Category Archives: Occupation

Killing Palestinian Journalists and The Silence of Israeli Apartheid

Within the cacophony of the Middle East and war in Ukraine, Israel’s brutal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza had drifted into the shadows. But the assassination of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh served as a vicious reminder of Israel’s criminality

Abu Akleh was murdered on 11 May in Jenin on the West Bank, as she stood (wearing a Press vest) alongside colleagues, while covering Israeli army raids. Her funeral took place two days later in East Jerusalem and was attended by thousands of Palestinians. In chaotic unprovoked scenes, Israeli police, who said mourners were “disrupting public order”, attacked the funeral procession, indiscriminately kicking and hitting people with batons, causing pall bearers to drop the coffin.

In a crass attempt to shift the blame, the Israeli army claimed that Abu Akleh was killed by Palestinian fire, during clashes with Israeli soldiers. This is completely untrue; other journalists at the scene confirmed that there had been no shooting by Palestinian gunmen. Trade Unions around the world have united to demand an independent investigation into her death “and that the perpetrator be brought to justice.” CNN unsurprisingly adopted Israel’s false narrative, BBC coverage was ambiguous, neutral they would say – spineless.

The Israeli foreign minister, Yair Lapid said that Tel Aviv was offering a “joint pathological investigation”, and, failing to see the vile hypocrisy, added that, “journalists must be protected in conflict zones”. Human Rights Watch (HRW) is investigating and has decried Israeli investigations of such incidents “as whitewashed mechanisms ……the reality is there is no accountability for those sorts of abuses when it comes to actions by the Israeli authorities.”

Journalists and media workers have been targeted by Israel for years: murdered and intimidated by uniformed thugs in order to silence them, to stop them telling the truth and bear witness to the criminality and violence of the Israeli regime inside Palestine.

The killing of Abu Akleh is but the most recent. At least 46 journalists have been killed in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) since 2000, and no one has yet been held to account. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has recently submitted a case to the International Criminal Court (ICC) alleging that Israel’s systematic “targeting of journalists working in Palestine and its failure to properly investigate killings of media workers amount to war crimes.” Lawyers presenting the cases said they “are emblematic of the ongoing, systematic attacks and use of lethal force against journalists and media organizations in Palestine by the Israeli security services.”

It’s not just media workers/journalists who are targeted by Israel, it’s virtually all Palestinians living in the OPT, including children. Since 2000 “at least 10,349 Palestinians” have been killed by Israel, (1,304 Israeli’s killed), including 2,349 children, and (up to 2018) over 100,000 Palestinians have been injured, according to information gathered by the Israel-Palestine Timeline.

Apartheid writ large

The Israeli Machine of Brutality and Control is relentless and merciless. Palestinians within the Occupied Territories live under a shadow of suffocating violence, which manifests in a variety of forms: Targeted and indiscriminate killings and maiming;  destroying farms/olive groves and stealing land; the de-humanizing ordeal of passing through Israeli checkpoints, which makes moving around the country long-winded and stressful; limiting fishing off the Gaza coast; building illegal Israeli settlements  (which is a war crime) inside the West Bank; banning Palestinian civil society groups – by labelling them terrorist organizations – in October 2021 Israel shut down three Palestinian human rights groups, detained and prosecuted their employees under completely false counterterrorism claims. And evicting Palestinians and demolishing their homes – in the first eight months of 2021, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Israel demolished “666 Palestinian homes and other structures in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, displacing 958 people, a 38 percent increase compared to the same period in 2020.”

All of this and what Michael Lynk, the UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in the OPT describes as “a deeply discriminatory dual legal and political system, that privileges the 700,000 Israeli Jewish settlers living in the 300 illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank,” is the collective daily lot of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, and amounts to Apartheid (segregation, political/social/economic discrimination).

Conditions in the Gaza Strip, where around 2.4 million Palestinians live, are even worse than those found in the West Bank. The population have inadequate access to power, water and health services, and the UN states, are threatened by a “collapsing economy and [have] no ability to freely travel to the rest of Palestine [West Bank] or the outside world.” Widely spoken of as the largest prison in the world, the sense of imprisonment was intensified during Covid when Israel used the pandemic to justify tightening what where already suffocating restrictions.

Across both territories – Gaza and the West Bank, Israel is imposing, what Amnesty International describe as, “a system of oppression and domination against Palestinians…….in order to benefit Jewish Israelis. This amounts to apartheid as prohibited in international law.” Propped up by the US, militarily and politically, the Israeli State machine ignores such facts and does as it pleases. Blind support from successive American administrations and their mealy-mouthed allies gives rise to Israeli Impunity and Bristling Arrogance.

Israel has been crushing Palestinians since it was established in 1948: Palestinians have always been seen as a threat to the Jewish State and consequently were expelled, segregated, controlled; thrown off their land and deprived of economic, social and human rights. The expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and the destruction of hundreds of Palestinian villages post-1948 constitutes ethnic cleansing, which has morphed into a highly organized form of Apartheid. As Michael Lynk has said, “Israel’s military rule in the occupied Palestinian territory has been deliberately built ……to demographically engineer a permanent, and illegal, Israeli sovereign claim over occupied territory, while confining Palestinians in smaller and more confined reserves of disconnected land.” As part of this containment, Palestinian refugees living outside Israel and the OPT are legally denied the right to return, another flagrant violation of international law.

The UN, HRW and Amnesty International describe the treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli State as Apartheid. In its 2021 report Human Rights Watch confirm what has been the case for decades, that, “repression against Palestinians living in the OPT (West Bank and Gaza Strip), amounts to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.” In its report, ‘Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians’, Amnesty confirm that Israel operates a system of “suppression and oppression”, one “which operates with varying levels of intensity and repression based on Palestinians’ status in the separate enclaves where Palestinians live today, and violates their rights in different ways, ultimately seeks to establish and maintain Jewish hegemony wherever Israel exercises effective control.”

Amnesty describes the suppressive methodology of Israel as systemized and highly organized. Laws, policies and practices are designed and enforced to prevent Palestinians from claiming equal rights to Jewish Israelis within Israel and the OPT, and are thus “intended to oppress and dominate the Palestinian people.”

Apartheid is not just systemized suppression and wholesale control, it’s a mental attitude of extreme prejudice that leads to and enables inhumane acts of violence, exploitation and humiliation.  It allows the killing of civilians, the assassination of a prominent journalist, destruction of family homes and the litany of horrors that Israel is carrying out against the Palestinian people; atrocities that are visible to all who care to look.

For decades Palestinians have been crying out, pointing to Israel’s apartheid rule, but western nations, submissive to the US, have ignored them, turning a blind eye to Israel’s violence and criminality. Amnesty found that, “almost all of Israel’s civilian administration and military authorities, as well as governmental and quasi- governmental institutions, are involved in the enforcement of the system of apartheid against Palestinians across Israel and the OPT and against Palestinian refugees and their descendants outside the territory.”

Israel has no intention of allowing the fabled two state solution to become a reality. What it wants is clear – total domination. As Michael Lynk puts it, Israel’s military rule confines “Palestinians in smaller and more confined reserves.” It is allowed to do this because of US support and the power of the Israeli lobby in America – a highly organised Zionist group, The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is comparable to the NRA in influence and destructive impact.

Over the last 40 years or so there have been hundreds of UN resolutions underlining that Israel’s annexation of the OPT, the construction of Jewish settlements and denial of Palestinian self-determination, is illegal. Such resolutions are routinely ignored, and so Apartheid continues, the killings, destruction and injustices continue. It’s time the West, with or without the US, woke up, found some backbone and collectively acted against Israel, and for the oppressed, victimized people of Palestine.

The post Killing Palestinian Journalists and The Silence of Israeli Apartheid first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Palestine’s New Resistance Model: How the Last Year Redefined the Struggle for Palestinian Freedom

What took place between May 2021 and May 2022 is nothing less than a paradigm shift in Palestinian resistance. Thanks to the popular and inclusive nature of Palestinian mobilization against the Israeli occupation, resistance in Palestine is no longer an ideological, political or regional preference.

In the period between the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 and only a few years ago, Palestinian muqawama – or resistance –  was constantly put in the dock, often criticized and condemned, as if an oppressed nation had a moral responsibility in selecting the type of resistance to suit the needs and interests of its oppressors.

As such, Palestinian resistance became a political and ideological litmus test. The Palestinian Authority of Yasser Arafat and, later, Mahmoud Abbas, called for ‘popular resistance’, but it seems that it neither understood what the strategy actually meant, and certainly was not prepared to act upon such a call.

Palestinian armed resistance was removed entirely from its own historical context; in fact, the context of all liberation movements throughout history, and was turned into a straw man, set up by Israel and its western allies to condemn Palestinian ‘terrorism’ and to present Israel as a victim facing an existential threat.

With the lack of a centralized Palestinian definition of resistance, even pro-Palestine civil society groups and organizations demarcated their relationship to the Palestinian struggle based on embracing certain forms of Palestinian resistance and condemning others.

The argument that only oppressed nations should have the right to choose the type of resistance that could speed up their salvation and freedom fell on deaf ears.

The truth is that Palestinian resistance preceded the official establishment of Israel in 1948. Palestinians and Arabs who resisted British and Zionist colonialism used many methods of resistance that they perceived to be strategic and sustainable. There was no relationship whatsoever between the type of resistance and the religious, political or ideological identity of those who resisted.

This paradigm prevailed for many years, starting with the Fidayeen Movement following the Nakba, the popular resistance to the brief Israeli occupation of Gaza in 1956, and the decades-long occupation and siege starting in 1967. The same reality was expressed in Palestinian resistance in historic Palestine throughout the decades; armed resistance ebbed and flowed, but popular resistance remained intact. The two phenomena were always intrinsically linked, as the former was also sustained by the latter.

The Fatah Movement, which dominates today’s Palestinian Authority, was formed in 1959 to model liberation movements in Vietnam and Algeria. Regarding its connection to the Algerian struggle, the Fatah manifesto read: “The guerrilla war in Algeria, launched five years before the creation of Fatah, has a profound influence on us. […] They symbolize the success we dreamed of.”

This sentiment was championed by most modern Palestinian movements as it proved to be a successful strategy for most southern liberation movements. In the case of Vietnam, the resistance to US occupations was carried out even during political talks in Paris. The underground resistance in South Africa remained vigilant until it became clear that the country’s apartheid regime was in the process of being dismantled.

Palestinian disunity, however, which was a direct result of the Oslo Accords, made a unified Palestinian position on resistance untenable. The very idea of resistance itself became subject to the political whims and interests of factions. When, in July 2013, PA President Abbas condemned armed resistance, he was trying to score political points with his western supporters, and further sow the seeds of division among his people.

The truth is that Hamas neither invented, nor has ownership of, armed resistance. In June 2021, a poll, conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), revealed that 60% of Palestinians support “a return to armed confrontations and Intifada”. By stating so, Palestinians were not necessarily declaring allegiance to Hamas. Armed resistance, though in a different style and capacity also exists in the West Bank, and is largely championed by Fatah’s own Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. The recent Israeli attacks on the town of Jenin, in the northern West Bank, were not aimed at eliminating Hamas, Islamic Jihad or socialist fighters, but Fatah’s own.

Skewed media coverage and misrepresentation of the resistance, often by Palestinian factions themselves, turned the very idea of resistance into a political and factional scuffle, forcing everyone involved to take a position on the issue. The discourse on the resistance, however,  began changing in the last year.

The May 2021 rebellion and the Israeli war on Gaza – known among Palestinians as the Unity Intifada – served as a paradigm shift. The language became unified; self-serving political references quickly dissipated; collective frames of reference began replacing provisional, regional and factional ones; occupied Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque emerged as the unifying symbols of resistance; a new generation began to emerge and quickly began to develop new platforms.

On May 29, the Israeli government insisted on allowing the so-called ‘Flag March’ – a mass rally by Israeli Jewish extremists that celebrate the capture of the Palestinian city of al-Quds – to once more pass through Palestinian neighborhoods of occupied East Jerusalem. This was the very occasion that instigated the violence of the previous year. Aware of the impending violence which often results from such provocations, Israel wanted to impose the timing and determine the nature of the violence. It failed. Gaza didn’t fire rockets. Instead, tens of thousands of Palestinians mobilized throughout occupied Palestine, thus allowing popular mobilization and coordination between numerous communities to grow. Palestinians proved able to coordinate their responsibility, despite the numerous obstacles, hardships and logistical difficulties.

The events of the last year are a testament that Palestinians are finally freeing their resistance from factional interests. The most recent confrontations show that Palestinians are even harnessing resistance as a strategic objective. Muqawama in Palestine is no longer ‘symbolic’ or supposedly ‘random’ violence that reflects ‘desperation’ and lack of political horizon. It is becoming more defined, mature and well-coordinated.

This phenomenon must be extremely worrying to Israel, as the coming months and years could prove critical in changing the nature of the confrontation between Palestinians and their occupiers. Considering that the new resistance is centered around homegrown, grassroots, community-oriented movements, it has far greater chances of success than previous attempts. It is much easier for Israel to assassinate a fighter than to uproot the values of resistance from the heart of a community.

The post Palestine’s New Resistance Model: How the Last Year Redefined the Struggle for Palestinian Freedom first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Right of Return, Nakba Are Back on Palestinian Agenda

The Nakba is back on the Palestinian agenda.

For nearly three decades, Palestinians were told that the Nakba – or Catastrophe – is a thing of the past. That real peace requires compromises and sacrifices; therefore, the original sin that has led to the destruction of their historic homeland should be entirely removed from any ‘pragmatic’ political discourse. They were urged to move on.

The consequences of that shift in narrative were dire. Disowning the Nakba, the single most important event that shaped modern Palestinian history, has resulted in more than political division between the so-called radicals and the supposedly peace-loving pragmatists, the likes of Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority. It also divided Palestinian communities in Palestine and across the world around political, ideological and class lines.

Following the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, it became clear that the Palestinian struggle for freedom was being entirely redefined and reframed. It was no longer a Palestinian fight against Zionism and Israeli settler colonialism that goes back to the start of the 20th century, but a ‘conflict’ between two equal parties, with equally legitimate territorial claims that can only be resolved through ‘painful concessions’.

The first of such concessions was relegating the core issue of the ‘Right of Return’ for Palestinian refugees who were driven out of their villages and cities in 1947-48. That Palestinian Nakba paved the way for Israel’s ‘independence’, which was declared atop the rubble and smoke of nearly 500 destroyed and burnt Palestinian villages and towns.

At the start of the ‘peace process’, Israel was asked to honor the Right of Return for Palestinians, although symbolically. Israel refused. Palestinians were then pushed to relegate that fundamental issue to a ‘final status negotiations’, which never took place. This meant that millions of Palestinian refugees – many of whom are still living in refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, as well as the occupied Palestinian territories – were dropped from the political conversation altogether.

If it were not for the continued social and cultural activities of the refugees themselves, insisting on their rights and teaching their children to do the same, such terms as the Nakba and Right of Return would have been completely dropped out of the Palestinian political lexicon.

While some Palestinians rejected the marginalization of the refugees, insisting that the subject is a political not merely a humanitarian one, others were willing to move on as if this right was of no consequence. Various Palestinian officials affiliated with the now defunct ‘peace process’ have made it clear that the Right of Return was no longer a Palestinian priority. But none came even close to the way that PA President Abbas, himself, framed the Palestinian position in a 2012 interview with Israeli Channel 2.

“Palestine now for me is the ’67 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. This is now and forever … This is Palestine for me. I am [a] refugee, but I am living in Ramallah,” he said.

Abbas had it completely wrong, of course. Whether he wished to exercise his right of return or not, that right, according to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194, is simply “inalienable”, meaning that neither Israel, nor the Palestinians themselves, can deny or forfeit it.

Let alone the lack of intellectual integrity of separating the tragic reality of the present from its main root cause, Abbas lacked political wisdom as well. With his ‘peace process’ floundering, and with the lack of any tangible political solution, he simply decided to abandon millions of refugees, denying them the very hope of having their homes, land or dignity restored.

Since then, Israel, along with the United States, has fought Palestinians on two different fronts: one, through denying them any political horizon and, the other, by attempting to dismantle their historically enshrined rights, mainly their Right of Return. Washington’s war on the Palestinian refugees’ agency, UNRWA, falls under the latter category as the aim was – and remains – the destruction of the very legal and humanitarian infrastructures that allow Palestinian refugees to see themselves as a collective of people seeking repatriation, reparations and justice.

Yet, all such efforts continue to fail. Far more important than Abbas’ personal concessions to Israel, UNRWA’s ever-shrinking budget or the failure of the international community to restore Palestinian rights, is the fact that the Palestinian people are, once again, unifying around the Nakba anniversary, thus insisting on the Right of Return for the seven million refugees in Palestine and the shattat – Diaspora.

Ironically, it was Israel that has unwittingly re-unified Palestinians around the Nakba. By refusing to concede an inch of Palestine, let alone allow Palestinians to claim any victory, a State of their own – demilitarized or otherwise – or allow a single refugee to go home, Palestinians were forced to abandon Oslo and its numerous illusions. The once popular argument that the Right of Return was simply ‘impractical’ no longer matters, neither to ordinary Palestinians nor to their intellectual or political elites.

In political logic, for something to be impossible, an alternative would have to be attainable. However, with Palestinian reality worsening under the deepening system of Israeli settler colonialism and apartheid, Palestinians now understand that they have no possible alternative but their unity, their resistance and the return to the fundamentals of their struggle. The Unity Intifada of last May was a culmination of this new realization. Moreover, the Nakba anniversary commemoration rallies and events throughout historic Palestine and the world on May 15 have further helped crystallize the new discourse that the Nakba is no longer symbolic and the Right of Return is the collective, core demand of most Palestinians.

Israel is now an apartheid state in the real meaning of the word. Israeli apartheid, like any such system of racial separation, aims at protecting the gains of nearly 74 years of unhinged colonialism, land theft and military dominance. Palestinians, whether in Haifa, Gaza or Jerusalem, now fully understand this, and are increasingly fighting back as one nation.

And since the Nakba and the subsequent ethnic cleansing of Palestinian refugees are the common denominator behind all Palestinian suffering, the term and its underpinnings are back at center stage of any meaningful conversation on Palestine, as should have always been the case.

The post Right of Return, Nakba Are Back on Palestinian Agenda first appeared on Dissident Voice.

By Redefining UNRWA, Washington Destroys the Foundation for a Just Peace in Palestine 

Palestinians are justifiably worried that the mandate granted to the United Nations Agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, might be coming to an end. UNRWA’s mission, which has been in effect since 1949, has done more than provide urgent aid and support to millions of refugees. It was also a political platform that protected and preserved the rights of several generations of Palestinians.

Though UNRWA was not established as a political or legal platform, per se, the context of its mandate was largely political, since Palestinians became refugees as a result of military and political events – the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people by Israel and the latter’s refusal to respect the Right of Return for Palestinians as enshrined in UN resolution 194 (III) of December 11, 1948.

“UNRWA has a humanitarian and development mandate to provide assistance and protection to Palestine refugees pending a just and lasting solution to their plight,” the UN General Assembly Resolution 302 (IV) of December 8, 1949 read. Alas, neither a ‘lasting solution’ to the plight of the refugees, nor even a political horizon has been achieved. Instead of using this realization as a way to revisit the international community’s failure to bring justice to Palestine and to hold Israel and its US benefactors accountable, it is UNRWA and, by extension, the refugees that are being punished.

In a stern warning on April 24, the head of the political committee at the Palestinian National Council (PNC), Saleh Nasser said that UNRWA’s mandate might be coming to an end. Nasser referenced a recent statement by the UN body’s Commissioner-General, Philippe Lazzarini, about the future of the organization.

Lazzarini’s statement, published a day earlier, left room for some interpretation, though it was clear that something fundamental regarding the status, mandate and work of UNRWA is about to change. “We can admit that the current situation is untenable and will inevitably result in the erosion of the quality of the UNRWA services or, worse, to their interruption,” Lazzarini said.

Commenting on the statement, Nasser said that this “is a prelude to donors stopping their funding for UNRWA.”

The subject of UNRWA’s future is now a priority within the Palestinian, but also Arab political discourse. Any attempts at canceling or redefining UNRWA’s mission will pose a serious, if not an unprecedented, challenge for Palestinians. UNRWA provides educational, health and other support for 5.6 million Palestinians in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. At an annual budget of $1.6 billion, this support, and the massive network that has been created by the organization, cannot be easily replaced.

Equally important is the political nature of the organization. The very existence of UNRWA means that there is a political issue that must be addressed regarding the plight and future of Palestinian refugees. In fact, it is not the mere lack of enthusiasm to finance the organization that has caused the current crisis. It is something bigger, and far more sinister.

In June 2018, Jared Kushner, son-in-law and advisor to former US President Donald Trump, visited Amman, Jordan, where he, according to the US Foreign Policy magazine, tried to persuade Jordan’s King Abdullah to remove the refugee status from 2 million Palestinians currently living in the country.

This and other attempts have failed. In September 2018, Washington, under the Trump administration, decided to cease its financial support of UNRWA. As the organization’s main funder, the American decision was devastating, because about 30 percent of UNRWA’s money comes from the US alone. Yet, UNRWA hobbled along by increasing its reliance on the private sector and individual donations.

Though the Palestinian leadership celebrated the Biden Administration’s decision to resume UNRWA’s funding on April 7, 2021, a little caveat in Washington’s move was largely kept secret. Washington only agreed to fund UNRWA after the latter agreed to sign a two-year plan, known as Framework for Cooperation. In essence, the plan effectively turned UNRWA into a platform for Israel and American policies in Palestine, whereby the UN body consented to US – thus Israeli – demands to ensure that no aid would reach any Palestinian refugee who has received military training “as a member of the so-called Palestinian Liberation Army”, other organizations or “has engaged in any act of terrorism”. Moreover, the Framework expects UNRWA to monitor “Palestinian curriculum content”.

By entering into an agreement with the US Department of State, “UNRWA has effectively transformed itself from a humanitarian agency that provides assistance and relief to Palestinian refugees, to a security agency furthering the security and political agenda of the US, and ultimately Israel,” BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights noted.

Palestinian protests, however, did not change the new reality, which effectively altered the entire mandate granted to UNRWA by the international community nearly 73 years ago. Worse, European countries followed suit when, last September, the European parliament advanced an amendment that would condition EU support of UNRWA on the editing and rewriting of Palestinian school text books that, supposedly, ‘incite violence’ against Israel.

Instead of focusing solely on shutting down UNRWA immediately, the US, Israel and their supporters are working to change the nature of the organization’s mission and to entirely rewrite its original mandate. The agency that was established to protect the rights of the refugees, is now expected to protect Israeli, American and western interests in Palestine.

Though UNRWA was never an ideal organization, it has indeed succeeded in helping millions of Palestinians throughout the years, while preserving the political nature of their plight.

Though the Palestinian Authority, various political factions, Arab governments and others have protested the Israeli-American designs against UNRWA, such protestations are unlikely to make much difference, considering that UNRWA itself is surrendering to outside pressures. While Palestinians, Arabs and their allies must continue to fight for UNRWA’s original mission, they must urgently develop alternative plans and platforms that would shield Palestinian refugees and their Right of Return from becoming marginal and, eventually, forgotten.

If Palestinian refugees are removed from the list of political priorities concerning the future of a just peace in Palestine, neither justice nor peace can possibly be attained.

The post By Redefining UNRWA, Washington Destroys the Foundation for a Just Peace in Palestine  first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Palestine’s Widening Geography of Resistance: Why Israel Cannot Defeat the Palestinians

There is a reason why Israel is insistent on linking the series of attacks carried out by Palestinians recently to a specific location, namely the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank. By doing so, the embattled Naftali Bennett’s government can simply order another deadly military operation in Jenin to reassure its citizens that the situation is under control.

Indeed, on April 9, the Israeli army has stormed the Jenin refugee camp, killing a Palestinian and wounding ten others. However, Israel’s problem is much bigger than Jenin.

If we examine the events starting with the March 22 stabbing attack in the southern city of Beersheba (Bir Al Saba’) – which resulted in the death of four – and ending with the killing of three Israelis in Tel Aviv – including two army officers – we will reach an obvious conclusion: these attacks must have been, to some extent, coordinated.

Spontaneous Palestinian retaliation to the violence of the Israeli occupation rarely follows this pattern in terms of timing or style. All the attacks, with the exception of Beersheba, were carried out using firearms. The shooters, as indicated by the amateur videos of some of the events and statements by Israeli eyewitnesses, were well-trained and were acting with great composure.

An example was the March 27 Hadera event, carried out by two cousins, Ayman and Ibrahim Ighbariah, from the Arab town of Umm al-Fahm, inside Israel. Israeli media reported of the unmistakable skills of the attackers, armed with weapons that, according to the Israeli news agency, Tazpit Press Service, cost more than $30,000.

Unlike Palestinian attacks carried out during the Second Palestinian Intifada (2000-05) in response to Israeli violence in the occupied territories, the latest attacks are generally more pinpointed, seek police and military personnel and clearly aimed at shaking Israel’s false sense of security and undermining the country’s intelligence services. In the Bnei Brak attack, on March 29, for example, an Israeli woman who was at the scene told reporters that “the militant asked us to move away from the place because he did not want to target women or children.”

While Israeli intelligence reports have recently warned of a “wave of terrorism” ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, they clearly had little conception of what type of violence, or where and how Palestinians would strike.

Following the Beersheba attack, Israeli officials referred to Daesh’s responsibility, a convenient claim considering that Daesh had also claimed responsibility. This theory was quickly marginalized, as it became obvious that the other Palestinian attackers had other political affiliations or, as in the Bnei Brak case, no known affiliation at all.

The confusion and misinformation continued for days. Shortly after the Tel Aviv attack, Israeli media, citing official sources, spoke of two attackers, alleging that one was trapped in a nearby building. This was untrue as there was only one attacker and he was killed, though hours later in a different city.

A number of Palestinian workers were quickly rounded up in Tel Aviv on suspicion of being the attackers simply because they looked Arab, evidence of the chaotic Israeli approach. Indeed, following each event, total mayhem ensued, with large mobs of armed Israelis taking to the streets looking for anyone with Arab features to apprehend or to beat senseless.

Israeli officials contributed to the frenzy, with far-right politicians, such as the extremist Itamar Ben Gvir, leading hordes of other extremists in rampages in occupied Jerusalem.

Instead of urging calm and displaying confidence, the country’s own Prime Minister called, on March 30, on ordinary Israelis to arm themselves. “Whoever has a gun license, this is the time to carry it,” he said in a video statement. However, if Israel’s solution to any form of Palestinian resistance was more guns, Palestinians would have been pacified long ago.

To placate angry Israelis, the Israeli military raided the city and refugee camp of Jenin on many occasions, each time leaving several dead and wounded Palestinians behind, including many civilians. They include the child Imad Hashash, 15, killed on August 24 while filming the invasion on his mobile phone. The exact same scenario played out on April 9.

However, it was an exercise in futility, as it was Israeli violence in Jenin throughout the years that led to the armed resistance that continues to emanate from the camp. Palestinians, whether in Jenin or elsewhere, fight back because they are denied basic human rights, have no political horizon, live in extreme poverty, have no true leadership and feel abandoned by the so-called international community.

The Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas seems to be entirely removed from the masses. Statements by Abbas reflect his detachment from the reality of Israeli violence, military occupation and apartheid throughout Palestine. True to form, Abbas quickly condemned the Tel Aviv attack, as he did the previous ones, making the same reference every time regarding the need to maintain “stability” and to prevent “further deterioration of the situation”,  according to the official Wafa news agency.

What stability is Abbas referring to, when Palestinian suffering has been compounded by growing settler violence, illegal settlement expansion, land theft, and, thanks to recent international events, food insecurity as well?

Israeli officials and media are, once again, conveniently placing the blame largely on Jenin, a tiny stretch of an overpopulated area. By doing so, Israel wants to give the impression that the new phenomenon of Palestinian retaliatory attacks is confined to a single place, one that is adjacent to the Israeli border and can be easily ‘dealt with’.

An Israeli military operation in the camp may serve Bennett’s political agenda, convey a sense of strength, and win back some in his disenchanted political constituency. But it is all a temporary fix. Attacking Jenin now will make no difference in the long run. After all, the camp rose from the ashes of its near-total destruction by the Israeli military in April 2002.

The renewed Palestinian attacks speak of a much wider geography: Naqab, Umm Al Fahm, the West Bank. The seeds of this territorial connectivity are linked to the Israeli war of last May and the subsequent Palestinian rebellion, which erupted in every part of Palestine, including Palestinian communities inside Israel.

Israel’s problem is its insistence on providing short-term military solutions to a long-term problem, itself resulting from these very ‘military solutions’. If Israel continues to subjugate the Palestinian people under the current system of military occupation and deepening apartheid, Palestinians will surely continue to respond until their oppressive reality is changed. No amount of Israeli violence can alter this truth.

The post Palestine’s Widening Geography of Resistance: Why Israel Cannot Defeat the Palestinians first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Gaza’s Forthcoming Crisis Might Be Worse than Anything We Have Ever Seen

“The water is back,” one family member would announce in a mix of excitement and panic, often very late at night. The moment such an announcement was made, my whole family would start running in all directions to fill every tank, container or bottle that could possibly be filled. Quite often, the water would last for a few minutes, leaving us with a collective sense of defeat, worrying about the very possibility of surviving.

This was our life under Israeli military occupation in Gaza. The tactic of holding Palestinians hostage to Israel’s water charity was so widespread during the First Palestinian Intifada, or upirising, to the extent that denying water supplies to targeted refugee camps, villages, towns or whole regions was the first measure taken to subdue the rebellious population. This was often followed by military raids, mass arrests and deadly violence; but it almost always began with cutting Palestinians off from their water supplies.

Israel’s water war on the Palestinians has changed since those early days, especially as the Climate Change crisis has accelerated Israel’s need to prepare for grim future possibilities. Of course, this largely happens at the expense of the occupied Palestinians. In the West Bank, the Israeli government continues to usurp Palestinian water resources from the region’s main aquifers – the Mountain Aquifer and the Coastal Aquifer. Frustratingly, Israel’s main water company, Mekorot, sells stolen Palestinian water to Palestinian villages and towns, especially in the northern West Bank region, at exhorbitant prices.

Aside from the ongoing profiteering from water theft, Israel continues to use water as a form of collective punishment in the West Bank, while quite often denying Palestinians, especially in Area C, the right to dig new wells to circumvent Israel’s water monopoly.

According to Amnesty International, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank consume, on average, 73 liters of water a day, per person. Compare this to an Israeli citizen, who consumes approximately 240 liters of water a day, and, even worse, to an illegal Israeli Jewish settler, who consumes over 300 liters per day. The Palestinian share of water is not only far below the average consumed by Israelis, but is even below the recommended daily minimum of 100 liters per capita as designated by the World Health Organization (WHO).

As difficult as the situation for West Bank Palestinians is, in Gaza the humanitarian catastrophe is already in effect. On the occasion of the World Water Day on March 22, Gaza’s Water and Environmental Quality Authority warned of a ‘massive crisis’ should Gaza’s water supplies continue to deplete at the current dangerous rate. The Authority’s spokesman, Mazen al-Banna, told reporters that 98 percent of Gaza’s water supplies are not fit for human consumption.

The consequences of this terrifying statistic are well known to Palestinians and, in fact, to the international community as well. Last October, Muhammed Shehada of the Euro-Med Monitor, told the 48th UN Human Rights Council session that about one-quarter of all diseases in Gaza are caused by water pollution, and that an estimated twelve percent of deaths among Gaza’s children are “linked to intestinal infections related to contaminated water.”

But how did Gaza get to this point?

On May 25, four days after the end of the latest Israeli war on Gaza, the charity Oxfam announced that 400,000 people in besieged Gaza have had no access to regular water supplies. The reason is that Israeli military campaigns always begin with the targeting of Palestinian electric grids, water services and other vital public facilities. According to Oxfam, “11 days of bombardment … severely impacted the three main desalination plants in Gaza city.”

It is important to keep in mind that the water crisis in Gaza has been ongoing for years, and every aspect of this protracted crisis is linked to Israel. With damaged or ailing infrastructure, much of Gaza’s water contains dangerously high salinity levels, or is extremely polluted by sewage and other reasons.

Even before Israel redeployed its forces out of Gaza in 2005 to impose a siege on the Strip’s population from land, sea and air, Gaza had a water crisis. Gaza’s coastal aquifer was entirely controlled by the Israeli military administration, which diverted quality water to the few thousand Jewish settlers, while occasionally allocating high saline water to the then 1.5 million Palestinian people, granted that Palestinians did not protest or resist the Israeli occupation in any way.

Nearly 17 years later, Gaza’s population has grown to 2.1 millions, and Gaza’s already struggling aquifer is in a far worse shape. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that water from Gaza’s aquifer is depleting due to “over-extraction (because) people have no other choice”.

“Worse, pollution and an influx of seawater mean that only four percent of the aquifer water is fit to drink. The rest must be purified and desalinated to make it drinkable,” UNICEF added. In other words, Gaza’s problem is not the lack of access to existing freshwater reserves as the latter simply do not exist or are rapidly depleting, but the lack of technology and fuel that would give Palestinians in Gaza the ability to make their water nominally drinkable. Even that is not a long term solution.

Israel is doing its utmost to destroy any Palestinian chances at recovery from this ongoing crisis. More, it seems that Tel Aviv is only invested in making the situation worse to jeopardize Palestinian chances of survival. For example, last year, Palestinians accused Israel of deliberately flooding thousands of Palestinian dunums in Gaza when it vented its southern dams, which Israel uses to collect rain water. The almost yearly ritual by Israel continues to devastate Gaza’s ever shrinking farming areas, the backbone of Palestinian survival under Israel’s hermetic siege.

The international community often pays attention to Gaza during times of Israeli wars; and even then, the attention is mostly negative, where Palestinians are usually accused of provoking Israel’s supposed defensive wars. The truth is that even when Israel’s military campaigns end, Tel Aviv continues to wage war on the Strip’s inhabitants.

Though militarily powerful, Israel claims that it is facing an ‘existential threat’ in the Middle East. In actuality, it is the Palestinian existence that is in real jeopardy. When almost all of Gaza’s water is not fit for human consumption because of a deliberate Israeli strategy, one can understand why Palestinians continue to fight back as if their lives are dependent on it; because they are.

The post Gaza’s Forthcoming Crisis Might Be Worse than Anything We Have Ever Seen first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Palestine is a Loud Echo of Britain’s Colonial Past and a Warning of the Future

[This is the transcript of a talk I gave to Bath Friends of Palestine on 25 February 2022.]

Since I arrived with my family in the UK last summer, I have been repeatedly asked: “Why choose Bristol as your new home?”

Well, it certainly wasn’t for the weather. Now more than ever I miss Nazareth’s warmth and sunshine.

It wasn’t for the food either.

My family do have a minor connection to Bristol. My great-grandparents on my mother’s side (one from Cornwall, the other from South Wales) apparently met in Bristol – a coincidental stopping point on their separate journeys to London. They married and started a family whose line led to me.

But that distant link wasn’t the reason for coming to Bristol either.

In fact, it was only in Nazareth that Bristol began occupying a more prominent place in my family’s life.

When I was not doing journalism, I spent many years leading political tours of the Galilee, while my wife, Sally, hosted and fed many of the participants in her cultural café in Nazareth, called Liwan.

It was soon clear that a disproportionate number of our guests hailed from Bristol and the south-west. Some of you here tonight may have been among them.

But my world – like everyone else’s – started to shrink as the pandemic took hold in early 2020. As we lost visitors and the chance to directly engage with them about Palestine, Bristol began to reach out to me.

Toppled statue

It did so just as Sally and I were beginning discussions about whether it was time to leave Nazareth – 20 years after I had arrived – and head to the UK.

Even from thousands of miles away, a momentous event – the sound of Edward Colston’s statue being toppled – reverberated loudly with me.

Ordinary people had decided they were no longer willing to be forced to venerate a slave trader, one of the most conspicious criminals of Britain’s colonial past. Even if briefly, the people of Bristol took back control of their city’s public space for themselves, and for humanity.

In doing so, they firmly thrust Britain’s sordid past – the unexamined background to most of our lives – into the light of day. It is because of their defiance that buildings and institutions that for centuries bore Colston’s name as a badge of honour are finally being forced to confront that past and make amends.

Bath, of course, was built no less on the profits of the slave trade. When visitors come to Bath simply to admire its grand Georgian architecture, its Royal Crescent, we assent – if only through ignorance – to the crimes that paid for all that splendour.

Weeks after the Colston statue was toppled, Bristol made headlines again. Crowds protested efforts to transfer yet more powers to the police to curb our already savagely diminished right to protest – the most fundamental of all democratic rights. Bristol made more noise against that bill than possibly anywhere else in the UK.

I ended up writing about both events from Nazareth.

Blind to history

Since my arrival, old and new friends alike have started to educate me about Bristol. Early on I attended a slavery tour in the city centre – one that connected those historic crimes with the current troubles faced by asylum seekers in Bristol, even as Bristol lays claim to the title of “city of sanctuary”.

For once I was being guided rather than the guide, the pupil rather than the teacher – so long my role on those tours in and around Nazareth. And I could not but help notice, as we wandered through Bristol’s streets, echoes of my own tours.

Over the years I have taken many hundreds of groups around the ruins of Saffuriya, one of the largest of the Palestinian villages destroyed by Israel in its ethnic cleansing campaign of 1948, the Nakba or Catastrophe.

What disturbed me most in Saffuriya was how blind its new inhabitants were to the very recent history of the place they call home.

New Jewish immigrants were moved on to the lands of Saffuriya weeks after the Israeli army destroyed the village and chased out the native Palestinian population at gunpoint. A new community built in its place was given a similar Hebrew name, Tzipori. These events were repeated across historic Palestine. Hundreds of villages were razed, and 80 per cent of the Palestinian population were expelled from what became the new state of Israel.

Troubling clues

Even today, evidence of the crimes committed in the name of these newcomers is visible everywhere. The hillsides are littered with the rubble of the hundreds of Palestinian homes that were levelled by the new Israeli army to stop their residents from returning. And there are neglected grave-stones all around – pointers to the community that was disappeared.

And yet almost no one in Jewish Tzipori asks questions about the remnants of Palestinian Saffuriya, about these clues to a troubling past. Brainwashed by reassuring state narratives, they have averted their gaze for fear of what might become visible if they looked any closer.

Tzipori’s residents never ask why there are only Jews like themselves allowed in their community, when half of the population in the surrounding area of the Galilee are Palestinian by heritage.

Instead, the people of Tzipori misleadingly refer to their Palestinian neighbours – forced to live apart from them as second and third-class citizens of a self-declared Jewish state – as “Israeli Arabs”. The purpose is to obscure, both to themselves and the outside world, the connection of these so-called Arabs to the Palestinian people.

To acknowledge the crimes Tzipori has inflicted on Saffuriya would also be to acknowledge a bigger story: of the crimes inflicted by Israel on the Palestinian people as a whole.

Shroud of silence

Most of us in Britain do something very similar.

In young Israel, Jews still venerate the criminals of their recent past because they and their loved ones are so intimately and freshly implicated in the crimes.

In Britain, with its much longer colonial past, the same result is often achieved not, as in Israel, through open cheerleading and glorification – though there is some of that too – but chiefly through a complicit silence. Colston surveyed his city from up on his plinth. He stood above us, superior, paternal, authoritative. His crimes did not need denying because they had been effectively shrouded in silence.

Until Colston was toppled, slavery for most Britons was entirely absent from the narrative of Britain’s past – it was something to do with racist plantation owners in the United States’ Deep South more than a century ago. It was an issue we thought about only when Hollywood raised it.

After the Colston statue came down, he became an exhibit – flat on his back – in Bristol’s harbourside museum, the M Shed. His black robes had been smeared with red paint, and scuffed and grazed from being dragged through the streets. He became a relic of the past, and one denied his grandeur. We were able to observe him variously with curiousity, contempt or amusement.

Those are far better responses than reverence or silence. But they are not enough. Because Colston isn’t just a relic. He is a living, breathing reminder that we are still complicit in colonial crimes, even if now they are invariably better disguised.

Nowadays, we usually interfere in the name of fiscal responsibility or humanitarianism, rather than the white man’s burden.

We return to the countries we formerly colonised and asset-stripped, and drive them back into permanent debt slavery through western-controlled monetary agencies like the IMF.

Or in the case of those that refuse to submit, we more often than not invade or subvert them – countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Iran – tearing apart the colonial fabric we imposed on them, wrecking their societies in ways that invariably lead to mass death and the dispersion of the population.

We have supplied the bombs and planes to Saudi Arabia that are killing untold numbers of civilians in Yemen. We funded and trained the Islamic extremists who terrorise and behead civilians in Syria. The list is too long for me to recount here.

Right now, we see the consequences of the west’s neo-colonialism – and a predictable countervailing reaction, in the resurgence of a Russian nationalism that President Putin has harnessed to his own ends – in NATO’s relentless, decades-long expansion towards Russia’s borders.

And of course, we are still deeply invested in the settler colonial project of Israel, and the crimes it systematically inflicts on the Palestinian people.

Divine plan

Through the 1917 Balfour Declaration, Britain gave licence for the creation of a militarised ethnic, Jewish state in the Middle East. Later, we helped supply it with atomic material in the full knowledge that Israel would build nuclear bombs. We gave Israel diplomatic cover so that it could evade its obligations under the international treaty to stop nuclear proliferation and become the only nuclear power in the region. We have had Israel’s back through more than five decades of occupation and illegal settlement building.

And significantly, we have endlessly indulged Zionism as it has evolved from its sordid origins nearly two centuries ago, as an antisemitic movement among fundamentalist Christians. Those Christian Zonists – who at the time served as the power brokers in European governments like Britain’s – viewed Jews as mere instruments in a divine plan.

According to this plan, Jews were to be denied the chance to properly integrate into the countries to which they assumed they belonged.

Instead the Christian Zionists wanted to herd Jews into an imagined ancient, Biblical land of Israel, to speed up the arrival of the end times, when mankind would be judged and only good Christians would rise up to be with God.

Until Hitler took this western antisemitism to another level, few Jews subscribed to the idea that they were doomed forever to be a people apart, that their fate was inextricably tied to a small piece of territory in a far-off region they had never visited, and that their political allies should be millenarian racists.

But after the Holocaust, things changed. Christian Zionists looked like much kinder antisemites than the exterminationist Nazis. Christian Zionism won by default and was reborn as Jewish Zionism, claiming to be a national liberation movement rather than the dregs of a white European nationalism Hitler had intensified.

Today, we are presented with polls showing that most British Jews subscribe to the ugly ideas of Zionism – ideas their great-great-grandparents abhorred. Jews who dissent, who believe that we are all the same, that we all share a common fate as humans not as tribes, are ignored or dismissed as self-haters. In an inversion of reality these humanist Jews, rather than Jewish Zionists, are seen as the pawns of the antisemites.

Perverse ideology

Zionism as a political movement is so pampered, so embedded within European and American political establishments that those Jews who rally behind this ethnic nationalism no longer consider their beliefs to be abnormal or abhorrent – as their views would have been judged by most Jews only a few generations ago.

No, today Jewish Zionists think of their views as so self-evident, so vitally important to Jewish self-preservation that anyone who opposes them must be either a self-hating Jew or an antisemite.

And because non-Jews so little understand their own culpability in fomenting this perverse ideology of Jewish Zionism, we join in the ritual defaming of those brave Jews who point out how far we have stepped through the looking glass.

As a result, we unthinkingly give our backing to the Zionists as they weaponise antisemitism against those – Jews and non-Jews alike – who stand in solidarity with the native Palestinian people so long oppressed by western colonialism.

Thoughtlessly, too many of us have drifted once again into a sympathy for the oppressor – this time, Zonism’s barely veiled anti-Palestinian racism.

Nonetheless, our attitudes towards modern Israel, given British history, can be complex. On the one hand, there are good reasons to avert our gaze. Israel’s crimes today are an echo and reminder of our own crimes yesterday. Western governments subsidise Israel’s crimes through trade agreements, they provide the weapons for Israel to commit those crimes, and they profit from the new arms and cyber-weapons Israel has developed by testing them out on Palestinians. Like the now-defunct apartheid South Africa, Israel is a central ally in the west’s neo-colonialism.

So, yes, Israel is tied to us by an umbilical cord. We are its parent. But at the same time it is also not exactly like us either – more a bastard progeny. And that difference, that distance can help us gain a little perspective on ourselves. It can make Israel a teaching aid. An eye-opener. A place that can bring clarity, elucidate not only what Israel is doing but what countries like Britain have done and are still doing to this day.

Trade in bodies

The difference between Britain and Israel is to be found in the distinction between a colonial and a settler-colonial state.

Britain is a classic example of the former. It sent the entitled sons of its elite private schools, men like Colston, to parts of the globe rich in resources in order to steal those resources and bring the wealth back to the motherland to further enrich the establishment. That was the purpose of the tea and sugar plantations.

But it was not just a trade in inanimate objects. Britain also traded in bodies – mostly black bodies. Labour and muscle were a resource as vital to the British empire as silk and saffron.

The trafficking in goods and people lasted more than four centuries until liberation movements among the native populations began to throw off – at least partially – the yoke of British and European colonialism. The story since the Second World War has been one of Europe and the United States’ efforts to reinvent colonialism, conducting their rape and pillage at a distance, through the hands of others.

This is the dissembling, modern brand of colonialism: a “humanitarian” neocolonialism we should by now be familiar with. Global corporations, monetary
agencies like the IMF and the military alliance of NATO have each played a key role in the reinvention of colonialism – as has Israel.

Elimination strategies

Israel inherited Britain’s colonial tradition, and permanently adopted many of its emergency orders for use against the Palestinians. Like traditional colonialism, settler colonialism is determined to appropriate the resources of the natives. But it does so in an even more conspicuous, uncompromising way. It does not just exploit the natives. It seeks to replace or eliminate them. That way, they can never be in a position to liberate themselves and their homeland.

There is nothing new about this approach. It was adopted by European colonists across much of the globe: in North America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as belatedly in the Middle East.

There are advantages and disadvantages to the settler colonial strategy, as Israel illustrates only too clearly. In their struggle to replace the natives, Israel’s settlers had to craft a narrative – a rationalisation – that they were the victims rather than the victimisers. They were, of course, fleeing persecution in Europe, but only to become persecutors themselves outside Europe. They were supposedly in a battle for survival against those they came to replace, the Palestinians. The natives were cast as irredeemably, and irrationally, hostile. God was invoked, more or less explicitly.

In the Zionist story, the ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinians – the Nakba – becomes a War of Independence, celebrated to this day. The Zionist colonisers thereby transformed themselves into another national liberation movement, like the ones in Africa that were fighting after the Second World War for independence. Israel claimed to be fighting oppressive British rule, as Africans were, rather than inheriting the colonisers’ mantle.

But there is a disadvantage for settler colonial projects too, especially in an era of better communications. In a time of more democratic media, as we are currently enjoying – even if briefly – the colonisers’ elimination strategies are much harder to veil or airbrush. The ugliness is on show. The reality of the oppression is more visceral, more obviously offensive.

Apartheid named

The settlers’ elimination strategies are limited in number, and difficult to conceal whichever is adopted. In the United States, elimination took the form of genocide – the simplest and neatest of settler-colonialism’s solutions.

In the post-war era of human rights, however, Israel was denied that route. It adopted settler colonialism’s fall-back position: mass expulsion, or ethnic cleansing. Some 750,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes and outside the new borders of Israel in 1948.

But genocide and ethnic cleansing are invariably projects that cannot be completed. Some 90 per cent of Native Americans died from the violence and diseases brought by European incomers, but a small proportion survived. In South Africa, the white immigrants lacked the numbers and capacity either to eradicate the native population or to exploit such a vast territory.

Israel managed to expel only 80 per cent of the Palestinians living inside its new borders before the international community called time. And then Israel sabotaged its initial success in 1948 by seizing yet more Palestinian territory – and more Palestinians – in 1967.

When settler populations cannot eradicate the native population completely, they must impose harsh, visible segregation policies against those that remain.

Resources and rights are differentiated on the basis of race or ethnicity. Such regimes institute apartheid – or as Israel calls its version “hafrada” – to maintain the privileges of their own, superior or chosen population.

Colonial mentality

Many decades on, human rights groups have finally named Israel’s apartheid. Amnesty International got round to it only this month – 74 years after the Nakba and 55 years after the occupation began.

It has taken so long because even our understanding of human rights continues to be shaped by a European colonial mentality. Human rights groups have documented Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians – the “what” of their oppression – but refused to understand the “why” of that oppression. These watchdogs did not truly listen to Palestinians. They listened to, they excused, Israel even as they were criticising it. They indulged its endless security rationales for its crimes against Palestinians.

The reluctance to name Israeli apartheid derives in large part from a reluctance to face our part in its creation. To identify Israel’s apartheid is to recognise both our role in sustaining it, and Israel’s crucial place in the west’s reinvented neocolonialism.

Being ‘offensive’

The difficulty of facing up to what Israel is and what it represents is, of course, particularly stark for many Jews – not only in Israel but in countries like Britain. Through no choice of their own, Jews are more deeply implicated in Israel’s crimes because those crimes are carried out in the name of all Jews. As a result, for Zionist Jews, protecting the settler colonial project of Israel is identical to protecting their own sense of virtue.

In the zero-sum imaginings of the Zionist movement, the stakes are too high to doubt or to equivocate. As Zionists, their duty is to support, dissemble and propagandise on Israel’s behalf at all costs.

Nowadays Zionism has become such a normalised part of our western culture that those who call themselves Zionists are appalled at the idea anyone could dare to point out that their ideology is rooted in an ugly ethnic nationalism and in apartheid. Those who make them feel uncomfortable by highlighting the reality of Israel’s oppression of Palestinians – and their blindness to it – are accused of being “offensive”.

That supposed offensiveness is now conflated with antisemitism, as the treatment of Ken Loach, the respected film-maker of this parish, attests. Disgust at Israel’s racism towards Palestinians is malevolently confused with racism towards Jews. The truth is inverted.

This confusion has also become the basis for a new definition of antisemitism – one aggressively advanced by Israel and its apologists – designed to mislead casual onlookers. The more we, as anti-racists and opponents of colonialism, try to focus attention and opprobrium on Israel’s crimes, the more we are accused of covertly attacking Jews.

Into the fire

Arriving in the UK from Nazareth at this very moment is like stepping out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Here the battle over Zionism – defining it, understanding it, confronting it, refusing to be silenced by it – is in full flood. The Labour party, under Jeremy Corbyn, was politically eviscerated by a redefined antisemitism. Now the party’s ranks are being purged by his successor, Sir Keir Starmer, on the same phony grounds.

Professors are being threatened and losing their jobs, as happened to David Miller at Bristol university, with the goal of intensifying pressure on the academy to keep silent about Israel and its lobbyists. Exhibitions are taken down, speakers cancelled.

And all the while, the current western obsession with redefining antisemitism – the latest cover story for apartheid Israel – moves us ever further from sensitivity to real racism, whether it be genuine prejudice against Jews or rampant Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism.

The fight for justice for Palestinians resonates with so many of us precisely because it is not simply a struggle to help Palestinians. It is a fight to end colonialism in all its forms, to end our inhumanity towards those we live alongside, to remember that we are all equally human and all equally entitled to respect and dignity.

The story of Palestine is a loud echo from our past. Maybe the loudest. If we cannot hear it, then we cannot learn – and we cannot take the first steps on the path towards real change.

The post Palestine is a Loud Echo of Britain’s Colonial Past and a Warning of the Future first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Billion Dollar Deal that Made Google and Amazon Partners in the Israeli Occupation of Palestine

“We are anonymous because we fear retaliation.” This text was part of a letter signed by 500 Google employees last October, in which they decried their company’s direct support for the Israeli government and military.

In their letter, the signatories protested a $1.2 billion contract between Google, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the Israeli government which provides cloud services for the Israeli military and government that “allows for further surveillance of and unlawful data collection on Palestinians, and facilitates expansion of Israel’s illegal settlements on Palestinian land”.

This is called Project Nimbus. The project was announced in 2018 and went into effect in May 2021, in the first week of the Israeli war on besieged Gaza, which killed over 250 Palestinians and wounded many more.

The Google employees were not only disturbed by the fact that, by entering into this agreement with Israel, their company became directly involved in the Israeli occupation of Palestine, but were equally outraged by the “disturbing pattern of militarization” that saw similar contracts between Google – Amazon, Microsoft and other tech giants – with the US military, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other policing agencies.

In an article published in The Nation newspaper in June, three respected US academics have revealed the financial component of Amazon’s decision to get involved in such an immoral business, arguing that such military-linked contracts have “become a major source of profit for Amazon.” It is estimated, according to the article, that AWS alone was responsible for 63 percent of Amazon’s profits in 2020.

The maxim ‘people before profit’ cannot be any more appropriate than in the Palestinian context, and neither Google nor Amazon can claim ignorance. The Israeli occupation of Palestine has been in place for decades, and numerous United Nations resolutions have condemned Israel for its occupation, colonial expansion and violence against Palestinians. If all of that was not enough to wane the enthusiasm of Google and Amazon to engage in projects that specifically aimed at protecting Israel’s ‘national security’ – read: continued occupation of Palestine – a damning report by Israel’s largest human rights group, B’tselem should have served as that wake up call.

B’tselem declared Israel an apartheid state in January 2021. The international rights group, Human Rights Watch (HRW) followed suit in April, also denouncing the Israeli apartheid state. That was only a few weeks before Project Nimbus was declared. It was as if Google and Amazon were purposely declaring their support of apartheid. The fact that the project was signed during the Israeli war on Gaza speaks volumes about the two tech giants’ complete disregards of international law, human rights and the very freedom of the Palestinian people.

It gets worse. On March 15, hundreds of Google workers signed a petition protesting the firing of one of their colleagues, Ariel Koren, who was active in generating the October letter in protest of Project Nimbus. Koren was the product marketing manager at Google for Education, and has worked for the company for six years. However, she was the kind of employee who was not welcomed by the likes of Google, as the company is now directly involved with various military and security projects.

“For me, as a Jewish employee of Google, I feel a deep sense of intense moral responsibility,” she said in a statement last October. “When you work in a company, you have the right to be accountable and responsible for the way that your labor is actually being used,” she added.

Google quickly retaliated to that seemingly outrageous statement. The following month, her manager “presented her with an ultimatum: move to Brazil or lose her position.” Eventually, she was driven out of the company.

Koren was not the first Google – or Amazon – employee to be fired for standing up for a good cause, nor would, sadly, be the last. In this age of militarism, surveillance, unwarranted facial recognition and censorship, speaking one’s mind and daring to fight for human rights and other basic freedoms is no longer an option.

Amazon’s warehouses can be as bad, or even worse, than a typical sweatshop. Last March, and after a brief denial, Amazon apologized for forcing its workers to pee in water bottles – and worse – so that their managers may fulfill their required quotas. The apology followed direct evidence provided by the investigative journalism website, The Intercept. However, the company which stands accused of numerous violations of worker rights – including its engagement in ‘union busting’ – is not expected to reverse course any time soon, especially when so much profits are at stake.

But profits generated from market monopoly, mistreatment of workers or other misconducts are different from profits generated from contributing directly to war crimes and crimes against humanity. Though human rights violations should be shunned everywhere, regardless of their contexts, Israel’s war on the Palestinian people, now with the direct help of such companies, remains one of the gravest injustices that continues to scar the consciousness of humankind. No amount of Google justification or Amazon rationalization can change the fact that they are facilitating Israeli war crimes in Palestine.

To be more precise, according to The Nation, the Google-Amazon cloud service will help Israel expand its illegal Jewish settlements by “supporting data for the Israel Land Authority (ILA), the government agency that manages and allocates state land.” These settlements, which are repeatedly condemned by the international community, are built on Palestinian land and are directly linked to the ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people.

According to the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, Project Nimbus is the “most lucrative tender issued by Israel in recent years.” The Project, which has ignited a “secretive war” involving top Israeli army generals – all vying for a share in the profit – has also whetted the appetite of many other international tech companies, all wanting to be part of Israel’s technology drive, with the ultimate aim of keeping Palestinians entrapped, occupied and oppressed.

This is precisely why the Palestinian boycott movement is absolutely critical as it targets these international companies, which are migrating to Israel in search for profits. Israel, on the contrary, should be boycotted, not enabled, sanctioned and not rewarded. While profit generation is understandably the main goal of companies like Google and Amazon, this goal can be achieved without necessarily requiring the subjugation of a whole people, who are currently the victims of the world’s last remaining apartheid regime.

The post The Billion Dollar Deal that Made Google and Amazon Partners in the Israeli Occupation of Palestine first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Instead of Freeing Palestinian Prisoners, New Scheme Aims at Punishing Their Families

A scheme is underway to withhold or to reduce payments made by the Palestinian Authority to the families of Palestinian prisoners. According to Israeli media, the Biden Administration has requested that the PA entirely overhauls its support system of Palestinian prisoners. The Palestinian leadership had already expressed willingness to engage the US in a ‘discussion’.

According to Israel’s Channel 12, the Biden Administration has called on PA President Mahmoud Abbas to stop paying stipends to Palestinian prisoners’ families and, instead, to consider an alternative ‘welfare’ system. For example, over 60-year-old prisoners would receive payments as if ‘retired PA employees’. Those under 60, according to the report, would be paid as ‘PA employees’.

The above is meant as some kind of a compromise. Unlike previous American and Israeli attempts aimed at cutting off any kind of support to the families of Palestinian prisoners, this time around the PA seems willing to consider alternatives to the existing systems.

PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh had already expressed his willingness to consider the American concerns. Last November, Shtayyeh had stated that “if anyone has reservations about this or that section of the law, we can discuss it.”

By ‘law’, Shtayyeh was referring to the Palestinian law that allows the PA to support Palestinian prisoners and their families as a pact of solidarity. After all, these Palestinian prisoners are facing horrific circumstances due to their acts of resistance to the Israeli occupation.

Of course, Israel doesn’t see it this way. For Tel Aviv, any act of Palestinian resistance is unlawful, and every Palestinian resister is a ‘terrorist’. This should hardly be surprising, as Israel does not see itself as an occupier or the Palestinians as a people deserving of justice and freedom.

Also unsurprising is the American position. Washington, too, agrees with the Israeli depiction of Palestinian resistance as ‘terrorists’ and has, for years, attempted to block any aid from reaching families of Palestinian prisoners.

In 2018, former US President Donald Trump withheld funding from the Palestinian Authority and also from the UN refugee agency for Palestinians, UNRWA, citing the PA financial support of Palestinian prisoners and their families.

The following year, Israel followed suit, as it unlawfully withheld tax payments collected on behalf of the PA – a most unfair system instituted by the so-called Paris Protocol. The money withheld by Israel constitutes nearly half of the entire PA budget. This outright theft by Israel is carried out as a form of pressure, under various guises and with no international monitoring.

Eventually, in November 2020, Israel once more began transferring the payment to PA coffers, but while still keeping a portion of the money, which, according to Israeli estimations, was equivalent to payments made to prisoners’ families.

To cope with the crisis, the PA instituted various budget cuts that mostly affected PA employees and prisoners – many of whom belonged to PA rival groups, whether in the West Bank or the besieged Gaza Strip. The disproportionately massive spending on the PA security apparatus, especially branches that are involved in the so-called security coordination between the PA and Israel, was left untouched.

Since the start of Biden’s presidential term, the PA has promoted the unfunded notion that Biden is better for Palestinians, simply because the new administration gave partial political validation to Mahmoud Abbas – who was completely shunned by Trump – and restored US aid. Aside from that, there has been no evidence of the supposed pro-Palestinian agenda of Joe Biden and his administration.

Indeed, the Biden Administration has pledged not to reverse any of the illegal steps taken by Trump, which, among other concessions, legitimized the Israeli occupation of Palestinian East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights. Moreover, the US is yet to reopen its consulate in East Jerusalem, which served as a de facto American diplomatic representation in the occupied territories. Even the restoration of the PLO office in Washington D.C. is yet to be carried out, due to strong opposition by Israel and its allies on Capitol Hill.

Over a year has passed since the start of Biden’s presidency, yet, there is still no political horizon, no meaningful American engagement, and not even a coherent American outlook. To the contrary, all that we have seen is Israel’s insistence on entrenching its occupation, widening the circle of violence and expanding its illegal settlements, either with an American nod or disinterest.

Ordinary Palestinians, of course, have very little expectations of Washington as there is no historical evidence to demonstrate that the US has ever favored the Palestinian agenda – that of freedom and justice – over the Israeli one, of endless occupation and apartheid. While the US Congress is very quick to pass anti-Palestinian measures, pro-Palestinian inititatives, though commendable, have very little chance of ever making it into law. For example, H.R. 2407 – “Promoting Human Rights For Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act”, has, for years, attempted to remind the US government of its legal responsibility under the Foreign Assistance Act so that it may cease funding military detention of children anywhere in the world, including in Palestine.

Not only is Israel not held accountable at all for the continued detention of thousands of Palestinian men, women and children, it is actually dictating American foreign policy, compelling Washington to accept and accommodate Israeli definitions, priorities and agendas.

The issue of Palestinian prisoners is a very sensitive topic in Palestine. Palestinians consider their prisoners heroes of the resistance and their families as a collective responsibility of Palestinian communities everywhere. In fact, support for Palestinian prisoners’ families is the last hold on legitimacy in the hands of the PA. If it loses that, the consequences are sure to be dire.

Perhaps, American diplomats can consider an alternative path to fairly address the issue of financial support received by Palestinian prisoners and their families, namely freeing all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli dungeons. Maybe the discussion should also be expanded to include the freedom of all Palestinians who are experiencing their own forms of imprisonment by Israel. Such demands may seem outrageous in view of the current political balances of power but they are certainly morally and legally the proper discussion to be had.

The post Instead of Freeing Palestinian Prisoners, New Scheme Aims at Punishing Their Families first appeared on Dissident Voice.

In South Africa as in Palestine: Why We Must Protect the Legacy of Desmond Tutu

Long before intersectionality became a prevailing concept which helped delineate the relationship between various marginalized and oppressed groups, late South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu said it all in a few words and in a most inimitable style. “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together,” he said.

Like other freedom and justice icons, Tutu did not merely coin the kind of language that helped many around the world rise in solidarity with the oppressed people of South Africa, who fought a most inspiring and costly war against colonialism, racism and apartheid. He was a leader, a fighter and a true engaged intellectual.

It is quite convenient for many in corporate media to forget all of this about Tutu, the same way they deliberately rewrote the story of Nelson Mandela, as if the leader of South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement was a pacifist, not a true warrior, in word and deed. Tutu is also depicted by some in the media as if he was merely a quotable man who helped in the ‘healing’ of the nation after the formal end of apartheid.

There is no use to preach to South Africans, and those who knew Tutu well, to understand the great man’s centrality in the anti-apartheid struggle and in the shaping of a powerful narrative, which exposed and, eventually, demolished apartheid.

As a Palestinian, however, I think it is very important to emphasize the crucial role played by Tutu in linking the apartheid experience in his country with Israeli apartheid and military occupation in Palestine, and in influencing a generation of Palestinian intellectuals who have sagaciously tapped into the collective South African anti-apartheid experience and applied many of its valuable lessons to the Palestinian experience as well.

“When you go to the Holy Land and see what’s being done to the Palestinians at checkpoints, for us, it’s the kind of thing we experienced in South Africa,” Tutu told The Washington Post in an interview in 2013.

To be accepted into mainstream circles, activists of high caliber are often careful in the language they use and in the references they make. With weak and indecisive intellectual courage, they falter at the first challenge or in the face of abuse and attacks by their detractors. Not Tutu. When the man began making references to an Israeli apartheid in Palestine, Zionists and their friends were merciless in their accusations that the beloved spiritual leader, in the words of infamous American Zionist lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, was “evil”.

Dershowitz, hardly known for his moral fortitude and well known for his undying love for Israel, was one of those who used the opportunity to cowardly pounce on the great South African spiritual leader almost immediately after the news of his death.

“The world is mourning Bishop Tutu, who just died the other day,” Dershowitz said during an interview on Fox News on December 28, adding, “Can I remind the world that although he did some good things, a lot of good things on apartheid, the man was a rampant anti-Semite and bigot?”

Dershowitz also described Tutu as “evil”. Indeed, Tutu was also ‘evil’ in the eyes of the racist apartheid government of South Africa, as he was ‘evil’ in the eyes of Israel. Mandela, Che Guevara, Yasser Arafat, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were also ‘evil’ in the eyes of the racists, the colonialists, the Zionists and the imperialists.

Expectedly, Tutu did not back down despite years of pressure and abuse. “I know, first-hand, that Israel has created an apartheid reality within its borders and through its occupation. The parallels to my own beloved South Africa are painfully stark, indeed,” Tutu wrote in 2014, calling on US Presbyterians to impose sanctions on Israel.

In that same year, an interview with the South African news outlet News 24, Tutu said:

I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces. Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government.

It is such support by such great men and women like Tutu that gave the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement the needed impetus to build the foundation of its current success around the world.

Tutu went further. Instead of appealing to people’s consciousness, he also reminded them that making the wrong moral choice is a moral indictment of them as well. “Those who turn a blind eye to injustice actually perpetuate injustice. If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor,” he said.

In South Africa, in Palestine and all around the world, we mourn the death of Archbishop Tutu but we also celebrate his life. Particularly, we celebrate the legacy that this formidable intellectual and spiritual leader left behind.

Palestinians all over the world paid tribute to Tutu. Palestinian Archbishop Atallah Hanna, himself a great warrior for justice, said that Tutu “will always be remembered for his rejection of racism and apartheid, including in Palestine.”

Because of Tutu and his comrades, we have a roadmap on how to fight against and end apartheid, how to confront the racists and how to defeat racism; how to embrace our moral responsibility and how to strive for a better, more equitable world. And, because of Tutu, we are constantly reminded that Israeli apartheid in Palestine must be fought with the same ferocity, will and moral fortitude as that of South Africa.

Tutu will never die, because his words continue to lead the way, in Palestine as in South Africa. Equally important, we must never allow the honorable legacy of Desmond Tutu to be exploited, demonized or rewritten by his detractors or by those whose sensibilities cannot accommodate the courage of this black fighter, who will continue to lead the way, long after his passing.

The post In South Africa as in Palestine: Why We Must Protect the Legacy of Desmond Tutu first appeared on Dissident Voice.