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.

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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/

Narrative of an activist.. Such narratives will be Palestine’s own history

By Iyad Burnat On August 31, 2015 (http://roarmag.org/2015/08/palestine-bilin-idf-israel-iyad-burnat/)

Editor’s note: For more than 10 years, the brave people of Bil’in in the Occupied West Bank have been leading the resistance against the Israeli occupation. Every Friday the village marches against the illegal Israeli Separation Wall that bisects their agricultural lands. Throughout the years they’ve been supported and joined by solidarity activists, from the Israeli Anarchists Against the Wall to Basque groups, always using creative ways to demand attention for their plight.

Iyad Burnat has been one of the central figures in the Bil’in protests. He is the brother of Emad Burnat, director of the highly acclaimed 2011 film 5 Broken Cameras. Resistance has cost Iyad years in jail and the loss of friends killed. A year ago his son was severely and permanently injured after being shot in his leg by Israeli soldiers. Throughout these trials, one thing characterized the Bil’in people above all: an unbreakable spirit of resistance!

Below is Iyad’s soul-wrenching account after being targeted and severely beaten during last Friday’s protests:

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They tried to kill me.

In the afternoon of Friday, August 28 we went to our weekly demonstration against the theft of our land and the apartheid wall in Bil’in. We have been doing this non-violent demonstration for 10 years. As usual the soldiers were waiting for us in front of our village, but this time from the start of the demonstration we could feel that there was something different from the usual initial bombardment of teargas from the soldiers’ jeeps.

To begin with, they fired a smaller amount of gas towards the peaceful demonstration, but as the march continued towards the site of the old segregation wall, the soldiers ambushed us and held me at gunpoint, threatening to shoot. The soldiers tied my hands far too tight behind my back, the plastic ties cutting into my skin. Still with their guns aimed at me, I was brutally beaten by five or six soldiers with sticks and they bound my eyes with blindfold material soaked with pepper spray.

I did not resist — any resistance against these type of soldiers would just lead to more of a beating or worse.

After the beating, in agony, the soldiers walked me to their jeep on the other side of the separation wall surrounding the illegal settlement close to our village. I was in great pain and could feel that the soldiers had done some real damage to me.

I pleaded with the soldiers to speak with their commander as I could feel a lot of pain in my chest and needed to visit the hospital. The soldiers then just laughed and mocked me saying that there is no hospital for “terrorists”. They lied to me that they would take me to the hospital after they had taken me to the police station. On arrival at the police station, still cuffed and blindfolded, I again told people there that I needed to see a doctor but no one would listen.

I was held from 2pm until midnight without charge and still with no access to medical care, all the while with pepper spray burning my eyes and the ties slicing my wrists.

When they finally released me and my cousin Hamza, who was arrested for photo-documenting the day’s events, they threw me out on to the street and told me that I had to call for an ambulance myself. Hamza called the ambulance as I was exhausted and unable to move with the pain. The ambulance arrived in around 20 minutes and took me to Ramallah hospital where they treated me and told me that I have two broken ribs in my chest, along with heavy bruising all over my body. They gave me medicine and I was told that they cannot do anything to treat the broken ribs.

I have been arrested and injured many times during our struggle against the illegal settlements and theft of our families’ land, but this time I felt that the Israeli soldiers wanted to kill me. They have done a lot of things over the years to try and break us and the spirit of the village, especially targeting me and my family.

When I was in the hospital on August 28, the date of my son Majd’s birthday, I recalled that exactly a year earlier, he himself was in the hospital awaiting treatment after being shot in the leg by Israeli soldiers during a protest. This is how the Israelis use violence to threaten and scare my family, hoping that we will break and give up resisting the occupation and give up on the land we depend on.

The oppressor must understand that every bullet and beating towards us does not make us weak, but strengthens our resolve and brings us closer together. We will not give up, we will resist until they tire of using violence against us.

I will continue to fight for our freedom, for a better future for my children and for all children. As soon as I am fit and able to attend, I will return to our weekly protest and continue to demonstrate against the aggression we face in our everyday lives.

Iyad Burnat is the head of the Bil’in Popular Committee against the Wall, which has led weekly demonstrations since 2005 against the Israel West Bank Barrier and the illegal settlements in the area. Iyad has been arrested and imprisoned over a dozen times for non-violently protesting Israeli actions. This text was originally published on Iyad’sFacebook page.

Stop the Wall have decided to launch once again a call for a Global Week of Action.

After three years of break,Stop the Wall have decided to launch once again a call for a Global Week of Action.

http://www.stopthewall.org/2015/09/21/week-against-apartheid-wall-2015

They have given the week the title “Stop the Bantustans!” because what Israel is doing at the moment is literally locking down the gates for the West Bank ghettos.

The trigger for this decision has really been the impressive rise in home demolitions – 143 Palestinian structures have been demolished only in August. All over the West Bank some 89 communities are under immediate threat of being entirely destroyed. A year ago, Israel has announced the plan of action on how to ethnically cleanse area C from its Palestinian population to the United Nations – just after the massacre in Gaza. Since then, Israeli military and authorities are systematically implementing the plan while the international community ignores the human and political impact and gravity of the situation. Israel has started to build the ‘relocation townships’ for the Palestinian communities to be ethnically cleansed and is targeted key communities one by one to break their resistance. People are struggling on the ground but we need your support to create the necessary global awareness about Israel’s ethnic cleansing plan and its ongoing implementation.

The only good news is that national and international mobilization has been able to save the community of Susiya, in the south Hebron Hills, so far from being destroyed. Solidarity does work!

We hope that our joint efforts during this year’s Week against the Apartheid Wall can contribute to build further solidarity, global awareness and pressure on governments around the world to stop their complicity and connivence with Israel’s apartheid and its criminal policies!

Stop the Wall has created a webpage with information about the Relocation Plan and Palestinian resistance and with indications on how to participate. Please visit: www.StoptheBantustans.org

PalSol condemns the International seminar on “STRATEGIC DEFENCE COOPERATION BETWEEN INDIA AND ISRAEL”

The Palestine Solidarity Committee (PalSol) Indian Committee for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (InCACBI) are deeply concerned that FICCI has joined hands with SIBAT, Ministry of Defence, Israel to promote collaboration of the Indian industry with the defence and homeland security companies of Israel. FICCI seems to be willfully ignoring the record of Israeli defence and security industries, which is one of complicity with the brutal Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and its violations of international humanitarian law. Israel has used the occupation to develop its surveillance industry, creating concrete walls and barbed wire fences mounted with cameras and sensors, across the West Bank. It has converted Gaza with such fences into the world’s largest open air prison. In Gaza and Lebanon, Israel uses its drone technology for targeted assassinations. It then uses the continued occupation, and the repeated attacks on Gaza, to advertise all over the world, the “capabilities” of its defence and surveillance industries.

By joining hands with the Israeli industry, Indian industry will be also partners with an industry that is participating in targeted killings and brutal oppression of the Palestinian people. The global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign has successfully targeted global multinationals such as Veolia, who are actively involved in the occupation in the West Bank, causing them the loss of billions of dollars in contracts. By joining hands with the Israeli companies, Indian companies will also lay themselves to open to calls for such boycotts. Even in its business interest, Indian industry should reconsider joining hands with companies, who have a bloody record of participating in the human rights violations of the occupied Palestinian territories.

Seema Mustafa, Pallab Sengupta, Prabir Purkayastha (Palestine Solidarity Committee)
Sukumar Muralidharan, Githa Hariharan, Pushpamala N (InCACBI)

Palestinian boycott activists salute the 1,000+ Black activists, scholars and artists for endorsing BDS for Palestinian rights

Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” – Rev Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Occupied Palestine, August 25, 2015 — Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activists have today welcomed the statement(http://www.bdsmovement.net/2015/palestinian-boycott-activists-salute-the-1000-black-activists-scholars-and-artists-for-endorsing-bds-13262) issued by more than 1,000 African American activists, artists and scholars in solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people for freedom, justice and equality and in support of BDS.

The statement unequivocally calls for BDS and places an emphasis on the right of Palestinian refugees to “return to their homeland in present-day Israel” as “the most important aspect of justice for Palestinians.”

Mahmoud Nawajaa, the general coordinator of the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the broad Palestinian civil society coalition that leads the BDS movement, welcomed the declaration by saying, “The statement’s support for BDS against Israel’s regime of occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid is particularly inspiring as it translates principled positions into morally-consistent actions that are capable of righting injustices.”

“The US civil rights movement has always been a key inspiration for us in the BDS movement. We are deeply moved by this powerful proclamation that evokes the spirit of that heroic civil rights struggle and the inspirational Black Lives Matter movement and epitomises speaking truth to power,” Nawajaa added.

Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the BDS movement, reacted to the statement, “This deeply moving and noble declaration by our Black brothers and sisters in the US and elsewhere is not just a genuine expression of effective, altruistic international solidarity. It is a poignant testament to the organic links that connect the Palestinian struggle for self-determination with the struggle of the oppressed around the world, including ongoing struggles for racial and economic justice by black people in the US and across the world.”

Barghouti added, “Despite the obvious differences, there are compelling similarities between the forms of oppression that both Palestinians and African-Americans live under. Dehumanization, dispossession, racial injustice and discrimination, state violence, criminalization of entire communities and impunity are all key characteristics are of the oppression faced by black Americans and Palestinians.”

The leading Black activists, scholars and artists’ call for boycotts and divestment against the private security company G4S is especially noteworthy. “G4S harms thousands of Palestinian political prisoners illegally held in Israel and hundreds of Black and brown youth held in its privatized juvenile prisons in the US,” their statement said. It profits from “incarceration and deportation from the US and Palestine, to the UK, South Africa, and Australia,” the statement added, rejecting notions of “security” that “make any of our groups unsafe” and insisting that “no one is free until all of us are.”

In 2012, the BNC was one of several Palestinian human rights and civil society organisations that launched a large international BDS campaign against G4S, the British-Danish private security company that is deeply involved in Israel’s violations of prisoners’ rights and international law.

The boycott campaign has cost G4S many contracts around the world, including in the US, Ireland, Norway, South Africa, among others.

Under this intense pressure from the BDS movement, G4S has announced that it will not renew its contract with the Israeli Prison Service when it lapses in 2017. However, G4S has not yet made any written confirmation of this decision or ended any of its contracts supporting Israeli settlements, prisons, checkpoints and military bases, so Palestinian organisations are calling for the G4S campaign to continue.

BNC secretariat member Rafeef Ziadah said, “The BDS movement joins hands with the 1,000 Black activists that have issued this statement and with communities across the world in calling for the intensification of campaigns against G4S. Let us resist the role the company plays in human rights violations across the world, from Florida to Jerusalem and everywhere in between.”

“The current surge of mass Black activism for justice rekindles the whole world’s hope for a more peaceful, just and dignified world,” Ziadah added.