Occupation is a CRIME!
Right now, near the 73rd anniversary of the Nakba and during Ramadan (Muslims’ most sacred time of the year), the Palestinian village of Sheikh Jarrah is being forcefully “evicted” by Israel as settlers try to STEAL the Palestinian homes. The government-sanctioned theft-in-progress sparked a Palestinian uprising against their brutal oppressors. Since then, at least an estimated 70 Palestinians, including dozens of children, have been murdered by Israel’s death squad, otherwise known as the IDF.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Our struggles are all connected and none of us are truly liberated until the oppressed are liberated worldwide.
We can’t breathe in part because Palestine can’t breathe. Did you know that American police are trained to use the very same disgusting, inhumane tactics that IDF (Israeli soldiers) uses to terrorize Palestinians on a daily basis? Police brutality in America is directly linked to our government’s unwavering military, financial, and political support of Israel’s fascist regime — and we can stand for it no longer.
Join us as we stand with our comrades in Palestine fighting for their right simply to exist and to live free from Israeli tyranny. Bring your Palestinian flags, signs, and banners. Don’t forget to wear your keffiyahs!
Hosted by Reshaping Madison Together
Smoke rises following Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Thursday, May 13, 2021. Weary Palestinians are somberly marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, as Hamas and Israel traded more rockets and airstrikes and Jewish-Arab violence raged across Israel. (AP Photo – Adel Hana)
For the past few weeks, Israel has intensified a provocative campaign of oppression and ethnic cleansing against Palestinians, focused largely but not exclusively on occupied East Jerusalem.
You can be forgiven if you are unfamiliar with the details, since most of the mainstream U.S. media has studiously ignored them.
Among the major provocations were: looming theft of more homes in Sheikh Jarrah, a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem long targeted by Jewish settlers for “demographic change;” bulldozing homes in adjoining Silwan; protecting a mob of far right Jews as they walked through East Jerusalem chanting “Death to Arabs”; and repeatedly, violently and for no good reason driving Palestinians out of public areas surrounding the Al Aqsa mosque during the holy month of Ramadan, several times even invading and damaging the mosque itself while beating and gassing those inside.
Things got so bad that the Palestinian citizens of Israel marched in the thousands past roadblocks into Jerusalem and rallied in their towns and villages, even launching running urban revolts that very much resemble anti-police violence protests here at home.
Eventually, the Israelis got the response that they foresaw and many probably wanted: rockets fired from Gaza. Now they can unleash their vastly superior, U.S. funded and supported military upon the citizens of Gaza, inflicting damage and casualties in the hugely disproportionate ratio that they are accustomed to. This practice of assaulting the Gaza inmates in their open-air, blockaded prison every few years is publicly referred to in Israel as “mowing the grass.”
As soon as the first rocket left Gaza, the mainstream press suddenly discovered that “tensions are increasing” and that the “conflict,” which by the way was just labeled by Human Rights Watch as an apartheid system, calls for “restraint on both sides.”
And then came the predictable pronouncements from the pundits and politicians of all stripes that Israel has “the right to defend itself.”
Do the Palestinians have a right to defend themselves? Do they have the right to declare, like Black Lives Matter protesters and all human beings the world over, that they have a right to freedom and dignity? That with no justice, there is no peace?
Underwriting this injustice is massive U.S. aid to Israel, currently $3.8 billion annually, which doesn’t include, for example, private tax exempt donations to Israeli “charities” that are funding and driving the expropriations from Palestinians like the residents of Sheikh Jarrah.
Protests by Palestinian citizens are being greeted with a mix of police violence and vigilante-style attacks from Jewish fascists
The more the Palestinian minority protests against the structural discrimination it faces, the more it risks inflaming the passions of the Jewish far-right
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a meeting with Israeli border police in Lod on 13 May 2021 (AFP)
With Jerusalem ablaze and Gaza on the brink of another major Israeli onslaught, it has been easy to overlook the rapidly escalating ethnic violence inside Israel, where one in five of the population is Palestinian.
These 1.8 million Palestinians – Israeli citizens in little more than name – have spent the past week venting their frustration and anger at decades of Israeli oppression directed at their own communities inside Israel, as well as at Palestinians under more visible occupation.
Already the protests, which have been sweeping Palestinian communities inside Israel, have been greeted with a savage backlash – a combination of official violence from Israeli police and vigilante-style violence from far-right Jewish gangs.
Israeli politicians have been warning noisily of “Arab pogroms” against the Jewish population. But with the rising influence of the openly fascist far-right in Israel – many of them armed settlers, some with ties to military units – there is a much greater danger of pogroms against the Palestinian minority.
Israel’s Palestinian citizens have been at the heart of the wave of protests in occupied East Jerusalem that began a month ago, at the start of Ramadan. With the aid of their Israeli ID cards and relative freedom of movement, many travelled to East Jerusalem in organised bus convoys. They bolstered numbers in the demonstrations at Sheikh Jarrah, where many Palestinian families are facing expulsion from their homes by Jewish settlers, backed by the Israeli state. They also participated in the defence of al-Aqsa Mosque.
But last weekend, as social media was flooded with clips of police storming al-Aqsa and of Jewish extremists excitedly cheering a fire near the mosque, protests erupted inside Israel too. There have been nightly demonstrations in larger Palestinian towns, including Nazareth, Kafr Kanna, Kafr Manda, Umm al-Fahm, Shefa-Amr and Beersheva. Police have responded in familiar fashion, firing stun grenades into the crowds and smothering them with tear gas. There have been large numbers of arrests.
Some of the most violent clashes, however, have been taking place elsewhere, in communities misleadingly described by Israel as “mixed cities”. Israel has traditionally presented these cities – Lod (Lydd), Ramle, Jaffa, Haifa and Acre (Akka) – as examples of “Jewish-Arab coexistence”. The reality is very different.
In each, Palestinian citizens live on the margins of a former Palestinian city that was ethnically cleansed upon Israel’s founding in 1948 and has been aggressively “Judaised” ever since.
by Haim Bresheeth-Zabner
The Israeli army, officially named the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), was established in 1948 by David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, who believed that “the whole nation is the army.” In his mind, the IDF was to be an army like no other. It was the instrument that might transform a diverse population into a new people. Since the foundation of Israel, therefore, the IDF has been the largest, richest and most influential institution in Israel’s Jewish society and is the nursery of its social, economic and political ruling class.
In this fascinating history, Bresheeth-Zabner charts the evolution of the IDF from the Nakba to wars in Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq and the continued assaults upon Gaza, and shows that the state of Israel has been formed out of its wars. He also gives an account of his own experiences as a young conscript during the 1967 war. He argues that the army is embedded in all aspects of daily life and identity. And that we should not merely see it as a fighting force enjoying an international reputation, but as the central ideological, political and financial institution of Israeli society. As a consequence, we have to reconsider our assumptions on what any kind of peace might look like.
“It is said that Israel is an army with a state. This book validates fully this assumption. With a clear and accessible style and with illuminating of many hidden chapters in Israel’s history, Bresheeth exposes fully the militarizationof the Jewish State. The book unpacks successfully the military grip of the IDF on every aspect of life in Israel and Palestine, from crucial decisions of going to war to the formulation the policies towards the Palestinians. Even if you are a knowledgeable reader on the topic, this book will be an essential contribution to your library.
– Ilan Pappe, author of 10 Myths About Israel
“Israel’s drive to become a modern-day nuclear Sparta could only be ensured by An Army Like No Other—an army at the centre of illegal occupation, the creation of settler-colonial facts on the ground and Israeli identity self-fashioning. Thoroughly researched and painstakingly documented, this book is a must for those seeking to understand the centrality of the most powerful institution of Israel and for those who wish to see a just and lasting solution in Palestine–Israel.”
– Nur Masahla, author of Palestine: A Four Thousand Year History
“An original and a remarkable interpretation of the wide-ranging impact of the military on Israeli society and one of the most insightful and challenging works on Israeli society from 1948 to our days. His book traces the ways in which military power acquired legitimacy in the civilian society and how the use of organized violence became an acceptable solution to all conflicts in the Arab-Israeli history. Anyone interested in understanding the Middle East should read this book.”
– Shlomo Sand, author of The Invention of the Jewish People
“Israeli left-wing critics of the Zionist state have long described it as ‘an army with a state, instead of a state with an army.’ And yet they have produced very few studies of the Israeli military-industrial complex over the years. In helping to fill this gap, Haim Bresheeth makes a crucial contribution to the critical study of the Zionist enterprise.”
– Gilbert Achcar, author of The Arabs and the Holocaust
“Bresheeth—one of the most important anti-colonial intellectuals of our era—takes the Israeli army as an entry point to undertake a deep analysis of Jewish-Israeli society. The original contribution of the book lies in its ambitions and scope: Bresheeth brilliantly describes the way an army whose ethos is rooted in Jewish historical trauma, has grown to become the occupation arm of zionism, the motor of its settler-colonial domination and the basis of its politics of separation.”
– Eyal Weizman, author of Hollow Land
“This book places the Israeli army under an uncompromising lens. It reveals a yawning gap between the propaganda about ‘the most moral army in the world’ and the dark reality. Through a wide-ranging historical survey, studded with little known facts, it exposes the army for what it really is: a brutal police force of a brutal settler-colonial state. Essential for understanding the political sociology of Israel today and the reasons for the impasse in the Israeli-Palestinian so-called ‘peace process.’”
– Avi Shlaim, author of The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World
As Israeli lynch mobs roam the streets attacking Palestinians, and as Israeli war planes drop bombs on Gaza, it’s essential to understand how we arrived at this moment.
Israeli forces respond to a Palestinian man protesting in Jerusalem by placing him in a choke hold. (Photo by Menahem Kahana / AFP via Getty Images)
I have been trying to think of a moment since 1948 when so broad a range of Palestinians have been exposed to as great a level of Israeli violence as they have been these last few days—and I don’t think I can.
In towns throughout Israel, Palestinians have been beaten and terrorized by rampaging mobs; one man was dragged from his car and brutalized in what many are describing as a lynching. In the West Bank, Palestinians have been shot and killed in raids by the Israeli military. In Jerusalem, Palestinian families, facing the ongoing threat of expulsion, have been harassed by settlers and military alike. And across Gaza, Israeli war planes have dropped bomb after bomb, destroying entire apartment buildings. Many have died, many more have been injured. If they manage to survive, they will witness their society shattered when the smoke clears.
The origins of this moment are as obvious as they are painful, but they bear explaining and re-explaining for a world that too often fails—in fact, refuses—to see the true terms of Palestinian suffering.
To understand how we’ve arrived at this moment, it is essential to start with the story of Sheikh Jarrah. That small Jerusalem enclave, from which several Palestinian families have been under threat of expulsion, is perhaps, the most immediate proximate cause of this latest crisis. It is also just the latest targeted dispossession of Palestinians by Israel, which has been part of a more than 70–year process.
Since occupying the West Bank in 1967, the Israeli government has pursued various policies aimed at demographically engineering the city of Jerusalem—again, all with an eye toward ensuring its perpetual dominance over the city. Among such policies are the building of illegal settlements around the city to cut it off from the rest of the Palestinian population in the West Bank; the restriction of movement to deny Palestinians access to and within the municipality itself; the revocation of Palestinian residency status, which is tantamount to expulsion; and the demolition of Palestinian homes. The Israelis also expel Palestinians from their homes, as we are witnessing in Sheikh Jarrah, so that they can be handed to Israeli settlers.
Such policies have created a uniquely potent set of threats, humiliations, and injustices targeting Palestinians in Jerusalem. Yet what is happening in Sheikh Jarrah is not just about Jerusalem but is also reflective of the entire Palestinian experience. Since the start of Zionist settler colonialism in Palestine, the aim has been to slowly and steadily expand control over the territory, pushing the indigenous population out in a continual process of replacement. The single biggest episode of this was the Nakba of 1948, during which Jewish militias and then the state of Israel depopulated hundreds of towns and villages, made nearly two-thirds of the Palestinian Arab population refugees, and subsequently denied their return, first by military force and then by force of law. But the process did not stop there. In the decades since, the settler colonial process has moved forward in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza through the building of settlements, land theft, and brute military force.
All of this would be tinder enough for this moment, but it also happens to be taking place in a broader immediate context, one in which the vise grip of accelerating right-wing, theocratic nationalism is tightening across Israel. Recent Israeli elections brought outright Kahanists – Jewish theocratic extremists who seek to deny any rights to Palestinians and embrace ethnic cleansing—into the parliament in their most significant numbers ever. Right-wing ideologues have long dominated the Knesset, but as Israeli politics shifts ever right-ward, enabled by internationally ensured impunity, there is now increasing political space for the most open and direct racism we have seen. (It should therefore come as no surprise that it has burst out into the streets in the shape of lynch mobs.)
These new depths of depravity have coincided with the possibility that the Likud party, whose leader Benjamin Netanyahu has dominated Israeli politics longer than any other, risks losing power. This is not due to a challenge by those to his left, but those to his right who seek to replace him.
What makes the threat to Netanyahu’s grip on power particularly dangerous is that he is perhaps the most seasoned Israeli politician when it comes to riling up violence by his followers in moments of political turmoil. It is a tactic he has often deployed, perhaps most famously just before of the assassination of his political rival Yitzhak Rabin by a right-wing Israeli in 1995. Since the election in March, these violent extremists have escalated their attacks on Palestinians throughout the West Bank and have rampaged in Jerusalem, shouting “Death to Arabs” as they marched through the Old City. These attacks, fully tolerated if not outright supported by the state, further escalated during the holy month of Ramadan, culminating first with efforts by the Israeli government to shut down the Damascus Gate and then, ultimately, with the brutal raids we have seen this week by the Israeli military inside Al-Aqsa mosque.
Once again, these events, on their own, would have been enough to bring the region to this volatile and fast-shifting moment. Yet there have also been other events, and other shifts—most notably, perhaps, the rupture of an experiment in the politics of Palestinian citizens of Israel. The Joint List, which brought together several smaller parties, once reached 15 seats in the Israeli Knesset, but it broke apart this time as some parties indicated a willingness to back a Netanyahu government for the right price. The failure of this experiment was the failure of the very idea that Palestinian citizens of Israel could have their grievances addressed by participating in the Israeli government. As even these limited mechanisms of representation faltered, people were primed to take to the streets. Just as the election was taking place, thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel rallied in the city of Umm al-Fahem, carrying Palestinian flags, and singing of their beloved homeland, foreshadowing many of the events in recent days.
The past and present of East Jerusalem
Middle East Eye explains the history of Israel’s push to evict Palestinian families from the East Jerusalem community
Sheikh Jarrah, the Palestinian neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem facing imminent Israeli eviction, was once a breezy orchard lying less than a kilometre north of the ancient walls of Jerusalem’s Old City.
In the early 20th century, wealthy Palestinian families moved to build modern houses in the area, escaping the narrow streets and the hustle and bustle of their air-tight homes in the Old City.
The neighbourhood’s name refers to the personal physician of the Islamic general Saladin, who is believed to have settled there when Muslim armies captured the city from Christian crusaders in 1187.
Refugees from Palestine 1948
In 1956, 28 Palestinian families settled in the neighbourhood. Those families were part of a wider population of 750,000 forcibly expelled by Zionist militias during the 1948 war – known to Palestinians as the Nakba, or “catastrophe” – from the Arab towns and cities that became Israel.
East Jerusalem was administered by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, which governed the West Bank. Jordan had built houses for the 28 Palestinian families in 1956 with the approval of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.
In the 1960s, the families agreed a deal with the Jordanian government that would make them the owners of the land and houses, receiving official land deeds signed in their names after three years. In return, they would renounce their refugee status.
However, the deal was cut short as Israel captured and illegally occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and Jordan lost control of the territories.
Currently, there are 38 Palestinian families living in Sheikh Jarrah, four of them facing imminent eviction, while three are expected to be removed on 1 August.
Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA)
Virtual Book Launch for Silwan!
“Determined to Stay: Palestinian Youth Fight for Their Village”
May 23 @ 1-2 pm Central
Silwan is a Palestinian village just outside the ancient walls of Jerusalem’s Old City. Determined to Stay is the moving story of its people in the face of occupation. As Silwani youth and community members share their lives with us, their village becomes a doorway to Palestinian history and current reality. Written with young people in mind, Determined to Stay draws deep connections between the lives of youth in the US and Palestine — from criminalization, forced relocation, and buried histories to hip-hop as resistance.
Author Jody Sokolower will read from the book. With Sahar Abbasi, live from Silwan, Palestine, to talk about the current situation. Sahar visited Madison with the Room Number 4 Exhibit in November 2015.
Israeli bulldozers expand the West Bank Jewish-only settlement of Nofei Nehemia in the Salfit District on private Palestinian land, which was expropriated by Israel and declared “state” (public) land, according to the owners. ActiveStills Ahmad Al-Bazz, 13 Aug 2020
The Methodist Church has sold its shares in the US-based company Caterpillar, citing the continued use of its equipment to destroy peoples’ homes as part of the illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories, and its poor record in Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance.
More photographs have recently emerged of Caterpillar vehicles being used in the destruction of farmland and olive groves, as well as the construction of illegal settlements and the demolition of Palestinian homes. Caterpillar claims it is not directly involved in sales into Israel but the likely path of trade via the US military and local agencies is widely known.
Other church bodies have sold out of Caterpillar in the past, as long ago as 2006 the Church of England voted to divest from Caterpillar and in 2014 the US Presbyterian Church did the same. The Quakers have also indicated they would not hold Caterpillar shares, for similar reasons. The recent reports by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, and the international body Human Rights Watch, declaring the situation in Israel/Palestine to meet the criteria of Apartheid, following on many similar statements by Palestinian groups and South African church leaders, including Archbishop Tutu, have added impetus to the international divestment and sanctions movement.
Churches are responding most particularly to the ‘Cry for Hope’ issued by Palestinian Christians last July, which called for such actions as the only means left to bring non-violent pressure on the Israeli Government. The Cry for Hope says ‘the call for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) provides a framework for economic, cultural, and academic measures, and for direct political advocacy, as nonviolent means to end occupation and oppression’. Its aim is ‘to exert pressure on Israel to comply with international law, and to call upon its government and its people, in the spirit of the Word of God, to enter into the ways of justice and peace’.
Revd David Haslam, a member of the Methodist Finance Board, said;
‘The Methodist Church has now joined other church bodies in refusing to invest in Caterpillar. Recent photographs from Palestine have shown Caterpillar equipment demolishing Palestinian houses, destroying farmland and extending Israeli settlements in violation of international law. It is nonsense for Caterpillar to claim it does not sell its bulldozers and earthmovers for use in Palestine, it knows exactly what its vehicles are being used for and should be utterly ashamed’.