Nine children aged 13-17 were kidnapped this afternoon (Monday 10 October) from Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem by masked Israeli soldiers.
On Wednesday October 5th three 14-year-olds, Mustafa Bdair, Mo'taz Barak'ah and Omar Radi were seized from their homes at 4am by Israeli soldiers. They were released on Sunday evening. The three are members of Lajee Dance group from in Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem (twinned with Glasgow). Some of us hosted the young Palestinians during their most recent UK tour in July. They are our friends.
Over 300 Palestinian children remain in Israeli prisons. Israel prosecutes children in military courts that lack basic and fundamental fair trial guarantees. Since 2000, at least 8,000 Palestinian children have been arrested and prosecuted in an Israeli military detention system notorious for the systematic ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children. Three out of four children experience physical violence during arrest, transfer or interrogation. No Israeli child comes into contact with the military court system.
Attacks on the Lajee Centre have escalated since the UK-wide support given to the Palestinian dancers; Celtic Fans raised over £170,000 divided between Medical Aid for Palestine and the Lajee Centre in Aida Camp. (Bethlehem is offically twinned with Glasgow.)
Email your MP quickly here:
Night raids by Israeli soldiers fit into a pattern of reprisals that occupation forces often implement following international gestures of solidarity with the Centre. While arming the Israeli Army, the US, UK and EU governments officially consider the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza to be illegal.
On Setember 19th, Israeli soldiers attacked the Lajee Centre with teargas and rubber bullets while the children were inside. The following night, the soldiers, who use the inhabitants of the camp for training purposes, opened the gate of the center, threw teargas grenades inside and quickly closed the gate, trapping the children inside, forcing them to inhale toxic teargas.
Israel prosecutes children in military courts that lack basic guarantees of fair trial. Since 2000, at least 8,000 Palestinian children have been arrested and prosecuted in an Israeli military detention system notorious for the systematic ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children. Three out of four children experience physical violence during arrest, transfer or interrogation. No Israeli child comes into contact with the racist sytem of the military courts.
If you live in the UK, please write to your elected MP as a matter of urgency to get them to ask the Israeli Embassy where these children are and to demand their immediate and unconditional return to their families.
It’s hard to endure arrests and torture when you feel you have been forgotten by the whole world, and our governments rub salt in Palestine's open wounds.
But, even a chink of light into the darkness can give hope.
Email your MP quickly here: http://coordin8.org.uk/app/index.php/mps/find_mp/lajee3
The Israel Army arrests – kidnaps – many thousands of Palestinians, men women and children, for a variety of reasons. Generally, they aim to break the Palestinian will to resist their dispossession; sometimes those held are used as bargaining chips in negotiations; sometimes because an individual has filmed or reported some Israeli brutality, e.g. the execution of a helpless Palestinian, the shooting of a blindfolded captive. The occupation regime's "justice system" threatens anyone who throws one stone at an Israeli tank or soldier with 20 years in prison.
News of support from around the world can change everything, even the balance of power in a dungeon, when the jailers and jailed hear of international solidarity with the violated. We know this from the experience of the liberation struggle in South Africa. When nelson Mandela met with Dunn's 1984 strikers in Dublin in 1990, he said that the stand taken by the twelve workers helped him to keep going during his time in prison.
Please ask your MP to add their name to the outcry over the night raids, arrests, and frequent torture of our friends in Aida Refugee Camp in occupied Bethlehem, Palestine.
Email your MP to demand from the Israeli Embassy
Email your MP quickly here: http://coordin8.org.uk/app/index.php/mps/find_mp/lajee3
Recommended: a memoir of occupation and resistance in Aida Camp: Rich Wiles’ Behind the Wall
The winners of the 2017 Palestine Book Awards will speak to meetings during 2018 by interactive video link on aspects of Palestine that can expand our knowledge base in ways that are essential to deliver effective solidarity with the Palestinian people. Each talk will be followed by a Q&A.
All you need is
Organised by Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
In partnership with Lighthouse, Edinburgh’s Radical Bookshop, www.lighthousebookshop.com, 0131 662 9112
THURSDAY MARCH 1st, 7pm
The 2018 programme opens with a talk by US award-winning journalist and novelist, Ben Ehrenreich, on the themes of his latest critically acclaimed On the Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine. The author spent three years documenting the lives of Palestine’s West Bank residents. He will share his first-hand experiences of the Friday demos in Nabi Saleh, again in the news with the continuing detention of Ahed and Nariman Tamimi, and the killing and wounding of other family members. The 'spring' in the title is Nabi Saleh's water source stolen by the nearby settlement and the focus of the weekly demonstrations there.
Ben concludes his introduction to On the Way to the Spring "[T]his book is a work of optimism, and of hope...because even in their despair, with no reason to hope, people continue to resist. I cannot think of many other reasons to be proud of being human, but that one is enough.”
"A powerful and brilliantly realized scream of a book, scorching and tender, from a journalist whose anger and empathy burn through every word." Granta Publishers
"Ehrenreich reveals a Palestine that is defined not by loss, but by 'semi-magical' defiance and vitality. Despite their land 'vanishing beneath their feet', life continues and, as one young resident puts it, remains 'beautiful'. Financial Times
APRIL 4th - 6th, 7pm
Ramzy Baroud will be speaking in person at the venues listed below
The second talk of 2018 is by Palestinian author Ramzy Baroud, editor of the Palestine Chronicle. Ramzy's past works include My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story. His latest book from Pluto is The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story, described by Noam Chomsky as "in the finest tradition of people's history".
Baroud said that he wrote The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story "to relocate the centrality of the Palestinian narrative from an Israeli perspective to a Palestinian one, especially one that overlooks the typical elitist narrative and focuses instead on retelling the story from the viewpoint of ordinary, poor, underclass and working-class Palestinians.”
"Reading The Last Earth is like walking round a gallery of old master paintings, each telling its own harrowing and often beautiful story about the same episode in human history."Ilan Pappé
Powerful 8-minute video by Ramzy Baroud. Israeli state racism and sadism, Palestinian indomitability and resistance, internationalism, your role.
THURSDAY May 3rd, 7pm
Samia Halaby is a renowned artist whose work is collected by the British Museum, the Guggenheim and other galleries around the world. Drawing the Kafr Qasem Massacre powerfully tells the story of this atrocious Israeli massacre of 49 Palestinian labourers. One of the killers later told an Israeli paper: "We were like the Germans. They stopped trucks, took the Jews off and shot them. What we did is the same. We were obeying orders like a German soldier during the war, when he was ordered to slaughter Jews."
The workers said shalom to the officer, who then asked them "Are you happy?" The workers answered "Yes". The police descended from their vehicles and ordered the workers to stand; the officer then gave orders to his men, saying: "Harvest them".
(Testimony of survivor Abdullah Ismeer Bdier)
Samia Halaby's work displays "a strong depiction of the divide between Palestinian memory and the network of oblivion imposed upon the people who have consistently struggled against disappearance. Halaby exhibits a profound consciousness of such contrasts, portrayed through her decision to eliminate or limit the presence of Israeli police officers in her artistic depictions. Given that the Israeli colonial narrative has functioned by eliminating Palestinians from the wider picture, focusing upon the colonial entity in any form would diminish the importance of Palestinian remembrance. In most drawings and paintings within the book, the aggressors are indicated through the presence of their rifles aimed at the Palestinian victims of their violence.
THURSDAY JULY 5th, 7pm
Ella Shohat is an Arab Jew from a Baghdadi family now living in New York. She is Professor of Cultural Studies and of Middle Eastern Studies at New York University. On the Arab-Jew, Palestine and Other Displacements was written over 30 years and tackles the record of Zionism in relation to Arab Jews, a term Zionism seeks to make inconceivable.
See 5-minute http://bit.do/EllaShohat
An essay by Prof Shohat Reflections by an Arab Jew
"I am an Arab Jew. Or, more specifically, an Iraqi Israeli woman living, writing and teaching in the U.S. Most members of my family were born and raised in Baghdad, and now live in Iraq, Israel, the U.S., England, and Holland. When my grandmother first encountered Israeli society in the '50s, she was convinced that the people who looked, spoke and ate so differently--the European Jews--were actually European Christians. Jewishness for her generation was inextricably associated with Middle Easterness. My grandmother, who still lives in Israel and still communicates largely in Arabic, had to be taught to speak of "us" as Jews and "them" as Arabs. For Middle Easterners, the operating distinction had always been "Muslim," "Jew," and "Christian," not Arab versus Jew. The assumption was that "Arabness" referred to a common shared culture and language, albeit with religious differences.
THURSDAY AUGUST 2nd, 7pm
The speaker in August is Ibtisam Barakat whose autobiograhical Balcony on the Moon; Coming of Age in Palestine has received critical praise."Lyrical and moving, Barakat’s first-person, present-tense story catapults the reader into a time when political tensions and the battle for human rights rage on, and the fight, not only for survival, but to have a voice is in full swing.
Not to be missed, this memoir is a wonderful additional to any library". VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)
"Being Palestinian teaches you to be ready for any destiny." This is a compelling personal history, brimming with humor, wisdom, and empathy.” Publishers Weekly
This intense memoir paints a dark picture of growing up in Israeli-occupied Palestine, where “we are made to live with no land, no country, no rights, no safety, and no respect for our dignity.” Her father’s despair looms large. A memorable chapter read here by the author recounts his threat to kill himself by crashing his truck; the whole family insists on accompanying him on the ride.
Other speakers have agreed to speak during 2018 but remain to be scheduled:
PETTER BAUCK & MOHAMMED OMER
Petter Bauck worked in Palestine as a conflict advisor for the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation from 2000 to 2003. Mohammed Omer is a Palestinian journalist and recipient of the
Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. The Oslo Accords: A Critical Assessment, examines the Oslo Accords; did the agreement have a reasonable chance of success? What went wrong? What are the recommendations today to show a way forward?
See 4-minute http://bit.do/MohammedOmer
& 21-minute http://bit.do/PetterBauck
Stalls selling Israeli beauty products based on minerals extracted from the Dead Sea are a common sight in shopping centres around the world. There are a huge number of Dead Sea franchises operating, with parent companies marketing under various names. In Scotland, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) have engaged in BDS campaigns against four such companies - Kedem, Premier Dead Sea Cosmetics, Obey Your Body and Jericho Cosmetics - in shopping centres in Edinburgh, Dundee, Glasgow and Aberdeen.
The most recent campaign focuses on Jericho Skincare, who operate out of Union Square and Trinity shopping centres in Aberdeen. This campaign has provoked a furious response from the pro-Israel lobby, who are engaged in an increasingly hysterical campaign to portray legitimate protest as the racist targeting of a local Jewish businessman. In this, they have engaged in aggressive and defamatory smear campaigns against individual activists (publically and at their places of employment) and have employed various ‘lawfare’ tactics i.e. threats of civil action against individuals, and attempts to secure criminal convictions of campaigners.
The pro-Israel lobby’s ever more desperate actions provide the clearest possible evidence that they recognise the challenge of defending the illegal and immoral actions of the state of Israel to an increasingly critical public, and so have resorted to shutting down any such critique. We are witnessing this first hand in Scotland, and it is a tactic that Israel and its supporters are pursuing internationally, with varying levels of success. It is vital that we do not give in to this campaign of bullying and harassment being waged against those who campaign for Palestinian rights, and we must call out such attempts where we find them.
SPSC are completely open in our aims and objectives, and in our rationale behind the various BDS campaigns we are involved in. Before we engage in a campaign, we research and investigate to ensure that we are focusing on a legitimate target. Contrary to the lies put out by pro-Israel supporters, BDS does not target products/ businesses/ individuals because they are Jewish or Israeli, but instead campaigns are based on complicity with crimes committed by the state of Israel. Such is the case with Jericho, and the other Dead Sea companies attracting BDS activity.
The Dead Sea
In the illegally occupied West Bank, the land along the Dead Sea shore was classified as "Area C" in the 1993 Oslo accords, meaning Israel has full military and administrative control. Israel claims Oslo accords grant it jurisdiction over land, subsoil and territorial waters in Area C, meaning it has total control over access to the Dead Sea and its mineral and water resources. As a result, Palestinians are denied access to the shared resource, while Israeli settlers are granted licences to fully exploit Dead Sea resources.
The legal case
Some Israeli Dead Sea companies operate within Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), others claim to operate only within Israel, but the fact is that all such enterprises are complicit and as such, are legitimate BDS targets. Under International Humanitarian Law (IHL) - the laws of occupation - Israel must respect the rule of the usufruct. Usufruct is the right to enjoy the use and advantages of another's property, short of the destruction or waste of its substance.
Exploiting of finite minerals of the Dead Sea unsustainably as Israel is doing (even inside its territory) and furthermore the theft of water downstream in the Jordan River, which is the main cause for its alarming shrinking, is degrading the "capital" of this "immovable resource" which Israel has the duty to preserve for the occupied population as a shared natural resource. All the while the Occupied Population are prevented from access and from contribution to the sustainable management of this sensitive ecosystem. Israel is therefore in violation of the rule of the usufruct.
Violation of the rule of the usufruct is per se NOT a serious violation of IHL/human rights or an international crime that would result in individual criminal responsibility or third state responsibility. However in the case of the Dead Sea, as a shared natural resource, this violation may constitute pillage, which under IHL is a war crime. Israel uses pillage to deny the right to self-determination of Palestinians, which includes the right to sovereignty over natural resources (serious violation of IHRL).
The above argument (i.e. rule of the usufruct + pillage) cannot be used when Israel/Israeli companies extract natural resources inside Israel and these resources are NOT interconnected and shared with the OPT. But the Dead Sea is shared with the OPT and therefore an argument based on IHL applies.
This is the legal basis for targeting any Israeli company exploiting the Dead Sea (specifically) on the basis of complicity with violations of international law.
Jericho Dead sea products
Parent company Paloma Dead Sea Ltd introduced its line of Jericho Cosmetics in 1983. Located in Caesarea, Israel, Paloma manufactures and markets Dead Sea ‘therapeutic’ products, and includes Hilton International, Wella Cosmetics, Wallgreens and the controversial Ahava in its client list. Paloma also sells Jericho products wholesale internationally to individual franchise operators to sell on, as is the case with the stalls in Aberdeen. Which individual is operating a Jericho stall in any given location in any given country is irrelevant to the campaign – it is the products being sold that are being targeted. In the case of Jericho in Aberdeen, if the franchise operator chose to source his beauty products from an ethical source his operation would be of no interest to the campaign, regardless of his nationality.
Israel has numerous Dead Sea companies, many operating from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The Israeli Dead Sea industry is thriving, while Palestinians are denied access to their own Dead Sea resources, a situation enforced by Israel’s illegal military occupation of the West Bank. Despite the efforts of the pro-Israel lobby, SPSC will continue to highlight the complicity of these companies in Israel’s illegal occupation and oppression of Palestine, and we call for a boycott of all Israeli Dead Sea companies until this illegal exploitation ceases and Palestinians are granted access to their own resources.
Israeli society has been incensed this week with the video of Ahed Tamimi and two other girls from Nabi Saleh, who slapped the Israeli soldiers occupying their family yard. The story of her 15-year-old cousin Mohammed being shot in the head by soldiers (and put into coma) just prior to that played no part in the story that the mainstream media was focusing upon – the humiliation of the soldiers, as it were. As Yossi Gurvitz noted yesterday in his coverage of the case, , “the Israeli media did not pay any attention to an Israeli jackboot firing a bullet at the head of 15 years old. As everyone knows, daily events are not news. Nothing to report.”
The discussion amongst Israelis became all about the humiliation suffered by heavily armed soldiers, from a fearless 16-year old girl and her bare hands. Culture Minister Miri Regev said: "When I watched that, I felt humiliated, I felt crushed". She called the incident "damaging to the honor of the military and the state of Israel." She was echoing herself from 2015, when Ahed again appeared in a viral video, wrestling a masked Israeli soldier, who was pressing her little brother down on a rock, his broken arm in cast. Then Regev was “shocked to see the video this morning of Palestinians hitting an IDF soldier,” adding that, “It cannot be that our soldiers will be sent on missions with their hands tied behind their backs. It’s simply a disgrace!….We must immediately order that a soldier under attack be able to return fire. Period.”
There was a range of suggestions of what should happen with Ahed and the other girls. Education Minister Naftali Bennett suggested that they “spend the rest of their days in prison”. But Prominent Maariv journalist Ben Caspit had a somewhat more cunning suggestion: "In the case of the girls, we should exact a price at some other opportunity, in the dark, without witnesses and cameras," he wrote in his article (Hebrew) on Tuesday .
What might this price exactly be, considering that he is referring specifically to teenage girls? We are left to wonder. Perhaps he wishes to leave it to the imagination of the soldiers who would invade the home at night, ensuring that no cameras are filming.
Ben Caspit’s suggestion is a sly and wretched one, and it comes with the smugness of congratulating the soldiers for their moral strength, as it were, for not having acted back with force against the girls – on film, that is. “There is no stomach which does not turn when witnessing this clip”, Caspit says (referring to Zionist stomachs, that is). “I, for example, if I were to encounter that situation, I would have long ago been in detention until end of procedures”. In other words, Caspit is saying he would go amok on the girls to a degree that would get him arrested. That’s what he’s indirectly suggesting would be ‘normal’, because he would do it… We are again left to wonder what it is exactly that the creep would do, especially if he thought there were no cameras around.
Caspit hails the soldiers’ ‘restraint’, hardly believing they can manage it: “The combatants stand there and demonstrate extraordinary restraint, do not respond, do not defend, do not speak”, he writes.
For Caspit, this ‘restraint’ is worthy, not because of itself (in the dark and with no cameras it would be a different story, remember), but because of the PR value:
“Sometimes also restraint is power, and in the case before us, the combatants are worthy of a medal of honor, not reprimand. To keep one’s restraint in this impossible situation is far more difficult than applying force, especially when the bitter enemy in front of you is three girls who do everything to get beaten up, knowing fully well that any laying of a hand by armed combatants upon supposedly innocent girls will serve as a deadly propaganda weapon in the endless war fought for hearts on social media”.
Caspit is exalting the image of the ‘good soldier’. Those soldiers were doing nothing – the girls were just asking for a beating. Yet as Orly Noy writes in her article yesterday in +972 Magazine, shattering the ‘good soldier’ myth:
“The two soldiers may have acted according to their consciences in refusing to beat Ahed Tamimi, but the army in which they serve later broke into the Tamimi home in the middle of the night to arrest Ahed, and then arrested her mother when she accompanied her daughter to the police station. In other words, regardless of their best intentions, their encounter with the Tamimis began with violence and ended with violence. From the moment they put on their uniform, their ethical sensibilities ceased to be a factor.”
The IDF was unsatisfied with this image of ‘restraint’. It was too emasculating. The soldiers were repeatedly being called “gays” and “trannies”. Like when Elor Azarya wrote in July 2014 “Bibi you transvestite what ceasefire? Penetrate their mother!!!” (demanding continued onslaught on Gaza) . So when the IDF arrested Ahed on Monday, they filmed it and posted it publicly with official logo (a highly irregular practice in such cases) – to show everyone that the IDF were not “trannies”, as it were. The IDF can arrest 16-year-old girls if it wants to, and we’ll film it ourselves, just watch us…
But this is not exactly what Ben Caspit had in mind. His suggestions were a bit more insidious, and not for filming.
Caspit's remarks have been noticed in mainstream media, but they seem to not receive the due seriousness of focus they deserve. These are not just words. It's like when last year, an Israeli former chief educator suggested in an Adelson paper that Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström might get the 'Bernadotte treatment' (assassination), for daring to suggest that Israel might be applying a policy of extrajudicial assassinations.
The author, Zvi Zameret, later got away with it saying that he didn't actually suggest her assassination. Just like Caspit was not actually suggesting to rape Ahed Tamimi. The details of the crime can be left to the wild imagination of those perpetrating it, “in the dark, without witnesses and cameras”.
22 December 2017
"If the Palestinian population was compliant and did not resist the occupation they were rewarded with the most basic of civil and human rights and if not, these rights were rescinded. All changed when, after two intifadas it was clear that if the prisoners would not behave themselves, an increasing brutal system of collective punishment would be put into place. Israeli policymakers asserted that the colonisation could be justified if it was presented as a means of” fighting terror”. Israel replaced Palestinian low-paid workers with those from foreign countries. Movement was severely restricted through road-blocks, checkpoints and curfews. The building of the notorious “Security Fence” ostensibly to deter suicide bombers, took another chunk of Palestinian land, destroyed infrastructure and demolished houses as well redirecting stolen water to the settlements, some which was sold back to the Palestinians at inflated prices. The messianic Zionist settlers, hell-bent on expanding biblical Israel were let loose on the Palestinians as vigilantes to wreak whatever havoc they desired without rebuke. Former Israeli soldiers in the IDF have spoken out anonymously in the group “Breaking the Silence” of cases of brutality, intimidation and harassment they were encouraged to mete upon the Palestinian population. Pappé exposes the Oslo peace process as a sham; a means to carve up the Palestinian areas even further and place them under Israeli control. By 2007, forty percent of the West Bank was annexed by Israel. Within this area Israel solidified its presence with barriers, military bases and closed military areas, which, cynically, the Israelis call nature reserves." The Biggest Prison on Earth – A History of the Occupied Territories, by Ilan Pappé
Ilan Pappé has written prolifically on the topic of Israel and Palestine. His work has always been meticulously researched, forensically analytical and yet relatively simple for a layman to grasp the main concepts. Perhaps this is why he has rarely, if ever been asked to comment on the region and its history in mainstream media. After all, if the situation is continually described as too complicated, controversial and sensitive for the public to understand, then why ask a renowned scholar to comment?
His latest book, “The Biggest Prison on Earth” is published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the six-day war in 1967 and takes up the story where “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” left off. The latter exposes the dispossession and expulsion of the Palestinians in the creation of the State of Israel in 1947 to 1949 (and is indispensable reading in understanding the back drop of the 1967 events) whilst in this book he describes how the “Palestinian Problem” has been managed but not resolved, resulting in a Stygian nightmare of a population under siege in the longest occupation in recent times.
He quotes evidence from archives made public in the last few years, the memoirs and interviews from generals and players of the time which prove, beyond any doubt, that Israel, far from being attacked by the Arab armies in 1967, was planning and co-ordinating provocation for a full-out strike in order to appropriate land and resources to create Eretz Israel, Greater Israel. This expansion was viewed as finishing the job started in 1948. Indeed, in 1964, a special guidebook was produced for military leaders entitled “Military Rule in Occupied Territories” ready for the final onslaught. The evidence is damning enough without the added fact that parts have already been censored. One wonders what more damaging information still remains hidden.
Pappé is methodical in his exposé. The first four chapters describe the way the 1967 decisions were implemented. Next he describes the open-air prison model created for the Palestinians between 1967 and the First Intifada in 1987, the harsh retaliation and imposition of a maximum security prison from 1987 and 1993. He then analyses the “peace process” from 1993 to 2000 initiated and led by the West. The book concludes with the examination of the maximum security prison model operating in the Gaza strip today.
What makes Pappé so accessible is his unequivocal use of language. He says what he means, he means what he says. There is no obfuscation here, the bluntness of the language is stark, clearly demonstrated in chapter headings such as “Devising the Mega-Prison”, “The Oslo Charade”,” The Ultra Maximum Security Prison Model: The Gaza Strip”. The opprobrium heaped on the Israelis is relentless: “intransigent and harsh position towards the Arab world”, “uncompromising,” “oppressive military rule,” intentional brutality of the leaders and generals,” “the colonizer’s butchery did not end there,” the repertoire of barbarity” are some examples; moreover the book is liberally peppered with prison terminology as befits the title. Pappé’s stance is uncompromising.
Pappé exposes the Orwellian manipulation of language that has operated in Israel since 1967. Palestine is now termed Judea and Samaria, Palestinians are described as the Arabs. Moshe Dayan ensured that journalists were not allowed into the West Bank and even today there are many places- such as Gaza- deemed closed military zones, to deter news leaking out in order to quell dissenting voices from the Israeli media and to hide certain policies. Once something was declared a defence matter then it was closed to public scrutiny, Israel Galili, the Minister of Information at the time was known as a past-master of “newspeak “ and served up propaganda that was easily digested by an Israeli public and international audience who were willingly duped. Any action could be explained away by stating that “Israel has a right to defend itself.” The Minister of Education was quoted as saying: “we should say something, not necessarily mean it.“ In other words, they should continue to use the words of seeking peace but not necessarily mean it.
From the outset, it was clear that the occupation would necessitate a dual language, one for domestic and international consumption- the discourse for peace- and one for the bureaucracy of the occupation- the language of annexation and control. As Pappé puts it: The press was domiciled, the world indifferent and the Americans misled.
This book is about the occupier rather than the occupied; the colonizer rather than the colonist. A vast bureaucracy from all walks of life, not just civil servants and soldiers, is needed to man this vast prison and requires the collusion and complicity, not only of the Israeli public, but of the international community. Much of the book focuses on the disregard and flouting of the Geneva convention, International laws and the UN charter of Human Rights.The West uses words such as “autonomy” “self-determination” and finally “independence” to describe the best version of an open-air prison model (aka the State of Palestine) the Israelis could offer to the Palestinians in the West Bank or Gaza. The reality is though that today every single aspect of Palestinian life is monitored and controlled by the Israelis.
Pappé’s argument is that since Palestinians are denied basic human and civil rights of a citizen they are de facto prisoners. But as the record of abuses and humiliation against the Palestinians mounts up and is irrefutable, as U.N. reports of Israeli war crimes are shelved and any murmurings of disapproval from the international community are ignored by the seemingly invincible Israeli State, it appears that the analogy of a prison is an apt one.
The main difference between 1948 and 1967 was that the decisions about the fate of the Palestinians in 1948 were taken before the war, whereas in 1967 they were formulated after the war. The reason for the war was to take over the land and resources, but the indigenous population was surplus to requirements. As the excellent maps show at the back of the book, the ever-increasing population is squeezed into an ever- decreasing land area mainly by land expropriation through corrupt legal systems, and house demolitions. By December 2016, about 400,000 Israelis inhabit 121 settlement officially recognised by the Israeli Government (although condemned by International Law) whilst 375,000 Israelis live in settlements in East Jerusalem. There are around a hundred further settlement outposts that are not officially recognised by the government, and are illegal against Israeli law, but have been provided with infrastructure, water sewage and other services by the authorities. In the 1980’s, the Chamber of Planning, devised by Ariel Sharon, was created ostensibly to help with the future of 400 Palestinian villages in the West Bank but in reality its remit was to limit expansion and growth.
What do you do with four and a half million people you simply do not want?
Pappe’s unsparing detail makes for uncomfortable reading. Population transfers of the scale of 1948 were no longer possible, although one hundred and eighty thousand were expelled from their homes in the aftermath of 1967, thus creating a second wave of refugees.
The solution to Gaza was relatively simple. Geographically it is isolated from the rest of the disintegrated Palestine. Two successive bombardments by land, sea and air by the most high-tech of equipment available of one and a half million people living in the most densely populated 40 square miles on the planet met the UN article 2’s definition of genocide. A UN report in 2016 predicted by 2020 life in Gaza would be unsustainable. The International Community objected to what they termed as Israel’s use of “excessive force” but did nothing.
At first, it was decided that the Palestinians would be temporary guest workers, a cheap labour force with no rights whatsoever inside Israel, as well as that their presence inside Israel would make the occupation irreversible. The local economy would be destroyed to make Palestinians reliant on Israeli goods, creating a one-sided dependency.
If the Palestinian population was compliant and did not resist the occupation they were rewarded with the most basic of civil and human rights and if not, these rights were rescinded.
All changed when, after two intifadas it was clear that if the prisoners would not behave themselves, an increasing brutal system of collective punishment would be put into place. Israeli policymakers asserted that the colonisation could be justified if it was presented as a means of” fighting terror”. Israel replaced Palestinian low-paid workers with those from foreign countries. Movement was severely restricted through road-blocks, checkpoints and curfews. The building of the notorious “Security Fence” ostensibly to deter suicide bombers, took another chunk of Palestinian land, destroyed infrastructure and demolished houses as well redirecting stolen water to the settlements, some which was sold back to the Palestinians at inflated prices. The messianic Zionist settlers, hell-bent on expanding biblical Israel were let loose on the Palestinians as vigilantes to wreak whatever havoc they desired without rebuke. Former Israeli soldiers in the IDF have spoken out anonymously in the group “Breaking the Silence” of cases of brutality, intimidation and harassment they were encouraged to mete upon the Palestinian population. Pappé exposes the Oslo peace process as a sham; a means to carve up the Palestinian areas even further an place them under Israeli control. By 2007, forty percent of the West Bank was annexed by Israel. Within this area Israel solidified its presence with barriers, military bases and closed military areas, which, cynically, the Israelis call nature reserves.
Pappé compares the judicial system imposed on the Palestinians to that of a Stasi regime where it was able to arrest and punish without reason, occasionally using concocted evidence of an un-known collaborator. Thousands of Palestinians have spent long periods in jail without trial as part of administrative detention.
There are two omissions which are the most striking. Tony Blair, Middle East Peace Envoy for the United Nations, European Union, United States, from 2007 to 2015 is absent from the political landscape. There are no comparisons made to the apartheid model which have been made before in other tomes (apart from describing the Jewish-only by-pass roads and the Wall as such in passing), but perhaps this detracts from the prison motif.
As Pappé states from the beginning, this is a book about the occupier, therefore what is curious is the relative absence of any Israeli outcry to these abuses that he describes. It would have been interesting to hear the views of Israeli civilian society. Perhaps they have been so inured by propaganda and indoctrination that they are totally disconnected from the Palestinian experience, viewing them as “the enemy”. Certainly news disseminated by the internet has made more Israelis more involved and there is a growing number of Israeli activists demonstrating that the suffering of the Palestinians is not in their name. Nonetheless, as Pappé explains: (Israelis have) ..”a genuine inability to grasp the level of Palestinian suffering and the evil nature of Israeli oppression.” There are few instances, if any, that Palestinians and Israelis can interact in social contexts on an equal basis. Maybe it is a case of people see only what they want to see, hear what they want to hear. Pappé recounts when he himself went over to see “the other side” in 1967 on an organised trip to see archaeological sites and completely blanked out the obvious signs of devestation.
One episode sticks out for me which encapsulates a mindset. Pappé writes: “To the aesthetic crimes against the city of Jerusalem can be added those of culture and religion. One of the most important parts of the Mamilla area was its Muslim cemetery dating back to the seventh century. The graves were removed at night so that no-one could witness this, and in their place the Simon Wiesenthal Foundation built a museum of tolerance! To ensure the Muslims could not reach this sacred site, it was surrounded by an electric fence. Desecrating Muslim graveyards for new constructions was nothing new, however…”
This is ultimately a depressing and bleak book, with no endgame in sight. No doubt, critics of Pappé will denounce this book as lies, lies and more lies and denounce him as a “sloppy historian.”
The message is: Read, and take note. More than anything else, this book a cry to the world to wake from its stupor and make amends before it is too late.
15 July 2017