Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Top 10 reasons why you should support Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions of Israel

Top 10 reasons to support the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions of Israel!

10) It is an Apartheid state/cultural genocide within Israel, and ethnic cleansing in the WB and Gaza!

9) The destruction of 522 Palestinian villages in 1948 to make way for the current state and,

8) 750,000 Palestinians forced to flee, now number nearly 7 mill, all waiting for their internationally recognized right to return.

7) Religious and ethnic supremacy are SO passe!

6) the Illegal, Apartheid Wall -which was ruled by the In'tl Court of Justice that it is illegal, immoral and must come DOWN!

5) Trillions of US tax dollars, loan guarantees and military aid etc., we have given to uphold the Apartheid system over the years

4) The ongoing flouting of US demands and outright refusal by every Israeli gov't to abide by international law, UN resolutions

3) The ongoing theft of Palestinian land and water for evil settlers.

2) 11,000 political prisoners locked in and tortured in Israeli jails, WITHOUT trial, held indefinitely with no hope of seeing the light of day. And the number one reason you should support BDS of Israel???

1) It is a colonial settler project - and it has failed miserably...and we see no gov't is going to do the right thing, so just as in racist South AFrica, we people of conscious MUST!!!

Too many to stop are few more in case you're still not convinced!

- The use of US weapons in the illegal Israeli occupation, and ongoing oppression of the Palestinians.

- The consistent censoring of all of these facts, and much, much more:

- The murder, and regular targeting of non-violent peace activists and leaders:

- All the women forced to give birth at Israeli checkpoints!!! This video tells the horrifying story of this pregnant woman, whose husband was shot and killed while driving her to deliver her baby, then she was stripped naked and forced to give birth at the checkpoint on the side of the road, and left in the rain!!!

If this isn't reason enough to end all support for the Israeli state and crimes against humanity...then pray tell, what is????

Friday, February 16, 2007

Israeli Illusionary Democracy: Beyond Apartheid

The saying that occupation exists best in the dark explains one reason as to the level of controversy, surrounding the use of the word Apartheid to describe the Israeli system. It also explains why, what is a clear simple fact to those intimately acquainted with the reality on the ground, has caused so much confusion, or strife to those who are not. Generally speaking there are three sides of the debate about the term used to describe Israel's political system, as compared to South African Apartheid. Staunch Zionist defenders are completely against the use of the term, charging it as ‘anti-Semitic’ or as part of the ‘war on terror’, with no thoughtful discussion of the issues. By dismissing the criticism as a personal attack, they fail to account for the basic facts and reality on the ground, and reveal their limitations in understanding or wanting to know the severe injustices which are taking place, in their name. Then there are activists, academic and legal experts who support the use of the term. As a matter of convenience, they borrow the term from the oppressive South African regime, which most people know to be reprehensible, to make the Palestinian case. They say though it is not entirely representative of the situation, but the underlying racism and discrimination are the same. Because of the advances made in South Africa to end oppression, it is easier to leverage the parallels and draw on the advances of the anti-Apartheid movement, as a case for boycott etc. Finally, even amongst Palestinians and solidarity activists, there are internal disagreements about the use of the term. Because the term “Apartheid” is borrowed from South Africa, it fails to portray the complexity of the Israeli system and in fact directly leads to more confusion, instead of facilitate further understanding.

Most well intentioned people would agree that the only way to find an end to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to first engage in an honest analysis of the situation. Still generalities are made, distinctions are muddled and those with the best of intentions are left to interpret meanings, or worse, completely confused by all of the insidious details of the system at work. This can be clearly seen with Jimmy Carter’s well intentioned book titled, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, which in fact feeds into these misconceptions. His assertion is that Apartheid is alive and well in the West Bank and Gaza, but he generally sidesteps the system that exists within Israel implying that the situation is generally fine. Yet, within Israel, the parallels more accurately represent Apartheid, and the case can be made originating from the basic laws alone; and the effects lead to the cultural genocide of Palestinian-Israeli identity. In fact, the system of domination and militarized control of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, more accurately reflects one on the very real path of ethnocide. Though the means may vary within Israel and the West Bank, the goals are the same and should be analyzed as such. As the Zionist settler project is moving ever so near its patient, but very real colonization of all of historic Palestine, or “Eretz” (Greater) Israel, and its demographic goals which translate into the dispossession and transfer of Palestinians.

Still Zionist leaders know that to the outside world, they must walk the fine line of upholding the appearance of being a democracy, while maintaining its Jewish character. Thus, the conflict for both, extremely dependent peoples - economically, politically and in the realm of public relations – becomes ultimately, a war of public opinion. Perhaps this is why the Israel’s main success in battle, lies in its public relations campaign; over the years, the Zionist leaders have engaged in the world's most brilliant and cunning, PR campaign in history. Adding to the confusion and profound complexity of misunderstanding of the state of Israel, it is perhaps one of the most multi-cultural places on earth! In South Africa, the practice of racist laws was much easier to identify, manifested by separate laws based on the color of one’s skin for “Whites”, and “non-Whites”. Similarly in Israel, you are either a “Jew”, (whether you are religious or not- which makes it therefore a definition of race), or a non-Jew.

Also in Israel as was in South Africa, the goals are colonial and imperialistic in nature. However, in South Africa, the system of control and separation was designed to expropriate the valuable natural resources for the ruling minority, while oppressing the natives, who did not enjoy the right to vote. Because Whites were the underwhelming minority, they realized the impossibility of upholding even a fallacy of a democracy. Therefore the laws of the imperialists were made, and upheld, by and for the ruling class. Since the Palestinian populations of the oPt and Israel, will soon surpass the number of Jews, it has been the single most obsession of every leader of first, how to artificially achieve, and then maintain the demographic majority of Jews in historic Palestine. Because Israeli-Palestinians are allowed to vote, this adds to the confusion and the illusion of upholding a democracy. Still the founding laws-within Israel- and countless military orders, in the oPt, which exclude Palestinians, are so deeply embedded into the fabric of Israeli Apartheid, that they are seldomly questioned on any systemic level.

As a result, the point which begs understanding, and what is obvious to Palestinians, anti-Zionist Jews and other scholars, is that Israel as a state 'for Jews', leads directly to the oppression and subjugation of Palestinians. Herein, lies the inherent racism for Palestinians, both inside and outside the ‘Green Line’. Either we come to terms with Jewish superiority and ’right to exist’ as it is – Greater Israel, or we can not ‘coexist’ at all. The implication here is that it is naïve, unrealistic, perhaps ideal but definitely impossible, to live as equals on this land if Israel continues to be allowed to define itself exclusively as a Jewish state. End of discussion. Yet, as one scholar noted, the only way to resolve the impossible contradiction between Zionism and democracy, “Greater Israel would have to sacrifice some of its Jewish identity – it would seek to fulfill the universal goal of sanctuary for all people facing religious persecution. In that sense, it would be a tribute to the millions of Jews and other minorities who perished in the Nazi Holocaust…the creation of a Greater Israel – would open a path for Israel to emerge as a technological, cultural and financial center for the Middle East. Israel would have the opportunity to integrate its talents with its regional neighbors, thus building the lasting bonds that can augur peace, not war.”

Integration, cooperation and equality, seems like a reasonable demand as pursued by a recent initiative titled, “Future Vision of Palestinian Arabs in Israel” by leaders and academics, and those generally seen as representative of Palestinian-Israeli civil society. Their message was made explicitly clear, that in

“Defining the Israeli State as a Jewish State and exploiting democracy in the service of its Jewishness excludes us, and creates tension between us and the nature and essence of the State. Therefore, we call for a Consensual Democratic system that enables us to be fully active in the decision –making process and guarantee our individual and collective civil, historic, and national rights.”

Yet, Zionists see the mere pursuit of Palestinians seeking equal rights as the ultimate threat – equated by many, to calling for the killing of Jews and the destruction of the Jewish state! Though it implies only, the desire for true equality for peoples living in the same country, the initiative led to the following reaction by some of the most ‘centrist’ of Israeli Jews one of which stated:

“For nearly all Israeli Jews it is also a profoundly disturbing document,” who “must now send a clear signal to the authors of this document that it rejects their extreme demands.” He goes even further to say that it should be seen as a document which can be “understood to bring its authors into line with those in the Arab and Islamic world who refuse to accept the existence of a Jewish people at all, much less one with legitimate roots in the Middle East.”

When the laws of the state are inherently racist, it sets the tone and the precedent for race relations of the country. Whether it is in the oPt where colonial ethnocide is practiced, or within Israel, where open racism has led to cultural genocide – an attitude of superiority and entitlement are commonly accepted on every level of Israeli society.

Israeli ‘Democracy’: The Formula for Dispossession
Since the inception of the state, the very basis of Zionist ideology and Apartheid is personified in the Israeli 'Law of Return’ of 1950, which states very clearly that any Jew in the world – spanning 3 generations, are allowed to 'return' to their 'promised land', of over 2000 years ago. This law stands in stark contrast to the laws for Palestinians which are according to every standard forbids around 6 million of who were displaced because of Zionist terrorism, from returning to their own homes of just 60 years ago! This law alone, makes it impossible to construct, much less uphold, a democratic system. It is this discrimination that contradicts every democratic principle and the otherwise universally recognized right of 6 million 1948 Palestinian refugees who are entitled to Israeli nationality based on the right of return, and the law of state succession.

The Jewish returnees need a place to live! Since 1950, the “Absentee Property Law”, has ensured the new immigrant settlers a comfortable home, with its cherished belongings. Ethnocide and transfer were ensured by applying this law to those who fled or were forced to leave their property because of Zionist terrorism during the 1948 War. The same law was later applied to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip after the 1967 war. The property rights were transferred to the Custodian of Absentee Property without compensation to the property owner or provision to appeal. In the Occupied Territories the seized land has been used predominately for military bases, Jewish-only bypass roads, and settlements. This “state land” also allows for the Apartheid “roads and tunnels plan”. Israel is currently in the process of completing - 24 tunnels for Palestinians to drive underground through - and will connect the prison of Palestinian islands - and cement the 56 settler-only Apartheid roads, for Jews only to travel on!

It does not take a mathematical genius to recognize the agenda at work, once the practices and the formula are understood. These basic laws added to countless supplemental policies equal the clearing of Palestinians, while populating the land with Zionist settlers. Palestinian residents of Jerusalem are suffering of tragic proportions, a destruction of property and economic opportunities, cultural identity and heritage. While illegally occupied, they are considered “permanent residents,” whose residency permits can be taken away if they go abroad for more than 7 years or without a re-entry permit. Jews may have dual citizenship, but a non-Jewish Jerusalemite loses their residency if acquiring additional citizenship. Palestinian communities in East Jerusalem are also enduring the same systematic process as the West Bank, in which the Wall which leads to house demolitions, property confiscation, forced displacement, isolation and a complete denial of access to social services etc. Such practices found in Jerusalem, can be widely seen extending from the Galilee, to the Nakab and the Jordan Valley, also known as the ‘Judea Triangle’ – and are entirely indicative of what is taking place in the West Bank. When added with the sum of its parts, the greater context and an objective analysis, the recipe is clear to see.

An objective analysis is critically needed to see beyond the smokescreen of misinformation. Yet, since the birth of Israel in 1948, the writing was on the wall about what kind of state it would become and (generally), how one viewed the creation of the state then, is still largely respective of one's opinion now. To Zionists, their state is a safe haven for Jews, a bastion of diversity, and democracy an oasis in the otherwise hostile dessert. To Palestinians, the birth of Israel was a Nakba, leading to the dispossession and displacement of hundreds of thousands, and remains today as one ongoing, catastrophe after another. Today, despite enormous differences and disagreements in practice, Zionists across the board agree on one thing: the right of the Jewish state to exist. For Palestinians here in lies the fundamental, inherent contradiction: Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish democracy, unequivocally means a disaster for Palestinian identity, culture, sovereignty and equality - both within Israel and the oPt. Expansionist and exclusionary policies, do not differentiate within or outside the green line – and they are made possible only through expulsion and marginalization of the natives. In addition to 'regular' apartheid of separation – or Palestinian banto-state hood, it becomes necessary to take it beyond Apartheid – in order to fulfill the divine prophecy of 'Eretz', or Greater Israel of which Zionism is based.

While Palestinians hope for a political solution to ease the sheer insanity that Israel has imposed, it has always been the Israeli government's ‘future vision’ to uphold their illusionary democracy. Just as European Imperial systems, set out to ‘tame the savages’, Zionism justification lies in ‘reclaiming the land of Judea and Samaria’, or the West Bank. The Zionists divine proclamation over the land does not leave room for a shred of clear reasoning, debate - or negotiation. The rules become obsolete, and the default system becomes an exercise in military hegemony, imposing its will on the ‘hostile natives’, exerted through control and upheld by force. Innumerably embedded in this context, is also the entitlement and presumption on the deepest level that Jews have a right to exist, convert and/or return, and populate historic Palestine, while the indigenous people do not. It is time to define in our own terms and claim our rights, in practice, as they are recognized in human rights conventions and international law. In addition to the concept of Apartheid, it is critical we challenge the acquiescence of cultural genocide and ethnocide, in part and in full.

On February 22 and 23, Israel is scheduled for review for the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Let us use this time to recognize the terms, in practice as they are on paper. Palestinians deserve a freedom, justice and equality not because their leaders are corrupt or not, or whether the people are good or bad, Palestinians deserve equality because:

“Considering that the Charter of the United Nations is based on the principles of the dignity and equality inherent in all human beings, and that all Member States have pledged themselves to take joint and separate action, in co-operation with the Organization, for the achievement of one of the purposes of the United Nations which is to promote and encourage universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion, Considering that the United Nations has condemned colonialism and all practices of segregation and discrimination associated therewith, in whatever form and wherever they exist, and that the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples of 14 December 1960 (General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV)) has affirmed and solemnly proclaimed the necessity of bringing them to a speedy and unconditional end”.

1. Article 7 of the "United Nations draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples" defines Cultural genocide as (a) Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic identities; (b) Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their lands, territories or resources; (c) Any form of population transfer which has the aim or effect of violating or undermining any of their rights; (d) Any form of assimilation or integration by other cultures or ways of life imposed on them by legislative, administrative or otherwise.

2. Raphael Lemkin, the linguist and lawyer coined the term genocide as “the union of the Greek word genos (race, tribe) and the Latin cide (killing), used ethnocide as an alternative form representing the same concept, using the Greek ethnos (nation) in place of genos.” The broader definition of ethnocide may be useful in addressing perceived shortcomings and restrictions of genocide law and in identifying cultural destruction when it occurs by less violent and less visible means (All Experts Online Encyclopedia:

3. Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq in his article: One State

4. The National Committee for the Heads of the Arab Local Authorities in Israel, of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel presented titled, A Manifesto for the “Future Vision of Palestinian Arabs in Israel”.

5. Yossi Alpher is coeditor of the Bitterlemons family of internet publications, ‘a website that presents Israeli and Palestinian viewpoints on prominent issues of concern; article “A Profoundly Disturbing Document”, January 29, 2007.

6. Negotiations Support Unit Website -

Friday, January 26, 2007

Exit Denied: An Escalation in the Campaign of Ethnic Cleansing

At around 12:30 am yesterday, I was heading back to Bethlehem, by
myself, from Ramallah as to avoid the early morning delay at the
dreaded Qalandia terminal. At night there are very few cars, so I
thought I'd take advantage and avoid the waiting and anxiousness to
cross such a barrier causes. On some level, everyone must confront
the mental and emotional anguish brought on by such confrontations.

This time, however, I was driving confidently towards my destination,
armed with my American passport and newly issued visa in hand. I was
prepared for the journey.

Or so I thought.

I pulled up to the first gate, where they rarely check ID's since
this is the first passage, the further scrutinizing is normally done
at the following point.

Regardless, I held up my passport, as I always do to show the
soldier my precious piece of blue laminated cardboard and paper.
Then, instead of the regular nod of the head and lifting of the
gate, came the sanctimonious voices from above, in Hebrew, from the
loud speakers. I looked more closely to see what was going on, but
through the bullet-proof windows, gates and darkness of the night,
all I could see were the heels of shoes kicked up, and the burning
butt of a cigarette being smugly smoked.

I asked the soldier what was going on, and what the problem was. He
replied in his perfect British accent, "Just because you wave around
your American passport, you think you can get through here?!"

Yes, of course I do. That is how it is supposed to work!

After about a five minute standoff an exercise in patience and
breathing techniques, I asked in the calmest voice I could, what his
name was. He told me, "Daniel". I asked Daniel if I had done
something wrong. He repeated the bit about waving around my American

My responses clearly did not satisfy him, and I am not sure anything
I said would have. So I began on - about occupation, and collective
punishment. As the queue was growing quite long behind me at this
point, I asked if he was holding us here for security. Then his
African counterpart chimed in. She said, "yes, they are all
terrorists!" in the only English words I heard her utter. Then I
asked them if they had ever heard of international law. Daniel
asserted, "Here, this is my law".

Then he spoke into his walkie-talkie, and let me though.

Immediately as I pulled forward, there were three soldiers lined up
in a military formation. When I pulled up in front of them, the
female soldier, who later told me her name was "Suzanne", yelled at
me in Hebrew to reverse, and go back. After doing so, she went on to
attempt to intimidate me with her mean looking snarls, and loud
voice. When she asked, I showed her inside my trunk, to prove that I
do not have a bomb. It was then that she told me to empty the
contents onto the ground…that is when I told her that I would not
empty the books that I had in there, and she got really angry. So I
told her if she wanted my books on the ground, she would have to put
them there, as I would absolutely not.

This did not satisfy her insatiable appetite for meanness and
oppression, so then she began mocking me, making fun of my name and
told me that I was not allowed to pass through the checkpoint, and I
must return to Ramallah -- as she threw my passport at me.

If one feels the slightest bit of indignation and sense of injustice
by stories of such ongoing and clear ABUSES OF POWER, and the
suffering that is caused by the checkpoints, it is not even possible
to begin to imagine the feelings of rage, degradation and trauma one
is left with after such first hand experiences. And the treatment I
received was just the tip of the iceberg.

Apparently, it is not even certain that these were soldiers. Similar
to those in Iraq, OCHA recently announced that "Private Security
Companies (SC)" had taken over the manning of this checkpoint – and
that others will be soon to follow suite. This development should be seen as a direct escalation, as these private contractors are illegal according to international law, because they are accountable to no one!

Watching as these armed thugs behaved with me, with complete
immunity, I am afraid to see how they treat the more vulnerable
among us. These soldiers, or whoever they are, are now making up
their own laws and rules. They no longer even have to uphold a
pretense of a chain of command, army rules to follow, or respect for
international law.

And yet, this is just the beginning of the IDF's attack on travel
and freedom of movement in the West Bank. The IDF has recently
announced that the permit system which makes it impossible to travel
to Gaza, which gives Israel 'carte blanche' to impose its deadly
policies, will become the norm in the West Bank. Thus, it is clear
that Israel is stepping up its planned campaign to create Qalandia
as this international border of entry into the Palestinian islands
of prisons. Accountable to no standards of law itself, the IDF
unabashedly admitted that the 44 roadblocks they supposedly 'eased
restrictions' of, never even existed!

Simultaneously they are working 24-hours a day, 365 days a year, to
expand the existing settlements for the likes of immigrants such as
Suzanne and Daniel who are taking their cues from the Israeli
government, who, in turn, are in the process of completing 24
tunnels for Palestinians to drive underground in - which will
connect this prison of Palestinian islands - and cement the 56
settler-only roads above ground, for Jews only to travel on!

While Palestinians hope for a political solution to ease the sheer
insanity that Israel has imposed on them, creating every possible
misery in their lives; it is the Israeli government's hope and
future vision to bring Gaza to the West Bank. We can not possibly
begin to imagine what this will mean on every insidious level.

The map is drawn. The underground tunnels for the Palestinians are
being dug. The settler-only roads are already in place. All they
need to do now is connect the dots - that will be our dear
Palestine. It is just a matter of time.

Friday, January 05, 2007

A New Year with an Old Blatant Display of Barbarism

Those of you who are saw yesterday's attack in the center of the
heart of Palestinian city in the West Bank, Ramallah, which killed
four civilians know that this is not the first Israeli display of
provocation and disregard for Palestinian human life. Yet this
operation, is only one small display of what happens (no
exaggeration) regularly in West Bank cities of Jenin, Nablus,
Tulkarem, and the villages surrounding. It was only heavily
publicized because it was during the middle of the day in the heart
of the city.

It makes me livid to see the city streets where we have walked and
spent so much time with our dear friends and family, viciously
destroyed, and helpless are we to do anything about it. Those who are
not surprised, but disgusted by yesterday's display know that this
is not the first time the occupying forces have risked the lives of
civilians and massively destroyed Palestinian infrastructure, and it
will not be the last. Just last week I was fuming as I drove down
the highest trafficked street (Kalandia) where all taxis and cars
must use to enter/exit the West Bank from and to Jerusalem, at the
way that the roads had recently been pummeled and watched as cars
bounced up and down and could barely drive, on the large crevices
which can only have been destroyed by the heavy equipment of the
tanks and other military devices. Taxi drivers have told us in the
past that soldiers do this as collective punishment, depending on
whatever little infraction they feel like reacting to. This is
largely due to the fact that most Israeli's consider them selves
better and above the laws of humanity, and the rest of us -therefore
justify acts of terror and violence by their government, in their

Those of you who say that Palestinians deserve this until
they `renounce violence' are just as guilty of perpetuating the rape
and violence against the Palestinian people – and will be so until
you renounce state and governmental violence from Palestine to Iraq
to Somalia.

Who is strengthened by these acts?
I mean, how can Israeli citizens actually think that they are safer
by these acts? How are we ever supposed to trust when Israel speaks
about peace or a cease-fire?? Groups like Hizbollah and Hamas have
gained so much popular support amongst all people not because we
want an Islamic state, it is because of this arrogance,
irresponsibility and the grave abuse of power.

The Palestinian people uphold our right to defend ourselves and
resist the illegal and immoral violence, and uphold the dignity of
our people - as enshrined in international law. You say that
violence only begets more violence, this is true. But if no one is
protecting your family and they are being immorally and unjustly
targeted, I have no question that you would do anything in your
power to do so. Until all people, from all places denounce state
violence, in the streets, in their places of work, at their schools,
an places of worship - we shall continue to support our right to
defend ourselves!

I know I have said all of this before, and there is little left to
say that has not already been said. I part with words for the New
Year that ring as true today as they have since the beginning of all
colonialist, apartheid and other racist ventures: You are either for
all people's right to exist, equally, with out compromise; or you
are for only some people's rights over others. There is no way to be
for both. For the sake of the future of the world - those who are
for the latter, think long and hard about how to reconcile this with
the 21st century and democracy. Otherwise, this year will be yet
another unfolding of more support for civil resistance - until all
of our rights are realized. Go Hizbollah, Go Hamas.

May the struggle, for equal rights never end, until it is over.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Visa blues

As many of you know, I have been toiling over some of my most basic needs which have gone unfulfilled-because of an administrative order that is meant to shut people like me out. My visa is several weeks expired because when I went for my previous appointment in time to be legit, I was told that I couldn’t be helped because I needed to get a letter from the appropriate authorities in order to process my visa. When I returned today, a month later with the letter requested, I was told that I needed to go to an entirely other Ministry, of Foreign Affairs! This is the second time I have come back to the ministry for an appointment that takes a month to get. Therefore, I have been relegated to staying frozen in my place of refuge and traveling only when absolutely necessary as many of you also know that I have been harassed on many occasions while traveling, and even threatened with immediate deportation.

After checking why, after 15 minutes after my scheduled appointment of they had still not called my name, I was assured they would get right to me. A half hour past, and several other appointments later, one finally called my name, this and the several administrators I dealt with finally ‘saw me’, they didn’t even want to bother looking at me.

‘People like me’ are those in a country that are not of a certain religion. I watched today at the ministry while people walked away from their appts. with noticeable grins of relief on their faces, and Jewish head dresses draped on their heads.

When I finally sat down to discuss ‘my case’, it was immediately noted that I filled out the incorrect form, and that I must fill out the ‘visa extension’ form. It was then, to my dismay, I realized that I had accidentally filled out the law of return application. I was immediately struck by the exact likeness of the applications, they were both identical color and the same exact questions raised as if to make a subliminal, little, ironic joke. The only difference was a tiny little box at the very top of the page that read something to the effect of check this box if applying for 'Law of Return', versus extending a 3-month visa.

The Law of Return from 1950 “grants every Jew, wherever he or she may be, the right to come to Israel as an 'oleh' (a Jew immigrating to Israel) and become an Israeli citizen.”

I can not help but feel an inherent feeling of purposeful belittlement and rage at the blatant racism I and all Palestinians are being expected to accept. Though the racism towards me pales in comparison to that experienced by Palestinians both within and outside of the Green Line, I sometimes can uphold the illusion of being immune to it and not letting it get to me. These laws are embedded so deeply in the beliefs and values of those administering and upholding them with their silence, they need not even be written on paper – because the understanding and acceptance of the system.

Whomever says that this is not a plain system of blatant racism and apartheid (separate laws based on race/religion), has not experienced it themselves.

Friday, December 22, 2006

60/40 Campaign for Return & Freedom

6 June 2007 marks the 40 years since Israel's Occupation
15 May 2008 commemorates 60 years of the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe).

Let's Make 2007/2008 the Campaign for Freedom and Return!

In 1948 eighty-five percent of the Palestinians living in the areas that became the state of Israel became refugees. More than 500 Palestinian villages were depopulated and later destroyed to prevent the return of the refugees. Today there are a total of 7 million Palestinian refugees, dispersed throughout the world - the largest and longest running refugee problem yet unresolved.

Israel continues to occupy and colonize Palestinian land through the construction of Jewish only settlements and the Wall in the West Bank. The Gaza Strip has been turned into one large prison. Israel violates international law and commits ongoing war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The future of the Palestinian people is at a crossroads; 2007 - 2008 marks a historic opportunity for faith-based organizations, individuals, community groups, the solidarity movement, unions and political parties to pool resources and activities and campaign for a rights-based solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Critical is the focus on the enforcement of the rights of Palestinian refugees under international law.

This may well be the last decade anniversary when Palestinian eye-witnesses from the 1948 Nakba are still living. Now more than ever Palestinians are counting on local and global society to build pressure for the enforcement of international law – the foundation for a just peace between Palestinians and Israelis. Let's make 2007 – 2008 into 'the campaign of freedom and return'. Not just the return (al-awda) of the refugees, but also a return to the rule of law and respect for human rights.

Please email for more information.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The War of Words & Death that Follows:

By Khaleel Isa

"What you are seeing," he shot, "is a rise in tensions that really emanates and is the direct result of the inability of Hamas to effectively govern in the Palestinian areas." We hold Hamas fully responsible for what happened Thursday at Rafah, both the chaos and destruction" the spokesman for Fatah declared.

"What a war Mahmoud Abbas you are launching, first against God, and then against Hamas. We joined this movement to become martyrs, not ministers," Haniyeh fired back in response, referring to Hamas loyalists' willingness to die for their cause. "The Palestinian government rejects this call for early elections and considers it a coup against Palestinian legitimacy and the will of the Palestinian people," accused Hamas legislator Mushir al-Masri in a statement Saturday. He accused Abbas of illegally calling for early elections, and announced that his plans are one "of defeat and submission to the Zionist enemy."

As I sit and listen to the non-stop gunfire coming from the streets of Gaza city, the above quotes keep running through my mind. While sitting with my colleagues and listening to their words, I see the uncertainty that can create such anxiety and insecurity, a truly horrible space for anyone to be in. Then I start examining how the build up of the events of history could have led us to the harsh reality we are witnessing now. At times, if I am not too involved with a direct event, I am able to explore the arguments or righteousness of the one who had something to say. I used to be very good at listening to and analyzing the intended meanings of the leaders of Palestine, before. But today if I could only ask our leaders: Does the aggression against your brother, make your viewpoint heard more powerfully?? Does the emotional, psychological and physical instability and fear seen in the eyes of your own community justify the divisive and bloody means? How do our Palestinian leaders, make rational sense of this dangerously, chaotic and deeply, sad time for Palestine and Her people?

What is on my mind now is more uncertainty and deep fear. Fear that more Palestinians will be killed by the hands of other Palestinians. I reflect on how the thoughts and emotions from the leaders of Palestine, can bring overwhelming numbness and anxiety, while provoking uncertainty. And then what I wonder is if anyone has a plan in mind? Or are all the players simply doomed to continuously react to one tragic event after another, creating a domino effect of yet more harsh realities. Is the discussion or thought of strategies and future visions even brought up in political discourse??

Living in Palestine, we are surrounded by, and often witness surreal and unimaginable images and a never ending dichotomy of circumstances. You see and experience some of the most callous acts of human cruelty imaginable. Just a few days ago, I witnessed an Israeli soldier ask a mother to put her 5 month baby in the x-ray machine to see if it is a bomb! Let us not forget, there is the Israeli Military incursions, we have long ones and short ones in the Palestinian lands. Some of these Military Israeli incursions, have become so normalized, because they happen SO often without any war criminal tribunal system, that it often becomes a second thought to Palestinians who are not in that particular incursions. Unless such blatant War Crimes like Beit Hanoun occur - I have grown accustomed to unconsciously descentize my emotional self with my daily routine.

But over the past week, since the blatant killing of those children, by Palestinians, I wonder if the invisible coping mechanisms which one develops as a way to defend this unfair life, is destined to take over even when it is at the cost of their own Community in struggle? Should I not reflect and then change this part of my mental psyche, or just allow the overwhelming pain to justify my behavior? Is this not the rat race that so many before us, expressed to beware of?

Today when I look at myself in the mirror what I see inside is rage. Rage from the facts that have occurred and are replayed in my memory. Rage from the exhaustion of feeling sad and uncared for. Rage at the lies that I constantly hear about our Palestinian society. Rage from the pain and injustice, that I constantly see in the children and families who never deserved the wrath inherited by their sordid history; with no positive sign of hope in sight. My rage is compounded by the hopelessness of bankrupt policies and visionless leadership, which guides our world today.

The dysfunctional effects of the cruel years, built upon layers of misguided efforts, have left on our doorstep a testimony of what we are witnessing today. This period can be seen as an inevitable convergence in our history. I only hope that we can begin a kind of healing process in order to make right all of the wrongs.

So today I ask of my Palestinian family members from Jenin, to Jerusalem to Rafah to Nablus, to Beit Hanoun to Ramallah, to stop and take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask yourself what you see, and feel. For me I see the image of blatant US-Israel Led imperial media trickery in front of my face. I see this 60 year senseless Illegal occupation-which has displaced, killed, tormented and maimed so many, taking a toll on my own emotional sensibility and rational framework.

The idea that it is someone's fault, or they one group is solely to blame, is the same rhetoric that I have heard from Israel when killing or displacing Palestinians, as well as from the U.S. government when creating the so called "Democratic violent havoc values" and senseless death within Iraq. We have reached a situation today, that if not all of us individually are to take responsibility for, we will respectively lose and disregard the same human life that we so long have been fighting so hard to defend and honor. I ask for all of us to look in the mirror and see how we all can stop the same blame game, that has colonized our people and left us feeling unheard and uncared for since the Nekba began, and before.

Brothers and Sisters of Palestine, are we so emotionally damaged from these years of being treated so unfairly, that we should allow this type of senseless violence to be justified? In the name of our children's future let us listen to the Great Grand Mothers and Grand Fathers of Palestine. Hear their voices, listen to their emotional memories and pain. Let us be empowered by respecting the souls of the Martyrs of Palestine. Why should we create more blood, when the choice is in our hands?

When I look in the mirror what do I see - I am neither Fatah, nor Hamas. I am a Palestinian, who loves my brothers and sisters. I know if you look in the mirror, I know your answer will be no different than mine. I hear my ancestors singing loudly- without me there is no we, and without the WE, there will never be a ME. Today, yesterday and tomorrow, we are constantly reflecting moments that we can no longer afford to ignore.

For the souls of our ancestors, and the children of Palestine - we call on our leaders and affiliated parties to stop the violence in the streets of Palestine!
"I call on our brothers in Hamas to practice restraint ... to protect Palestinian blood," Meshal in a live radio interview from his base in the Syrian capital of Damascus. "Our battle is against the occupation, and we will not be dragged into a civil war."

In solidarity for Palestinian Rights and Justice

From Occupied Palestine Territories- Gaza

Dr. Khaleel Isa is a psychologist working with UNRWA in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He can be reached at isakhaleel@yahoo. com