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WAWA/WeAreWideAwake is my Public Service to America as a muckracker who has journeyed seven times to Israel Palestine since June 2005. WAWA is dedicated to confronting media and governments that shield the whole truth.

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We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that, among these, are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; and, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it. -July 4, 1776. The Declaration of Independence


Home arrow Blog arrow February 2008 arrow February 13, 2008

February 13, 2008
WAWA Blog February 13, 2008: MEMO To: Thomas L. Friedman, columnist New York Times. From: Nelson Mandela, former President South Africa UPDATED 9:15 AM EST- Oh Jerusalem!

Israel plans to build in East Jerusalem

By Richard Boudreaux, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
February 13, 2008

JERUSALEM -- Israel on Tuesday unveiled plans to build 1,120 apartments for Jews in East Jerusalem, a move Palestinians called a setback for U.S.-backed peace negotiations.

The announcement by Housing Minister Zeev Boim appeared to be aimed at placating the Shas religious party, which had vowed to quit the coalition government if it conceded anything to the Palestinians on Jerusalem.

Shas had criticized a government freeze on approval of new Jewish housing projects in territory claimed by the Palestinians. Jerusalem's city manager said Monday that the freeze was blocking needed construction in East Jerusalem, but Boim insisted that it applied only in the West Bank beyond the city limits.

"We are building all over Jerusalem within its municipal borders," he told Israel Radio. "What people call delays are in fact final stages of coordination with City Hall."

Boim said construction bids were being prepared for Jewish homes in two eastern neighborhoods, 750 in Pisgat Zeev and 370 in Har Homa.

Israel captured the eastern part of the city, along with the rest of the West Bank, in the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed East Jerusalem and built neighborhoods that are now home to 180,000 Israelis. There are 208,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem.

Palestinian Authority leaders say adding homes to Jewish neighborhoods would prejudice any talks on dividing the city under a peace accord. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert imposed the housing freeze in December after the Palestinians criticized Israel's plans to build apartments in a separate project in Har Homa and another in the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim. The dispute stalled the peace talks, which were just getting started, for weeks.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Tuesday's announcement undermined hopes for a peace agreement.

"Once again we ask the Israeli government to give peace a chance by stopping all settlement activity," he said.

The Bush administration joined the Palestinians in criticizing the earlier housing plans. On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said she was not familiar with the new plans, "but, obviously, there's no doubt that an announcement of that sort would make the Palestinians concerned."

The peace effort has been troubled since President Bush, Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas launched it at a Nov. 27 conference in Annapolis, Md. Intensified rocket attacks on Israel from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, a Palestinian suicide bombing in southern Israel last week and Israeli threats of a large-scale invasion of Gaza have soured the negotiating climate, even though Hamas is shunning the talks.

Visiting here last month, Bush said his goal was a peace treaty by the end of his term next January. But Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon said Monday that the best Israel could hope for by then was a "declaration of principles" for peace that might take two to three years to flesh out.

Ramon, who met with Bush during his visit, said the president's expectations were in line with Israel's.

Despite the setbacks, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and former Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Ahmed Korei, the lead negotiators, held two sessions this week, Livni's spokesman said.

Little about their discussions has been revealed, but Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said this week that the talks were not moving quickly enough.

The status of Jerusalem is the most sensitive issue of the talks, which also must deal with the borders of a Palestinian state and the fate of Palestinian refugees. Wary of losing the Shas party and his majority in parliament, Olmert said Tuesday that discussion of Jerusalem would be put off until later in the year.

Meanwhile, the Israeli army said Tuesday that its troops raided 14 money-changing offices in the West Bank, confiscated nearly $850,000 and arrested five Palestinians on suspicion that funds were transferred from abroad for militants.

Jerusalem off the radar
Ben White, The Electronic Intifada, 13 February 2008

Recently, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was reported to have suggested that the question of Jerusalem would be "left to last" in negotiations with the Palestinians. This was apparently on account of the issue being "too sensitive and complex," as well as fears that talks on Jerusalem would cause the departure of religious right-wingers from Olmert's ruling coalition.

Domestic political considerations will certainly have played a part in the prime minister's thinking, but there is another possible motivation for leaving this "final status issue" for further down the road. In recent weeks, and indeed, going back to the December announcement of the expansion of West Bank settlement Har Homa, the Israeli government's approach to Jerusalem has been at best contradictory, and at worst, deeply cynical.

During January there was a rash of reports -- barely covered in the Western media -- about Jewish construction in occupied East Jerusalem. On 23 January, it was reported Agence France-Presse that 30 percent (almost 2,500 housing units) of newly-authorized construction in Jerusalem municipality was slated for areas in occupied or illegally annexed East Jerusalem. Just last week, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported that plans were advanced for 200 Jewish homes in a "strategic location" in East Jerusalem requiring "Palestinian buildings" to "be demolished to make room."

Another example is the new housing units in Maaleh Hazeitim, a project initially funded by the patron of ultra-nationalist Ateret Cohanim group, Irwin Moskowitz, and backed by Jerusalem mayor at the time, Ehud Olmert. Those behind the increasing construction, Haaretz reports, intend Maaleh Hazeitim to be an obstacle to creating Palestinian territorial continuity "between the West Bank to the east, and the Temple Mount."

There is more, such as the private developments of Nof Zion and the City of David housing project, the former specifically targeted at Jewish-Americans. While not official government initiatives, Israeli architect Efrat Cohen-Bar, from the planning rights non-governmental organization Bimkom, pointed out that "all small settlements of Jews in the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods make it impossible to divide."

Olmert's office, meanwhile, continues to send confusing messages about official policy towards the settlements. One week, there is a much-heralded freeze on settlement expansion in the West Bank -- but excluding East Jerusalem. The next week, it is a total ban, including construction in existing settlements. Then to make all of that seem academic, brand new buildings spring up in occupied East Jerusalem.

It is actually a misnomer to describe Jerusalem as being any more or less complicated than the other elements of a future agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. International law already caters to the broad territorial questions about dividing the city, and there are numerous, highly practical, solutions available for the delicate matter of sovereignty over the Old City's holy places.

In reality, what makes it so difficult to find a solution is the cross-party consensus in the Israeli political establishment that Jerusalem is the "eternal, undivided" capital of the Jewish state. From the Knesset's 1980 declaration to then Prime Minister Ehud Barak's party election manifesto in 2000 and public declarations by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, there is complete unity around this compromise-defying policy.

Such a position can never be accepted by the Palestinians, who, for their part, are simply demanding that international law be heeded, that Israel's post-1967 annexation and occupation should not be recognized, and that East Jerusalem becomes the sovereign capital of their independent state. Yet as any map of Jerusalem shows, successive Israeli governments of the last forty years have deliberately used settlement construction in order to encircle the unilaterally-expanded municipality and render equitable partition impossible.

Reports that Olmert is feeling the heat from the ultra-Orthodox members of his coalition may be read by some as yet another example of the deleterious effects of religious extremism. In fact, persisting in the fiction not only that Jerusalem is "eternal and undivided," but that peace can be built on such a position, is part of the Israeli mainstream. Thus it might well be the case that leaving Jerusalem "to last" is actually an intentional move, freeing up Israel to create yet more "facts on the ground" in the meantime.

Ben White is a freelance journalist specializing in Palestine/Israel. His website is at

MEMO to Thomas Friedman from Nelson Mandela:

Dear Thomas,

I know that you and I long for peace in the Middle East, but before you continue to talk about necessary conditions from an Israeli perspective, you need to know what's on my mind. Where to begin?

How about 1964.

Let me quote my own words during my trial. They are true today as they were then: "I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

Today the world, black and white, recognize that Apartheid has no future. In South Africa it has been ended by our own decisive mass action in order to build peace! and security. That mass campaign of defiance and other actions could only culminate in the establishment of Democracy. Perhaps it is strange for you to observe the situation in Palestine or more specifically, the structure of political and cultural relationships between Palestinians and Israelis, as an Apartheid system. This is because you incorrectly think that the problem of Palestine began in 1967. This was demonstrated in your recent column "Bush's First Memo" in the New York Times on March 27, 2001.

You seem to be surprised to hear that there are still problems of 1948 to be solved, the most important component of which is the right to return of Palestinian refugees. The Palestinian- Israeli conflict is not just an issue of military occupation and Israel is not a country that was established "normally" and happened to occupy another country in 1967. Palestinians are not struggling for a "state" but for freedom, liberation and equality, just like we were struggling for freedom in South Africa.

In the last few years, and especially during the reign of the Labour Party, Israel showed that it was not even willing to return what it occupied in 1967; that Settlements remain, Jerusalem would be under exclusive Israeli sovereignty, and Palestinians would not have an independent state, but would be under Israeli economic domination with Israeli control of borders, land, air, water and sea.

Israel was not thinking of a "state" but of "separation" . The value of separation is measured in terms of the ability of Israel to keep the Jewish state Jewish, and not to have a Palestinian minority that could have the opportunity to become a majority at some time in the future. If this takes place, it would force Israel to either become a secular democratic or bi-national state, or to turn into a state of Apartheid not only de facto, but also de jure.

Thomas, if you follow the polls in Israel for the last 30 or 40 years, you clearly find a vulgar racism that includes a third of the population who openly declare themselves to be racist. This racism is of the nature of "I hate Arabs" and "I wish Arabs would be dead".

If you also follow the judicial system in Israel you will see there is discrimination against Palestinians, and if you further consider the 1967 Occupied Territories you will find there are already two judicial systems in operation that represent two different approaches to human life: one for Palestinian life and the other for Jewish life.

Additionally there are two different approaches to property and to land. Palestinian property is not recognized as private property because it can be confiscated. As to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, there is an additional factor. The so-called "Palestinian autonomous areas" are Bantustans. These are restricted entities within the power structure of the Israeli Apartheid system.

The Palestinian state cannot be the by-product of the Jewish state, just in order to keep the Jewish purity of Israel. Israel's racial discrimination is daily life of most Palestinians. Since Israel is a Jewish state, Israeli Jews are able to accrue special rights which non-Jews cannot do. Palestinian Arabs have no place in a "Jewish" state.

Apartheid is a crime against humanity. Israel has deprived millions of Palestinians of their liberty and property. It has perpetuated a system of gross racial discrimination and inequality. It has
systematically incarcerated and tortured thousands of Palestinians, contrary to the rules of international law.

It has, in particular, waged a war against a civilian population, in particular children.

The responses made by South Africa to human rights abuses emanating from the removal policies and Apartheid policies respectively, shed light on what Israeli society must necessarily go through before one can speak of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East and an end to its Apartheid policies. Thomas, I'm not abandoning ! Mideast diplomacy. But I'm not going to indulge you the way your supporters do.

If you want peace and democracy, I will support you.

If you want formal Apartheid, we will not support you.

If you want to support racial discrimination and ethnic cleansing, we will oppose you.

When you figure out what you're about, give me a call.

"Dialogue implies questioning by its very nature. Without accepting the priority of the question over the answer, we neither can conduct a genuine dialogue, nor develop a new understanding, nor gain new knowledge."

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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

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