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Arab Modernism, the Rise of Fundamentalism

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Dubai – Did the Arabic modernism fail, leading to the rise of religious fundamentalism?

People who discuss the failure of the Arabic modernism focus on the fake representations of it and not on its original thoughts. They don’t consider its representatives, proposals, and achievements that have changed the form of society and Arab state including education, establishment of universities, protection of women’s rights and labor, political reform, and setting constitutions…

All these achievements cannot be denied because they were major proposals among the representatives of renaissance or Arabic modernism.

First, we should set our understanding for the “Arabic modernism”, which we see as efforts and ways that overtake the cultural, intellectual, and political tradition before the 19th century, including many fields from politics to sociology, literature, journalism and media.

Modernism cannot shoulder the mistakes of military, right-winged, or rebellion regimes that chant the slogans of renaissance and unity while failing in fulfilling their promises and sticking to losing battles…which means that the failure hit those regimes and not “the modernism”.

The wrong dating of Islamic awakening

Many have written that the “Islamic Awakening” emerged from the feeling of Arab defeats particularly against the Israeli enemy in 1967, which was considered a failure of promises of Arab liberalism and unity.

In fact, many Islamic movements were restricted after June 1967 and were transformed into radical armed factions in the end of seventies. But, it can be said that these radical groups were tied to the success of the Islamic revolution in Iran and to the anger that emerged after the inking of peace accords with Israel.

However, the June’s defeat shook the Left-winged movements and its rising ideas in the region. Other parties chose the Islamic trend and collected the Arabic left and communist concepts to transform them into Islamic ones.

It is worth noting, that the Baath invasion of Kuwait in 1990 represented another heavy defeat that broke the national Arabic ideology and led to the emergence of extremist organizations like Al-Qaeda.

However, the ascension of Islamic intellect and its social and violent existence appeared long before the defeat of June; this ascension started with the establishment of the Muslims Brotherhood’s organization in 1927.

Moreover, many platforms defended the fundamental intellect since after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1924, and confronted the modern ideas and mind.

Arabic modernism and wrong remarks

The Arabic modernism handled the failure of the revolutionary governments which ruled since the fifties of the past decades in Egypt, Damascus, and Iraq and sought to legitimize a communist identity to control the authority and focus of promises of liberation after the Second World War; these governments succeeded in achieving the nation’s independence, but failed in achieving the independence of their citizens. It is worth mentioning that in their first phase, these governments allied with the Muslim Brotherhood till their first confrontation in 1954.

Yet, accusing the failure of Arab modernism of contributing to the rise or fundamental intellect certainly neglects the intellectual base of fundamentalism and its opposition for the Westernization of Arab communities since their beginnings.

(Source / 06.12.2016)

Written by altahrir

December 6, 2016 at 2:07 pm

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Palestinians: Trump May Not Be Better For Palestine, But He Can’t Be Worse

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By Joe Catron

Donald Trump careened wildly between conflicting positions throughout his campaign, including his stance toward the pro-Israel establishment, leaving Palestinians and their supporters to wonder what a Trump administration will mean for the region.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the 2016 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference at the Verizon Center, on Monday, March 21, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the 2016 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference at the Verizon Center, on Monday, March 21, 2016, in Washington

NEW YORK — Despite pro-Israel positions taken by President-elect Donald Trump during the latter part of his campaign, as well as his likely appointments of Israel backers to key offices, many Palestinian-Americans and their supporters doubt his administration will make things any worse for Palestinians.

“Trump’s presidency, just like those before him, will mean nothing new, as Obama has already set the pace with the newly approved $38 billion aid package,” Abbas Hamideh, a Palestinian-American in Cleveland and vice chair of Al-Awda: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, told MintPress News.

The outgoing Obama administration approved the ten-year deal, the largest military aid plan in U.S. history, in September, after more than a year of negotiations ended with Israel’s far-right prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, accepting the offer.

Many observers regarded the timing of the package, mere weeks before the presidential election, as an attempt by President Barack Obama to bolster support for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton among Israel backers, including donors and voters in Florida and other “swing states.”

The candidate herself had repeatedly emphasized her pro-Israel bona fides, going as far as to reassure top donor Haim Saban that she would “make countering BDS a priority” in a public letter that, WikiLeaks showed, was driven by Saban and other contributors.

A lockstep supporter of Israel in both the Senate and State Department, Clinton also promised to maintainclose ties with Netanyahu’s extremist government, and repeatedly pledged to take U.S.-Israel relations “to the next level.”

‘A little better under the Trump administration’

As with many other issues, Trump careened wildly between conflicting positions on Israel and Palestine.

He shocked many with his initial break from pro-Israel conventions, saying he would “be sort of a neutral guy” and that a peace agreement with Palestinians “will have to do with Israel and whether or not Israel wants to make the deal — whether or not Israel’s willing to sacrifice certain things.”

Later, he settled into a hardline pro-Israel position, even going so far as to promise to move the U.S. Embassy to East Jerusalem, part of the West Bank — a pledge made, then broken, by previous candidates — and supporting Israel’s construction of illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian enclave.

Between Trump’s mercurial positions and the relatively pro-Palestinian statements of Democratic contender Bernie Sanders during the primary, the 2016 election seemed to have sidelined Israel as a campaign talking point more than any other in decades.

“It was interesting to see that this time around, Israel/Palestine was not a hot button issue in the presidential debates, and the lobby was virtually nonexistent in the election,” Noor Fawzy Ibrahim, a Palestinian-American and former Students for Justice in Palestine activist in Coral Springs, Florida, told MintPress.

“I think that the prospects for Palestinians will be a bit better under the Trump administration given that Trump, unlike his predecessors, did not depend on support from the Israel lobby.”

‘Much more likely to be unpredictable’

President-elect Donald Trump shakes hands with retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis as he leaves Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse in Bedminster, N.J., Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Donald Trump shakes hands with retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis as he leaves Trump’s Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse in N.J. Nov. 19, 2016

The president-elect’s initial steps have indicated little concern for the issue.

Along with various pro-Israel hardliners, his picks for top positions include James Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general who warned three years ago that Israel’s settlements policies were creating “apartheid” in the West Bank, and that the United States’ close ties to Israel came with a “military security price,” whom Trumpchose Thursday as secretary of defense.

And while he claims to seek “the ultimate deal” between Israel and the Palestinians, few consider hispresumptive envoy — his son-in-law and a key advisor to his presidential campaign, Jared Kushner — to have the gravitas needed to achieve much.

In short, it is hard to see what path, if any, Trump might chart in the Middle East.

“Hillary Clinton was the candidate of the Zionist machine and so the policy of her administration toward Israel/Palestine would have been quite predictable,” Pauline Park, chair of the New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy (NYAGRA) and a longtime Palestine activist, told MintPress.

“Donald Trump is much more likely to be unpredictable.”

But in a situation already as predictable as Israel’s occupation of Palestine, many view the potential for any shakeup in the status quo as promising.

“I don’t think they will prioritize Israel as much as previous administrations did,” Ibrahim said.

“Yes, they are very right-wing and controversial, but I think that they will be focusing on a lot more domestic concerns. The public pro-Israel rhetoric will continue, but I don’t think it will be on the level we saw with previous administrations.”

‘All forms of social forces coming together’

With the United States’ military, economic, diplomatic and political support for Israel established as a seemingly permanent feature of the political landscape, unprecedented political shifts may bring fresh opportunities.

The president-elect’s record-breaking unpopularity, which has drawn tens of thousands of protesters into the streets since the start of his campaign, could tar any policies his administration maintains, including its likely, if perfunctory, support for Israel.

“The benefit of a Trump presidency is good in the sense of all forms of social forces coming together,” Hamideh said.

“If there is anything positive, it is that the people are more concerned with Trump than Hillary, but in the literal sense, it is simply the status quo with the incoming presidency.”

And while few anticipate Trump taking any steps to support Palestinians, or to challenge U.S. aid to Israel, it is hard for any to see a clear path through which he could possibly aggravate the situation further.

“There’s absolutely no telling what will happen in the Trump administration, but we can be pretty sure what would have happened in a Clinton administration,” Michael J. Smith, an attorney and supporter of Palestine in New York, told MintPress.

“She was pretty open about it. Trump may be no better, but he could hardly be worse.”

(Source / 02.12.2016)

Written by altahrir

December 2, 2016 at 7:29 pm

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Stealing Palestine: A study of historical and cultural theft

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Article of 14 July 2015

jatten-van-pal-land

The cultural appropriation of books, music, art, cuisine and dress have been used by Zionists as a weapon against Palestinians

Stealing and appropriating the culture and history of indigenous peoples is a typical characteristic of all modern colonial-settler states, but usually accomplished once the indigenous people in question has been eliminated, dispossessed, or otherwise seemingly defeated therefore making it safe to do so.  The colonial-settler state of “Israel,” established on the ruins of Palestine and through the expulsion of the majority of its indigenous population in 1948 and after, is no different.

The Israeli theft of all things Palestinian, however, does not simply come from misguided notions of nationalism or childish pride as is often argued by Western apologists, but is rather a conscious political policy of the state that seeks to erase Palestine from historical memory, particularly within Western discourse.  Indeed, the continuing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their historic homeland goes hand in hand with the theft of Palestinian land, homes, history, and culture.  It is an essential part of the larger, long-term Zionist project of eradicating the Palestinian nation altogether, literally writing it out of history while simultaneously assuming its place.

This erasure has been correctly termed as memoricide by historian Ilan Pappe in The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.  Nur Masalha, elaborating further, writes: “The founding myths of Israel have dictated the conceptual removal of Palestinians before, during and after their physical removal in 1948… The de-Arabisation of Palestine, the erasure of Palestinian history and the elimination of the Palestinian’s collective memory by the Israeli state are no less violent than the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians in 1948 and the destruction of historic Palestine: this elimination is central to the construction of a hegemonic collective Israeli-Zionist-Jewish identity in the State of Israel” (The Palestine Nakba, 89).

Thus, the theft of Palestine and its culture has two essential and interwoven components, the removal/erasure of Palestinians and a concurrent assumption of nativity or “birthright” in Anglo-European Zionist terms.  Over the last six and a half decades, this brazen erasure and theft has been achieved mainly through two methods:  brutal violence (that is, terrorism) and mass media propaganda.

Al Nakba: Physical Destruction/Physical Theft

Between 1947 and 1949, at least 800,000 Palestinians, comprising the majority of the indigenous Arab population of Palestine at that time, were ethnically cleansed from their homes by Zionist militias made up of European and Russian colonists and aided by British imperialists.  Major urban Palestinian centres from the Galilee in the north to the Naqab (renamed “Negev” by Zionists) in the south were emptied of their original inhabitants.  During this three-year period alone, some 531 Palestinian towns and villages were also simultaneously ethnically cleansed and then later razed by the newly established Israeli state.  As Moshe Dayan, a native of the Ukraine, would later boast:

“Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages.  You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist, not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either.  Nahlal arose in the place of Mahlul; Kibbutz Gvat in the place of Jibta; Kibbutz Sarid in the place of Huneifis; and Kefar Yehushu’a in the place of Tal al-Shuman. There is not one single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population” (Ha’aretz, April 4, 1969).

What is perhaps lesser known is that during this same period tens of thousands of books, paintings, musical recordings, furniture, and other artifacts were also looted by the Zionist militias from Palestinian homes, libraries, and government offices.  As documented by Benny Brunner and Arjan El Fassed in their film The Great Book Robbery, at least 70,000 Palestinian books were stolen from their owners.  As shown in the documentary, this theft was no mere accidental by-product of war; rather, it was a deliberate act with a specific purpose:

“For decades Zionist and Israeli propaganda described the Palestinians as ‘people without culture.’ Thus, the victorious Israeli state took upon itself to civilise the Palestinians who remained within its borders at the end of the 1948 war. They were forbidden to study their own culture or to remember their immediate past; their memory was seen as a dangerous weapon that had to be suppressed and controlled.”

1948, however, would not be the last time that Israeli forces would steal and destroy Palestinian books and other cultural productions.  In 1982, during its occupation of Lebanon, Israeli invasion troops would storm the homes, offices, and libraries of Palestinians and walk away with thousands of books, films, and other records documenting Palestinian history.  This is a common practice of Israeli occupation forces and continues to this day, most notably in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza, which were occupied in 1967 along with Syria’s Golan Heights and Egypt’s Sinai.

The meaning behind this theft is not complicated.  Unable to assimilate actual, recorded Palestinian history (which was and remains mostly in Arabic) into its fabricated history, Israel chooses simply to destroy it, to physically remove it from sight, while simultaneously inventing and disseminating a fairy-tale account of Palestine as a virgin “land without people for a people without a land.”  Consequently, the destruction of Palestinian villages, the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian cities, the aerial bombing of Palestinian refugee camps, and the looting of Palestinian books all lead to the same intersection: what cannot be absorbed within Zionist mythology must be eradicated.

Palestinian Artifacts: Re-writing History

The Zionist belief that modern European and Russian Jews (and all of worldwide Jewry for that matter) are somehow the direct, lineal descendants of ancient Hebrew-speaking tribes who lived on another continent some 2000 years ago and can thus lay claim to Palestine, its history, and its culture would be outright laughable if the political consequences of this fairy-tale ideology were not so tragic. That this racist belief, propagated by both anti-Semites and Zionists alike, is accepted as self-evident truth and not even worthy of questioning by most Western mainstream media outlets is certainly a testament to decades of Zionist propaganda and to a shameful journalistic laziness and conformity of thought that has now become the norm.

A typical example is this article from the Huffington Post titled “Israel Ancient Jewelry Uncovered in Archeological Dig.”  According to the article, “Israeli archaeologists have discovered a rare trove of 3,000-year-old jewelry, including a ring and earrings, hidden in a ceramic jug near the ancient city of Megiddo, where the New Testament predicts the final battle of Armageddon.”  Based on the guesses of Israel Finkelstein, who co-directed the dig, “the jewelry likely belonged to a Canaanite family.”  That may well have been so, but the unquestioned assumption throughout the piece is that this jewelry is in some way Israeli.  (Note, as well, how a biblical tale associated with the ancient Palestinian city of Megiddo is mentioned as if this was of any relevance.)

In 1919, the World Zionist Organisation officially presented a map of its future state of “Israel” at the Paris Peace Conference.  This map included not only all of Palestine, but also southern Lebanon, southwestern Syria, including the Golan Heights, significant parts of western Jordan, and parts of Egypt’s Sinai.  Let us for argument’s sake say that the WZO’s colonial wish was granted at least in the case of Lebanon.  Would that make all the ancient artifacts found in occupied southern Lebanon, “Israeli”?  What of Syria’s Golan which remains occupied today; are the artefacts found there today somehow “Israeli”?  And what about Egypt’s Sinai, a territory that Israel occupied from 1967 to 1979; were the ancient relics discovered there during the period of occupation “Israeli”?  And did they stop becoming “Israeli” after the Zionist state properly returned the stolen land back to Egypt?

Since all of Palestine is as stolen as the once occupied Sinai and the currently occupied Syrian Golan, what exactly is so “Israeli” about this ancient jewelry discussed in the Huffington Post article besides the unsubstantiated claims of its author who completely ignores Palestinian history?  The European/Zionist re-writing of ancient Palestinian history is so blatant, so ubiquitous, it is almost invisible.  Not only have Zionists re-written Palestinian history, they have also written themselves into it even as they remove indigenous Palestinians both physically and notionally out.  Wielding history as a weapon, this type of propaganda utilises the laziest and most common form of censorship, that of simple omission.

This particular form of cultural theft, however, is not limited to Palestine.  Israel, against all historical evidence, continues to conflate its racist political ideology, its raison d’être, Zionism – a uniquely European creation – with Judaism, a universal religion with origins in the Arab world.  Thus, Zionists justify the theft of Iraqi-Jewish archives, for instance; or they claim that 1000-year-old Jewish documents originally from Afghanistan belong to the Zionist state.  The assumption is that, since a document has Hebrew or even Aramaic script written on it, it must somehow belong in “Israel” and not where it was actually found.  It never occurs to the author of the Haaretz piece that a 1000-year-old document discovered in Afghanistan has absolutely nothing to do with a European colonial-settler state established in 1948 on top of Palestine.  Or have perhaps Israel’s undeclared borders now stretched to Afghanistan?

Palestinian/Arab Dress

Palestinian women are rightly proud of traditional Arab dress, as any people would be of their creations.  These stunningly intricate, handmade embroidered dresses, scarves, and other accessories have deep roots within the Arab world, especially Greater Syria.  The skills with which to create them have been passed down from generation to generation and the evidence of their authenticity and artistry is undeniable.  So refined is Palestinian dress in particular, that one can identify their place of origin within Palestine from the colours and designs of the embroidery alone.

Historian and scientist Hanan Karaman Munayyer, an expert on Palestinian clothing, traces “the origins of proto-Palestinian attire from the Canaanite period circa 1500 B.C. when Egyptian paintings depicted Canaanites wearing A-shaped garments.  The distinctive silhouette is observed in a 1200 B.C. ivory engraving from Megiddo, Palestine, identified as a ‘Syrian tunic’” (Sovereign Threads by Pat McDonnell Twair, PalestineHeritage.org).  In short, they are living works of art that carry within their stitches millennia of indigenous cultural memory.

Yet even Palestinian dress has not been immune from shameless Israeli theft and appropriation.  Basem Ra’ad, in his superb Hidden Histories: Palestine and the Eastern Mediterranean, writes:

“An Israeli book on embroidery, Arabesque:  Decorative Needlework from the Holy Land, starts with “biblical times” and ends with photographs showing Israeli adults and children wearing the embroidered clothing of Palestinian villagers (many from the villages from which Palestinians were forced to flee in 1948).  These Israelis have put on an act for the photographs.  The book not only takes over a Palestinian art form; it impersonates it.  The euphemistic allusion to the “Holy Land” helps to camouflage the real, Palestinian source of this unique form of village art” (128).

As Ra’ad notes throughout, often within Israeli cultural works no mention at all is made of Palestinians thus rendering them invisible.  A more recent and equally outrageous form of appropriation was documented in an article from Ma’an News which describes the theft of the Arab kufiya or hattah.  Though common throughout the Arab world, the kufiya became a Palestinian symbol of resistance during the Great Palestine Revolt of 1936-39 when the majority of Palestinians rose up against the British occupation and their Zionist colonial allies.  That Zionists today choose to appropriate this symbol in a pathetic effort to make it their own is yet another example of both an ignorance of Arab history and a complete lack of imagination.

Palestinian/Arab Cuisine

What is more fundamental to any people and its culture than its food?  The stealing of Palestinian cuisine by the Zionist state has been just as shameless as its theft of Palestinian land.  In fact, since cuisine is so overtly geographically-based, the two are in reality one and the same.  Jaffa oranges, olives and olive oil, hummus, tabouleh, arak, falafel, kubbeh and almost every other kind of Arabic food, drink, and ingredient native to Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and the rest of the Arab world suddenly becomes “Israeli” within the state’s various media and through its Western advocates without any acknowledgement of its true origins.

Consider, for instance, this article from the Jerusalem Post which states that arak is “indigenous to Israel.”  “The largest-selling spirit in Israel may be vodka,” claims the writer, “but the indigenous spirit is arak.”  Note, too, how several countries from the region are cited -Turkey, Greece, Lebanon, Jordan – but, somehow, Palestine remains beyond the recall of the writer.  This is a typical strategy of Zionist cultural appropriation and usurpation; list the surrounding countries and cultures as if you are a part of them, but don’t mention the country you destroyed and whose culture you stole.  One must also wonder how a colonial settler state established in 1948 by Europeans can lay claim to an indigenous Arab cuisine which existed for millennia before it ever came into being.  Perhaps this is another example of the fabled “miracles of Israel.”

Or take the example of falafel which Israel claims is its “national” dish, an assertion repeated in countless cook books, blogs, and even academic papers.  “What distinguishes the case of falafel from those of rice and wine is our access to its historical origins,” writes Yael Raviv.  “Falafel was not assimilated into Israeli society by a long, slow, natural process.  Rather, its transformation into an icon of Israeli culture was rushed and deliberate.  In its urgent search for symbols of unity, the nationalist movement hit upon falafel as a signifier of Israeli pride.”  This is a remarkable bit of ahistorical sophistry.  How exactly is falafel – which existed long before “Israel” – a “signifier of Israeli pride” unless one is proud of cultural theft?

In a refreshing moment of honesty, Gil Hovav admits:  “Of course it’s Arabic.  Hummus is Arabic.  Falafel, our national dish, our national Israeli dish, is completely Arabic and this salad that we call an Israeli Salad, actually it’s an Arab salad, Palestinian salad. So, we sort of robbed them of everything.”  Although it is always appreciated to hear Zionists admit their various thefts, take away the apologetic qualifier “sort of” and we will arrive to a much closer truth.

The usual defence or apologetics, however, is that this is a trivial matter; it is only food after all.  Unfortunately, Israeli claims to inventing Palestinian and Arabic cuisine are used for distinctly political purposes – to marginalise, discredit and, ultimately, to dispossess the Palestinian people.  Did the Russian-born Golda Meir (originally, Golda Mabovich) invent hummus?  Did the Polish native David Ben-Gurion (originally, David Green) create the recipe for tabouleh?  Perhaps it was the family of current Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu (originially, Ben Mileikowsky), who created falafel?  As ridiculous as these questions are, this is essentially what Zionists are asking us to believe whenever they refer to Arabic food as “Israeli.”

Palestinian Agriculture and Land

A common Zionist historical fabrication, still disseminated today, is that “Israelis made the [Palestinian] desert bloom.”  Palestine, according to this tall tale, was a horrid, barren place until European Jews arrived with their superior technology and know-how and made it flower.  It was only then, as the tall tale continues, that those poor Arabs arrived (from other countries, of course) to find work in this new, green, and blooming land.  As recently as the 2012 American election campaign, openly anti-Palestinian bigots such as Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney would parrot this ahistorical fiction in an attempt to score cheap political points.

Here, however, are some historical facts to counter this racist fairy tale.  In 1901, the Jewish National Fund was founded in Basel, Switzerland with the explicit goal of buying land in Palestine for exclusive European Jewish colonisation.  By 1948, after nearly half a century, they had succeeded in buying less than 7 percent of Palestinian land, mostly from absentee landlords living outside of Palestine.  In other words, the enterprise was a failure; Palestinians understandably would not give up rightful ownership of their land for any price.

Why is this important?  When Britain invaded and occupied Palestine from 1917 to 1948, they not only came with their military and typical savagery, but also with their surveyors and scholars whose main job was to produce information on the country they happened to occupy.  This information would fill volumes of books sent back for consumption by the British public and in order to justify their government’s imperial projects abroad.  One of those volumes is the 1300-page A Survey of Palestine published in December 1945.

Summarised brilliantly by the Lawrence of Cyberia Website, the survey reveals that Palestinians produced the vast majority of Palestine’s agricultural output as late as 1948, including “92 percent of its grain, 86 percent of its grapes, 99 percent of its olives, 77 percent of its vegetables, 95 percent of its melons, 99 percent of its tobacco, and 60 percent of its bananas.”  Sami Hadawi in his Village Statistics of 1945: A Classification of Land and Area ownership in Palestine showed similar results.  It simply makes no agricultural sense that Zionist colonists, who were in the minority at the time, were minority land holders, and who had only recently arrived in Palestine, overnight turned a supposed desert into a flower bed.

The reality is that it was Palestinians who made Palestine bloom through centuries of labour and hard work, not recently-arrived foreign colonists from Europe, Russia, and (later) the United States and elsewhere.  These are the facts as recorded in 1948 by both indigenous Palestinians and their British occupiers.  Those who believe in magic and fairy tales, on the other hand, can always return to the comfort of Zionist myths and Hollywood.

Conclusion: The Rope of a Lie is Short

Books, music, art, cuisine, dress—these are what constitute the essence of a people’s culture and history.  Israel’s cultural claims on Palestine are as vacuous as its claims on the land; both have been taken, and are still being taken, by force and fabrication.  The Palestinian intellectual Dr. Fayez Sayegh once said, “Israel is, because Palestine has been made not to be.”  Sayegh was not only speaking of the land but also of the entirety of the Palestinian nation which, naturally, includes its cultural productions as well.  Zionism, like all other European colonial-settler movements, uses cultural and historical theft as key weapons in its war of elimination against the indigenous Palestinians.

Israel’s delusion that Palestinian culture belongs to it is no different from the fantasy that it somehow sits in Europe and not in the heart of the Arab world.  The continuing theft of Palestinian culture in particular and of Arab culture in general is a damning reflection of its own artificiality, its poverty of spirit and, indeed, of its very illegitimacy.  There is a Palestinian proverb that says, “The rope of a lie is short (قصير الكِذِب حبل)” meaning, a lie will sooner or later be found out.  The goal of the Zionist project in Palestine, to erase it from history and take its place using all means possible, has been obvious to Palestinians almost from its inception; it is time for the rest of the world to come to this realisation.  For the sake of justice and common decency, it is also long time to give credit where credit is due.

(Source / 02.12.2016)

Written by altahrir

December 2, 2016 at 6:25 pm

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Where Is the International Outcry Against Israel’s Demolition of Palestinian Villages?

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The Israeli outpost of Amona has captured media attention in recent weeks.

In December 2014, the settlers of Amona, which was established in 1995 on private Palestinian land in the West Bank, received a court order to evacuate within two years. With the deadline approaching, in early November, leaders of the Jewish Home party put forward the “Regulation Bill” for a parliamentary vote. The legislation would protect Amona by retroactively legalizing a number of unauthorized settlements. The U.S. State Department has already expressed its disapproval of the bill, which passed the first step toward becoming law on November 16.

Around the same time, Israeli authorities approved plans for the expansion of Gilo, which is part of a ring of settlements encircling East Jerusalem in the West Bank. Like the Regulation Bill, the move received international condemnation and was described as threatening the prospects for peace. Gilo was established by Israel in the early 1970s on land illegally expropriated from the Palestinian village of al-Walaja. Its enlargement will exacerbate the hardships al-Walaja’s residents have endured for decades, at the hands of Israeli political and military authorities.

Less discussed outside the Israeli-Palestinian press is the case of Umm al-Hiran, an unrecognized Palestinian-Bedouin village in southern Israel. Following a lengthy legal battle between village residents and the state, on November 22, Umm al-Hiran was scheduled for demolition to make room for a new Jewish town. While it was blocked as a result of a sit-in by Palestinian activists and a last minute court appeal, demolition is expected to take place in the coming weeks.

According to the Israeli government, Umm al-Hiran’s residents are illegally trespassing on state land. Of course, the reality is much more complex. Umm al-Hiran is one of dozens of Palestinian villages throughout Israel that the government has refused to recognize for political reasons. Israel’s objective is to maximize control over the land for the exclusive benefit of its Jewish citizens. Although official statistics are difficult to come by, roughly 10% of Israel’s Palestinian citizens live in unrecognized villages. Most pre-date Israel’s establishment while others, like Umm al-Hiran, were built by Palestinians internally displaced during the 1948 war.

The case of Umm al-Hiran has spread through social media, especially Twitter, thanks to a campaign launched by Adalah. Still, it has failed to provoke the same sense of international condemnation directed toward Israel’s illegal settlements. But, if the ongoing theft of Palestinian land in the West Bank is an obstacle to peace, Israeli plans for Umm al-Hiran surely pose a similar threat.

Part of the reason why this is less appreciated is that the legal distinction between Israel proper (Israel within the 1949 armistice lines) and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (oPt) continues to shape popular and scholarly analysis. The Israeli colonial project in the oPt is commonly depicted as a deviation from Israel’s pre-1967 history and policy within its internationally recognized borders. Israeli settlers are, relatedly, represented as zealots at odds with mainstream Israeli values.

According to this framework, settlers in Amona and their parliamentary representatives are antagonists undermining peace, rule of law, and the legitimacy of the state. By contrast, the case of Umm al-Hiran is viewed as a bureaucratic problem in an otherwise functioning democracy.

While this distinction can be analytically useful, it also conceals the historical and contemporary continuities, both political and legal, between Israel proper and the oPt. Amona, Gilo, and Umm al-Hiran epitomize Israeli land policy and the system of discriminatory rule supporting it from the inside-out.

(Source / 29.11.2016)

Written by altahrir

November 29, 2016 at 3:03 pm

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Why a settlement boycott is so scary for Israel

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The Israeli government sees the idea of a settlement boycott as a farce because it knows how impossible it would be to stop even a targeted boycott from bleeding right through the Green Line it’s been working so hard to erase.

Protest against settlements expansion, Azarya, West Bank, 13.2.2

Palestinians wave flags during a protest against the expansion of the Ma’ale Adumim settlement, Al Eizariya, West Bank, February 13, 2014

A year after the European Union published guidelines for labeling Israeli settlement products, France last week published its own regulations obligating importers and retailers to label all settlement goods — not just noting that a product comes from the West Bank but that it comes from an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.

Israel’s seemingly disproportionate objections to the European labeling regime is difficult to understand for many, especially considering that the EU has for decades differentiated between Israel and its settlements in the occupied territories. The EU free trade agreement with Israel, for instance, does not apply to Israeli settlements, and every other treaty and agreement makes the same distinction.

In France, Israel’s objections are even more confounding considering that actual boycotts of Israel are against the law in that country. So why is Israel making such a big deal out of the settlement product labels?

The brouhaha isn’t actually about labels. It’s about the next logical step of a labeling regime or even a boycott of settlement products: boycotting, divesting and sanctioning entities that do business in or with the settlements.

That deeply worries Israeli decision makers because in reality there is no differentiation between the economy of Israel and the settlement economy. On the ground, in the financial system, and in countless other ways, there is no Green Line as far as the Israeli economy is concerned.

The same Israeli banks that give homeowners and real estate developers mortgages and loans in Tel Aviv also finance the development and purchase of homes in West Bank settlements. The same cellular companies that provide service in Haifa build cellular towers in illegal settlement outposts in the West Bank. The same supermarkets and pharmacies and gas stations that serve Be’er Sheva also have branches in settlements throughout the West Bank. And the same police department that patrols the streets of Caesarea also enforces segregation on the streets of Hebron.

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Jewish settlers clean the newly harvested grapes at a winery in the West Bank settlement of Gush Etzion, September 8, 2014

Boycotting a farmer from Tekoa, a winery in Psagot, or a factory in Mishor Adomim might make the decision to locate a business beyond the Green Line less profitable, and perhaps even spur a decision to move shop. If global financial institutions were to cut ties with the Israeli banks that finance construction in those same settlements, however, the effect on the Israeli economy could be far more devastating.

If cellular companies were unable to sign roaming agreements overseas, petrol companies unable to buy gasoline, retailers unable to import goods — then a settlement boycott might start to make the settlement enterprise a liability for all of Israel, on both sides of the Green Line.

That is not happening, though. Even with the European guidelinesand labeling regimes and differentiation mechanisms, the settlement enterprise is still more of an asset than a liability. As Noam Sheizaf explained here, in many ways the occupation is actually a source of income and profit for Israel.

Israeli companies extract natural resources like stone, gravel and water from the West Bank. Instead of having to purchase land, military seizure orders are used to increase the housing supply and build segregated highways, creating subsidized commuter suburbs for Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. And the occupied Palestinian population, restricted by the Paris Protocol of the Oslo Accords, becomes a virtual captive market for Israeli products.

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Palestinian protesters together with international and Israeli activists break into Rami Levi supermarket, located in the Sha’ar Binyamin settlement, to protest the Israeli occupation and to call for a boycott against Israelis settlements, October 24, 2012

Israel is worried about a settlement boycott because not only is the settlement economy virtually inseparable from the Israeli economy, the occupation is part of the Israeli economy. Further blurring whatever remains — or once existed — of the line distinguishing the two has been one of the Netanyahu government’s greatest projects.

As I noted earlier this month, a government interested in eventually withdrawing from the West Bank to allow the creation of a Palestinian state would not speak openly about annexing major settlements or the majority of Palestinian territories; it wouldn’t be announcing plans to lay rail lines connecting settlements to Jerusalem. A prime minister interested in withdrawing from the West Bank wouldn’t say he is the best friend the settlements will ever have.

The truth is that Israel’s settlements are not only an inextricable part of the Israeli economy, they have become an inextricable part of Israel, at least as far as the current leadership sees things. The Israeli leadership sees the idea of a limited boycott of the settlements alone as a farce because they know it would bleed right through the Green Line they’ve been working so hard to erase.

(Source / 28.11.2016)

Written by altahrir

November 28, 2016 at 7:31 pm

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Palestine After Abbas: Potential Scenarios and Coping Strategies

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Overview

In the months leading up to the American elections, the jockeying among Palestinian factions had been heating up in anticipation of a post-Abbas period. It was hoped that the long-delayed Fatah seventh conference, scheduled for November 29, 2016, would provide some insights into what a transition of power might look like, answering the question of how and when might Mahmoud Abbas step down from one or all of the three positions he holds: Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), head of the Palestinian Authority (PA), and head of Fatah, the largest Palestinian political faction.

With the election of Donald Trump Israel believes it now has a free hand to do what it likes in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) and beyond, making a Palestinian leadership transition all the more difficult. In this roundtable, Al-Shabaka policy analysts examine the different scenarios for a post-Abbas Palestine. While some such as Hani Masri believe that Palestinians have much to fear from a power vacuum in terms of further fragmentation and outside interference, others such as Noura Erakat argue that Palestinians have more to gain given the opportunities for change. Jamil Hilal warns of the dangers of a violent power struggle and urges a shift to a struggle for the collective rights of the Palestinian people as a whole, rather than the fate of an individual or his elite cohort. Sam Bahour examines the different precedents and actors, and notes that the other PLO factions have lost any leverage they might once have had because their political existence is underwritten by the authority they might seek to challenge.

Jaber Suleiman, writing from his Lebanon base, warns that a PA collapse could cause a wave of migration or displacement toward the East Bank and a revival of Israeli projects envisaging rule of the West Bank and Gaza Strip with Jordan or Egypt, with implications for Palestinian communities in Lebanon and elsewhere. Diana Buttu hopes that new leaders would undo the disastrous effects of the Oslo Accords, hold Israel accountable, and build grassroots strategies for steadfastness rather than simply “ruling” the PA. In reviewing the various possible outcomes Wajjeh Abu Zarifa urges Palestinians to consolidate the UN-recognized State of Palestine by creating a Constituent Assembly. Al-Shabaka Program Director Alaa Tartir served as the roundtable’s facilitator.

Hani Al-Masri

It is not a foregone conclusion that Abbas will soon leave office. Evidence suggests that he will likely seek to extend his term by pushing to convene Fatah’s seventh general conference. This would also thwart Mohammed Dahlan’s return to Fatah’s Central Committee as Abbas’s successor or as a player who would decide on and control the successor. The fact that no national alternative exists, because most of those named as possible successors are of the same school of thought, supports this scenario.

Post-Abbas scenarios depend on his exit’s timing, namely whether it follows Fatah’s general conference, the meeting of the Palestinian National Council, the end of the Fatah-Hamas division, or the return of Dahlan to Fatah. If Abbas were to depart before the conference is held and unity is reclaimed, the struggle to succeed him will be fierce and likely lead to chaos and infighting. This could cause the PA to collapse, splinter into several authorities, or become a servant of Israel along the lines of the South Lebanon Army. If Abbas leaves office after agreeing on a Fatah vice president, a PLO vice chairman, and a PA vice president – instead of assigning the three positions to one person as has been the case since the PA was established – then this is likely to minimize chaos.

Post-Abbas scenarios also depend on the nature of his departure, be it by resignation, illness, or assassination. An assassination would trigger the worst scenario, in light of Dahlan’s threat that he will not allow Abbas to hijack Fatah by commandeering its seventh conference. Another scenario entails a Dahlan alliance with Hamas, though this may not materialize, as Hamas could realize that its enmity against Dahlan and the Arab alliance that supports him (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain) is greater than its enmity against Abbas.

Palestinians have much to fear from a power vacuum, which could provide Israel, the Arab Quartet, takfiri and extremist groups, or Hamas and other Palestinian leftist or Islamist factions with the opportunity to seize power. 1 The two most likely of these scenarios would be Israeli control or the return of Arab trusteeship over the Palestinians. Both are undesirable, especially since the Arab countries that would attempt to impose a trusteeship, such as Saudi Arabia, maintain close relations with Israel and have increased cooperation with it to fight terrorism, takfiri movements, Iran, and the Muslim Brotherhood.

To prevent these unfavorable scenarios, leftist and other Palestinian political forces, as well as civil society and national private sector groups, must restore the liberation and rights discourse, redefine the national project, and rebuild the national movement so that it is based on true democratic political participation, with the goal of holding elections at all levels. Such elections should not be considered a means of winning the internal conflict, but rather a competition within the framework of unity.

The debate around these issues should transcend that of elite circles so that it becomes more accessible to the general public. This can be done through traditional as well as social media, popular and national conferences on the regional and national levels, and possibly petitions, sit-ins, and demonstrations.

Noura Erakat

Mahmoud Abbas oversees an institution – the PA – that reproduces itself in each of its many parts irrespective of the head of state. Its function is contingent on external financiers and gatekeepers, including the United States and Israel, which have an interest in keeping it intact, mainly due to its administrative function that mitigates the daily burdens of occupation while helping to contain the conflict. In addition, 40 percent of the Palestinian population works in the public sector and therefore also has an interest in continuing a status quo that, though harmful to its core interests, is simultaneously necessary for its livelihood and survival.

The most likely post-Abbas scenario will see an interim leader appointed until elections can be planned. Most projections for a successive head of state include well-known players, such as Mohammed Dahlan and Jibril Rajoub. Based on external and internal support as well as the scope of the threat he has posed to Abbas and Fatah’s old guard, Dahlan’s candidacy is as realistic as it is horrifying. Past attempts to exclude the Gaza Strip from polls and to marginalize Hamas’s electoral prospects indicate that such elections would prove extremely contentious.

Worst-case scenarios involve a collapse of the PA and a takeover by Israel or by rival Hamas forces. However, Hamas is unlikely to risk directly confronting Israel in the West Bank unless it is also prepared for another escalation in the Gaza Strip and a simultaneous Israeli offensive in the West Bank. This is improbable unless the outcome would recalibrate the status quo in its favor, which is unlikely given Hamas’s diminishing grassroots support in the West Bank and the costs of staging two fronts. Hamas leaders will likely stage protests during elections and use them to further legitimize their rule in the Gaza Strip, rather than use force.

The Palestinian people have more to gain than lose from a leadership vacuum, as it creates an opportunity for change – and structural change is necessary to achieve Palestinian liberation. New leadership would have to disavow the PA’s harmful structures, declare the Oslo framework null and void, cease economic and security cooperation with Israel, and insist on continuing a liberation struggle.

Such radical restructuring is contingent on popular mobilization by a critical mass. Israel’s meticulous legal, political, and social fragmentation of the Palestinian population has thwarted the formation of such a mass. An unknown and unforeseen confluence of factors is necessary to overcome this fragmentation; Abbas’s departure may be one factor in this constellation, but is not a sufficient one.

Change will most likely ultimately come from a grassroots youth cadre that is not beholden to the current institutional frameworks and is more imaginative and less fearful about future prospects. Such a cadre does not exist at present, though several seeds for it exist across the Palestinian landscape in Iqrit, Haifa, Ramallah, Jerusalem, Gaza City, and Nablus.

Jamil Hilal

Inclusive, legitimate national institutions will not bring about the election of a leader after Abbas because these institutions are not functioning. The Palestinian National Council (PNC) has not been active since the Oslo Accords, and the PA’s legislative, judicial, and executive institutions have been split politically, territorially, and institutionally since June 2007, when Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip. Fatah as a ruling political party is experiencing its own internal schisms, with a Mohammed Dahlan faction opposed to the Abbas leadership.

As a result, a small political elite within the Fatah leadership, rather than the Palestinian people as a whole, will decide who will lead after Abbas. With no national institutions present to represent the various Palestinian communities inside historic Palestine and in the diaspora, the question of leadership cannot be satisfactorily resolved. It will continue to be contentious until national representational institutions are established, but given the split between Fatah and Hamas, the likelihood of such establishment is remote.

Any violent power struggle for leadership within Fatah would mean more political and geographical fragmentation and more Israeli, regional, and international interference in Palestinian political, economic, and social affairs.

The guessing game as to who is likely to succeed Abbas is not motivated by a concern for Palestinian national interests, but by Israeli interests as well as those of regional and international powers that are concerned about their standing.

Palestinians’ attention should focus on rebuilding their national representation on a democratic and inclusive basis, to include all Palestinian communities inside and outside of historic Palestine. Their concern should be the struggle for the collective rights of the Palestinian people as a whole, rather than the fate of an individual or his elite cohort. Palestinians need to reconstruct Palestinian influence and standing in the form of institutions, associations, visions, and strategies that not only elect political leaders but also community leaders. These leaders should seek to unify all Palestinians in the struggle for freedom, dignity, the right of return, and self-determination. Any other endeavor is simply a distraction or a mirage.

Sam Bahour

When Yasser Arafat died in 2004, Palestine’s Amended Basic Law – the equivalent to a constitution – was respected: The Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and its speaker took over for 60 days until elections took place. Today, given the fact that there is no operational PLC and the supposed speaker is from Hamas, it is likely that this law will not be respected. Rather, “extraordinary measures” will be invoked to maintain control. This could mean that the Fatah Central Committee will deliberate and come to the Fatah-dominated PLO Executive Committee to implement the decision. The other PLO factions, having lost any secondary leverage they once had, may challenge this decision, but this would create a clash with officialdom, which today underwrites their political existence. Given that Fatah is seriously fragmented, it is not clear if it would be able to agree on a single person or a mechanism to undertake the leadership role. A division of labor between the heads of the Palestinian Authority and the PLO may occur to satisfy competing personal agendas.

The fears going forward are many. At the forefront is the fear of regional or international interference in national decisions. Palestinians have already experienced this over the last several years, and such interference could have devastating effects if allowed to fester or increase. Another fear is that the PA leadership may attempt a power grab, given its resources, international recognition, and security forces. Still another concern is that one of the security force heads could attempt to take political control; this, however, is not likely since none of the security forces is self-sufficient. Lastly is the threat that Israel will implant one of its operatives in the leadership role. Yet a more likely Israeli action would be to proclaim statehood in Gaza for Palestinians and further entrench Israel’s presence in the West Bank, perhaps through full annexation. If Israel took this approach and Hamas in Gaza was open to such a move, the current disunity could be irreparable.

To safeguard the little representative integrity that remains in the Palestinian political system and counter the threats noted above, Palestinians must demand two immediate actions: 1) that Abbas call for elections to reinstate the PLC, with the understanding that though it would only represent Palestinians in the West Bank, it could rapidly be acted upon and have some popular legitimacy; 2 and 2) that the temporary PLO Leadership Committee, which encompasses all PLO as well as national factions, be convened with a mandate to allow the formation and recognition of new political parties. This would set a course for resetting the Palestinian political system through proportional representation via the PLO’s highest body, the Palestinian National Council (PNC).

Jaber Suleiman

We will likely face one of two major scenarios post-Abbas. The first is chaos. The departure of a president who has monopolized decision-making, as well as the inability of the Palestinian political system to renew its expired legitimacy, threaten to make this struggle for power not one of political disagreement, but of infighting and further division. Such a situation will likely result in the complete separation of the two authorities in Gaza and Ramallah, and even more division within the West Bank, with Hamas controlling its southern parts. Arab and regional interference, particularly from the Arab Quartet, would add to the chaos. Israel, which has an interest in confirming its claim that the Palestinians are unable to manage themselves and unworthy of an autonomous authority, let alone a state, could also play a role.

This scenario would culminate in the PA’s collapse, and would cause a wave of migration or displacement toward the East Bank. Such movement would in all likelihood revive projects like Shimon Peres’s scheme of sharing rule of the West Bank and Gaza Strip with Jordan or Egypt, but in a new form in which the PA/PLO would replace Jordan or Egypt. Such a scenario would have a disastrous impact on the unity of the Palestinian community in Lebanon, particularly given that Palestinians in Lebanon have hardly been able to avoid the implications of the Palestinian divide and advocate for a unified national agenda that addresses Palestinian inalienable rights, in addition to their struggle for basic human rights in Lebanon.

The second scenario would be a peaceful transition of power through an interim national leadership, agreed upon via a reconciliation agreement such as the Cairo Agreement. This leadership would need to rectify the relationship between the PLO and the PA, given that the PA is a PLO tool and not vice versa. And it would need to execute genuine democratic reform of PLO structures, especially the Palestinian National Council, as well as in regard to the PA’s relationship with the state and the PA’s decision-making mechanism.

Israel and some Arab parties would challenge this scenario because they would rather control the Palestinian “card.” It therefore not only requires political will on the part of all national factions, especially Fatah and Hamas, but also the mobilization of the Palestinian “silent majority,” that is, all national popular frameworks in Palestine and the diaspora. The goal would be to amass a bloc of this majority capable of exerting pressure on the factions so that they choose peaceful transition and rebuild the political system and its national institutions on democratic foundations.

Diana Buttu

After Abbas, several scenarios are possible: A peaceful transition to power by the speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC); a power struggle between individuals within Fatah or the PLO, culminating in multiple “leaders;” or a power vacuum until elections are organized and held. Given the chaos that Abbas has created, and the concomitant disarray in Palestinian political parties, it is unlikely that elections will be organized soon.

Palestinian leaders should move to reconcile with Hamas and make arrangements for a post-Abbas PA/PLO that would put forward a strategy for liberating Palestine and for beginning to represent Palestinians living in Israel. This strategy would see new leaders undoing the disastrous effects of the Oslo Accords, holding Israel accountable, and building grassroots strategies for steadfastness, rather than simply “ruling” the PA.

The Palestinian political spectrum and civil society could also use the leadership change to rebuild the PLO so that it is both representative of Palestinian society as well as the age shift in Palestinian society. Such a strategy would also mean capitalizing on the strength of the Palestinian people as a whole and their movements, and doing away with futile bilateral negotiations. As a first step, Palestine needs to break the yoke of financial blackmail that currently binds the PA/PLO to these bilateral negotiations. In addition, by bringing in Palestinians in Israel, the PLO can finally begin to become representative of all Palestinians, rather than paying lip service to such inclusiveness while marginalizing Palestinians not living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

A leadership vacuum would be a major distraction from focusing on this strategy, and is indeed Israel’s dream, allowing it to divide and conquer and use the time of chaos to build more settlements.

Wajjeh Abu Zarifa

If Abbas stays in power in the short term, the first possible scenario is to hold presidential and legislative elections in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Jerusalem as stipulated in the Cairo Agreement. However, this option is unlikely in light of the deep division and mistrust between Fatah and Hamas. The second scenario is to hold presidential and legislative elections wherever possible, such that if Gaza were to boycott, the elections would be organized in the West Bank. Yet this is also an unlikely option, as it would entrench the division and increase the likelihood of secession. Moreover, Israel may not agree to hold the elections in Jerusalem, which would further the separation of Jerusalem.

When Abbas leaves office, there are a number of possible scenarios, including the chief justice of the Constitutional Court becoming the PA president until elections are held, or the PA presidency being assigned to the PLO’s Executive Committee, with the PLO secretary becoming a temporary president. Yet there is one scenario that is more practical and logical, even though it is not constitutional or legal: The prime minister, in his capacity as chief of the executive authority, takes on the powers of the PA president. Presidential and legislative elections are held within 60 days and require national consensus.  However, such an option, though the most logical one, is close to impossible given current divisions.

Thus, all political forces must be invited to a serious dialogue to develop the mechanisms needed to overcome current divisions, implement the Cairo Agreement, and hold presidential and legislative elections before Abbas leaves office. Palestinians also need to convene the PLO’s provisional leadership framework and the committee entrusted with reforming the PLO to restore the Palestinian National Council and hold a session bringing together all parties, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The PLO’s Central Council and the Executive Committee must be formed, and a new chairman must be named. In the longer term, Palestinians need to consolidate the UN-recognized State of Palestine by creating a Constituent Assembly comprised of members of the Central Council, the Legislative Council, the government, and the Executive Committee to draft a Palestinian constitution and elect a president.

(Source / 23.11.2016)

Written by altahrir

November 23, 2016 at 4:52 pm

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Analysis: Israel’s sliding definition of anti-Semitism in the Trump era

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US President-elect Donald Trump

By: Heike Schotten

You would think that support for Israel is fundamentally at odds with anti-Semitism. If you thought that, however, you would be wrong.The past few days have witnessed a bizarre pile-up of prominent Israel-supporters going out of their way to defend or excuse what seem to be obviously anti-Semitic views voiced by Steve Bannon, internal strategist for the incoming Trump administration, and his media website, Breitbart News.Bannon is the former head of Breitbart, an alt-right media website widely considered to be a platform for white nationalism. It is a site wherein one can easily stumble across the familiar refrains of anti-Semitism in both its articles and, even more so, in its sprawling comments sections. To take only example, in the comments section on David Horowitz’s article, “Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew,” we learn that Breitbart readers believe that the Jews run Hollywood, control the media, and care more about their “race” than their country.Unmoved, however, is Alan Dershowitz, prominent and vehement defender of Israel, who said in an interview with Breitbart News that we have to be “very careful about using the term anti-Semitic.”Meanwhile, Morton Klein, head of the Zionist Organization of America, got in a tiff with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) over Bannon and Breitbart. The ADL, which bills itself as a civil rights organization, originally condemned the appointment of Bannon as an endorsement of the anti-Semitic alt-right. Klein, however, publicly attacked the ADL, arguing that both Bannon and Breitbart’s support for Israel is unimpeachable, citing the opening of a Breitbart office in Jerusalem. The ADL backed down, and now says there is no credible evidence that either Bannon or Breitbart are anti-Semitic.Now, it’s true that Bannon’s remarks about not wanting his kids to go to school with Jews were taken from his divorce proceedings, and people say a lot of things they later regret when going through divorce. It’s also true that the comments section of news and media sites are by far the worst places to look if you’re interested in illuminating insight.However, the fact is that folks like Dershowitz, Klein, and the ADL are not really all that shy about throwing around accusations of anti-Semitism. In fact, it is what they are perhaps most famous for.It’s just that they only get worked up about anti-Semitism and accuse people of it when they are talking about critics of Israel. Whether it is former president Jimmy Carter, members of the international non-violent Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, or Black Lives Matter, in every case, the only folks who merit the label “anti-Semitic” in these Israel-defenders’ views are those who are critical of Israel. If one accuses Jews of running Hollywood, well…that’s apparently a tougher call.Proponents of Zionism have spent decades trying to inculcate a popular conflation between the state of Israel and Jews. Recognizing no distinction between Jewish people and the Jewish state, Zionists have argued that criticism of Israel is by definition anti-Semitic. This is very much the view of many of Breitbart’s authors.Of course, this is flawed logic — there is a clear difference between membership in an ethno-religious group and support for the laws and policies of a nation-state.More importantly, however, it is a disingenuous strategy by which Zionists have (until recently, anyway) been able to silence criticism of Israel by labeling it racism or hate speech.In other words, perhaps it is not so surprising that ardent Zionists are defending the likes of Bannon and Breitbart. Maybe, just maybe, Zionism and anti-Semitism are more compatible than Zionists have thus far led us (or wanted us) to believe.From its very beginnings, the Zionist project was a settler colonial project aimed at dispossessing the native Palestinian population. David Ben Gurion, Israel’s founder and first Prime Minister, forthrightly admitted the necessity of population “transfer” in order to establish the state. Theodore Herzl famously foresaw a Jewish state in the land of Palestine as “wall of Europe against Asia” that would serve as “the outpost of civilization against barbarism.”If that sounds like racism and ethnic cleansing to you, you aren’t too far off the mark. And if that vision of Israel as a “wall” of white civilization against the barbarians rang any bells, it might be because you just sat through the same rhetoric in the recent presidential election.What the insincere antics of Dershowitz, Klein, and the ADL make clear is that commitment to Israel is in fact perfectly compatible with a hatred of Jews. These Zionists’ accusations of anti-Semitism are used to silence criticism of Israel and political dissent, not to oppose racism. If they were actually concerned with anti-Jewish racism, they would be raising hell about the appointment of Bannon, as hundreds of Jewish scholars of Holocaust history recently have in their demand that Americans “mobilize in solidarity” against Trump.Yet even the Holocaust, so frequently invoked by Zionist fearmongers when warning against the latest ostensible Muslim or Arab or “terrorist” threat, is notably absent from Zionists’ words with regard to Trump or Bannon. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has spent his career characterizing negotiations with Palestinians as Nazi appeasement, called Trump “a great friend of Israel.” That’s because Trump wants to recognize Jerusalem — half of which remains under illegal Israeli occupation — as “the undivided capital of the State of Israel.”Much has been made of the parallels between the UK Brexit vote and the US election of Donald Trump. But perhaps another parallel is in order: the parallel between the white nationalist project of Bannon, Breitbart, and Trump, and that of the Zionist colonization of Palestine. Both demand building walls, colonizing natives, keeping out refugees, and screening Muslims. Indeed, Herzl’s optimistic forecast of Israel as an outpost of European civilization amidst a sea of Arab barbarism may simply have been more nostalgically and pithily summed by our president-elect himself in his victorious demand to “Make America Great Again.”

(Source / 22.11.2016)

Written by altahrir

November 22, 2016 at 7:47 pm

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