barghouti, Sa’adat and Jarrar have a mass political constituency that would seriously challenge the Israeli occupation and the Oslo accords. They are in prison. None of those who sniff at Palestinian acts of violence ask why Israel continues to hold legitimate political leaders on long sentences. It is easier to malign the children on the streets. Far harder to question the basis of the occupation – namely, to question Israel’s acts of politicide.

Barghouti is known as the Palestinian Mandela. When the racist regime of South Africa released Mandela from prison, he took command of a mass movement that led inexorably to the end of the apartheid state. Israel probably fears this outcome. Better to have Barghouti in prison, then to risk his release on political grounds.

Freedom Theatre

In the midst of the Jenin refugee camp sits the Freedom Theatre. It was founded in 2006, a product of the Second Intifada. One of its founders, Juliano Mer-Khamis, who was assassinated in 2011, said around that time, “Israel is destroying the neurological system of the society which is culture, identity, communication.” Mer-Khamis, whose mother was Israeli and father Palestinian, drew from his mother’s work in Jenin amongst the children of the camp. He joined with a number of these children, such as Zacharia Zubeidi – who had previously played a role as a militant in the Second Intifada, to build this theatre – the basis of what Mer-Khamis hoped would be the next intifada, a cultural intifada.

Across Palestine, there are pockets of hope such as the Freedom Theatre, which is deeply political against the Occupation and yet compassionate toward the human spirit. Last year, the Freedom Theatre conducted a Freedom Bus tour across the Occupied Palestinian Territories. On that bus was Sudhanva Deshpande, an actor from the Indian communist street theatre company, Jana Natya Manch (Janam). Both Janam and the Freedom Theatre share a sensibility toward politics and culture. “Theatre isn’t pure art,” says Deshpande. “It cannot be. As the Freedom Theatre people said to me, they’re training freedom fighters. But the weapons used are tools of culture.”

This month, actors from the Freedom Theatre will travel to India, where they will join with Janam to craft a play. They will then take this play across India and then later across Palestine. This is solidarity. It is also part of the Palestinian political landscape. As Faisal Abu Alhayjaa said during a visit to India earlier this year, “There’s occupation, there’s Fatah, there’s Hamas, there are other political parties. There are killings, there are intifadas. There is no freedom. So we have learnt to use art as a tool to resist the occupation. Freedom Theatre is a place for men, women and children to express themselves. In a place divided by checkpoints and patrols, it becomes important to keep the sense of community together.” Art, then, is an antidote to politicide.

Occupation creates frustration and narrows the political imagination. Violence is the child of occupation. Other horizons have to be created. That is the role of culture. In The Wretched of the Earth (1963), Franz Fanon wrote not only about the inevitability of violence in the anti-colonial struggle, but also for the need of a “literature of combat.” What would that literature do? “It molds the national consciousness,” he wrote, “giving it form and contours and flinging open before it new and boundless horizons.”

The endless Intifada remains open to challenge the endless Occupation. They are twins. Between them, through them, emerge other hallucinations of a future. “This poem will not end apartheid,” writes the poet Remi Kanazi in his new collection Before the Next Bomb Drops (Haymarket, 2015). But it will open up the imagination, lead to new possibilities, produce new politics, a politics against politicide.

Orijit-poster

The Freedom Theatre is seeking funds for its Freedom Jatha to India and back. Please give them a hand. The poster above is by the Indian artist Orijit Sen. It depicts Handala, the character created by the Palestinian artist Naji al-Ali, holding hands with Madhubala, his new Indian friend. Orijit’s posters are available if you donate money for the Freedom Theatre’s Jatha.

Vijay Prashad, director of International Studies at Trinity College, is the editor of “Letters to Palestine” (Verso). He lives in Northampton.

Courtesy: http://www.counterpunch.org/

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Open letter to Mayor Bill De Blasio on his upcoming trip to Israel

October 14, 2015

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Dear Mayor de Blasio:

We understand from a recent report in The New York Times that you will be departing tomorrow on a journey to the State of Israel. According to the article, your purpose is to speak at a gathering of mayors in Jerusalem on the topic of “combating anti-Semitism.” While combating anti-Semitism, along with all forms of racism and discrimination, is a valid goal, we write to register our concern that you, as Mayor of New York City, are choosing to follow the ritual of New York politicians who travel to Israel—and do so with political blinders on. That you are being fully subsidized by an individual investor and entrepreneur who resides in Brooklyn, Baruck Eliezer Gross, only underscores the potential for one-sidedness in this trip. For us, as New York City residents and voters engaged in critiquing Israeli policies and supporting those who are charged with “anti-Semitism” for doing so, this news raises some troubling issues.

We hope you recognize that your constituents include many Jews, Muslims, Christians, atheists, and others who strongly oppose Israeli policies of occupation, exclusion, apartheid, and relentless suppression of both Palestinian citizens of Israel and those residing in the Occupied Territory. Your travel to Israel under the circumstances detailed in the news report validates the “With-us or Against-us” ideological perspective of Israel partisans and marginalizes the perspectives of those who suffer from Israeli government policies—including Palestinians in exile in your own city.

You should be aware that, since the brutal siege on Gaza of summer 2014 when over 2,500 Palestinian civilians were killed and many more injured and displaced, the military violence against Palestinians (murders of youth, house demolitions, punitive reprisals, incarceration, restrictions of mobility, lockdowns of Palestinian neighborhoods) has escalated massively. We are concerned that the intent and effect of the visit by the mayor of the largest city in America during this time might be read as legitimating the actions of the Israel Defense Forces and border police in their campaign of violence and repression against Palestinians. We urge you to consider the risk that your office is being exploited.

As you address your audience about “combating anti-Semitism,” it is vital that you understand the ways in which the term is used to undermine criticism of Israeli government practices. The false charges of “anti-Semitism” have been repeatedly used by Israel advocacy groups to smear and silence peaceful, lawful organizations, scholars, and students in the US for speaking out against Israel’s policies—policies that many Israeli Jews also oppose. As an advocate of social justice and the First Amendment, you should recognize the ways in which criticisms of Israeli government policies are no different in kind than criticisms of US policy. We expect you would be sensitive to this reactionary tactic—and resist it. Ultimately, the tactic is used to justify or evade Israel’s widely condemned violations of international human rights and to vilify groups that support Palestinian demands for justice.

We must ask whether you have considered questions that would be natural for a mayor who asserts a commitment to voices of marginalized communities: Will your audience in Jerusalem include any Palestinian mayors from the West Bank? Will your talk address Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian attacks as well as anti-Semitism? Would you consider modifying the itinerary of your three days in Israel to include a visit to Palestinian areas in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, to Hebron, to border checkpoints, so you might witness the brutal conditions that Palestinians in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory are subjected to on a daily basis?

Along with this letter, we are including the links to two urgent new reports—one issued by Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights (The Palestine Exception to Free Speech: A Movement Under Attack in the US); the other by Jewish Voice for Peace (Stifling Dissent: How Israel’s Defenders Use False Charges of Anti-Semitism to Limit the Debate on Campus). Both reports document many recent examples of how groups supporting Israel have used erroneous accusations of anti-Semitism and terrorism against professors, students, and public intellectuals throughout the US in order to stifle or suppress views about Israel/Palestine with which they disagree. The targets of these attacks include faculty and students right here in New York City at CUNY, Columbia, and New York University, especially members of Students for Justice in Palestine.

As you review these documents, we would urge you to incorporate some of the realities they describe into your Jerusalem speech, to inject some fairness into the conversation. We hope they inspire you to visit areas and people (including Jewish and Palestinian human rights groups) most affected by Israel’s security regime. The stature of your office, we believe, compels you to hear the voices of the dispossessed and evaluate the realities on the ground.

We would ask for an opportunity to meet with you after your return to discuss our organizations’ goals of peace and justice with regard to Israel/Palestine and the implications of these reports regarding the suppression of speech on this critical issue, including here in New York City.

Sincerely,

Center for Constitutional Rights

Jewish Voice for Peace-New York City chapter

Jews Say No!

Courtesy: http://mondoweiss.net/

Solidarity with the Palestinian popular resistance! Boycott Israel now!

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By: Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC)

Whether the current phase of Israel’s intensified repression and Palestinian popular resistance will evolve into a full-fledged intifada or not, one thing is already evident—a new generation of Palestinians is marching on the footsteps of previous generations, rising up en masse against Israel’s brutal, decades-old regime of occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid.

World governments, especially in the west, are calling this a “cycle of violence” where both sides are to blame, ignoring the root cause of the colonial conflict and their own complicity in enabling Israel to maintain it and to violate international law with impunity. Almost all Palestinians today are calling for a full boycott of Israel and for isolating it internationally, in all fields, just as apartheid South African once was.

In this latest round, Israel has fanned the flames of Palestinian grassroots resistance by stepping up its attacks against al-Aqsa mosque compound, the Noble Sanctuary, located in the heart of the Israeli occupied Old City of Jerusalem. Fanatic, government-backed Jewish fundamentalist settler groups have persistently desecrated the compound, often verbally insulting worshippers with vile racism and openly calling for the destruction of the mosque. This has triggered widespread anger and protests in Jerusalem and among Palestinians everywhere in historic Palestine.

Typically, the Israeli army’s response was to protect the criminal settlers and punish the Palestinian victims, ultimately denying almost all Palestinians access to their holy site.

These threats are taken seriously by Palestinians who suffer daily the consequences of Israel’s official policy of “Judaization” of the city, a policy of gradually colonizing the land and replacing its indigenous Christian and Muslim Palestinian population with illegal Jewish settlers. This policy, which amounts to ethnic cleansing and a war crime under international law, is implemented through incessant land confiscations, expansion of the colonial wall, house demolitions, settler take-overs of Palestinian homes, extrajudicial killings, arrests and expulsions, all supported by Israel’s “justice” system, a constantly reliable, rubber-stamp partner in crime.

The latest Israeli attack against the al-Aqsa mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, moreover, is not an isolated incident. Hundreds of historic churches and mosques have been destroyed by Zionist militias and later the Israeli state since 1948. Last summer, during the massacre in Gaza, Israel bombed to the ground 73 mosques. Many Palestinian churches and mosques have been defaced or otherwise desecrated this year alone by Jewish extremists in so-called “price tag attacks,” including the Church of Loaves and Fishes (Multiplication), overlooking Lake Tiberias, which was set on fire last June.

These racist and criminal attacks against Palestinians and their freedom of religion come as an extension of a massive shift in Israel to the extreme right and the unprecedented prevalence in Israeli society of overt, deeply-seated colonial racism and racial hatred against the indigenous Palestinian people.

Virtually all Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza are denied access to Jerusalem, which is besieged by walls, watch towers and barbed wire, and are subject to daily assault and humiliation.

In a typical so-called “period of calm”, Israel enforces its medieval siege of Gaza, conducts incursions into Palestinians cities, confiscates Palestinian land, including in the Naqab (Negev), destroys Palestinian property, and builds illegal Jewish-only settlements. In its ongoing attempts to entrench its system of apartheid and colonial rule, Israel denies Palestinians their full spectrum of rights in the most banal of ways, from a child’s right to education to a mother’s access to health care, to a farmer’s ability to reach his/her land and to the right of a family to even live together in one home. And all this is done with the blessing of the courts.

In light of the apathy or direct complicity of world governments and the UN, and as a result of Israel’s impunity in perpetuating this system of injustice against Palestinians, in historic Palestine as well as in exile, the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has made great strides in redefining Israel’s positioning in the world stage as a pariah state.

Through boycotts of institutions that are complicit in Israeli violations of international law, through divestment from corporations supporting Israeli oppression and through a principled call for sanctions against Israel, the BDS movement has increased the isolation of Israel and started to impose costs on its regime of settler-colonialism, apartheid and occupation.

The World Bank has revealed that Palestinian imports from Israel are falling significantly. Israeli businessmen are reporting that European investors are no longer willing to invest in Israel, while a UN study confirms that foreign direct investment in Israel dropped by 46% in 2014, as compared to 2013. A Rand study predicts that BDS may cost Israel between 1% and 2% of its GDP each year over the next ten years, and, most recently, credit rating agency Moody’s has reported that BDS is a potential threat to the Israeli economy.

More needs to be done, however, to hold Israel to account and shatter its still strong impunity. Complicit governments must be exposed. Corporations that are enabling and profiting from Israel’s human rights violations must pay a price in their reputation and revenues. Israel’s military machine, including its research arm, must face a comprehensive international military embargo, and all Israeli leaders, officers and soldiers who are involved in the commission of the current and past crimes must be prosecuted at the International Criminal Court as well as national courts that respect international jurisdiction.

Israel is not just oppressing Palestinians; it is exporting its ruthless model of securitization and repression to the world. Israel is deeply involved in training and arming death squads in Latin America, often as a US proxy, selling weapons and military expertise to dictatorships in Asia and Africa, often to both sides of a civil war, and militarizing police forces in Ferguson, Los Angeles, London and cities around the world. Israel today is a key player in domestic repression against racial, social, economic and environmental justice movements around the world.

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the Palestinian leadership of the global BDS movement, calls on people of conscience around the world to support Palestinians in their quest for freedom at this crucial moment by stepping up BDS activities against Israel’s regime of oppression. In particular, and related to the current mass revolt on the streets of Palestine, we call on supporters of the Palestinian struggle to:

Build awareness about Palestinian rights under international law and support for BDS through media outreach, including social media;

  • Pressure parliaments to impose a military embargo on Israel;

  • Campaign against Israeli military companies such as Elbit Systems;

  • Support boycott and divestment campaigns against complicit companies, such as G4S and

  • HP, that are most blatantly complicit in Israel’s infrastructure of oppression;

  • Pass effective and strategic, not just symbolic, BDS resolutions in unions, academic associations, student governments and social movements that can lead to concrete measures, and enhance the cultural boycott of Israel;

  • Consider legal action against Israeli criminals (soldiers, settlers, officers and decision-makers) and against executives of corporations that are implicated in Israel’s crimes and violations of international law.

Like their parents’ generation, the thousands of Palestinian youth in Jerusalem, Gaza, Ramallah, Hebron, Bethlehem, Jaffa, Nazareth and elsewhere who have taken to the streets in large protests against Israel’s occupation and apartheid are first and foremost shaking off despair and liberating their minds of the myth of oppression as fate. They are also nourishing the entire Palestinian people’s aspiration to self-determination and living in freedom, dignity and a just peace.

It is high time to isolate Israel’s regime of militarization, securitization and racism as a danger not just to Palestinians and the Arab region, but to humanity at large.

Courtesy: http://www.bdsmovement.net/

Israel-Palestine: India’s tight-rope walk amid flip-flops will need more than just a balancing act

Pranab Mukherjee, the first Indian president to visit Israel and Palestine, will encounter ominous portents: escalating violence and unrest.

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By: Sukumar Muralidharan

With Jordan as springboard for one of the most contentious visits abroad by an Indian head of state, President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday arrived in an occupied Palestine seething with unrest. The President’s meetings with the beleaguered political leadership of the Palestinian Authority have been given precedence over engagements in Israel. This is part of the careful choreography of India’s overtures in the region, a balancing act between symbolic support for Palestine and deepening strategic engagement with Israel.

Facts on the ground make this an especially unpropitious time for a diplomatic tight-rope walk. Since October 1, when two Israeli settlers in an illegal settlement in Palestine were shot dead, unrest has escalated, claiming 25 Palestinian lives. Many of these have fallen victim to lynch mobs of Israeli extremists, rousing themselves to action with now-familiar “Death to the Arabs” calls. Typically, this chant is accompanied by the extremist battle-cry “Am Yisrael chai”, or “the Jewish people lives”.

Despite Israel’s evident unease, the Indian President’s delegation has underlined the symbolism of his planned visit to the Palestinian Al Quds University in Jerusalem. Even as arrangements were being finalised, a shipment of Information Technology hardware from India for a computer centre the President was to inaugurate at Al Quds, was detained by Israeli customs. Israel will not easily relent from its posture that every institution of Palestinian civic life is a breeding ground of terrorism.

The figleaf

Ongoing unrest is greatly aggravated by unilateral Israeli moves to change the rules of access to the Haram al-Sharief, a site of immense religious significance in Palestine. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dismissed all such accusations as incitement by the Palestinian leadership. But his own intimacy with extremist settlers intent on reclaiming the site as exclusive Jewish patrimony, is very poor testament for his credibility.

The figleaf of the peace process was the basis for India’s recognition of Israel in 1992. Yet there has since never been the faintest sign of good faith on Israel’s part since its objectives did not go far beyond finding a Palestinian proxy to police its occupation.

In recent years, Israel has insisted on recognition of the eternally Jewish character of the territory it controls as a precondition for resuming talks, while provocatively continuing with settlements on occupied land. In evident frustration, Mahmoud Abbas, the most conciliatory Palestinian

leader Israel is ever likely to get, announced at the United Nations General Assembly just days ago, that the PA would no longer be bound by the 1993 Oslo Accord.

Abbas promised a bombshell but retreated in characteristic timidity afterwards, holding out a vague threat of unspecified future actions. A day later, Netanyahu took to the podium at the United Nations General Assembly with a 45-minute diatribe interspersed with the settler battle-cry “Am Yisrael Chai.” Most of the his speech was spent demonising Iran and embellishing the mythology of the Jewish nation and its exclusive claim to Palestine.

A pivot to the extreme right

Severely challenged in terms of basic civility, Netanyahu has used every appearance on overseas platforms to deliver angry screeds against the imagined crimes of history. In March this year, he addressed the United States Congress in a brazen effort to undermine negotiations then underway to curb Iran’s nuclear programme. And while sketching a scare scenario of mortal danger to Israel’s survival, Netanyahu reached for Biblical analogies and invoked a sinister Persian viceroy’s plot against the Jewish people from two-and-a-half millennia back.

The malevolent emergence of the Islamic State militia in the West Asian region, did not make Iran a potential ally of the west, said Netanyahu. In the deadly game underway, there would be “no place for America or for Israel, no peace for Christians, Jews or Muslims who don’t share the Islamist medieval creed, no rights for women, no freedom for anyone”.

Rhetorically, these were overtures to the most extreme religious bigots in the U.S. and elsewhere. Then facing a tense electoral battle at home, Netanyahu pinned his hopes on retaining the loyalty of the fanatical right-wing that is now mainstream in Israel. As polls neared, he warned about a sinister left conspiracy to depose him, before playing his final card and vowing that a Palestinian state would never become reality under his watch.

That pivot to the extreme right transformed a losing position into victory. After weeks of negotiations, when Netanyahu put together a narrow majority in parliament, it was in alliance with Israel’s most reactionary elements. Today, as unrest escalates, his chilling avowal that crackdowns and home demolitions will continue, convey nothing by way of conciliatory intent.

Serious hazards

Israel’s role in the ongoing chaos and violence in the Arab world cannot be discounted, including well-founded suspicions of assistance rendered to extreme Islamists in Syria. Deepening ties at this time with Israel, will draw India into a strategic posture fraught with serious hazards.

India’s presidential visit comes just over a year since Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza which killed over 2,000 Palestinians, the vast majority of them civilians and a large number being children. Vacuously and with little purpose, India’s parliament debated the matter in July last year, since the treasury benches refused to allow voting on a resolution of condemnation.

Later that month, India voted for a motion in the United Nations Human Rights Council calling for an investigation into suspected war crimes in Gaza. In July this year, India abstained from a vote in the same forum, referring its findings to the International Criminal Court.

Various tortured explanations have been advanced by the Indian foreign policy establishment for this sequence of flip-flops. There has been no escape from the fact though, that opportunism rather than principle is now the dominant motif in India’s approach towards one of the world’s most combustible regions.

Courtesy: http://www.scroll.in/

The next Intifada: A struggle against the Bantustans

By: Jamal Juma

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Young people are the protagonists in this rebellion. With every wave of protests they are building new grassroots structures of resistance

The past few days in Palestine have evoked images of the First Intifada. Burning tyres in the streets, youth wrapped in Palestinian scarves throwing stones, and Israeli military confronting them with tear gas, sound grenades and live ammunition. Entire Palestinian villages are under siege. Clashes are spreading like wild fire across Jerusalem and Palestinian areas on both sides of the Green Line.

The root causes for this rebellion are the same as ever: the Israeli regime of occupation, apartheid and colonialism makes Palestinians’ lives unbearable. However, there are fundamental differences between now and then, and the actions of Israel’s new settler militia will determine when, not if, a full scale Intifada will explode.

The most visible difference between the reality on the ground in the first and second Intifadas is the prominent role of Israeli settlers in the attacks on Palestinians. The settler population has become a well-armed, well-organised and ideologically driven militia. They maraud in Palestinian villages and attack Palestinians in the streets and even in their homes. From last year’s horrific burning alive of young Muhammad Abu Khdeir in Jerusalem to the recent arson attack on the Dawabshah’s home in Dima, murdering the parents and a toddler, settlers have carried out a string of terror attacks on Palestinians. Israel maintains and supports this fanatic militia to carry out the dirtiest parts of Israeli aggression and repression in the West Bank.

Pushing Palestinians into Bantustans

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s initial rhetoric about an “all-out war” including the re-occupation of the major Palestinian residential areas in the West Bank, defined by the Oslo Agreement as Area A, pleased this settler militia and their parties in the government. However, as the Israeli military and intelligence agencies were quick to point out, massive military deployment into Area A is neither in the interest of the settlers nor the rest of Israel’s political establishment. They all have a common aim: expelling as many Palestinians as possible from Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank to the walled-in Bantustans they have created. This is best served by concentrating pressure outside these Bantustans.

Of the additional four military brigades sent to the West Bank, none are in the major Palestinian cities. Contrary to the first Intifada, when the army used extreme violence and constantly patrolled Palestinian cities to maintain their control or the Israeli re-invasion of the West Bank during the second Intifada, which aimed at destroying Palestinian Authority infrastructure, this time Area A is not a target.

Following a similar logic to the massacres of the Palestinian people in Gaza, Israel attacks from the perimeters. The ghettos stay under Palestinian control while Israel makes life unbearable in the remaining 60 percent of the West Bank through the construction of the apartheid wall, home demolitions, immediate threat of destruction of 89 communities, denial of access to water, checkpoints, land confiscation and settler attacks.

Youth lose their fear

These policies impact Palestinian resistance. Palestinians under immediate threat of ethnic cleansing are at the forefront of the protests. Young Palestinians in Jerusalem continue their mission of “shaking off” the oppressive Israeli grip on their economy, schools and homes. Nothing intimidates them; not point-blank killings nor the new law punishing stone throwing with up to 20 years of imprisonment.

If anything, the ever-tightening repression is the reason why Palestinian youth from Jerusalem are most often the ones carrying out the current stabbing attacks. Since the burning of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, the Jerusalem Intifada has been ongoing. In the rest of the West Bank, periodic waves of protests have come and gone in an ever rising tide. In the last week, seven youth have been killed and almost 800 Palestinians have been injured. Palestinians inside the Green Line, who face virulent racism and institutional apartheid and ethnic cleansing policies, have organised protests in their cities and towns.

Palestinians residing in Area A in the West Bank, with the exception of the refugee camps, have largely kept away from the mobilisation so far. For many of them, the complete vacuum of political leadership still weighs too heavy to get involved. Neither the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) nor the Palestinian political parties are able to offer any strategic directions in the face of the Israeli rejection of a Palestinian state. They cannot deliver the demands for Palestinian self-determination including the right of return and an end of apartheid for the Palestinian citizens of Israel. They have failed to create structures to defend their people.

 Revolt against Israel and PA

The current outbreak of protests is not solely directed at Israel. It is also a manifestation of the frustration of the people who face the brunt of Israeli aggression in the West Bank. Their protests express an overall desire to end ineffective and inept representation.

The PA is aware of this anger. Mahmoud Abbas’ recent speech at the United Nations cautioning that Israeli policies “threaten to undermine the structure of the Palestinian National Authority and even end its existence” was nothing more than a plea to Israel and its supporters to not completely erode the PA’s ability to exercise control in the Area A Bantustans. The current wave of protests may even serve to underline his point that the PNA is central for Israel’s plan of ethnic cleansing and the Bantustanisation of the West Bank in the short term.

Ultimately, the current power sharing between the Israeli occupation and the PA as guarantor of stability in Area A Bantustans will not last. In order for the PA to maintain a minimum of credibility in front of its people, it must mimic a national movement for liberation by ending security coordination with Israel, stopping economic agreements with Israel, calling for full boycott, divestment, and sanctions to isolate Israel’s colonial apartheid regime, and protect the people. If the PNA does so, Israel will crush it. If it fails to deliver this minimum programme, the Palestinian people will rise up.

The entire political, social and economic context is readying the Palestinian population for this uprising. Supporters of the two-state solution have lost hope in a Palestinian state. The economic situation continues to rapidly deteriorate, even in Area A. Unemployment rises as despair skyrockets. People seek dignity and a future for themselves, they seek freedom and independence for their nation, and they are willing to pay the price. Young people are the protagonists in this rebellion. With every wave of protests they are building new grassroots structures of resistance.

It is yet to be seen if Israel and the PA are able to control the current upsurge of rebellion. Two days ago, Israeli-Palestinian security agencies agreed to calm the situation, Netanyahu and Abbas made statements calling for an end to confrontations. Yet today, more protests than ever exploded all over the West Bank and inside the Green Line while the settlers are once again out in the streets attacking Palestinians.

The real question is not whether a third Intifada will come but rather when it will be strong enough to last. The deciding factor is Israel’s settler colonial project. Even in the absence of an effective Palestinian leadership, if the settlers and their state continue to attack the Palestinian people, we will see the emergence of a full Intifada built on grassroots organising sooner rather than later.

– Jamal Juma was born in Jerusalem and attended Birzeit University, where he became politically active. Since the first Intifada, he has focused on grassroots activism.  Since 2002 he is the coordinator of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign and since 2012 the coordinator of the Land Defence Coalition, a network of Palestinian grassroots movements. He has been invited to address numerous civil society and UN conferences, where he has spoken on the issue of Palestine and the Apartheid Wall. His articles and interviews are widely disseminated and translated into several languages.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Middle East Eye.

Courtesy: http://www.middleeasteye.net/

STOP G4S

G4S is a huge British security company that provides equipment and services to Israeli prisons at which political prisoners are held without trial and subjected to torture.

By helping Israel to run 5 prisons and “interrogation centres”, G4S is participating in Israel’s use of torture and mass incarceration of more than 6,000 Palestinians as a way to discourage Palestinians from resisting its apartheid policies.

stop G4S

Students at Kings College London successfully pressured the university not to renew a major contract with G4S .

 G4S also has contracts with the Israeli government to provide equipment and services to checkpoints that make up the Apartheid wall, crossings that enforce the siege of Gaza and Israeli policy stations. G4S guards operate at various Israeli military bases.

In 2012, at the height of a historic hunger strike by Palestinian political prisoners, Palestinian organisations called for action to hold G4S accountable for its role in Israel’s prisons.

stop the wall 2

International campaigning has had a huge impact on G4S:

In June 2014, the Gates Foundation divested the whole of its $170m holding in the company as a result of an international campaign.

Universities in Oslo and Bergen refused to give G4S contracts over its role in Israel’s prison system following student campaigns. In the UK, at least 5 student unions voted to cancel contracts with G4S, and students successfully pressured 2 other universities not to renew contracts with the company.

Major charities in South Africa, the Netherlands and elsewhere terminated contracts with G4S.

The US Methodist Church, the largest protestant church in the US, divested from G4S after coalition campaigning brought the issue to a vote.

Click http://www.bdsmovement.net/g4s to read a full timeline of the G4S campaign.

Facing mounting international pressure, G4S announced in 2014 that G4S “did not expect to renew” its contract with the Israeli Prison Service when it expires in 2017, and it has also said it will end some aspects of its involvement in illegal Israeli settlements.

However, G4S continues to profit from Israel’s abhorrent prison system and has not withdrawn from any of its contracts with Israel. A company that commits serious human rights abuses cannot be trusted to keep its word. The campaign against G4S must continue until it entirely ends its role with the Israel Prison Service and all aspect of Israel’s apartheid regime.

Courtesy: www.bdsmovement.net/

A New Report Shows That the Palestinian Movement is Under Attack in the US

Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights have released an incredible new study.

By Donna Nevel / AlterNet October 7, 2015

As Israeli violence against the Palestinian people escalates, support across the globe for justice in Palestine, and calls in this country for the US government and corporations to stop facilitating Israel’s gross violations of international law and human rights, are increasingly common-place. However, rather than engage substantively about those well-documented violations, Israel’s defenders recklessly and baselessly smear Israel’s critics with charges of anti-Semitism, promoting terrorism, and seeking to “delegitimize” Israel.

It’s a tactic of long standing. For as long as I can remember, the Israeli government has had a well-orchestrated hasbara (propaganda) campaign directed at those who protest Israel’s unjust treatment of the Palestinian people. More recently, with the growth of the movement to hold Israeli accountable for its human rights violations through Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), these attacks have intensified dramatically. They are being fueled with enormous sums of money and resources from the Israeli government, some American Jewish organizations, and the likes of Sheldon Adelson and others.

These campaigns are largely directed at college campuses where consistent, bold, and creative organizing is ongoing against Israel actions and against university complicity in supporting Israeli crimes. Those whose views are considered unacceptable to Israel’s supporters have been targeted with personal and ad hominem attacks that include, but are not limited to, intimidation, campaigns to get professors fired, and ongoing harassment. When speaking on college campuses, I was told story after story of students who were hesitant to speak out because of fear of reprisals. Further, accusations of “creating hostile environments” or being “uncivil–ironic as they are—are yet another attempt to derail the call for equality, for accountability, and for fairness.

Last week, Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), which work with students and academics throughout the US, released a report (“The Palestine Exception to Free Speech: A Movement Under Attack in the US”) that systematically documents the growing suppression, on US campuses, of advocacy on behalf of Palestinian human rights. Describing nearly 300 incidents of such suppression in a period of a year and a half, the report describes false accusations of anti-Semitism and terrorism; baseless legal complaints and administrative disciplinary actions; firings of professors; and ongoing harassment and intimidation targeted at students and scholars across the country.

The report calls on university administrators, as well as federal and state lawmakers, to remember that universities are places in which vigorous debate on issues of public policy is expected and should be encouraged; that criticism of Israel, a nation state, is not the same as anti-Semitism; and where First Amendment rights must be scrupulously safeguarded. The report specifically calls on administrators to listen to students on their campus who are victims of such tactics and to insure that all legislative and governmental bodies—including the State Department and Office of Civil Rights—are vigilant in distinguishing criticism of Israeli policies from anti-Semitism.

At the same time as the CCR and Palestine Legal have released their report, Jewish Voice for Peace, which works for peace and justice in Palestine and Israel, has also released a report (“Stifling Dissent: How Israel’s Defenders Use False Charges of Anti-Semitism to Limit the Debate on Campus”) describing attempts by Israel’s supporters to control debate about Israel and Palestine on US campuses. It particularly documents the ways that Muslim and Arab students are being targeted. JVP’s report discusses at length the bullying tactics (toward those speaking out against Israeli policies) being employed by a range of American Jewish organizations; how Israel support groups are abusing student government, as well as changing and creating policies and regulations, to silence debate; and the smear campaigns against faculty through battles over hiring and tenure. As part of the report, an overview is provided of the Jewish organizations that participate and promote such tactics. At the report’s end, recommendations are offered for insuring that these tactics are not allowed to rule the day along with descriptions of organizations that can offer resources and support when needed.

Both reports make clear that the movement for justice for the Palestinian people is growing not just on campuses but nation-wide—in fact, world-wide—and that universities must resist, not participate in promoting and supporting, unethical and illegal strategies to silence debate and, worse, destroy those who have the courage to act with integrity and speak out against Israeli brutality.

Donna Nevel is a founding member of Jews Say No!, is on the board of Jewish Voice for Peace and is a member of the coordinating committee of the Nakba Education Project US.

Courtesy : http://www.alternet.org/