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Liberal Zionism After Gaza

Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto/Corbis

Destroyed houses in the Shejaia neighborhood of Gaza City, July 26, 2014

Never do liberal Zionists feel more torn than when Israel is at war. Days after I’d filed my essay for The New York Review on Ari Shavit and his fellow liberal Zionists, the perennial tension between Israel and the Palestinians had flared into violent confrontation and, eventually, a war in Gaza—the third such military clash in five years. For liberal Zionists these are times when the dual nature of their position is tested, some would say to destruction. What the Israel Defense Forces called Operation Protective Edge—a large-scale mobilization that by the time a twelve-hour “humanitarian truce” was agreed on July 26 had reached its nineteenth day—was no different. Continue reading

Five Israeli Talking Points on Gaza—Debunked

from The Nation

by Noura Erakat

Israel has killed almost 800 Palestinians in the past twenty-one days in the Gaza Strip alone; its onslaught continues. The UN estimates that more than 74 percent of those killed are civilians. That is to be expected in a population of 1.8 million where the number of Hamas members is approximately 15,000. Israel does not deny that it killed those Palestinians using modern aerial technology and precise weaponry courtesy of the world’s only superpower. In fact, it does not even deny that they are civilians. Continue reading

Why do Palestinians continue to support Hamas despite such devastating losses?

from +972

In The Fog of War, Errol Morris’ excellent documentary, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara speaks about a certain inability to understand the enemy – one that stems from a lack of empathy.

In the film, McNamara, a brilliant systems analyst, who is today associated more than anything with the Vietnam War, says that part of President Kennedy’s successful management of the Cuban Missile Crisis was his administration’s ability to put itself in the shoes of the Soviets and understand their point of view. “In the case of Vietnam,” he says, “we didn’t know them well enough to empathize.” As a result, each side had a completely different understanding of what the war was about.

This understanding came to McNamara only in 1991, when he visited Vietnam and met with the country’s foreign minister. McNamara asked the foreign minister whether he thought it was possible to reach the same results of the war (independence and uniting the south with the north) without the heavy losses. Between one and three million people died in the war, most of them Vietnamese civilians. This does not include the hundreds of thousands of casualties in the war against the French, which took place shortly before. Approximately 58,000 American soldiers were also killed in the Vietnam War.

“You were fighting to enslave us,” yelled the foreign minister at McNamara, who in turn replied that that is an absurd notion. The two nearly came to blows. But as time passed McNamara understood. “We saw Vietnam as an element of the Cold War,” he says, whereas what the foreign minister was trying to tell him was that for the Vietnamese it was a war of independence. Communism was not the heart of the matter for the Vietnamese. They were willing to make the worst sacrifices because they were fighting for their freedom – not for Marx or Brezhnev.

Nations will make inconceivable sacrifices in these kinds of struggles. An entire one percent of the Jewish population was killed in the 1948 war. The public accepted it painfully and with a stiff upper lip because they felt, just like the Vietnamese, that they were fighting for their lives and for their freedom. We have become so much more susceptible to loss, not because we went soft, but because we have a deeper understanding that despite all the “we’re fighting for our future” slogans, 2014 is not 1948.

Over 2,000 Palestinians were killed in all three military operations in Gaza, not including the Second Intifada. Most of them were civilians. I’ve exchanged emails with people in Gaza in the past few days. These are people who don’t care much for Hamas in their everyday lives, whether due to its fundamentalist ideology, political oppression or other aspects of its rule. But they do support Hamas in its war against Israel; for them, fighting the siege is their war of independence. Or at least one part of it.

+972′s full coverage of the war in Gaza

The demand that the people of Gaza protest against Hamas, often heard in Israel today, is absurd. Even if we disregard the fact that Israelis themselves hate protests in times of war, they still expect the Palestinians to conduct a civil uprising under fire. The people of Gaza support Hamas in its war against Israel because they perceive it to be part of their war of independence. A Hamas warrior who swears by the Quran is no different from a Vietcong reciting The Internationalebefore leaving for battle. These kind of rituals leave a strong impression, but they are not the real story.

Israelis, both left and right, are wrong to assume that Hamas is a dictatorship fighting Israel against its people’s will. Hamas is indeed a dictatorship, and there are many Palestinians who would gladly see it fall, but not at this moment in time. Right now I have no doubt that most Palestinians support the attacks on IDF soldiers entering Gaza; they support kidnapping as means to release their prisoners (whom they see as prisoners of war) and the unpleasant fact is that most of them, I believe, support firing rockets at Israel.

“If we had planes and tanks to fight the IDF, we wouldn’t need to fire rockets,” is a sentence I have heard more than once. As an Israeli, it is unpleasant for me to hear, but one needs to at least try and understand what lies behind such a position. What is certain is that bombing Gaza will not change their minds. On the contrary.

A Palestinian crying near rubbles of his home after the latest round of Israeli attacks against Al Shaja'ia, Gaza City, July 20, 2014.  (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

“But if they didn’t fire rockets or launch terror attacks there would be no siege. So what do they want?” the Israeli public asks. After all, we already left Gaza.

Back to McNamara and The Fog of War. If the citizens of Vietnam would have abandoned Communism, McNamara told the Vietnamese foreign minister 1991, the U.S. wouldn’t have even cared about them. They could have had both their independence and their unity. But in the eyes of the Vietnamese, things looked completely different. As soon as they managed to drive out the French, in marched the Americans. Colonialism simply never stopped. The choice was between a corrupt U.S.-sponsored regime in the south and a horrific war with the north.

For the Palestinians, the choice is between occupation by proxy in the West Bank and a war in Gaza. Both offer no hope, and neither are forms of freedom. The Israeli promise — that an end to armed struggle will bring freedom — is not trustworthy, as the experiences of past years has shown. It simply never happens. The quiet years in the West Bank have not brought the Palestinians any closer to an independent state, while the truce in between wars in Gaza has not brought about a relief from the siege. One can debate the reasons for why this happened, but one cannot debate reality.

Hamas tells the Palestinians the simple truth: freedom comes at the cost of blood. The tragedy is that we usually provide the evidence. After all, the evacuation of settlements in Gaza came after the Second Intifada, not as a result of negotiations. The Oslo Accords came after the First Intifada; before that, Israel turned down even the convenient London Agreement between Shimon Peres and Jordan’s King Hussein.

Israelis are convinced they are fighting a terror organization driven by a fundamentalist Islamic ideology. Palestinians are convinced Israelis are looking to enslave them, and that as soon as the war is over the siege will be reinforced. Since this is exactly what Israel intends to do, as our government has repeatedly stated, they have no reason to stop fighting.

Hamas may accept a ceasefire soon. Its regime might collapse. Either way, it is only a matter of time before the next round of violence. Human lives are not cheaper for Palestinians than they are for us. But nations fighting for their freedom will endure the worst sacrifices. Like in Shujaiyeh.

Can Palestinian Men be Victims? Gendering Israel’s War on Gaza

Every morning we wake up to an updated butcher’s bill: one hundred, two hundred, four hundred, six hundred Palestinians killed by Israel’s war apparatus. These numbers gloss over many details: the majority of Gazans, one of the most populated and impoverished areas in the world, are refugees from other parts of historic Palestine. It is under a brutal siege, and there is nowhere to hide from Israel’s onslaught.  Before this “war” Gaza was a form of quarantine, a population held captive and colonized by Israel’s ability tobreak international law with impunity. They are population in a relationship of dependency—for food, for water, medicine, even for movement—with their colonizers. In the event of a ceasefire, Gaza will remain colonized, quarantined, and blockaded. It will remain an open-air prison, a mass refugee camp. Continue reading

Ending Zionism is a feminist issue

by: Nada Elia

from The Electronic Intifada

As Israel’s assault on the besieged Palestinian population in Gaza approaches its third week, we continue to hear about the “disproportionate number” of women and children victims. This expression begs the question: what is a proportionate number of women and children killed in a genocide?

As Jadaliyya’s Maya Mikdashi asks in her op-ed titled “Can Palestinian men be victims?”, if a significant majority of the killed were adult men, would Israel’s crimes be lesser?

A different analysis of gendered violence is necessary: one that recognizes that no “proportions” are acceptable because all deaths should be mourned, while providing the tools for a differential understanding of the manifestations of violence.

Rape calls

The feminist network INCITE! Women and Trans People of Color Against Violence has always understood that state violence is both racialized and gendered.

Zionism is a prime example of that; it is a racist ideology grounded in the privileging of one ethno-religious group over all others.

When a state views a population — its dispossessed, disenfranchised and occupied indigenous population — as a ”demographic threat,” that view is fundamentally both racist and gendered.

Racist population control relies specifically on violence against women. So it is not surprising that Mordechai Kedar, an Israeli military intelligence officer turned academic, would matter-of-factly suggest this week that “raping the wives and mothers of Palestinian combatants” would deter attacks by Hamas militants.

Similarly, Israeli lawmaker Ayelet Shaked did not attempt to present the murder of Palestinian children and their mothers as unfortunate, disproportionate “collateral damage” — she openly called for it by asserting that Palestinian women must be killed too, because they give birth to “little snakes.”

This comment reflects an Israeli infrastructure designed to sustain high rates of miscarriages by blocking basic resources such as water and medical supplies, forcing women in labor to wait at military checkpoints on their way to a hospital, and generally creating inhumane and unlivable conditions for Palestinians.

This latest murderous attack on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip has not only taken the lives of hundreds of Palestinians, but it has also increased miscarriages, pre-term labor and stillbirths.

Ethiopian-Israeli women, most of them Jewish, have also been subject to mandatory contraceptive injections without their consent.

Ending Zionism is a feminist and a reproductive justice issue.

Liberating women?

Of course, gendered violence as a tool for settler-colonialism is not a new strategy; settler-colonialism, patriarchy and official hypocrisy usually go hand in hand.

Nineteenth-century France claimed to be liberating Algerian women even as it torched entire villages and towns. The proverbial colonial white man would have us believe that he was acting on the selfless impulse to save brown women from brown men, even as the colonial power he served impoverished entire countries.

Algerian women were certainly no better off as result of French colonialism; in fact, their circumstances deteriorated significantly.

The George W. Bush administration gave itself a pat on the back for supposedly liberating women in Afghanistan from the Taliban. Yet we see throughout history, and not just in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Algeria or Palestine, that wars have never liberated women and gender nonconforming people of color.

New brand of hypocrisy

Today, Israel has developed a new brand of this hypocrisy, as it claims that it is more civilized than the Palestinian people because it is supposedly a more “gay-friendly” country. This is pinkwashing, Israel’s attempt to distract from its ongoing human rights violations by pointing to its supposedly better gay rights record.

But that record, once again, is racist.

Any Jewish citizen of Israel can and must serve in the Israeli occupation forces, but these are the murderous forces engaging in the genocide of the Palestinian people.

Does it make for a more moral army if some of its killer soldiers are openly gay? Stop to think of who the purveyor of the greater violence is. Who is denying Palestinian women, children, gays, lesbians, trans people and straight men their most basic rights — freedom of movement, safety, shelter, food, a home, life? One has to acknowledge that the guilty party is “civilized” Israel, not Palestinian heteropatriarchy.

War — militarism — is a hyper-masculinist activity that glorifies and rewards all violence, including gendered violence, and a soldier trained in violence cannot put that violence aside when he or she gets home.

All of Israeli society is trained in violence. And violence is not a pair of combat boots one can leave at the door; violence becomes second nature (unless it was first nature, in which case it is further aggravated) and the entire community that engages in warfare is a more violent community — not just at the war front.

Joint struggle

This is what we are witnessing today, as we have observed it again and again every time Israel escalates its assault on the Palestinian people.

As for Palestinians, there are no battlefronts, no “war zones.” All of historic Palestine is the battlefront as mobs of Israelis take to the streets in violent rampages.

This realization has always been at the very core of INCITE’s analysis. We understand that in situations of settler-colonialism, indigenous women, trans people and gender non-conforming people bear the brunt of a nexus of racism and sexism. We are engaging in a joint struggle, from India to the Arab world to South West Asia, to Africaand the Americas, for the dignity and full sovereignty of indigenous people.

This is why INCITE! endorsed, in 2010, the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel and remains committed to the grassroots struggle against state-sponsored violence against the entire Palestinian people.

Nada Elia served on the Steering Collective of INCITE! Women and Trans People of Color Against Violence when it endorsed boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel and is currently serving on the organizing collective of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI).

نقاش نقدي لتطبيقات النموذج الجنوب إفريقي على فلسطين

أود في هذه المقالة التعرض بالنقاش النقدي لاستخدامات النموذج الجنوب إفريقي لتفسير القضية الفلسطينيةفلسطين قبل العام ١٩٤٨. أما الوجه الاقليمي لتلك السياسيات فهو نشاط لا مثيل له في مضمار

أود في هذه المقالة التعرض بالنقاش النقدي لاستخدامات النموذج الجنوب إفريقي لتفسير القضية الفلسطينية وتخيّل الحلول التطبيقية المناسبة لها. تنطلق معظم التطبيقات الفلسطينية من رفض حلّ الدولتين للنزاع الفلسطيني الإسرائيلي. والحجج الرئيسة متنوعة. ابرزها أن اختبار المفاوضات الفلسطينية الإسرائيلية يفضي إلى نتيجة فاقعة بأن لا رغبة لدى السلطات الإسرائيلية بالانسحاب من الضفة الغربية والقبول بقيام دولة فلسطينية إلى جوار دولة إسرائيل. وعلى افتراض  القبول، فإن إسرائيل تحتل المساحة الاكبر من فلسطين التاريخية، والرقعة المتبقية منها لا توفر الحد الأدنى من متطلبات السيادة والبقاء لقيام الدولة العتيدة. وأن تسوية الدولتين سوف تفرّط بحقين من الحقوق التاريخية غير قابلة للتصرّف من حقوق الشعب الفلسطيني إذ سوف تعترف باحتلال إسرائيل لاراضي الـ٤٨ والتخلي عن حق العودة.

أول ما يستحق الملاحظة هو أن هذه الادبيات تنتمي إلى مناخ الاتفاقيات الثنائية العربية الإسرائيلية التي انتجت فاصلاً بين مسارين، مسار النزاع الفلسطيني-الإسرائيلي من جهة والنزاع العربي الإسرائيلي من جهة ثانية. وقد اتسع التباعد بين المسارين منذ اتفاق أوسلو. احدهما معنى  باستعادة الأراضي المحتلة في حرب ١٩٦٧ والثاني معني بقيام الدولة الفلسطينية إلى جانب دولة إسرائيل. وهكذا يتحول النزاع العربي الإسرائيلي إلى مسار يلعب فيه «العرب» دور الداعم للمطالبة الفلسطينية بالدولة العتيدة، وتتبادل أنظمتهم الادوار بين متهالك على التطبيع الاقتصادي والسياسي والدبلوماسي والثقافي، وبين من يتنطح لادوار الوساطة في المفاوضات الفلسطينية-الإسرائيلية.

ومع أن معظم المساهمات المتعلقة بالنموذج الجنوب افريقي نقدية تجاه اتفاق أوسلو ومشروع الدولتين الا أن المفارقة التي تنطوي عليها تكمن في أنها تستبطن أبرز ما حققته أوسلو، في امتداد الاتفاقات المنفردة في  كامب ديفيد ووادي عربة، اعني القبول بهذا الفصل بين المسارين والانطواء فيما يشبه التمحور الذاتي الفلسطيني من دون النزاع الاعمّ الذي لا يزال قائماً بأشكال مختلفة.

لا شك لدي في أن هذا التمحور الذاتي يشكل رد الفعل المفهوم، وإن يكن غير مبرر، على هزائم ونكسات وخيبات النزاع العربي الإسرائيلي وعلى منطق الاتفاقات المنفردة، ناهيك عن المعاناة الطويلة للشعب الفلسطيني في بلدان اللجوء في ظل التمييز والقمع بل والمجازر. وقد ترافق هذا الإتجاه عشية اندلاع الثورات مع وهن بيّن أصاب التعبئة الشعبية حول فلسطين بلغت أدنى درجاتها لدى الجماهير العربية وقد جرى تسريحها من النزاع مشلّعة بين انتظار نصر الهي حاسم هذه المرة  يقضي على إسرائيل بالضربة العسكرية القاضية وبين التعبير عن الغضب والتفجّع ضد الاعتداءات الإسرئيلية المستمرة في لبنان أو غزة. يكفي دليلاً على عملية التسريح هذه المقارنة بين بضع عشرات أو مئات من المتظاهرين المصريين في ميدان التحرير تأييدا لغزة يطوقهم ألوف من عناصر الأمن المركزي بالقياس إلى مئات الألوف من المصريين الذين اجتاحوا الميدان ذاته، وقد انفجرت ثورتهم لإسقاط النظام القائم ومن أجل العمل والحرية والعدالة الاجتماعية والكرامة الإنسانية.

ومع أنه يجب الاعتراف بأن التعاطف الدولي مع قضيه فلسطين يتنامى بقدر تضاؤل الاحتشاد الشعبي العربي حول فلسطين، الا أن المفارقة الفاغرة في هذا التقاطع بين الانسحاب العربي وبين التمحور الذاتي الفلسطيني، أنه تزامن مع ممارسات اليمين الإسرائيلي الحاكم القائمة على الاستهتار الكامل باية تسويات والتوسعّ الاستيطاني والاحتلال العملي للقسم الأكبر من فلسطين التاريخية والتهويد السكاني والديمغرافي للبؤر العربية المتبقية من فلسطين قبل العام ١٩٤٨. أما الوجه الاقليمي لتلك السياسيات فهو نشاط لا مثيل له في مضمار النزاع العربي الإسرائيلي ذاته من حيث تعزيز مقوّمات التفوّق العسكري النوعية، النظامي منه والنووي، بما ينطوي عليه من مساعي الهيمنة لا على المحيط العربي وحسب، وإنما على منطقة الشرق الأوسط بأكملها، بما يلجم ويقزّم القدرات والادوار العسكرية والاقتصادية والجيوسياسية لإيران وتركيا، القوتين الإقليمييتين المتنافستين على ملء الفراغ في الإقليم، مع التركيز المحموم على منع إي مساس في احتكار إسرائيل للسلاح النووي.

كثيرة هي نقاط التشابه بين الصهيونية وبين نظام التمييز العنصري السابق في جنوب إفريقيا وكثيرة هي الوشائج التي حاكها النظامان بينهما، بما في ذلك محاولة تزويد إسرائيل السلاح النووي لإفريقيا الجنوبية، في عهد شمعون بيريس. ومن أبرز السمات المشتركة بين النظامين انتماؤهما المشرك إلى فصيلة في العالم الكولونيالي هي أنظمة الاستيطان والإجلاء السكاني والتطهير العرقي. وجدير التذكير بأن حكم الأقلية البيضاء أجلى، داخل الحدود العمومية للدولة، نحو ٣،٥ مليون افريقي و”ملوّن“ بين الأعوام ١٩٦١ و١٩٨٣ واعاد توطينهم في عشر معازل (بانتوستان). ومع ذلك، فلا بد، لأغراض الدقة والفاعلية النموذجية من التمييز بين طبيعة الاستعمار الاستيطاني الاجلائي للأقلية البيضاء في الجنوب الافريقي والاستعمار الاستيطاني الصهيوني في فلسطين. فالأول اقتصادي في المقام الاول، منجذب إلى الثروات المعدنية الاستثنائية للبلاد، اشادت شركاته الرأسمالية نظام التمييز العنصري واحتكار الأقلية البيضاء للسلطة، تمكينا للاستئثار والاستغلال الاقتصاديين، وذلك  عن طريق مزيج من حرمان الأكثرية السكانية من الحقوق السياسية والمدنية ومن عزلها الفيى المعازل المذكورة أعلاه. ولم ينطو حلم الاقلية البيضاء، بالنسبة لأكثرية المستوطنين الأوروبيين، على هدف بناء وطن قومي أو فرض هوية أوروبية معينة على الأرض والبلد. في المقابل، ارتبط المشروع الاستعماري الاستيطاني  الصهيوني لفلسطين بتوطين أكثرية ديمغرافية يهودية وافدة بهدف قومي محدد هو تهويد فلسطين، الأرض والبلد، اكثر منه استغلال ثرواتها، بحيث أن هذا الاخير وسيلة لهدف لا بما هو هدف بذاته.

من هنا تبدو لي أن تطبيقات النموذج الجنوب افريقي فلسطينيا تنطوي على سيناريو مشتهى مسرحه كامل فلسطين التاريخية، فيتحول فيها النضال الفلسطيني نضالاً في إتجاه من اتجاهين: بناء دولة ثأنئية القومية بين فلسطينيين ويهود، أو النضال من أجل حقوق الإنسان والمساواة السياسية والقانونية في ظل نظام التمييز العنصري الإسرائيلي.

الغريب في هذا التطبيق أنه يتجاهل المكوّن الاصلي لمشروع بناء دولة يهودية في فلسطين، اي دولة ذات اكثرية سكانية يهودية حاسمة (دولة يهودية مثلما انكلترا هي انكليزية، على ما قيل) ما لا يسمح بتصوّر الكيفية التي سوف يتم بها تكوّن الدولة الواحدة علماً بأن امتناع السلطات الإسرائيلية عن ضم الضفة الغربية وغزة، بعد احتلالها العام ١٩٦٧، وتسميتها «الاراضي»، ورفض الاعتراف بأنها محتلة أصلا، لا ينطوي فقط على التنصّل من تبعات الاحتلال ومسؤولياته – من وجوب التنمية والتعويض عن الخسائر والاضرار واشتراط عدم المساس بالموارد والثروات، حسب اتفاقيات جنيف – وإنما يجهر أيضا وخصوصاً برفض ضم ملايين من الفلسطينيين إلى المتن الإسرائيلي حتى لا تمسّ الطبيعة الديموغرافية والقومية الخالصة للدولة العبرية ولهويتها الصافية.

وإلا ما معنى مطالبة نتنياهو بالاعتراف الفلسطيني والعربي بما يسمّيه «يهودية» دولة إسرائيل؟ وما معنى الحملات الحثيثة التي يخوضها اليمين الإسرائيلي، العلماني والديني،  لتهويد البؤرتين المتبقيتين من أراضي فلسطين الـ ٤٨ اللتين لا تزالان تحويان اكثرية سكانية عربية- النقب والجليل الأعلى؟ وأي معنى للعمل على تغيير الهوية السكانية للقدس ورفض البحث في موقعها من أيه تسوية يحولها عن كونها عاصمة دولة إسرائيل؟ ولا بد من أن نلاحظ هنا الاختلاط الذي تم بين سياسات حزبي الليكود والعمل من هذا الأمر بحيث لم تعد الحدود فاصلة إلى هذا الحد بين تيار انكفائي حريص على ”النقاء اليهودي“ ولو في حدود إسرائيل محجمّة، وتيار توسّعي استيطاني يمارس قضم الاراضي والمساحات المسكونة، حتى لو كلّفه الأمر الاجلاء السكاني.

السؤال الأول الذي تثيره هذه المحاججة يتعلق بمسألة حق العودة. اذا كان التخلي عن مطلب الدولتين مرتبط بالاصرار على حق العودة، فهل يحق لنا الافتراض بأن قيام «الدولة الواحدة» سوف يؤمن تطبيق ذلك الحق؟ فكيف لنا أن نتصوّر والحالة هذه إسرائيل وقد احتلت وضمّت كامل فلسطين التاريخية، ترتضي لا «ثنائية القومية» فحسب وانما أن تكون اكثرية سكان فلسطين التاريخية عربية وقد تجمّع فيها سكان الضفة الغربية والشتات وفلسطينيي أراضي الـ ٤٨؟

الا يجعل «حل الدولة الواحدة» هذا أقرب إلى الهندسة الذهنية من أي هدف نضالي، خصوصاً أنه يتم بمعزل عن أي تصوّر لأنواع الضغوط التي يتوجب على «المجمتع الدولي» ممارستها على إسرائيل، ناهيك عن «الراعي الدولي» أو عن نوع الانقلابات في موازين القوى القادرة على «إقناع» الصهيونية ودولة إسرائيل بممارسة الانتحار. والادهى أن البعض قد يشرح لك أن طرح شعار «الدولة الواحدة » انما يجيء من قبيل التهديد اذا ما فشلت المفاوضات لحل الدولتين. والتهديد هنا يحوّل الأمر إلى ما يشبه المهزلة الحزينة إذا ما قيس موقع المهدِّد ومصادر قدراته التهديدية..

والحال أن نظرة إلى الظروف والعوامل المؤدية إلى تقويض نظام التمييز العنصري في جنوب إفريقيا تفيد أكثر من سواها كتطبيقات فلسطينية.

تضافرت عوامل اضافية لتقويض نظام التمييز العنصري. في المقدمة منها الانتفاضات الشعبية والاضرابات والاعتصامات العمالية والكفاح الشعبي المسلّح الذي قاده «المؤتمر الوطني الافريقي » (بقيادة «الحزب الشيوعي في جنوب إفريقيا») على امتداد أكثر من ثلاثة عقود من الزمن. تحت وطأة هذه الضغوط والنضالات الفعلية، المرتكزة إلى حركة نقابية وعمالية قادرة على شلّ الاقتصاد باكمله، تلاقت المصالح الاقتصادية لكبريات الشركات الرأسمالية المتعدية للقوميات على قرار فكّ الارتباط بين الاستغلال الاقتصادي الرأسمالي المكثّف وبين نظام التمييز العنصري الذي حضن ذلك الاستغلال وحماه زمنا طويلاً. وهكذا تولّد لدى الاقلية البيضاء تيار سياسي إختار التضحية بالاستئثار السياسي على أمل الحفاظ على مواقع السيطرة الاقتصادية بيد البيض. وقد استقبلت اكثرية الأقلية البيضاء مثل هذا الخيار لأن بديله هو الاقتداء بأشباههم من المستوطنين الاوروبيين في الجزائر الذين لجأوا إلى سياسة الأرض المحروقة ضد الاستقلال الجزائري واضطروا إلى مغادرة البلاد بعد أن نالت الجزائر استقلالها.

وما من شك في أن حملات المقاطعة الثقافية والعقوبات الاقتصادية الأوروبية الأميركية قد لعبت دورها في نزع شرعية حكم الاقلية البيضاء وإرغامه على المساومة، بل أن الدول الاسكندينافية ذهبت إلى حد الاعتراف بالمؤتمر الوطني الافريقي وتقديم المساعدات له، في الوقت الذي كانت السيدة ثاتشر رئيسة الوزراء البريطانية السابقة تتهم المؤتمر بالارهاب وقائدَه نلسون مانديلا بأنه ماركسي خطير.

وأخيرا ليس آخرًا لم يكن لنظام التمييز العنصري للأقلية البيضاء أن ينهار لولا التغيّرات الجذرية التي طرأت على «دول الطوق» المجاورة وعلى أنظمتها. وقد كانت دولة الاقلية البيضاء تسيطر عليها اوتؤمن حيادتها من خلال المساعدات المالية أو التهديد العسكري ناهيك بوجود قوات جنوب افريقية على أراضيها. انقلب ميزان القوى في دول الطوق هذه عبر عملية مديدة أبرز ما فيها انتصار حركة التحرر الوطني في ناميبيا وآنغولا والموزمبيق وتحرر تلك البلدان من الاستعمار البرتغالي، ونيل الاستقلال، وانتهاء الحرب الأهلية في آنغولا بانتصار حركة التحرير المناهضة للتمييز العنصري وهو انتصار لم يكن ليتحقق لولا الدعم العسكري الكثيف من كوبا الذي تغلّب على التدخل العسكري لنظام الأقلية البيضاء الجنوب الافريقي.

يتضمن النشاط الفلسطيني الدعاوي والعملي على استلهام عدد من  تطبيقات النموذج الجنوب افريقي في مخاطبة «المجتمع الدولي» والتأثير فيه من حيث ملاحقة مجرمي الحرب الإسرائيليين واعتماد المقاطعة الثقافية والتعليمية للمؤسسات الإسرائيلية وفرض العقوبات الاقتصادية وغيرها. بل أن تصوّر التسوية التاريخية حول فلسطين يستلهم نموذج «لجان الحقيقة والمصالحة» الجنوب افريقية اطاراَ لانتزاع الاعتذار الإسرائيلي الرسمي بالخطأ التاريخي المرتكب بحق الشعب الفلسطيني.

المفارقة في أمر هذا التطبيقات أنها تهمل الشروط والعوامل المطلوب توافرها لدى «دول الطوق » العربية من أجل تفكيك نظام الاستيطان الصهيوني وتقويضه في فلسطين، كل فلسطين.

والغريب أن الدروس الأبلغ من التجربة الجنوب افريقية هي هنا. والاغرب أن مهمة استخلاصها عبر عملية مراجعة نقدية وتخيّل وانتاج معرفي عربية مشتركة لم تقم بعد. فلعل هذه السطور تكون بمثابة الدعوة اليها والتحريض عليها.

Reaping What We Have Sown in Gaza

by: Amira Hass

I’ve already raised the white flag. I’ve stopped searching the dictionary for the word to describe half of a boy’s missing head while his father screams “Wake up, wake up, I bought you a toy!” How did Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Greater Germany, put it? Israel’s right to defend itself.

I’m still struggling with the need to share details of the endless number of talks I’ve had with friends in Gaza, in order to document what it’s like to wait for your turn in the slaughterhouse. For example, the talk I had on Saturday morning with J. from al-Bureij refugee camp, while he was on his way to Dir al-Balah with his wife. They’re about 60-years-old. That morning, his aging mother got a phone call, and heard the recording instructing the residents of their refugee camp to leave for Dir al-Balah.

A book on Israeli military psychology should have an entire chapter devoted to this sadism, sanctimoniously disguising itself as mercy: A recorded message demanding hundreds of thousands of people leave their already targeted homes, for another place, equally dangerous, 10 kilometers away. What, I asked J., you’re leaving? “What, why?” He said, “We have a hut near the beach, with some land and cats. We’re going to feed the cats and come back. We’re going together. If the car gets blown up, we’ll die together.”

If I were wearing an analyst’s hat, I would write: In contrast to the common Israeli hasbara, Hamas isn’t forcing Gazans to remain in their homes, or to leave. It’s their decision. Where would they go? “If we’re going to die, it’s more dignified to die at home, instead of while running away,” says the downright secular J.

I’m still convinced that one sentence like this is worth a thousand analyses. But when it comes to Palestinians, most readers prefer the summaries.

I’m fed up with lying to myself – as if I could remotely, by phone, gather the information necessary to report on what the journalists located there are reporting on. Regardless, it’s information that is important to a small group of the Hebrew-speaking population. They’re looking for it on foreign news channels or websites. They do not depend on what is written here in order to hear, for example, about the short lives of Jihad (11) and Wasim (8) Shuhaibar, or their cousin Afnan (8) from the Sabra neighborhood in Gaza. Like me, they could read the reporting of Canadian journalist Jesse Rosenfeld on The Daily Beast.

“Issam Shuhaibar, the father of Jihad and Wasim, leaned on a grave next to where his children were buried, his eyes hollow, staring nowhere. His arm bore a hospital bandage applied after he gave blood to try to help save his family. His children’s blood still covered his shirt,” writes Rosenfeld. “‘They were just feeding chickens when the shell hit,’ he said. ‘I heard a big noise on the roof and I went to find them. They were just meat,’ he gasped, before breaking down in tears,” continued Rosenfeld’s article. We murdered them about two and a half hours after the humanitarian cease-fire ended last Thursday. Two other brothers, Oudeh (16) and Bassel (8) were wounded, Bassel seriously.

The father told Rosenfeld that there was a warning missile. Before the attack, they heard the humming of the UAVs, the kind that “knock on the roof.” So I asked Rosenfeld, “If the missile was one of our merciful ones, those that come along as a warning, was the house bombed afterward?” By chance, I found my answer in a CNN report. The network’s camera managed to catch the explosion that came after the warning: knock, fire, smoke and dust. But it was a different house that was bombed, not the Shuhaibar house. I rechecked with Rosenfeld and others. What killed the three children was not a Palestinian rocket that went astray. It was an Israeli warning missile. And Issam Shuhaibar himself is a Palestinian policeman on the payroll of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority.

I’ve also given up on trying to get a direct answer from the Israel Defense Forces. Did you mistakenly warn the wrong home, thus murdering another three children? (Of the 84 that have been killed as of Sunday morning.)

I’m fed up with the failed efforts at competing with the abundance of orchestrated commentaries on Hamas’ goals and actions, from people who write as if they’ve sat down with Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniyeh, and not just some IDF or Shin Bet security service source. Those who rejected Fatah and Yasser Arafat’s peace proposal for two states have now been given Haniyeh, Hamas and BDS. Those who turned Gaza into an internment and punishment camp for 1.8 million human beings should not be surprised that they tunnel underneath the earth. Those who sow strangling, siege and isolation reap rocket fire. Those who have, for 47 years, indiscriminately crossed the Green Line, expropriating land and constantly harming civilians in raids, shootings and settlements – what right do they have to roll their eyes and speak of Palestinian terror against civilians?

Hamas is cruelly and frighteningly destroying the traditional double standards mentality that Israel is a master at. All of those brilliant intelligence and Shin Bet brains really don’t understand that we ourselves have created the perfect recipe for our very own version of Somalia? You want to prevent escalation? Now is the time: Open up the Gaza Strip, let the people return to the world, the West Bank, and to their families and families in Israel. Let them breathe, and they will find out that life is more beautiful than death.

No ceasefire without justice for Gaza

from the Electronic Intifada 

As academics, public figures and activists witnessing the intended genocide of 1.8 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, we call for a ceasefire with Israel only if conditioned on an end to the blockade and the restoration of basic freedoms that have been denied to the people for more than seven years.

Our foremost concerns are not only the health and safety of the people in our communities, but also the quality of their lives – their ability to live free of fear of imprisonment without due process, to support their families through gainful employment, and to travel to visit their relatives and further their education.

These are fundamental human aspirations that have been severely limited for the Palestinian people for more than 47 years, but that have been particularly deprived from residents of Gaza since 2007. We have been pushed beyond the limits of what a normal person can be expected to endure.

A living death

Charges in the media and by politicians of various stripes that accuse Hamas of ordering Gaza residents to resist evacuation orders, and thus use them as human shields, are untrue. With temporary shelters full and the indiscriminate Israeli shelling, there is literally no place that is safe in Gaza.

Likewise, Hamas represented the sentiment of the vast majority of residents when it rejected the unilateral ceasefire proposed by Egypt and Israel without consulting anyone in Gaza. We share the broadly held public sentiment that it is unacceptable to merely return to the status quo – in which Israel strictly limits travel in and out of the Gaza Strip, controls the supplies that come in (including a ban on most construction materials), and prohibits virtually all exports, thus crippling the economy and triggering one of the highest poverty and unemployment rates in the Arab world.

To do so would mean a return to a living death.

Unfortunately, past experience has shown that the Israeli government repeatedly reneges on promises for further negotiations, as well as on its commitments to reform.

Likewise, the international community has demonstrated no political will to enforce these pledges. Therefore, we call for a ceasefire only when negotiated conditions result in the following:

  • Freedom of movement of Palestinians in and out of the Gaza Strip.
  • Unlimited import and export of supplies and goods, including by land, sea and air.
  • Unrestricted use of the Gaza seaport.
  • Monitoring and enforcement of these agreements by a body appointed by the United Nations, with appropriate security measures.

Each of these expectations is taken for granted by most countries, and it is time for the Palestinians of Gaza to be accorded the human rights they deserve.

Signatures:

  • Akram Habeeb, Assistant Professor of American Literature, Islamic University of Gaza (IUG)
  • Mona El-Farra, Vice President and Health Chair of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society
  • Ramy Abdu PhD, Chairman of the Euro-mid Observer
  • Abdullah Alsaafin, Palestinian Writer/journalist
  • Ali Alnazli, Businessman
  • Adel Awadallah, Head of the Scientific Research Council
  • Hanine Hassan, Graduate Research Assistant
  • Sheren Awad, Journalist
  • Yahia Al-Sarraj, Associate Professor of Transportation, IUG
  • Tawfik Abu Shomar, Writer and political analyst
  • Hasan Owda, Businessman
  • Ibrahim AlYazji, Businessman
  • Walid Al Husari, Chair, Gaza Chamber of Commerce
  • Nael Almasri, Dentist
  • Wael El-Mabhouh, Political researcher
  • Rami Jundi, Political researcher
  • Ashraf Mashharawi, Filmmaker
  • Mohammad Alsawaf, Journalist
  • Hasan Abdo, Writer and political analyst
  • Kamal El Shaer, Political researcher
  • Omar Ferwana, Dean of Medicine Faculty, IUG
  • Iyad I. Al-Qarra, Journalist, Palestine newspaper
  • Musheir El-Farra, Palestinian activist and author
  • Khalil Namrouti, Associate Professor in Economics, IUG
  • Moein Rajab, Professor in Economics, Al-Azhar University – Gaza
  • Basil Nasser, Planning advisor
  • Hani Albasoos, Associate Professor in Political Science, IUG
  • Arafat Hilles, Assistant Professor, Al-Quds Open University
  • Imad Falouji, Head of Adam Center for Dialogue of Civilizations
  • Moin Naim, Writer and political analyst
  • Yousri Alghoul, Author
  • Mohammad Jayyab, Editor of Gaza Journal of Economics
  • Mousa Lubbad, Lecturer in Finance, Al-Aqsa University
  • Iskandar Nashwan, Assistant Professor in Accounting, Al-Aqsa University
  • Shadi AlBarqouni, Graduate Research Assistant
  • Adnan Abu Amer, Head of Political Department, Al-Umma University
  • Wael Al Sarraj, Assistant Professor in Computer Science, IUG
  • Said Namrouti, Lecturer in Human Resource Management, IUG
  • Khaled Al-Hallaq, Assistant Professor in Civil Engineering, IUG
  • Asad Asad, Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs, IUG
  • Hazem Alhusari, Lecturer in Finance, Al-Aqsa University
  • Shadi AlBarqouni, Graduate Research Assistant
  • Deya’a Kahlout, Journalist, Al-Araby newspaper
  • Raed Salha, Assistant Professor in Geography, IUG
  • Sameeh Alhadad, Businessman
  • Tarek M. Eslim, CEO, Altariq Systems and Projects
  • Sami Almalfouh PhD, Senior engineer
  • Fayed Abushammalah, Journalist
  • Fadel Naeim, Chairman of Palestine Physicians Syndicate
  • Zeyad Al-Sahhar, Associate Professor in Physics , Al-Aqsa University
  • Iyad Abu Hjayer, Director, Palestinian Center for Democracy and Conflict Resolution
  • Wael Al-Daya, Associate Professor in Finance, IUG
  • Younis Eljarou, Head of the Red Crescent Society for the Gaza Strip
  • Donia ElAmal Ismail, Head of the Creative Women Association
  • Zeinab Alghonemi, Head of Women for Legal Consulting Association
  • Amjad AlShawa, Palestinian Nongovernmental Organizations Network (PNGO)
  • Mohsen Abo Ramadan, Head of Palestinian Nongovernmental Organziations Network (PNGO)
  • Abed Alhameed Mortaja, Assistant Professor of Linguistics, IUG
  • Talal Abo Shawesh , Head of Afaq Jadeeda Association
  • Zohair Barzaq, Red Crescent Society for the Gaza Strip
  • Marwan Alsabh, Red Crescent Society for the Gaza Strip
  • Ghassan Matar, Red Crescent Society for the Gaza Strip
  • Rania Lozon, Writer
  • Ashraf Saqer, IT Specialist
  • Samir AlMishal, Mishal Cultural Centre
  • Jamila Sarhan, Independant Commission for Human Rights
  • Jalal Arafat, Union of Agricultrual Work Committees
  • Khalil Abu Shammala, Addameer for Human Rights
  • Jamila Dalloul, Association Head of Jothor ElZaiton
  • Maha Abo Zour, Psychologist
  • Psychologist Ferdous Alkatari
  • Yousef Awadallah, Health Work Committee
  • Yousef Alswaiti, Al-Awda Hospital Director
  • Taysir Alsoltan, Head of Health Work Committees
  • Taghreed Jomaa, Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees
  • Imad Ifranji, Journalist, Alquds TV
  • Jehal Alaklouk, Activist
  • Adel Alborbar, Boycott Committee
  • Hatem AbuShaban, Board of Trustees of Al-Azhar University – Gaza
  • Saleh Zaqout, Secretary of the Red Crescent Society for the Gaza Strip
  • Mohammed Alsaqqa, Lawyer
  • Nihad Alsheikh Khalil, Professor of Modern and Contemporary History, IUG
  • Mohsen Alafranji, Lecturer at Media Department, IUG
  • Nedal Farid, Dean of Business Faculty, Al-Aqsa University
  • Salem Helles, Dean of Commerce Faculty, IUG
  • Ahmad Ali PhD, Economic Analysis
  • Raed M. Zourob PhD, Head of the Department of Preventive Medicine, Ministry of Health
  • Mosheer Amer, Professor of Lingusitics, IUG
  • Moheeb Abu Alqumboz, Lecturer
  • Fatma Mukhalalati, Supreme Court judge
  • Fahmi Alnajjar, Supreme Court judge

Sharif Abdel Kouddous: 72 Die in Shejaiya

The Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip has seen its bloodiest day so far, bringing the Palestinian death toll to more than 500. More than 100 Palestinians were killed in a 24-hour period between Saturday and Sunday nights. The dead include 72 residents of one of Gaza’s poorest and most densely populated neighborhoods. In the single worst attack to date, Israeli forces shelled homes and fought militants in Shejaiya, leaving behind a scene of carnage that survivors called a massacre. Frightened civilians fled along streets strewn with dead bodies. Wounded residents bled to death in their homes. An unconfirmed report said more than 20 children and 14 women were killed. Scores of homes were destroyed. Hundreds of people were wounded and taken to the overrun Shifa Hospital, which struggled to find room for the bodies. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the attack on Shejaiya as an “atrocious action.” The fighting in Shejaiya killed 13 Israeli soldiers, bringing the Israeli military toll to 18 since the ground invasion began last week. Joining us from Gaza City, Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous details the assault on Shejaiya and describes a new Israeli strike that killed 24 members of the Abu Jamaa family in Khan Younis. Kouddous documented their bodies collected together inside a local morgue.

TRANSCRIPT:

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AARON MATÉ: The Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip has seen its bloodiest day so far, bringing the Palestinian death toll to over 500. Over 100 Palestinians were killed in a 24-hour period between Saturday and Sunday nights. The dead include 72 residents of one of Gaza’s poorest and most densely populated neighborhoods. In the single worst attack so far, Israeli forces shelled homes and fought militants in Shejaiya, leaving behind a scene of carnage that survivors called a massacre. Frightened civilians fled along streets strewn with dead bodies. Wounded residents bled to the death in their homes. An unconfirmed report said more than 20 children and 14 women were killed. Scores of homes were destroyed. Hundreds of people were wounded and taken to the overrun Shifa Hospital, which struggled to find room for the bodies. At the hospital morgue, a survivor said residents were bombed as they slept.

SHEJAIYA RESIDENT 1: [translated] The shells were between the houses. They killed children, women! There is no one left! It is a massacre! There is a massacre in Shejaiya! Go and see!

SHEJAIYA RESIDENT 2: [translated] We are residents sleeping at home. We are at home, civilians. We are not pro-Hamas or pro-Fatah or pro-Israel. We are poor people sleeping at home with children, women and old people. All the shells were randomly fired. At least each house got 10 shells. More than a thousand shells were fired at Shejaiya.

AMY GOODMAN: In a statement, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Israel’s attack on Shejaiya as a, quote, “atrocious action.” The mass killings there have helped push the Palestinian death toll to over 500 since the assault on Gaza began two weeks ago. The dead include more than a hundred children. Over 3,100 people have been wounded and more than 81,000 displaced. The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, has warned it’s running out of food and medicine at the schools housing over 50,000 people. The number seeking refuge has nearly tripled since the Israeli ground invasion began Thursday. At least 130 Palestinians have been killed during that time.

AARON MATÉ: The ground invasion has also caused Israel’s first military casualties. Eighteen soldiers have died in Gaza since Thursday, including 13 fighting militants in Shejaiya. On Sunday, Palestinian militants with the Qassam Brigades announced the capture of an Israeli soldier, but Israel denies the claim. Two Israeli civilians have been killed from rocket fire from Gaza. On Sunday, as Israeli forces carried out their deadliest attacks so far, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue the assault on Gaza for as long as necessary.

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: [translated] Israel did not choose to enter this campaign. But from the moment it was forced on us, we will implement it until we achieve its result—restoring quiet for the Israeli people for an extended period while significantly damaging Hamas’s infrastructure and the rest of the terror organizations in Gaza. We are undeterred. We shall continue the operation as long as it is required.

AMY GOODMAN: In his remarks, Netanyahu cited the backing of foreign allies, saying he has, quote, “laid the diplomatic foundation that has given us international credit to operate,” he said. The Obama administration has provided critical support, claiming Israel has acted in self-defense, blaming Hamas for the civilian toll. The White House now says it wants an immediate ceasefire, and Secretary of State John Kerry has been sent to join talks in Cairo.

For more, we go directly to Gaza City, where we’re joined by Democracy Now!’s Sharif Abdel Kouddous.

Sharif, you’ve just come from Khan Younis. We’re getting the latest news from there. Can you tell us what you saw?

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Amy, I’ve come from the site of yet another massacre. Twenty-four members—at least 24 members of the same [Abu Jamaa] family were killed in their own home in an F-16 strike in Khan Younis. This happened last night at around Iftar, during the sunset call to prayer, the time that Muslims sit to break their fast. And an F-16 missile strike hit this family in their home as they were sitting down to eat. A grandmother, her three sons, their wives and all their children were killed. I went to the site where the house was. The house is completely gone. There’s only a crater left. The family says—the surviving family members said that they used two cranes and a bulldozer, working for 12 hours throughout the night, to retrieve all the bodies out.

At the hospital morgue, it was really a very difficult scene. One of the dead was less than one years old. She was still, you know, in her Pampers, dead. A father of one of the women killed said that the bodies were dispersed between two hospitals in Khan Younis—14 in one and 10 in the other. And the father had to go to two hospitals to pick up one of his daughters’ bodies, because half of her was in one hospital and half of her was in the other.

This is the kind of tragedies that we hear almost on a daily basis here in Gaza. Families are being wiped out in such massive numbers. There’s the al-Batsh family who lost 18 members in an airstrike last week. I went to near Beit Hanoun in the north the other day where a family—eight of them were killed while they were sitting, watching TV when a tank shell, an artillery shell, hit their home, so—while they were watching TV. So this is a very—this is a war on civilians. Civilians are paying the very highest of prices for this. And the killing doesn’t seem to stop.

AARON MATÉ: Sharif, the toll from Sunday, the highest figure I saw was 120, more than a third women and children. Of course, there was this mass killing in Shejaiya that we mentioned. You went to the hospital. You interviewed survivors. You interviewed victims. And you also went to the site of the attack. Can you tell us what you know about what happened in Shejaiya?

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, from speaking to residents evacuating, it was very hard to get in. You know, this attack began, everyone says, at around sunset time, around Iftar time. And there was a barrage after barrage of tank shells that rained down on Shejaiya, which is one of Gaza’s poorest and most densely populated neighborhoods. People said that there was no help. They called for ambulances. Paramedic workers said that they couldn’t get in because of the amount of the shelling, and so people waited for hours. They were left alone. And they finally decided to escape on foot. And when we got there in the early morning Sunday morning, there was just families streaming out, many of them carrying nothing, some of them barefoot, many, many families, young women and children, in complete panic trying to hail cars or trucks to get on or take off. Many of them just walked out. And they spoke of bodies strewn in the streets of Shejaiya. It was very hard to get in to confirm, although some reporters did and confirmed those reports, and there was some footage of it.

And in the hospital, it was just very difficult scenes, again, scenes of such indescribable anguish and loss. In the morgue in Shifa, there was two children—one was nine years old and her brother seven years old next to her. And there was what appeared to be relatives arguing about the name of the seven-year-old brother, whether it was Hamza or whether it was Khalil. They couldn’t tell because his head had been completely shorn off in this attack. So, these are the kinds of scenes of horror that have become a daily occurrence in Gaza, and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight to the bloodshed.

 

Four Little Boys and the Price of Play in Gaza

from The Nation

When the Palestinian national team secured entry into the 2015 Asia Cup, winning the right to play in an international tournament for the first time in its eighty-six-year history, crowds gathered by the hundreds to dance, play music and watch the triumph of their national team on large movie-sized television screens on the beaches on Gaza. The oceanfront represents the illusion of freedom for a land otherwise encircled by walls and checkpoints. People often gather on the beach to celebrate because it is a refuge from densely populated squalor that defines so much of the land they have been compelled to call home. This is especially the case for children.

That brings us to the four Bakr boys. There was Mohamed Ramez Bakr, eleven years old, Ahed Atef Bakr and Zakaria Ahed Bakr, both ten, and Ismael Mohamed Bakr, nine. They were all killed by an Israeli Defense Forces military strike while playing on the beach in surroundings as familiar to them as a corner playground.
 The first shell sent them running. The second took their lives. Existing in a land where are you are always underfoot, the beach is one of the precious few places a child can freely roam. In Gaza City, which sewage and pollution could make unlivable by 2020, according to a United Nations study, this is one of the only places where the air feels clean in your lungs. In a land where soccer fields are constantly under bombardment—Israel says that parks and stadiums are popular places for Hamas to launch rocket attacks—the beach is where you go to play.

The Bakr boys were killed in an area they believed to be safe. Mohamed’s mother, grieving at the hospital, was quoted by CNN as saying, “Why did he go to the beach and play—for them to take him away from me?” Several reporters on hand were shocked at what happened. Ayman Mohyeldin of NBC, tweeted: “4 Palestinian kids killed in a single Israeli airstrike. Minutes before they were killed by our hotel, I was kicking a ball with them #gaza.” After this, Mohyeldin was taken off the air, and was only allowed to return following an online campaign launched to defend him. The reasons behind NBC’s decision to pull him and then return Mohyeldin to Gaza are still very much in depute. Whatever the cause, Mohyeldin was doing the kind of journalism that forced people to see Palestinians as actual human beings.

* * *

When people write, tweet, and message me with their unquestioned belief that Hamas is using the children of Gaza as human shields, I often wonder whether they make these assertions out of unknowing ignorance or out of a deeper kind of “let them eat cake” cruelty.

Maybe they don’t know that these same “human shield” accusations, made in 2008 and 2009 during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead bombing of Gaza, were found to be without evidence by Amnesty International.

Maybe they don’t know that to even speak of “human shields” in Gaza is absurd, because the Strip is fenced-in and residents have little right to come and go as they please. Maybe they don’t know that Gaza City is one of the most densely populated areas on the planet, with most of Gaza’s 1.8 million people living in the urban heart of Strip.

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People in the United States may be ignorant about these overcrowded conditions, but the Israeli military commanders are certainly not. Marie Antoinette’s apocryphal quote that if the poor were starving and without bread, we should “let them eat cake,” has become Netanyahu’s “let them find shelter.” He says, “Let them evacuate” when the only truly safe place is on the other side of a checkpoint. Someone fleeing one missile strike may be heading directly into another.

Perhaps these four little boys are examples of the “telegenically dead Palestinians” that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told us we should disregard. Or perhaps what Netanyahu fears is people who see nothing “telegenic” about dead children. Perhaps he knows that there are people who cannot imagine anything more human than a group of children playing on the beach, and cannot imagine anything more inhumane than taking their lives from the sky.

Resistance and Revolution as Lived Daily Experience: An Interview with Leila Khaled

By: Ziad Abu-Rish

(originally published at Jadaliyya.com)

 

The protests and uprisings that have taken hold across the Arab world have given new contours to processes of politicization, as well as the use of the term “revolution.” Before 2011, references to “the revolution” around the Arab World would conjure images of Gamal Abdul Nasser, Abdul-Karim Qassim, Mu’ammar al-Qaddafi, George Habash, and Yasser Arafat, among others. Put differently, “the revolution”—and all that the term entailed in terms of hopes, dreams, belonging, solidarities, and conflicts—had for many of my generation felt like a distant past, one whose possibilities were foreclosed by a variety of forces; some structural and others contingent. Even those of us that self-identified as leftists, progressives, activists, and/or organizers understood ourselves to be working in a period and context far removed from that described by our parents, mentors, inspirations, and interviewees. As a historian of the second half of the twentieth century, I am often struck by how mobilized the average person was between the 1940s and 1960s, through a combination of political party affiliation, protest participation, and boycott action, to say nothing of simply bearing witness to all that defined those decades. Such degrees of politicization provided a sharp contrast to the effects of post-1970s depoliticization and demobilization across the Arab world as various regimes consolidated their rule and the regional and international order was institutionalized.

The trajectory of Leila Khaled, an icon of the “Palestinian revolution,” one of the tens of thousands that were politicized and mobilized, and an inspiration to many then and since, is one example of the multiplicity of ways in which individuals were politicized and mobilized. Listening to Leila Khaled narrating her experience of such processes was a turning point in my own political trajectory. Day after day of visiting with her, I slowly came to understand that it was not her membership in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), nor her hijacking of two airplanes (one in 1969 and one in 1970), that made her the person she was. Rather, it was a series of smaller events, processes, and discoveries, which she experienced well before her infamous acts, that politicized and mobilized her. She was neither innately radical nor a conformist.

As 2011 enters its final quarter, Mu’ammar al-Qaddafi has been added to the list of toppled Arab autocrats, while the Ba’thist regime in Syria—which claims the mantle of “resistance” and the legacy of “revolution”—is facing a threat from below the likes of which it has never faced. In Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and Libya, “the revolution” is no longer a signifier of a bygone era. It is a lived experience, a reality, and the present. The “revolution” has compelled many to claim and imitate it, in the Middle East and beyond — from Tel Aviv to Madrid and Wisconsin. As one insightful analysis put: “Politics, in short, has returned to the Arab world.” This is true in spite of, and partly as a result of, the varied contradictions of “the revolution”  across its different locals, as well as the ongoing struggles to define its scope and legacy.

However, we inhabit a very different world today, defined by different legacies, burdened by revolutions aborted and resistance abandoned. If the previous generation of resistance fighters and revolutionary activists were primarily informed by the experience of colonial rule and its aftermath, today’s generation is primarily informed by decades of indigenous authoritarian rule. Furthermore, those very political parties and ruling regimes that rose to prominence on the rhetoric—and, admittedly, programs—of social revolution and anti-colonial resistance, are now themselves accused of violating principles of social justice and national liberation. While such differences characterize the current processes of politicization and mobilization, the failures and limits of the previous generation’s promises and policies weigh heavily enough to circumscribe said processes with significant degrees of skepticism, cynicism, and fear of the unknown. Nevertheless, a dramatically larger section of the region’s populations are politicized and mobilized than before 2011. A new generation claims “the revolution.”

What follows is a translated transcription of a series of interviews I conducted with Leila Khaled during the summer of 2007. We have much to learn from her and the rest of her generation of activists and revolutionaries. More urgently now, I find myself returning to her experiences, in the context of the Arab uprisings, as we find ourselves confronted by and grappling with the hopes, dreams, demands, and strategies of resistance.
Click here to read Part 1 of this interview.

Click here to read Part 2 of this interview.

Click here to read Part 3 of this interview.