Saturday 20 December 2008

Palestinian village turning into ‘ghetto’.

"...The Palestinian equivalent of poor children rifling through bins looking for used drinks cans. The pair dodge through the trees each evening under cover of dusk collecting empty canisters left behind by the army..."

Jonathan Cook
The National

NILIN, WEST BANK: The sun is sinking fast behind the trees of an olive grove on the outskirts of the West Bank village of Nilin. After a day of confrontations between the Israeli army and the Palestinian villagers over Israel’s building of its separation wall on Nilin’s land, the soldiers appear finally to have gone.

Overlooked by the homes of the neighbouring Jewish settlement of Hashmonaim, a handful of Nilin’s braver teenagers finally come out to work.

Jamal and Abed are sweating from their efforts to beat both nightfall and the return of the army. They stand proudly, the fronts of their T-shirts turned out to hold a bulging stash of used tear gas canisters and stun grenades. Each is worth one shekel (Dh1) in scrap value, and between them they have at least 50 canisters.

Nilin, midway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, is home to nearly 5,000 Palestinians. Known as the “village of entrepreneurs”, it has more than its share of millionaires. But that looks set to change.

Traditionally, Nilin has enjoyed the benefits not only of a thriving agricultural industry on its plentiful outlying lands, but also of four factories that supply goods ranging from cola to fuel to Palestinians across the Ramallah region.

But Jamal and Abed, who nervously laugh and refuse to answer when asked for their full names, appear to be the face of Nilin’s future business prospects.

Encircled by half a dozen Jewish settlements like Hashmonaim – all illegal under international law – the village is slowly being sealed off in a fashion that may soon make its isolation almost as complete as Gaza’s.

Since May, Israel has begun building its separation barrier along one length of the village, cutting it off from 250 hectares, or 40 per cent, of its farmland. The land will be effectively annexed to the neighbouring settlements.

Copying the strategy of nearby Palestinian villages, the people of Nilin have begun a campaign of mainly non-violent protests to delay the work in the hope that world opinion, or the Israeli courts, will win them a reprieve.

In the meantime, a series of violent incidents by the army have claimed several lives in the village. The army has also experimented with new techniques to break up the demonstrations, including a foul-smelling liquid called Skunk which is sprayed on protesters.

After such clashes Jamal and Abed cash in – the Palestinian equivalent of poor children rifling through bins looking for used drinks cans. The pair dodge through the trees each evening under cover of dusk collecting empty canisters left behind by the army.

If Nilin’s farmers face the imminent demise of their livelihoods with the confiscation of their land, Nilin’s businessmen may not be far behind.

B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, has seen plans drafted by the Israeli army to seal off the crossroads at the entrance to the village, the only access in and out of Nilin. Currently it is controlled by an army checkpoint, the location where a bound Palestinian was shot in the foot in July by an Israeli soldier – a moment captured by Salam Amira, a Palestinian schoolgirl, on her video camera.

“Israel says it wants to prevent the inhabitants of Nilin using the road so that it can ‘secured’,” said Sarit Michaeli of B’Tselem. “In practice that means the road will be reserved for settlers to reach settlements even deeper in the West Bank, on the far side of Nilin. The road will be for Jews only.”

In place of the checkpoint, Israel is proposing that Nilin be turned into an enclave connected via a tunnel to another road leading to Palestinian villages in the area. The villagers fear they will then be entirely dependent on the Israeli army’s good will to come and go.

Other communities in the West Bank have suffered similar fates in the past. Qalqilya, home to 50,000 Palestinians, was tightly encircled by the wall a few years ago.

Its many farmers, who rely on the army to let them pass through gates to their land, complain bitterly of restrictions that have made it all but impossible to make a living. They say that the soldiers often do not show up or they open the gate for only a few minutes a day.

Reports suggest that Qalqilya has seen an exodus of about one-tenth of its population since the wall’s completion.

Like Qalqilya, Nilin is close to the Green Line, the West Bank’s pre-1967 border with Israel. It is in such areas that Israel’s wall has made the biggest inroads into Palestinian land.

Ms Michaeli pointed out the plans for Nilin and similar developments elsewhere in the West Bank mean that any hope of a contiguous Palestinian state – the goal of the US-sponsored road map – is being destroyed by Israel.

“The army can open and close the tunnel at will,” she said. “And we have seen how unaccountably the army uses that kind of power in other places in the West Bank. If they want to punish the village or bring pressure to bear, they simply seal the tunnel.” The tunnel is likely to be the final straw for Nilin’s struggling economy.

According to a report from the World Bank published last month, increasingly severe movement restrictions across the West Bank are choking business prospects.

Palestinian gross domestic product has fallen by 40 per cent during the intifada and investment has dropped to “precariously low levels”.

The report further notes that the land left to Palestinian communities has been “fragmented into a multitude of enclaves, with a regime of movement restrictions between them”.

Salah Hawaja, who leads the non-violence campaign against the barrier, said the villagers wished to avoid such a fate for Nilin.

“The wall is the first stage of turning us into a ghetto,” he said. “The tunnel and the army’s control of it will make the factories on which so many people in Nilin depend for their living unviable. No one can run a business not knowing from day to day whether he will be able to send out trucks or bring in supplies.

“We have no choice but to resist because the other option is that we watch our economy being slowly strangled to death. Israel wants us to leave this land for the settlers, but we are not going anywhere. We will continue struggling for our right to stay here.”

Bush's Parting Gift to Israel

"...A new US-staffed radar base on Israeli soil may indicate that Israel is shifting from an American ally to an American protectorate..."

By Jonathan Cook
Adbusters Magazine

Almost unnoticed, Israel and the White House signed a deal over the summer to station an early-warning missile radar system, staffed with US military personnel, in Israel’s Negev desert. The media here described the Joint Tactical Ground Station, which brings Israel under the US protective umbrella against missile attack, as a “parting gift” from President Bush as he prepared to leave office.

The siting of what is likely to become America’s first permanent base on Israeli soil was apparently not easily agreed by local defense officials. Aware of the country’s vulnerability to missile strikes, they have been trying to develop their own defenses – so far without success – against the varying threats posed by Palestinian Qassam rockets, Hizbullah’s Katyushas, and Iran and Syria’s more sophisticated arsenal.

In finally accepting that it must rely on the US shield, Israel may have answered the Middle East’s biggest question of 2008: will it launch a go-it-alone strike against Iran’s presumed nuclear weapons program?

The local media reported that the early-warning station would limit Israel’s freedom to attack Iran since it would be the prime target for a retaliatory strike, endangering the lives of US personnel. Or as the Haaretz newspaper noted, Israeli officials viewed the radar system “as a signal of Washington’s opposition to an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear program”.

Although ostensibly the warm relations between Israel and the US are unchanged, in reality recent events are forcing a reluctant Israel to submit to the increasingly smothering embrace of Washington.

Tel Aviv has long seen itself as a military ally of the US, largely sharing and assisting in the realization of Washington’s strategic objectives. But it has also prized a degree of independence, especially the right to pursue its own agenda in the Middle East.

For some time, the key point of difference between the two has been over the benefits of “stability.” US planners have promoted regional calm as a way of maintaining American control over the flow of oil. In practice, this has meant keeping the Arab peoples, and Arab nationalism, in check by bolstering reliable dictators.

In contrast, Israel has preferred instability, believing that weak and fractious neighbours can be more easily manipulated. A series of invasions of Lebanon to accentuate ethnic divisions there and the fueling of civil war in the occupied Palestinian territories have been the template for Israel’s wider regional vision.

The implicit tension in the Israeli-US alliance surfaced with the ascendance under President George W. Bush of the neocons, who argued that Washington’s agenda should be synonymous with Israel’s. The US occupation and dismemberment of Iraq was the apotheosis of the White House’s application of the Israeli doctrine.

The neocons’ partial fall from grace began with Israel’s failure to crush Hizbullah in Lebanon more than two years ago. All the evidence suggests that both Israel and the neocons regarded Hizbullah’s defeat as the necessary prelude to a US attack on Tehran. Israel’s loss of nerve during the month-long war – attributed by critics like the former defense minister, Moshe Arens, to the general softening and feminisation of Israeli society – proved the country’s once-celebrated martial talents were on the decline.

In the war’s immediate wake, there was much discussion in Israel about how such a high-profile failure might damage the country’s standing in the eyes of its US sponsor. Penance arrived in the form of the exculpations of the Winograd post-mortem – and with it the inevitable undoing of Ehud Olmert as prime minister. Washington’s stables, meanwhile, were cleaned out less ostentatiously.

But where does this leave Israel? Certainly not friendless in Washington, as cheerleaders like AIPAC and the fawning of US presidential candidates amply demonstrate. But the relationship is changing: it looks increasingly as though Israel is turning from US ally to protectorate.

The consequences are already visible in the buckling of Israel’s commitment to launch a unilateral attack on Iran. Months of bellicose talk have been mostly stilled. A few believe this is the quiet before the storm of a joint US and Israeli strike. More likely it is the sign of an Israeli-fueled war agenda running out of steam.

Washington, already overstretched in the Middle East and facing concerted opposition to its policies from China and Russia, seems resigned to living with an Iranian nuclear bomb. In the new climate that means Israel will have to accept that it is no longer the only bully on the Middle East block. Israel is on the verge of its very own regional Cold War.

As in the earlier Cold War, this one will be played out through alliances and proxies. But there the similarity ends. Iran is emerging as a regional superpower, quickly developing the financial and military clout to sponsor other actors in the region, most obviously Hamas and Hizbullah. Israel, on the other hand, is losing ground – quite literally, as the radar base reveals. It can no longer impose its own agenda or build alliances on its own terms. Its strength is becoming increasingly, and transparently, dependent on US approval.

The most immediate and tangible effects will be felt by the Palestinians, though their plight is not likely to let up any time soon. Just as before, Israel needs a long-term solution to the Palestinian problem, but cannot concede on the creation of a viable Palestinian state. Now, however, it no longer has the luxury of biding its time as it dispossesses the Palestinians. It needs to find a solution before an Iranian bomb – and an ever-more confident Hamas and Hizbullah – force a settlement on Palestine not to its liking.

Israel is therefore engaging in a frenzy of West Bank settlement building – up six times on a year ago – not seen since Oslo. It only appears paradoxical that, just as Israel’s leadership is intoning the end of a Greater Israel, the most influential and optimistic supporters of a two-state solution on both sides – including Sari Nusseibeh and Shlomo Ben Ami – have been reading the last rites of Palestinian statehood.

This disillusionment, it might be expected, would provoke a new resolution towards a one-state solution among Israeli and Palestinian peace activists. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even the Palestinian leadership’s growing threats that it might adopt a one-state campaign are little more than that: blackmail designed to galvanize Israeli public opinion behind two states.

Instead of a fledgling state, however, Israel is creating a series of holding pens for the Palestinians – or “warehouses,” as the Israeli peace activist Jeff Halper has referred to them – on the last vestiges of the occupied territories. For Halper, warehousing means containing the Palestinians at minimal economic and political cost to Israel as it steals more territory.

But is the warehousing of the Palestinians intended by Israel to be the equivalent of storing unwanted books? Or, to continue this disturbing metaphor, are the Palestinians being warehoused so that at a later date they can be given away – or, worse still, pulped?

The answer again suggests Israel’s growing dependence on the US. Washington has for some time been strong-arming the Sunni Arab world, especially loyal regimes like Egypt and Jordan, against Shia Iran. With its back to the wall, Israel appears willing to use this leverage to its own advantage.

Its leaders are increasingly thinking of “peace” terms that, passing over the heads of the Palestinians, will be directed at their neighbours in Jordan and Egypt. A regional solution requires a further entrenchment of the physical and political divisions between the two “halves” of the occupied territories, with control over the Palestinian parts of the West Bank handed to Jordan and Gaza to Egypt.

It is a sign of the terminal loss of faith in their leaders and Israeli good faith that the latest poll of Palestinians shows 42 percent want their government-in-waiting, the Palestinian Authority, dismantled. More than a quarter are ready to abandon the dream of independent nationhood, preferring instead the establishment of a joint state with Jordan.

Palestine’s fate, it seems, rests on the resolve of the Arab world. It is not a reassuring prospect.

Livni fantasises about MORE Arab expulsion, in reality, this is a crime against humanity.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, a frontrunner in the race to become premier, said on Thursday that Arab Israelis should move to a Palestinian state when it is eventually created.

"My solution for maintaining a Jewish and democratic state of Israel is to have two distinct national entities," she told a group of secondary school students in Tel Aviv in remarks broadcast by army radio.

"And among other things I will also be able to approach the Palestinian residents of Israel, those whom we call Arab Israelis, and tell them: 'your national aspirations lie elsewhere.'"

The remarks drew an angry rebuttal from Arab Israeli MP Ahmed Tibi.

"She must decide whether she means to leave a million Arabs without political rights or a national identity, or whether she really intends to transfer a million Arab citizens to the Palestinian state that will be established," he said.

"Livni must be straightforward and open as is appropriate for someone running for prime minister," Tibi told army radio.

Livni leads the centrist Kadima party. She is in a close race with former premier Benjamin Netanyahu of the right-wing Likud party ahead of legislative elections set for February 10.

The polls were called after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert resigned over a series of graft scandals.

The 1.4-million-strong Arab-Israeli community makes up about 20 percent of the Jewish state's population, and consists of the descendants of the 160,000 Palestinians who remained on their land after the creation of Israel in 1948.


The Hasbara behind the release of Palestinian prisoners: debunking the MFA briefing.

As always, when I read the Israel Foreign Affairs Ministry Press Briefing, I can't help but wonder how they do it. They lie through their teeth so much, that I hope the Ministry provides a really excellent Dental Care Program to its staff. In "Behind the Headlines: Israel continues prisoner release policy" we see the best worst that Israel has to offer the gullible masses...but first of course, remember, this is the stuff they feed to the news agencies, so why are you surprised that when the papers pick it up everything is so totally screwed and twisted? My deconstruction in RED .

In honor of the Muslim Festival of the Sacrifice (Eid al-Adha),

Do they really care? Why recognise a Muslim holiday unless they do it for political expediency… and get ready for it, the catch is coming up...

and as a confidence building measure towards the Palestinian Authority and its leadership, Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayad,

There’s the catch! It’s not for the Palestinian people, but as a favour to the Palestinian Authority and its LEADERSHIP, who, lest we forget, didn’t win the elections and are in power in a way that few consider legitimate.

the Israel government decided on Sunday, 7 December 2008, to release 230 Palestinian prisoners. The convicted prisoners who are serving sentences of varying lengths in Israeli prisons and are identified with either Fatah, the Popular Front (PFLP) or the Democratic Front (DFLP). The release is scheduled for Monday, 15 December 2008.

That’s right, they are from Fatah and... The PFLP and DFLP (just to make it look like it wasn’t giving the collaborationist party all the favours).

In accordance with the criteria set by previous government decisions, none of the prisoners have blood on their hands

Ok, so let’s see who the prisoners are and what the charges are. list around just yet.

and all belong to factions that support the Palestinian Authority and its leadership.

Would we expect ANYTHING else?

None are associated with Hamas or Palestinian Jihad.

No, of course not. These are selected for being killed, as the MFA seems to think is “policy”. Just take a look at the Media Summary that they issued yesterday. In an article, unfortunately only in Hebrew, written by Dan Margolit for the free Israeli paper HaYom, this is what we see as the fate that remains for leaders or militants associated with Hamas:

Yisrael Hayom says that, "The debate over the level of the military response" to Kassam rockets from the Gaza Strip "is connected to Gilad Shalit," and proposes the following: "As a first step, it would be wise to finally activate the Foreign Ministry and announce in the world's capitals that Israel will wait one month for the complete cessation of all firing at its communities. Public opinion should be prepared. At the same time, the crossings to the Gaza Strip must be closed without setting a target date...The Government will promise not to open them before a certain date even if Kassam fire halts immediately. Targeted eliminations against those responsible for firing Kassams and mortar rounds will be resumed, especially against the Hamas leadership. Ismail Haniyeh should face the same fate as Sheikh Yassin. And afterwards? In the meantime, Israel will have a stable government and it is possible that by then that discussion of the situation in the Gaza Strip will not have to be included on the agenda."

Right, my friends. THAT was released not on some fringe, fanatical “Kill them ALL” news source, it got the government stamp of approval. They seem to think that:

a) They can “announce” (not consult with) the world’s capitals that Israel is setting a little tiny deadline before they go into full war regale. “Prepare the public opinion”, and that means, HASBARA BABES; get your galoshes on, cuz we have heaps of mud to dump over things like law, ethics, humanitarian consideration and facts;

b) Close the Gaza crossings (as if they aren’t already closed?) WITHOUT SETTING A TARGET DATE (keeping people in a state of siege that has no conditions), it is imposed because obviously, the World has been properly briefed as to the justice in doing that;

c) They won’t open them EVEN IF Kassams are not fired. So, those naughty Palestinians can’t win for losing:

d) Basically force resistance movements into action, anything they do will be used as a pretext to – ASSASSINATE Hamas leaders, even ones who have been elected, and are not merely ideologues, can be picked off, (hey, the World Capitals know, so they can’t complain);

e) Nobody can talk about Gaza.

The list of prisoners to be released was prepared by the Israel Security Agency and the Ministry of Justice. The majority of the prisoners will be released via the Beituniya checkpoint in the West Bank, and a minority (19) via the Erez Crossing into Gaza.

Through this latest confidence-building measure - which addresses an issue of critical significance for the Palestinians - Israel seeks to intensify its continued dialogue with partners who are both committed to negotiations and diplomacy and opposed to terrorism.

There you have it in a nutshell, release more who are in the party that allows normalisation, which is not the majority view of the Palestinian community in the Occupied Territories and in the refugee camps and the Exile at large, and call it doing a favour to Palestinians. I am certain the families want and deserve to have their loved ones with them. I can’t blame them for their joy, and I am happy that prisoners are being released. It is the selection process that kind of… smacks of political expediency… for Israel alone, and for those who lick the arse of Israel just to stay in power in their citadel in the West Bank.

The prisoner release is being carried out within the framework of Israel’s ongoing policy of implementing confidence-building measures and strengthening the Palestinian Authority and its leadership, Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayad.

You already said that. But repetition is a Hasbara tool.

Israel is sending a message that political achievements can be attained only through negotiations, and that the pursuit of terrorism will achieve nothing. The graduated release of prisoners is an ongoing process, which to date has brought about the release of approximately 1000 prisoners who support the Palestinian Authority and its leadership,

I thought this was a goodwill gesture? Ah, author of this briefing, you kind of laid your cards on the table there, get them back to your chest.

alongside Israel-Palestinian security cooperation (such as the Jenin model), and other measures.

Right, they support all Palestinian “security” measures that take away the people’s security, but give Abu Mazen a private army.

The prisoners are being released in honor of the Muslim Festival of Sacrifice, and in deference to the high priority accorded to the prisoner issue in Palestinian society.

Oh come on, we already saw that you have two deuces!

It should not be forgotten that these prisoners have been convicted of participation in terror attacks against Israeli citizens, and the Government of Israel is not eager to release any of them.

Gosh, I thought you JUST wrote that those who pursue terrorism will achieve NOTHING. Or didn’t you say they had no blood on their hands? Remember, if you put a story out, stick to it at least in the same press release!

Indeed, there is a great deal of internal criticism in Israel regarding the government's decision to release these prisoners - especially in light of the standstill in negotiations for the release of the Israel soldier Gilad Shalit who was abducted by the Hamas two and a half years ago.

The pursuit of this policy, despite the domestic controversy, reflects the priority given by the Israel government to making peace with pragmatic Palestinians.

I thought you had to make peace with Palestinians, not just with those who you like and who are doing you favours. Happy Eid.

Divide and Shock in Palestine‏

Ewa Jasiewicz

The Palestine Trade and Investment Forum began in London this past weekend. Organised on the behalf of UK Trade and Industry and the Department for International Development, this British government lead initiative welcomed over 40 Palestinian delegates from the occupied WestBank, and just three from besieged Gaza.

Whilst private sector business representatives talked of privatising Palestinian assets, services and natural resources, Israel continues to develop new settlements in the west bank and East Jerusalem, a lightrailway system on occupied territory and an apartheid wall declared illegal by the International Criminal Court; facts on the ground which fly in the face of any semblance of both sovereignty and territorial contiguity or independent development.

In its decontextualisation of the Palestinian economy from both the conditions of military occupation and colonisation of both land and water resources by Israel in the West Bank, and the on going collective punishment of Gaza, this event and the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan it adheres to risks a normalisation of occupation and an abandonmentof Gaza.

Whilst the UK government's stance on re-labelling settlement produce from 'Made in Israel' to 'Made in the West Bank' could be constructive, virtually nothing is being 'Made in Gaza'.

Here in Gaza trade remains frozen and even humanitarian relief has been reduced to a slow drip feed by Israel. UNRWA’s Director of Operations JohnGing explained from his Gaza City Headquarters, ‘What we have seen with Gaza is a process of de-development. Last year it was about destroying the economy, this year the siege is impacting on humanitarian assistance. Even we at the UN are struggling to get in food and medicine – we are not even allowed to bring in sufficient supplies for reserves’.

Israel justifies the sanctions as a form of self-defence against continuing Qassam rocket attacks on its’ citizens. The economic constriction complements the threat of military assault, with foreign Minister Tzipi Livni stating: ‘The state can and should provide an answerto the terror with its available military means. We can not allow Gaza toremain under the control of Hamas’.

But the human rights crisis in Gaza continues. According to the Palestinian Independent Commission on Human Rights 80% of the populationare living on less than two dollars a day, unemployment hovers at 60% andjust 195 factories remain open out of 3900 in 2005. 40,000 agricultural workers have lost their income and piles of export-ready produce, including Gaza’s famous succulent strawberries, risk rotting due to a banon all exports. UN housing projects and schools remain unbuilt leaving askyline of stark, skeletal structures aborted by Israel ’s ban onmaterials.

But if the Gazan limb of the dismembered Palestinian body politic is being kept on a drip, surviving through intermittent doses of international aid, then the crippled West Bank is in the process of being strapped up forshock therapy.

The UK ’s Department for International Development provided ‘substantialtechnical support’ for The Palestinian Reform and Development Plan 2008-2010.

The Palestine Plan follows a typical DFID free-market directive. It opts for the standard blasts of evisceration of public services (already torpedoed by Israeli tanks and fighter jets since the Al Aqsa Intifada), privatisation of assets and resources (Israel has already helped itself to the Western aquifer through annexing a further 20% of the West Bank’s mostfertile land) cuts in public spending, wage freezes, price hikes and de-regulated of new industry.

The free trade human rights-free zones it endorses are similar to others around the world which have failed to protect workers, enhance prosperity or generate equality the world over. To apply them within pre-existing human rights free zones risks creating a multi-layered nightmare of de-recognition of not just unions, but a land and a people’s right to self-determination.

The Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) representing over 100 civil society organisations in both the West Bank and Gaza responded to the plan saying,‘It is astonishing that (it) does not include discussions of the role of civil society organizations and how to preserve and further develop the sevital civil society structures in Palestine.’

The Network went on to point out: ‘Development planning is not about producing logical frameworks and utilizing economic indicators to improve system performance and measure outcomes. It is first and foremost about human and social development. As such, vision, approach and process arekey. Only when these are compatible with a population’s real needs can adevelopment plan hope to produce positive results.’

The UK’s Department for International Development, UKTI and the World Bank have failed to reflect participatory, democratic, socially focused priorities in their shaping of the plan. Instead, the corporate sector is the key actor to bring prosperity to Palestine in a textbook neo-liberal Structural Adjustment Plan.

Instituting free market capitalism and the insecurity, exploitation and inequality it generates and thrives upon, under conditions of Israeli occupation spells disempowerment and a composition of classes that could antagonise existing politically sectarian and class conflicts in Palestine.

Imposition of this structural adjustment plan is probably only possible because of the conditions of occupation, yet decisions made into facts onthe ground now could rob future generations of the freedom to decide what kind of land, economy and society they and their children will live and learn in. History, present day and past has taught us that long term deals signed whilst countries are institutionally weak or occupied, privilege occupiers’ interests and power structures.

In the final instance, the plan, according to Palestinian civil society groups lacks the political will and external support to make any independent development a reality. ‘We maintain that the experience of the past 13 years, massive aid that failed to generate economic growth and totake into consideration the root causes of poverty, namely, the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian land, only led to aid failure and the emergence of a systems crisis that can come in the way of the best development plan. Without tangible and concrete political interventions bythe international community this plan will not depart far from the runway’.

Today, the investment and reform many Palestinians are looking for is not in the privatisation of their economy and a slow creep towards anormalisation of apartheid, but in real and prompt political reform, rooted in justice and the will of the international community to finally enforce international law and UN resolutions on the return of land, refugees, sovereignty and unity.

EU Awards Israel for starving Gazans!

Khalid Amayreh.

EU awards Israel for starving Gazans, expanding colonies.

On Monday, 8 December, European Union (EU) foreign ministers decided to boost relations with the apartheid state of Israel.

The decision opens the way towards a first-ever EU-Israel summit in the coming months, perhaps during the Czech Republic’s presidency of the bloc, in the first half of 2009.

The EU will also consider inviting Israel to participate in the civilian missions linked to its security and defense policy.

Czech officials have pointed out that upgrading EU-Israeli relations will be one of the Czech Republic’s main priorities when it takes over the EU presidency from France in January.

Immoral decision

The plainly immoral decision came as a surprise, not because the EU is a paragon of virtue and morality, but rather because Israel has been behaving and acting very much as a Nazi state would. Hence, the decision can only be viewed as a cheap appeasement and expression of political promiscuity.

Indeed, it is very hard to think of a single positive factor justifying this grave blunder on the part of the EU.

Israel, after all, is continuing to steal (they use the term expropriate or confiscate) Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem on a very large scale in order to build their for-Jews-only colonies at the expense of the native Palestinians. This policy alone is irreversibly killing whatever prospects there still are for the creation of a viable and territorially contiguous Palestinian state.

Israel is also accelerating the process of institutionalized theft of Arab property and real estate in East Jerusalem, effectively making the Palestinian dream of making the city the capital of the contemplated Palestinian entity a far-fetched fantasy.

In the West Bank, the Israeli government is allowing Jewish terrorists and thugs, euphemistically called settlers, to terrorize innocent Palestinian civilians and vandalize their property. The recent outrage in the southern West Bank town of al-Khalil (Hebron), which Israeli leaders themselves described as “pogrom,” was only an epitome caricaturing a fast-metastasizing cancer resembling in certain ways developments in Germany prior to the outbreak of the Second World War.

And the criminal outrage in Gaza which actually defies linguistic description!! Indeed, how can EU leaders be completely blind to the slow-motion genocide being carried out against 1.5 million helpless human beings by Israel in close coordination with some other regional and international players?

We are talking about a real-time holocaust being perpetrated before our eyes at the hands of the holocaust children, their children and grandchildren.

True, gas chambers and ovens are non-existent in Gaza. However, Gazans, children and adults alike, are forced to die on a daily basis because of malnutrition, lack of proper medical care, contaminated water and a host of other preventable illnesses resulting directly or indirectly from the Nazi-like siege imposed for the third consecutive year on the Gaza Strip, a territory that has been transformed into the world’s biggest open-air prison.

Indeed, if Europe thinks that Israel is justified in starving Gazans, then Europe and the west in general should stop making all these hypocritical denunciations of the Third Reich and Nazism.

Or, at least, admit that the holocaust was diabolical, not necessarily because it was evil per se, but rather because Jews were its victims.

In other words, Europe and the West in general should perhaps declare that the holocaust would have been viewed entirely differently had its victims been non-Jewish.

I am posing these questions because the EU is almost indifferent to what is happening in Gaza as entire generations of people are being crushed by a merciless blockade aimed at punishing them, to the point of death, for electing a government that refuses to recognize the legitimacy of Jewish-Nazism.

Insult to Arabs

There is no doubt that the EU decision to upgrade relations with Israel despite the latter’s pornographic oppression of Palestinians and grave violations of the human and civil rights of non-Jews in Palestine-Israel is a brazen insult to the so-called “moderate” Arab regimes who may be thinking that by savaging their own people and succumbing to Israeli dictates, they will gain respect in the capitals of Europe.

For these regimes, the EU decision should be a wake-up call. However, it is amply clear that these “moderate” leaders are too bereft of dignity, self-respect and national honor to understand the meaning of the European decision.

In the occupied West Bank, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas ordered his henchmen to arrest and torture thousands of Palestinians to appease and please Israel and the West. Abbas has likewise vowed to crush all opposition, including peaceful opposition, to the Israeli occupation, so much so that he received several certificates of good conduit from Israeli leaders who are mostly certified war criminals.

In recent months, Abbas’s American-financed and trained forces raided and ransacked hundreds of charitable and other institutions all over the West Bank, closing them down, to prove to Israel and the Bush administration that he is capable of fighting terror efficiently.

A few weeks ago, as Palestinian civilians were being assaulted and terrorized by genocidal Jewish terrorists (settlers) in the Hebron and Nablus regions, the commanders of Abbas’s forces undertook to keep the forces in their barracks.

One of leaders answerable to Abbas was quoted as saying that “even if settlers attacked us, we wouldn’t fire back at them.”

Hence, how can any reasonable person expect the EU, or the world at large, to show any modicum of respect toward such people and leaders who have no dignity of their own or respect for their masses?

In fact, the EU is acting within the normal order of things as far the Palestinian Authority is concerned. A few months ago, one of the highest-ranking PA military commanders told his Israeli “colleagues”!!! that “we (the PA and Israel) are allies, with a common enemy,” an allusion to Hamas.

Well, if Israel is a PA ally, then helping Israel should also benefit the PA.

The same can be said about Egypt, a country of nearly 80 million people rendered nearly impotent by a decadent tyrant who prefers to enjoy the legitimacy that comes from American, Israeli and European acceptance than the legitimacy that comes from the Egyptian masses.

This is the regime that has been complementing and perfecting the Nazi-like Israeli siege to Gaza for the purpose of obtaining a certificate of good conduct from the outgoing Bush administration, the very administration that a majority of US citizens are now glad it will finally be consigned to the dustbin of history.

And how about the Saudi dynasty, which has been currying favor with Israel by preventing Gazan pilgrims from traveling to Mecca to perform the annual pilgrimage and by organizing so-called “inter-religious conferences” which everyone knows are aimed at normalizing relations with the Zionist regime via the back door. So, why would Europe respect a Saudi leadership that has since time immemorial been sacrificing Arab and Muslim dignity in order to please America so that the House of Saud will remain in power for as long as possible.

Thanks to their cheap enslavement by the US and the West, tyrannical Arab regimes may gain a few more years in power. However, they should remember that their place in history will be no better than that of the disgraced Shah of Iran or King Faruk of Egypt.

The great Arabian poet Zuheir Ibn Abi Sulma wrote more than 1450 years ago that “waman la Yokarrim Nafsaho la yokarrami.” (He that doesn’t respect himself shall not be respected by others.”