On Normalization and the Meeting of Palestinian Movements

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Declaration of “The Campaign for One Democratic State in Historic Palestine”

Palestine, September 6, 2020

(The following is an unofficial translation of the Arabic original declaration. With the translation I expanded some terms to make them understandable to the foreign reader. Thanks for all the people that helped with this translation.)

On September 3rd, leader of different Palestinian movements, overcoming deep divisions, met in Beirut and Ramallah, at the invitation of the president of the Palestinian Authority, to discuss a common response to the normalization agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel. What made this meeting possible is the American-Israeli imperialist alliance’s total and aggressive denial of the Palestinian people’s basic rights. The imperialist alliance’s cynical approach removed any remaining illusions about a settlement to the conflict, illusions that became prevalent since the Oslo Accords and even before.

The imperialist powers are violating international law and humanitarian and ethical standards, disappointed all those who gambled on them. With “The Deal of the Century” the USA is repeating the injustices of the British 1917 Balfour Declaration, by giving the Zionists Palestinian land over which they do not have any rights.

Now they drag corrupt and blood-stained Arab dictatorships into this rogue alliance. Those Arab regimes go beyond normalization to become accomplices in the aggression against the Palestinian people, who are exposed to the most heinous crimes by the colonial Western regimes, through their proxy in the region.

All of this has forced the Palestinian leadership to choose between two clear options: surrender or resistance. As to our Palestinian people, they continue resisting, for more than a century, the Western-Zionist plot to uproot and replace them by foreign settlers and form a bridgehead for European colonization in the heart of the Arab region.

The meeting of the factions was an important step towards the national unity yearned for by our Palestinian people since the disastrous division (between Gaza and the West Bank) in 2007. During this period, Israel waged three atrocious wars and committed numerous crimes against humanity, imposed a blockade on two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, intensified its settlement and “Judaization” activities and the killings in the West Bank and Jerusalem, in addition to colonialist oppression of a million and a half of our people in the Galilee, the Triangle Region and the Naqab. And then, of course, we should not forget the plight of the millions of refugees who were displaced and uprooted from their homeland, and whose right of return Israel continues to deny, thus embodying the brutality of Zionism and the lack of justice and ethics of the so-called international community.

National unity, based on a comprehensive, emancipatory vision and a correct resistance strategy, is an essential condition for joint work and a precursor to defeating oppression and achieving freedom and justice. It is also an essential condition to restore and enhance popular Arab support, and to mobilize for our cause all advocates of freedom around the world. Ours is a just cause, that should concern all the peoples of the world, especially the oppressed, of which the Palestinian people is a part, who are struggling to achieve freedom, justice and human dignity.

The question remains: does the movements’ meeting, and its resulting statement and decisions, constitute a real turning point in the march of the Palestinian people, and redefine the way towards freedom and independence? Are the current leaders, who bear the responsibility for the division, and for the failure to rebuild the Palestinian national movement and to achieve liberation – with the national, political and moral devastation that all this has entailed – qualified, capable, and even willing to break with the era of fatal illusions? Is it possible to move and advance the national liberation project towards a new era of true liberation struggle without the youth and without the participation of new leaderships? Our people are asking these questions, people from all the layers of society: workers, peasants, intellectuals, detainees and many others.

Accordingly, the One Democratic State Campaign in Historic Palestine asserts that, in order to fulfil the purpose of the meeting, the following conditions should be provided:

First, we should start from the fact that the Palestinian people, wherever they are, all 13 million, are one people, and that Palestine includes all the land located between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean, not merely the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Second, affirming the right of return of Palestinian refugees whom the Zionist movement expelled from Palestine, seized their properties, pursued in their places of refuge, waged wars on them and assassinated some of their leaders. It is a natural and sacred right, recognized by an international decision since 1948.

Third, liberating the Palestine Liberation Organization, which has become subordinated to the Palestinian Authority and its “security coordination” with the occupation. It should be liberated from the grip of bureaucracy and the restrictions of the Oslo Accords. It should be rebuilt on democratic foundations to represent all components and communities of the Palestinian people, wherever they are, including the Palestinians of 1948, and based on a program of return and liberation.

Fourth, the withdrawal of the PLO’s recognition of Israel, which continued expanding its colonial settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem and imposed a siege on the Gaza Strip. Israel ignores all international laws that prohibit settlements in the occupied territories and criminalize the existing apartheid system. It adopted the so-called “Nationality Law” – a blatant colonial apartheid law – to grant false legitimacy to its colonization of all of historic Palestine. Israel has unambiguously stated, together with its patron, the United States, that the country located between the river and the sea belongs to the Zionist movement. According to them the Palestinian people have no right to their homeland, which they have not left for thousands of years, except under the pressure of the colonialist Zionist movement and its crimes of ethnic cleansing perpetrated in 1948, and still being perpetrated against the Palestinians, even the holders of its citizenship.

Fifth, responding to this colonial expansion and the new “Balfour Declaration” by stating that the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination applies to all of historic Palestine. This means reviving the PLO’s program, represented by the return and liberation of Palestine from Zionism, its colonial regime and apartheid. The One Democratic State Campaign in all of Historic Palestine revives this solution in a modern form, in which Palestinians and Israeli Jews live in a human, democratic, egalitarian system, after dismantling the Israeli colonial apartheid regime, in the context of the removal of colonialism from the entire Arab region. The one state project is not merely a vision, but a resistance project, in which participate also Jewish anti-Zionists who oppose the system of colonialist settlement and its crimes.

Sixth, holding elections for the Palestinian National Council, with the participation of all the Palestinian people, without exception. The limitation of the elections for the Legislative Council and the Palestinian presidency to the West Bank and Gaza Strip cements the Oslo Accords which divides and fragments the Palestinian people and erases the universal Palestinian identity. It keeps the majority of the Palestinian people, especially those in 1948 areas and the refugees, outside the scope of representation, the conflict, the national unity project and the right to self-determination. Further, this exclusion prevents the participation of all Palestinians, without exception, in the Palestinian struggle for the right to self-determination.

Seventh, cancelling all the punitive measures taken by the Palestinian Authority against our people in the Gaza Strip since March 2017, and compensating them for all their dues. It is completely unacceptable to talk of national unity and reconciliation between the movements while, at the same time, imposing sanctions on a key component of our noble people.

Eighth, the adoption of the Palestinian boycott movement in a practical and clear way as a pioneering means of struggle. Acting resolutely against all forms of normalization with apartheid Israel, primarily through the abolition of security coordination with the occupation and the dissolution of the so-called Committee for Interaction with Israeli Society.

Ninth, the formation of a broad, popular front that adopts an effective popular resistance strategy, from all aspects, including the struggle in the streets, cultural, social and economic resistance. This front would establish a path towards a new, free society that is capable of steadfastness and cohesion while it achieves its interim goals, then its ultimate goal of dismantling the colonialist apartheid system and the establishment of the democratic state in all of historic Palestine.

The One Democratic State Campaign (ODSC) in Historic Palestine

Document: The Madrid and London One State Declaration 2007

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The following statement appeared in “the electronic intifada” site on November 29, 2007.

Editor’s Note: The following statement was issued by participants in the July 2007 Madrid meeting on a one-state solution and the November 2007 London Conference.

For decades, efforts to bring about a two-state solution in historic Palestine have failed to provide justice and peace for the Palestinian and Israeli Jewish peoples, or to offer a genuine process leading towards them.

The two-state solution ignores the physical and political realities on the ground, and presumes a false parity in power and moral claims between a colonized and occupied people on the one hand and a colonizing state and military occupier on the other. It is predicated on the unjust premise that peace can be achieved by granting limited national rights to Palestinians living in the areas occupied in 1967, while denying the rights of Palestinians inside the 1948 borders and in the Diaspora. Thus, the two-state solution condemns Palestinian citizens of Israel to permanent second-class status within their homeland, in a racist state that denies their rights by enacting laws that privilege Jews constitutionally, legally, politically, socially and culturally. Moreover, the two-state solution denies Palestinian refugees their internationally recognized right of return.

The two-state solution entrenches and formalizes a policy of unequal separation on a land that has become ever more integrated territorially and economically. All the international efforts to implement a two-state solution cannot conceal the fact that a Palestinian state is not viable, and that Palestinian and Israeli Jewish independence in separate states cannot resolve fundamental injustices, the acknowledgment and redress of which are at the core of any just solution.

In light of these stark realities, we affirm our commitment to a democratic solution that will offer a just, and thus enduring, peace in a single state based on the following principles:

  • The historic land of Palestine belongs to all who live in it and to those who were expelled or exiled from it since 1948, regardless of religion, ethnicity, national origin or current citizenship status;
  • Any system of government must be founded on the principle of equality in civil, political, social and cultural rights for all citizens. Power must be exercised with rigorous impartiality on behalf of all people in the diversity of their identities;
  • There must be just redress for the devastating effects of decades of Zionist colonization in the pre- and post-state period, including the abrogation of all laws, and ending all policies, practices and systems of military and civil control that oppress and discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, religion or national origin;
  • The recognition of the diverse character of the society, encompassing distinct religious, linguistic and cultural traditions, and national experiences;
  • The creation of a non-sectarian state that does not privilege the rights of one ethnic or religious group over another and that respects the separation of state from all organized religion;
  • The implementation of the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees in accordance with UN Resolution 194 is a fundamental requirement for justice, and a benchmark of the respect for equality;
  • The creation of a transparent and nondiscriminatory immigration policy;
  • The recognition of the historic connections between the diverse communities inside the new, democratic state and their respective fellow communities outside;
  • In articulating the specific contours of such a solution, those who have been historically excluded from decision-making — especially the Palestinian Diaspora and its refugees, and Palestinians inside Israel — must play a central role;
  • The establishment of legal and institutional frameworks for justice and reconciliation.

The struggle for justice and liberation must be accompanied by a clear, compelling and moral vision of the destination — a solution in which all people who share a belief in equality can see a future for themselves and others. We call for the widest possible discussion, research and action to advance a unitary, democratic solution and bring it to fruition.

Madrid and London, 2007

Authored By:

Ali Abunimah, Chicago
Naseer Aruri, North Dartmouth, Massachusetts
Omar Barghouti, Jerusalem
Oren Ben-Dor, London
George Bisharat, San Francisco
Haim Bresheeth, London
Jonathan Cook, Nazareth
Ghazi Falah, Akron, Ohio
Leila Farsakh, Boston
Islah Jad, Ramallah
Joseph Massad, New York
Ilan Pappe, Totnes, UK
Carlos Prieto del Campo, Madrid
Nadim Rouhana, Haifa
The London One State Group

Endorsed By:

Nahla Abdo, Ottawa
Rabab Abdul Hadi, San Francisco
Suleiman Abu-Sharkh, Southampton, UK
Tariq Ali, London
Samir Amin, Dakar
Gabriel Ash, Geneva, Switzerland
Mona Baker, Manchester, UK
James Bowen, Cork, Ireland
Daniel Boyarin, Berkeley
Lenni Brenner, New York City
Eitan Bronstein, Tel Aviv
Michael Chanan, London
Lawrence Davidson, West Chester, Pennsylvania
Uri Davis, Sakhnin
Raymond Deane, Dublin
Angelo D’Orsi, Turin
Haidar Eid, Gaza
Samera Esmeir, Berkeley
Claudine Faehndrich, Neuchatel, Switzerland
Arjan El Fassed, Utrecht
As’ad Ghanem, Haifa
Jess Ghannam, San Francisco
Ramon Grosfoguel, Berkeley
Laila al-Haddad, Gaza
Haifa Hammami, London
Alan Hart, Canterbury
Jamil Hilal, Ramallah
Isabelle Humphries, Cambridge, UK
Salma Jayyusi, Boston
Claudia Karas, Frankfurt
Ghada Karmi, London
Hazem Kawasmi, Ramallah
Joel Kovel, New York City
Ronit Lentin, Dublin, Ireland
Malcolm Levitt, Southampton, UK
Yosefa Loshitzky, London
Saree Makdisi, Los Angeles
Nur Masalha, London
Ugo Mattei, Turin
Sabine Matthes, Munich
Walter Mignolo, Raleigh-Durham
Yonat Nitzan-Green, Winchester, UK
Gian Paolo Calchi Novati, Pavia, Italy
Kathleen O’Connell, Belfast
Rajaa Zoa’bi O’mari, Haifa
One Democratic State Group, Gaza
Gabriel Piterberg, Los Angeles
Claudia Prestel, Leicester
Mazin Qumsiyeh, New Haven
Michael Rosen, London
Emir Sader, Buenos Aires/Rio de Janeiro
Guenter Schenk, Strasbourg
Jules Townshend, Manchester, UK
Danilo Zolo, Florence

Each individual has authored/endorsed this statement in a personal capacity.

Israel: la anexión no se concreta pero el apartheid se profundiza

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(Este artículo apareció en el sitio ANRed)

Traducido del origen inglés por Adam Bar and Sebastian Sasso

La primera ola de Coronavirus llegó en el momento oportuno para Benjamín Netanyahu, el primer ministro israelí que mantiene ese cargo en el tiempo más que ningún otro funcionario en la historia del Estado de Israel. Justo cuando estaban por iniciarse los juicios en los que debía enfrentar tres causas por corrupción, y con los partidos políticos desgastados por una sucesión de tres elecciones inconclusas, el virus generó un estado de emergencia que le permitió posponer los procesos judiciales y convencer a la mayoría de la oposición sionista de unirse a su coalición y formar parte de su gobierno. Con la segunda ola, el recuento de infectados trepó por primera vez por encima de los mil casos diarios, desplazando por completo la atención del fracaso total de su nuevo gobierno en cumplir con una de sus promesas electorales centrales: anexar al territorio israelí a partir del 1 de julio secciones de Cisjordania ocupadas desde 1967.

Esta es una victoria atípica para los palestinos, quienes luchan desde hace más de un siglo por permanecer en sus territorios ancestrales bajo la amenaza constante de campañas expropiadoras y colonizadoras. Las demoliciones de viviendas, las confiscaciones de tierras, y la construcción de asentamientos exclusivos para judíos en tierras robadas, están en el centro de las prácticas políticas de todos los gobiernos israelíes. Estas políticas son aplicadas sobre los palestinos, tanto para los que “formalmente” son ciudadanos israelíes, como para los que en Cisjordania (que desde su ocupación en 1967 está bajo control militar directo) no poseen ciudadanía israelí.

La hipocresía del gobierno de Israel llega hasta el punto de no reconocer ningún territorio palestino como “ocupado” y además le niega a la población palestina hasta los pocos derechos garantizados por el derecho internacional a los civiles bajo ocupación. El gobierno israelí es consciente de que la mayor parte de la comunidad internacional, incluidos sus aliados imperialistas, considera que estos asentamientos construidos bajo mandato militar son ilegales, pero el plan de anexión fue diseñado para “legitimar” estos asentamientos y darle a los ocupantes más herramientas legales para continuar con las expropiaciones de tierras y la limpieza étnica de la población palestina originaria. Ante el ataque persistente, esta vez los palestinos se unificaron en el rechazo del plan israelí-estadounidense. Durante mucho tiempo, Fatah, el partido que tradicionalmente lidera la OLP, construyó su estrategia de negociación con Israel en el marco de la “mediación” estadounidense, con la esperanza de obtener, al menos, alguna forma de independencia en el 21% del territorio palestino ocupado desde 1967, pero esta triste esperanza se esfumó una y otra vez, aún cuando el nuevo plan de anexión todavía no había sido anunciado.

Hamas, el principal partido y movimiento de resistencia islamista, ganó las inusuales y semi-libres elecciones de la legislatura palestina en 2006, proponiendo una plataforma que combinaba la resistencia a la ocupación, el rechazo a la corrupción de los dirigentes de Fatah, y la construcción de organizaciones sociales de base. Pero sólo logró tomar el control en la bloqueada Franja de Gaza, donde Israel, bajo la presión de la resistencia, había retirado su ejército y asentamientos un año antes. Estos hechos agregaron una nueva dimensión a la división del pueblo palestino entre Gaza y Cisjordania, a la que se le adicionaron dos acciones del gobierno israelí, en primer término, la intención de distanciar a millones de refugiados palestinos de cualquier perspectiva de solución política, y en segunda instancia, impedir que las instituciones palestinas nacionales puedan representar a los palestinos en los territorios ocupados en 1948. En este contexto, se creó un estatuto de ciudadanos diferenciados para los cientos de miles de palestinos residentes en Jerusalén Este, región que fue separada del resto de Cisjordania y anexada al territorio israelí poco tiempo después de su ocupación. Ellos, ahora son “residentes”, pero no “ciudadanos”.

Actualmente, Israel se ocupa de devorar a Cisjordania con su sofisticado sistema de apartheid. El método, como siempre, es asfixiar y dividir al pueblo palestino, geográfica y políticamente, bajo distintas formas de degradación de la ciudadanía civil y con leyes racistas, mientras unifica a toda la población de colonos judíos bajo una única figura de ciudadanía. La voluntad del liderazgo conservador palestino de colaborar con el falso “proceso de paz” mermó cuando la administración de Donald Trump aumentó las medidas para dificultar las condiciones de vida del pueblo palestino, socavó todas sus instituciones y alentó la agresión israelí. Después de que Trump festejó con Netanyahu el “regalo” que Estados Unidos le hizo a Israel al “entregarle en bandeja” la ciudad de Jerusalén, hasta Mahmoud Abbas, presidente de la Autoridad Palestina y el líder más complaciente en Ramallah, rechazó participar en las negociaciones del “Pacto Del Siglo”. Hamas, por su parte, insinuó la posibilidad de otro conflicto armado si Israel concreta sus planes de anexar a Cisjordania territorios, como por ejemplo, el Valle del Jordán. Días antes del 1 de julio, el general Benjamín Gantz, a quien se lo considera el socio “razonable” de la coalición de Netanyahu, declaró que “mientras los palestinos no estén dispuestos a dialogar sobre la anexión, se quedarán hundidos en su mierda e Israel llevará a cabo sus planes de forma unilateral”. Ante estos comentarios, la Unión Europea, Gran Bretaña y el candidato presidencial del Partido Demócrata de EE.UU, Joe Biden, ejercieron presión sobre Israel al advertir las graves consecuencias que podría traer avanzar con esta idea.

En este marco, el gabinete de Trump permaneció dividido. David Friedman, el embajador de EE. UU. en Israel, presionó por una anexión amplia, mientras que Jared Kushner, yerno y asesor del presidente Trump, llamó a un plan en territorio disminuido. Netanyahu y Gantz se mantuvieron a la espera de la palabra del presidente estadounidense que se hizo esperar, hasta que finalmente llegó el 1 de julio ante la inacción de Israel. Al día siguiente, Hamas y Fatah dieron una conferencia de prensa conjunta (hecho sin precedentes desde que se desatara el conflicto interno palestino a causa de las elecciones de 2006), en la que declararon la unidad de lucha contra la continua ocupación israelí.

¡Sí! Los palestinos seguimos hundidos en la mierda, pero esa mierda no es nuestra. La mierda es el colonialismo, el apartheid, la ocupación y el racismo de Israel.

El fiasco de la anexión del 1 de julio nos da alguna esperanza de poder torcer el rumbo. El éxito de Israel solo se puede explicar gracias al ilimitado apoyo militar, económico y político que viene recibiendo del imperialismo occidental. Durante la Guerra Fría, Israel fue el bastión de la hegemonía estadounidense contra la izquierda y el nacionalismo árabe en países como Siria y Egipto. Con el fin de la Guerra Fría, Occidente dejó de apoyar al apartheid en Sudáfrica, fue entonces que Israel se posicionó en el centro de la cruzada contra el “terrorismo islámico”, fogoneando la islamofobia y teniendo un rol determinante en la sangrienta y costosa guerra que EE. UU. declaró en Irak. Más tarde, cuando en Occidente se desvaneció el entusiasmo por las aventuras militares intervencionistas, Israel encontró una nueva estrategia de marketing para posicionarse: el cóctel de colonialismo, supremacía blanca y ultraje de los derechos de las víctimas de su opresión. Estas “políticas” lo pusieron a la vanguardia de un nuevo tipo de conservadurismo populista que surgió de la decadente hegemonía occidental, con Donald Trump y Boris Johnson a la cabeza.

Con cada nuevo giro, la actitud de Israel se vuelve más beligerante, más racista, y recibe más elogios y “premios” de sus patrones imperialistas a expensas de los palestinos. Israel se transformó en un estado malcriado y consentido por este trato preferencial, pero ahora, con el mundo envuelto en un nuevo movimiento de masas contra el racismo, podemos esperar que el régimen de Israel, donde el racismo es la base de todo, por fin pase de moda.

Israel’s Annexation Plan Ends with a Fiasco

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(This article is also available in Spanish. It appeared originally on The Left Berlin site.)

The first wave of the Corona virus came at a very good timing for Netanyahu, Israel’s longest serving Prime Minister. Just as his trial for three severe charges of corruption had to begin, and with all parties exhausted from three consecutive inconclusive elections, the virus caused a sense of emergency. This enabled him to postpone his trial and convince most of the Zionist opposition to join his government. The second COVID wave, with daily infection counts soaring for the first time above the thousand, came as a useful distraction from the failure of his new government to fulfill one of its central election promises: to annex sections of the West Bank, occupied since 1967, starting in July 1st.

It is a rare victory for the Palestinians, who struggle for more than a century to stay on their ancestral land, under constant attacks from Zionist expropriation and colonization campaigns. House demolition, land confiscation and the building of Jewish-exclusive settlements on stolen land continue to be the core policy of all Israeli governments. They are applied in different ways both against Palestinians in the areas that Israel occupied and annexed in 1948-9 (and are formally citizens of Israel) and in the West Bank that, since its occupation in 1967, is held under direct military rule.Trump-Netanyahu-Deal-of-Century-Mother-Palestine-Mondoweiss

Israel, hypocritically, doesn’t recognize any Palestinian land as “occupied” and denies the Palestinian population even the few rights that are reserved for civilians under occupation according to international law. But it is aware of the fact that much of the world, including its imperialist allies, consider those of its settlements that were built under military occupation as illegal. The annexation plan was designed to “normalize” the existing settlements, and to give the occupiers more legal tools to continue with the expropriation and ethnic cleansing of the original Palestinian population.

Under constant attack, the Palestinians this time united in rejection of the Israeli-USA plan. For a long time, Fatah, the traditional leadership of the PLO, built its strategy on negotiations with Israel in the framework of USA “mediation”. It hoped to get at least some form of Palestinian independence in the 22% of Palestine that Israel occupied in 1967. But this bleak hope was fading even before the new annexation plan was announced.

Hamas, the main Islamist resistance movement and party, won the rare semi-free elections to the Palestinian legislature on 2006. It attracted votes through a platform that combined resistance to the occupation with rejection of the corruption of the Fatah leadership and building grass-root social organizations. But it could actually take control only in the besieged Gaza Strip, from which Israel, under the pressure of the resistance, had withdrawn its army and settlements a year before. This added a new level of division of the Palestinian people – between Gaza and the West Bank. It came on top of the attempts of Israel to distance the millions of Palestinian refugees outside of the country from any perspective of political solution and to prevent the Palestinian national institutions from representing Palestinians in the 1948 occupied territories. Another special status was given to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, which was split off from the rest of the West Bank and annexed shortly after its occupation: they are considered “residents” but not “citizens”.

Now Israel is busy digesting the West Bank into its sophisticated apartheid system. The method, as always, is to strangle and divide the Palestinian people, geographically and politically, under different precarious statuses and racist laws, while uniting all the Jewish settler population under a single civil citizenship.

The conservative Palestinian leadership’s readiness to cooperate with the fake “peace process” came under farther strain as the Trump administration took ever more steps to make life harder for the Palestinian people, undermine all Palestinian institutions and encourage Israeli aggression. After Trump celebrated with Netanyahu the USA “gifting” the whole of Jerusalem to Israel, even Mahmoud Abbas, the most compliant Palestinian leader and president of the Palestine Authority (under occupation) in Ramallah, refused to negotiate about Trump’s “deal of the century”. Hamas, on its side, hinted at another armed conflict if Israel will go on in its annexation plan.

As July 1st approached, General Gants, who is supposed to be Netanyahu’s “reasonable” coalition partner, declared that, as the Palestinians are not ready to discuss Israel’s annexation, they will “remain in their deep shit” and Israel will move on with annexation alone. But pressure on Israel has mounted with the European Union, Britain and US Democratic Party presidential candidate Biden all warning it of severe consequences.

Meanwhile the Trump administration itself was divided. David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel, pressed for a wide annexation, while Kushner, the president’s son in law, asked for a smaller plan. Netanyahu and Gantz waited for a final word from the president, which didn’t come. Finally, on July 1st, Israel did nothing. On the next day Fatah and Hamas held together an unprecedented press conference declaring unity in struggle against Israel’s continuing occupation.

Yes, the Palestinian are still deep in the shit – but it is not theirs. The shit is Israel’s colonialism, apartheid, occupation and racism. The fiasco of the July 1st annexation might give some hope that the tide of shit is beginning to turn.

Israel succeeded not by its own power but by the unlimited support it always received from Western imperialism, militarily, economically and politically. At the time of the cold war Israel was a bulwark of US hegemony against leftist and nationalist Arab regimes in countries like Egypt and Syria.

As the cold war was over and the West dropped it support for Apartheid in South Africa, Israel succeeded to position itself at the middle of the crusade against “Islamic terrorism”. It fanned the fire of Islamophobia and had an important role in dragging the USA into a bloody and costly war in Iraq. As the enthusiasm for military adventures has faded in the West, Israel found a new brand to champion. Its cocktail of colonialism, white supremacy and disdain for the rights of the oppressed put it at the vanguard of a new type of conservative populists that emerged from the degeneration of the Western hegemony, the likes of Trump and Boris Johnson.

At every twist and turn Israel turned more belligerent, more racist, and received more praise and material “prizes” at the expense of the Palestinians from its imperialist masters. It become completely spoiled on the personal and national level. Now, as the world is engulfed with a new mass movement against racism, we can hope that Israel’s regime, where racism is the basis of everything, will at last go out of fashion.

 

Combatir el sionismo NO es antisemitismo

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CARTA ABIERTA A MIS CAMARADAS DE LA IZQUIERDA ARGENTINA

Mis queridos camaradas en la izquierda argentina,

(This letter is also available in English)

Mientras que la gente de todo el mundo lucha hoy por luchar contra la herencia del colonialismo, la esclavitud y la supremacía blanca que está profundamente arraigada en las sociedades e instituciones capitalistas occidentales, nuestro pueblo en Palestina sigue enfrentando las formas más crueles de colonización activa, con toda su brutalidad y descaradas injusticias.

Estamos acostumbrados a la movilización de todas las fuerzas imperialistas para apoyar a Israel, militar, económica y políticamente, en su constante impulso por privar a todos los palestinos de los derechos humanos más básicos. Para gente como Trump y Bolsonaro, su apoyo a Israel es una extensión natural de sus políticas racistas y antidemocráticas en todas partes. Pero naturalmente esperamos que aquellos que luchan contra el racismo y por la justicia social en sus propios países se opongan al colonialismo israelí y al apartheid y apoyen la justa lucha de los palestinos para vivir como personas libres en su propio país.

Por esta razón, me sorprendió el apoyo de los partidos de izquierda en la legislatura de Buenos Aires a una declaración que se supone que es contra el antisemitismo, pero de hecho le hace el juego a la campaña sionista para estigmatizar y deslegitimar las críticas de los crímenes de Israel.

En la “definición”, la primera manifestación censurada de “antisemitismo” es “atacar al estado de Israel”. El texto cuidadosamente redactado sigue permitiendo “críticas de Israel similares a las que se realizan contra cualquier otro país”. Deberíamos preguntarnos:

  • ¿Qué otro país expulsó a la mayoría de la población nativa hace sólo 72 años, destruyó la mayoría de las aldeas y pueblos en todo el país, y evita que los refugiados regresen hasta el día de hoy?
  • ¿Qué otro país tiene a la mayoría de la población nativa bajo un gobierno militar directo sin derecho de autodeterminación?
  • ¿Qué otro país, hasta hoy, demuele casas, confisca tierras y evacúa pueblos enteros de la población nativa (en todo el país, tanto ciudadanos de Israel como bajo ocupación militar, sólo porque no tienen la religión correcta) con el fin de dar sus propiedades a colonos y construir asentamientos en su tierra para la gente de la religión del estado?
  • ¿Qué otro país tiene a 2 millones de personas (muchas de ellas, refugiados) en la cárcel más grande de la tierra, rodeadas de tanques y francotiradores, al borde de la inanición, con electricidad suministrada durante unas horas al día, y bombardeándolas regularmente?

Lo siento, camaradas. De la “definición de antisemitismo” que adoptaron, se desprende que, si no critico a Dinamarca por hacer todas estas cosas, entonces culpar a Israel con tales acusaciones escandalosas está peligrosamente fuera de lo permitido.

La misma definición sigue denunciando “negar al pueblo judío su derecho a la autodeterminación, por ejemplo, al afirmar que la existencia de un Estado de Israel es un proyecto racista”. ¿Cómo se puede llamar a un estado que se basa en la limpieza étnica sistemática, la expropiación, la opresión y la discriminación de la población nativa sobre la base de la raza y la discriminación religiosa de otra forma que no sea “racista”? ¿En qué léxico político el “derecho de autodeterminación” implica el derecho a colonizar otros países y expulsar a la población originaria? Y sí, el colonialismo, el racismo y la supremacía blanca no son “defectos” en el desarrollo del sionismo. Están en la base de la colonización sionista, como otros movimientos colonialistas de asentamiento. La diferencia es que Israel sigue en la etapa más brutal de expansionismo y expropiación, mientras que la mayor parte del resto del mundo está tratando de pasar a una etapa más civilizada en el desarrollo de la humanidad.

En otra defensa hipócrita de Israel, la “definición” denuncia la existencia de un “doble rasero” y exige que Israel sea tratada como “cualquier otra nación democrática”. ¿Qué significa esto para millones de palestinos bajo ocupación israelí que no tienen derecho a hablar, protestar o votar? ¿Esperarían que el mundo tratase a Videla y a su Junta “como cualquier otro régimen democrático”?

Defender los crímenes de lesa humanidad perpetrados sistemáticamente por Israel en nombre de la lucha contra el antisemitismo está haciendo un daño desastroso a la lucha contra el antisemitismo, contra el racismo en general y a la causa de la izquierda internacionalmente. No debemos olvidar la posición de la Unión Soviética y de los partidos estalinistas que apoyaron el establecimiento del estado colonialista de Israel en 1948 y suministraron gran parte de las armas que se utilizaron para masacrar y limpiar étnicamente a la población nativa palestina. Esta posición vergonzosa, que prefirió los intereses de una minoría de colonos europeos antes que los de la mayoría nativa, desacreditó la causa del socialismo en un período muy importante en la batalla estratégica por el futuro del mundo.

No podemos permitirnos que se repitan este tipo de prejuicios en el siglo XXI.

Me gustaría creer que simplemente no pensaron bien tu posición. Espero que tengan el coraje político y la responsabilidad de reconsiderar su posición y de pronunciarse claramente contra el sionismo, por los derechos del pueblo palestino, por el regreso de los refugiados y por un estado democrático en toda Palestina.

Saludos camaradas,

Yoav Haifawi

27 de junio del 2020

SIEMPRE CON LA CAUSA PALESTINA CONTRA EL ESTADO SIONISTA

Rectificamos un error cometido en la Legislatura de CABA

 

Fighting Zionism is NOT Anti-Semitism

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An Open Letter to my comrades in the Argentine Left

(This letter is also available en español)

My dear comrades in the Argentine Left,

While people all over the world struggle today to fight the heritage of colonialism, slavery and white supremacy that is deep rooted in Western Capitalist societies and institutions, our people in Palestine are still facing the cruelest forms of active colonization, with all its brutality and blatant injustices.

We are used to the mobilization of all the imperialist forces to support Israel, militarily, economically and politically, in its constant drive to deprive all Palestinians of the most basic human rights. For the likes of Trump and Bolsonaro, their support to Israel is a natural extension of their racist and anti-democratic policies everywhere. But we naturally expect those fighting against racism and for social justice in their own countries to oppose Israeli colonialism and Apartheid and support the just struggle of Palestinians to live as free people in their own homeland.

For this reason, I was shocked to hear of the support of leftist parties in the Buenos Aires parliament to a declaration which is supposed to be against anti-Semitism, but in fact plays into the hands of the Zionist campaign to stigmatize and delegitimize criticism of Israel’s crimes.

In the “definition”, the first censored manifestation of “anti-Semitism” is “targeting of the state of Israel”. The carefully worded text goes on to allow “criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country”. We should ask ourselves:

  • Which other country expelled the majority of the native population just 72 years ago, destroyed most of the villages and towns all over the country, and prevents the refugees till this day from returning?
  • Which other countries hold the majority of the native population under direct military rule with no right of self-determination?
  • Which other country, till this day, demolish houses, confiscate land and evacuate whole villages of the native population (all over the country, both citizens of Israel and under military occupation, just because they do not have the right religion) in order to give their property and build settlement on their land for people from the state’s religion?
  • Which other country holds 2 million people (many of them refugees) in the biggest prison on earth, surrounded by tanks and snipers, on the verge of starvation, with electricity supplied for a few hours a day, and bombing them regularly?

Sorry, comrades. From the “definition of anti-Semitism” that you adopted I may understand that if I don’t criticize Denmark for doing all these, then blaming Israel with such outrageous accusations is dangerously out of the mark.

The same definition goes on to denounce “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.” How could you call a state that is based on systematic ethnic cleansing, expropriation, oppression and discrimination of the native population on the basis of race and religion other than “racist”? In what political lexicon does the “right of self-determination” imply the right to colonize other countries and expel the original population? And, yes, colonialism, racism and white supremacy are not “flaws” in the development of Zionism. They are at the basis of Zionist colonization, like other settler-colonialist movements. The difference is that Israel is still in the most brutal stage of expansionism and expropriation while most of the rest of the world is trying to move to a more civilized stage in the development of humanity.

In another hypocritical defense of Israel, the “definition” denounces “double standards” and demands that Israel would be treated like “any other democratic nation”. What does it mean for million of Palestinians under Israeli occupation that have no right to speak, protest or vote? Would you expect the world to treat Videla and his Junta “like any other democratic regime”?

Defending the crimes against humanity that are systematically performed by Israel in the name of fighting anti-Semitism is doing a disastrous damage to the fight against anti-Semitism, against racism in general and to the cause of the Left internationally. We should not forget the position of the Soviet Union and the Stalinists parties that supported the establishment of the colonialist state of Israel in 1948 and supplied much of the arms which was used to massacre and ethnically cleanse the native Palestinian population. This shameful position, preferring the interests of an European settler minority over the native majority, discredited the cause of Socialism in a very important period in the strategic battle for the future of the world.

We can’t allow ourselves to repeat this kind of prejudice in the 21st century.

I would like to believe that you just didn’t think out well your position. I hope that you would have the political courage and responsibility to reconsider your position and stand out clearly against Zionism, for the rights of the Palestinian people, for the return of the refugees and for one democratic state in all of Palestine.

Comradely Greetings,

Yoav Haifawi

June 27, 2020

Response from the Buenos Aires leftist deputies

After publishing the open letter above, I received the following response in my Facebook inbox:

ALWAYS WITH THE PALESTINE CAUSE AGAINST THE ZIONIST STATE

We rectify a mistake made in the CABA Legislature Always with the Palestinian cause against the Zionist state.

Statement by Buenos Aires deputies of the Left Front Myriam Bregman, Gabriel Solano and Alejandrina Barry.

The Left Front has been denouncing the prostration to Zionism of the national government as stated in Alberto Fernández’s first trip to Israel to meet with the genocidal Netanyahu, who these days is advancing with his policy of finishing annexing the Zionist state to the Palestinian West Bank.

In light of the aforementioned, it is clear that for the Left Front the table should be voted negatively.

We have always carried out our fight to the death against anti-Semitism on the basis of denouncing Zionism and the State of Israel, built on the basis of genocide and the occupation and theft of land and property from the Palestinian people.

We have made our principled position on this point clear by actively participating in the demonstrations taking place in our country at the Israeli Embassy and denouncing the permanent arrangements of all governments with Zionism.

We are in solidarity with the Palestinian people and their cause. We demand the release of all political prisoners by the Israeli state and all Palestinian demands in the face of an exponential increase in their hardships since the emergence of the pandemic.

To make our position clear, we will send this text to the Parliamentary Secretariat of the Legislature to inform you count our vote in a negative way.

Myriam Bregman, Gabriel Solano, Alejandrina Barry, CABA Deputies for the Left Front (Argentina)

The original corrective statement (in Spanish) was published here.

Haifa Demo for Martyr Iyad Al Hallak: Palestinian and Black Lives Matter!

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(The following report appeared today in Mondoweiss. Some of the images are from Rabeea Eid and Suhair Badarni.)

The cold-blooded murder of Iyad Al-Hallak by Israeli “border guard” policemen in occupied Al-Quds (Jerusalem) on Saturday, May 30, came as a shock for many Palestinians, even though they are used to hear of shooting of innocent Palestinians for any or no reason. Iyad, 32, had Autism and was on his way to a special school near Al-Aqsa mosque, where he was training to work as a cook. His last moments were not photographed, but an instructor from his school, Warda Abu Hadid, was near him when he tried to hide from the policemen in a small room used by the garbage collectors.Haifa demo - Iyad Al Hallak

She was on her way to work when she heard shooting and took cover in the room. Soon Iyad entered the room looking for shelter also. He was already wounded and stretched on the floor bleeding from his leg. When three policemen followed Iyad in, she told them that he was disabled and could not do any harm. They shot him from short range in his chest anyway.

Iyad’s loving parents, who dedicated much of their lives caring for their beautiful boy, told later of a youth that had difficulties performing basic tasks and was not even conscious to the meaning of occupation. But the occupation killed him anyway – giving new meaning to the notion of innocence.

A demonstration led by groups caring for disabled Palestinians

There were several demonstrations around the country in protest of the murder of Iyad. But the demonstration in Haifa on June 2 was special, as it was not organized by political parties or activists but by civil society organizations that care for Palestinians with disabilities. Most of these organizations were established by caring relatives, and the way that Iyad was attacked exposed for them in the most painful way the double vulnerability of being both Palestinian and disabled at the same time.Marching in wheelchairs - Iyad and George Floyd

The activists for the disabled turned to “Herak Haifa” to help organize their protest and an event on Facebook called for a demonstration on Tuesday, June 2, in “Prisoner’s Square” in the German Colony, Haifa’s tourist center.

Hundreds of people gathered in the square, some with Palestinian flags. Between the participants there were many disabled people, some in wheelchairs. The placards with slogans were of all sizes, prints and styles, clearly prepared by the participants, with no central organizing body. About as many slogans were related to “Black Lives Matter”, in clear solidarity with the struggle against racism in the United States, as to the recent Palestinian martyrs.Haifa demo BLM and PLM

I brought a few posters with me, calling for the arrest of killer cops and commemorating the martyrs. I put them on a fence and they were soon taken by participants. Soon I noticed someone returning a placard to where the small pile was. I went to see what this unwanted placard was. It was written in unexperienced handwriting in Arabic: “I’m a disabled Palestinian”. At first, I thought the writer wanted to be one of the protesting crowd, like everybody else. But then I thought that, in the spirit of solidarity, I could carry this placard instead – and I continued carrying it all along the demonstration.

Marching through downtown Haifa

People continued to gather and soon they poured into the main street and closed it. Nothing was planned in advance, but we just felt that the protest should be heard and seen loud and clear. We were already about 500 people and we started to march toward downtown Haifa, the city’s commercial center. It was a very lively march with people chanting slogans all along the way. At each junction the crowd stopped, closing the traffic, while some of the activists were discussing between themselves what is the next move.Haifa demo - Palestinian lives matter 2

At one turn the crowd entered a side street, that is never used for demonstrations, just to appear in a surprise in “Atzmaut St.”, the main commercial street of downtown Haifa and the route that connects the city’s east and west. The street was closed both ways, just in front of the central train station, as some of the demonstrators sat in its middle.

By that time the police, which did not seem ready for the demonstration, already had brought in a few horse-mounted policemen and some special unit in anti-riot gear, but it was still a small force, that tried to throw a line blocking the main road in front of the demonstrators. Some people wanted to retreat, but as the crowd started to move again it just walked peacefully through the police line and marched in the main street back to the German Colony.Haifa demo message to Black America

When we came back to prisoner’s square it was already more than 2 hours since the demonstration begun, but people were still chanting and singing liberation songs, full of energies and hope. Before dispersing they immediately declared another demonstration for Tuesday next week, this time organized by the Palestinian feminist activists.

You can watch a short video of the demonstration in “Ha’atzmaut” starting to move here

ODS groups: On 72nd anniversary of the Nakba we bury illusions and rise up

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(The following declaration was published on May 15, 2020, on the site of the One Democratic State Campaign – ODSC)

For the past 72 years, the Zionist project has not ceased its colonial campaign of expanding, grabbing land, ethnically cleansing and killing, a campaign that has accompanied Israel since its recognition as a legitimate state by the United Nations in 1948. A product of settler colonialism, Zionism was an inherently violent and brutal project. Settler colonialism, after all, is founded on the elimination of the native and their replacement by the settler state. “Peace” in such a colonial project is an illusion. It comes only with the destruction of the indigenous population, whether physically or culturally.

Since the Nakba, Palestinians have found themselves faced with colonial expansion that Latuff for Nakba Dayproceeds systematically, ripping the land into fragments, segregating and imprisoning the native communities through an intricate infrastructure of highways and settlements heavily guarded by the Israeli military apparatus – and today fortified by the apartheid wall. Recent years have seen the transformation of ethno-national extremism and “incremental genocide” into official state policy, formalized by the infamous “Jewish Nation-State” bill and the impending annexation of large swathes of the West Bank, all supported by Imperial governments and made possible by collaborationist Arab regimes.

The Palestinian people have nobly defended themselves and resisted their oppression from the start, utilizing all the tools at their disposal. The sacrifices that this nation has made are limitless and ongoing, their continuous defiance of subjugation in the pursuit of liberation and a dignified life inexhaustible. Our movement for national liberation, embodied in the PLO, placed the Palestinian struggle at the center of global attention. Our struggle as a colonized people fighting for liberation occurs not only against Zionism and the imperial governments that support it, but exists alongside dozens of other struggles in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, all still fighting the forces of neo-colonialism and capitalism. The Palestinian liberation movement is part and parcel of this global struggle.

Pressures on the PLO to compromise the ambitions of the Palestinians by erecting a truncated, impoverished and non-sovereign Bantustan in Gaza and pieces of the West Bank in the name of “peace” is merely an attempt to deflect the Palestinian people from its liberation efforts. This is the meaning of the catastrophic Oslo Accords and its two-state illusion, which today everyone sees as a ruse. In the meantime, the colonial project cemented its settler reality throughout the country and, by institutionalizing Palestinian division, undermined the PLO as the tool for emancipation.

Today, in historic Palestine, the struggle continues against a determined Apartheid regime that is poised to extend its rule formally over all of Palestine. On this 72nd anniversary of the Palestinian and Arab Nakba, we renew our call to reinvigorate the Palestinian cause and its institutions of liberation. We call not only for the defeat of Zionism’s colonial apartheid project, but for the establishment of a single democratic state between the River and the Sea, one which ensures security, equality and prosperity for all its citizens, regardless of nationality, race and religion, and the return of the refugees. We call on all civil society actors – trade unions, university groups, religious institutions, intellectual and cultural figures, political organizations, grassroots groups and others – to join with us in our joint struggle for liberation, democracy, equality and social justice in historic Palestine.

 

May 15, 2020

(On May 11, activists from different groups supporting one democratic state in Palestine, met over Zoom to discuss common work. The immediate result was a publication of a common declaration on the eve of the 72 Nakba commemoration. To read the original Arab declaration you may follow this link. The English version is somewhat abbreviated.)

 

ODSC calls for international support against Israel’s annexation plans

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A CALL AGAINST APARTHEID OVER PALESTINE; ONE DEMOCRACY FOR ALL

One Democratic State Campaign (ODSC)

April 29, 2020

(This declaration is also available in Hebrew)

Israel is racing to complete its project of institutionalizing a colonial apartheid regime over all of historic Palestine. The next step is planned for July, when the coalition government of Benjamin Netanyahu intends to formally annex large swathes of the West Bank. The expansion of Israel onto 85% of historic Palestine leaves the Palestinian majority imprisoned in dozens of impoverished enclaves on just 15% of the land, under permanent Israeli rule, bereft of any civil or national rights. This is apartheid, pure and simple.

Having “given” occupied East Jerusalem to the Israelis, Trump’s “Deal of the Century” allows Israel to take possession of the rest of the West Bank. Israel’s unilateral annexation of its massive settlement blocs has been waiting on a green light from the Trump Administration, the only international authority Israel cares about. In a public statement on April 21st, American Secretary of State Pompeo gave that green light. “As for the annexation of the West Bank,” he said in a public statement, “the Israelis will ultimately make those decisions. That’s an Israeli decision.”

A single apartheid state already exists de facto between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River: Israel. There is only one possible response, one “solution,” one way out. That is to replace the apartheid regime with a democratic state of equal rights for all its inhabitants, including the returning refugees.

We call on you, the people of the world, to support our struggle for democracy in historic Palestine. Our vision is a democracy that will give all the inhabitants of our country equal rights, will finally bring home the refugees and will respect the cultures, religions and identities of all the peoples that comprise our society – a return to the tolerant multi-culturalism long characterizing the Arab world, the Middle East, and Palestine in particular.

Governments, unfortunately, are not the friends of peoples struggling for their rights. We, Palestinians and progressive Israeli Jews alike, call on you, the international civil society, to mobilize in support of a democratic state between the River and Sea. True solidarity with the Palestinian people means supporting a political program that liberates historic Palestine from colonialism, occupation and apartheid – a democratic state for all between the River and the Sea, and a return of the refugees. Raise your voices against apartheid! Support our struggle for liberation, democracy and peace for all!

Follow us on Facebook.

email: contact@onestatecampaign.org

 

Apartheid in the time of corona

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(The following article appeared today in Mondoweiss)

I have to disagree with Dr. Azmi Bishara. Trying to defend the disastrously late response of western capitalist states to the pandemic, he claimed in Arab 48, that governments should not be assessed by their conduct at emergencies. I find just the opposite to be the case. We have seen, in many cases, that in normal times a country can just about manage itself without a functioning government. But a major crisis exposes abruptly many things about the nature of each regime, exactly at the time that we desperately need a good government to protect us, and everybody is taking note.

“The Economist” reports that in the United States, lifesaving PPE (personal protective equipment) that is imported by the government (through FEMA) is given to private distributers to make a buck at the expense of the lives of medical staff on the frontline. We have seen all rich countries stop exporting essential medical goods and outbidding everybody else to get whatever is on the market. When Italy was at the worst of the crisis, Germany banned export of medical supply, but when China sent needed life-saving equipment EU leaders warned that China was doing so “for propaganda purposes”.

Reading the local Corona news in Israel is yet a very different story. Israel’s Apartheid regime is showing itself to be absurdly abnormal even in the most abnormal of times. Here are some heart-breaking examples of what Apartheid looks like at the time of Corona.

Ready to die like Samson

There are many stories how each state and each medical institution is looking today for any opportunity to buy PPE. Turkey is one of the biggest producers worldwide and one of the few that is still ready to sell, in spite of a worsening epidemic on its home front. Bloomberg reported that Turkey was supplying personal protective equipment to Israel, including surgical masks, overalls and sterile gloves.

On Thursday, April 9, 3 Israeli planes had to collect medical supplies from a Turkish military airport. But then it was reported that Turkey requested that Israel would reciprocate by allowing the passage of similar amount of Turkish anti-corona aid contributed to the Palestinians.

As of Friday, April 10, according to both “Times of Israel” and “Arab 48”, it seems that Israel refused to surrender to Turkish “terror” and the equipment was not supplied. As the hero “Samson” said: “Let me die with the Palestinians” …

Then yesterday, April 12,  Haaretz reported about new negotiations between Israel and Hamas concerning steps toward prisoners’ exchanges. Hamas signaled that it is ready to compromise on its previous conditions in order to protect old and sick Palestinian prisoners from the danger of succumbing to corona while in prison. What is significant for our subject is that, according to Haaretz, the Palestinians implied that part of the deal is that Israel will supply to the Gaza strip, which is under siege, an unspecified number of ventilators to treat corona patients. What is even more significant is that, according to the same report, Israeli sources denied (out of all the reported details about the planned deal) that ventilators would be allowed into Gaza!

Does Mossad steal PPE?

Yeshayahu Leibowitz warned long time ago that Israel would become “A Shabak State” – referring to Israel’s all-powerful “general security service” (General Security Service, Shabak). An article in Maariv from July 27, 2019, estimates that the Shabak and the Mossad (its twin responsible for operations out of the state’s borders) each employs about 7,000 people and has a budget exceeding a billion dollars. While Israel investment on health is low relatively to other OECD countries, it has these two monsters, and it decided to utilize them to fight the pandemic.

Start with Mossad. It was assigned the task of acquiring medical equipment. According to “the Marker” it requested a budget of 7 billion shekels but was given 2.5 billion to start with (about 700 million $US). But it had no professional knowledge of the medical field, not any special experience or the infrastructure to perform large scale purchases and import operations.

The Mossad soon boasted of bringing in 100,000 virus tests from an unspecified source, only to be rebuked by an Ministry of Health official who commented that these were not the tests that were needed. After the remark was published the official hurried to apologize, and the Mossad promised to check again what is needed and continue the hunt.

On April 6 Haaretz reported that Israel’s “defense” minister Naftali Bennett failed to deny, and actually implied, that the Mossad stole medical equipment from other countries. When asked during an interview on the army radio if the Mossad stole medical equipment related to the coronavirus pandemic, Bennett answered: “I will not answer this question. We are all acting in an aggressive and smart ways.” (It was reported also in English in Middle East Eye.)

It is not surprising that the Mossad, which specializes in assassinations, espionage and all sorts of under-cover activities, will resort to illegal means in its new role. But you could expect from Mr. Bennett, who is supposed to be a respected businessman, to be, at least, smart enough to deny it. However, he might have a good reason to make his Israeli audience believe that the Mossad is stealing for them. Some commentators in the Israeli press mentioned that giving billions of shekels to a secret organization like Mossad means that there is no supervision about how the money is spent. Now, when questions would be asked, Bennet might whisper “Shhh…” and wink: “you would not want to disclose the state’s secrets”.

(After the initial publication I found a more direct self-evidence of stealing medical equipment from other states in a TV interview in Israeli TV from a senior “security” official. Here in Hebrew and Arabic.)

Besides, Israel is used to being above international law for all its war crimes, so why should it fear stealing medical equipment from around the world?

On the receiving end of Shabak

On the home front, Shabak was assigned the task of identifying the routes of people infected by the Corona virus and instructing those who were in their proximity to be in self-isolation. For the first time it became public knowledge that Shabak can follow (now it is officially doing so) the whereabouts of each person, at least as long as people are moving around with their smartphones.

For the Palestinians, both in the West Bank and inside the green line, constant inspection by Shabak is nothing new. Even in Haifa, the most peaceful place under Israeli Apartheid, any Palestinian youth may be invited to intrusive “conversations” with Shabak officers for no reason at all. For political activists the military governor (yes, there are military governors on both sides of the green line) may issue an administrative detention order, based on Shabak secret “evidence”, so that the detainee or his lawyer are not allowed even to know what he is accused of. Shabak officers appear in courts under false names and the defense is not allowed even to see their faces. Their words in court are regarded as undisputable.

As soon as Shabak started to target Jewish Israelis, admittedly not sending them to prison, only to self-isolation, suddenly the press was full of reports about its errors.

One woman arranged for her husband to be in self isolation in their home after he came from abroad, and stayed with her parents so she could continue to work. But after she passed in the street near her house to wave hello to her husband, who stayed on the balcony at a safe distance, she was sent to self-isolate also. Another women prepared a cake for a neighbour under isolation and left it for him near a closed door. She also fell in the Shabak net. Others complained that they could not understand why they were instructed to isolate, as they were not told with whom they supposedly met and when.

People whose lives were suddenly disrupted for no reason called the Ministry of Health and were answered that they don’t know a thing about it, it is Shabak’s work. They were told that “Shabak never makes mistakes”.

Some tried to call the Shabak directly and found that there is no way to reach the secretive organization and no way to appeal its decrees.

One case that was reported in detail is that of a medical doctor who had some symptoms and was tested for corona. The test returned negative results (no virus), but apparently the result that was typed into the system was wrong. Soon his relatives, neighbours’ and medics that worked with him where all ordered by SMS to isolate themselves. Even he, with connections to the medical establishment and the certificate of the negative test in his possession, found it hard to get the authorities to reconsider. Only after the media exposed the absurdity of the situation the MOH admitted the error.

Will it make any Israeli judge think twice before relying on secret Shabak “evidence” while sending Palestinians to jail? Unlikely.

Police attack Palestinian residents in Yaffa

For Israel’s regular police force the declaration of country-wide lockdown was another opportunity to abuse Palestinians. I can’t cover here abuse of all types in the West Bank, where widespread attacks on Palestinians by settlers and soldiers were already reported here on April 6. What is less known is the severe attack on Palestinians in Yaffa, an Arab town that was annexed by Tel Aviv, and is now under intense pressure for “Judaization/Gentrification”, that took place on the 1st and 2nd of April.

Yaffa’s Arab population is mostly poor and marginalized, and relations with the police were tense even before the pandemic. As the lockdown was declared the Tel Aviv police found an opportunity to make a show of force in Yaffa in a way that wasn’t practiced in any other neighbourhood. It provoked two days of widespread clashes that continued late into the night.

I couldn’t go to Yaffa but I talked on the phone with a local activist and heard a first-hand report about how it all developed. On the first day, in what was supposed to be enforcement of the lockdown, police started arresting local youth. From what I heard, what provoked the residents most was the fact that the police themselves didn’t show any intention of following the anti-infection instructions. They moved in dense groups, without masks, and beat people with their bare hands. A woman who tried to protect her son was thrown to the ground, her head hit the pavement and she started bleeding. People all over the neighbourhood erupted in anger, not ready to take it anymore.

On the second evening activists initiated a quiet vigil against police violence, trying to keep the social distancing standards, staying apart. Even though the lockdown order specifically allows demonstrations, the police demanded from the protesters to disperse and soon attacked them. Then the road was closed and clashes resumed.

On the 3rd day it was the local Palestinian leadership itself that worked hard to convince the activists and the population at wide to stay at home. The danger of infection was too big; and police violence and the protest against it would probably be with us long after the pandemic.

* * *

Apartheid has poisoned our lives for so many years. It is even more dangerous at these hard times.