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Irish Solidarity Delegation Concludes its Visit to Palestine. January 24, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Israel, Palestine.
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From PCHR

Irish Solidarity Delegation Concludes its Visit; PCHR Honours the Delegation and Other International Solidarity Activists

Saturday, 19 January 2013 00:00

The Irish delegation, hosted by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), concluded its visit to the Gaza Strip on Friday, 18th January 2013. The delegation conducted a number of meetings and field activities during its visit. PCHR honoured the members of the delegation, as well as other international activists working in the Gaza Strip for their role in supporting the rights of the Palestinian people.

The 9 member Irish delegation from Irish civil society organizations and the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign arrived in the Gaza Strip on Monday 14th January 2013. They held a number of meetings with Mr. Raji Sourani, Director of PCHR; Mr. Jaber Weshah, Deputy Director for PCHR Branch Affairs; Mr. Khalil Shaheen, Head of Economic and Social Rights Unit; and Ms. Lydia de Leeuw, Head of International Unit. Mr. Sourani discussed the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), especially in the aftermath of the latest Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip and the admission of Palestine as a non-member observer State in the United Nations General Assembly. Mr. Sourani also discussed the ongoing Israeli violation of the rights of the Palestinian civilians, particularly with the continued total closure imposed on the Gaza Strip and its grave economic and social consequences on the civilian population.

The delegation made a number of field visits, including to Shifa Hospital in Gaza; the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) and its Ambulance and Emergency Department; al-Hilal Sports Club; Gaza Seaport; the Fishermen Syndicate; the Palestinian NGO Network in the Gaza Strip; and the UNRWA headquarters in the Gaza Strip. The delegation also met with the representatives of the aforementioned organizations and discussed the economic, social and political situation in the Gaza Strip and the material damage inflicted on its infrastructure following the latest Israeli offensive.

PCHR organized a ceremony for members of the delegation, which was attended by a number of the international activists in the Gaza Strip and PCHR’s staff. Fintan Lane, coordinator of the Irish delegation, expressed his appreciation of PCHR’s role and efforts in monitoring human rights in Palestine, “Gaza has a rich history and distinguished culture. The closure is a humanitarian catastrophe, but not of natural reasons; it is man-made and it is a policy that can only be changed via political action. The tireless and great willpower and determination of the Palestinian fishermen to defy the Israeli assaults and violations is a model that requires our support for protecting their rights.”

On his part, Mr. Raji Sourani praised the role and efforts of the international solidarity delegations in supporting the Palestinian cause and the rights of the Palestinian people. Mr. Sourani also expressed his deep appreciation for the international activists who decided to face the Israeli offensive and document the attacks of the Israeli forces. Mr. Sourani awarded members of the delegation PCHR’s souvenir plaque. He also presented PCHR’s souvenir plaque to a number of international activists for their role in documenting the alleged Israeli violations of human rights and war crimes committed against the Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip; the recipients are: Mr. Iddie Marmish, from Britain; Ms. Rosa Sciano, from Italy; Mr. Sarah Kats, from France and Ms. Teresa Modirmot.

Eyewitness to the Gaza Flotilla Massacre: Thursday 8 July, Belfast July 5, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Israel, Palestine, The Left.
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Thanks to the person who forwarded this…

On Thursday evening O’Donnell’s CLCG on the Whiterock Road in Belfast will host an eyewitness account of the Gaza Flotilla Massacre. At 7.30pm there will be a presentation by Ken O’Keefe and Fiachra Ó Luain. Ken is a former US marine who was on board the Mavri Marmara when it was attacked by Israeli elite forces en route to Gaza, and was personally involved in disarming two commandos. He was subsequently arrested and beaten in Israeli custody (see the video here: ). Fiachra is a Palestine solidarity activist from Donegal who was on board the Challenger and was also arrested by Israeli forces.

The talk will be followed, from 9pm onward, by a benefit, with music from Pol Mac Adaim and Barry Kerr. Entry to the talk is free, cost for the social is £5 waged/ £3 unwaged and seniors. All proceeds go to the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

We hope to see you all there for this important event.

Protest in Tel Aviv Organised by the Communist Party June 8, 2010

Posted by Garibaldy in Israel.
13 comments

From the Communist Party of Israel.

CP of Israel, 15 thousands of communist and peace activists marched in Tel Aviv yesterday evening

————————————————-

From: Communist Party of Israel, Monday, 07 June 2010

http://www.maki.org.il , mailto:interelations@maki.org.il

==================================================

Communist Party of Israel

15 thousands of communist and peace activists marched in Tel Aviv yesterday evening

15 thousands of communist and peace activists marched in Tel Aviv yesterday evening (Saturday, June 5) to mark 43 years of Palestinian and Arab territories occupation while taking the opportunity to slam recent IDF murder raids on Gaza-bound ships.

Dozens of fascist counter-protesters periodically attempted to disrupt the demonstration, and at one point a smoke grenade was hurled at the protestors outside the Tel Aviv Museum in face of the Defense Ministry. No injuries were reported in the incident. Later, right-wing protesters tried to attack veteran peace activist Uri Avneri, snatching signs he was carrying.

The demonstration, which was held under the slogan “The government is drowning us all,” was originally planned by the Communist Party of Israel (CPI) and Hadash (the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality) solely to protest the occupation, but following last Monday’s Israeli deadly raid on a Turkish vessel trying to run the Gaza blockade, the rally also addressed the criminal government’s policies in regard to the Gaza Strip and the military operation that left nine foreigners dead.

“The government is drowning us all” read a large sign in the rally. Dov Khenin, a legislator for Hadash and leading communist militant, charged that “Barak has refused to move on the path of peace and leads [us to] a dangerous deterioration. The same people who sent the soldiers to take over the flotilla in the middle of the night are liable to send Israel to a new and terrible war”. Hadash chairman Mohamed Barakeh declared, “We will not let the crazy right wing push aside the left and the Arab sector into political isolation.”

A spokesman for the organizers of the rally told journalists it “was an even bigger success than he expected” and that he believes the past week’s events had led to an increase in the number of participants. That it showed that “people are opposed to this government that is driving us toward international isolation and a new war.”

The communist and pacifist protestors, who were walking from Rabin Square to the Tel Aviv Museum, were holding up signs reading “The government is sinking all of us – we must aspire for peace”. Other marchers held up signs reading “Israel, Palestine, two states for two people”. The rally has been organized by a communist and peace coalition that includes Hadash, CPI and Meretz parties, the Young Communist Guard (Banki-Shabiba), Peace Now, Gush Shalom, Yesh Gvul, Physicians for Human Rights, and other organizations. The march was being lead by CPI chairman Muhammad Nafah, Knesset Members Muhammad Barakeh, Dov Khenin, Afo Agbarie and Hanna Sweid (from Hadash) and Knesset Members Haim Oron and Nitzan Horowitz (from Meretz).

Photos from the rally:

חד"ש בהפגנת "הממשלה מטביעה אותנו - מוכרחים לחתור לשלום" לציון 43  שניה לכיבוש

15000+ and more against the crazy right wing

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Why now? June 1, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Israel, Uncategorized.
127 comments

Let’s essentially ignore some of our recent visitors whose inability to distinguish the almost exclusively moderate tone that the commentors on this site take to the Israel Palestine issue, i.e. one which recognises rights on both sides of that equation, while in passing note that these keyboard warriors in Israel’s defense moved rapidly from obnoxious insults about commentors and contributors to outright racism.

I’ve been to Israel. I have considerable respect for ordinary Israelis and I’m a strong believer in a two state solution. I don’t have anything to apologise for in regards of that, and particularly not to people who if I were an Israeli I’d have profound concerns as to why they were lining up to support me. And I wouldn’t for a second, despite all that, hesitate in pointing out that time and again Israeli government policy across a raft of social political and economic areas, in relation to Palestine and Palestinians has been willfully, pointlessly, needlessly and stupidly counterproductive. Time and again. And continues to be. To the point that that one wonders do they recognise the dangers of the isolationism that surely beckons further down the line.

On the broader issue, it is heartening to see that the general consensus appears to be that these were indeed reprehensible and irresponsible actions that are straining even the most ardent champions of the Israeli government (and let’s always keep in mind that these are initiated by government) to explain, let alone defend.

But the question remains, why now? What on earth was it thought that they could achieve? How was it considered they would play in the court, not merely of global opinion, but also and as importantly as regards the strategic interests of Israel as regards Turkey, as regards their ‘partners’ in the EU and so on.

I wrote a comment yesterday which EWI was good to respond to, but I think it still stands as a summation of the above question…

It’s difficult in light of what seem most aptly described as outright murder to do this, but coming back to the incident itself, something that strikes me very strongly is just how unhinged this was, and how seemingly indifferent to Turkish political and public opinion the Israeli govt. appears to have been and continues to be (another striking thing is how cloth-eared many of those on those sites linked to above seem to be as regards how Turkey has been traditionally a staunch ally of Israel even in the very recent past). And of course global public opinion.

What on earth is the political calculation behind such actions? I see the PM was in Canada.

It seems almost as if the Israeli state tilted into a sort of political instability. I mean, such actions are far from unheard of within their territorial boundaries, but this… this seems like a completely different scale/response to what we’ve seen before. And completely counterproductive.

And I think alastair has it right, they’ve been completely swamped on in terms of trying to ‘present’ this, perhaps another reason why there’s such a froth on the internet amongst their supposed supporters.

One small other thought. Given that the Social Welfare Bill was squirreled away on Friday so that the response from TDs, in particular, would be muted (I have that straight from the horses mouth so to speak), the news that an extra €2bn is being given over to the seemingly endless maw of Anglo Irish Bank indicates that we may well have seen a ‘good’ days to bury bad news

Protests over Attack on Palestine Solidarity Flotilla May 31, 2010

Posted by Garibaldy in Israel, Palestine.
96 comments

A number of protests will be taking place today about this morning’s murders by Israeli commandos in several cities. Here are the details taken from the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign website.

Cork: Daunt Square at 1pm.

Dublin: March to the Israeli Embassy. Leaves from The Spire, 6pm.

Derry: Guildhall Square at 5pm.

Belfast: City Hall at 4pm.

Waterford: Waterford Bridge at 4pm.

The Workers’ Party is calling for the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador from Ireland.

Please leave any other statements or details in the comments.

David joins Goliath? Israeli Labour Party set to join Likud-led Coalition March 25, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in International Politics, Israel, Palestine.
1 comment so far

And with one bound!

Amazing stuff in Israel, the news that Labour is marching into coalition with Likud. With the present agreements between Likud and other parties that gives the right led coalition 66 seats.

Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak initialled a pact today that would unite their Likud and Labour parties in Israel’s next government, a Labour official said.

And the purported agreement that the: “…Likud-led administration would respect all of Israel’s international agreements, an indirect reference to interim peace accords it has signed with the Palestinians.” Doesn’t give enormous comfort given that in negotiations with Kadima the sticking point was an inability by Netanyahu to state clearly that he supported a two-state solution.

It’s certainly a somewhat devious move by Labour given that they appeared to depart the field of battle in the wake of the recent elections and eschew coalition with Kadima.

And whether this is something entirely cooked up by Ehud Barak keen to hold onto his position as Defence Minister is an interesting question. Doesn’t seem like it is that alone, not if we are to judge from the following:

Although as many as seven of Labour’s 13 elected MPs opposed the move, the party’s 1,400-strong central committee nevertheless followed Barak’s lead and voted to join the government.

That’s some central committee…1,400…hmmm.

But overall it’s one of those happenings in politics (both there and elsewhere) which if judged by any other standard in life would appear near incomprehensible. After all, just how is potentially the most right-wing government in Israel in a decade, with an overtly problematic programme as regards Palestine and one which appears to set its face against international agreements (however weak and fragile) going to incorporate the much diminished Labour Party? How on earth does that work? And is it the fact of that diminished status of the LP which is behind this. That the natural party of government of Israel should be reduced to a mere 13 seats, leaving it now the fourth largest party behind both the centre and the far right must operate in curious ways. The urge to be relevant, to be a player, to – as the grim phrase has it – box above its weight must be all but irresistable. And allied to that the hope that something will turn up that will rework its fortunes, that by being involved it will be well positioned to do something. It’s easy to be critical of that stance, but albeit this is a particularly pointed case this goes to the heart of left projects in many many places and how they should respond and react.

And Labour is not unaware of the probability that they may well be the fig-leaf to cover a multitude…

For Netanyahu, bringing Labour on board gives his government a wider base and may provide some protection against international criticism over his proposed rightwing policies, particularly towards the Palestinians. Even though he came only second in last month’s elections, Netanyahu was chosen to form a government because rightwing parties as a whole did well.

Still, that is as nothing compared to the rolling slow motion civil war that sometimes appears to characterise Israeli politics. Very notable was the following observation:

There are still three other, smaller rightwing parties Netanyahu could call on to join him, although he has run into unexpectedly sharp policy differences, particularly over religious issues, such as conversion to Judaism and civil marriages. He has until Friday next week to form his government.

Which links to issues of radicalisation of the Israeli military by the religious which Christopher Hitchens raises in Slate saying that: “It’s high time the United States cut off any financial support for Israel that can be used even indirectly for settler activity, not just because such colonization constitutes a theft of another people’s land but also because our Constitution absolutely forbids us to spend public money on the establishment of any religion.”

All this in the week that the Guardian compiles a report of alleged war crimes by Israel in Gaza earlier this year.

Gaza redux January 15, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Israel, Palestine.
78 comments

Reading Vincent Browne in yesterday’s Irish Times was a frustrating exercise. It’s not that he’s incorrect in his article. For he notes that a ‘Monstrous Injustice [was/is] inflicted on Palestine’ and noted the machinations that underpinned the latest UN resolution on Gaza, in particular the craven way in which the United States having sponsored the resolution chose to abstain. As he notes:

[The President of the UN Council] then put to the vote the resolution drafted by the US, Britain and France. All members of the council voted for it, except the US, which abstained.

Rice read a statement expressing total support for the resolution and said the US had abstained because it wanted to see the outcome of the peace talks in Cairo, involving Israel and the Palestinians. CNN thought this was a significant breakthrough.

He parsed the text of the resolution noting too that:

The US, British and French resolution stressed “the urgency of and [called] for an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza”.

The al-Jazeera people observed that the resolution was essentially meaningless, for how could there be an “immediate” ceasefire that was at the same time “durable” and “fully respected”?

They said this allowed Israel to continue the bombing, the destruction and the slaughter of people in Gaza because there would never be “an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire”.

Then there was the word “leading”: “leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza”. “Leading” could mean an immediate withdrawal or a withdrawal anytime in the future.

They predicted Israel could continue doing what it had been doing, which of course was precisely what happened.

And all this is true. The US abstension provided a space which the Israeli government was able to use to continue to prosecute their campaign.

Browne continues by arguing that not merely has Israel, and effectively the international community, ignored previous UN resolutions (most notably 242) but that the “UN’s role in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict has been inglorious from the outset”.

He continues:

it was the UN that played a large part in igniting the conflict at the outset by calling for the partition of Palestine and the creation of Jewish and Arab states, without any regard to the wishes of the people of Palestine.

At the time, Arabs constituted more than two-thirds of the population of 1.78 million.

The state of Israel was declared on May 14th, 1948. There followed a war, during which 700,000 Arabs were driven or fled from their homes.

More than three-quarters of the territory of Palestine was incorporated into the new state of Israel.

The international community was guilt-ridden by the then recent revelation of the Holocaust and its appreciation of its complicity in the pogroms against Jews over the centuries. The infliction of another historic injustice, this time on the Palestinian Arabs, was the means whereby that guilt was idly assuaged.

And concludes:

That monstrous injustice lies at the heart of the conflict in the Middle East since then.

The refusal of the international community to acknowledge the origins of the state of Israel is the obstacle to a resolution of the conflict.

The problem is how to take his final sentence and use it as a basis from which to proceed. Because Israel does exist and will continue to exist. Its population, the majority of whom were born well after the events of 1948, and its societal dynamic have assumed a direction that has it’s own intrinsic internal self-legitimation. Israel has a right to exist. But that its existence may become essentially entirely insular and arguably paranoid as it attempts to find ‘security solutions’ that depend upon force rather than negotiation and persuasion with its neighbours – and may not necessary find itself receiving upon the largesse of the US in the mid to long term future – makes the current issues more rather than less intractable. And with that right comes further responsibilities still.

Or to put it another way, yes it is true that a monstrous injustice was committed against Palestinians, a result in part of a monstrous injustice committed against Jews in Europe that resulted in the displacement (and death of many) of the former, but that doesn’t much help us as we try to chart a way forward. What should, but probably won’t happen, is that the international community and the United States should exert genuine pressure on Israel to understand that it has responsibilities as well as rights and that primary amongst those former is the necessity to address the issue of those who were forcibly displaced and their descendants. That responsibility has been entirely lacking in the relationship between Israel and the truncated Palestine that now remains. Across four decades the consistent Israeli policy appears to have been to limit and constrain and curtail Palestine and its political and social expressions, and where ‘concessions’ were given to keep these as minimalist as possible. And all this when by any reasonable criteria it had absolutely no right to do so.

The Guardian referenced this in its editorial yesterday when it noted that:

The Times’s chief leader writer last week attempted a measured explanation of why international pressure on Israel often seems so futile and inadequate. The experience of Jews in the first half of the 20th century, he wrote, meant that Jews no longer felt safe as the wards of world opinion. “When Israel is urged to respect world opinion and put its faith in the international community the point is rather being missed,” he wrote. “The very idea of Israel is a rejection of this option.”

There may well be a psychological truth in this, but it will plainly not do in other respects. It does scant justice to the noble, democratic and broadly admirable ideals of the founders of a Jewish homeland and it is impossible to reconcile with Israel’s obligations as a member of a wider community of nations. This wish to join the world on equal terms was, after all, the aspiration of the first Zionist leaders. The question – as Israeli tanks grind into Gaza City – is what actions or arguments the rest of the world can take or make that will have any resonance in a country which now gives every appearance of having turned its back on global opinion.

And it continues…

The final area for discussion is Israel’s obligations as a member of the community of civilised nations. Israel should take no comfort from the protracted wrangling that led to last week’s UN resolution calling for a ceasefire, nor from ­America’s abstention or Britain’s hand-­wringing. All the signs are that the Obama administration is not going to be sympathetic to a future of failed blockades or the intransigent refusal to talk to Israel’s enemies.

I think both the Guardian and Browne may be touching upon something that is very noticeable at the present time. The criticisms of Israel in our parliament this week have been of a level that to me seems unprecedented. The direct criticism of the Israeli ambassador and the calls for his expulsion as a response to the events in Gaza appear to represent a significant change in attitude to that conflict and to the Israeli government. And this isn’t restricted to this state but is seen in varying degrees internationally. It is as if a consensus is emerging that the actions overseen by the Israeli government have reached the limits of toleration. And this is intriguing.

Because I’d hazard that the Israeli government did not expect such a response. Indeed I’d bet that they supposed that during the transitional period between the end of the Bush White House and the arrival of the Obama Presidency they were offered a perfect opportunity to deliver a message to the latter (and to see how he would respond) that they were going to exercise their self-perceived prerogative to exercise their military might as a means of subduing Gaza and that they would also seek to destroy Hamas as a functioning political entity.

However, it seems to me that they chose precisely the wrong time to do this, or rather that circumstances were not quite as they might have wished. For far from the transition providing a period when they could operate without criticism due to the lack of focus in Washington what has happened has been a remarkable concentration by the media on their actions in Gaza. Perhaps even an unprecedentedly critical concentration. It’s difficult to pin down precisely the reasons for that. In part I suspect its because what they’re doing is simply too redolent of what has been seen in the last eight years in Iraq and that there is a general sense that such actions are most likely counterproductive. Also the studied and rather ambiguous messages emanating from the Obama camp, tied into the generalised lofty rhetoric of his campaign (whatever about his tactical shifts on the issue of Israel and Palestine during that campaign) seem to hint at a more optimistic way forward. Sure, that’s all hot air until it is made manifest, but it seems to have informed at least some of the discourse albeit at second hand. This appears to have allowed the media to operate ‘off the leash’ as it were in a way which otherwise might not have happened. Thirdly the very circumstances of the current events, or rather their lead up, make the Israeli case harder to make… there was a cease-fire, it was effective, the breaching of it by whatever side and the media seems to be pinning this on Israel, makes the current actions appear self-interested. Which they most evidently are. And then added to that is the clear impetus given to them by Israeli domestic political concerns. Finally there is the unbelievably counterproductive nature of the actions and most importantly their impacts on the inhabitants of Gaza. And all this played out in the international media. Of course there are other elements, but it is remarkable how strong the critique of the Israeli government is, and indeed it is heartening.

It is less heartening to see the reductionist arguments of some of those both abroad and closer to home who have championed Israeli government and military actions in a manner which would be laughable in another context. To hear the earnest analyses of Hamas as an ineradicable evil (and let’s be clear, Hamas is an organisation that few progressives would or should feel comfortable with) and to further hear this as a justification for the current events merely points up the futility of the exercise. That Israel and Hamas have, and will again, dealt to construct ceasefires – or indeed the dismal pragmatism of the reality that Israel and Hamas are probably already in contact to construct the next ‘twelve month’ ceasefire – is curiously omitted from the narratives we’re presented with as is the absurd notion that if Hamas could be eradicated in some fashion then all would be well. That merely demonstrates an inability to distinguish – or to deliberately confuse – symptom from cause. The wellsprings that Hamas has drawn upon run far deeper than any individual organisation or movement. They will continue to exist long after Hamas is but a memory and will remain active unless Israel eschews military force and moves to deal with the underlying problem in a manner which sees it living up to its responsiblities. And these aren’t responsibilities limited to a notion duty of care – which has been abrogated on far too many occasions – but a responsibility to see that the events of the 1940s which saw a disaster for two peoples are remedied to the greatest extent possible. And in that Vincent Browne is very right indeed.

The Gaza situation…error piled upon error January 8, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Israel, Palestine.
13 comments

For an historical reading of the current crisis one would have to go some way to find one as factually incorrect as that presented by Tony Blankley on KCRW’s Left Right & Centre.

But it provides a telling insight into a viewpoint abroad – particularly in the US and Israel itself – that simply will not regard this situation with any complexity and simply finds respite in bellicose assertions.

In 2000 Bill Clinton tried to negotiate an agreement on this, the Israeli’s agreed to it Arafat walked away from it. Whether he did because he maliciously not wanting an agreement because he thought that if he did he’d promptly be assassinated we don’t know. We do know that the one great Arab statesman who did negotiate with Israel, Sadat, was promptly assassinated. So the problem is that there is fanaticism among far too many of the Arabs in the Middle East against Israel and they’ll kill their own leaders if they seek peace and in fact the majority if you see polling out of the Palestian Arabs in Gaza and the West Bank, the majority of them want Israel driven into the sea. It’s a story that started on their birth and it continues to this moment and the choice the Israeli’s have is to die or to fight and they’ve chosen to fight – thank God.

Breaching the Gaza embargo… what next? January 25, 2008

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Israel, Palestine.
7 comments

egypt372x192.jpg

You might not think it looking at the chaotic scenes from the Gaza/Egyptian border, but there is an European link to the situation.

On KCRW’s To The Point on Wednesday Senior Middle East Analyst for the International Crisis Group, Mouin Rabbani wasn’t surprised to hear the 17 explosions which brought down a section of the fence attributed to Hamas. He regarded it as ‘a great propaganda victory for Hamas and particularly in the context of inter-Palestinian rivalry since it can be seen as ‘breaking’ the siege of Gaza’. Even better from the point of view of Hamas has been their willingness to demonstrate that they ‘are willing to confront the Egyptian participation in the siege’.

He noted that when Israel withdrew from the border in 2005 there was an agreement between the EU, the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli’s that there would be European monitoring and patrolling of the border. This worked effectively for ‘a number of months… but because the Israel had the right of veto over the Europeans …whenever they prevented the Europeans operating the border was simply closed’. He pointed out that ‘there was evidence there that if this continued for a long time [i.e. no European presence] the Palestinians might well blow a hole in the barrier]’ In other words the Europeans were Israel’s insurance against this sort of event occurring but by preventing their operation the Israeli’s had effectively set up the circumstances in which it could happen.

One has to wonder whether Israeli’s actually recognise just how dismal these images play abroad. The genius of this act was to do something that was essentially non-violent and yet which pointed up the manner in which Palestinians are hemmed in within defined geographic areas as they wait for the parties which continue to protest their adherence to their best interests to actually do something to validate them.

The narrative ‘myths’ of democracy and capitalism demand freedom of movement. The images of the fall of the Berlin Wall are remarkably powerful precisely because they lock into a very deep rooted dynamic that rails against constraint and confinement. These recent images belong within that discourse. And sure, it’s one day, or a ‘hiccup’ as one of the contributors put it, and it’s unlikely to happen again. But… that one day proved the paucity of Israeli policy in what is still, under international law an occupied territory.

[Incidentally, as a complete aside, the idea was raised here recently that post-modernism (and one presumes by extension many other critiques) are fairly useless. Well, yes and no. How do we describe such intangibles as cultural narratives without recourse to them? Sure, we can describe the history, and perhaps drag in something akin to ‘opinion’, but for assessing the deeper dynamics [beyond economics] that shape action and response of historical or contemporary actors it is necessary to fit them within some sort of a framework… it’s something I hope to return to]

Why are people surprised? As the Guardian noted yesterday:

If you bottle up 1.5 million people in a territory 25 miles long and six miles wide, and turn off the lights, as Israel has done in Gaza, the bottle will burst. This is what happened yesterday when tens of thousands of Gazans poured into Egypt to buy food, fuel and supplies after militants destroyed two-thirds of the wall separating the Gaza Strip from Egypt. It was the biggest jail break in history.

It’s quite an image, isn’t it? And how about this?

But it was also a reply to the argument that the only way to stop Qassam rockets falling on the Israeli town of Sderot and the western Negev is to turn the screw still further. One side of the vessel has now shattered.

As the Guardian also noted:

Cutting off electricity to Gaza will not stop the Qassams [rockets], 400 of which have fallen in and around Sderot since the start of the month. Israel claims the number of Qassams has declined, although 20 were fired on Monday alone. Nor will military campaigns work. One waged in 2006 killed 400 Palestinians in Gaza, half of them civilian. Entering into or encouraging some form of political dialogue with Hamas would stop the Qassams, but Israel has set its face against this while Hamas refuses to recognise Israel’s existence.

The idea that one can crush a people, and keep crushing, and in doing so will prevent them from responding is so counterintuitive, so contrary to human experience across centuries and numerous conflicts that I find it bizarre that a significant group within Israel can believe it.

Still, Uri Dromi, Former Senior Aide to Israeli Prime Ministers Rabin and Peres used the ‘they brought it on themselves’ argument that due to their shelling of Israeli towns the inhabitants of Gaza had put themselves beyond the pale. I think that’s a problematic approach, not only because clearly not all the inhabitants are militants but because such responses by Israel have drawn the conclusion as reported in the Irish Times that:

The European Union and international agencies have described the closure as collective punishment – banned by the Geneva Conventions – of Gaza’s 1.5 million people.

Dromi further argued that the problem in Gaza is partially due to the Egyptians not controlling the border and that they had to restore ‘law and order, rebuild the fence, take control over the border more seriously, stop the smuggling of arms in tunnels’. Then in a breathtaking conceptual leap he argued that ‘…in the longer run we see something that allows us to look into the future and if we look at the map and see how big Sinai is with resources and how this could become part of an Egyptian/Palestinian solution’. Well… I think this is yet again reaching on the part of the Israeli’s, a sort of mental export of the actuality of the problems that are faced by them – not the Egyptians. This attitude has been seen in the idea pushed by parts of the Israeli right that Jordan must become the home for the Palestinians..

Mark Perry, former advisor to Yasser Arafat, argued that Fatah and Hamas were being pushed towards more formal talks. Perry believed that ‘…Abu Mazen look’s pretty bad right now having called for an embargo against Gaza last year’ and that the best way forward was a reformed National Unity government in order to ‘reunite the different strands of Palestinian politics’. Interestingly Dromi considered it ‘an internal matter for the Palestinians’ and he felt that ‘Israel should talk to them… if they [Hamas] won’t listen and want to break their heads against the wall, let them’. Dromi was pretty clear that US pressure had led to the vote at which Hamas had won and therefore the US mission to extend democracy to the Middle East was pointless. Whether this analysis of his is essentially self-serving in that it seems to deny that Palestinians can make rational democratic choices is difficult to say. Moreover, it’s worth noting that he is not part of the current Israeli government so perhaps his ability to speak more freely, if no more cheeringly, is a function of that.

Warren Olney asked wouldn’t bringing Hamas back into the process not be seen by people in Israel and the US as a ‘reward for violence’, although tellingly he noted that it might be seen as a ‘….reward for a form of terrorism, although knocking down the fence per se is perceived as a liberating exercise rather than one of violent terrorism’.

Interestingly the overall consensus was that Hamas would, sooner or later, be recognised as an interlocuter on behalf of the Palestinians, most likely in tandem with Fatah. I’m no fan of Hamas, but I am a fan of pragmatism. And really, doesn’t that point to the ruin of the efforts by the US on these issues? Meanwhile, does anyone know where Tony Blair is in all this? Not that I think his intervention would improve things, but… wasn’t part of his latest job – oh no, sorry, it was just announced this month that he’s going to advise JP Morgan in some capacity – I mean of course the job before that one, something about being an envoy…

General Strike in Israel – Almost March 21, 2007

Posted by franklittle in Israel, Trade Unions.
1 comment so far

Israel has shut down as 400,000 public sector and transport workers go on strike over non-payment of wages to local authority workers. (I know, you thought for a second it was over the Apartheid Wall.)

The bit that amuses me however, is that airport workers have been given permission by the unions to break the strike for the flight into Israel of the English soccer team to play Israel in the Euro 2008 qualifiers. They will, however, still refuse to service planeloads of English soccer fans.

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