Apartheid Reigns In Israel, Activist-author Says


He Claims Nation Is Hurting Self With Its Policies

SAMARA KALK DERBY, The Capital Times, October 8, 2007

Israeli human rights activist and author Jeff Halper argues that in the Israel-Palestine conflict, the two-state solution is dead, and apartheid has taken over.

Jimmy Carter let the genie out of the bottle with his recent book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” but Halper has been using the same language for years.

“We use apartheid in a very precise way. We don’t use it as a slogan. We have been very careful about it. Apartheid is a system that can’t be exported,” Halper told a group of about 40 people during a talk Sunday at Memorial United Church of Christ in Fitchburg.

An apartheid system is one of separation in which one segment of the population separates itself from the others, Halper said. “And that’s what Israel calls its policy,” he added.

The other element of apartheid is domination, he explained. “One population separates itself from the others and then dominate them,” he said. “Permanently and institutionally.”

Israel’s offer to withdraw from 95 percent of the West Bank will create not peace, but rather a Palestinian prison state, said Halper, who has been called “a Jewish anti-Semite.”

Halper is a Minnesota native who has lived in Israel for 35 years. Formerly an anthropology professor at Haifa and Ben-Gurion Universities, he co-founded the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions to challenge and resist the Israeli policy of demolishing Palestinian homes. The organization was founded in 1997 after Benjamin Netanyahu became prime minister on a right wing, security-heavy platform.

Israelis have been moving into the occupied Palestinian territories – which includes the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem – through settlement construction and land confiscation. At the same time, Palestinian population growth has been confined to small “islands” within those territories.

The natural development of Palestinian towns has been curtailed by discrimination in building permits and zoning policies and the demolition of Palestinian homes, Halper said.

According to Halper, Israel has destroyed more than 18,000 Palestinian homes since 1967.

Halper has organized and led nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience against Israel’s occupation policies. He has faced down bulldozers in front of Palestinian homes and confronted Israeli soldiers. He also organizes Israelis, Palestinians, and others to help rebuild demolished Palestinian homes. He estimates that they’ve built more than 100 homes in the last 10 years.

In addition to opposing home demolitions, Halper is equally critical of Israel’s construction of the 26-foot tall West Bank separation barrier, which is more than twice as high as the Berlin Wall and five times as long. The Israeli government and its supporters say the wall has reduced terrorism. Critics charge it is laying the groundwork for a unilateral border.

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Cancelled Event Hoax

This e-mail was sent to the UW Middle East Studies listserver today, cancelling the Jeff Halper event tonight at Grainger Hall. The only problem is, the event was not cancelled, and no one knows who sent the e-mail. The Middle East Studies Program is investigating.

Date: Mon, 08 Oct 2007 09:22:48 -0700
From: “U. Wisconsin Middle East Studies Program” cmes@mailplus.wisc.edu
Subject: [Cancelled Event] TODAY – JEFF HALPER -ISRAEL/PALESTINE: COUNTDOWN TO APART… @ Mon Oct 8 7:30pm – 9:30pm ()
To: mes-events@lists.services.wisc.edu
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U. Wisconsin Middle East Studies Program cancelled the following event:
TODAY – JEFF HALPER -ISRAEL/PALESTINE: COUNTDOWN TO APARTHEID?
Mon Oct 8 7:30pm – 9:30pm
(Central Time)
2080 Grainger Hall; 975 University Ave. corner of Brooks and University; UW Madison Campus (map)
Calendar:

JEFF HALPER, founder of the ISRAELI COMMITTEE AGAINST HOME DEMOLITIONS and Anthropology Professor at HEBREW UNIVERSITY will discuss whether President Bush’s upcoming Middle East Summit offers hope for peace or a continuation of the process of transforming the occupied Palestinian territories into a permanent political reality similar to what was in place during Apartheid South Africa. Where is the Israel-Palestine conflict headed? Halper, an Israeli citizen who has lived and worked in Israel as an academic and an activist since 1973, discusses what he has termed the “Matrix of Control” in shaping options for peace on the ground. He will also discuss the “CONSTRUCTING PEACE CAMPAIGN” to rebuild all Palestinian homes demolished this year by the Israel Army.Can Israel be described as an Apartheid regime? Why are some arguing that it is? Debate on this and other Israel-Palestine issues is increasingly important as the region descends into greater and greater turmoil.

This lecture is FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

Sponsored by the University of Wisconsin’s MIDDLE EAST STUDIES PROGRAM and the University of Wisconsin’s HAVENS CENTER; Local organizations groups supporting this talk include the Fitchburg Memorial United Church of Christ, the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, Jewish Voice for Peace/Madison and ICAHD-USA.

This event was removed from your calendar.

You are receiving this courtesy email at the account mes-events@lists.services.wisc.edu because you are an attendee of this event.

October 6 – 9, 2007
New Madison Events with Jeff Halper of ICAHD

Saturday, October 6, 7:30 – 10:00 pm
Middleton
Houseparty Fundraiser with Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). Goal to raise $5000 to rebuild one Palestinian house. At a private home in Middleton — please contact rafahsistercity (at) yahoo.com for info and directions.

Sunday, October 7, 2:00 pm
Memorial United Church of Christ, 5705 Lacy Road, Fitchburg
Build Peace, Build Houses, Stop Home Demolitions: Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) will speak on where the Israeli “Matrix of Control” is taking the Israel/Palestine conflict. Find out how you can help ICAHD-USA “Construct Peace” by rebuilding all Palestinian homes demolished this year by the Israeli army. Co-sponsors: Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, Jewish Voice for Peace/Madison, Memorial UCC, UW Middle East Studies Dept, Havens Center. More info at madisonrafah.org or 215-9157.

Sunday, Oct. 7, 7:00 pm
Jeff is scheduled to be interviewed live on Forward Forum, Madison 1670 The Pulse. Call in at 321-1670. You can listen live to streaming audio at WTDY.com, and outside the Madison area the toll free number is 877-867-1670. The program will be available starting Monday on podcast.

Monday, October 8, 12:00 pm
Jeff will appear live on WORT Radio’s A Public Affair with Allen Ruff from 12 noon to 1 pm (89.9 FM, call in at 256-2001).

Monday, October 8, 7:30 pm
UW-Madison Campus, 2120 Grainger Hall, 975 University Ave. (corner of Brooks and University)
Israel/Palestine: Countdown to Apartheid? Jeff Halper of ICAHD will discuss whether Bush’s planned November DC “summit” on Israel/Palestine offers hope for peace, or will further consolidate Israel’s occupation into a permanent political reality similar to apartheid South Africa. Co-sponsors: Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, Jewish Voice for Peace/Madison, Memorial UCC, UW Middle East Studies Dept, Havens Center. See mideast.wisc.edu or call 265-6583 for location.

Tuesday, October 9, 12:00 pm
Foreign Policy Action Summit, Washburn Heritage Room, Regina Hall, Edgewood College
Jeff will join Tom Melville and George Mische to discuss the disastrous effects and connections between US foreign policy in Central America and the Middle East. Members of the Catonsville 9, who burned draft records in 1968, Melville and Mische have dedicated their lives to peace work in Central America and the U.S. Melville, a cultural anthropologist and ex-Maryknoll priest in Guatemala, is also the author of Through a Glass Darkly: US Holocaust in Central America. For more information, call 233-7004.

Tuesday, October 9, 7:00 pm
Wilmar Neighborhood Center, 953 Jenifer St., Madison
Jeff will be participating in a discussion at the regular meeting of the Madison Area Peace Coalition (MAPC). He will present material on Israel’s role in the global weapons trade and in U.S. power projection around the world. This will cover new material in a participatory session with all interested activists.

Civil Society and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Beneath the Hideous Veneer of ‘Security’

Jennifer Loewenstein, CounterPunch, 23 september, 2007

On January 26th 1976 the United Nations Security Council debated a resolution (S11940) introduced by Jordan, Syria and Egypt that included all the crucial wording of UNSC resolution 242. It accepted the right of all states in the region to exist within secure and recognized borders while re-emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force. This resolution added for the first time, however, what was missing from 242: recognition of Palestinian national rights. The phrase “all states” was taken to include a new Palestinian state in the occupied territories.

Israel was, of course, invited to attend the session but refused, preferring instead to have a national tantrum that included bombing Lebanon the same day, killing about 50 people ­in all likelihood a typical “in your face” message to the UN and the world. Unsurprisingly the US vetoed the resolution causing the PLO, which was present at the session, to speak of the “tyranny of the veto.” As with similar resolutions since this one, the overwhelming majority of the world’s nations supported it. The two nations that have consistently opposed this and comparable resolutions were the United States and Israel thereby establishing the well-known pattern of rejectionism that persists to this day. As a result, resolutions such as S11940 have vanished from the historical record despite its significance in marking the first time a UN resolution explicitly recognized the inalienable national rights of the people of Palestine.

In the debate leading up to the vote on this resolution, one of the participants remarked that the problem of Palestine is at the heart of the Middle East conflict and must be resolved….We are sorry that Israel stayed away from the debate and has instead been [wreaking] havoc all over and hurling defiance against the alleged bias of the United Nations. In truth it is Israel which is maintaining, by the use of force, and [which] wishes to be left alone to continue, its occupation of the territories of its Arab neighbors. Persistence in this policy of tone and diktat can only breed more violence, engender further bitterness, and make ever more remote the prospect of the peace and cooperation which the Israeli government professes to be seeking and which all the peoples of the Middle East desire and need. (M. Akhund; representative of Pakistan; in transcript of debate following introduction of resolution. S/PV.1879 of 26 January 1976. UNISPAL home; See also: UN DPI multimedia: United Nations. Thirty-first year; 1879th meeting.)

Reading these words, I was struck by a sense of déjà vu and had to double check the source to certify that they were in fact spoken 31 years ago. Unfortunately, however, although the similarities with present day circumstances are remarkable, the situation that we face vis a vis the Palestinian issue today is far more serious.

Noam Chomsky’s response to my upbeat description of last year’s UN’s Conference in Geneva on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People was that if things did not soon improve on the ground in the occupied Palestinian territories, the next such conference “would be a wake.” It was a sobering reminder of just how dire the situation has become; how, in Chomsky’s words we are currently witnessing an event almost unprecedented in the modern era: the systematic, deliberate and long-term destruction of an entire nation.

As activists and representatives of civil society NGOs concerned with what is happening in Israel-Palestine, we know the importance of maintaining a realistic level of optimism; of dogged persistence even in the face of what seem to be insurmountable obstacles. I have not given up that hope, nor ­I suspect-have any of you, which is why we are here today.

Nonetheless as important as solidarity work is for us and for the continuation of efforts to effect change in the circumstances facing millions of Palestinians in the territories and beyond, none of us is deluded enough to believe that a Just Peace is at hand. With every killing, every maiming, every act of state-sponsored terror, every home demolition, every arrest, every confiscation of property, resources and identity, every closure, checkpoint, permit, roadblock, or concrete slab put into place along the serpentine Wall that is devouring Palestinian land in its path, Palestine is rendered increasingly invisible, buried behind euphemisms and peace scams ­ a non-entity for non-persons whose continuation as one of the many nations populating the globe today is seriously threatened.

(1) In trying to assess how we can put a stop to this devastating dynamic I came up with three pre-conditions that are necessary before we can even begin a process leading to a just settlement. First and foremost is to demand an end to Israeli crimes. These include, most significantly today, its bloody and sadistic torture of Gaza, but also its continued territorial expansion which it has no intention of ending, an end to atrocities against the people of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, recognition of the right of Palestinians to have free elections ­meaning, in this case, the recognition of Hamas and the establishment of dialogue with it and all other Palestinian political factions regardless of whether or not we like them; the release of Palestinian Parliamentarians taken hostage beginning in the summer of 2006; the release of thousands of prisoners and illegal detainees whose only “crime” was resistance to an illegal occupation.

I should add here that on December 7th, 1987 the United Nations General Assembly passed UN resolution 42/159 which, among other things, authorized peoples living under occupation regimes the right to resist. This is yet another piece of the historical documentary record conveniently forgotten lest it be used to support Palestinian and other just causes.

To reiterate: it is crucial that all of Israel’s ongoing crimes against the Palestinian nation cease; that we in civil society and in world organizations such as the United Nations and the European Union so allegedly concerned with the adherence to and principles of international law take it upon ourselves to enforce it or soon, with regard to Palestine, there will be nothing left to talk about.

(2) The second pre-condition is that the Quartet, which includes the United Nations and the European Union, publicly acknowledge the international consensus as it has existed since January 26th, 1976 and was broadened by the 2002 Arab League Summit in Beirut to include full normalization of relations, in return for Israel’s compliance with international law. As mentioned, however, this consensus has been systematically and often hysterically rejected by the US and Israel whereas virtually all other concerned parties, including Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas, have ­contrary to what the American media would have us believe-explicitly accepted it.

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Three projects in Palestine

This is a special appeal on behalf of three projects in Palestine:

    (1) Save Gaza's pilot project on Sustainable Gardens in Gaza, including Rafah;

    (2) The Rebuilding Alliance's West Bank "Abir's Garden" playground project (note September 16 deadline for fund raising contest; and

    (3) Fida Qishta's Rafah Life Maker's Children's Center.

Please send your donations directly to each group as noted, and not to MRSCP. One project is currently tax-deductible, two are not. As always, thanks for your support.

Brothers in Arms: The Triumph of U.S.-Israeli Policy in Palestine

Jennifer Loewenstein, The Progressive, June 26, 2007

Contrary to the many claims that the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip represents the failure of US and Israeli policies in Palestine, the violent civil infighting that has dominated the Gaza Strip over much of the last year and a half and that led directly to the Hamas coup of June 2007 marks yet another major foreign policy victory for the occupiers. Hamas will never be allowed to remain in power in Gaza so we must fear for the future of that tiny, desperately overcrowded strip of land and its 1.4 million inhabitants; additionally, Abbas – in order to maintain his role as “Good Guy”— will have to accede to the dictates of Israel and the United States or suffer the same fate as his predecessor, Yassir Arafat.

Western nations are standing by in silence as the deadly siege of Gaza and the dismemberment of the West Bank continue unabated. What we are witnessing in full view each day are unprecedented steps taken by the world’s only superpower and its favorite client state, Israel, to ensure the death of a nation. While friction between the two key political factions in the occupied Palestinian territories has long undermined the smooth functioning of internal affairs, it was the direct, cynical involvement of US and Israeli policy-makers in these affairs that guaranteed the breakdown of internal stability and paved the way for the Hamas “coup” in Gaza.

Media reports have been careful to leave out important facts leading up to the coup such as that Hamas was the legitimate, democratically elected ruling party in the Palestinian territories following the January 2006 Palestine Legislative Council elections; that it was the US-Israeli dismissal of those election results that fueled the civil infighting between Hamas and Fatah; that obvious US backing of Fatah against Hamas helped create popular mistrust of Fatah increasing Hamas’ popularity in Gaza and leading directly to Hamas’ takeover of the Fatah military apparatus in the Gaza Strip. In other words, there were real and understandable reasons for the coup. But in the end, Hamas’ seizure of the power that it should have had in the first place ends up serving the interests not only of Mahmoud Abbas and the warlord Muhammad Dahlan. It also provides the perfect opportunity for US-Israeli policy in the region to move forward with even fewer objections, if that is possible to imagine, than have heretofore been made. Who will stand up for a “terrorist organization that seeks the destruction of Israel”? The line has been beaten into our heads with every mention of the word “Hamas” for years. We should not expect a change in the behavior of the American public or of other western audiences until, when Israel is mentioned, we immediately say to ourselves, “a terrorist state that seeks the destruction of Palestine.” Seeks and is succeeding in it.

II

Watching the barbarous killing between brothers in Gaza, a power struggle between rival factions seething in frenzy like the great prison in which they thrive, Israeli and American political analysts can rest their cases with confidence. Across the spectrum of debate, these experts can expect vindication by the media juries which, in sanctimonious indignation at the brutality meted out by partisans of Fatah or Hamas, have assembled all the “evidence” they need to justify our righteous war against Muslim-Arab terrorists and their internecine blood feuds.

That the US has temporarily chosen a weak, compliant leader, Mahmoud Abbas, and the power thirsty warlord, Muhammad Dahlan, to back during the bitter strife between key Palestinian factions testifies not to a belief that one side is trustworthy and deserves our support, but rather to the ease with which the Americans and their clients pick and choose their pawns in their bitter regional cockfights. Today’s statesmen were yesterday terrorists, their titles dependent on the needs of the superpower and its clients: Yesterday Fatah was on the US State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations and its leader, Yassir Arafat, was a declared “terrorist,” “irrelevant,” and exiled in his presidential compound in Ramallah until his mysterious death. Fatah’s military wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades is still listed as a foreign terrorist organization. Neither of these factors apparently bothers the current leadership, which understands that power and prestige are most easily acquired and unchallenged when bequeathed from above.

Truth be told, the Abbas/Dahlan alliance elicits far greater contempt in the eyes of the masters than the more independent and genuine resistance faction headed by Hamas. The numerous meetings and photo-ops between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Abbas, and US President George Bush and Abbas, are little more than tactical stunts to make it look as though genuine negotiations are taking place. In fact, Abbas has been repeatedly bypassed and shunned when Israeli and US negotiators make the real policy decisions—decisions that remain one-sided and dismissive of any demands (other than those that are entirely self-serving) that Abbas and his entourage have made. The arms and funding channeled through Abbas’ Fatah (for his clique represents only one of the many spin-off Fatahs that emerged during the secondIntifada) signify little more than the conduit through which US-Israeli policies can be secured. For all the claims about US backing of Fatah, neither Abbas nor Dahlan have yet to benefit on the ground from this “support.” Indeed, the ease with which Hamas was able to wrest control of Gaza indicates just how little US support for Fatah was worth there. Nevertheless, the same pipeline of support for “Fatah” has done a great deal to bolster perceived US and Israeli national security interests in the same region.

III

Once again the pictures on our television screens in our newspapers are intended to suffice for missing substance. The context of empire is invisible or deliberately obscured –in Palestine as in Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere. If the takeover of Gaza by Hamas was unanticipated, its success was a gift of immeasurable value to the overlords, a welcome but unforeseen consequence of fueling divisions among a weakened and oppressed people, undermining any steps toward positive change. Abbas and his underlings have foolishly offered up Palestine cut in two to the occupation regime that worked so hard to end the charade of a single Palestine to begin with. This was a coup for Israel in its ongoing quest for regional hegemony, and a triumph for America’s “War on Terror.” For all the talk about a one-, two- or bi-national state solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict, the reality is that no state solution for Palestine is on the near or distant horizon. Palestine is a series of disconnected pieces whose division into still smaller parts continues month after month.

Those fretting about a “Hamastan” in the Gaza Strip ought to be worried not about its viability or longevity or about whether or not Islamic law and social mores will be imposed. Hamas’ presence in Gaza will be but a short-lived, transitory phenomenon entirely at the mercy of the US-backed Israeli military, which has not left Gaza alone for a single day since Hamas’ coming to power despite a yearlong ceasefire called by its leaders and scrupulously observed. Those concerned about a Hamas-controlled Gaza ought instead to be wondering how they are going to justify Hamas’ destruction within the Strip and all the suffering, chaos and death that will ensue over the shameful silence of the international community.

IV

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Bush badly botches Mideast conflict [the progressive view]

John Nichols, Capital Times, June 20, 2007

The tragedy of Washington’s narrow “debate” about the Middle East is that few American political players are willing to comment in a serious manner about the fact that George Bush’s mishandling of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict has done more than money or guns to advance the cause of the Islamic fundamentalists who now control the Gaza Strip.

Disengaged when engagement was called for, meddling when a hands-off approach would have been wiser, and always staggeringly ignorant — remember Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s shock when Hamas won the Palestinian elections early in 2006? — the Bush administration’s approach has been so disastrous that the International Crisis Group’s Robert Malley is being generous when he says “almost every decision the United States has made to interfere with Palestinian politics has boomeranged.”

Almost? Let’s be realistic. Hamas had expanded far beyond its fundamentalist base to draw significant support from Palestinians who simply wanted an end to the corruption of the rival and more secular Fatah group. Bush and Rice responded by throwing U.S. support fully behind Fatah.

The point of the U.S. maneuvering was to isolate and destroy Hamas. According to a recent report in London’s Guardian newspaper, the U.N. Mideast envoy, Alvaro de Soto, confirmed that the U.S. pressured Mahmoud Abbas to refuse Hamas’ initial invitation to form a “national unity government.”

The strategy was a miserable failure. The Bush administration only strengthened the hand of militant factions within Hamas.

This should not surprise anyone. In February 2006, former President Jimmy Carter, whose expertise on the Mideast is respected almost everywhere but in the U.S., warned, “My concern is that in order to try, on behalf of the United States and Israel, to punish Hamas, we’ll actually going to be punishing the Palestinian people who are already living in deprivation. And it’s going to turn the Palestinian people even more against the West and against Israel, against us and make Hamas seem to be, you know, their only friend.”

The fact that Carter’s warnings proved to be prescient will not earn him any forgiveness from his critics. Even the urgency of the moment is unlikely to bring much improvement in the quality of the debate about Bush’s failed Mideast policies. Carter tried, and he was ridiculed, smeared and dismissed for doing so.

It is this reality that has led most prominent political players in the U.S. — especially those seeking the presidency — to avoid saying much of consequence about the administration’s monumental Mideast blunders.

There are, of course, exceptions. One presidential candidate, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, is wading into the thick of the debate. “The chaos and factional violence in Gaza that ultimately led to the Hamas military takeover of the Presidential Compound and the National Security Guard building demonstrates a failure of President Bush’s strategy in matters relating to Hamas,” says Kucinich.

Picking up on Carter’s assessment, the congressman adds, “The humanitarian, economic and political boycott imposed on the elected Hamas government were meant to force Hamas to accept U.S. and Israeli conditions or alternatively to force it out of power. The boycott has accomplished neither goal and instead has created a severe humanitarian crisis that is now marred by political factionalism, violence, and unrest.”

Give Kucinich credit for recognizing the crisis on the ground. As the congressman notes, since the suspension of aid to the Palestinian Authority began in April 2006, the number of Palestinians living in abject poverty has risen to more than a million. And a Palestinian Authority budget that was once $1.5 billion annually has shrunk to $500 million, making it impossible to maintain basic services.

Kucinich is calling on Congress to pressure the Bush administration to:

1. Announce that the U.S. will immediately extend diplomatic recognition to the former national unity government coalition of Hamas and Fatah.

2. Ask for the reconstitution of the coalition government.

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SIX DAYS OF WAR, 40 YEARS OF OCCUPATION

MIKE MURRAY, Cap Times, Jun 9, 2007

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the 1967 war in which, most Americans believe, a small, gallant Israel defeated powerful attacking Arab armies.

A few brave Israeli historians now argue that this is a myth and that Israel’s 1967 pre-emptive attack on Egypt was a “war of choice.”

But it is clear enough that the war produced 40 years of Israeli occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem, as well as Syria’s Golan Heights.

The Israeli occupation is the longest ongoing military occupation in the world. It violates international law and scores of United Nations resolutions. It inflicts daily violence, brutality and humiliation on hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, leading to two bloody revolts.

Just days after the war’s end, Israel demolished an entire Palestinian neighborhood in Jerusalem in order to open up the “Western Wall” for Jewish use. Since then, Israel has demolished more than 18,000 Palestinian homes.

More than 240,000 Jewish settlers now live in illegal colonies in the West Bank, using up the water, guarded by Israeli soldiers and traveling Jewish-only roads that trap Palestinians in isolated, economically starved ghettos.

The United States and Israel are blockading the elected Palestinian government, and so the occupied territories are wracked with violence, poverty, unemployment, and malnutrition.

Why should Americans care? There are many regimes that commit human rights violations around the globe. But it is difficult to find another example with such deep U.S. involvement. Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid.

Some prominent Americans have pointed out that this generates worldwide Arab and Muslim anger and that it is bad for Palestinians, Israel, and the United States.

The Democratic-controlled Congress is timidly beginning to reject the neo-con agenda and grasp the need to extricate the United States from the Iraq nightmare. Yet when it comes to Israel, they rush to join ranks with the Bush administration and pander to Israel’s well-heeled U.S. lobby, AIPAC, in support of the occupation.

The Israeli occupation is carried out with our money, our government’s support, and – in the eyes of the rest of the world – in our names. Unless we insist that our politicians change course, all parties can look forward to another 40 years of bloodshed and suffering.

Murray is a member of the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project.

Nightmares – How Gaza offends us all

Jennifer Loewenstein, Islamic Human Rights Commission, 06 June 2007

Jennifer Loewenstein at IHRC's conference 'Human Rights and Israel at 60', 2008Jennifer Loewenstein brilliantly illustrates the horrors of living under fire and portrays the Palestinians of Gaza as a people abandoned by the world to the murderous Israeli occupation, but whose will to resist strengthens with each atrocity committed against them.

June 2007, Jennifer Lowenstein, originally published in Palestine Internationalist, Volume 2 Issue 4

An opened jaw with yellowed teeth gaped out of its bloodied shroud. The rest of the head parts were wrapped in a plastic bag placed atop the jaw and nostrils as if to be close to the place to which it once belonged. The bag was red from the pieces that were stuffed inside it. Below the jaw was a human neck slit open midway down: a fleshy, wet wound smiling pink and oozing out from the browned skin around it, the neck that was still linked to the body below it. Above him, in the upper freezer of the morgue lay a dead woman, her red hennaed hair visible for the first time to strange men around her. More red plastic wrapped around an otherwise absent chin. She was dead for demonstrating outside a mosque in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza where more than 60 men sheltered during the artillery onslaught by Israeli tanks and cannons.

Most of the others still had their faces intact. They lay on their silver morgue trays stiffly as frozen food. One man had a green Hamas band tied around his head; he looked like a shepherd from some forgotten, pastoral age. Another’s white eyes were partially opened, his face looking out in horror as if he’d died seeing it coming. Then a muddy, grizzled blob on the bottom left tray, black curls tangled and damped into its rounded head and blessedly shut eyes. A closer look revealed a child, a boy of 4: Majed, out playing his important childhood games when death came in like thunder and rolled him up in a million speckles of black mud. The other dead had already been taken away.

Muslim burials take place quickly, a god-send to the doctors, nurses and undertakers who, at the hospitals and morgues, desperately need the space for next batch of casualties who would sleep on the same sheets, same steel-framed beds, in the same humid heat, in the same close, crowded, grief-stricken rooms, often on the floors, with the same tired, unpaid attendants doing their rounds without the proper supplies to help them if they were still alive. And some would die on the operating table like the young man gone now to the Kamal Adwan hospital morgue when his wounds became too much for his body to bear. Two young girls preceded him earlier the same day. Blessed are they who leave this human wasteland washed and shrouded for a quiet, earthy grave.

Today the hospitals will be filled beyond capacity again when the 18 civilian dead from a pre-dawn attack on Beit Hanoun — women, men and children blasted out of their sleep into human chunks — roll out of the ambulances and into the freezers of Shifa or Kamal Adwan hospitals in the northern Gaza Strip. How dare they sleep in their houses at night when the tanks are barking out commands?

Do you believe this was an accident? That an international investigation will ever take place? Like after Jenin? Like after Dan Halutz and his 2000 pound bomb which was dropped on an apartment building in Gaza City killing 15 people, 9 of them women and children? Like after the siege of Jabalya in the fall of 2004? Like after Operation Rainbow in Rafah? Like after Huda Ghalia’s family was blasted into nothingness during an outing on a Gaza beach? Will US eyes, glued to their glaucousy TV screens to find out which marketed candidate won the corporate-managed midterm elections, ever know that another massacre of Palestinians took place?

At Shifa hospital, Gaza’s central hospital, where Dr. Juma’ Saqa and his staff cope with the daily shortages of supplies from kidney dialysis machines to fans and clean linens; where cancer medications are unavailable to the increasing rate of cancer patients and elective surgeries, such as for hernias or tonsils, are a thing of the past. This is where doctors and nurses witness how the water that Gazans drink causes innumerable ailments, rotting teeth, anemia in children and kidney dysfunction because of its brackish, poisonous quality. This is where children lie half naked in their beds, white tape across their noses holding tubes to their faces so that they may eat or breathe– like Ahmad aged 3, also from Beit Hanoun, who took a bullet in the right side of his belly that exited on the left. His mother stands over him passively, grateful. Ahmad, at least, is going to live. But for what?

Each night in Gaza City that first week in November, explosions sounded in the northeastern corner of Gaza: a succession of bullets, booms, bombs, canon fire. On the first night of the onslaught we could still see lights from Beit Hanoun 10 miles from us blinking and twinkling as if nothing were really happening; it was all a dream—fireworks, a distant celebration perhaps. But then, by the second night only a swath of blacked out space lay in the place of Beit Hanoun, electricity-less and water-less as the booms continued unabated for an hour or more and the hum of the pilot-less drones circled round again and again above us, above Beit Hanoun, above Gaza, automated people-monitors taking stock of the activity below. Nobody from Beit Hanoun could leave by day to get to work without announcing to the tanks and the drones that he was prepared to sacrifice his life for a semblance of normalcy. All men between the ages of 16-35 were rounded up onto trucks and hauled away for “questioning”. What will happen to them and their families? Will anyone follow up? Will they add to the 10,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, left to rot while their wives and children, sisters, brothers, parents go on struggling to survive?

There lies Gaza stretched 28 miles long in a tumbledown graying, decaying heap, yawning, tired, wretched, full of garbage. Tape gauze over your nose to avoid the smell of sewage and burning trash. Try not to notice the metal-shuttered shop fronts, the empty stores, the proliferation of horse- and donkey-carts clopping along the streets for lack of fuel, the ribs of the tired beasts jutting out from their bellies as boys whip them along to keep going. The joke is the cerulean blue sky illuminating the rubbish tip, the palm trees and purple flowers beaming in the November sun – natural non-sequiturs, like the box of fresh chocolates offered to the journalists filming the woman’s wounded son as she yells out her frustrations and horror at the Americans and the Israelis who are killing her family. Why? She asks. Why, why, why?

Ask Mark Regev, Israel’s eager, hideously sincere government spokesperson. On CNN’s international news he tells us in earnest that this is Israeli self-defense. The Qassam fire into Sderot and Ashkelon must stop. Israelis have the right to defend themselves. The “operation” in Beit Hanoun will not stop until the Qassams stop. Each word drivels out of his mouth into a bubble of obscenity for everyone watching from the vantage point of Gaza. Verbal pornography, sado-masochistic jargon from the prince of Hasbara leaks onto the dust like poisonous bile bought, paid for and sought after by the lords of power and their occupying machinery.

The shoddy, home-made Qassams hiss like cornered alley cats when they are fired into the skies. Stupid and bestial, they zing across the border like crazed beasts not knowing where they are going. They’ll dash forever like this until the occupation of Palestine ends. The Gazans know this, Hamas knows it, Fatah knows it, the PFLP knows it; In Israel, Labor and Likkud know it, Meretz knows it, Yisrael Beiteinu knows it, Shas knows it; Peretz, Olmert and Lieberman know it, Sharon knew it, the Israeli people know it, official America know this, so 40 years after 1967 and 58 years after 1948, why is the occupation not yet over?

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