Palestine/Israel Apartheid News: 4/28/11: 5 Years After U.S.-Backed Clashes, Palestinian Factions Fatah, Hamas Reach Unity Deal

INDEX (stories follow)

The Wikileaks News & Views Blog for Thursday, Day 152

from The Nation Blogs: Media Fix by Greg Mitchell


Headlines for April 28, 2011

The Wikileaks News & Views Blog for Thursday, Day 152

from The Nation Blogs: Media Fix by Greg Mitchell

Quick notes on Fateh-Hamas reconciliation of April 27

As I tweeted yesterday, the reconciliation announced in Cairo yesterday— which still needs a lot of fleshing out– is the second great result of the Egyptian people’s historic overthrow of the Mubarak-Suleiman regime. Until February 11, Omar Suleiman had been assiduous in (1) monopolizing the whole diplomatic space allotted to “seeking” this reconciliation, and (2) blocking its attainment.

In both these steps, we can note, he was mirroring the behavior his Washington friends have pursued more broadly toward the attainment of a final-status Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement: (1) monopolize, (2) block. You might argue– as I have, many times, at both these levels– that if you can’t sh*t you should get off the pot. But in both these cases, staying glued to the pot so no-one else gets a chance to do the job is just as important as the not-doing of the job.

But the heroic and disciplined Egyptian people knocked Sulaiman off his pot… and now, six weeks later, we have a first important step toward what could well be a Fateh-Hamas reconciliation that serves the interests of the long-battered Palestinian people a lot better than the extremely damaging U.S.- and Israeli-engineered division that has wracked the Palestinian movement since late January 2006.

See these great photos from an anti-Israeli popular demonstration in Cairo just yesterday. H/t Arabawy.

The rough score-sheet for the effects of the Arab uprisings up till now on the always-permeable internal politics of the forcibly dispersed Palestinian people is roughly as follows:

    1. Overthrow of the Mubarak-Suleiman regime: devastatingly bad for Fateh and very good for Hamas.

2. Serious weakening of Bashar al-Asad regime in Syria: Fairly bad for Hamas in the short term, given the location of the movement’s pan-Palestinian headquarters there and its longterm alliance with the Asad regime. However, note the following: (a) the strongest opposition force in Syria, as in Mubarak-era Egypt, is the MB, which also has longstanding links with Hamas; (b) the Syrian public is strongly pro-Palestinian; (c) Hamas anyway has a widely networked and very resilient leadership and succession-planning structure, that it has developed over the course of many years. If they get knocked out of Damascus, they could go to, um, Cairo or El-Arish! (d) even if ‘a’ and ‘b’ were not true, if Hamas were to ‘lose’ Syria and ‘gain’ Egypt, it would still be a tremendous net plus for them;

3. Chaotic and violent events in Libya, Yemen, and Bahrain: These have some effects on the Fateh-Hamas balance, but none that are as sizeable or immediate as the effects of developments in Egypt and Syria.
What is true, as a general rule in the region is that the kind of sordid backroom deals that regimes like Mubarak’s, that of successive Jordanian monarchs, or others have struck with Israel in the past– that is, arrangements to quash Palestinian movements that go far beyond the formal requirements of the peace treaties– have become considerably harder for these Arab parties to uphold, given the long overdue and very welcome emergence of strong movements calling for transparency and accountability from Arab governments.

Now, it is also true that amidst these regionwide developments there are some very disturbing currents, including (obviously) the rush toward western military action in Libya and the support that action has garnered from many Gulf Arab states; the emergence of a vicious new wave of anti-Shiite sectarianism– not only in Bahrain and Yemen, but broadly throughout the region, including (in its anti-Alawi guise), in Syria. This is an aspect of the emergence of a new kind of specifically “Sunni” power in the region that fills me with dread. Goodness, have we not seen quite enough of the terrible effects of Sunni-Shiite sectarian hatred in Iraq and Lebanon over recent years??

For their part, the leaders of Hamas (though not all of the rank-and-file members of the movement) are part of a determinedly tolerant current within the broader “Sunni Islamist” stream. Hamas leaders are eager to work with Christians inside and outside the Palestinian community; and they have a long history of working closely alongside Hizbullah (and the Iranian government), which must surely have affected the view they have of Muslims who are Shiites. Hamas people whom I’ve interviewed have always warned strongly against allowing any kind of paranoia about the machinations of an alleged “Shiite Crescent” to insert a fatal wedge into the Palestinian or broader Arab national movements. That kind of paranoia, I certainly have heard expressed and endorsed by high-ranking people in Fateh– as in Jordan, Mubarak’s Egypt, etc.

Anyway, the region is still in a high degree of dynamism. This will certainly have a big effect on the internal politics of Palestine.

Here in Washington, DC, I see various of the rabidly pro-Israel members of Congress have been screaming their hearts out about how any affiliation with Hamas would render the Fateh leaders completely ineligible for any further U.S. aid. Ha. good luck with that. If the U.S. Congress cuts off the “aid” (including $$ and political support) to the Ramallah-based P.A. completely, then the P.A. will almost immediately collapse– and so will the “Dayton Forces”, which have been policing the various little pieces of Ramallastan in the service of the Israelis for the past few years. What then for U.S. policy?

The White House, interestingly enough, seems to have a slightly more nuanced view. I haven’t had time to find the whole of the statement that NSC spokesperson Tommy Vietor made yesterday, about the reconciliation news from Cairo. (If any readers can contribute the original source of this document, please put it in the comments.) But what truly intrigued me was the headline the pro-Hamas PIC put on this report of Vietor’s statement: “US meets Palestinian unity deal with guarded optimism.”

What on earth– ?

The portions of Vietor’s words that PIC quoted were as follows:

    ”Hamas … is a terrorist organization which targets civilians,” said Veitore.

“As we have said before, the United States supports Palestinian reconciliation on terms which promote the cause of peace,” he said. ”To play a constructive role in achieving peace, any Palestinian government must accept the Quartet principles and renounce violence, abide by past agreements, and recognize Israel’s right to exist.”

“We have seen the press reports and are seeking more information,” he added.
To me, this doesn’t warrant the headline the editors put onto their news report. On the other hand, Vietor’s words are light-years less hostile and hysterical than those of people like Ileana Ros-Lehtinen or Gary Ackerman.

The fact that the PIC has depicted them, in its headline, in this extremely rosy way– “guarded optimism”???– is what intrigues. Are the Hamas ideologues trying to prepare the way for a new overture to the Obama administration?

5 Years After U.S.-Backed Clashes, Palestinian Factions Fatah, Hamas Reach Unity Deal

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HamasfatahThe rival Palestinian political organizations, Fatah and Hamas, have reached an agreement to end a nearly five-year internal schism, form an interim government, and hold a general election within a year. The two sides have been locked in a bitter conflict since Fatah and the Bush administration tried to overthrow Gaza’s Hamas-led government in 2006 after Hamas won Palestinian national elections. Israel and the United States say they’ll reject any peace talks with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas. We speak with Saree Makdisi, professor of English and comparative literature at UCLA and the author of several books, including Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation. [includes rush transcript]

Israel Prevents Return of Gazan to Gaza

Haaretz reports on the strange case of a mystery Gazan who the Shabak has prohibited from returning to his home there.  The man has a permit to visit Israel and normally travels back and forth from Gaza to Israel.  However, all of a sudden the secret police determined that it would endanger the man for him to return to Gaza.  They’re doing two things here: one, they’re substituting their own judgment about his safety for his own which is quite infantilizing; second, they’re implying that he’s an informer so he will definitely be killed if he returns.  So much for the kinder, gentler Shabak.

The fact that the man has brought a case to the Supreme Court demanding that he be allowed to return to Gaza is a clear repudiation of the stupidity of Shabak’s claim that he is in danger if he returns.

Another strange aspect to this case is that Israel, when it releases West Bank prisoners from detention often refuses to allow them to return there and instead dumps them in Gaza under the assumption that it is the terrorist dumping ground.  In this case, the detained individual seems to be the only Palestinian who wants to return to Gaza but can’t.

The man has been charged with no crime and isn’t even imprisoned.  For the life of me, I can’t understand under what basis can a country forcibly prevent someone who isn’t even a citizen or under arrest from returning to their own home?  It simply beggars belief.  And the fact that the Israeli Supreme Court approved this Shabak hocus pocus speaks very poorly for the Court’s upholding of democratic and human rights.  The ruling seems to imply that a non-citizen of Israel within its boundaries can be treated arbitrarily by the Shabak in almost any way it wishes.

Gisha, the human rights NGO representing the Gazan points out that the court decision was made under the British Mandate emergency laws now 60+ years old and not even originally established by the State.  In 2011, you’d think whatever emergency existed in 1946 would have long passed.  The point is that a state that is not fully democratic feels the need to rely on the same types of emergency laws which the Egyptian just overthrew and which the Syrians are attempting to overthrow.  What about Israel?  Isn’t it time?  Or does Israel feel the need to use the same types of laws beloved of dictators like Mubarak and Assad?

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Israeli Crime Reporter Claims Police Dropped Even Rape Case

UPDATE: I’ve just received a report from a well-informed Israeli source which directly contradicts the claims of Hadas Shtaif reported below.  The source says that the police investigation was completed yesterday and transferred to the prosecutor, who has not yet decided whether to prosecute or not.  Because the information in this report is much more specific than Shtaif’s, I find it more credible.

Also, Shtaif is a good police reporter because she has lots of friends/sources (mostly male) in the police force.  Some of them undoubtedly told her the victim’s story and case is a crock.  She dutifully reported this on her Facebook page.  All this means is that she’s a good stenographer for her police sources.  It doesn’t mean she has any sources in the prosecutor’s office or that she really knows what will happen to the case.

*     *

Israeli crime reporter, Hadas Shtaif, in her Facebook Wall, boasts almost with pleasure that her sources tell her that the Israeli police have dropped the rape case against Channel 2 reporter, Yoav Even.  My own Israeli sources tell me that Shtaif is a credible reporter, but methinks there’s something entirely too celebratory about this comment which embraces Even unconditionally.  Frankly, I find it a bit unsettling that a female police reporter should automatically side with the male suspect in a rape case.  But here’s her statement:

Pay attention. The furor over the Yoav Even case is much ado about nothing.  Even was investigated, came out of it smelling like a rose.  The investigation shows that a rape never happened.  The prosecutor determined there were no grounds for filing an indictment.  Case closed.  Remember, a police force which was bold enough to bring a charge of rape against a sitting President wouldn’t be frightened to bring an indictment against a reporter if there was anything to the case.  In this case the police were prohibited from bringing a charge because it would’ve meant doing an injustice to Even.  Believe me.

Frankly, I don’t.  And Shtaif misses some important points.  There was a huge furor within Israel over the Katsav rape case.  At several points, the police and prosecutor considered dropping the charges.  But because there was no gag and because the public could express its opinion about the case, pressure was exerted on the courts and police to go forward.  At another point the prosecution offered Katsav what feminist groups considered a sweetheart deal which would’ve considerably reduced the charges against him.  They offered him this despite all of the furor around the case from the public. It was only Katsav’s stubbornness and conviction that he could vindicate himself which led him to reject the offer and go to trial, where he lost.

In a case like Even’s, there is no public furor.  No one can weigh in in any substantive way.  Now, for true believers in Israel’s justice system they prefer it this way.  They are firmly convinced that justice is always done and that charges can and should be weighed out of the glare of public spotlight.  Me, I’m not as sanguine about the quality of Israeli justice especially when it involves national security or sexual violence against women.  Israeli justice is entirely susceptible to suggestion and subtle, even unconsicous pressures on behalf of the male establishment.  There is often a presumption in rape cases that the woman did something to provoke or invite the sexual encounter.  The judge in this case has said precisely that about the victim.  That’s precisely why there needs to be public input and public scrutiny or decisions such as these.

If Hadas Shtaif is correct I fear there has been a miscarriage of justice.  If Even has been exonerated I hope the victim will sue him in civil court to assess, if successful, at least a financial cost for Even’s alleged actions.  And let women who wish to dally with Even in future be aware of his history and be forewarned.  If he is innocent, he will live this down, his life will go on, he will earn every success coming to him, and he will not have paid a severe penalty.  If he is not, women in future are liable to suffer the fate of this victim.  At least there is now a record should this happen again.

If Shtaif is correct, I fear that one major reason that the police dropped the case is because in the victim’s testimony she says that very early in their encounter she consented to being kissed by Even.  From that point onward, she objected and resisted according to her testimony.  Admittedly, a sexual encounter in which there is any consent becomes harder to prosecute.  But if I am right and this is the reason the police have dropped the case, this means that no male-dominated police force or State prosecution will be willing to prosecute cases in which women have been raped in which there has been any form of consent.  This means that the only women who can succeed in having their cases accepted will be those who never consented at any point in their rape.

I find this to be a sad phenomenon if I am right.  It points further to the infantilizing of women, to turning them into objects which are not entitled to the varieties of responses to human situations which we all face.  Women should be able to say no at any point in a sexual encounter even if they began by saying yes.  Saying no should mean what it says no matter what preceded it.  If you say no and your partner ignores you and proceeds, he has committed rape and should be prosecuted for it, no matter what you may’ve said before you said no.

If Shtaif is right, I am sad.  Sad for Israeli justice, sad for the victim, sad for Israeli women.

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Zionists would appreciate this

“The Egyptian Authorities announced on Wednesday midday that it will release nine Palestinians from Gaza detained in Egyptian jails.”

Rightist Attacks Peace Now’s Director in TV Studio, Israeli Professor Calls for His Execution

You know something’s dreadfully wrong when a well-known Israeli professor says to a peace activist the equivalent of “up against the wall, mother-fucker.”

A week ago Peace Now director Yariv Oppenheim was slapped in the face before the airing of a TV interview which was supposed to include an Israeli right-wing activist, Dr. Mohr Altschuler.  According to Peace Now and Al Jazeera, the attack was unprovoked and before slapping him she accused him of sending left-wing activists to interview her at her home a number of years earlier.  Oppenheim refused to enter the TV studio until police were summoned.  The authorities took witness statements from station personnel and Altshuler did not go on air.

moti kedarProf. Moti Kedar in ‘jihadi drag’

However, another panel participant, a Likud MK accused Peace Now of participating in “an international campaign to generate delegitimization of Israel” by sharing with the U.S. embassy its reports about settlement activity in the Territories.

Apparently unsatisfied that Oppenheimer was only slapped and not punished severely enough, a far-right Bar Ilan professor, Moti Keidar, has called for Oppenheimer’s execution.  Among the jewels contained in the letter of support he wrote to Altshuler:

I learned with great satisfaction of your slapping Yariv Oppenheimer.  Good for you!  The time has come for someone with initiative to do what should be done to this dirty weakling squealer [against Israel], the least of which can be said about him that he is a traitor. In any normal nation he would’ve long ago been stood against a wall [and shot].

Imagine that Kedar views Israel as an abnormal nation because no one has the guts to kill Yariv Oppenheim.  What kind of sick souls does Bar Ilan and the entire Orthodox nationalist community nurture that they think its “normal” to execute those with whom you diagree?

In a subsequent TV interview Kedar told the reporter he was “proud” of what he wrote:

He had it coming and has it coming.  He has no idea what I see in the world.  You have no idea what troubles we find ourselves in as a nation because of what he [Oppenheim] does, characterized largely by genuine lies.

A spokesperson for Bar Ilan had the decency to say that Kedar did not reflect the University’s views in this matter (though I doubt you’ll find the president or board of trustees taking the good professor to task, because he likely reflects their views).  Oppenheimer responded by challenging Bar Ilan to fire Kedar.  Good luck with that.

If Kedar was a lone ranting lunatic it would be one thing.  But aside from his prestigious academic position, he really represents the views of a large minority of Israelis.  Every major opinion poll of Israelis confirms a decided willingness to limit free speech and the activities of NGOs which might endanger the State.  It is far too short a walk from that to seeing such figures as traitors who deserve physical punishment and even death for their activities.

I’ve already written in this blog about a Yeshiva University senior administrator who told students in Israel that they should hang the prime minister (at the time) if he gave up one inch of Jerusalem.  His punishment?  The University sent him back home on the next plane to avoid further embarrassment.  But as far as I know he wasn’t disciplined, again likely because he expressed precisely the views of many other senior leaders of the University.

Not to mention Yitzhak Rabin’s 1995 assassination at the hands of another far-right settler thug, Yigal Amir.

There is a strong undercurrent of violence among far-right Orthodox nationalists represented by the good rabbi and Professor Kedar.  And truth be told, this group is in the political ascendancy in Israel.  It may be only a short interval before some Jack Teitel nutcase actually does kill a peace activist like Oppenheimer.  After all, it was Teitel himself who injured distinguished Hebrew University professor Zeev Sternhell with a poorly placed bomboutside his apartment front door.

What I wonder is–when such violence finally does happen, what will be the response?  What will be learned?  Which views will be renounced?  Which groups, if any, will be tarnished by such violence?  My guess is that no one who should pay a price, will; that Israel is incapable of learning any real lesson from such threats of violence or actual violence.  Professor Kedar will continue opining to the world media and not be seen for the accomplice to murder that he really is.  This is why my current views of the political situation inside Israel are so dreary and downcast.

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Abusisi Story in Truthout

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truthout screenshotI’ve just published my first piece in Truthout, which is a comprehensive account of the Dirar Abusisi extraordinary rendition.  This is the first account of its kind published anywhere outside the Ukraine (there have been previous earlier accounts by AP, the NY Times, and Der Spiegel which were less comprehensive and did not cover major elements of the story which may not have been known to the reporters).

As this is my first piece for Truthout, I hope you’ll read it, recommend it to friends, put it out via social networks, and comment freely in the threads.  Thanks to Max Ajl, who offered me the name of the editor he’s worked with there.

Tomorrow, Josh Breiner will publish an interview he did with me for Walla, the Israeli online news portal.  Link to follow…

UPDATE: For you Hebrew speakers, here it is.  Please add a few positive comments in the Talkbacks if you can.  So far I’ve been called mentally ill, and compared in my “love” for Israel to Adolph Hitler’s.

A friend posted a link to this interview at the far-right Rotter forum and this comment is the highest praise I could imagine, especially coming from someone who probably dislikes my politics intensely:

Just between us, we all rely on him to find out what’s hidden behind these gags.

And that, in a nutshell, is why I do this.

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Imagine if they were Muslims

“In the Hasidic enclave of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, there are many things that women can’t or just don’t do: Be counted as one of the 10 people needed to make up a minyan, or prayer quorum. Walk around in pants. But vote?
According to the bylaws of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, a social service agency and community pillar that has received millions of dollars in government grants over the years, only those who meet the following requirements can vote for its leadership:

  • Jewish and religiously observant residents of Crown Heights
  • Married, previously married or at least 30 years old
  • Male” (thanks Ethan)

Zionism is racism, always

“On April 6th, a large group of Israelis in South Tel Aviv marched  into an area comprised primarily of Blacks, against the presence of Africans [and Filipinos, but primarily Africans – both native and migrant workers] in Israel, demanding the expulsion of the ‘thieves and rapists.’” (thanks Farah)
This entry was posted in Apartheid, Events, Human Rights, Imperialism, Israel, Zionism. Bookmark the permalink.

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