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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.

We who Are Wide Awake are compelled by the "fierce urgency of Now" [Rev MLK, Jr.] to raise awareness and promote the human dialogue about many of the crucial issues of our day: the state of our Union and in protection of democracy, what life is like under military occupation in Palestine, the Christian EXODUS from the Holy Land, and spirituality-from a Theologically Liberated Christian Anarchist POV.

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May 9, 2008
 WAWA Blog May 9, 2008: Pardon my 'French' but I am so F#%&*N pissed that "if the first casualty of war is truth, the second will surely be compassion."UPDATE:With thanks to the many who sent me this link: 


I do take issue with the Times calling Palestinians "Arabs" but greatly appreciate their running this story and ending with a quote from a Palestinian: "our identity is...Palestinian...I will take a shovel and work the land around my olive trees."

For nearly three years, I have been driven to report where the silence in the USA media is, fueled by the desire to WAKE UP American Christians with a radical HOPE that they will do the right thing and demand JUSTICE for Palestinians; which is the only way to security for Israel.

I hated to fly before THAT DAY we call 9/11, but I have been driven by a power greater that I to travel through occupied Palestine five times since June 2005; and I remain outraged and awaken at night remembering the children in the refugee camps and at the checkpoints who only know Israelis through the barrel of a gun.

NO! I AM F#@#&n'' PISSED
about that, all the BILLIONS spent to make war and also because the limp USA MSM has failed at their commission to seek and report THE TRUTH in occupied territories.

I am also a
ggrieved over the apathetic, self-righteous American Christians who do not want to see, hear or know the TRUTH about what's really going down in the Holy Land; which is at the very root of all that transpires in the Middle East, for all roads do indeed lead to Jerusalem.

You cannot talk about 5 years in Iraq with any credibility without connecting the dots to 40 frickin' years of occupation in Palestine, so I will repeat myself-and conclude with an email from Israel:

Recently Senator John McCain erroneously claimed Iran is training and supplying al-Qaeda in Iraq. McCain corrected himself after Senator Joseph Lieberman [of whom it has been whispered holds dual USA and Israeli citizenship] whispered in his ear, "You said that the Iranians were training al-Qaeda. I think you meant they’re training in extremist terrorism."

McCain prefaced and ended with an apology "the Iranians are training extremists, not al-Qaeda, not al-Qaeda. I’m sorry."

Robert Dreyfuss, investigative reporter whose latest article in The Nation is entitled, “Hothead McCain” explains, “If you thought George Bush was bad when it comes to the use of military force, wait ’til you see John McCain.”

McCain thinks that the Vietnam War could have been won if we had just stayed another five, ten or fifteen years, and he is gleefully prepared to do the same in Iraq, despite the fact that Iraqi journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad's blows the doors off the US military surge by traveling into the belly of Baghdad: an open air prison which divides Sunni and Shia populations behind 12ft high walls.

Those concrete walls in Baghdad are dwarfed by the 30ft high concrete ones in the 'Holy' Land; which is in pieces, Bantustans. Both builders of those walls claim to be democracies and that the walls are for Security. Both builders of those walls exhibit the schizophrenic discipline of thinking two contradictory truths at the same time. Coined by Orwell as doublethink, the Ministry of Peace wages war, the Ministry of Truth fabricates lies and the Ministry of Love tortures and kills any it deems threatening. Most threatening for Big Brother are those with independent thought.

In 2007, Naomi Klein, in her book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, argued that at the height of the 2003-07 economic boom, the military industrial complex was driving Israel's tremendous economic growth, and Israel had the largest GDP growth of any Western country.

Klein theorized that the source of Israel's tremendous economic growth in the past five years cannot be attributed simply to its encouragement of high tech entrepreneurship and basic science. Its success must be understood, rather, as a product of its ability to use the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank as a laboratory for defense industry innovation -- and to showcase their wares.

"Young Israeli computer scientists and engineers gain their training in the military, and then go on to start the kind of technology companies that have proliferated wildly in Israel and whose products are much sought after abroad. The entire Israeli hi-tech sector and not just military technology per se, is thus an outgrowth of Israel's hyper militarization. The Israeli economy's tech sector grew by 20% in 2006 alone, and Israel is now the foreign country with the second most US stock exchange-listed companies. Klein's point that Israel's military-derived technologies are an economic growth-driver because they can be tested in situ is correct, but it is insufficient for describing the magnitude of the military's tremendous penetration of the country's economy. Palestinians under occupation can indeed be seen as human "guinea pigs" and not just merely military targets, as Klein claims, but the society's militarization is far more profound than even she suggests." [1]

After the dot-com bubble burst in 2000, Israel's economy was devastated, but then came 9/11, and "suddenly new profit vistas opened up for any company that claimed it could spot terrorists in crowds, seal borders from attack and extract confessions from closed-mouthed prisoners…Many of the country's most successful entrepreneurs are using Israel's status as a fortressed state, surrounded by furious enemies, as a kind of twenty-four-hour-a-day showroom--a living example of how to enjoy relative safety amid constant war…Israel now sends $1.2 billion in "defense" products to the United States—up dramatically from $270 million in 1999…That makes Israel the fourth-largest arms dealer in the world…Much of this growth has been in the so-called "homeland security" sector. Before 9/11 homeland security barely existed as an industry. By the end of this year, Israeli exports in the sector will reach $1.2 billion--an increase of 20 percent. The key products and services are …precisely the tools and technologies Israel has used to lock in the occupied territories. Israel has learned to turn endless war into a brand asset, pitching its uprooting, occupation and containment of the Palestinian people as a half-century head start in the "global war on terror… Israel's policy of erecting walls and checkpoints to seal off the occupied territories are also "laboratories where the terrifying tools of our security states are being field-tested Palestinians--whether living in the West Bank or what the Israeli politicians are already calling "Hamasistan"--are no longer just targets. They are guinea pigs…" [2]

Poster-boy for Israel's Industrial Security/Surveillance Complex is the Christian convert from Judaism, Mordechai Vanunu. Every email Vanunu has ever written, snail mail received, phone call conversation and walk he has ever taken through east Jerusalem, has potentially been monitored 24/7, since his release from an Israeli prison in 2004.  

During my first trip to east Jerusalem in June 2005, Vanunu told me that during the first two years of his 18 years in jail [most all in solitary confinement] a light shone above his head 24/7 in a tomb sized cell. When ever he closed his eyes a guard would come in and shine a brighter light into his face and say, "Just checking if you had committed suicide yet."

A few weeks ago, and thirty odd years from my first time, I reread Orwell's 1984, that was published in 1949. I was struck at how much Vanunu reminded me of Winston Smith, Orwell's man with an independent thought that Big Brother; The Party incarnate found so threatening they tortured him beyond his endurance in order to break him, brainwash him and strip him of his humanity.

In 1987, in Ashkelon Prison, Vanunu wrote, I had "no choice. I'm a little man, a citizen, one of the people, but I'll do what I have to. I've heard the voice of my conscience and there's nowhere to hide…yes, it's there all right. I'm all right. I do see the monster. I'm part of the system. I signed this form. Only now I am reading the rest of it. This bolt is part of a bomb. This bolt is me…Who else knows? Who has seen? Who has heard?" [3]

"A working prophet, is able to see deeper than most of us into the human soul. Orwell in 1948 understood that despite the Axis defeat, the will to fascism had not gone away…the irresistible human addiction to power were already long in place…the means of surveillance in Winston Smith's era…[are] primitive next to the wonders of computer technology…most notably the Internet." [4]

"Universal peace and justice are the goals of man, and the prophets have faith that in spite of all errors and sins…[and] although under the illusion of fighting for peace and democracy…all the fighting nations lost moral considerations…the unlimited destruction of civilian populations…atomic bombs…can human nature be changed so that man will forget his longing for freedom, dignity, integrity, love-can man forget that he is human?" [5]

 The "Fabric of Life Road" in occupied Palestine is in reality an apartheid road; separate and unequal. Palestinians must travel through sewage and tunnels, but Israelis ride on only well maintained contiguous highways. At the checkpoint from Jerusalem to the little town of Bethlehem in occupied territory, the Ministry of Tourism draped a thirty foot high doublespeak sign that proclaims: "Peace be with you" a loose translation of "War is Peace."
 In Orwell's epic, Winston Smith played the role of the archetype of all threats to Big Brother; an individual with an open and free mind, independent thought, memory of history, a voice of dissent and willing to take bold action. Orwell's Big Brother tortured all threats in order to get inside their head and then to brainwash them into accepting doublethink as truth.

The atomic bomb which was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a baby step compared to the 21st century slaughter that can be achieved by thermonuclear weapons with capacities to wipe out 100% of a country within minutes. The Industrial Military Complex cranks out new weapons about every five years and soon the minds driven mad with doublethink-"war is peace"- will create 100 or 1,000 megaton bombs.

"Orwell demonstrates the illusion of the assumption that democracy can continue to exist in a world preparing for nuclear war…leaders…have only one aim, and that is power…and power means to inflict unlimited pain and suffering to another human being……how can a minority of one be right?...we spend a considerable part of our income and energy in building thermonuclear weapons, and close our minds to the fact that they might go off and destroy one third or one half of our population and that of the enemy…another example of doublethink-from a Christian standpoint" is the evil of killing any other. [Ibid]

Vanunu threatens Israel in 2008, far more than he did in 2004.

Vanunu has not only continued to speak out for a nuclear free Middle East, he has also become a spokesperson regarding the Christian Exodus from east Jerusalem, where he has lived these last four years. [7]

Over the last four years of house arrest, Vanunu has met thousands of tourists and pilgrims. Everyone of them understands that the only way Vanunu can hurt Israel is with bad PR.

If Israel had practiced justice and mercy, they would have let Vanunu go in 2004, and chances are, that by now Vanunu would have faded into a footnote in history, instead of keep making it.

In Israel's 60th anniversary year, Vanunu exposes how the Jewish state is a democracy in name only, for it continues to forbid him-an Israeli Christian the right to speak to a sister or brother in Christ if they happen to be from a foreign country.

Today's Big Brother: The Industrial Military Media Security/Surveillance Complex, has not yet found the way to stop the flow of independent thought streaming through the world wide web.

Vanunu was scheduled to return to court on Easter Sunday, fighting a six month jail sentence, handed down in July 2007 that was rendered because Vanunu spoke to professional foreign media in 2004. He also was being punished for attempting to travel by cab the five miles into the little town of Bethlehem; occupied territory, on Christmas Eve 2004, but he ended up in a jail cell that night too.

From emails Vanunu wrote between March 24-27, 2008:

"Court hearing postponed to May 13, 2008-the appeal against 6 month prison sentence for speaking to foreign media. I found out about the change a few days before Easter, but not until Easter Day, did I learn about the day for the next hearing. My lawyer and prosecutor want to move it to different day.

 "……I think the hearing was postponed because, from the beginning of the trial until now, they really don't know what they want. All was a game to try to put me under new pressure to see if they can gain something by holding me here…

"All this means is that Israel just continues what they have done since my release in 2004, delaying and holding me here…instead of sending me for real freedom…they want me very poor and angry, but I am surviving…One thing is very clear: my case is over. They should let me go free…

 "…My lawyer is very busy with the trial of the previous president…Kasav. He was accused of rape and sexual harassment by many women in his office, while as a minister office many years ago, and again in his palace as president. But the turmoil here is that the prosecutor made a deal with him; no trial no prison sentence, just a symbolic punishment. So today he will go to court with my lawyer to get his deal and be totally free…

 "…There is a lot of suffering here…Israel wants to hide so much because it is not good for its image as a democracy and a friend of America…

"1984, yes I read it many times and many years ago.1984 is here in 2008."

[Vanunu returns to court May 13, 2008-please check his website for report:]

1. Lincoln Shlensky, Jewish Peace News editor, email March 28, 2008, to subscribe:
4. Thomas Pynchon, Foreword, Centennial Edition 1984
5. Erich Fromm, Afterword, Centennial Edition 1984
6. Ibid
7. "30 Minutes with Vanunu" "13 minutes with Vanunu" freely streaming @

"We have seen that if the first casualty of war is truth, the second will surely be compassion."

The following is from an email received from Israel May 8, 2008:

Dear All,

I apologize for sending so much.  Please read the several pieces at your leisure. The 6 subjects selected treat Israel at 60, the Nakba, and Israeli Palestinians.  No blood flows in any of the articles, no killings, no wounds.  That does not mean such events did not occur today in the OPT or Gaza.  It only means that the items below are also worth reading.  The occupation is not going to end tomorrow, unfortunately.  There will be plenty of occasion for the usual news.


Benny Ziffer in the initial piece distinguishes between the liberal humanistic education he grew up with at home and the brain-washing he imbibed at school and in society.  His call to the youth—“Be weaklings, be fairies, be anything but don’t be heroes of the type that Israel wants you to be”.—is with respect to “deeply-rooted lies to the effect that ‘there is no choice’ and we have to continue to sacrifice more children to the Moloch of the State.”  Wars, he says, are “not  a necessary thing”—a lesson that New Profile tries to get across, too.  It’s not easy.  The brain washing that Israeli youth experience practically from birth is thorough.  But breakthroughs are also apparent, and hopefully these will increase.


What is notable in Ziffer’s comments, as also in the item that follows, Bradly Burston’s remarks, is not only that they say things that need airing, but the fact that they say them in the commercial press, and not as radicals but as Israelis, who though critical nevertheless are part and parcel of this country’s landscape.  Burston is correct. Israel indeed devours its young.  We can only hope that awareness of this in Israeli youth will increase, that they will soon begin to realize that war is not a natural phenomenon, that life is precious and dearer than land, that being a soldier is not ‘serving one’s country’ (i.e., serving the people), but only serving Israel’s governments’ expansionist and ethnic-cleansing policies.  Hopefully the young will ask, ‘where else in the world would Jews face 10 wars and battles in less than 60 years?’  Perhaps then they instead of celebrating 60 years, they would begin to realize that something is sick in Israel’s policies.


The third item needs no comment. It speaks for itself.  The fourth one appeared in the New York Times.  As a whole, there is much positive in it.  However, among problematic statements are the three that I have cited above.


The first—that Israeli Palestinians are “Better off and better integrated than ever in their history, freer than a vast majority of other Arabs” does not apply to many.  It certainly does not apply to Bedouins who live in Unrecognized villages.  Besides, “better off and better integrated” by whose standards?  Palestinians are not allowed to work in most government jobs, cannot live where they wish, often are not even allowed to build on their own property, are shot at by the police when demonstrating (Oct. 2000), by the same police who never shoot at other sectors of Israelis, no matter how violent when demonstrating (nor should the police use live amo on demonstrators).  No wonder then that “Israel’s million Arab citizens are still far less well off than Israeli Jews and feel increasingly unwanted.”


The second “the ‘nakba,’ or catastrophe, meaning Israel’s birth.” is an ignorant explanation!  The ‘nakba,’ indeed catastrophe, refers to what happened to the Palestinians as a result of Israel’s birth—dispossession, brutal expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians, theft of their lands, destruction of their villages, and Israel’s refusal to allow the refugees to return.  To say that the catastrophe refers to Israel’s birth is to spread the same falsehood as to say that Palestinians object to the monstrous wall.  What they object to is its route, which cuts deep into the West Bank and steals much Palestinian land!


The third statement is not a NY Times error, but an Israeli official’s error.  Dinur patronizingly states “We are working on building a new Arab city in the north.” His solution does not touch on the numerous problems that Israeli Palestinians face.  Has anyone asked them if they want a new city in the north?  Why are they not allowed to return to lands that they owned but were stolen from them in the 1948-49 war or after?  Why, in short, are they not allowed to live where they wish in Israel, just as Israeli Jews are?  Why are their homes so frequently demolished, while Jewish homes seldom are (with the exception of Yemenites, whose homes recently were demolished to allow private commercial building, but that’s only to say that official racism against Jews from Arab countries also exists).  This hits me personally.  When I was growing up in the US, Jews had much more freedom regarding where they lived than do Israeli Arabs at present.  Yet there were neighborhoods and clubs closed to Jews, and there also existed a quota system for entrance to universities or to certain departments.  Today Jews do not face these problems.  But I remember them well, and do not want to do unto others what I would not have done unto me.  Besides, what kind of a democracy is it that on grounds of ethnicity or religion denies its citizens the right to live where they want, that has lands reserved for Jews only?


The fifth item reports a rise in Israeli racism against Israeli Palestinians.  This rise is borne out by recent polls.


The final item is an instance of official racism, regardless of what the Israeli government calls it: denying families to live together when one of the spouses is an Israeli Palestinian, the other a Palestinian one.  Imagine that a Jewish spouse from the United States and a Jewish spouse from Israel would not be allowed to live together for any reason!
New Profile List Serve

1.  Thanks to Eldad for calling attention to this, to Mark Marshall for translating, and to Sol Salbe and Eldad for their input .

  Haaretz: 7 May 2008, Translated by Mark Marshall

On Sunday, one of my students (I am a lecturer in a course from 4:00 to 6:00 at Tel Aviv University) approached me after the class and told me that she was the producer of an alternative Memorial evening, which also takes into account cruelty to Palestinians, that would take place on the eve of Memorial Day at the Tmuna theatre. And they would be very honoured if I came. I did.


      It was filled to capacity with Tel Aviv leftists. There was a handful of Palestinians, activists from the Combatants for Peace organization. There was just a handful of them because the Occupied Territories are under closure and the others were not permitted to come. One of the female Palestinian activists from Combatants for Peace was filmed beside her house in Tul Karem and the film was shown in the Tmuna theatre. The evening had all the aromas of an evening of latte-sipping Sheinkin Street “beautiful souls” [i.e., a moniker Bibi Netanyahu gave to people who want peace/solution/end of strife. D]  Beside me sat a group of scary and aggressive masculine women of the type spoofed on the show “Eretz Nehderet” [Beautiful Land]. But at the same moment I felt that I should not be finicky, as everyone in this camp of people must be in agreement at least to do this one simple thing, that is to share with our Palestinian neighbours the right to feel the pain of bereavement and loss.


      That is no small matter, because we have been taught from a tender age that by Arabs life is not valued as much as it is by Jews. That lie was forcefully drilled into our heads in order to convince us, the Jews, that to kill Arabs is maybe not nice but on the other hand it is also not all that dreadful either. Because, after all, there are a whole lot of Arabs all of whom look alike, so what’s the difference if one or two or ten or a hundred of them get killed. In order to be cured of this lie we need a lot more than one evening a year. We need to travel to the Occupied Territories and meet Palestinian bereaved parents, we need to knock down the walls that we have built in our minds.


      Before I went to that event I bought three bouquets of flowers for the regular Memorial Day ceremony that we participate in every year in the military cemetery in Kfar Warburg. My uncle Binyamin, a victim in the War of Independence, is buried there, and beside him, in the civilian section, are buried my grandfather and grandmother Vitaly and Becky. One thing I am certain of is that if my uncle were alive he would surely participate in the alternative memorial ceremony, because he was what is called a “leftist”--even a communist. And after he died, I never ever heard at home a word of hatred for Arabs spoken by my grandparents or my parents. I received a humanitarian education at home, but school and the street and the institutions of the State ruined it
with outrageous lies that I have been trying to slough off ever since.


      I am appalled at the fact that the main Memorial Day ceremony was held last night at the Western Wall plaza. That in itself is the essence of falsehood. The Old City of Jerusalem is basically an Arab city, and to use it as an empty setting for the stories of Jewish bereavement is an act of spiritual dispossession. Besides, there is something disgusting about mixing the losses on Israel’s wars with the Shekhinah or whatever they call it and to compel God, as it were, to participate in the ceremony by setting it up right in His face, right in front of the Western Wall. How can we continue to live in such blindness, my friends? No state in the world recognizes our right to have Jerusalem as our capital, and they certainly do not recognize the Old City as a legitimate place to be converted into a Cinematic set, with the Dome of the Rock etc., for a movie starring Shimon Peres.


      How is it possible to hold such an emotional ceremony in a place that symbolizes the most boorish trampling underfoot of the feelings of others. Indeed in the place in which the ceremony was held, in front of the Western Wall, there once was the Mughrabi Quarter, which was knocked

down and erased, in order to create that ugly expanse of paving-stones. And after all, what could be more anti-Jewish than that whole Wall Plaza, that looks like an unhealed wound in the middle of the Old City of Jerusalem.


      In my ideal world I would be happy if a great leadership would emerge that would restore Tel Aviv to its status as the true capital city of the State of Israel. It would be the first step towards opening our eyes after sixty years of blind disregard of the fact that no state in the world recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. If Tel Aviv were the capital of Israel, that alone would change the character of the Memorial Day ceremonies. They would shed their aggressive nature and go back to being humane events.


      But maybe I’m dreaming in Technicolor. My ideas are the inheritance of a marginal minority within the nation. Most of this nation is a bunch of ignorant fanatics, led by the nose by cynical leaders who use the Memorial Day ceremonies to reinforce their deeply-rooted lies to the effect that “there is no choice” and we have to continue to sacrifice more children to the Moloch of the State.


It does not look to me like the day will come when anybody in this nation will sober up on a sufficiently massive scale to collectively say: “Enough!”


      It is much easier to block all the senses and to barricade oneself within fake ideas, such as: it is our fate to fight a war for our existence, and that those who were killed died of necessity. It is not true. Those who were killed did not die of necessity because wars are not a necessary thing, and to educate this nation that in principle, death is a necessary thing so that we might live, is inhumane in itself.


It converts human life into a relative and not an absolute value. It makes Israel a sick country, the residents of which have been taught from their earliest childhoods that they are guilty due to the very fact that they are alive. And that is what Memorial Day nurtures on a national scale: that every Israeli should feel guilty. Nothing is easier than to break peoples’ spirit by constantly telling them that they are guilty.


      What I felt at the alternative Memorial Day ceremony of the Combatants for Peace at the Tmuna theatre last night is that it was an attempt to break away from those games of imposing burdens of guilt on people, towards psychologically healthier horizons. To stop the death-cult and to begin to think about life and about how to prevent death in the future. I am convinced, by the way, that my uncle Binyamin, if he could have spoken from his grave, would not object if we were to put a stop to this whole farce called Memorial Day and begin to concern ourselves less with sterile memory and more with opening our hearts.


      You young naive soldiers in the wings, who stand at attention when Shimon Peres passes: wake up. Just as decades ago, your grandfather arose and thought revolutionary thoughts about the need to change reality and made his thoughts reality and founded a Jewish state in order to solve the Jewish problem that existed then, you too, young people, must now rescue our nation from this state that has turned into something dangerous, superfluous, loathsome and fatuous.


      Grab big hammers and whack away at it, open holes in it so fresh air can come in, so the shouting voices of the neighbours can be heard. The great Zionist project today must be the weakening of this state, not its strengthening. Only a weak Israel will put us back on the right track and remind us to think again about just what it is we are doing here. And so, young people: abandon the cult of power, because power is death and the causing of death. And Israel was not created in order to cause death. Be weaklings, be fairies, be anything but don’t be heroes of the type that Israel wants you to be.


2.  Ha’aretz Thursday, May 08, 2008
Last update - 11:36 07/05/2008
Sixty years of Nakba, 60 years of nothing


By Bradley Burston

In a nation as coiled and embroiled as this, with a language fraught and zip-filed as the bible, it's only fitting that a single daily newspaper headline will often say more than the thousands of words that follow.

So it was, that on the day before Israel was to celebrate its independence, Maariv's banner read, simply, "60 Years of Bereavement."

In a narrow sense, the headline, stark white on a field of black, marked Israel's memorial day for its war dead and its victims of terrorism.

At the same time, the brief headline may have said more about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - and about Israelis themselves, and Palestinians as well - than all of this week's floodtide of 60th anniversary punditry put together.

They are filled with dread here, these people, my friends, the Israelis and the Palestinians both. Part of the dread is the realization that, no matter what direction the conflict takes, the result will in no way justify the violent deaths since 1948 of more than 24,000 Israelis and uncounted thousands of Palestinians.

If we look back 10 years, to Israel's 50th Independence Day, we see a time of much greater hope. Despite widespread dissatisfaction with then-leaders Benjamin Netanyahu and Yasser Arafat, there was a sense on both sides that the peace process was irreversible.

Since then, we've grown up. A decade of collapsed negotiations and inconclusive fighting has left us at a desolate emotional ground zero. First we lost our belief in the power of peace to solve our problems. Then we lost our faith in the power of war to do the same. Israelis and Palestinians both, we are in a state of unaccustomed loss of ideals. Revolution after revolution has betrayed us, divided us, failed us. Marxism, religious fundamentalism, nationalism, nothing has worked.

Now, after 60 years, we are at our proudest when we have nothing to offer. All we have left, we think on both sides, is the little we have left. We can't give in anymore. We can't give up any more. All we have left to offer is nothing.

We have confused manhood, self-worth, true independence, with the doctrine of Just Say No. No to recognition of the other. No to territorial compromise over Jerusalem. No to territorial compromise over the Holy Land. No to discussion of shared sovereignty of sacred shrines. No to compromise, even if only verbal, over return of refugees.

Both sides have their monsters, who see themselves as the keepers of the holy flame, ready to bring down and/or do violence to anyone on their own side who dares to work for peace.

Both sides have their diaspora, with its armchair martyrs and La-Z-Boy commandos, its online ideologue and its Talkback Cato the Elder.

We have done iniquity to one another and felt only victimhood. We do it still. Every single one of us, on both sides, suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Too many of us cause it as well.

We have seen that if the first casualty of war is truth, the second will surely be compassion.

We have seen that humans - or we, at any rate - have an innate need for revenge. We have also seen that vengeance does absolutely no good.

If we look back 60 years, and look closely, we will see that what happened in 1948 was a tragedy, a disaster, a Nakba, for both sides. The Palestinians who lost their homes and their dreams decreed that there would be no peace, no assured future for these newly decreed people, these Israelis, one out of every hundred of whom lost their lives in that war.

Today, we - Palestinian and Israeli both - look into the future, and see nothing. We are blinded by the enormity of our bereavement. We are unable to look into each other's eyes with anything other than pain. Even the extremists among us are beginning to wonder about how their messianic visions have played out. All of us have been betrayed by some one on our own side.

Paradoxically, though, there may be something in all of this that promotes healing. Psychologists tell us that coping skills which enable children to survive horrific childhoods, may turn disastrously self-destructive if carried into adulthood. Perhaps we need to have our habits, comforting illusions, conforting misconceptions about the evil of our enemies, taken from us by force. Or by force of disillusionment.

There may be something healthy in the sense that the past 60 years themselves have betrayed us. Maybe that's how a people weans itself from its illusions. Maybe that's how a people begins to have self-awareness. Maybe that's how a people finally, perhaps just before it's too late, grows up.

3. Date: Wed, 07 May 2008 11:46:40 -0400

From: Nabil Mohamad < >

Subject: Article about Al-Nakba was published today in the Union Tribune
The San Diego Union Tribune today published in full an Op-Ed . The link is:

ISRAEL AT 60: Remembering the Palestinian Nakba

By Nasser Barghouti and Bassemah Darwish
May 7, 2008


Nearly 30 years since she had seen her Northern Galilee home in what she called “Palestine,” Rasmiya Barghouti was finally given a permit by the Israeli military authorities to visit. She decided to take two of her daughters and four of her grandchildren with her.


It took less than three hours to reach Safad, renamed Tsvat by Israel after 1948. The van stopped in front of the white stone home that held her childhood memories. She proceeded to the familiar metal door, where she knocked. A large eastern European woman opened the door; the two argued.

Rasmiya returned to the van, her hardened face wet with tears. Her only words were: “She wouldn't let me in! She still has the same curtains I made with my mother.”


They proceeded in silence, as she wept discretely, to lunch at a hotel on Lake Tiberias where her youngest grandchild grew hyper. Instead of imposing her usual military-style discipline on the child, she encouraged him to splatter water and make even “more noise”--a shock to the rest of the  family.


The Israeli waiter hurriedly came to the table demanding, in Hebrew, they stop the raucous behavior. It was then that her defiance exploded into cursing the waiter in Arabic. “We can do whatever we please! This is my father's hotel!” she yelled. Until that moment, her children and grandchildren had been sheltered from knowing anything about her dear loss.


The rage of this Palestinian woman was born out of seeing her childhood home, from which she was forced to leave in 1948, now occupied by a stranger who would not even allow her in. She'd seen her father's hotel, which he was never allowed to vacate, taken over by strangers. For the first time since her violent dispossession in 1948, she was allowed to visit her homeland, but not to return. Because millions of other Palestinian refugees are denied even such a visit, Rasmiya was considered “lucky.”


While Israel celebrates 60 years since its establishment, Palestinians everywhere commemorate the “Nakba” (“Catastrophe” in Arabic) that  befell them after armed Jewish militia raided their homes and expelled them.


The exclusionary Zionist vision of creating a Jewish state in Palestine meant the elimination of the indigenous, “non-Jewish” population. In his book, “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine,” Israeli historian Ilan Pappe writes: “. . . on 10 March 1948 . . . veteran Zionist leaders together with young military Jewish officers, put the final touches to a plan for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.”


Pappe explains how Jewish militias, the future armed forces of the state of Israel, carried out a plan of large-scale intimidation and siege, setting fires to Palestinian homes, planting mines, destroying more than 500 villages, and exercising other terrorist activities. In the end, nearly 800,000 Palestinians were forced out of their homes and into refugee camps in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and elsewhere.


Rasmiya's family was among this wave of refugees. This massive ethnic cleansing completed the first phase of the compulsory “transfer” that  the founder of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, advocated in his address to the Jewish Agency Executive as early as 1938. Thus the Palestinians had become the
victims of the victims of Europe.


Ten years ago, the late Edward Said commented on the “Israel at 50” celebrations: “I still find myself astonished at the lengths to which official Israel and its supporters will go to suppress the fact that a half century has gone by without Israeli restitution, recognition or acknowledgment of Palestinian human rights . . . the Palestinian Nakba is characterized as a semi-fictional event . . . caused by no one in particular.”


The same stubborn refusal to recognize the Palestinian Nakba characterizes the “Israel at 60” celebrations in the U.S. media today. For Palestinians, denial of the Nakba is tantamount to denying the Holocaust for Jews.


Remembering the Nakba is even more compelling given what former President Jimmy Carter describes as an apartheid-like system that Israel has built to entangle the Palestinians in a seemingly endless cycle of hopelessness and violence. Israel still denies millions of Palestinian refugees their U.N.-sanctioned right to go back to their homes simply because they are not Jewish. Israel continues its 41-year-old military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Israel continues to impose its savage blockade on the Gaza strip. Israel continues to build its illegal wall and settlements on occupied Palestinian land. And Israel continues to treat its own “non-Jewish” population as second-class citizens.


Can any conscientious person, then, celebrate Israel at 60?


When Israel has made reparations for its shameful past; when it has conformed to international law and universal human rights; when it has ended its brutal oppression of the indigenous people of Palestine; and when it has allowed Palestinians to practice their right to self-determination on their own land, we can all celebrate. Then, even Rasmiya's descendants’ may celebrate.


Barghouti is a Palestinian-American and president of the San Diego Chapter of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Rasmiya Barghouti was his grandmother. Darwish, a San Diego County resident, is a Kuwaiti-born Palestinian-American. She lived in occupied Palestine while

teaching at Birzeit University.

After 60 Years, Arabs in Israel Are Outsiders


"Israel toasts its 60th anniversary in the coming weeks, rejoicing in Jewish national rebirth and democratic values, the Arabs who make up 20 percent of its citizens will not be celebrating. Better off and better integrated than ever in their history, freer than a vast majority of other Arabs, Israel
million Arab citizens are still far less well off than Israeli Jews and feel increasingly unwanted.

 On Thursday, which is Independence Day, thousands will gather in their former villages to protest what they have come to call the “nakba,” or catastrophe, meaning Israel’s birth. For most Israelis, Jewish identity is central to the nation, the reason they are proud to live here, the link they feel with history. But Israeli Arabs, including the most successfully integrated ones, say a new identity must be found for the country’s long-term survival.

 “I am not a Jew,” protested Eman Kassem-Sliman, an Arab radio journalist with impeccable Hebrew, whose children attend a predominantly Jewish school in Jerusalem. “How can I belong to a Jewish state? If they define this as a Jewish state, they deny that I am here.”

The clash between the cherished heritage of the majority and the hopes of the minority is more than friction. Even more today than in the huge half-century festivities a decade ago, the left and the right increasingly see Israeli Arabs as one of the central challenges for Israel’s future--one intractably bound to the search for an overall settlement between Jews and Arabs. Jews fear ultimately losing the demographic battle to Arabs, both in Israel and in the larger territory it controls.

Most say that while an end to its Jewish identify means an end to Israel, equally, failure to instill in Arab citizens a sense of belonging is dangerous as Arabs promote the idea that, 60 years or no 60 years, Israel is a passing phenomenon.

“I want to convince the Jewish people that having a Jewish state is bad for them,”said Abir Kopty, an advocate for Israeli Arabs.

Land is an especially sore point. Across Israel, especially in the north, are the remains of dozens of partly unused Palestinian villages, scars on the landscape from the conflict that gave birth to the country in 1948.

Yet some original inhabitants and their descendants, all Israeli Arab citizens, live in packed towns and villages, often next to the old villages, and are barred from resettling them while Jewish communities around them are urged to expand.

One recent warm afternoon, Jamal Abdulhadi Mahameed drove past kibbutz fields of wheat and watermelon, up a dirt road surrounded by pine trees and cactuses, and climbed the worn remains of a set of stairs, declaring in the open air: “This was my house. This is where I was born.”

He said what he most wanted now, at 69, was to leave the crowded town next door, come to this piece of uncultivated land with the pomegranate bushes planted by his father and work it, as generations had before him. He has gone to court to get it.

He is no revolutionary and, by nearly any measure, is a solid and successful citizen. His children include a doctor, two lawyers and an engineer. Yet, as an Arab, his quest for a return to his land challenges a longstanding Israeli policy.

“We are prohibited from using our own land,” he said, standing in the former village of Lajoun, now a mix of overgrown scrub and pines surrounded by the fields of Kibbutz Megiddo. “They want to keep it available for Jews. My daughter makes no distinction between Jewish and Arab patients. Why should the state treat me differently?”

The answer has to do with the very essence of Zionism --the movement of Jewish rebirth and control over the land where Jewish statehood first flourished more than 2,000 years ago.

Maintaining a Haven

“Land is presence,” remarked Clinton Bailey, an Israeli scholar who has focused on Bedouin culture. “If you want to be present here, you have to have land. The country is not that big. What you cede to Arabs can no longer be used for Jews who may still want to come.”

 A Palestinian state is widely seen as a potential solution to tensions with the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank, but any deep conflict with Israel’s own Arab citizens could prove much more complex.

Antagonism runs both ways. Many Israeli Arabs express solidarity with their Palestinian brethren under occupation, while others praise Hezbollah, the anti-Israel group in Lebanon, and some Arabs in Parliament routinely accuse Israel of Nazism.

Meanwhile, several right-wing rabbis have forbidden Jews from renting apartments to Arabs or employing them. And a majority of Jews, polls show, favor a transfer of Arabs out of Israel as part of a two-state solution, a view that a decade ago was thought extreme.

Arabs here reject that idea partly because they prefer the certainty of an imperfect Israeli democracy to whatever system may evolve in a shaky Palestinian state. That is part of the paradox of the Israeli Arabs. Their anger has grown, but so has their sense of belonging.

In fact, the anxious and recriminating talk on both sides may give a false impression of constant tension. There is a real level of Jewish-Arab coexistence in many places, and the government has recently committed itself to affirmative action for Arabs in education, infrastructure and government employment.

“We know that they need more land, that their children need a place to live,”said Raanan Dinur, director general of the prime minister’s office. “We are working on building a new Arab city in the north. Our main goal is to take what are today two economies and integrate them into one economy.”

Still, there is a concern that time is short.

Mr. Mahameed and his fellow villagers will arrive at the Supreme Court in July with the goal of obtaining 50 acres of their families’ former land that sits uncultivated except for pine trees planted by the Jewish National Fund.

Their story is part of a larger one: After the General Assembly voted in late 1947 for two states in Palestine, one Arab and one Jewish, local Arab militias and their regional supporters went on the offensive against Jewish settlements, in anger over the United Nations’ support for a Jewish state. Zionist forces counterattacked. Hundreds of Palestinian villages, including Lajoun, were evacuated and mostly destroyed.

Palestinian Arabs became refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Gaza, then under Egypt’s supervision. But some, like Mr. Mahameed, stayed in Israel. They were made citizens and were promised equality, but never got it.


Those who had left or had been expelled from their villages were not permitted back and have spent the past 60 years often a few miles away, watching their land farmed or built upon by newcomers, many of them refugees from Nazi oppression or Soviet anti-Semitism.

In 1953, the Israeli Parliament retroactively declared 300,000 acres of captured village land to be government property for settlement or security purposes.

Mr. Mahameed and his 200 fellow complainants live in the crowded town of Um el-Fahm near their former land.

“Our claim is that since the land has not been used all these years, there was no need to confiscate it,” said Suhad Bishara, a lawyer with Adalah, a Haifa-based group devoted to Israeli Arab rights.

She lost that argument in the district court, which agreed with the government that the pine trees and a water treatment plant in Lajoun constituted settlement. For her, the ruling is part of a long tradition of trickery by Israel’s legal and political systems that have nearly always come down against expanding Arab land use.

Ms. Bishara says Arabs occupy only a tiny percentage of Israel, despite making up one-fifth of its population. The government said it could not provide an estimate of the land use.

Still, it is not hard to detail the gap between Arabs and Jews in nearly every area--health, education, employment --and in government spending.  Three times as many Arab families are below the poverty line as Jewish ones, and a government study five years ago called for removing “the stain of discrimination.”

Mr. Dinur of the prime minister’s office has taken an interest in the issue and has met several times with Arab leaders. He says it may be possible one day for some Arabs to return to their native villages, but only as part of a process of integration and regional reconciliation. Otherwise, he says, Israeli Jews will fear that the Arabs’goal will be to take back all the territory lost in the 1948 war.

Regional Tensions

For many Israelis, the challenge posed by the Arabs cannot be separated from what they see as the risks in the region--Islamic radicalism, the concern that another war in Lebanon or Gaza is not far away.

Michael Oren, a senior fellow at the Shalem Institute, a research group in Jerusalem, said that when the army prepares for war, it includes in the plan how to handle the possibility of Israeli Arabs rising up against the state.

Many also believe --and here Jews and Arabs seem to agree--that without a solution to the Palestinian dispute over the West Bank and Gaza, internal tensions will not abate. And given the pessimism about the peace talks with the Palestinians, the forecast does not look bright.

For many Israeli Jews who long resisted the idea of a Palestinian state, it was the realization that they were losing the demographic battle to Palestinians that turned them around. But of course the population challenge also comes from Israel’s Arabs.

Israeli Arabs are aware of the contest. And some figure time is on their side.

“Israel is living within the Arab-Islamic circle,” Raed Salah, head of the Islamic Movement of Israel, said in an interview. “It is important to look at the Jewish percentage in that larger context over the long term.”

Abdulwahab Darawshe, a former member of Israel’s Parliament and the current head of the Arab Democratic Party, sat in his Nazareth office recently and said: “No matter what happens, we will not leave here again. That was a big mistake in 1948. Yet our identity is becoming more and more Palestinian. You cannot cut us from the Arab tree.”


Asked his plans for Israel’s Independence Day, he said, “I will take a shovel and work the land around my olive trees.”


5. Ha’aretz Thursday, May 08, 2008
Last update - 10:46 08/05/2008
On 60th Independence Day, Israeli Arabs claim rise in racism

By Reuters

Salwa Abu Jaber believes her story shows Israel discriminating against its Arab citizens, 60 years after the state was established as a haven for Jews.

The 32-year-old mother of four from northern Israel said her five-year-old daughter has never seen her father, who lives in the West Bank. Separated from the man for five years, she says she has been forced to divorce him.

Thousands of families have been similarly split by a 2003 ban on Palestinians in the West Bank from reuniting with their families inside Israel, imposed citing security reasons after the Palestinian uprising or intifada began in 2000.

"In practical terms, Israel forced the divorce on us," Abu Jaber said. "We could not continue to live like this any longer. If this is not racism, then what is it?"

This week, as Israel celebrates the anniversary of its foundation, its supreme court has said it found merit in the position of numerous petitions filed by rights groups against the law that keeps the families apart.

But Israeli Arabs - those Palestinians who remained after hundreds of thousands fled or were expelled from their homes when Israel was created - say institutionalized racism and illegal killings of Arabs have increased since the intifada started.

After 1948, about 120,000 stayed and were granted Israeli citizenship. Now about one in five Israelis is Arab, and many prefer to be called Palestinians like their kin outside Israel.

Israel denies it discriminates and touts its credentials as a multi-cultural democracy, arguing all citizens have the vote and are equal under the law. Arabic is an official language, alongside Hebrew.

Arabs say they also struggle to get jobs, housing and land.

"Arab citizens ... are related to more as enemies than as citizens with equal rights," the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) said in its annual report.

The group said "racist incidents" against Arab citizens rose 26 percent in 2006. It did not have more recent figures. Poverty rates are four times higher among Israeli Arabs in comparison to Israeli Jews, according to Haifa-based advocacy group Mossawa.

Twelve Arab lawmakers including a cabinet member hold seats in Israel's 120-member parliament, but less than 8 percent of the country's civil service workforce is made up of Israeli Palestinians, according to a recent civil service report.

The Israeli government acknowledges the gap between the Israeli Jews and Arabs and says it is taking affirmative action to boost the number of Arab civil servants to 10 percent by 2012, particularly in high-ranking posts.

"Israeli Arabs enjoy more freedom, more civil rights that any of their compatriots across the borders," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's spokesman, Mark Regev, said.

But some rights groups, including ACRI, say Israel has also been using the law to cement the state's Jewish character.

Such draft bills, approved by the Knesset in 2007, include banning Arabs from buying land controlled by the Jewish National Fund, a quasi-governmental group that was founded before the state of Israel to buy and develop land in Palestine and later oversaw land distribution in the Jewish state.

The JNF also controls land owned by Palestinians before they fled or were driven from their homes when Israel was founded.

Another bill makes eligibility for national insurance benefits dependent on completing military service. Few Arabs serve in the army: unlike for Jews, service is not compulsory.

"The Palestinians inside Israel are being discriminated against in all spheres except for one: the right to vote," Mohammad Barakeh, a member of Knesset, said.

Olmert's spokesman Regev said the bills did not reflect racist attitudes against Arabs, rather "legitimate differences of opinions".

About 1.5 million Arabs reside in Israel with 5.5 million Jews, but 3.8 million Palestinians live in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

U.S. President George W. Bush is hoping for an agreement this year to create a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip alongside Israel.

To Israelis, the government justifies holding talks about creating a Palestinian state by saying the alternative is a single state where Arabs would soon outnumber Jews.

A recent poll by Israel's parliamentary TV station showed 76 percent of Jewish Israelis give some degree of support to transferring Palestinians living inside Israel to a future state - an option most Arab citizens strongly reject.

"The Jews are the ones who immigrated to our homeland and took our land. We did not immigrate to their land so we cannot leave," said Jamal Zahalka, an Arab lawmaker.

The outbreak of the latest Palestinian intifada marked a turning-point in the way Israel treats its Arab citizens, many say, especially after 13 unarmed Israeli Arabs were killed in October 2000 when police used live ammunition to disperse protests in support of Palestinians in the occupied territories.

Rights groups say a January Israeli court decision not to indict the alleged killers due to "insufficient evidence" was tantamount to giving police a licence to kill Arabs.

Two rights groups documented the killing of 41 Arabs by Israeli police or in "racist attacks" by Jews and security guards since 2000. Of those, only one suspected killer has been indicted, said Jafar Farah, director of advocacy group Mossawa.

"The message of (this court's) decision is the following: Israel is allowed to kill Arabs and to make mass arrests," said Abeer Baker, a lawyer with advocacy group Adala in Israel, which represented the families of those killed in the 2000 protests.

The court case rekindled painful memories for the families of those killed.

"They are re-opening my wounds," said Raoofa Lawabneh in Sakhnin in northern Israel as she held a poster of her son, Iyad, who was among those killed. "I wish to see his killer in jail before I die," said the 68-year-old mother of eight.

Many Israeli Arabs say they have lost faith in Israeli justice, arguing police were more restrained while dispersing gatherings by Israeli Jews.

"How come in a country that claims democracy, policemen shoot and kill citizens but no charge sheet is made?" asked Mossawa's Farah. "When it comes to Arab citizens, the law-abiding state does not exist."


6.  Date: Thu, 08 May 2008 11:19:39 +0300
From: Elana
Supreme Court Recognizes Petition Challenging Discriminatory Citizenship Law Barring Family Unification
<>  > Supreme Court Palestine Monitor

7 May 2008

Israeli civil rights group Adalah submitted Monday 5 May a petition to the Supreme Court challenging the legality of the Nationality and Entry into Israel Law, also known as the Citizenship Law, which bans the families of Israeli citizens in the OPT from acquiring Israeli citizenship.

On May 6, the Supreme Court issued an order nici, effectively recognizing the legitimacy of the petition and Adalah's claim that the order violates the basic rights of Israelis as well as numerous anti-discriminatory international human rights laws. The court has given the state 60 days to justify the policy before it repeals the order, which has kept thousands of families separated since its introduction. Married couples of Palestinian and Israeli citizenship can neither live together in the oPt nor inside Israel.

The law was initially passed in the Knesset as a temporary order in July 2003. In May 2006, Adalah brought a petition to the Supreme Court demanding that families be granted the right of unification. The court rejected the petition by a vote of 6 to 5, although one justice of the majority stated that the law was in fact unconstitutional, and recommended that the Knesset amend it to include more exceptions.

Contrary to the court's demands, the Knesset renewed the law in March 2007, but altered it so as to further exclude citizens of "enemy states" (which include Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria) from joining their families in Israel.

 "This is actually one of the most racist laws because it creates a system of racial profiling not only against Palestinians in the oPt but against the unification of families from Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon," said Sawsan

Zaher, an attorney at Adalah who has represented the petitioners' case for over two years. "You cannot arbitrarily violate constitutional rights to family life."

When Adalah challenged the order in May 2007, it argued that the amendment had expanded the scope of a law which already violated international human rights standards. The order is set to expire on July 31, at which point many believe the Knesset will renew the order once again.

Ms Zaher asserts that because the law was issued as a temporary order and has been renewed several times, it has not been adequately subjected to constitutional standards.

"You cannot have a temporary law for six years," she said. adding that the state's attorney had argued in court the fact that Israel is under a state of emergency.

She added that the state's representative had argued, somewhat ironically, that constitutional law had no bearing in this case because Israel has been legally under a state of emergency since 1948 - an order that was also initially to be in effect temporarily.

"What we need is a legal remedy. People have been living under this system for almost six years now," said Orna Cohn, a staff attorney at Adalah.

 Adalah is also challenging the law on the grounds that it has not proven effective as a security measure. According to the state's own figures, of the several hundred Palestinians who were granted Israeli citizenship prior to March 2003, only 26 have ever been suspected of being affiliated with
terrorist groups, and none have ever been indicted on terror-related charges.

Both Ms. Cohn and Ms. Zahar are skeptical that the court will directly confront the Knesset on the constitutionality of the Citizenship Law, although the Supreme Court's recognition of the legitimacy of Adalah's complaints has provided the civil rights group with a window of opportunity.

 "Our recommendation was that they issue an order nici and they did," said Ms. Zaher. "This means the court sees our petition as serious enough to actually consider it."


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Love them anyway.

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Succeed anyway.

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