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Home arrow Blog arrow September 2009 arrow September 12, 2009

September 12, 2009
September 12, 2009: Back to Jeff Halper: American Israeli and Secular 'Prophet'

The best understanding of a prophet is one who points out the danger ahead and provokes us to think about God-that is; if we are wired that way!

"What does God require? He has already told you o'man! Be JUST, Love Kindness and Walk Humbly with your Lord."-Micah 6:8


Dismantling the Matrix of Control
Jeff Halper
 
September 11, 2009
 
Almost a decade ago I wrote an article describing Israel's "matrix of control" over the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

It consisted then of three interlocking systems: military administration of much of the West Bank and incessant army and air force intrusions elsewhere; a skein of "facts on the ground," notably settlements in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, but also bypass roads connecting the settlements to Israel proper; and administrative measures like house demolitions and deportations. I argued in 2000 that unless this matrix was dismantled, the occupation would not be ended and a two-state solution could not be achieved.

Since then the occupation has grown immeasurably stronger and more entrenched. The first decade of the twenty-first century has so far seen the steady constricting and fragmentation of Palestinian territory through still more wholesale expropriation of Palestinian land, checkpoints and other physical restrictions on freedom of movement, settlement construction, more and more massive highways intended for Israeli settlers, control over natural resources and, most visibly of all, the erection of the separation barrier in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Since December 2000, according to the Israeli human rights organization B'tselem, the settler population of the West Bank has grown by 86,000 and that of East Jerusalem by 50,000. Gaza was evacuated of settlers and soldiers in 2005, but Israel retains near complete control over egress and exit of people and goods to and from the coastal strip, regularly cuts supplies of fuel and other necessities to punish the residents and mounts military incursions at will. All the Palestinian territories are subject, to one degree or another, to the measures of house demolitions, "closures" that halt economic activity, administrative restrictions on movement, deportation, induced out-migration and much more.

Indeed, the matrix has reconfigured the country to such an extent that today it seems impossible to detach a truly sovereign and viable Palestinian state from an Israel that has expanded all the way to the Jordan River. Anyone familiar with Israel's "facts on the ground," perhaps first and foremost the settlers, would reach the conclusion that, in fact, the matrix cannot be taken apart in a piecemeal fashion, leaving a few settlements here, a road there and an Israeli "greater" Jerusalem in the middle. The matrix has become far too intricate. Dismantling it piece by piece, with Israel stalling by arguing for the security function of each "fact on the ground," would be a frustrating series of confrontations that would eventually exhaust itself. The only way to a genuine two-state solution and not a cosmetic form of apartheid is to cut the Gordian knot. The international community, led by the United States, must tell Israel that the occupation must be ended entirely. Israel must leave every inch of the Occupied Territories. Period.

And now, at this critical juncture, as the two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian impasse disappears under the weight of Israeli settlements, there is a great imponderable: Is President Barack Obama genuinely serious about reaching such a solution or is he merely going through the motions familiar from previous administrations?

The Tea Leaves

Many Palestinian, Israeli and international proponents of a just peace took heart in Obama's early gestures. Beginning with the appointment of former Sen. George Mitchell as special envoy and continuing through the president's June 4, 2009 speech in Cairo, these proponents allowed themselves, after years of disappointment and struggle, a cautious hopefulness. Some of the speech's formulations, like the nods to the "pain of dislocation" felt by Palestinians and the "daily humiliations" of occupation, had been heard before. But one sentence had not been: Obama said that a two-state solution "is in Israel's interest, Palestine's interest, America's interest and the world's interest." Obama seemed to "get it," that is, he seemed to understand that the US is isolated politically by its unquestioning backing of Israel, which is seen as obstructing a solution to the conflict. And, for the first time, a US president actually said that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in the vital national interest, not just a nice thing to do. These words significantly raise the bar. Framing the conflict in this way makes it easier for the administration to win Congressional support for tougher demands upon Israel while undermining the ability of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to mount an effective resistance, given American Jewish sensibilities about suspicions of dual loyalty.

Since the Cairo speech, however, fundamental doubts about US efforts have resurfaced. The only demand made by Obama upon Israel has been for a settlement "freeze," a welcome symbolic gesture, to be sure, yet irrelevant to any peace process. Israel has enough settlement-cities in strategic "blocs" that it could in fact freeze all construction without compromising its control over the West Bank and "greater" Jerusalem, the Arab areas to the north, south and east of the city where Israel has planted its flag. Focusing on this one issue -- which, months later, is still being haggled over -- has provided Israel with a smokescreen behind which it can actively and freely pursue more significant and urgent construction that, when completed, will truly render the occupation irreversible. It is rushing to complete the separation barrier, which is already being presented as the new border, replacing the "Green Line," the pre-June 1967 boundary to which Israel is supposed to withdraw, by the terms of UN Security Council resolutions, but on which even the most ardent two-staters have long since given up. Israel is demolishing homes, expelling Palestinian residents and permitting Jewish settlement throughout East Jerusalem, measurably advancing the "judaization" of the city. It is confiscating vast tracts of land in the West Bank and "greater" Jerusalem and pouring bypass road asphalt at a feverish pace so as to permanently redraw the map. It is laying track on Palestinian land for a light-rail line connecting the West Bank settlement-city of Pisgat Ze'ev to Israel. It is drying up the main agricultural areas of the West Bank, forcing thousands of people off their lands, while instituting visa restrictions that either keep visiting Palestinians and internationals out of the country altogether or limit their movement to the truncated Palestinian enclaves of the West Bank.

"Quiet," behind-the-scenes diplomacy is surely taking place, but the few details that have emerged are far from reassuring. The State Department has mocked as "fiction" a ten-point document given to the Arab press by Fatah figure Hasan Khreisheh that promises an "international presence" in parts of the West Bank and US backing for a Palestinian state by 2011. The component of this alleged plan that seems more likely is that the US wants a partial freeze on settlement activity from Israel in exchange for a pledge from Washington to push for more stringent sanctions upon Iran for its nuclear research. On August 25, 2009, the Guardian quoted "an official close to the negotiations" saying: "The message is: Iran is an existential threat to Israel; settlements are not." By all indications, if the Obama administration does present a regional peace plan, which it is expected by many to do around the time of the UN General Assembly meeting on September 20, 2009, it will be nothing more than a "rough draft." It is no exaggeration to say a two-state solution will rise or fall on the outlines of this draft -- and may perhaps fall forever if no concrete plan is presented at all, which is also possible. Although the two-state solution has been eulogized many times in the past, Obama represents a best-case scenario. If he presents, in the end, a disappointing peace plan that offers no genuine breakthrough, then the shift to a one-state solution on the part of the Palestinian people and their international supporters will be inescapable.

Sovereignty and Viability

So how can Obama's plan be judged if and when it is unveiled? Its chance of success can be predicted by how well it addresses the fundamental needs, grievances and aspirations of the peoples involved. An effective approach to ending the conflict, as opposed to shopworn posturing, rests on at least six elements: national expression for both peoples; economic viability for Palestine; a genuine addressing of the refugee issue; a regional approach; security guarantees; and conformity with human rights norms, international law and UN resolutions.

Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs are not simply ethnic groups, like, for example, American Jews or Arab-Americans. They are two peoples who, like national groups everywhere, demand self-determination. This reality actually lends credence to a two-state solution, but only if the Palestinian state is truly sovereign and economically viable. One should not forget that, in the days of apartheid, South Africa established ten "bantustans," small and impoverished "homelands" on 11 percent of South African land, seemingly to address the demand of the black population for self-determination but actually to ensure a "democracy" for the white population on 89 percent of the country. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's notion that the Palestinians should get "autonomy with certain characteristics of a state" on about 15 percent of historic Palestine -- "autonomy plus-independence minus," as he called it -- is reminiscent of apartheid.

If the Obama administration's plan does not cut the Gordian knot that is Israel's matrix of control -- something no plan or initiative has yet succeeded in doing -- it will simply fail to achieve an equitable two-state solution. Only a complete withdrawal of Israel from all the Occupied Territories and the sharing of Jerusalem with no restrictions on movement can avert a Palestinian bantustan.

Obama's plan, like its predecessors, seems destined to leave the major Israeli settlement blocs intact, including those in Palestinian East and "greater" Jerusalem. Even with so-called territorial "swaps," this measure would significantly compromise the sovereignty and economic viability of a Palestinian state. The area designated on Israeli maps for future expansion of the Ma'ale Adumim settlement reaches to the outskirts of Jericho in the Jordan Valley, while the Ariel bloc already extends between the northern West Bank town of Nablus and points south. Taken together, settlements and the highways that interlink them displace Palestinian passenger and commercial vehicles onto a few narrow routes, while the checkpoints intended to protect the settlers snarl traffic on a predictably unpredictable schedule. And then there is the towering wall. It is not a landscape made for easy economic integration.

Why, then, leave these massive settlements intact? The argument is that their residents would object to the point of a civil war in Israel. This is patent nonsense. True, these settlement blocs contain 85 percent of Israelis living in the Occupied Territories, but these are not the ideological settlers who claim the entire Land of Israel from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River. Instead, they are "normal" Israelis who have been attracted to the settlements by high-quality, affordable housing. They would have no objection to resettling inside Israel on the condition that their living standards do not fall, while the Israeli economy, assisted by international donors, would have no problem footing the bill for this population, about 200,000 in number.

Settlements in "greater" Jerusalem, housing another 190,000 Israeli Jews, present no problem whatsoever. Residents are free to stay where they are in a shared and integrated Jerusalem.
As for the "ideological" settlers of the West Bank, only about 40,000 in number (out of almost six million Jews altogether), they can easily be relocated inside Israel, just as were their counterparts in Gaza. Their relocation will be a test of international assertiveness, of course, because the settlers are able to mobilize the support of the right-wing parties in Israel. Since Israel can make no cogent argument as to the security necessity of these tiny settlements, however, internal opposition will simply have to be overruled; the international community cannot allow such frivolous ideological matters to destabilize the entire global system. If the legitimate concerns of the Israeli public over its security are addressed by the international community, which they can be, there is no compelling reason why Israel should not return to the pre-June 1967 border. In fact, if the Gaza episode indicates anything, it is that the Israeli public is willing to remove settlements if it is convinced that doing so will enhance its security. Reminding Israelis that leaving every inch of the Occupied Territories will still leave them sovereign over a full 78 percent of the country -- not a bad deal for what will soon become a minority Jewish population -- should seal the deal.

Refugees

The Obama platform, should it see the light of day, will probably also adopt the Israeli position that Palestinian refugees can only be repatriated to the Palestinian state itself, not to their former homes inside Israel. This plank would place a weighty economic burden on that tiny prospective state, since the refugees are, by and large, a traumatized and impoverished population with minimal education and professional skills. Add to that another significant fact: Some 60 percent of the Palestinian population is under the age of 18. A Palestinian state without the ability to employ its people and offer a future to its youth is simply a prison-state.

Now the need for a viable Palestinian state is recognized and embodied in the "road map," the peace initiative propagated by President George W. Bush in 2003, and will probably be acknowledged in a plan from Obama as well. Despite its limited size, a RAND Corporation study concluded that such a state is possible, but only if it controls its territory, borders, resources and movement of people and goods. Israel must be made to understand that while it will remain the hegemonic power in the region, its own long-term security depends upon the economic well being of its Palestinian neighbors.

Eighty percent of the Palestinians are refugees, and half of the Palestinians still live in refugee camps within and around their homeland. Any sustainable peace is dependent upon the just resolution of the refugee issue. Technically, resolving the refugee issue is not especially difficult. The Palestinian negotiators, backed up by the Arab League, have agreed to a "package," to be mutually agreed upon by Israel and the Palestinians, involving a combination of repatriation in Israel and the Palestinian state, resettlement elsewhere and compensation.

The "package" must contain, however, two other elements, without which the issue will not be resolved and reconciliation cannot take place. First, Israel must acknowledge the refugees' right of return; a resolution of the issue cannot depend solely on humanitarian gestures. And Israel must acknowledge its responsibility for driving the refugees from their country. Just as Jews expected Germany to accept responsibility for what it did in the Holocaust (and Israelis criticized the Pope during his summer 2009 visit for not apologizing enough), just as China and South Korea will not close the book on World War II until Japan acknowledges its war crimes, so, too, will the refugee issue continue to fester and frustrate attempts to bring peace to the region until Israel admits its role and asks forgiveness. Genuine peacemaking cannot be confined to technical solutions alone; it must also deal with the wounds caused by the conflict.

Regional Approach, Security and International Law

Obama's edge over his predecessors lies in his understanding that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is part of -- and in some ways the symbolic epicenter of -- a wider regional problem that extends from the neighboring countries to Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and, indeed, throughout the entire Muslim world and beyond. This understanding lies behind his framing of the conflict's persistence as being antithetical to vital US interests, and behind his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel's statements making a solution for the conflict a virtual precondition for addressing the Iran issue. It is precisely this linkage, long denied by Israel, which insists that the Palestinian issue be handled separately, that the Obama administration seems finally to have embraced. Indeed, even in the confines of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict itself, the key issues - refugees, security, water, economic development and others -- are regional in scope. A perfect peace between Israel and Palestine, in which both countries flourish, is not a viable solution for either if they exist as prosperous islands in an impoverished, unstable region.

Israel, of course, has fundamental and legitimate security needs, as do the Palestinians and the other peoples of the region. Unlike Israeli governments, the Israeli peace camp believes that security cannot be addressed in isolation, that Israel will not find peace and security unless it enters into a lasting peace with the Palestinians and achieves a measure of integration into the Middle East region. It certainly rejects the notion that security can be achieved through military means. Israel's assertion that the security issue be resolved before any political progress can be made is as illogical as it is self-serving. Everyone, the Israeli political establishment and the military together with the peace movement and the Palestinians themselves, knows that terrorism is a symptom that can only be addressed as part of a broader approach to the grievances underlying the conflict. Israel, which also must be held accountable for its use of state terror, cannot be allowed to exploit legitimate security concerns to advance a political agenda of permanent control.

To the degree that negotiations are entered into, they must have as their terms of reference international law and UN resolutions if the Palestinians are to enjoy even minimal parity with their Israeli interlocutors. The lack of grounding in such principles was the fatal shortcoming of all the preceding attempts to reach an agreement. Once negotiations are based solely on power, the Palestinians lose, the differential being so heavily weighted on the Israeli side, which totally controls Palestinian life and territory. Indeed, a peace agreement rooted in international law and human rights -- in short, a just peace -- would offer the best prospect of working.

Trump Cards

Put simply, any plan, proposal or initiative for peace in Israel-Palestine must be filtered through the following set of critical questions: Will this plan really end the occupation, or is it merely a subtle cover for control? Does this plan offer a just and sustainable peace or merely an imposed and false quiet? Does this plan offer a Palestinian state that is territorially, politically and economically viable, or merely a prison-state? Does this plan genuinely and justly address the refugee issue? And does this plan offer regional security and development?

While one may glean optimism from the fact that a US president finally comprehends the need for a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, even if solely for the sake of US interests, it is difficult to be optimistic over the prospects of such a peace. No matter what the plan, Israel will neither cooperate nor negotiate in good faith. A solution will have to be imposed, if not overtly, then in ways that make Israel's continued hold on the Occupied Territories too costly to sustain. Simply withholding Israel's privileged access to American military technology and markets, for example, would have that effect.

Any attempt to pressure Israel, however, will run into a familiar obstacle: Congress, Israel's trump card in its encounters with the administration. In the case of Obama, Israeli leaders know well that his own party has always been far more "pro-Israel" than the Republicans. Already his loss of momentum after the Cairo address (perhaps related to his difficulties over his health care plan) has emboldened the temporarily cowed AIPAC. In early August, the vaunted lobby produced a letter signed by 71 senators from both parties -- led by Sens. Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Jim Risch (R-ID) -- telling the president to lay off Israel and place more pressures on the Arab states to "normalize" relations with Israel. Obama had already, in his comments introducing Mitchell as special envoy and subsequently, called for "normalization" simultaneous with Israeli moves to lessen the burdens of occupation, in contravention of the 2002 Arab League peace plan, which proposed that the Arab states establish ties with Israel after withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines. Now AIPAC and its backers in Congress want the administration to push for "normalization" before any Israeli overtures whatsoever. The Netanyahu government has played its part, as well. In August, its ministers, standing on the strategically crucial site of "E-1" between Jerusalem and the settlement of Ma'ale Adumim, vowed that Israel would continue building settlements anywhere it pleases. On September 7, 2009, Israel announced it was beginning work on 500 new apartments in Pisgat Ze'ev and 455 in other West Bank locales. These actions essentially tell Obama to go to hell mere weeks before he is projected to launch his peace initiative. The US replied with an expression of "regret."

Any plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace that has a hope of succeeding requires both an effective marketing strategy and a level of assertiveness as yet unseen in a US president, excepting, perhaps, Dwight Eisenhower and Jimmy Carter. Obama's only hope of breaking through the wall of Israeli and Democratic Party resistance is to articulate an approach to peace based on clear and accepted principles anchored in human rights and justice and then framed in terms of US interests. A cold, calculating assessment of US interests would certainly push Obama in this direction. Time will tell, though the limp response to the new settlement construction does not bode well.

In the meantime, growing opposition to the occupation on the part of the international grassroots is making it increasingly difficult for governments to support Israeli policies. The movement targeting Israel for boycott, divestment and sanctions gains strength by the day, as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict begins to assume the dimensions of the anti-apartheid struggle. But the Palestinians, exhausted and suffering as they may be, possess a trump card of their own. They are the gatekeepers. Until the majority of Palestinians, and not merely political leaders, declare that the conflict is over, the conflict is not over. Until most Palestinians believe it is time to normalize relations with Israel, there will be no normalization. Israel cannot "win" -- though it believes it can, which is why it presses ahead to complete the matrix and foreclose the possibility of a viable Palestinian state. The failure of yet another peace initiative will only galvanize international efforts to achieve justice for the Palestinians. Only this time the demand is likely to be for a single binational state, the only alternative that fits the single-state, binational reality that Israel itself has forged in its futile attempt to impose an apartheid regime.

Jeff Halper is director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.
He can be reached at
 
Published in Middle East Report Online
http://www.merip.org/mero/mero091109.html



On June 10, 2009, I wrote from Jerusalem:

Thirty-three CODE PINK activists gathered in the West Jerusalem office of American Israeli Professor Jeff Halper, founder and coordinator of ICAHD/Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions who said, "There are reasons for hope and we are all making a difference. We're in a weak position because governments work with governments not civil society; countries don't have friends they have interests. But we are winning the war of legitimacy because it is getting harder for Israel to justify their actions.

"The encouraging thing about Obama's speech is that we turned a corner, but we must keep struggling to end the occupation, and ICAHD's vehicle is rebuilding Palestinian homes that Israel demolishes...Congress has always been Israel's trump card and the democrats have been more pro-Israel than the republicans. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are the problem, not Netanyahu. When you meet with your congressional reps ask them how their uncritical support for Israel-and what is seen throughout the world as a USA-Israeli occupation of Palestine can possibly be in the best interest of America. It is Congress that is keeping Palestinians fragmented by not dealing with Hamas.

"Before 1947, the Palestinians owned 94% of the country. Then the UN gave aways 56% to the Jews and today they have 78% of the land. Hamas cannot accept the legitimacy of Israel stealing their land, just as no colonial people would ever give up the claim to their homeland."


The first house ICAHD rebuilt was in 1998-the Beit Arabyia house-the name for the home of the Arabiya family with seven children which has been rebuilt four times by the efforts of ICAHD and the JCHR/Jurist Center for Human Rights, a Palestinian NGO focused on legal advocacy for Palestinians in the Jerusalem area.


In 2005, I met with Jeff in his office and learned he is from Hibbing, Minnesota and knew Bob Dylan when he was still Zimmerman. Jeff smiled when he said, "It was during the Vietnam years that I decided to move here and when I told my grandmother she replied, 'That is no place for a nice Jewish boy!'

Jeff informed me that, “Israel has no constitution but has a Declaration of Independence which promised that Israel would abide by conditions and UN resolutions. They have not fulfilled the agreement which was the basis of their independence.”

The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel was signed May 14, 1948 the day the British Mandate over Palestine expired. The USA recognized Israel that very night and the USSR three days later. The Declaration affirms that the state of Israel:

“Will be based on freedom, justice, and peace as envisioned by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion...and will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, education and culture: it will safeguard the Holy places of all religions, and it will be faithful to the principals of the Charter of the United Nations.”

I heard Jeff speak for the first time at Holy Land Trust’s Celebrating Nonviolent Resistance Conference, in Bethlehem, in December 2005. Members of Hamas attended but Israel denied entry to Ghandian activists from India and many internationals.

Jeff informed the conference crowd, “We really are only but actors in a play. When we wake up to that, and become an active participant in the human drama and pursue justice, things must change because injustice is unsustainable…One out of three Israeli children lives below the poverty line. It’s probably about 80% for Palestinians. Jews are like everyone else, those who have been abused grow up to be abusers. Things here have been turned on their head: its victim mentality and denial about the occupation. Once Israelis accept the fact that they are occupiers they will have to admit their State Terrorism."

Jeff has also said, “It was at the time when the Oslo peace plan collapsed and the occupation reasserted itself. Many Israeli peace activists began asking Palestinians what the best way to engage with each other was and the answer was blowing in the wind: ‘STOP the home demolitions!’

“Since 1967 the Israeli government has destroyed over 18,000 Palestinian homes. 95% of the cases have nothing to do with security. All these homes are on Palestinian private property. The Israeli government will not grant permits for them to build on their own land, and in reality are quietly transferring the Palestinians administratively from the land. They make conditions so intolerable that the Palestinians give up and leave and this is exactly what they are after. Not only do the Palestinians receive no warning when their homes are to be destroyed they are fined $1,500.00!

“I’ll get a call at 5 AM from a Palestinian telling me the bulldozers have arrived and we activists go out and engage in civil disobedience by standing up to the bulldozers. We also raise funds to rebuild these homes right where they had been before.

"The reasons for the demolitions are: for The Wall, to establish illegal settlements, build roads and because the Israeli government wants to keep Palestinians confined to the islands [areas A and B] in the West Bank and so Palestinian land remain under the control of the Israeli government.”

“When you incorporate occupied territories, highways, settlements and use resources it is all illegal according to the Fourth Geneva Convention which states the status quo must be retained so that negotiations can happen. Unilateral actions are illegal. The occupying power is responsible for those under its control.

“Tony Blair said 70% of all the conflicts in the world can be traced back to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. What gives us hope is that as this conflict worsens maybe Europe will figure out that American policies are against their interests and intervene...This conflict impacts the global community and especially everyone in the USA.

“If we do fix this conflict it would be a tremendous step forward in global reconciliation...This whole issue is based on Human Rights and it is a global issue requiring global intervention.

“It has been said that the Israelis do not love this land, they just want to possess it. There have been three stages to make this occupation permanent. The first was to establish the facts on the ground; the settlements. There are ˝ million Israeli’s and four million Palestinians here. They have been forced into Bantustan; truncated mini states; prison states. It is apartheid and Bush and Hillary are both willing collaborators.

"Israel is not a democracy, it is an ethnocracy: full rights to Jews, but not Palestinians.

"In 1977, Sharon came in with a mandate, money and resources to make the Israeli presence in the West Bank irreversible. The second stage began in April 2004 when America approved the Apartheid/Convergence/Realignment Plan and eight settlement blocs. This is just like South Africa! The Bush Sharon letter exchange guaranteed that the USA considers the settlements non-negotiable. The Convergence Plan and The Wall create the borders and that is what defines Bantustans. Congress ratified the Bush plan and only Senator Byrd of West Virginia voted no and nine House Representatives.

“Israel has set up a matrix of control; a thick web of settlements guaranteed to make the occupation permanent by establishing facts on the ground. Israel denies there is an occupation, so everything is reduced to terrorism. It is our job to insist upon the human rights issue, for occupied people have International Law on their side.”

I once asked Jeff if the settlements were in actuality colonies; meaning foreigners had invaded and set up residence in another’s territory. He agreed and added that, "When Jerusalem was controlled by Jordan, the East side was 6 sq. km. Since 1967, Israel has added 64 km. The West side was 38 sq. km until ‘67 and is now 108 sq. km’s. Israel plans to develop 17 settlements. Israeli policy is to maintain a 72% Jewish and 28% Arab population. Palestinians cannot get building permits to build upon their legally owned land. The Arab land has been re-zoned as green space, and the green space will be re-zoned for the settlements. Every single Palestinian home in Jerusalem has a demolition order. The entire West Bank has been zoned as agricultural land by Israel, and that will also be re-zoned again for more settlements.”


Orwellian doublespeak has also been employed in the USA government and media by referring to the illegal colonies as “neighborhoods”  but under international law all the settlements are considered illegal. Roadways that Palestinians are denied access to link the settlements in a ring around the Old City of Jerusalem and during an ICAHD bus tour, we rode past acres of olive trees that had been chopped off by the Israeli army, on our way to the Beit Arabiya Peace House.

Jeff commented, “I don’t just have a political problem with this Judiaization of the Old City, it is ecologically and environmentally offensive.”

It also is spiritually impoverished for the raping and pillaging of what is claimed holy ground refutes and denies the biblical meaning of dominion. The ancients understood dominion meant to nurture, love and protect but the destruction of Palestinian homes, the stealing and destroying of their legal property, has got to be an abomination unto God as well as a crime against humanity.

The Beit Arabiya Peace House, is at the crossroads of Areas A, B and C and the home has become a symbol of nonviolent persistent resistance and a meeting place for Israelis, Palestinian and International peace activists at the intersection of Areas A, B, and C. The smallest of the three is Area A, which is under Palestinian authority. Areas B and C are under Israeli control. Since 1967 over 18,000 Palestinian families in the occupied territories have been left homeless due to home demolitions and at this moment 22,000 more homes have demolition orders, which includes a third of all the homes in occupied East Jerusalem.

ICAHD has determined the reasons for home demolitions is purely political: to confine the 3 ˝ million residents of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza into small, crowded, impoverished and disconnected enclaves; bantustans.

When I visited the Beit Arabyia home there was a mural painted on the outer wall by the North American Workers Against the USA occupation of Iraq and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The mural depicted Rachel Corrie, the American who was run over by a USA made Caterpillar bulldozer in Gaza when she stood up to defend the home of a pharmacist with five children just a few days before Bush began bombing Baghdad. Also depicted was a pregnant Palestinian woman of ten who also was run over by a Caterpillar in Gaza. The angelic images of the two women floated above a depiction of a USA made Caterpillar bulldozer that had tipped to one side and was flanked by tanks and images of weapons of destruction and many people along a railroad track-a reminder that prior to 1948, Jews and Palestinians had worked together in peaceful solidarity to build a railroad.

The Arabyia home/Peace Center is at the cornerstone of the village of the Anata and the Shufat refugee camps, in the very area where the prophet Jeremiah in the 6th century B.C. critiqued the violent conflicts in the Mid East, which were already old news: “I hear violence and destruction in the city, sickness and wounds are all I see.” [Jeremiah 6:7]


Mohammad Alatar, film producer of “The Iron Wall” addressed my group after we broke bread and ate a typical Palestinian feast prepared by the Arabiya family:


"I am a Muslim Palestinian American and when my son asked me who my hero was I took three days to think about it. I told him my hero is Jesus, because he took a stand and he died for it.

"What really needs to be done is for the churches to be like Jesus; to challenge the Israeli occupation and address the apartheid practices as moral issues.

"Even if every church divested and boycotted Israel it would not harm Israel.

"After the USA and Russia, Israel is the third largest arms exporter in the world.

"It is a moral issue that the churches must address."


Two days prior, Jeff was arrested again for his nonviolent persistent resistance to the occupation and in 2005, he told me that every time he is arrested and sentenced to community service for his ICAHD actions, he tells "the judge I am serving the community but they just don’t get it!

"The Israeli government simply does not want to take responsibility and the USA government ignores the situation....Look, Jesus was all about justice and love. Jesus was no magician and his message has been lost by Christian Zionists who want Armageddon. They have taken Jesus’ teachings and turned them into a travesty by justifying the occupation.

"Do you know why Israel does not want to become America’s 51st state? Because then they would only have two senators!"

Read more: Memoirs of a Nice Irish-American 'Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory

 
   
 
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"HOPE has two children.The first is ANGER at the way things are. The second is COURAGE to DO SOMETHING about it."-St. Augustine

 "He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral. Why? Because anger looks to the good of justice. And if you can live amid injustice without anger, you are immoral as well as unjust." - Aquinas

BEYOND NUCLEAR: Mordechai Vanunu's Freedom of Speech Trial

Published 10/30/10

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Vanunu's Message to

Hillary Clinton re:
The Apartheid Wall



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UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.


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The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© 1968, 2001 Kent M. Keith

" In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway."-Mother Teresa


“You cannot talk like sane men around a peace table while the atomic bomb itself is ticking beneath it. Do not treat the atomic bomb as a weapon of offense; do not treat it as an instrument of the police. Treat the bomb for what it is: the visible insanity of a civilization that has ceased...to obey the laws of life.”- Lewis Mumford, 1946



The age of warrior kings and of warrior presidents has passed. The nuclear age calls for a different kind of leadership....a leadership of intellect, judgment, tolerance and rationality, a leadership committed to human values, to world peace, and to the improvement of the human condition. The attributes upon which we must draw are the human attributes of compassion and common sense, of intellect and creative imagination, and of empathy and understanding between cultures."  - William Fulbright



“Any nation that year after year continues to raise the Defense budget while cutting social programs to the neediest is a nation approaching spiritual death.” - Rev. MLK
Establishment of Israel
"On the day of the termination of the British mandate and on the strength of the United Nations General Assembly declare The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion it will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations." - May 14, 1948. The Declaration of the Establishment of Israel
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posted 3/25/2009

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