Friday, June 27, 2014

Iraqi refugees in despair in Jordan long for Saddam era

from Al Monitor

AMMAN, Jordan — In a small cafe in Amman, Syrian, Palestinian and Iraqi customers are smoking the hookah and drinking coffee. They enjoy a quiet evening watching the World Cup on a large TV screen. King Abdullah's portrait hangs on the wall next to the screen.

Summary⎙ While life wasn't perfect under the rule of President Saddam Hussein, it was much better than today, according to Iraqi refugees in Jordan.

Author Brenda StoterPosted June 26, 2014

The Iraqi owner of the cafe, Farouq, moved from Baghdad to Amman in 2004 to escape the war in Iraq. He went back and forth several times in the first few years, until he realized that it was better for him to start a new life in Jordan, as he could not have a normal life in Iraq. Now he lives with his wife and two children in Amman.

"In Iraq, I could not start my own company, because I'm a Sunni. The Shiite government was working against me all the time. A bunch of corrupted people, that’s what they are,” Farouq told Al-Monitor on the condition that his last name not be revealed.

“And of course it was dangerous, too, with all the bombings," he said.

Like most Iraqis living in Jordan, Farouq opposed the US-British invasion in Iraq. When speaking with Iraqis in Amman a recurrent sentiment is that everything was better in the old days, when President Saddam Hussein was still in power. When there appeared to be no evidence for Saddam’s support to terrorists and weapons of mass destruction, Iraqis started to doubt the real intention for the invasion. Now, 11 years later, the conflict between Shiites and Sunnis is raging in Iraq and Syria.

“That the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham [ISIS] grew this big is not a surprise to me. Nouri al-Maliki's government has suppressed the Sunni population for years, and the current situation is a direct result of his policies. Before, we didn’t have a Sunni-Shiite conflict," Farouq told Al-Monitor, adding that he remains in contact with his friends and family in Iraq.

“They keep telling me that it’s not only ISIS who took over. Secular Baathists also joined the extremists, you know, as well as tribes. How else could ISIS have gained territory so fast?” he said.

Yet, Farouq admits that he is a little worried about ISIS, as the terrorist group wants to establish an Islamic caliphate stretching across Iraq and Syria and other parts of the Middle East. ISIS fighters do not believe in the colonial borders that were determined by the British and the French after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. People living under ISIS would live according to the strict rules of Sharia, as interpreted by the radical group.

"Who wants to live under those rules? Not me. It’s not a good way of living,'' he said while smoking the hookah.

Jordan continues to provide asylum to a large number of Syrians, Iraqis and other refugees, despite the substantial strain on the national system and infrastructure. In 2013, Jordan hosted nearly 30,000 Iraqi refugees, the majority of whom are from Baghdad. Although their numbers have changed somewhat since then, with some returning home and others moving to other countries, a sizable Iraqi community remains in Amman.

Firas, an Iraqi who also lives in the Jordanian capital, came back from a short holiday in Baghdad a week ago after five years of not visiting his family in Iraq. He said he no longer recognized his own city. Buildings have been destroyed, many people have left and people's mentality has changed.

"You can feel that the people are angry. They see that everything is safe in the Kurdish region [Iraqi Kurdistan], but not for them," he told Al-Monitor.

Firas also fled the war in 2004, and just like Farouq, he thinks that the current situation in Iraq is a logical result of years of suppression where basic human rights such as health care, justice and education were neglected.

“And now that ISIS is there it will become even worse. I don't have any faith in the future of my country, and I don’t think I will ever go back," he said.

He glorifies the days when he lived under Saddam's rule. According to Firas, it was not good, but at least it was better than what is going on now. Firas met Saddam a few times in one of his palaces, when he worked as an engineer for the former president, who was found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death by hanging in 2006.

“One day, I had to repair a lamp on Saddam’s balcony. I said that it was broken because a bird was living in it, and that it had to be replaced. Saddam said he didn’t want the bird to lose its house, so I was not allowed to hang another lamp."

Firas laughed and said, “Can you imagine that this was the same guy who made sure thousands of Iraqis didn’t have a home anymore?”

The United Nations has observed that the number of Iraqis seeking asylum in Jordan has significantly increased in June compared with previous months. Helene Daubelcour from UNHCR Jordan told Al-Monitor that 841 Iraqi individuals approached UNHCR in June compared to 493 in May and 590 in April.

“We have actually received very few Iraqis seeking asylum in Jordan [recently] because of ISIS-related developments. Most Iraqis actually flee generalized and sectarian violence occurring in Baghdad, as many as 40% or more," Daubelcour said.

ISIS is still gaining territory in western Iraq. On June 22, Jordan sent army units to the border area after the Iraqi army had lost control of a major border crossing to ISIS militants. Abdullah has warned of the growing threat posed by ISIS and called for a new inclusive government in neighboring Iraq.

“The crisis in Syria has shown us that transnational terrorists have no regard for borders. We face challenges when those terrorist organizations or those extremists return back to their host countries,” Abdullah said in Berlin, ahead of his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Farouq also thinks that Jordan sooner or later will be affected by the crisis in Iraq. When he is asked what kind of circumstances would make him return to his homeland, he smiled for the first time.

“I hope someone like Saddam will take over the country. Then we can defeat the extremists and rebuild Iraq again," he said. “And then I would definitely go back."

Read more:

Richard Falk on "5 Palestinian Futures"

By Richard Falk
Five Palestine Futures


Background and Foreground

For years, perhaps going back as far as the Madrid Peace Conference of 1991, influential international debate on the future of Palestine has almost exclusively considered variations on the theme of a two-state solution. The American Secretary of State, John Kerry, stampeded the Palestinian Authority and Israel into negotiations that ‘failed’ even before they started a year ago. At least Kerry was prudent enough to warn both sides that this was their do or die moment for resolving the conflict. It was presumed without dissent in high places anywhere that this two-state outcome was the one and only solution that could bring peace. Besides the parties themselves, the EU, the Arab League, the UN all wagered that a resolution of the conflict required the establishment of a Palestinian state. Even Benjamin Netanyahu became a reluctant subscriber to this mantra in his 2009 speech at Bar-Ilan University, although always in a halfhearted spirit.

The reasoning that underlay this consensus went along these lines: a viable solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict could not challenge the Israeli commitment and the essential Zionist Project to create a homeland for Jews worldwide; this meant that self-determination for the Palestinian people would have to be addressed separately, and the only way to do this was by way of a partition of historic Palestine. The British had come to this conclusion as early as 1936 in the Peel Commission Report (a British Royal Commission that concluded that the British mandate as applied to the whole of historic Palestine was unworkable because of the tensions between the two ethnic communities, and proposed that partition be imposed), which became the basis for the solution proposed in 1947 by the UN in General Assembly Resolution 181. It was reaffirmed in Security Council Resolution 242 unanimously adopted after the 1967 War that reduced the portion of Palestine assigned to the Palestinian from 45% to 22%, calling for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the territory occupied as a result and reaffirming the principle of international law that territory could not be validly acquired by force of arms.

Underneath the partition consensus there is an intriguing puzzle to solve: why has the consensus persisted despite the leadership of neither Israel nor Palestine seeming to have opted for partition except as a second best outcome. The Palestinians made their dislike of partition manifest from the outset of large scale Jewish immigration in the decades after the Balfour Declaration of 1917, believing that imposing a Jewish homeland, much less a Jewish state, was an unacceptable colonial encroachment. In the late 1980s the Palestinians, as represented by the Palestine Liberation Organization, adjusting to the realities of Israel’s presence, accepted the idea of partition in the historic decision in 1988 of the Palestine National Council. In its essence, the Palestinians endorsed the vision embedded in SC Res. 242, envisioning a Palestinian reality based on an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-war green line borders, an expectation that, of course, never materialized.

More subtly, the Zionist leadership was at best ambivalent about partition, appreciating it initially as a path leading to sovereignty, which exceeded ‘homeland’ as a political outcome, and represented more than they could have hoped for earlier in their movement, yet decisively less than the biblical vision of Israel as encompassing the whole of historic Israel. As the situation evolved since Israeli independence, Israel has continuously revised its sense of a favorable balance of forces making it seem realistic to seek a fuller realization of the Zionist dream. In recent years, the Israeli one-staters have started to gain the upper hand, based partly on what has been happening on the ground, partly by the rightward drift of the governing coalition, and partly from the absence of real incentives to compromise territorially due to the falling away of Palestinian armed resistance and the absence of meaningful pressure from Washington. There is a renewed reliance in Israel on the contention that the ‘Palestinians’ do not really have a distinct ethnicity, and hence are not a ‘people’ entitled to self-determination under international law. Palestinians are and should be viewed as ‘Arabs.’ As such, they have no need for another state as already 22 Arab states exist. In my experience, within Israel, almost no Israelis refer to Palestinians as other than as Arabs, except of course the Palestinians.

Of course, what a Palestinian state meant to the Palestinians was different than what it meant to the Israelis. Additionally, what it meant for the Palestinian Authority was also far apart from what the Palestinians overseas dispersed communities and the refugee camps believed to be the necessary components of peace. Almost necessarily, the focus on Palestine as a state rather than Palestine as the communal recipient of rights reduced the conflict to a territorial dispute supposedly susceptible to solution by a ‘land for peace’ formula. This approach marginalized other Palestinian grievances, above all, the right of return of Palestinian refugees, creating tensions between Palestinians living under occupation and Palestinians living in refugee camps and in exile. It also situated issues relating to Jerusalem in some indeterminate zone that was neither territorial nor distinct from territorial claims.

On the Israeli side, too, there were big variations. The dominant Israeli position in recent years has been one in which the dimensions of a Palestinian state must be subordinated to the imperatives of Israeli security as defined by the Israeli government. In effect, that would mean confiscating all of Occupied Palestine to the West of the separation wall and the settlement blocs as well as controlling the borders and maintaining for an indefinite period Israeli security forces in the Jordan Valley. In addition, Palestinians must renounce all their claims as part of a final status agreement, which would seem also to imply the end of any assertion of a right of return for 1948 and 1967 Palestinian refugees. More maximalist versions involve even larger annexationist features and treat the city of Jerusalem as exclusively belonging in perpetuity to Israel. On top of all these demands is the insistence by Netanyahu that the Palestinian Authority recognize Israel as a Jewish state, which both relegates the Palestinian minority in Israel to permanent subjugation and effectively renounces any Palestinian right of return.

The Israeli government having in recent years become virtually inseparable from the settler movement has long appreciated that the function of endorsing a Palestinian state was little more than a way of appeasing, and thereby neutralizing, world public opinion, given its insistence that a political solution was possible and necessary, and could only happen if the Palestinian got their state, satisfying at the very least, the territorial core of self-determination. Even now the Palestinian Authority continues to sing the same lyrics, although the melody is more solemn. The Palestinian governmental representatives in recent years have lost even the ability to say ‘no’ to international negotiations despite having nothing to gain from the recurrent charade of such American orchestrated gatherings and quite a bit to lose by way of expanding settlements, the altered makeup of Jerusalem, and a gradual shifting international mood in the direction of accepting Israeli maximalism as unassailable, if regrettable. Ironically, Israeli media influence and the supportive voice of the U.S. Government also blames the Palestinians for each round of failed peace talks, although for the first time, the Israel obstructionist role was so evident, Washington blamed both sides.

There is no light at the end of this particular tunnel. With what appears to be the death throes of a failed peace process is being acknowledged in the form of an eerie silence in high places. There is an absence of conjecture or advocacy as to how the conflict might end abetted by the recent focus on the turmoil in the region, especially the renewed chaos in Iraq and intensifying strife in Syria that has shifted public and media attention away from the Israel-Palestine agenda. This evasive silence has for the present replaced earlier false hopes invested in futile diplomatic negotiations. In retrospect, it is easy to conclude that political preconditions for conflict-resolving negotiations premised on a viable Palestinian sovereign state never truly existed on the Israeli side, assuredly after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. This is mainly because the expansionist vision of the right-wing settlers became more and more accepted as official state policy in Tel Aviv, and there was no longer pressures being mounted by Palestinian armed struggle. On the Palestinian governmental side, in contrast, there was an eagerness to end the occupation and attain the status and rituals associated with being a sovereign state. Confusion surrounded the practicalities of what such an arrangement would yield. It always seemed doubtful as to whether a deal like this could be sold to the Palestinian people if it left the several million Palestinians living in refugee camps and overseas out in the cold. This assessment is especially true since the death of Arafat in 2004, which has led to a virtual leadership vacuum on the Palestinian side.

The security logic of the Israeli right is that Israel will only be able to maintain its security over time if it continues to control all or most of the West Bank. This image of security reflects the view that real threat to Israel no longer comes from Palestinian armed resistance. It comes from the surrounding Arab world that is moving toward more advanced weaponry, and at some point is almost sure to again turn its guns and missiles in an Israeli direction. Additionally, pushing toward a similar understanding, is the view that the full realization of Zionism involves the incorporation of the West Bank, always referred to in internal Israeli discourse by their biblical names of Judea and Samaria.

Peace through bilateral negotiations presided over by the United States has long seemed moribund to many close observers, but after the recent collapse of the talks this top down diplomatic approach seems discredited even among governments and at the UN, at least for now. Yet it is impossible for most of the world to accept the finality of such a stalemate that favors Israel, in effect, ratifying land grabs and apartheid structures, while consigning the Palestinians to regimes of misery of for the indefinite future, which translates into the rigors of permanent denial of rights, oppression, refugee camps, and involuntary exile. This bleak assessment raises the question ‘What Now?’

Constructing a New Box

In situations of this sort, where differences seem irreconcilable, the common call is ‘to think outside the box.’ The old box was the consensus associated with the two-state mantra, which appeared to have a solidity that never truly existed. Now appearances are more reliable. At present there is not even a box to think within. Yet silence and despair is not an option while Palestine suffering and denial of rights endures. Future alternatives need to be imagined and appraised. Five seem worth pondering, and each has some plausibility.

(1) Israeli One-State: Such an end game involves extending Israel’s border to incorporate most of the West Bank, keeping the settlements except, perhaps, relinquishing control over a few isolated outposts. This vision of Palestine’s future takes on heightened political relevance considering that Reuven Rivlin, the newly elected Israeli President, is an open advocate of a supposedly humane version of an Israeli one-state outcome, a position that directly contradicts Netanyahu’s endorsement of an eventual Palesinian state. This benevolent version, spelled out in some detail by an influential settler advocate, Dani Dayan, calls for a radical easing of Palestinian life in relation to day to day humiliations, ranging from the numerous checkpoints, restrictions on mobility, and anticipates and supports the dismantling of the separation wall. [See Dayan, “Peaceful Nonreconciliation Now,” NY Times, June 9, 2014]

Dayan proposes that the Israeli government take a series of steps to raise the Palestinian standard of living significantly. He admits that this type of ‘economic peace’ will never satisfy Palestinian political/legal grievances relating to territory, independence, and the right of return. Such a proposal is essentially offering the Palestinians a Faustian Bargain in which Palestinians give up their rights of resistance in waging a political struggle for self-determination in exchange for the tangible psychological and economic advantages of living better lives materially and enjoying some measure of dignity within an Israeli structure of governance. The obstacle here is that the authentic voices representing the Palestinian people seem united in refusing to renounce their political ambitions and their right of resistance. The acceptance of such an arrangement would be widely understood, including among the Palestinian people, as a political surrender to the de facto realities of Israeli settler colonialism carried to its maximalist endpoint. It is relevant to note that the Dayan proposal is coupled with the expectation that the Palestinians would renounce in principle and practice any right of violent resistance, while the Israeli state would be entitled to engage in violence whenever the perceived imperatives of security so demanded.

(2) Binational One-State: The more idealistic version of the one-state solution presupposes a secular state that encompasses the whole of historic Palestine, establishes a unified government with democracy and human rights for all, and creates semi-autonomous regions where Jews and Palestinians can exercise self-administration and freely express their separate national and ethnic identities. In effect, the two dominant peoples in Palestine would agree to live together within a single sovereign state on the basis of equality and democracy, but with agreed provisions creating separate national communities preserving culture, tradition, ethnicity, and religious affiliation. There are several obstacles: given the realities on the ground and the attachment of an overwhelming majority of Israelis to the Zionist Project of a Jewish State with its unlimited right of return for Jews worldwide, the proposal seems utopian, lacking political traction. Furthermore, the disparities in wealth and education would likely lead to Israeli hierarchy, if not dominance and continued exploitation, in any process that purported to unify the country on a non-Zionist basis.

(3) Israeli Withdrawal from Occupation: In this proposal, there would be no explicit shift in the structures of governance. In a manner similar to the 2005 Sharon Disengagement Plan for Gaza, this new initiative would apply to those portions of Palestine that Israel seeks to incorporate within its final international borders. This arrangement would leave the Palestinian Authority in charge of the remnant of the West Bank, as well as Gaza. It would maintain the actuality of the occupation regime, but without the presence of Israeli security forces and keep the separation wall, imposing rigid border controls and continue repression, effectively depriving Palestinians of the enjoyment of their most basic human rights. This approach rests on the assumption that Israeli military control is able to implement such a solution as well as to deal with external threats mounted from hostile forces in the region. The main obstacle is that Palestinians would have no incentive to accept such an outcome, it would be denounced in most international settings, including the United Nations, and it would have the likely political consequence of further isolating Israel in global settings.

(4) Palestinian Self-Determination: There is some new thinking in the Palestinian camp, most articulately formulated by Ali Abunimah in his important book, The Battle for Justice in Palestine. The emphasis is on civil society activism and nonviolent Palestinian resistance as building global support for a solution that is responsive to the Palestinian right of self-determination. What form self-determination eventually assumes is a matter, above all, for Palestinians to decide for themselves. The realization of self-determination presupposes leadership that is accepted by authentic representatives of the whole of the Palestinian people, including those living as a minority within Israel, those living under occupation, and those in refugee camps and involuntary exile. The contours of the territorial division or unity that emerges would be the outcome of negotiations, but its embodiment would address the legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people as defined by international law and international human rights and include a formal acknowledgement by Israel of past injustices done to the Palestinian people. The main obstacle here is one of hard power disparities and rigidities, as well as the continuing, although weakening, Jewish worldwide engagement with the Zionist Project. The way around such an obstacle is to gain worldwide support that mounts sufficient pressure on Israel, the United States, and Europe so as to induce a recalculation of interests by Israeli leaders and citizens based on a new realism associated with the increasing leverage of growing Palestinian soft power capabilities.

(5) Peaceful Co-Existence: In recent years, Hamas, strangely seems to be the last holdout for a version of the two-state solution, although in its maximalist form. Israel would need to withdraw to the 1967 borders, end its blockade of Gaza, and give Palestine control over East Jerusalem. The main obstacle here is that Israel would have to abandon its expansionist goals and dismantle the settlements, although it could retain the Zionist Project in its more limited territorial applications to Israel as it existed in 1967. The secondary obstacle is that the Hamas Charter calls for the total removal of the entire Jewish presence from historic Palestine, making the proposal seem tactical and untrustworthy, and at most intended to serve as an interim arrangement, an uneasy truce and unsustainable peace. Hamas officials have indicated a willingness to commit to 50 years of coexistence, a period in which much could change, including even the primacy of the statist framing of political community. It is impossible to imagine Israel accepting such a blurry outcome that rolled back the factual realities of expansion that have been created by Israel over the course of several decades. Besides, whatever its content the very fact that Hamas was the source of such a proposal would alone be sufficient to produce an Israel rejection.

A Concluding Comment

It is obvious that none of these five approaches seems either attractive enough to challenge the status quo or politically persuasive enough to shift the balance of forces bearing on the conflict. Yet, there are signs indicating both that the Israelis are moving toward a unilaterally imposed option and the Palestinians are becoming more inclined to combine nonviolent resistance with support for militant global solidarity. On the one side, the Israeli settler movement is on the front line, and on the other, the Palestinian BDS campaign is gathering momentum as the leading expression of the Palestine National Movement. In both instances, at this time the relevant governmental entities have been marginalized as political actors in relation to the struggle. This is itself an extraordinary development, but where it will lead remains obscure. Two images of the near future seem most relevant. From an Israeli perspective: the consummation of the Zionist project by the incorporation of all or most of the West Bank, the further ethnic consolidation of control over the whole of Jerusalem, and the rejection of any humanitarian responsibility or political ambition with regard to the Gaza Strip. From a Palestinian perspective: the growth of the global solidarity movement to a point where an increasing number of governments impose sanctions on Israel, reinforced societal initiatives associated with the BDS campaign, giving rise to new thinking in Israel and the United States about how best to engage in damage control. If such a point is reached, the experience of transforming apartheid South Africa into a multi-racial constitutional democracy is almost certain to intrigue the political imagination.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

More western-style democracy from the Israeli colonial-settler state

Police: Enough Evidence to Investigate Arab-Israeli MK Zoabi for Incitement

JUNE 23, 2014 2:41

Arab-Israeli MK Haneen Zoabi. Photo: Wikimedia Commons – Israeli police say there is enough evidence to investigate Arab-Israeli MK Haneen Zoabi for incitement over controversial statements she made last week about the three kidnapped Israeli teens.

Israeli police received several complaints last week after Zoabi said the kidnappers were not terrorists. Police authorities have passed their opinion to Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein, who will conduct the investigation.

“They are people that cannot see any way to change their reality, and they are forced to use these means until Israeli society wises up a bit and sees and feels the suffering of the other,” Zoabi said in an interview on last week with Radio Tel Aviv.

Zoabi, who is a member of the Arab nationalist party Balad, has had a controversial political career. She has been an outspoken opponent of Israel and participated in the 2010 flotilla that tried to break the naval blockade on Gaza.

“I didn’t break any law, rather, I am fulfilling my moral, human and political obligation to fight against oppression and for justice,” Zoabi said in response to the police statement, The Jerusalem Post reported.

In life and death, some are more equal than others at the ‘NYT’

Ahmed Moor on June 24, 2014 18

Have you heard? Three Israeli teenagers have gone missing. Three settlers – one of whom may have been a soldier – have disappeared from an area patrolled by their army, the ultimate enforcer of apartheid. According to Jodi Rudoren and Benjamin Netanyahu, they’ve been kidnapped. A Palestinian did it, they say. Forget the evidence – they just know.

The King of the Jews made a proclamation and it’s suddenly news that’s fit to print – by a journalist who’s evidently incapable of asking questions.

Anyway, the fate of three missing settlers is less important than the murders of seven Palestinians in the past week. Who murdered them? The Israelis did. That’s not guesswork. It’s not conjecture. It’s fact.

To her credit, Rudoren names some of the victims – an enormous improvement over her predecessors:

Palestinian health officials said that Muhammad Mahmoud Atta Ismail, 31, was slain on a Ramallah rooftop by an Israeli sniper, and that in a separate shooting, Ahmad Said Saoud Khaled, 27, bled to death after he was wounded in the abdomen, back and thigh by Israeli troops he encountered en route to a mosque in Nablus for the dawn prayer…

At Friday’s funeral for 15-year-old Mohammed Jihad Dudeen, who was killed hours earlier while throwing stones at Israeli soldiers, dozens in the crowd of 6,000 shouted, “How sweet and fine the abduction was!” while brandishing the yellow, green, black and red flags of various Palestinian factions.

Elsewhere, we’re invited to think about the three Israeli mothers; their Palestinian counterparts don’t exist. Or if they do, they’re animals who fuck and birth in the streets. Their yapping is too unintelligible for the United Nations or the New York Times, so they don’t count.

One may wonder, What sort of society practices collective punishment? What sort of society locks down 4 million people for politics and on a hunch? Rudoren does the thoughtful reader a service:

“This goes to the most basic D.N.A. of the society: We are a society that lives and survives in the Middle East because we send our sons into situations of unbearable risk,” Mr. Halevi said. “All of our communal feelings and all of our existential feelings converge on this event, and it’s enforced by everything that’s happening on our borders.”

So there it is. A settler-colonial society – an alien society, foreign and violent and brutal – survives in the Middle East, but only by sending its young men.. to hitchhike. Truly, heroic.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Oslo Illusion

from Jacobin
Issue 10: Assembly Required
by Adam Hanieh
The Oslo Accords weren’t a failure for Israel — they served as a fig leaf to consolidate and deepen its control over Palestinian life.

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the signing of the Oslo Accords between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Israeli government. Officially known as the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, the Oslo Accords were firmly ensconced in the framework of the two-state solution, heralding “an end to decades of confrontation and conflict,” the recognition of “mutual legitimate and political rights,” and the aim of achieving “peaceful coexistence and mutual dignity and security and … a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement.”

Its supporters claimed that under Oslo, Israel would gradually relinquish control over territory in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with the newly established Palestinian Authority (PA) eventually forming an independent state there. The negotiations process, and subsequent agreements between the PLO and Israel, instead paved the way for the current situation in the West Bank and Gaza. The Palestinian Authority, which now rules over an estimated 2.6 million Palestinians in the West Bank, has become the key architect of Palestinian political strategy. Its institutions draw international legitimacy from Oslo, and its avowed goal of “building an independent Palestinian state” remains grounded in the same framework. The incessant calls for a return to negotiations — made by US and European leaders on an almost daily basis — harken back to the principles laid down in September 1993.

Two decades on, it is now common to hear Oslo described as a “failure” due to the ongoing reality of Israeli occupation. The problem with this assessment is that it confuses the stated goals of Oslo with its real aims. From the perspective of the Israeli government, the aim of Oslo was not to end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, or to address the substantive issues of Palestinian dispossession, but something much more functional. By creating the perception that negotiations would lead to some kind of “peace,” Israel was able to portray its intentions as those of a partner rather than an enemy of Palestinian sovereignty.

Based on this perception, the Israeli government used Oslo as a fig leaf to cover its consolidated and deepened control over Palestinian life, employing the same strategic mechanisms wielded since the onset of the occupation in 1967. Settlement construction, restrictions on Palestinian movement, the incarceration of thousands, and command over borders and economic life: all came together to form a complex system of control. A Palestinian face may preside over the day-to-day administration of Palestinian affairs, but ultimate power remains in the hands of Israel. This structure has reached its apex in the Gaza Strip — where over 1.7 million people are penned into a tiny enclave with entry and exit of goods and people largely determined by Israeli dictat.

Oslo also had a pernicious political effect. By reducing the Palestinian struggle to the process of bartering over slivers of land in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Oslo ideologically disarmed the not-insignificant parts of the Palestinian political movement that advocated continued resistance to Israeli colonialism and sought the genuine fulfillment of Palestinian aspirations. The most important of these aspirations was the demand that Palestinian refugees have the right to return to the homes and lands from which they had been expelled in 1947 and 1948. Oslo made talk of these goals seem fanciful and unrealistic, normalizing a delusive pragmatism rather than tackling the foundational roots of Palestinian exile. Outside of Palestine, Oslo fatally undermined the widespread solidarity and sympathy with the Palestinian struggle built during the years of the first Intifada, replacing an orientation toward grassroots collective support with a faith in negotiations steered by Western governments. It would take over a decade for solidarity movements to rebuild themselves.

As it weakened the Palestinian movement, Oslo helped to strengthen Israel’s regional position. The illusory perception that Oslo would lead toward peace permitted Arab governments, led by Jordan and Egypt, to embrace economic and political ties with Israel under American and European auspices. Israel was thus able to free itself from Arab boycotts, estimated to have cost it a cumulative $40 billion from 1948 to 1994. Even more significantly, once Israel was brought in from the cold, international firms could invest in the Israeli economy without fear of attracting secondary boycotts from Arab trading partners. In all these ways, Oslo presented itself as the ideal tool to fortify Israel’s control over Palestinians and simultaneously strengthen its position within the broader Middle East. There was no contradiction between support for the “peace process” and deepening colonization — the former consistently worked to enable the latter.

It is worth remembering that amid the clamor of international cheerleading for Oslo — capped by the Nobel Peace Prize awarded jointly to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, and PLO leader Yasser Arafat in 1994 — a handful of perceptive voices forecast the situation we face today. Noteworthy among them was Edward Said, who wrote powerfully against Oslo, commenting that its signing displayed “the degrading spectacle of Yasser Arafat thanking everyone for the suspension of most of his people’s rights, and the fatuous solemnity of Bill Clinton’s performance, like a twentieth-century Roman emperor shepherding two vassal kings through rituals of reconciliation and obeisance.” Describing the agreement as “an instrument of Palestinian surrender, a Palestinian Versailles,” Said noted that the PLO would become “Israel’s enforcer,” helping Israel to deepen its economic and political domination of Palestinian areas and consolidating a “state of permanent dependency.” While analyses like Said’s are important to recall simply for their remarkable prescience and as a counterpoint to the constant mythologizing of the historical record, they are particularly significant today as virtually all world leaders continue to swear allegiance to a chimerical “peace process.”

One question that often goes unaddressed in analyses of Oslo and the two-state strategy is why the Palestinian leadership headquartered in the West Bank has been so willingly complicit with this disastrous project. Too often, the explanation is essentially tautological — something akin to “the Palestinian leadership has made bad decisions because they are poor leaders.” The finger is often pointed at corruption, or at the difficulties of the international context that limit available political options.

What is missing from this type of explanation is a blunt fact: some Palestinians have a great stake in seeing the continuation of the status quo. Over the last two decades, the evolution of Israeli rule has produced profound changes in the nature of Palestinian society. These changes have been concentrated in the West Bank, cultivating a social base that supports the political trajectory of the Palestinian leadership in its eagerness to relinquish Palestinian rights in return for being incorporated into the structures of Israeli settler-colonialism. It is this process of socioeconomic transformation that explains the Palestinian leadership’s submission to Oslo, and it points to the need for a radical break from the two-state strategy.

The Social Base of Oslo and the Two-State Strategy

The unfolding of the Oslo process was ultimately shaped by the structures of occupation laid down by Israel in the preceding decades. During this period, the Israeli government launched a systematic campaign to confiscate Palestinian land and construct settlements in the areas from which Palestinians had been driven out during the 1967 war. The logic of this settlement construction was embodied in two major strategic plans, the Allon Plan (1967) and the Sharon Plan (1981). Both these plans envisaged Israeli settlements placed between major Palestinian population centers and on top of water aquifers and fertile agricultural land. An Israeli-only road network would eventually connect these settlements to each other and also to Israeli cities outside of the West Bank. In this way, Israel could seize land and resources, divide Palestinian areas from each other, and avoid direct responsibility for the Palestinian population as much as possible. The asymmetry of Israeli and Palestinian control over land, resources, and economy meant that the contours of Palestinian state-formation were completely dependent on Israeli design.

Combined with military-enforced restrictions on the movement of Palestinian farmers and their access to water and other resources, the massive waves of land confiscation and settlement-building during the first two decades of the occupation transformed Palestinian landownership and modes of social reproduction. From 1967 to 1974, the amount of cultivated Palestinian land in the West Bank fell by about one third. The expropriation of land in the Jordan Valley by Israeli settlers meant that 87% of all irrigated land in the West Bank was removed from Palestinian hands. Military orders forbade the drilling of new wells for agricultural purposes and restricted overall water use by Palestinians, while Israeli settlers were encouraged to use as much water as needed.

With this deliberate destruction of the agricultural sector, poorer Palestinians — particularly youth — were displaced from rural areas and gravitated toward work in the construction and agriculture sectors inside Israel. In 1970, the agricultural sector included over 40% of the Palestinian labor force working in the West Bank. By 1987, this figure was down to only 26%. Palestinian agriculture’s share of GDP fell from 35% to 16% between 1970 and 1991.

Under the framework established by the Oslo Accords, Israel seamlessly incorporated these changes to the West Bank into a comprehensive system of control. Palestinian land was gradually transformed into a patchwork of isolated enclaves, with the three main clusters in the north, center, and south of the West Bank divided from one another by settlement blocs. The Palestinian Authority was granted limited autonomy in the areas where most Palestinians lived (the so-called Areas A and B), but travel between these areas could be shut down at any time by the Israeli military. All movement to and from Areas A and B, as well as the determination of residency rights in these areas, was under Israeli authority. Israel also controlled the vast majority of water aquifers, all underground resources, and all airspace in the West Bank. Palestinians thus relied on Israeli discretion for their water and energy supplies.

Israel’s complete control over all external borders, codified in the 1994 Paris Protocol on Economic Relations between the PA and Israel, meant that it was impossible for the Palestinian economy to develop meaningful trade relations with a third country. The Paris Protocol gave Israel the final say on what the PA was allowed to import and export. The West Bank and Gaza Strip thus became highly dependent on imported goods, with total imports ranging between 70% and 80% of GDP. By 2005, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics estimated that 74% of all imports to the West Bank and Gaza Strip originated in Israel while 88% of all exports from those areas were destined for Israel.

With no real economic base, the PA was completely reliant on external capital flows of aid and loans, which were again under Israeli control. Between 1995 and 2000, 60% of the total PA revenue came from indirect taxes collected by the Israeli government on goods imported from abroad and destined for the occupied territories. These taxes were collected by the Israeli government and then transferred to the PA each month according to a process outlined in the Paris Protocol. The other main source of PA income came from aid and foreign disbursements by the United States, Europe, and Arab governments. Indeed, figures for aid measured as a percentage of Gross National Income indicated that the West Bank and Gaza Strip were among the most aid-dependent of all regions in the world.

Changing Labor Structure

This system of control engendered two major changes in the socioeconomic structure of Palestinian society. The first of these related to the nature of Palestinian labor, which increasingly became a tap that could be turned on or off according to the economic and political situation and the needs of Israeli capital. Beginning in 1993, Israel consciously moved to substitute the Palestinian labor force that commuted daily from the West Bank with foreign workers from Asia and Eastern Europe. This substitution was partly enabled by the declining importance of construction and agriculture as Israel’s economy shifted away from those sectors toward high-tech industries and exports of finance capital in the 1990s.

Between 1992 and 1996, Palestinian employment in Israel declined from 116,000 workers (33% of the Palestinian labor force) to 28,100 (6% of the Palestinian labor force). Earnings from work in Israel collapsed from 25% of Palestinian GNP in 1992 to 6% in 1996. Between 1997 and 1999, an upturn in the Israeli economy saw the absolute numbers of Palestinian workers increase to approximately pre-1993 levels, but the proportion of the Palestinian labor force working inside Israel was nonetheless almost half of what it had been a decade earlier.

Instead of working inside Israel, Palestinians became increasingly dependent on public-sector employment within the PA or on transfer payments made by the PA to families of prisoners, martyrs, or the needy. Public-sector employment made up nearly a quarter of total employment in the West Bank and Gaza Strip by 2000, a level that had almost doubled since 1996. More than half of the PA’s expenditures went to wages for these public-sector workers. The private sector also provided substantial employment, particularly in the area of services. These were overwhelmingly dominated by small family-owned businesses — over 90% of Palestinian private-sector businesses employ fewer than ten people — as a result of decades of Israeli de-development policies.

Capital and the Palestinian Authority

Alongside the increasing dependence of Palestinian families on either employment or payments from the Palestinian Authority, the second major feature of the socioeconomic transformation of the West Bank was related to the nature of the Palestinian capitalist class. In a situation of weak local production and extremely high dependence on imports and flows of foreign capital, the economic power of the Palestinian capitalist class in the West Bank did not stem from local industry, but rather proximity to the PA as the main conduit of external capital inflows. Through the Oslo years, this class came together through the fusion of three distinct social groups: “returnee” capitalists, mostly from a Palestinian bourgeoisie that had emerged in the Gulf Arab states and held strong ties to the nascent Palestinian Authority; families and individuals who had historically dominated Palestinian society, often large landowners from the pre-1967 period, particularly in the Northern areas of the West Bank; and those who had managed to accumulate wealth through their position as interlocutors within the occupation since 1967.

While the memberships of these three groups overlapped considerably, the first was particularly significant to the nature of state and class formation in the West Bank. Gulf-based financial flows had long played a major role in tempering the radical edge of Palestinian nationalism; but their conjoining with the Oslo state-building process radically deepened the tendencies of statization and bureaucratization within the Palestinian national project itself.

This new three-sided configuration of the capitalist class tended to draw its wealth from a privileged relationship with the Palestinian Authority, which assisted its growth by granting monopolies for goods like cement, petroleum, flour, steel, and cigarettes; issuing exclusive import permits and customs exemptions; giving sole rights to distribute goods in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; and distributing government-owned land below its value. In addition to these state-assisted forms of accumulation, much of the investment that came into the West Bank from foreign donors through the Oslo years — infrastructure construction, new building projects, agricultural and tourist developments — were also typically connected to this new capitalist class in some way.

In the context of the PA’s fully subordinated position, the ability to accumulate was always tied to Israeli consent and thus came with a political price — one designed to buy compliance with ongoing colonization and enforced surrender. It also meant that the key components of the Palestinian elite — the wealthiest businessmen, the PA’s state bureaucracy and the remnants of the PLO itself — came to share a common interest in Israel’s political project. The rampant spread of patronage and corruption were the logical byproducts of this system, as individual survival depended on personal relationships with the Palestinian Authority. The systemic corruption of the PA that Israel and Western governments regularly decried throughout the 1990s and 2000s, was, in other words, a necessary and inevitable consequence of the very system that these powers had themselves established.

The Neoliberal Turn

These two major features of the Palestinian class structure — a labor force dependent on employment by the Palestinian Authority, and a capitalist class imbricated with Israeli rule through the institutions of the PA itself — continued to characterize Palestinian society in the West Bank through the first decade of the 2000s. The division of the West Bank and Gaza Strip between Fatah and Hamas in 2007 strengthened this structure, with the West Bank subject to ever more complex movement restrictions and economic control. Simultaneously, Gaza developed in a different trajectory, with Hamas rule reliant on profits drawn from the tunnel trade and aid from states like Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

In recent years, however, there has been an important shift in the economic trajectory of the Palestinian Authority, encapsulated in a harsh neoliberal program premised on public-sector austerity and a development model aimed at further integrating Palestinian and Israeli capital in export-oriented industrial zones. This economic strategy only acts to further tie the interests of Palestinian capital with those of Israel, building culpability for Israeli colonialism into the very structures of the Palestinian economy. It has produced increasing poverty levels and a growing polarization of wealth. In the West Bank, real per-capita GDP increased from just over $1,400 in 2007 to around $1,900 in 2010, the fastest growth in a decade. At the same time, the unemployment rate remained essentially constant at around 20%, among the highest in the world. One of the consequences was a profound level of poverty: around 20% of Palestinians in the West Bank were living on less than $1.67 a day for a family of five in 2009 and 2010. Despite these poverty levels, the consumption of the richest 10% increased to 22.5% of the total in 2010.

In these circumstances, growth has been based on prodigious increases in debt-based spending on services and real estate. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the hotel and restaurant sector grew by 46% in 2010 while construction increased by 36%. At the same time, manufacturing decreased by 6%. The massive levels of consumer-based debt levels are indicated in figures from the Palestinian Monetary Authority, which show that the amount of bank credit almost doubled between 2008 and 2010. Much of this involved consumer-based spending on residential real estate, automobile purchases, or credit cards; the amount of credit extended for these three sectors increased by a remarkable 245% between 2008 and 2011. These forms of individual consumer and household debt potentially carry deep implications for how people view their capacities for social struggle and their relation to society. Increasingly caught in a web of financial relationships, individuals seek to satisfy their needs through the market, usually by borrowing money, rather than through collective struggle for social rights. The growth of these financial and debt-based relations thus individualizes Palestinian society. It has had a conservatizing influence over the latter half of the 2000s, with much of the population concerned with “stability” and the ability to pay off debt rather than the possibility of popular resistance.

Beyond the Impasse?

The current cul-de-sac of Palestinian political strategy is inseparable from the question of class. The two-state strategy embodied in Oslo has produced a social class that draws significant benefits from its position atop the negotiation process and its linkages with the structures of occupation. This is the ultimate reason for the PA’s supine political stance, and it means that a central aspect of rebuilding Palestinian resistance must necessarily confront the position of these elites. Over the last few years, there have been some encouraging signs on this front, with the emergence of protest movements that have taken up the deteriorating economic conditions in the West Bank and explicitly targeted the PA’s role in contributing to them. But as long as the major Palestinian political parties continue to subordinate questions of class to the supposed need for national unity, it will be difficult for these movements to find deeper traction.

Moreover, the history of the last two decades shows that the “hawks and doves” model of Israeli politics, so popular in the perfunctory coverage of the corporate media and wholeheartedly shared by the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank, is decidedly false. Force has been the essential midwife of “peace negotiations.” Indeed, the expansion of settlements, restrictions on movement, and the permanence of military power have made possible the codification of Israeli control through the Oslo Accords. This is not to deny that substantive differences exist between various political forces within Israel; but rather to argue that these differences exist along a continuum rather than in sharp disjuncture. Violence and negotiations are complementary and mutually reinforcing aspects of a common political project, shared by all mainstream parties, and both act in tandem to deepen Israeli control over Palestinian life. The last two decades have powerfully confirmed this fact.

The reality of Israeli control today is the outcome of a single process that has necessarily combined violence and the illusion of negotiations as a peaceful alternative. The counterposing of right-wing extremists with a so-called Israeli peace camp acts to obfuscate the centrality of force and colonial control embodied in the political program of the latter.

The reason for this is the shared assumption of the Zionist left and right wings that Palestinian rights can be reduced to the question of a state in some part of historic Palestine. The reality is that the overriding project of the last sixty-three years of colonization in Palestine has been the attempt by successive Israeli governments to divide and fracture the Palestinian people, attempting to destroy a cohesive national identity by separating them from one another. This process is clearly illustrated by the different categories of Palestinians: refugees, who remain scattered in camps across the region; those who remained on their land in 1948 and later became citizens of the Israeli state; those living in the isolated cantons of the West Bank; and now those separated by the fragmenting of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. All of these groups of people constitute the Palestinian nation, but the denial of their unity has been the overriding logic of colonization since before 1948. Both the Zionist left and right agree with this logic, and have acted in unison to narrow the Palestinian “question” to isolated fragments of the nation as a whole. This logic is also one wholeheartedly accepted by the Palestinian Authority and is embodied in its vision of a “two-state solution.”

Oslo may be dead, but its putrid corpse is not one that any Palestinian should hope to resuscitate. What is needed is a new political orientation that rejects the fracturing of Palestinian identity into scattered geographical zones. It is encouraging to see the mounting chorus of calls for a reorientation of Palestinian strategy, based on a single state in all of historic Palestine. Such an outcome will not be achieved solely through Palestinian efforts. It requires a broader challenge to Israel’s privileged relationship with the US and its position as a key pillar of US power in the Middle East. But a one-state strategy presents a vision for Palestine that confirms the essential unity of all sectors of the Palestinian people regardless of geography.

It also provides a path to reach out to the Israeli people that reject Zionism and colonialism through the hope of a future society that does not discriminate on the basis of national identity, and in which all may live regardless of religion or ethnicity. It is this vision that provides a route to achieving both peace and justice. ■

Monday, June 23, 2014

Horace Silver, hard bop innovator

JazzTimes Logo The Jazz Wire
June 20, 2014

Horace Silver Dies at 85
By Jeff Tamarkin

NEA Jazz Master Horace Silver, an extraordinarily creative pianist and composer who brought soulfulness, a rhythmic spring and what he called a “meaningful simplicity” to hard bop, died of natural causes June 18 at his home in New Rochelle, N.Y. Silver was 85. A mainstay of the Blue Note Records label throughout the label’s heyday—the early ’50s until 1980—Silver leaves behind a sizable and highly cherished body of work, highlighted by his 1965 album (and its evocative title track, now a jazz standard) Song for My Father, which continues to turn up on lists of essential jazz recordings nearly a half century after its release..

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Haneen Zoabi in the Jerusalem Post

[The Jerusalem Post is a really terrible right wing publication. But this article, designed to show indignation at Palestinian MK (Member of the Knesset, the elected legislature) Haneen Zoabi's supposedly treasonous statements, actually reveals some truths about the kidnapping and how the Israeli army is "looking for" the kidnapped settlers. I got a chance to meet her in Tel Aviv in 2009 as part of a Code Pink trip and have followed how she has boldly stood up for the Palestinian people over the years. As an Israeli citizen, she's in a relatively secure position compared to the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank, but has never failed to support the rights of all of her people.

This "kidnapping" really smells. Netanyahu knows for sure Hamas did it, but refuses to give any proof. The idea that Hamas would do such a kidnapping after negotiating a unity PA presidency and cabinet with Fatah is totally ridiculous. That Israel would carry out a fake kidnapping by an invented Hamas or jihadi cell is, actually (to me) quite believable given their history in pulling off such stunts (you can start with the Lavon affair and go forward). Whatever the case, Netanyahu is using this alleged kidnapping to wreak havoc and demonize all Palestinians and justify whatever they really plan to do, annex the West Bank outright, reoccupy the Palestinian cities, whatever]
--R Congress

Zoabi lashes out at Abbas' 'betrayal' of Palestinians for condemning kidnappings By GIL HOFFMAN
LAST UPDATED: 06/21/2014 23:12

"Abbas wants to strengthen his power," MK says as Palestinian Authority chief reassures Israel he is dedicated to finding missing teens. Haneen Zoabi
MK Haneen Zoabi. Photo: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST Balad MK Haneen Zoabi continued outflanking Palestinian officials Saturday when she accused Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas of betraying his people by condemning the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers.

Zoabi caused a storm last Tuesday when she said that the kidnappers of Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah were not terrorists. She added fuel to the fire with her attack on Abbas on Channel 2’s Meet the Press program on Saturday.

“Abbas’s goal is to strengthen his hold on power,” she said. “His military coordination with Israel is a betrayal of the Palestinian people.”

Zoabi accused the IDF of busying itself with arresting Palestinians rather than searching for the teens. “I don’t know if there was a kidnapping,” she said. “Netanyahu is not trying to reach targets but to infiltrate and kill Palestinians.”

MK Ahmed Tibi (Ta’al) responded Friday to the death of a Palestinian teenager Thursday night that occurred during the IDF operation to find the three missing boys in the West Bank, saying that “the Israeli government is exploiting a tragic event and executing ongoing war crimes in the occupied territories.”

Mohammed Dudin, 15, was reportedly killed in the village of Dura, near Hebron in the southern West Bank, close to where the three Israeli teenagers went missing eight days ago.

Tibi condemned the “destruction of hundreds of homes and offices,” “mass arrests” and the “shooting of civilians and demonstrators” carried out by the IDF.

Reenat Sinay contributed to this report.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Palestinians displeased by Abbas stance on kidnapping

from Al Monitor by
Daoud Kuttab

As the kidnapping disappearance of three young Israeli settlers enters its first week without any trace of them, politics, repercussions and reactions have begun to take center stage. How will it affect the nearly dead peace process? How will it affect the internal debate in Israel? How will it influence Palestinian politics and scheduled elections?
Summary⎙ Print President Mahmoud Abbas' statements on the kidnapping of three Israeli settlers and close security coordination with Israeli forces have elicited fierce condemnation on Palestinian social media.
Author Daoud Kuttab Posted June 19, 2014

The big mystery that stands to sway a number of answers to these questions is the identity of the kidnappers. There are at least two theories. The more likely scenario is that the operation was carried out by a small, well-organized and tight-knit group not directly connected to any of the well-known Palestinian factions. The prospect that renegade or unorganized groups might become more effective has been a worry for Israel, which has succeeded in subduing the major Palestinian factions, but is well-aware of the high level of discontent among Palestinians. To put this issue in perspective, it helps to know that the operation that ended in the kidnapping of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was not carried out exclusively by Hamas, although it later was able to lay claim to and benefit from it.

From a political perspective, it is difficult to imagine in the post-Palestinian reconciliation period that Hamas’ political bureau would approve such an operation, knowing that it would bring pain to the movement and its leadership. If Hamas had any desire to be involved in such a high-profile act, it is unlikely it would have accepted a reconciliation deal largely on the terms of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas has publicly denied responsibility for the kidnapping, despite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's unproven accusation that it is behind it.

On the other hand, it is possible that a renegade element within Hamas or its military wing, which is unhappy with the reconciliation effort, could have carried out such a daring operation to shuffle the cards and engage the movement.

Regardless of who is behind the kidnapping, the reality on the ground is that Israel is carrying out a full-court press, especially in the Hebron area. Soldiers are going house-to-house, and some residents are reporting abuse at the hands of the invading soldiers.

This reoccupation of Palestinian areas and the high profile it has been afforded in Israel is a stark reminder to all Israelis that they cannot just hope the conflict away. Avraham Burg, a former Israeli speaker of the Knesset and a founder of Peace Now, has argued that the kidnapping is a reminder to Israelis that occupation is itself an act of kidnapping the whole of Palestinian society. “We are incapable of understanding the suffering of a society, its cry, and the future of an entire nation that has been kidnapped by us,” Burg wrote in an op-ed in Haaretz.

Attempts to draw similarities between the kidnapping of the three Israelis and the situation of Palestinians have been made by activists disturbed by what they perceive as the media’s one-sided coverage. Palestinians have been pushing international organizations and the media to look at the larger picture of the occupation and its oppressive practices against Palestinians as well.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has been pressured by Israel and the United States, has tried to publicly defend ongoing security coordination with Israel, asserting that whoever conducted the kidnapping was working against Palestinian interests. “We are still looking and searching to find out who carried out such an act,” Abbas said. “He who committed such an act wants to destroy us.”

Many circles in Palestine, however, have refused to accept Abbas' statement. Social media was full of strong condemnations and accusations, referring to the Palestinian president as a “traitor” and as not representative of the Palestinian people. The attacks have been more angry than usual, especially those from the families of prisoners who have been on hunger strike since April 26.

The high-profile security coordination with the occupying Israeli forces will most certainly reflect negatively on the PLO. While Israel thinks it has hurt Hamas’ infrastructure in the West Bank with the wide-scale arrest of its leaders, Hamas is the party most likely to benefit politically from this situation. As a result, as things now stand, it is doubtful that the reconciliation road map will remain unaffected.

Palestinian elections are scheduled for no later than early January 2015, six months after the June 2 swearing in of the unity government. It is highly unlikely, however, that the Ramallah-based leadership will proceed with them if the current instability continues, particularly given its current unpopularity among ordinary Palestinians after making the difficult decision on security coordination to please Israel and the United States.
Daoud Kuttab

Daoud Kuttab is a columnist for Al-Monitor's Palestine Pulse. A Palestinian journalist and media activist, he is a former Ferris Professor of journalism at Princeton University and is currently the director-general of Community Media Network, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing independent media in the Arab region. On Twitter: @daoudkuttab

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Brutal Logic of a Self-Seeking Empire Is Open-Ended Chaos the Desired US-Israeli Aim in the Middle East?

June 17, 2014


During the last week we have seen Sunni militias take control of ever-greater swathes of eastern Syria and western Iraq. In the mainstream media, the analysis of this emerging reality has been predictably idiotic, basically centering on whether:

a) Obama is to blame for this for having removed US troops in compliance with the 2008 Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) negotiated and signed by Bush.

b) Obama is “man enough” to putatively resolve the problem by going back into the country and killing more people and destroying whatever remains of the country’s infrastructure.

This cynically manufactured discussion has generated a number of intelligent rejoinders on the margins of the mainstream media system. These essays, written by people such as Juan Cole, Robert Parry, Robert Fisk and Gary Leupp, do a fine job of explaining the US decisions that led to the present crisis, while simultaneously reminding us how everything occurring today was readily foreseeable as far back as 2002.

What none of them do, however, is consider whether the chaos now enveloping the region might, in fact, be the desired aim of policy planners in Washington and Tel Aviv.

Rather, each of these analysts presumes that the events unfolding in Syria and Iraq are undesired outcomes engendered by short-sighted decision-making at the highest levels of the US government over the last 12 years.

Looking at the Bush and Obama foreign policy teams—no doubt the most shallow and intellectually lazy members of that guild to occupy White House in the years since World War II—it is easy to see how they might arrive at this conclusion.

But perhaps an even more compelling reason for adopting this analytical posture is that it allows these men of clear progressive tendencies to maintain one of the more hallowed, if oft-unstated, beliefs of the Anglo-Saxon world view.

What is that?

It is the idea that our engagements with the world outside our borders—unlike those of, say, the Russians and the Chinese—are motivated by a strongly felt, albeit often corrupted, desire to better the lives of those whose countries we invade.

While this belief seems logical, if not downright self-evident within our own cultural system, it is frankly laughable to many, if not most, of the billions who have grown up outside of our moralizing echo chamber.

What do they know that most of us do not know, or perhaps more accurately, do not care to admit?

First, that we are an empire, and that all empires are, without exception, brutally and programmatically self-seeking.

Second, that one of the prime goals of every empire is to foment ongoing internecine conflict in the territories whose resources and/or strategic outposts they covet.

Third, that the most efficient way of sparking such open-ended internecine conflict is to brutally smash the target country’s social matrix and physical infrastructure.

Fourth, that ongoing unrest has the additional perk of justifying the maintenance and expansion of the military machine that feeds the financial and political fortunes of the metropolitan elite.

In short, what of the most of the world understands (and what even the most “prestigious” Anglo-Saxon analysts cannot seem to admit) is that divide and rule is about as close as it gets to a universal recourse the imperial game and that it is, therefore, as important to bear it in mind today as it was in the times of Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, the Spanish Conquistadors and the British Raj.

To those—and I suspect there are still many out there—for whom all this seems too neat or too conspiratorial, I would suggest a careful side-by side reading of:

a) the “Clean Break” manifesto generated by the Jerusalem-based Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies (IASPS) in 1996


b) the “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” paper generated by The Project for a New American Century (PNAC) in 2000, a US group with deep personal and institutional links to the aforementioned Israeli think tank, and with the ascension of George Bush Junior to the White House, to the most exclusive sanctums of the US foreign policy apparatus.

To read the cold-blooded imperial reasoning in both of these documents—which speak, in the first case, quite openly of the need to destabilize the region so as to reshape Israel’s “strategic environment” and, in the second of the need to dramatically increase the number of US “forward bases” in the region—as I did twelve years ago, and to recognize its unmistakable relationship to the underlying aims of the wars then being started by the US in Afghanistan and Iraq, was a deeply disturbing experience.

To do so now, after the US’s systematic destruction of Iraq and Libya—two notably oil-rich countries whose delicate ethnic and religious balances were well known to anyone in or out of government with more than passing interest in history—, and after the its carefully calibrated efforts to generate and maintain murderous and civilization-destroying stalemates in Syria and Egypt (something that is easily substantiated despite our media’s deafening silence on the subject), is downright blood-curdling.

And yet, it seems that for even very well-informed analysts, it is beyond the pale to raise the possibility that foreign policy elites in the US and Israel, like all virtually all the ambitious hegemons before them on the world stage, might have quite coldly and consciously fomented open-ended chaos in order to achieve their overlapping strategic objectives in this part of the world.

Thomas S. Harrington is a professor of Iberian Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and the author of the recently released Livin’ la Vida Barroca: American Culture in a Time of Imperial Orthodoxies.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Why a false understanding of the ‘Six Day War’ still matters

Roland Nikles on June 17, 2014

A review of The Six Day War and Israeli Self-Defense: Questioning the Legal Basis for Preventive War, by John Quigley. Cambridge University Press (2013) 284 pages; $14.89 Kindle ed.

Thomas Hobbes published Leviathan in 1651 at the end of the English Civil War. In the state of nature, he famously quipped, the life of man is nasty, brutish, and short. We are witnessing it in Syria today as ISIS fighters are pushing into a dysfunctional Iraq; we’ve witnessed it in Afghanistan these past 35 years. Failed states are not a pretty sight.

Yet, a state of nature among sovereign states can be worse. The 20th century witnessed vibrant, proud, and civilized nation states cause a conflagration that killed 75 million people with unfathomable barbarity. Countries will flex their muscles as pecking orders change. Take the competing claims over the Spratley Islands in the South China Sea. How should these claims be resolved? With China asserting its claim militarily in the face of a standoff with the U.S. Pacific fleet? Or is it better to submit such disputed ownership of territory to the International Court of Justice for resolution? The answer is obvious; it’s a chief reason why international law matters.

What Does a Commitment to International Law Require?

International law is comprised of a host of international customs; agreements; treaties; accords; charters; protocols; tribunals; memorandums; and more. Much of the authority of this law has its basis in the United Nations Charter. UN member states commit themselves to maintain international peace and security, and to promote fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion. Member states pledge to settle their disputes by peaceful means and to refrain from resorting to violence against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. UN Charter, Chapter I, Articles 2 & 3. Israel and its neighbors are all signatories to the United Nations charter. Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria were original signatories in October 1945. Israel committed itself to its provisions on November 5, 1949, and Jordan joined on December 14, 1955.

Flouting Commitments Made

On June 5, 1967 Israel invaded Egypt, Jordan, and Syria and took possession of the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan Heights. The accepted orthodoxy of this war, and the occupation that followed, is that it was justified because Egypt, Jordan, and Syria had massed troops “vastly outnumbering Israel” along the border, and that Israel, threatened with its very survival, launched a necessary pre-emptive attack on its neighbors, gaining a great and unexpected victory in just six days. This is the official position of AIPAC. Alan Dershowitz argues for this version of events with gusto in his “The Case for Israel” and at every opportunity. Ari Shavit repeats this story in his book My Promised Land, where it fits well with his “concentric circles of threat” surrounding Israel.

In The Six Day War and Israeli Self-Defense: Questioning the Legal Basis for Preventive War, John Quigley, a professor of international law at Ohio State University, presents a clear and compelling case that the orthodox story is wrong. Quigley’s book draws on evidence recently declassified by the four main powers involved in the lead up to the war: France, Britain, Russia, and the United States. He concludes that, contrary to the orthodox story, Israel’s army substantially outnumbered the Arab troops at the borders, and that Israel did not expect an attack. In short, Quigley asserts that Israel’s invasion of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria in 1967 cannot be justified as self-defense; Israel seized upon an opportunity to wage a war of aggression in violation of international law and in violation of the commitment Israel had made by joining the community of nations under the auspices of the UN Charter.

The Lead Up to War—Israel Sees an Opportunity

After the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 the belligerent parties executed armistice agreements, resulting in Israel asserting sovereignty over all areas within the green lines, and Jordan asserting sovereignty over the West Bank. Jordan’s annexation of the West Bank was officially recognized by Great Britain, and generally accepted, if not formally recognized, by the World community. Between 1948 and 1967 Jordan administered the West Bank peacefully as an integral part of its Kingdom, and Jordan extended full citizenship to Palestinians living in the West Bank. [See Gerson, Israel the West Bank and International Law, p. 79]

Quigley reviews how, throughout the 1950’s, cross-border violence was a common occurrence as military units of the displaced Palestinians raided Israel from Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. Israel’s defense forces responded with counter-raids. In 1956, of course, Israel, in conjunction with France and Britain, invaded Sinai. Both the USSR and the United States denounced this invasion and pressured Israel, Britain, and France to withdraw. Israel withdrew from Sinai in the spring of 1957 and the United Nations installed multinational military units to monitor the Israel-Egypt cease-fire line.

By 1966, says Quigley, a more assertive Syrian government was providing additional support to the Palestinians for an armed struggle against Israel. Syria became a base of operations for Fatah, and between early 1965 and June 1967, Fatah launched more than one hundred attacks into Israel, some with fatal consequences. Yitzhak Rabin, Chief of Staff of the IDF at that time, deemed the raids emanating from Syria as more consequential because he felt they were state-supported, unlike raids originating in Egypt, Jordan, or Lebanon.

On November 11, 1966 a land mine killed three soldiers near the West Bank Jordanian village of Samu. In response, the IDF sent tanks and troops to Samu, and when Jordanian troops attempted to intercept, the IDF forces killed several civilians and about 12 Jordanian soldiers. Once in control of the village, the IDF spent four hours blowing up one hundred houses in the village of Samu.

During the first four months of 1967 Fatah raids along the Jordanian border intensified, as did cross-border clashes with Syria, some deliberately provoked by Israel. Quigley quotes Moshe Dayan, soon to become defense minister: “We would send a tractor to plow the earth in some plot you couldn’t do anything with, in a demilitarized zone, knowing in advance that the Syrians would start shooting…. And then we’d fire back, and later send in the Air Force.” By mid May, it was the assessment of the American Ambassador in Egypt, Richard Parker, that Israel was threatening to take more aggressive reprisal actions against Syria.

Quigley presents evidence that Nasser increased troop strength in the Sinai in response to Israel’s threats against Syria, and Syria’s request that Egypt do more. In mid-May, however, Nasser assured the Soviet Ambassador that Egypt would move militarily against Israel only if Israel were to invade Syria. Although sympathizing with Israel’s need to stop cross-border raids originating in Syria, Quigley reports that Walter Rostow, Lyndon Johnson’s security adviser, counseled that the United States try to restrain Israel. Right up until Israel’s surprise attack on June 5, 1967, both the United States and the USSR worked behind the scenes to calm the situation and urged that neither party attack.

Britain’s ambassador to Israel, Michael Hadow, after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol reported to London that Israel agreed with the British assessment “that Nasser’s new posture posed no real threat.” Nevertheless, Israel responded with additional deployments of its own in the south.

In connection with the increase of its troop strength in Sinai, Egypt asked the UN to withdraw its observer force from the area. However, says Quigley, Egypt, the UN and the United States all offered to Israel that the observer force could be stationed in the Sinai on Israel’s side of the line. Israel refused.

On May 21, Egypt briefly sent two Mig-21 jets over Israeli airspace, making a low pass over Israel’s nuclear complex at Dimona in the Negev desert. The planes departed before Israeli jets could scramble.

As tensions mounted, Jordan’s King Hussein became concerned that Israel might take advantage of the situation to grab the West Bank. Hussein reasoned that “Israel has certain long range military and economic requirements and certain traditional religious and historic aspirations” that “they have not yet satisfied or realized” (per Quigley’s citation to Findley Burns, the U.S. ambassador to Jordan). And, indeed, as Ezer Weizman, then Chief of Operations of the IDF General Staff, later recorded in his memoirs: the IDF Central Command was discussing the possibility that Israel might find an opportunity to take the West Bank.

Israel anticipated that Egypt might attempt to curb shipping at Sharm el-Sheikh. Both Rabin and Dayan contemplated that if Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to shipping, Israel would seize the opportunity to attack Egypt. Their main concern was that the Security Council might call for a cease-fire before they achieved their objectives. Nasser obliged on May 22, announcing that he would close the Straits of Tiran to Israeli flagged shipping and other vessels carrying strategic goods to Eilat. However, Quigley indicates that there was also an indication that any vessel accompanied by a warship would be exempted.

Not Justified Self-Defense Under International Law

Quigley concludes that the facts of May-June 1967 did not justify a pre-emptive strike by Israel in accordance with international law. There was no existential threat as the AIPAC video, above, asserts. Closing the Straits of Tiran posed no real threat to Israel in the short term, and both Britain and the United States were working diligently to solve the Tiran Straits issue. Here are just a few of the points reviewed by Quigley that seem sufficient to make the case:

In April 1967 Robert McNamara reported to President Johnson that “the present and prospective military balance in the Middle East strongly favors Israel” and that “Israel will be militarily unchallengeable by any combination of Arab states at least during the next five years.” This was clear to everybody.
On May 25, General Ariel Sharon, who then commanded Israel’s troops in the south, told Prime Minister Eshkol and Yigal Allon (labor minister) that Israel had a historic opportunity to destroy Egypt’s army, and that Egypt could be attacked under circumstances that appeared defensive.
In the vicinity of the borders, Israel’s troops (~280,000) substantially outnumbered the troops of the Arab states (~117,000). According to a CIA assessment, Egypt had only increased its troops in the Sinai from 30,000 men to 50,000. This was not sufficient to mount an offensive, and Israel knew it. In 1968, Yitzhak Rabin gave an interview to Eric Rouleau at Le Monde, stating: “I do not believe that Nasser wanted war…. The two divisions he sent into Sinai on May 14 would not have been enough to unleash an offensive against Israel. He knew it and we knew it.”
In 1972, Israeli General Mattityahu Peled told an audience at the Zavta political-literary club in Tel Aviv that the idea that Israel was fighting for its existence was “a bluff born and developed only after the war.” He went on: “All those stories that were put out about the great danger that we faced because of the smallness of our territory, an argument advanced only after the war was over, were never taken into consideration in our calculations before the hostilities.”
In 1982 when Menachem Begin was attempting to persuade the country to support his invasion of Lebanon, he explained that the reason Israel needed to invade Lebanon was not an immediate concern about attacks from Lebanon, but a need to ensure against possible attacks in the future. Begin said that the same aim had led Israel to initiate the 1967 war: “In June 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.” Begin had been in the cabinet in 1967, as a minister without portfolio.
Why It Still Matters

As Jerome Slater observed in his review of Shavit’s book: “It is hard to think of another long-standing conflict in which the irrefutable facts, long well-known to anyone who has seriously studied the issue, seem to matter less than in the Arab-Israeli conflict.” Although the true facts about the 1967 war have been known to many from the outset, and have been reported in Le Monde and elsewhere, this has not dampened enthusiasm for the “justified self-defense” story. The facts propagated by Israel have not been critically examined by the world community.

Having the wrong facts is not helpful. Critically, from Quigley’s standpoint as a scholar of international law, the erroneously assumed facts have allowed The Six Day War to become a “prime example” of the use of defensive war. As a result, says Quigley, the law of pre-emptive war has been unduly expanded in a manner that is counterproductive to the goal of preserving peace between nations. Israel relies on the false example of The Six Day War to assert a right of self-defense in invading Lebanon in 1982. It is the corrupted example of The Six Day War that makes plausible the case for invading Iraq based on putative “weapons of mass destruction.” It is the corrupted example of The Six Day War that makes it possible to speak of pre-emptive strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

With respect to Israel’s occupation, the false narrative that Israel faced an existential threat in May and June 1967—because “can this hatred ever be overcome” as Shavit suggests in his book—poisons any hope of ever finding a solution. It’s important to have the real facts seep into public consciousness because if The Six Day War is more properly seen as a continuation of the War of Independence in 1948-49, it changes the frame of discussion.

As the United States falls away as a peace broker because it is not politically able to take necessary steps to pressure both sides equally, we could do worse than to refocus everyone on the laudable aspirational goals embodied in the UN Charter.

Human rights orgs condemn collective punishment of Palestinians in response to disappearance of three Israeli settlers

Adam Horowitz on June 17, 2014 27

The following statement was released by the Palestinian Human Rights Organisations Council (PHROC) a coalition comprised of the Addameer Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association, Aldameer Association for Human Rights, Al Haq, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, Defence for Children International – Palestine Section, Ensan Center for Human Rights and Democracy, Hurryyat – Centre for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights, Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights, Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies, Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling, The Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

The recent wave of arrests, attacks, killings and total closure of large parts of the West Bank following the disappearance of three Israeli settlers is a clear form of collective punishment against the Palestinian people. Since the disappearance of the three settlers on Thursday 12 June, Israeli forces in Jalazoun refugee camp, north of Ramallah, have killed a Palestinian man, Ahmad Sabarin, 20, and have arrested approximately 200 Palestinians across the West Bank. In total, eight members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) have been arrested since 12 June, including the head of the PLC. One PLC member has since been released. On 15 June three people were injured, including an eight-year old boy, when the Israeli military blew up the entrance of a house in Hebron during an arrest operation. In addition, on 16 June six Palestinians were injured at Qalandiya checkpoint near Ramallah, including Yazan Yacoub, 17, who was, according to reports, shot in the chest and abdomen with a live bullet, critically wounding him.

As the Occupying Power, Israel is obligated to carry out its search for the missing settlers in line with its obligations under international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law (IHRL). IHRL imposes an absolute obligation on Israel to respect the right to life of Palestinians by ensuring that the use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials is carried out in a manner that minimises damage and injury and respects and preserves human life. IHRL further prohibits arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy, family, home and correspondence and affords all persons the right to liberty and security of person, which demands a legal basis for each and every individual arrest. Furthermore, all persons that are arrested must be treated with humanity and respect for their inherent dignity.

Although some of the measures carried out by the Israeli forces in large parts of the West Bank may have a link to the investigation into the disappearances, the methods employed are indiscriminate in their nature and are undermining the fundamental rights of the persons concerned. Furthermore, these restrictive measures are being carried out based on mere speculation regarding both the identity of those responsible for the disappearances and their location. As such, these measures indicate Israel’s intention to impose punitive measures against large portions of the Palestinian population in violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibiting reprisals against protected persons and their property, as well as collective punishment.

Furthermore, Israeli government threats to expel Hamas personnel from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip based on allegations that the organisation is responsible for the settlers’ disappearances not only amounts to indiscriminate collective punishment but also violates Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits forcible transfers and deportations of protected persons in occupied territory. The violation of this provision amounts to a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions and as such may constitute a war crime under Article 8(2)(a)(vii) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

The Palestinian Human Rights Organisations Council (PHROC) condemns Israel’s disregard for its obligations under international law and its use of reprisals against the Palestinian population in carrying out its investigations into the disappeared youths. PHROC calls upon High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to uphold their obligation to ensure respect for the Conventions as established under Common Article 1, by taking concrete measures to pressure Israel to halt its violations of international law.

PHROC further condemns the Israeli government-initiated law proposal to permit force-feeding of hunger strikers. Currently, over 125 Palestinian detainees and prisoners are on hunger strike in protest against Israel’s illegal practice of Administrative Detention. Force feeding is defined as torture by the World Medical Association and has been condemned by the United Nations (UN), including by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. As such, PHROC calls upon the international community to condemn the law publicly and to urge the Israeli government to withdraw it. Moreover, PHROC calls on Israel to heed to the demands of the hunger strikers by bringing its illegal practice of administrative detention to an immediate end.


Monday, June 16, 2014

“My dearly loved Nadim was murdered in cold blood by Israeli soldiers”

(Ismael Mohamad / United Press International)
Submitted by Ali Abunimah on Sun, 06/15/2014 - 20:04

Daniel Nuwara holds a portrait of his slain brother, Nadim.
One month ago, 17-year-old Nadim Nuwara was fatally shot in cold blood by Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank town of Beitunia.

“My dream of seeing my little son a grown man by my side will never come true. His death came too soon,” Nadim’s father Siam Nuwara says.

But with no justice system available for Palestinians living under Israeli occupation, Nuwara has launched a public campaign and petition called “No Visas for Killers” to urge the US and Europe not to allow Nadim’s killers to travel into their territory.

There are already more than 20,000 signatures on the petition.

This brutal end to a young life was caught on security cameras and by CNN, along with the fatal shooting of Muhammad Abu al-Thahir, 16, and the serious wounding of 15-year-old Muhammad al-Azzeh.

Siam Nuwara took the agonizing decision for his son’s body be exhumed for an autopsy that proved beyond doubt that the teen was killed with live ammunition.

Human Rights Watch has called the shootings an “apparent war crime.”

Siam Nuwara mourns over his son Nadim, shot in the chest by an Israeli sniper on 15 May. (Yotam Ronen / ActiveStills)
Siam Nuwara’s explanation of his campaign is moving and tough to read, and worth reading in full. Like the voices of so many other parents of children murdered by Israeli forces, his must be heard:

My dearly loved Nadim was murdered in cold blood by Israeli soldiers. He was only 17. My dream of seeing my little son a grown man by my side will never come true. His death came too soon.

But his killing was caught on security cameras for the whole world to see. Watching how my son was killed is so painful – you see Israeli soldiers joking and laughing as if they were making a hunting bet while firing at prey, and then they shoot. The film is extremely painful to watch, but could bring justice.

Before my child was killed I was so happy to watch him grow up into a strong young boy. He helped me with everything, he was such a loving son, and he was so sweet to his mother and sister. He never walked into the house without giving us all hugs and kisses. He filled the house with laughter and happiness all the time. I based so much hope on him. Beautiful, innocent, amazing and well-behaved.

But suddenly, in minutes, time stood still in the hospital fridge at 2:30 AM as I dressed him for the last time. I looked at him with such sorrow. I couldn’t believe my little angel was dead. The next day I had to lay him in his grave and the pain was unbearable. My heart ached for my wife, daughter and little baby boy, Nadim’s youngest brother, who was crying “I want Nadim!”

I was lost and couldn’t believe that my son, the love of life, my little boy with the most beautiful smile in the world, the athlete, the sweet animal lover won’t be by my side ever again. I never expected that I would ever walk into the house, his room, and not find him there.

It has been a month since my boy was killed. Now I am suffering more than ever because we have to take his little body out of the grave for an autopsy to show the truth of what happened to him because Israel denies that he was killed by a live bullet, even though I found the bullet in his blood-drenched school backpack that he was wearing when he was shot.

I want justice, I believe in justice, and I will pursue justice for my son with all that I have left. I write today in the hope that all the people in the world who believe in the goodness of humanity and who believe in justice will help me achieve it. But I also know that the Israeli system is not just. Israeli soldiers have killed thousands of Palestinian civilians, but in the last 14 years only six soldiers have been charged with wrongdoing, and the toughest sentence imposed on any of them was seven and a half months in jail.

The soldier and commanders who murdered my son may never be imprisoned for their crime. But my friends have told me that countries around the world ban those responsible for violence from entering their countries. I don’t want my son to be another number, and I want to make sure no family suffers like ours is suffering now. If you help me we could make sure those who killed my son are banned from Europe and the US until we can push for real justice.

I plead for your help in this. I want to make sure the criminals who killed the joy of my life know that they cannot go on murdering children. And I need you on my side to ensure that humanity prevails.

With hope and determination,