Sep 30, 2011

This Week in Palestine

In today's news letter: events, good news, bad news, good articles and commentary.

Events: Taybeh Oktoberfest today and tomorrow and demonstration in Beit Ummar today (Saturday) at 1 PM. Last week, we attended a number of events including a wonderful play called "Handala" at Al-Rowwad in Aida Refugee Camp that is about our current reality

A British High Court determined Friday evening that the arrest of Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the Islamic Movement in 1948 Palestine, upon landing in the United Kingdom two months ago, was illegal, and as such, Salah is eligible to receive compensation from the state.  This ruling comes after the British removed a law that allowed prosecution of war criminals in British courts.  Thus the back and forth between truth/justice and the Israel lobby influence in England continues.  In other lobby news, President Obama and many politicians in sending greetings to Jews for the new year developed the horrible habit of linking it to support for Israel as if Judaism and Zionism are the same,  If Apartheid Israel is indeed a Jewish project and is linked to Judaism, Judaism is in deep trouble. I wrote to one politician to say "Do you issue statements on Muslim Holidays referring to unshakable commitments to any Islamic majority country? On a Buddhist Holiday to unshakable commitment to Japan? On Christmas for unshakable commitment to Britain? Why the hypocrisy and double standard? And what about the millions of Jews who do not care about Israel or consider it an apartheid state, does your message relate to them?".  I could have gone further and stated: "would it have been acceptable on Christmas for an American politician to send greeting to Christians saying that he has unshakable commitment to Christian Nazi Germany"?  Someday this Greek tragedy will end and all people will look back and shake their heads in amazement at this absurdity.

I shared with you before some excellent articles published in the phenomenal monthly called “This Week in Palestine".  There themes every month are different and include an ssemblage of articles accompanied by great photography and a highly efficient and pleasing layout in the print edition.  This month the theme is on celebrations.  I was asked to write one of the articles: Where commemoration meets celebration. This Week in Palestine, October 2011

Palestinians voice hope, fear on statehood bid, Daily Star

The ongoing saga of Qosra, Nablus, West Bank..09-24.09.2011 ...قصرا قضاء نابلس 

Australian activists put Palestine travel ban on trial

Sep 29, 2011

Waters for Life in Palestine

From its founding Israel as an apartheid colonial power has appropriated natural resources from native people to use for immigrants imported from around the world.  Before 1967, Israel diverted waters that normally flowed into the Jordan river basin and also restricted water usage by the Palestinians who remained in what became the state of Israel in 1948. After 1967, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza were denied access to most of their water resources in a calculated process to impoverish the population and destroy the economy in the occupied Palestinian territories.  Today, Palestinian are allowed to use an average of 72 liters per capita per day versus Israeli average of 280 liters versus settlers in the West Bank average of 400 liters daily.  For some communities of Palestinians like those in area C, the situation is worse as Israel routinely destroys their sources of water.

The international community and local Palestinians are called to work together to address this system of inequality through direct positive actions.  The Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People, the Applied Research Institute- Jerusalem, and the Palestine Justice Network have jointly proposed a plan of action for activists interested in helping us to ameliorate the water situation and also challenge the Israeli policies and practices via non-violent methods of resistance.  We call you to join us by:

a) Donating towards rehabilitation of existing ancient wells and cisterns. While most labor will be via volunteers and owners of the wells and cisterns, there is need for purchasing cement, gravel, ladders, and other building supplies to implement this project.  To donate, please go to or and specify in your donation that it is for the "Waters for life". Other portals for receiving donations will soon be opened, and the transaction details for these portals will be forthcoming. The more money we receive, the more well and cistern rehabilitation/protection projects we will be able to perform. All collected money will be spent only on this water project.

b) Coming to Palestine to help directly with your labor to rehabilitate old wells.  You can arrive at anytime but you may want to coordinate arrival for our week of action focused on land and water beginning March 30th (email to

c) Join our international advocacy group and publicize the water situation via pressure on governments and reaching out to others via mainstream and alternative media (share any letters you write with us at

To implement this project, we created a local committee composed of activsits knowledgeable in the area who laid out plans not only for rehabilitation of wells but also for their protection from Israeli destruction through legal and direct action methods. A project coordinator was selected from ARIJ and donations towards this project will be set-up in a separate account in PCR.


About ARIJ: Founded in 1990, the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem (ARIJ) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting sustainable development and the self-reliance of the Palestinian people through greater control over their natural resources. ARIJ has more than 19 years of organizational experience in the fields of natural resources management, water management, and environmental management. ARIJ plays an active role in the local community as an advocate for greater co-operation among local institutions as well as international and non-governmental organizations. In its capacity as a research institute, ARIJ focuses on its applied approach to projects which contribute to sustainable development, on one hand, and finding solutions to community problems, such as providing safe access to water and sanitation ; better management and utilization of land, water and other natural resources, self-reliance and empowerment of the people, on the other hand.

About PCR: The Palestinian Center for Rapprochement between Peoples (PCR) was founded in 1988.  Its mission is to promote, develop and implement unarmed civilian peacekeeping as a tool for reducing violence and protecting civilians in situations of violent conflict. We work to bridge the gap between Palestinians and people from all around the world, informing the public about the reality in Palestine, and empowering the community through nonviolent direct action. Our Goals are: 1) Promote arriving at a just and peaceful Palestine, 2) Promote harmony and rapprochement within society and between societies, 3) Raise awareness Provide accurate and first hand information about Palestine, and 4) Enhance civic duty and civic responsibility especially for empowering youth, women, and for marginalized segments of our society.  PCR activists co-founded the International Solidarity movement which was headquartered at PCR for the first 5 years.

About Palestine Justice Network (PJN) and Welcome to Palestine (WTP) Campaign: PJN mission is to build a global network of activists and organizations that work together in advocacy in order to support the goals set forth by the Palestinian Civil Society Call to Action 2005. WTP has hosted internationals in support of this mission and to do exploratory and support missions to Palestine for example during Christmas 2010 and the attempt to arrive by the hundreds in July 2011. See

Sep 23, 2011

Kudos Mr. Abbas

Mahmoud Abbas gave a brilliant speech at the United Nations, getting rounds of applause from most of the representatives.  I think it demonstrated clearly and unambiguously that the Palestinian leadership has been "unreasonably reasonable" and has instead seen the hopes of peace and of millions of Palestinians suffering for 63 years dashed on the rock of Israeli expansionist, colonial, and apartheid policies.  He explained that Israel has been taking one unilateral action after another each resulting in more pain and suffering for our people.  Going to the UN, he explained is putting things back where the problems started (he did not use the last two words but I do).  He said a word that I think he should defend strongly that no person or country with an iota of logic or conscience should reject the Palestinian state membership in the UN or its formation in the 22% of historic Palestine that is the West Bank and Gaza.  I think he took a courageous step and gave a good performance.  Now we here on the ground in Palestine hope and will push for additional follow-up steps.  From our own perspective, three things are critical:
1)  That he and his administration now implement quickly the reconciliation agreement signed by all Palestinian factions most notably the one about creating a representative Palestinian National Council. In his speech he said he hopes this will be done in a few weeks.  We hope this  will be done quickly and not any longer than four weeks.
2) That he and his administration act quickly and decisively to really promote popular unarmed resistance throughout Palestine and among Palestinians in exile.  In forming a new government, the ministry that is now in charge of walls and settlements should be either a) dismantled or b) reconfigured.  A new strategy to encourage real nonviolent resistance must be adopted.  We must end the practice of holding a few demonstrative actions that do not disturb the occupation and that are used to enrich a few people.  We must instead allow the kind of popular resistance that have been effective from our history (see my book that details challenges and opportunities learned from this history and available in Arabic and English). He also said he will pursue this.
3) The Palestinian people are waiting to see clear evidence of change; a new Palestinian Spring as Mr. Abbas called it.  This requires seeing visibly what Mr. Abbas talked about: transparency, accountability, democracy, and freedom. 
There were those who worried that going to the UN will raise the expectations of the Palestinian people who then may turn to despair and more if they do not see a change on the ground.  I say a) it is great to raise the expectations, and b) we, the Palestinian people will never turn to despair but we will revolt if we do not see real changes and stronger steps. I share Abu Mazen's hope that the international community steps up to the plate.  But I also hope that we all go back to our people and take those steps that will ensure our freedom.
I also listened to Netanyahu's speech and was just amazed at how many lies can be packed in one speech. It is not even worth detailing except to refer you to this link:
In this occasion, it might be worth comparing Israel and the Palestinians.
                                                 Israel                                    Palestinians
Population----------------5.5 million Jewish---------11 million (7 million refugees or displaced)
Land controlled ----------91.7%----------------------8.3% of historic Palestine
Nature--------------------Occupier/colonizer------Occupied people
Military Personnel------Regular 175,000-----------None
----------------------------Reserves, 500,000     
---------------------------Armed settlers------------Armed underground forces
Police/other security--- 30,000--------------------50,000
Artillery-------------------1500 large----------------0
Submarines---------------6 -------------------------0
Combat airplanes-------2000----------------------0
Nuclear Weopons------>300----------------------0
GDP----------------------$195 billion--------------$4 billion
Military expenditure---$10 billion---------------Negligible (security services)
Casuaties (63 years)----6000 killed-------------75,000 killed
----------------------------20,000 injured---------300,000 injured
Homes demolished-------0----------------------50,000
Refugees created---------0---------------------->6 million people
Mr. President, we don’t want a shortcut, we want our freedom by Abir Kopty

Palestinians on statehood: 'We want action, not votes at the UN'
Villagers who have often been at the sharp end of Palestinian-Israeli relations are sceptical about the UN route

Libya: Mazin Qumsiyeh - "Western powers have interests in Libya,"
Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

Sep 21, 2011

International Day of Peace

In his first speech at the UN, President Obama stated that he prohibited torture and ordered Guantanamou prisons closed.  He also said he will work to cut the nuclear arsenal of the US and Russia and move towards a world without nuclear weapons. He said that peace must be pursued by actions of all nations working together and that the era of unilateralism is finished. He said he will work aggressively to advance peace based on two states: Israel and Palestine. He said, "America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements".  All were big fat LIES. And now comes Obama with new lies in front of the UN and at this International day of peace.  Here he shows Palestinian leaders did not give him any briefing on history.  I hope any Palestinian leaders should object strongly and with facts and figures to these misstatements [my brief comments in brackets]:

"Let's be honest: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. [false] Israel's citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. [correct but this should be balanced by explaining that 10 times more Palestinians were butchered] Israel's children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them. [Israelis teach hate 100 more times than the other way around and hate of the colonizer to the colonized is not the same as the reverse].  Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, looks out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. [That is nonsense; Israel wiped Palestine including 530 villages and towns and now is the fourth strongest country plus having you Obama and Congress as its lackeys]. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile, persecution, and the fresh memory of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they were. [Irrelevant and highly emotional: just study the history of Nazi-Zionist collaboration to see how absurd to link Apartheid Israel with "The Jewish People", itself a mistaken term no more valid than concepts of "The Christian People" or "The Muslim People"]. These facts cannot be denied [they are regurgitation of Zionist myths, irrelevant facts, and half truths]. The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland [a racist apartheid state based on land theft and ethnic cleansing; is that your definition of success?]. Israel deserves recognition [no it does not, Israel deserves to be faced with the truth and pressured to transform just like Apartheid South Africa]...

All who meet with him to go back and read his first speech in the UN should level with Mr. Obama.  Perhaps they should give him a gift: a copy of Prof. Naseer Aruri's excellent book titled "Dishonest Broker" about the destructive role of the US. 

Perhaps what might awaken some sense of shame in Obama is for him to be given his own words uttered less than 2 years ago:  "The choice is ours. We can be remembered as a generation that chose to drag the arguments of the 20th century into the 21st; that put off hard choices, refused to look ahead, and failed to keep pace because we defined ourselves by what we were against instead of what we were for. Or, we can be a generation that chooses to see the shoreline beyond the rough waters ahead; that comes together to serve the common interests of human beings, and finally gives meaning to the promise embedded in the name given to this institution: the United Nations."

Hypocrisy and double standards are standing naked and exposed more than ever thanks to the Arab spring and the corruption of political leaders from Netanyahu to Obama to the Arab leaders that do not follow their conscience.  In Palestine and the rest of the Arab world, the forces of status quo fight the forces of change tooth and nail.  Human rights and democracy cannot be used as tools in some countries and violated in others.  The US administration for example says the leadership in Syria lost its legitimacy and must step aside.  In Yemen and Bahrain the same politicians merely mumble useless words like "different parties should resolve their differences".  The reason is obvious: the Israel lobby.  The Arab people hate what the Zionists had done and continue to do to fellow Arabs (7 million of us Palestinians are now refugees or displaced people).  Arabs are prevented by their own dictatorial governments from providing direct help to liberate Palestine.  The US thus acts not in its own interests or in defense of any liberal or democratic ideals but largely in defense of apartheid and racism that is distilled in this state called Israel.

Hypocrisy will be more evident at the United Nations these coming few days.  It is already evident in the use of bullying by the US administration to other countries to force them to not vote for a Palestinian state.  This bullying will remind us of how they bullied in 1947 to get the unjust resolution recommending partition of Palestine against the wishes of its people (contrary to UN Charter and the right of self-determination).  Hypocrisy will also be evident in Netanyahu's speech in the UN that will say to the world: Israel wants peace and "why are we at the UN when Israel and the Palestinians can negotiate directly." After decades of direct negotiations between slaves and heavily armed masters, excuse the world for not believing you.  Mr. Abbas (whose term as president of the "Palestinian authority" long expired) will give a speech where he will again reiterate that Palestinians renounced violence and want their own state on the borders of 1967 under the US government parameters (which recognize demographic changes including that 500,000 colonial settlers sit on the best parts of the West Bank).  Here in Palestine, the people want him to 1) consult with them and rebuild the PLO with direct elections to the PNC, 2) that if and when he then goes to the UN as a real representative to the Palestinian people that he tells them about our concerns and the historic and current injustice that we are subjected to.  I am afraid neither will happen.  In fact he explicitly stated that he does not want to "delegitimize Israel"; this means he accepts the racist Zionist project as legitimate.   Netanyahu will present a false/concocted history that mixes a religion with nationality and claims rights while delegitimizing Arabs and Palestinians at every turn.  Abbas's speech will likely validate that narrative.  Netanyahu will talk about security (for the colonial occupiers) while Abbas may not even touch on security for the native people but will again emphasize we are "peaceful in protesting/gatherings."  Indeed today there were hundreds of gatherings throughout the West Bank cities that organizers said would show support for Abbas.  

Who will address the fact that the Palestinian people were subjected to the largest armed robbery in the last 100 years accompanied by massacres and ethnic cleansing?  Who will mention that the value of hard assets alone stolen by the Zionist project exceed $30 trillion? Who will speak of the over 60,000 Palestinian civilians massacred or the hundreds of thousands who were injured or jailed?  Who will explain to those gathered in New York that International law recognizes the right of such native people to resist including by armed means?  Who will explain to world leaders that 99.99% of the people resisted by methods of popular unarmed resistance (see my book "Popular Resistance in Palestine: A history of hope and empowerment", Pluto Press)?

Before 1991, Israel was largely ostracized around the world for committing these injustices against the native Palestinians. But unfortunately, acceptance of Israel mushroomed when Mr. Yasser Arafat listened to people like Mahmoud Abbas and went down the path of the disastrous Oslo accords.  Dozens of countries then established diplomatic, business, scientific and even military cooperation with the apartheid state. Israel just also joined CERN, the European nuclear organization.  Is it possible to abandon the trap of Oslo that legitimizes colonialism? Is it possible to stop begging  for a statelet in parts of the West Bank and Gaza by going to the UN to marginally improve bargaining positions between a jailer and a jailed people?  Is it possible to build-up boycotts, divestments, and sanctions and real popular resistancd (not mere gatherings in Al-Manara square) to apply pressure that insists on the right of return for all refugees first and foremost?  Politicians worry that admitting mistakes and changing course would bring them down or they lose privileged positions.  But let me ask you how a position of a key Palestinian leader like Abbes would be if he gave a speech with total honesty telling his people something along these lines:

"We went into Oslo with good intentions, it was supposed to last for five years and give us a state in all of the West Bank and Gaza. For the past nearly 20 years it did not work, our refugees are still refugees and Israel doubled its settlement activities and killed the two-state solution.  Now I recognize that we lapsed in our judgments not only about our colonizers but also about the US and some other Western Countries who have strong Zionist lobbies.  Because of this, I am stepping down soon.  My fate will be up to the Palestinian people and I will work hard to obey their just demands for change.   In the coming few weeks we in Fatah will work together with all political factions to create a transition body to prepare and run elections for the Palestinian National Council to represent all Palestinians around the world (in diaspora and on both sides of the Green line).  This PNC council will be bound by the original charter of the PLO that calls for a democratic pluralistic state in all of Palestine among other things unless the new representative PNC decides to change elements of such a charter.  By going back top the people, we join the era of the Arab spring…"

Or imagine if Obama got the courage to go to the American people and say that he has demanded a settlement freeze and rollback based on International law to achieve real and just peace but that a strong lobby in Washington ensures that US foreign policy is held hostage to Israel.  What will happen to the statute of such politicians? What happened when President Nasser admitted mistakes and took responsibility for the Naksa of 1967? What happened to president Johnoson when he asked Israel to get out of Gaza and the Sinai in 1956 (and Israel complied)? While we are not the same it is also good to reflect on our own history.  What happened between 1929 and 1939 to the 30+ Palestinian factions then in operation (some of them had tried and failed in their accommodationist/moderate stances with the British)? Decency can be done by political parties and by politicians but it seems to be absent at the UN this week. But history shows that peace is achieved in spite and not because of politicians.   We will have to again rely on ourselves (the people) to change history.  Starting a new chapter on this International day of peace may not be such a bad idea.

On failure of us Palestinians to challenge "leaders"
When will the Arabs Resist? A panorama of desolation. By Prof. Edward Said

As a reminder: the PLO charter

State of recognition: Whether the UN grants the PA status as a state or refuses to do so, either outcome will be in Israel's interest

Sep 13, 2011

ورقة المصالحة

حضرتُ برنامجًـا يوم السبت في بيت جالا شمل متحدتين عن خمسة فصائل فلسطينية (المبادرة, فتح, الشعبية, الديمقراطية, حزب الشعب)  وقد دلّ المشاركون على أنّهم يدعمون التوجّه للأمم المتحدة بشأن الدولة الفلسطينيّة. وقد أَضاف بعضهم أنه يجب أن نعرف صيغة التوجّه لنزيل الشكوك المسموعة، والمعروفة، حول التفريط بالحقوق، خاصة حقوق اللاجئين وتمثيل منظمة التحرير. وآراء المشاركين شملت أنهم وقـّعوا اتفاقية المصالحة ويجب تنفيذها. كانت تعليقات وأسئلة الحضور كلها نقدًا، أو تساؤلات مشروعة حول التمثيل، والإستراتيجية، والتخطيط، والإدارة. أمّا أنا ومن جهتي فقد سألت عن دور المستقلين مثلي، في هذه الأمور، وطالما أنّ كلّ المشتركين موافقون، وقد وقعوا على ورقة المصالحة ، خاصّة البند المتعلق بالتمثيل، وتفعيل المنظمة،فلماذا  لم يتمّ ذلك ؟. وإذ لم ألقَ جوابًا عن سؤالي، فقد تساءل آخرون عن الموضوع نفسه. لتبقى التساؤلات دونما إجابات  ولتتزايد يومًا بعد يوم.  ومن المستغرب أنّه قد تبين من مسؤولين أوروبيّين (وقد أكد لي ذلك أحد المسؤولين الفلسطينيين) أنّ السلطة الفلسطينية تجري تفاوضًا مع الحكومات الغربية حول صيغة الذهاب للأمم المتحدة ،ويشمل التفاوض ما يلي :

- عدم الذهاب لمجلس الأمن.
- الصيغة التي يتمّ تقديمها  للمجلس العمومي تكون صيغة معتدلة، وتشمل عضوًا مراقبًا لدولة فلسطين والاعتراف بدولة إسرئيل، وعدم التزام الدول الموافِقة ، على فتح علاقات دولية ثنائيّة مع فلسطين ، ضمن صيغة لا تشمل إقامة الدولة الفلسطينيّة  وفق حدود عام 1967، بل وفق حدود تقوم على تغييرات متقق عليها بين الطرفين.
- تعهدات جانبية من قِبَل الفلسطينيين بعدم التوجّه للمحكمة الدولية (بشأن جرائم حرب صهيونية)
- العودة مباشرةً إلى المفاوضات الثنائية بعد التصويت وبدون شروط .

وبالمقابل لهذه التنازلات (بعضها وافق عليه المفاوضون الفلسطينيون وبعضها ما يزال في طور النقاش والجدل) ستستمر المساعدات الماديّة (وقد تزيد إلى 6 مليار للسنوات الخمس القادمة) وستصوّت دول أوروبية مع القرار المعدّل، في حين تمتنع أمريكا عن التصويت في الجمعية العمومية. وعليه ، وفي إطار هذه المساعي والمفاوضات ، وصلت وزيرة خارجية الإتحاد الأوروبي كاثرين آشتون إلى القاهرة يوم  الاثنين  للاجتماع مع عباس والمشاركة في اجتماع لجنة المتابعة العربية. وسيصل دافيد هيل ودنيس روس من أمريكا إلى رام الله قريبا. للأسف الحراك الديبلوماسي لم يكن بالتشاور مع الشعب أو مع التغيير المتوافق عليه في التمثيل ل م. ت. ف. وفي الشأن نفسه وصل إلى القاهرة كذلك رئيس الوزراء التركي رجب طيب أردوغان وحاول إقناع العرب أن يغيروا تخاذلهم.

مع أن حقوقنا ثابتة، ولا يحق لأي شخص أن يضحّي بها يبدو أنه قد ُتعقد خلف الكواليس صفقات كما حصل سابقـًا. يقولون لنا إنهم يصحّحون المسار بالعودة إلى الأمم المتحدة، غير أنّ تصحيح المسار لا بدّ له  أن يتم بالعودة إلى الشعب ،ومحاسبة من يقيم  اتفاقيات جديدة دون العودة إلى الشعب (كما حصل فتي اتفاقيات أوسلو وغيرها مثلاً). في نظري هذا هو الخيار الصحيح أولاً وثانيًا وثالثـًا ، وسيبقى كذلك بعد أن تهدأ الزوبعة. والأهم من كل هذا هو دور الشعب، وهل حقّـًا سنبقى هكذا متفرجين. يبدو من هذه الاهتمامات والتساؤلات وخاصة تشجيع الربيع العربي أنّ المارد الفلسطيني (الشعب) بدأ يصحو من سباته العميق وأنّ الأشهر القادمة ستبين ولا ريب ماذا يحصل، ويتراءى لي  أنّ  إحدى الدلائل ستكون نوعيّة وطريقة الانتفاضة القادمة.

ولا يغير الله ما بقوم حتى يغيروا ما بأنفسهم

Sep 10, 2011

An American-Palestinian Reflection on 9/11

By Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh

Ten years after September 11, 2001, we still have the choice of continuing the same policies that lead to war and conflict or to insist on human rights and hold violators accountable.

September brings back memories of atrocities ranging from the massacres of Palestinians in Jordan September 1970, to the CIA's involvement in the coup that installed General Pinochet in Chile (9/11/73), to the massacre of Sabra and Shatila on 15 September 1982, and to the attacks of 11 September 2001 on the US (my second home).  These tragedies are demonstrably intertwined beyond the coincidences of date and they each claimed the lives of hundreds of civilian victims.   I was with my late father during the first two of these four events and his pain at hearing and seeing the news of these events on TV remains etched in my memory.  In Mid September 1970 and after some Palestinian groups acted in ways that threatened his Hashemite rule in Jordan, King Hussain declared martial law and sent his tanks to the refugee camps.  Routing the PLO out of Jordan meant "collateral damage" (the term Israel and the US use) of  massacres of hundreds of Palestinians.  Horrific stories of atrocities are recorded.  Two years later, a CIA-led coup d'état against the democratically elected socialist government of Salvador Allende succeeded to place a right-wing dictator by the name of Pinochet in power.  It was on September 11, 1973, that the government was toppled and Allende was assassinated.  The US-supported reign of terror that followed against the Chilean people left thousands of murdered.  Thousands were tortured and thousands disappeared.

Ten years later, the US-supported Israeli army invaded Lebanon June 1982 to route the PLO out of Lebanon.  The invading army pounded cities and refugee camps and killed thousands of Lebanese and Palestinian civilians.  Under a deal arranged by Israel's patrons in Washington, the PLO was forced out of Lebanon on 1 Sept. 1982 in exchange for promises that refugees would not be harmed.  US promises were not kept and Israel was given US weapons and diplomatic cover to commit further acts of violence.   A ruthless General known to Israelis as the bulldozer (because nothing stood in his way) commanded Israel’s invading army.  On 11 September 1982 he announced that the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila had 2000 "terrorists" and unleashed mercenaries to do his ghastly deed.   The 150 Phalangist killers who went into the camps on September 15 not only received Israeli salaries and weapons but a direct Green light (the camp was surrounded by Israeli soldiers, and Israeli floodlights allowed continuation of the massacre throughout the night).  For 40 hours straight, women were machine-gunned, children's throats were slit, and elderly men were hacked to death.  Estimates of the number of victims ranged from 750 (Israeli figure) to 2500 (Red Cross figure).  

I was living near New York on 11 September 2001.  The horror was felt first because for many of us, friends and relatives were in New York City and we were very worried for them and for the country as a whole. The attacks also killed many Arabs and Muslims.  Immediately, the Zionist strategy was developed and implemented to blame Arabs and Muslims and use the attacks to bolster Israeli colonial activities.  Some 2000 Palestinian civilians were killed by Israeli forces in the two years that followed the attack (and the Palestinian groups killed over 500 Israelis in retaliation).   Later, the commission of inquiry into the events hid many facts; the most important of which is what any crime investigator asks about-- the real motive of the crime.  US policy in support of apartheid Israel was (and to a large extent continues to be) a taboo subject.  But the official attempts to stifle discussion and force the US public to be consumers rather than citizens largely failed. (Bush's speech after the events told citizens to simply go shopping and leave things to him and his government).  People actually had a gut feeling that there are things they are not being told and they looked for sources of information.

Our activism before 2001 for Palestinian human rights meant that we were in the spotlight (both in the negative and positive sense) after the attacks.  Just in the six months after the horrific attacks, I gave over 40 lectures and interviewed and appeared in media over 50 times.  More than any other time in my life in the US, I experienced directly both the goodness of the US public and the treachery and meanness of those who only cared for Israel.  In my upcoming book about my life in the US, I devote some pages to describe these things.  Both the kindness and curiosity of average US citizens and the attacks carried on us by those in the political Zionist camp.  We were subjected to email spams, computer hacking, mail fraud, FBI investigations that came from Zionist sources, physical and verbal attacks, and to deluge of letters calling us names (from terrorists to anti-Semites) sent to media, politicians, and even our academic colleagues.  Not only did we weather that but we got strengthened in our resolve and much of it backfired on the aggressors and gained us even more sympathy among the American public. 

Here we are 10 years after 11 September 2001 and we still have choices.  Thanks to US/Israeli miscalculations and stupidity, Iran is stronger than ever as a regional power.  The dictatorial governments of the friends of Israel are toppled by popular revolt (Egypt, Tunisia) or about to be toppled (Yemen).  Others in the so-called "moderate" camp have been weakened or had to reassess their positions (Jordan, the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah).  And while the US policy tried to balance things by working to remove dictators who are less friendly to it (Gaddafi in Libya and Assad in Syria), the outcome is far from certain (and people there may still get to decide). 

But there are also other changes related to the stupidity of US/Israeli policies after 11 September 2001.  Israeli forces executed nine Turkish citizens (one of them also US citizen) in a humanitarian ship in international waters and Israel refused to apologize. Turkey now expelled the Zionist ambassador and cut trade and military ties with Israel.  Egyptian activists managed to enter the Israeli Embassy in Cairo and the staff had to flee with the ambassador on his way to Tel Aviv.  The carrot and stick approach with the Palestinian authority was used successfully in the past to force compliance with US and Israeli demands.  Now it seems to have begun to fail.  David Hale and Tony Blair failed to get their way as spokespersons for Israeli policy to force a retreat in the issue of going to the UN to recognize a Palestinian state in the 22% of historic Palestine that was occupied in 1967.  They are now trying to get a language that abrogates Palestinian rights (especially the right of return).

Thus, at the 10th anniversary of the attacks on 9/11, questions abound about how Israel and neocons took US policy in the past 10 years in directions that strengthened adversaries, promoted war, wrecked the American economy, and destroyed the sympathy and solidarity shown by people around the world to the US.  Ten years after September 11, 2001, we still have the choice of continuing the same policies that lead to war and conflict or to insist on human rights and hold violators accountable.

On this sad anniversary, the US government can no longer afford to remain a vassal and occupied country whose congress stands obediently to applause a war criminal like Netanyahu.  People shake their heads as they see 81 US Congressmen and Congresswomen take a propaganda trip to Israel during their August recess instead of spending the time dealing with the economic destruction in their own districts caused in part by the lobby that paid for their trip.  People wonder how a proud country like the US could allow Israel to get away with attacking a US ship in international waters killing 28 US servicemen.  How could this government then appoint lobbyists for Israel as US ambassadors to Israel (e.g. Martin Indyk) and US envoys to the Middle East (e.g. Dennis Ross)? Is it any wonder that we now learn that previous US Secretary of Defense Bill Gates had big differences on issues of policy? Many US officials now speak out while still in office not just after they leave office. It is urgent and critical.

On this sad anniversary, there are a lot of "what if" scenarios being discussed and healthy reflections around the world.  For example, what if the US and Israel obeyed international law? What if we did not illegally invade and occupy Iraq and Afghanistan? What if Israel was forced to comply with UN resolutions on withdrawal from illegally occupied areas and forced to allow the ethnically-cleansed Palestinians to return to their homes and lands? In short what if we did not send the message that might makes right but rather that rights make things right? Would that not have been the most rational response to extremists whether they are wearing Turbans or wearing Kippas or wearing crosses?

On the anniversary of 9/11: Robert Fisk writes that "For 10 years, we've lied to ourselves to avoid asking the one real question"

Arundhati Roy on September 11

Sep 5, 2011

Graveyard for trees

An apology for writing more frequent than the usual 2-3 messages a week but our hearts broke when we arrived to find that much of the Israeli uprooting of Palestinian olive trees was already done in Al-Walaja today.  The old farmer Mohammed Al-Atrash (Abu Wajih) was standing there in shock, speechless, wondering where humanity is on this black day.  Israeli authorities picked the day well: it was the day of returning to school and to work from the 5 day Eid (Holiday) at the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan.  They brought massive forces starting at dawn and circled an area of over one square mile declaring it a closed military area.   No media presence was allowed (so much for “democracy”) so that we could not even videotape the destruction as it happened, only its aftermath.  Dozens of olive, almond, za’rur, and pine trees were destroyed. For pictures of the corpses, see footnote 1 below.  This despite the fact that there is a court case pending on this land to be heard at the end of this month.  The villagers called for presence in the village tomorrow (Tuesday morning).  Tel for info 0522054595
I cried for this old gentlemen, who already suffered one heart attack and who reminded me of my late father. I also cried for the apathy of so many people and for the cruelty of Israeli contractors, their (Arab) workers, the Israeli private “security” guarding the bulldozers, the Israeli “soldiers” and “border police” who reminded me of mafias and of other fascists and racists. (2)

It was uplifting to hear that Turkey is removing the ambassador and deputy of the apartheid regime.  Turkey has also started treating Israeli citizens coming to Turkey like (but not as bad) as Turkish citizens traveling to Lydda (aka Ben Gurion) airport.  Some countries know what is right and what is wrong and act on this knowledge.  It is a shame that Israeli ambassadors are still in Amman and in European cities.  It is a shame that some Palestinians who refuse to reconstitute the PLO insist that they will continue “security cooperation” with the apartheid regime.   Some even continue to meet with Israeli war criminals. Meanwhile the US administration in Israeli-occupied Washington DC is mobilizing its diplomats to try to stall and convince Mr. Abbas to go back to “negotiations”; the same useless negotiations between a prisoner and prison guards where the guards can determine everything (3).  20 years of this “peace process” should by now have demonstrated that it is nothing but a farce.  Returning to it means giving more time for colonialism to finish their ethnic cleansing and finish the walls around the remaining “people warehouses”/ghettos/Bantustans.  Al-Walaja is one such place as it will be surrounded on all sides by walls (an open air-prison).  Meanwhile 1.5 million people remain in the largest concentration camp in history, otherwise known as Gaza strip subjected to an immoral and illegal blockade still with the help of Egyptian army (worried about losing US aid).  Occasionally, Israel uses high tech "games" to murder the sitting ducks (oops, humans) in Gaza (4).

Also the settlers are on a rampage and today they burned a mosque in a village near Nablus while they are recruiting foreign mercenaries to serve in their ranks (5)

(1)Please see these preliminary photos of the destruction in Al-Walaja today

(2) Here is my August 13 interview with Abu Wajih. 

(3) "Abbas: I met recently with Barak to discuss Israel-Palestinian ties"
Background on the released Palestine Papers about Israeli sessions (again negotiations would not convey the real picture)

(4) Israeli Video Games in Gaza (disturbing, please be cautious)

(5) The French branch of the terrorist organization Jewish Defense League is recruiting openly for people with military experience to come help racist colonial settlers in September in Palestine.

Bantustans and the unilateral declaration of statehood

Radio Interview: Jeff Blankfort interviews Mazin Qumsiyeh on September issues, the Israel lobby and more

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD