Shame On You – Gaza Song
Marwan Barghouti’s popularity can give new momentum to the Palestinian struggle.
By Shannon Ebrahim
October 29, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “Al-Jazeera” – On Sunday, October 27, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation launched an international campaign from the infamous Robben Island – where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years – for the release of Marwan Barghouti and all Palestinian political prisoners.
The symbolism is powerful. Kathrada launched the “Release Mandela” campaign in 1963, just prior to his own arrest, which saw him also incarcerated on South Africa’s Robben Island for 18 years. Now half a century later, as an 84-year-old veteran, he is launching yet another campaign for an iconic freedom fighter.
Barghouti’s wife, Fadwa, travelled to Robben Island with the Palestinian Minister for Detainees, along with hundreds of special guests, including South African struggle veterans and five Nobel Peace Prize laureates.
Barghouti was the first member of the Palestinian Legislative Council to be arrested by Israel, and is one of the most prominent of the more than 5,000 Palestinian prisoners who remain incarcerated in Israeli jails. The European Union and the Inter-Parliamentary Union have called for his release.
Huddled in the back of a fish restaurant in the Gaza Strip in 2001, a few African National Congress (ANC) members of parliament and I sat whispering with Marwan Barghouti. We knew he was number one on Israel’s hit list, but little did we know that within nine months he would be kidnapped by Israeli forces, interrogated and tortured for 100 days, put in solitary confinement for 1,000 days, and, more than 11 years later, become known as “the Palestinian Mandela”.
In an interview Barghouti gave to Al-Monitor in May 2013, he described how the Israelis had kept him in solitary confinement for almost three years in a tiny cell infested with cockroaches and rats. His windowless cell had denied him aeration or direct sunlight, with dirt falling from the ceiling. He was only allowed one hour of exercise a day while handcuffed. He proved unbreakable after three years.
Barghouti’s defiance of the largest military power in the Middle East was inspiring, reminiscent of the fiery determination of the ANC leaders in South Africa twenty years earlier. At the time we met him he was the Secretary General of Fatah, the leader of Fatah’s armed branch Tanzim, and had been the brains behind the first and second intifada. His revolutionary spirit was electric.
He knew very well that sooner or later Mossad would catch up with him, despite his best efforts at being a black pimpernel. In one of a number of attempts to assassinate Barghouti in 2001, the Israeli military ended up killing his bodyguard in a targeted strike. In April 2002, Israeli forces hid in the back of an ambulance and ambushed the house he was staying in, grabbing him. He was later charged for his activities under Tanzim and given five life sentences.
But as with most exceptional freedom fighters elsewhere, his message and persona grew in prison. His popularity has surpassed that of all Palestinian leaders – both in Hamas and Fatah – and he is being hailed by Palestinians as a unifying figure who could lead his people to freedom.
His propensity to unite Fatah and Hamas into one powerful liberation movement insisting on a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders makes him a dangerous threat to Israel’s political establishment. Barghouti’s message is so powerful that Hamas has rallied behind him. When Hamas recently engaged in negotiations on a prisoner exchange with Israel in return for the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, they had put Marwan Barghouti at the top of their list. For Israel, Barghouti’s release was not negotiable.
Apartheid and resistance
Palestinian unity threatens Israel’s strategy – which seems to be to delay peace talks, claiming to have no peace partner, while grabbing more land through settlements. That strategy has worked so far, in that settlement building has increased three or four times over the two decades of negotiations. What is left of historic Palestine is Swiss cheese – full of holes, with little contiguous territory. Its comparison to the old South African Bantustan maps is hard to avoid. Where Palestinian villages and towns remain, they are surrounded by the massive apartheid wall, in most instances cut off from their water resources and farm land, which have been annexed by Israeli settlers.
Where Mahmoud Abbas has given in to Israeli demands, opposing all forms of armed resistance, and establishing unprecedented economic and security cooperation with the occupying authorities, Marwan Barghouti has called for an end to all forms of cooperation with the Israeli occupation. Barghouti has been against the collaboration of US-trained Palestinian security forces with Israeli forces, which he believes has guaranteed the security of growing Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Barghouti has also been scathing about the Arab Ministerial delegation to Washington in April 2013, which proposed amending the 1967 borders in return for land swaps. He considers this the Arab rulers’ worst betrayal of the Palestinian cause. While the Gulf monarchies may have tried to gamble with the future of the Palestinian people, Barghouti’s principled stand has found resonance on the Arab street.
The most famous Palestinian political prisoner is now calling for a third intifada – a non-violent mass uprising. Non-violent protest will deny Israel the ability to dismiss legitimate Palestinian demands as “terrorism”, a strategy that has discredited the Palestinian cause for many outside observers. It will be a Palestinian version of the Arab Spring that will dominate the headlines and galvanise international public opinion.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is only too well aware of the dangers of such calls. His focus at the United Nations and in private diplomacy on Iran as a nuclear threat has deflected the world’s attention from Palestinian independence, settlement building, and freeing legitimate peace partners.
If Barghouti’s attempt, from prison, to inspire a non-violent protest movement captures the imagination of Palestinians, it could start a significant new chapter in the heretofore tragic history of the Palestinians’ struggle for justice.
Shannon Ebrahim is a South African columnist on foreign affairs, a freelance writer, and political consultant. She has worked as the Director for International Relations for the South African Presidency, and coordinated Government policy on the Middle East and East Africa. Follow her on Twitter: @shannonfield7
Torturing and Jailing Palestinian Children
By Ziad Abbas
October 24, 2013 “Information Clearing House – Although I have been living far from Palestine for a few years and I am now in my forties, I still have nightmares about the Israeli army invading my house when I was a child and about the first time I was tortured. This is the reality most Palestinian former prisoners live with for the rest of our lives.
When I was a child, friends my age who were arrested before me said they “saw the stars at noon.” This was a saying we had. You can’t see the stars at noon when the sun is shining. But when children are under torture, especially when they are beaten in the head, they see a flash, even when they are blindfolded. This is what we called seeing the stars at noon.
I was arrested the first time, with a few other children, when I was 14 years old. Our hands were cuffed behind our backs and our eyes were blindfolded. The soldiers were beating us. I heard the screaming, and I was screaming, too. I fell down and someone took my hands and made me stand. Suddenly a huge hand slapped me in my face. I felt dizzy and I saw the flash. I fell down on my shoulder. It was very painful and then I blacked out. The minute I woke up, even though I was under torture, I shouted to my friends, “I saw the stars, I saw the stars!” Later, it became a joke among us: “He saw the stars, he saw the stars.” I didn’t realize that those stars come back and visit you the rest of your life.
About 500-700 children are arrested by the Israeli occupation every year, according to Defense for Children International-Palestine. These children face a policy designed to kill their spirit and shut them down. It targets them physically and psychologically. The impact is planned from the first moment of arrest. Typically, children wake up in the middle of the night to hear soldiers yelling and knocking violently on the doors of their houses. They take them from the house and the child finds himself alone among a large group of soldiers. According to Mohammed, a 15-year-old boy in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan:
It was very painful. My hands were handcuffed behind my back and I was blindfolded. I was beaten by the soldiers everywhere on my body. I felt the pain everywhere. I was thrown in the floor of the military jeep and the soldier’s boots were kicking me everywhere. I felt I was bleeding but I didn’t know where.
When they get to jail, the children are interrogated—usually by professional interrogators and sometimes by random guards. Young age doesn’t protect them from psychological torture, either. Sometimes they throw children in isolation cells for days and sometimes weeks; sometimes they are handcuffed and kept in a small closet; sometimes they tie their hands and legs to a chair and leave them for hours, forcing them to soil themselves.
International human rights reports, including UN reports, express their concern about this situation, which is documented in thousands of pictures and hours of video footage. But none of this has stopped the Israelis from continuing to arrest, torture, and hold Palestinian children. In the “hot” areas, like the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem, the city of Hebron, and in refugee camps close to checkpoints or Israeli settlements, settlers add another layer of torture by harassing, dehumanizing, and even shooting Palestinian children.
The Israelis use laws that target only Palestinian children to legitimize their actions. Youth are sent to military courts, which often convict and sentence them to prison, sometimes for years.
People who experience torture in Israeli prisons and jails continue to feel the pain even after they are released. Especially for children, the pain and suffering of imprisonment doesn’t end the moment you are released. It might continue to follow you the rest of your life. One mother described the effect on her child:
My son is facing a hard time sleeping at night. He was a strong boy before. Right now at night he feels scared and sometimes he wakes up screaming because of his nightmares about the torture. The jailers, they don’t just torture our kids, but they kill their spirit and they traumatize them. My child is changed totally.
According to Khader Rasras, executive director and clinical psychologist at the Palestinian Treatment and Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture, these children have often difficulty returning to school. Nightmares can lead to loss of concentration and difficulty focusing and planning. He explained further:
Fear and anxiety make children who have experienced torture and abuse in detention hyper-vigilant. They will constantly be looking over their shoulders, out the window, and around them—worried that the soldiers will come for them again.
At the Middle East Children’s Alliance, we urge the international community and organizations to put an end to the suffering of Palestinian children. In addition, we act by supporting organizations on the ground that try to reduce the impact of jail.
Ziad Abbas is a Palestinian refugee from Dheisheh Refugee camp in the West Bank. He is the cofounder of the Ibdaa Cultural Center in Dheisheh where he served as Co-Director from 1994 to 2008. Ziad is also a journalist who has worked with Palestinian and international media and has participated in the production of several documentary films. He has a Master of Arts in Social Justice and Intercultural Relations from the School for International Training Graduate Institute. Ziad is the Program Manger for Cross-Cultural Programs at the Middle East Children’s Alliance in Berkeley.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the world’s major sources of instability. Americans are directly connected to this conflict, and increasingly imperiled by its devastation.
It is the goal of If Americans Knew to provide full and accurate information on this critical issue, and on our power – and duty – to bring a resolution.
Please click on any statistic for the source and more information.
Statistics Last Updated: May 15, 2013
Israeli and Palestinian Children Killed
September 29, 2000 – Present
129 Israeli children have been killed by Palestinians and 1,519 Palestinian children have been killed by Israelis since September 29, 2000. (View Sources & More Information)
Chart showing that approximately 12 times more Palestinian children have been killed than Israeli children
Israelis and Palestinians Killed
September 29, 2000 – Present
Chart showing that 6 times more Palestinians have been killed than Israelis.
1,104 Israelis and at least 6,829 Palestinians have been killed since September 29, 2000. (View Sources & More Information)
Israelis and Palestinians Injured
September 29, 2000 – Present
9,104 Israelis and 50,742 Palestinians have been injured since September 29, 2000. (View Sources & More Information.)
Chart showing that Palestinians are injured at least four times more often than Israelis.
Daily U.S. Military Aid to Israel and the Palestinians
Fiscal Year 2013
Chart showing that the United States gives Israel $8.2 million per day in military aid and no military aid to the Palestinians.
During Fiscal Year 2013, the U.S. is providing Israel with at least $8.5 million per day in military aid and $0 in military aid to the Palestinians. (View Sources & More Information)
UN Resolutions Targeting Israel and the Palestinians
1955 – 1992
Israel has been targeted by at least 65 UN resolutions and the Palestinians have been targeted by none. (View Sources & More Information)
Chart showing that Israel has been targeted by over 60 UN resolutions, while the Palestinians have been targeted by none.
Current Number of Political Prisoners and Detainees
Chart showing that Israel is holding 5,604 Palestinians prisoner.
0 Israelis are being held prisoner by Palestinians, while 4,900 Palestinians are currently imprisoned by Israel. (View Sources & More Information)
Demolitions of Israeli and Palestinian Homes
1967 – Present
0 Israeli homes have been demolished by Palestinians and 27,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished by Israel since 1967. (View Sources & More Information)
Chart showing that 24,145 Palestinian homes have been demolished, compared to no Israeli homes.
Israeli and Palestinian Unemployment Rates
Chart depicting the fact that the Palestinian unemployment is around 4 times the Israeli unemployment rate.
The Israeli unemployment rate is 5.6%, while the Palestinian unemployment in the West Bank is 23% and 30% in Gaza. (View Sources & More Information)
Current Illegal Settlements on the Other’s Land
Israel currently has 269 Jewish-only settlements and ‘outposts’ built on confiscated Palestinian land. Palestinians do not have any settlements on Israeli land. (View Sources & More Information)
Chart showing that Israel has 227 Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land.
‘I don’t care what the UN says!’ Netanyahu vows to continue illegal settlement activity
Published time: December 23, 2012 01:52
Edited time: December 23, 2012 05:52
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Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Reuters/Gali Tibbon/Pool)
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Reuters/Gali Tibbon/Pool)
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Conflict, History, Israel, Politics, Sanctions
The Israeli prime minister has vowed to continue building settlements in the “Israeli capital of Jerusalem,” defying near-unanimous international criticism of the illegal activity in retaliation for Palestine’s upgraded UN status.
In an interview with Israeli Channel 2, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threw internationally-recognized boundaries to the wind, saying that the Western Wall, which lies in a part of UN-administered Jerusalem occupied by Israel in 1967, “is not occupied territory” – and that he “does not care” what the United Nations has to say about it.
Netanyahu added that all Israeli citizens live “in the Jewish state,” and that “the capital of the Jewish state, for 3,000 years, has been Jerusalem,” as cited by the Jerusalem Post.
He went on to defend the planned construction of settlements near Jerusalem – in Gilo, formerly West Bank land occupied by Israel in 1967, and Ramat Shlomo, which was taken from Jordan the same year. “What future awaits Israel if we cannot build in Gilo and Ramat Shlomo?” he said.
Both of the planned construction sites are situated within the Israeli-drawn boundaries of Jerusalem, but outside the “green line” segregating Israel from the West Bank.
The schemes to build there, in the E1 area east of Jerusalem, and in the Ethiopian Jewish community Givat HaMatos have brought international criticism and condemnation of the Israeli administration.
“So we, the state of the Jews, cannot build in our capital? I don’t accept that,” Netanyahu said during the interview, as reported by AAP.
The prime minister also pointed to the fact that the expedited construction plans are retaliation for the Palestinians’ upgraded status at the United Nations.
In November, the UN General Assembly awarded Palestine non-member observer state status. With this move, Netanyahu says, the Palestinians “simply tore to pieces all the agreements with us,” recalling that he had warned that Israel would not react by “sitting with its arms folded.”
Regardless of Israel’s claims to Jerusalem as its capital, the international community recognizes Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel, with no country having an embassy in Jerusalem. At the same time, Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
The Israeli prime minister has repeatedly accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of obstructing peace talks. Abbas has refused to negotiate unless Netanyahu and his government adhere to certain preconditions, among which is falling in line with international law by way of a settlement freeze.
Friday, 11 October 2013 15:08
Israeli forces injure dozens at Palestinian protests across West Bank
Written by CNI
Ma’an (Ramallah) – Israeli forces on Friday dispersed several demonstrations across the occupied West Bank, attacking Palestinian demonstrators with tear-gas grenades in numerous villages and causing dozens of injuries.
Dozens of Palestinians suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation on Friday during the Bilin weekly protest against the separation wall and settlement construction.
Demonstrators marched through the village of Bilin, raising Palestinian flags and chanting songs for unity and in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
When protestors reached village lands near the separation wall, Israeli forces fired tear-gas and stun grenades at demonstrators. Israeli soldiers chased protestors through the olive groves, causing Rafik al-Khatib and his family, who were picking olives nearby, to suffer tear-gas inhalation.
Since 2005, Bilin villagers have protested on a weekly basis against the Israeli separation wall that runs through their village on land confiscated from local farmers. Previous protests by Bilin activists have forced the Israeli authorities to re-route the wall, but large chunks of the village lands are still inaccessible to residents.
In Kafr Qaddum near Qalqiliya, meanwhile, Israeli forces dispersed demonstrators and subsequently declared the village a closed military zone.
Protests are held every Friday in Kafr Qaddum against Israel’s closure of a main road linking the village to its nearest city, Nablus.
Israeli forces also detained media crews including the crew of Palestine TV until the demonstration ended. They also prevented international activists from entering the village in solidarity with protestors.
A spokeswoman from the Israeli army did not return calls Friday.
The Palestinian city of Qalqiliya is almost completely surrounded by the Israeli separation wall, while checkpoints cut it off from most of the West Bank.
Demonstrators voiced their support for the Palestinian Authority’s call to release a second batch of Palestinian prisoners who have been held in Israeli jails for over two decades. Protestors marched toward the gate that blocks the village’s main road and Israeli forces subsequently chased demonstrators and fired tear-gas and stun grenades to disperse them.
Two Palestinians were also injured in clashes that broke out near Ofer prison in Beitunia west of Ramallah. Three Israeli soldiers were also wounded in those clashes, which followed a Palestinian protest.
Israeli forces fired live bullets, rubber bullets, and tear gas at protesters, injuring one with a live bullet and another with a rubber bullet. Three Israeli soldiers were lightly wounded after being hit by rocks thrown by protestors.
Israeli forces chased protesters into the village, launching tear-gas grenades into Palestinian homes and neighborhoods.
Israeli forces also dispersed a demonstration in al-Masara near Bethlehem, and detained protestors including Munther Ameera, Lubna Bandak, Jamil Barghouthi, and four international activists.
Demonstrators there marched toward Israel’s wall, raising Palestinian flags in solidarity with the Al-Aqsa mosque in East Jerusalem.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque sits atop a site considered holy for Muslims as well as Jews. It is in East Jerusalem, part of the internationally recognized Palestinian territories, but has been under Israeli occupation since 1967.
The coordinator for the Popular Committee against the Wall, Hassan Brejia, said that recent settler visits to the Al-Aqsa compound are “a desecration of the sanctity of religions, and aim to impose new reality in order to divide Al-Aqsa, and entrench the idea of a Jewish state.”
“I am amazed that the international community watches the Palestinian identity, civility, economics and literature being assassinated each and every day and yet they do nothing,” Brejia added.
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FACT SHEET: THE NAKBA: 65 YEARS OF DISPOSSESSION & APARTHEID
IMEU, May 8, 2013
1) Prelude to Disaster
a. The Emergence of Political Zionism, Conflict Between Early Zionist Colonists & Palestinian Arabs, & “Transfer” (Late 19th, Early 20th Century)
b. World War I: The McMahon-Hussein Correspondence & The Balfour Declaration (1914-1918)
c. The British Mandate for Palestine (1923-1948)
d. The Arab Revolt in Palestine (1936-1939)
e. The Irgun & Lehi: Zionist Terrorism on the Rise (1937-1948)
f. World War II & The Holocaust (1939-1945)
2) The Nakba: Creating Israel on the Ruins of Palestine
a. The United Nations Partition Plan (November 1947)
b. Beginnings of Civil War & Ethnic Cleansing (December 1947-May 1948)
c. British Withdrawal, Israeli Independence, & The Arab-Israeli War of 1948 (May 1948-March 1949)
d. Massacres & Atrocities Against Palestinian Civilians
e. Palestinian Refugees & The Right of Return
f. Palestinian Population Centers Systematically Destroyed or Repopulated with Jewish Immigrants, Stolen & Destroyed Property
3) The Ongoing Nakba: 1948 to Present
a. Palestinians Who Remained Inside Israel
b. The June 1967 War: The Nakba Redux
c. Post-1967: Occupation, Settlements, Walls, & Apartheid
4) Further References
Ethnic Cleansing by Bureaucracy: Israel’s policy of destroying Palestinian homes
Institute for Middle East Understanding on October 3, 2013 4
Last week, as negotiations continued between Israeli and Palestinian officials, both Human Rights Watch and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) issued statements condemning Israel’s ongoing destruction of Palestinian homes and other structures, particularly in the occupied West Bank and the Negev desert in southern Israel. Israel’s policy of destroying Palestinian homes, usually under the pretext of demolishing structures built without permission from Israeli authorities, is a highly sensitive subject for Palestinians, as home demolitions have played a central role in Israel’s attempts to dispossess the native, non-Jewish Palestinian population of Israel and the occupied territories since the creation of the state in 1948.
Underpinning most home demolitions is Israel’s strategic goal of limiting the non-Jewish Palestinian population, or removing it altogether, from areas of the occupied territories and Israel proper. In particular, Israel wants to cement its hold over occupied East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley in the West Bank, and to “Judaize” East Jerusalem and areas such as the Negev desert in southern Israel. Other bureaucratic tools used to achieve this goal include: the revocation of residency rights for Palestinians in East Jerusalem; evictions of Palestinians from their homes and land; and severe restrictions on the ability of non-Jewish citizens to own and rent land in Israel, and of Palestinians to build in the 60% of the West Bank under complete Israeli control according to the terms of the Oslo Accords.
The Occupied Territories
Since militarily occupying the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza in 1967, Israeli authorities have demolished tens of thousands of Palestinian structures using three bureaucratic justifications: Military necessity; to punish or deter militants (an act of collective punishment, and therefore a war crime); and to destroy structures built without permission from Israeli authorities.
In occupied East Jerusalem and the approximately 60% of the West Bank over which Israel retains total control under the terms of the Oslo Accords, it is nearly impossible for Palestinians to get permission to build new homes or additions to old ones. According to Human Rights Watch’s 2012 World Report: “Israel usually carries out demolitions on the grounds that the structures were built without permits, but in practice such permits are almost impossible for Palestinians to obtain in Israeli-controlled areas.”
While making it almost impossible for Palestinians to build homes or other structures in East Jerusalem and most of the West Bank, Israel actively encourages the building of Jewish settlements in these areas, often tacitly supporting the creation of so-called “outposts,” built in violation not only of international law, but Israeli law as well.
Inside Israel’s pre-1967 borders, authorities carry out home demolitions against Palestinian citizens of the state in cities such as Ramle and Lyd (Lod), and in villages that are “unrecognized” by the Israeli government.
While Palestinian Arabs comprise approximately 20% of the population of Israel, as non-Jews they are confined by law and zoning policies to just 3.5% of the land.
Approximately 100,000 internal refugees from Israel’s creation in 1948 live in more than 100 “unrecognized villages” near their original homes, destroyed in 1948, where they “suffer from inadequate living conditions and constant threats of demolition,” according to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD).
There are currently entire Bedouin villages in the Negev desert, numbering as many as 70,000 people in total, which are threatened with demolition under the so-called “Prawer Plan.” If carried out, Prawer would result in the largest displacement of Palestinian citizens of Israel since the 1950s, shortly after the state was created.
Home Demolitions: By the Numbers
Since 1967, Israel has destroyed approximately 27,000 Palestinian structures in the occupied territories (the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip), including more than 24,000 homes, according to ICAHD.
Since the renewal of negotiations in August 2013, Israel has destroyed approximately 25 Palestinian homes, in addition to dozens of other structures, leaving approximately 200 people homeless.
According to the UN, between January and September 2013, 862 Palestinians were displaced by Israeli demolitions, compared to 886 (including 468 children) in all of 2012.
In 2012, a total of 600 Palestinian structures were demolished by Israel in the occupied territories, including at least 189 homes, according to ICAHD. This figure doesn’t include “self-demolitions” whereby Palestinians destroy their own homes rather than have Israel do it and charge them an additional fine.
One Bedouin village, Al-Araqib, in the Negev desert in the south of Israel, has been destroyed more than 50 times by Israel since July 2010.
Between 2005 and 2012, Israel demolished approximately 1500 Palestinian homes due to owners lacking hard-to-obtain construction permits.
Between 1993 and 2000, when the Oslo Accords were being negotiated between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, Israel destroyed almost 1700 Palestinian homes in the occupied territories.
Immediately following Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza in 1967, approximately 6000 Palestinian homes were demolished, including four entire villages in the Latrun area, along with dozens of homes in the Mughrabi Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, which were destroyed to make way for a plaza for the Western Wall. In 1971, between 2000 and 6000 Palestinian homes were destroyed in Gaza in an effort to pacify the newly occupied territory.
During Israel’s creation (1948-49), Zionist and then Israeli forces expelled approximately 750,000 Palestinian Arabs from their ancestral lands in order to create a Jewish majority state of Israel. In the process, more than 400 Palestinian population centers were systematically destroyed, including thousands of homes, businesses, and houses of worship. (See here for more on the Nakba.)
Zionist Apartheid: A Crime Against Humanity
By Amjad Alqasis
September 24, 2013 “Information Clearing House – In 1973, the United Nations rightly condemned “the unholy alliance between Portuguese colonialism, South African racism, Zionism and Israeli imperialism.” Only two years later, it determined “that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” At the behest of the U.S. administration, this resolution was revoked in 1991 in order to pave the way for the Madrid Peace Conference that same year; however, equating of Zionism with racism is still valid.
Apartheid is based on the establishment and maintenance of a regime of institutionalized discrimination in which one group dominates others. In the case of Israel, Zionist ideology is the driving force behind the ongoing Palestinian reality of apartheid. Not limited to the occupied Palestinian territory, the Israeli regime also targets Palestinians residing on the Israeli side of the 1949 Armistice Line (known as the Green Line) and millions of Palestinian refugees living in forced exile while promoting Jewish-Israeli colonization to the expropriated land. As such, the Palestinians, wherever they reside, are collectively exposed to one coherent structure of Zionist apartheid. That structure discriminates against Palestinians in areas such as nationality, citizenship, denial of reparation (return, restitution and compensation), residency rights, and land ownership. This system originated in 1948 in order to dominate and dispossess all forcibly displaced Palestinians, including the 150,000 who were able to remain within the “Green Line” and who became Palestinian citizens of Israel. The occupation of the remaining part of Palestine by Israeli forces in 1967 subjected the Palestinians living within that territory to the same Zionist apartheid regime.
The findings of the South African session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine concluded that Israel’s practices against the Palestinian people constitute the crime of apartheid within all of Palestine (also referred to as Mandate or historic Palestine). However, the Zionist Movement—and later Israel—had no interest in creating a system of apartheid in order to simply construct and maintain the domination of one “racial” group over another. Israel neither aimed to exploit the indigenous Palestinians for labor nor limit their political and social participation. Rather, its intention has always been to establish a homogeneous Zionist state exclusively for Jewish people. This has been apparent since the early years of the Zionist Movement and is further illustrated by the fact that Israel has hitherto no defined borders. Israel’s former Prime Minister Golda Meir explained that “the borders are determined by where Jews live, not where there is a line on a map.”This statement, in combination with David Ben-Gurion’s writings in 1937, in which he stated that “the compulsory transfer of the Arabs from the valleys of the projected Jewish state could give us something which we never had,” offers broad guidelines for transferring Palestinians out and implanting Jewish settlers into the territory.
The creation of a Jewish nation state in a land with a small Jewish minority could only be achieved by forcibly displacing the indigenous population and implanting Jewish colonizers from abroad. Accordingly, Zionist apartheid’s main manifestation is forced population transfer.
Forced population transfer has been defined as a practice or policy that has the purpose or effect of moving persons into or out of an area—either within or across an international border:
Transfer can be carried out en masse, or as “low-intensity transfers” affecting a population gradually or incrementally.
Forced population transfer is illegal and has constituted an international crime since the Allied Resolution on German War Crimes, adopted in 1942. The strongest and most recent codification of the crime is in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which clearly defines the forcible transfer of population and implantation of settlers as war crimes.
The intention on “transfer” in Zionist thought was encapsulated in 1905 by the words of Israel Zangwill, one of the early Zionist thinkers, who stated that “if we wish to give a country to a people without a country, it is utter foolishness to allow it to be the country of two peoples.”
Already 66% of Palestinians worldwide have been displaced by Israel’s ongoing forcible displacement of the Palestinian people.Today, this population transfer is carried out by Israel in the form of its overall policy of “silent” transfer—not by mass deportations like in 1948 or 1967. This displacement is silent in the sense that Israel carries it out while trying to avoid international attention by displacing small numbers of people on a weekly basis. It is thus distinguishable from the more overt transfers achieved under the pretense of warfare in 1948 or 1967.
Population transfer is achieved by creating an overall untenable living situation that leaves no choice for the inhabitants other than to leave their homes. Moshe Sharett—one of the signatories of Israel’s Declaration of Independence—indicated the desire to foster onerous living conditions when he stated “a policy based on minimal fairness should be adopted toward Arabs who were not inclined to leave.”Therefore, Israel’s apartheid system is a means to an end and not an end-goal in itself because it does not simply seek to dominate the indigenous Palestinians, but to forcibly displace them.
South Africa, on the other hand, not only invented the apartheid system, but was also proud of its creation and publicly advocated for it. The word “apartheid” itself is Afrikaans for “separateness” and became the official government policy of racial segregation in 1948. The South African apartheid structure was based on a clear-cut separation and segregation policy. It was clear from the outset that the purpose of South Africa’s apartheid system was to create a permanent apartheid structure in order to preserve the established status quo. For instance, South Africa designed the 1970 Bantu Homelands Citizens Act to react and adapt to increasing criticism from the international community. This law established separate legal entities (Bantustans) and denaturalized the black population so the South African government could argue that the black population was no longer excluded from state affairs because by law they no longer belonged to the South African state. This attempt aimed at continuing the exploitation of the indigenous workforce and resources, thus fortifying the existing system while at the same time discarding its racist, anti-democratic image.
The international crime of apartheid and the subsequent Apartheid Conventionwas modeled on, but not limited to, the South African apartheid system. John Dugard wrote that “The Apartheid Convention was the ultimate step in the condemnation of apartheid as it not only declared that apartheid was unlawful because it violated the Charter of the United Nations, but in addition it declared apartheid to be criminal.”Today, Israel is guilty of committing various crimes in order to forcibly displace the Palestinian people from Palestine. Israel’s crimes such as apartheid and persecution, as well as its permanent occupation and annexation-colonization, are intended to create an unbearable situation in order to expel the indigenous Palestinian population. This continuous and calculated targeting of the Palestinian people must be challenged by the international community as it was regarding South Africa where that state’s actions and policies were codified into elements of an international crime against humanity. Israel’s regime must be judged accordingly and its impunity must be brought to an end because silence—if not complicity—in the face of fundamental rights violations further entrenches politics to the detriment of law. The first significant step in that direction would be reinstating United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379 of 10 November 1975, declaring Zionism as a form of racism, and paving the way for the end of Israeli impunity and Zionist apartheid.
Amjad Alqasis is a legal researcher and the legal advocacy program coordinator of BADIL Resource Center
Nur Masalha, Expulsion of the Palestinians: the concept of “transfer” in Zionist political thought, 1882-1948 (Institute for Palestine Studies 1992), p. 210.
Nur Masalha, Expulsion of the Palestinians: The Concept of “Transfer”in Zionist Political Thought, 1882-1948(Institute for Palestine Studies 1992), p. 10.
Nur Masalha, A Land without a People: Israel, Transfer and the Palestinians 1949-96 (Faber and Farber Limited 1997), p. 3.
See H. Booysen, “Convention on the Crime of Apartheid”, South African Yearbook of International Law, vol. 2 (1976), p. 56; R.S. Clark, “The Crime of Apartheid” in International Criminal Law (ed. M.C. Bassiouni) vol. 1 (Crimes), Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. (Transnational Press 1986), p. 299.
Published in The Clockwork of Ongoing Nakba: Unraveling Forced Population Transfer (Summer 2013)
Beautiful voice and sentiments. Solidarity with the Resistance. Peace with Justice.
Thank you from me because I reject the massacre of the Palestinian people. What is happening there is genocide.
It s great. Thanks.
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