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Home arrow Blog arrow March 2008 arrow March 19, 2008

March 19, 2008
WAWA Blog March 19, 2008: Israeli military declares total closure of the occupied Palestinian territories, McCain supports Israel's brutal violence in Gaza and Jeff Halper -and good Jews like him- are battling to redeem Israel.UPDATE 12:30PM: Blake Murphy, an American activist working in the West Bank, was beaten and arrested by Israeli army and police forces 



UPDATE: From an email received from

ISM < >


Blake Murphy, an American activist working in the West Bank, was beaten and arrested by Israeli army and police forces on Friday 14th March 2008. He has had to face a series of evidently false charges from the Israeli authorities due to his work supporting non-violent resistance to the occupation of Palestine. He is to be deported to the United States in the immediate future. While in custody, Blake has had many of his legal rights abused by the Israeli authorities.

Blake was arrested while attending the weekly demonstration in the village of Bi’lin, where the separation wall annexes much of the Palestinians’ land. Blake was singled out for arrest during the demonstration by the Israeli forces.  He was violently assaulted and pepper sprayed before being taken away and subsequently arrested.

Upon arriving at the detention center, after being beaten and sprayed in the eyes with mace, Blake was interrogated while still recovering from the effects of the mace.  The police only offered him water to rinse the mace from his eyes, which only makes the effects of the mace worse.  There have been days when Blake has been given only bread as a meal.  Also, on one day, Blake told the soldiers he needed to use a bathroom.  They forced him to relieve himself in front of them, and one soldier kicked him over while he was doing this.

Injuries inflicted by Israeli solders on Blake Murphy were severe enough that he was taken to the hospital. He appeared in court on the 15th of March, where the judge prolonged his detention until the 18th March. He was told that he would have to reappear in court on the 18th.  Blake was woken up on the 18th at 5:00am and taken from the detention center to the court.  He was held there for 8 hours, three hours past the time he was told he would appear, locked in a room with only 8 chairs and 15 other people.  At the end of this long day, Blake was informed that a mistake had been made and there had never been an appearance scheduled for him on that day.  While in custody, Blake has been denied a translator in court, been brought before a judge without his lawyer being informed, and also been made to appear for a trial that was cancelled without him being informed.

Blake Murphy had been working for the last 8 and a half months in the Palestinian Occupied Territories with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). For over 6 months he was working as the full-time media coordinator for the ISM and was therefore highly involved in supporting Palestinian non-violent resistance towards the occupation. It is for this reason that he was targeted by the Israeli authorities and has undergone such inhumane treatment.

Blake is expected to be deported to the United States by Tuesday, March 25th but could be held longer.  He is available for phone interviews for the duration of his detention.

For more information

Adam (ISM) – 972598503948 or Lindsay (ISM) - 972598166251







Israeli military declares total closure of the occupied Palestinian territories
author Tuesday March 18, 2008 18:06
by Rami Almeghari - IMEMC & Agencies


On Tuesday, the Israeli military establishment declared a total closure of the occupied Palestinian territories, starting from this morning until Sunday.

Israeli media sources reported that in the wake of security assessments, Ehud Barack, the Israeli defense minister, decided that the Israeli military was to seal off the border crossings with Gaza and the West Bank.

The sources cited upcoming celebrations for the Jewish holiday of Purim, as well as Israeli fears of a retaliation attack by the Lebanese Hizbullah party for the assassination of senior Hizbullah leader , Emad Mughaniya, several weeks ago.

Chief of Israeli police, Dudi Cohen, was cited by Israeli media sources as having conducted a large assessment of the situation and having ordered the deployment of his forces in the various Israeli cities and towns.

Closure of the occupied Palestinian territories has been a norm by the Israeli military since the outbreak of the Palestinian-Israeli violence (Intifada) in September2000. Israel often cites security considerations for such a closure.

Since June of last year and in the aftermath of Hamas' takeover of Gaza, Israel has been imposing a crippling closure of the coastal region, citing the goal of halting Palestinian homemade shells from being fired into nearby Israeli areas.



http://www.imemc.org/article/53561




McCain warns Israel's armed foes also threaten world
Wed Mar 19, 4:54 AM ET
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080319/wl_mideast_afp/mideastdiplomacyusmccain
 
Visiting US Republican presidential candidate John McCain on Wednesday warned that the armed groups that attack Israel threatened not only the Jewish state but everything the West holds dear.
 
Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip, and Lebanon's Hezbollah, both threaten the interests of the United States and the West in general, the Arizona senator said in an interview with the Jerusalem Post.
 
"If Hamas/Hezbollah succeed here, they are going to succeed everywhere," said McCain, who was in Jerusalem as part of a fact-finding mission.
 
"They are dedicated to the extinction of everything that the US, Israel and the West believe and stand for," he said. "So America does have an interest in what happens here, far above and beyond our alliance with the State of Israel," the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said.

He also signaled support for Israel's military response to almost daily rocket attacks from Gaza.
"I can tell you that I believe that if rocket attacks came across the border of the United States of America, that the American people would probably demand vigorous action in response," he said.
 
Israel had launched a five-day blitz on the Gaza Strip on February 27 in response to rockets fired at southern Israel from the Hamas-run territory.
 
More than 130 Palestinians and five Israelis have been killed since the flare up of violence that threatened already difficult peace starts between Israel and the Palestinians.
 
In a further signal of solidarity with Israel, the Arizona senator said earlier he supported the Jewish state's claim to Jerusalem as its capital, which the international community rejects.
 
McCain arrived in Jerusalem Tuesday evening on a trip that also took him to Iraq and Jordan.
He was to tour Israel by helicopter with Defense Minister Ehud Barak to acquaint himself with the country's security problems, and hold talks with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.






Book Review: "An Israeli In Palestine Resisting Dispossession, Redeeming Israel"
Raymond Deane, The Electronic Intifada, 17 March 2008
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article9392.shtml


In his Letter from Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King wrote that he had "almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the ... Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice ..."

Jeff Halper's new book is, in part, the story of the evolution of a "white moderate" peace campaigner from Hibbing, Minnesota, to a radical Israeli campaigner for justice for the Palestinians. En route, he maps his development from "ethnic Jew to Jewish national to Israeli," disregarding his grandmother's warning that "Israel is no place for a Jewish boy!"

If to an ingenuous Gentile this might seem like a meagre itinerary, a quick look at the Kahanists' indispensable "S.H.I.T. List" reveals, on the contrary, that Halper is seen by red-blooded ultra-Zionists as a "sick self-hating Kike" whose primary concern, and that of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) which he helped found, "is the demolition of Israel."

Halper also has his less vehement detractors within the disparate community of pro-Palestinian activists, some of whom deem him flawed by excessive ego. In truth I have yet to meet an efficient activist who didn't to some degree share this trait. Given the odds stacked against the defenders of Palestinian rights and the degree of defamation to which they are routinely exposed, a fragile ego would constitute a dangerous Achilles' heel.

Admittedly Halper, who defines himself alarmingly as "a full-time peace-maker," has an occasional weakness for near-rhodomontade such as "the task I have set before me is to hasten a just peace," or "Israel's aggressive marketing of military systems ... has forced me to join up with forces outside Israel in this decisive struggle." Indeed the subtitle of this book, with its reference to "Redeeming Israel," might seem to confirm the prejudices of those who believe that the majority of Israeli activists are more interested in their own beautiful souls than in the devastation wreaked by Zionism upon Palestinian society.

However, for Halper the "redemption" of Israel consists neither in its sublimation nor its demolition, but quite simply in its democratization. For him, Israel is an ethnocracy moulded by an unholy alliance of Old Testament atavism with nineteenth-century central European tribal nationalism. While no discerning reader could finish this book without realizing that Halper deeply loves his adopted country, here is throughout a sense of sheer disbelief -- alongside grief and indignation -- that his compatriots could perpetrate the kind of cruelty against their helpless neighbors that he itemizes in such tireless detail. Nonetheless, he believes that a "redeemed" Israel might yet have room for "a New Cultural Zionism" (the capitalization is his own). For Halper the pivotal experience that first made him "aware of being an 'Israeli in Palestine'" took place on 9 July 1998, when the bulldozers of Israel's so-called Civil Administration (which is run by the Ministry of Defense, a typically Orwellian detail) demolished for the first time the home of his friend Salim Shawamreh. Just as it was repeated on three subsequent occasions after Halper and his associates had helped rebuild the house, this totally gratuitous act recurs like a refrain throughout the book. "As the bulldozer pushed through the walls of Salim's home, it pushed me through all the ideological rationalizations, the pretexts, the lies and the bullshit that my country had erected to prevent us from seeing the truth: that oppression must accompany an attempt to deny the existence and claims of another people in order to establish an ethnically pure state for yourself." This experience made him a post-Zionist, which he neatly defines as "a Zionist who has witnessed a house demolition." "Every demolition," he opines in another eloquent phrase, "is a microcosm of the Occupation."

As Halper tells it, there was nothing strategic about the decision to found ICAHD. "We backed into it without fully appreciating how powerful a vehicle of resistance the issue of house demolition would turn out to be. Only gradually did we discover that ... house demolitions constituted the very essence of the conflict: Zionism's program of dispossessing the Palestinians altogether." If the book starts in autobiographical mode, it soon changes gear as Halper recounts the history of Palestinian nishul (Hebrew for dispossession) and parses the oppressive system devised to bring it about. At this point in so many books on "the conflict" I grit my teeth and prepare to fast-read for the umpteenth time the litany of atrocities that is the history of Israel; with Halper's exposition, this is inadvisable and indeed impossible, so closely interwoven is his narration of the facts with his own perceptive comments and sagacious digressions. By the time I had read the chapters "The Sources of Oppression" (sub-headings: "The Impossible Dream: Constructing a Jewish Ethnocracy in Palestine," "Dispossession: Ethnocracy's Handmaiden," "The Narrative of 'Exodus'"), and "The Structure of Oppression" (sub-headings: "Expanding Dispossession: The Occupation and the Matrix of Control," "Concluding Dispossession: Oslo and Unilateral Separation"), I truly felt that I had acquired a new level of insight thanks to the clarity of Halper's "framing" and "re-framing" (key Halperian concepts) of the issues.

Much of the latter part of the book is taken up with a detailed exposition of Halper's pet project both for liberating Palestinians and redeeming Israelis: a Middle-East Confederation, or indeed "a full-blown Middle-East Union" modeled in many respects on the EU. This, Halper believes, would constitute a "win-win" solution transcending the one-state or two-state paradigms and guaranteeing self-determination for both Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs. "The key element of this approach is the ability of all members of the confederation to live and work anywhere within (its) boundaries ... It also addresses the core of the refugee issue, which is individual choice. Palestinians ... could choose to return 'home' to what is today Israel, but they would do so as Palestinian citizens or citizens of another member state ... just as Israelis living in Palestine (... former 'settlers') would retain Israeli citizenship."

For all its neat and attractive logicality, there are huge problems with this vision. Is it possible for two peoples to have equal self-determination within one territory? Is "the core of the refugee issue" truly reducible to "individual choice?" Don't the quotation marks around "home" not indicate that in fact no genuine right of return is here being affirmed? And what about Palestinians who are not "citizens of another member state" but of a non-member state? While the "former settlers" in Palestine would retain their Israeli citizenship, whose laws would they obey?

In a sense, Halper is in a no-win situation here. Two-staters will condemn him because he doesn't advocate two states, and one-staters will excoriate him for not advocating a single state. He himself admits that his proposal is "a pipe dream," to be considered at some future date when the "one-state/two-state paradigm ... recedes." Meanwhile, however, it is at least "in the pot" and deserves to be widely discussed.

And meanwhile, Halper and the ICAHD continue to rebuild demolished Palestinian houses, take legal actions on behalf of Palestinians whose houses have been demolished or are threatened with demolition, and engage in "an international strategy of advocacy." "If we lose," he writes, and the pronoun includes all of us -- Palestinian and otherwise -- who struggle for the Palestinian cause, "the progressive forces of the world ... will be set back to square one ... If the Occupation prevails ... not only will the Palestinians have lost but every person throughout the world aspiring to a better future will lose as well." Congratulations to Pluto Press for adding yet another excellent book to their indispensable Israel/Palestine list.

Raymond Deane is a composer, and a founding-member of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

   
 
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