Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘palestinians

Tidbits and notes. Part 427

Europe was wracked with terror attacks for 2 decades in the 1960’s.
The world was wracked with terror attacks for 3 decades after 1980, before Da3esh (ISIS) was established.
Africa was wracked with the most violent of attacks by enrolling children in their armies and forcing them to kill their parents as sign of allegiance.The USA was mainly behind all these crimes against humanity
Singling Da3esh (ISIS) is a strong message that the USA is sticking to its strategy of destabilizing the Middle-East.

The death toll in Gaza surged. According to Palestinian officials, a family of 8 was killed in Israeli airstrikes, bringing the total number of deaths to 32 since both sides started exchanging fire on Nov. 12, following a targeted killing in Gaza. There have been (officially) no Israeli deaths so far.

Actually, every Friday in the last year, Palestinians in Gaza have been marching to the borders as their UN rights to Return home. Israel has been sniping and had killed hundred so far and many thousands have been injured and crippled.

US government regulates everyday consumer products more tightly than it does the nation’s voting systems.

Operation Blackout”, simulating an election process in USA, pitted ethical hackers against participants from the FBI, Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security, and Virginia police, presenting real-world possibilities pushed to an extreme. The game-play, which forbade any actual hacking, was strategic, not technical, and a team of cybersecurity professionals, monitored by US government observers, decided the outcome. The exercise ended in abject chaos

“America is totally unprepared for what is coming in (election interference) because it will be like nothing we’ve seen before. Everyone is vulnerable, and everyone will be affected.” And the number of people needed to influence an election is surprisingly small,

Most useful decision: Coming to term with “how we wish to die”

Decision to die in own bed is best definition of extreme laziness.

If you die before you decide how to die, that’s tough luck

If you die differently, that’s recklessness.

Les deux puissance au monde, le sabre et l’esprit, ont ete’ vaincus en Libye et en Somalie (there are no States in these 2 countries)

All curves for reforms and changes intersect a focal point: the points of perceived chaos, and the poorer classes are demanded to pay the heavy price.

Palestinians’ “day of rage.” In the West Bank and Gaza, demonstrators protest against the Trump administration’s reversal of longstanding US policy on Israeli settlements, which are considered illegal under international law. The Arab League formally rejected the US position yesterday.

A Moroccan rapper was imprisoned for a song about corruption. Mohamed Mounir, or “Gnawi,” was found guilty of insulting police in the track “Long Live the People.

In the 2017 election, the MRP poll from YouGov made the surprising prediction—eventually proven correct—that the UK Conservative Party would lose a majority. The 2019 poll relies on 50,000 people, rather than the usual 1,000-people survey.

The intense pressure to succeed in South Korea comes in many forms, including economic, social, cosmetic, and educational, writes Isabella Steger. But as unhappiness mounts at society’s intolerance of failure—perhaps manifested most clearly in the country’s persistently high suicide rate—the government is stepping in to encourage more acceptance of second chances. (How to learn to embrace failure?)

Demonstrating against a hike in fuel prices, some 200,000 people set alight 731 banks and 140 government sites, according to the country’s interior minister. Iran hiking of fuel prices was meant to discourage transferring fuel across borders by illegal dealers.

 

My Speech

Of Shahd Abusalama for London Rally in Support of Palestinians’ Rights to Exist, Resist and Return

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During a #StopArmingIsrael protest during a week of action against DSEI arms fair in September 2017. Photo by David Dinis Photography

My name is Shahd Abusalama and I’m a 3rd generation Palestinian refugee, born and raised in Jabalia Refugee Camp, northern Gaza.

I’m standing here with so many Palestinians, born in Palestine and in exile, to tell the “founding Zionists” of Israel who assumed that the old will die and the young will forget, that we will not forget Palestine, and we will never surrender our fundamental rights to exist, resist and return.

We stand representative of many indigenous communities who faced various forms of oppression across the history of European colonialism and imperialism, to remind the world that settler colonialism is not a culture of the past, but a current reality that we have lived and defied from America, Australia and Ireland to Palestine.

My grandmother described a peaceful childhood in green fields of citrus and olive trees in our village Beit-Jirja. This life, the tastes, the sounds and the smells remained fixated only in her memories as Beit Jirja was dismantled alongside other 530 villages and towns that were depopulated and destroyed by Zionist thugs in 1948.

For Palestinians, the Nakba was never a one-off event that happened in 1948. Israeli colonial oppression has never stopped and many Palestinian communities within Israel, including the people of Khan Al-Ahmar, are still fighting against their ethnic cleansing as we stand here.

My grandparents are present today more than ever as we mark the 71st anniversary of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, for what happened then is why I was born in Jabalia with a gun pointed at my head.

During my mother’s labour, Israeli soldiers disrupted her way to Jabalia UNRWA Clinic as they forced a curfew that indoctrinated to shoot any moving being. Shooting to kill was common in the 1st Intifada when I came to life, and is a common practice now.

We saw it in the shooting and maiming of Gaza’s Great Return March protesters who stood with their bare chests against Israeli snipers to claim their humanity and to bring their right of return, an issue that Israel firmly rejected across the past 7 decades on racist grounds, to the centre of political debate.

Their cries for justice come amidst US-Israeli attempts to push the right of return and Jerusalem “off the table”. It is time that we call those world leaders what they are: racist trolls. It is time to stand firm in our support of the Palestinian right of return, as without justice, there will be no meaningful peace.

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip just survived another a 3-day deadly Israeli attack last weekend, which claimed 25 lives, including two pregnant women, two toddlers and a 12 year old child.

While world news was quick to move on after the truce was announced, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip returned to a daily struggle for survival while more deadly violence is expected at any moment. That’s how my family welcomed Ramadan. Following the truce, I heard my parents calling relatives and friends and saying, “glad you survived” before continuing “Ramadan Kareem”.

Imagine living in an open-air prison where there is constant presence of death, and fear of walls falling inwards. This fear of being uncertain about anything, including your own life, even while in your home, is terrifying. This is what 2 million people faced last weekend as they are besieged by Israeli weaponry from air, land and sea, turning Gaza into a laboratory for its lethal arms, which Israel markets as ‘battle-tested’ in notorious arms fairs around the world, such as DSEI which London is hosting again this year.

It is not a coincidence that Gaza comes under attack during Israeli elections over and over again. Those elections are led by criminals using Palestinian children’s blood to win popular support.

Meanwhile, the world is about to celebrate Eurovision in Israeli Apartheid on top of an ethnically-cleansed Palestinian land, a show whose whole purpose is to expose Israel’s ‘prettier face’ while deflecting global attention from its daily crimes against the Palestinians. Shame on all contestant countries, all the participants and audiences if they still support Eurovision in Israel while our victims’ blood haven’t dried.

This is nothing new. This is our decades-long lived experience that is normalized by a dominant media discourse that finds it comfortable to avoid addressing the power imbalance between the occupier and the occupied, to remove the context of settler colonialism and reduce it to conflict, effectively demonizing Palestinians and their legitimate struggle against their systematic dehumanization.

Our injustice is also normalized by tax payers whose money is paid as military ‘aid’ for Israel, by politicians who suddenly fall short on words of condemnation once the perpetrator is Israel, by international institutions doing business with Israel or corporations that enable Israeli crimes, by Muslims of the world who normalize relations with Israel and buy Israeli dates merged with our pains of loss and dispossession, by Zionist Jews and Christians who support the uninterrupted process of ethnic cleansing against the native people of the ‘promised land’ in the name of God.

The best response to such brutality and normalisation is active solidarity!

We have a beautiful demonstration of solidarity today with thousands uniting from different races, religions, genders, professions and cities, to say: we’re not turning our back to the Palestinian people. We know too well that whether Palestine on news headlines or not, Israel is perpetrating violence uninterruptedly.

Every minute, innocent souls are buried, and building that took a lifetime to build are flattened. It is urgent that people of conscience all over the world join in solidarity and resist the collusion of their governments and institutions in this long-standing crime against humanity.

A plausible settlement for the “Deal of Century” to both Palestinians and Israelis

Note: The created State of Israel by the colonial powers has all the blueprints of a colonial occupation of a land by force. The State of Israel, with all the determination of the colonial powers to keep it alive and floating financially, politically and militarily, has gone way too far in its brutality, its calamitous myths, and unwavering decision to wipe out the culture and identity of the Palestinian people.

This article, (dated on November 13, 2008) is a temporary resolution until the far-right Israelis desist from their occupation mentality and reach a reasonable state of common status of living together with Palestinians on equal rights. Until then, Israel is our existential enemy.

There are reams and reams of plans and counter plans and resolution suggested to containing this everlasting unjust and uncalled for reality of the 20th century monstrosity that permitted the establishment of the State of Israel by displacing its original inhabitants (the Palestinians), as so many monstrosities in this century.

There are two viable solutions for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, short of exterminating one party or the other or most probably both, that has been spreading death, disabilities, miseries, indignities and humiliation since 1920.

The Israeli Olmert PM has lately declared that the time to facing truth has come.

Since the Madrid convention in 1990 among the “Arab States” (excluding Syria) and Israeli delegations and mediated by the US Administration, during the Bush Sr. tenure as President, for a resolution of this conflict, it was becoming evident that the “Biblical” strategy of Israel, for further expansion and pre-emptive wars, is no longer tenable, especially after its total failure in 2006 of invading Lebanon.

A resolution was contemplated but the US had an old battle plan to invade Iraq before resolving this conflict.

The Bush “Son” Jr. administration dusted off this war plan and invaded Iraq. This invasion has failed miserably but Israel is no longer necessary for the strategic interest of the US in the Middle East:  The US has military bases in the Arab Gulf States and Saudi Kingdom, and it has many heavy weight allies among the Arabic States.

And the price of oil on the market is far cheaper than physically securing its exploitation and distribution in Iraq or elsewhere or even resuming plans to intimidating China and blackmailing her by outdated military presence in Iraq.

The return of the heavy investments of the US in Israel has been reflecting sharp negative rates of return for decades, politically, economically, and socially within the US society and foreign policies.

My plan is of two phases:

The first phase is recognizing the State of Palestine by the United Nation, a State self-autonomous, independent and all.  It is of primordial interest by the world community and the Jewish State that the Palestinian people recover their dignity and rights as a full fledged State and be permitted to exercise the complex task of administering and governing a State.

At least from a psychological necessity, the Palestinian people should feel that persistent resistance and countless “martyrs” for re-establishing their rights as legitimate and independent people have brought fruits, as any genuine national resistance ultimately should.

The second phase is the merging of the two States of Palestine and Israel into a confederate State with a central government and several self-autonomous “cantons”.  I can envisage the following cantons: West Bank, Gaza (including Escalon), Galilee (including Haifa and Akka), Judea (around Jerusalem and Bethlehem), the “East Shore” (Tel Aviv, Yafa), and the Negev (including Akaba).

I have this impression that the tight religious extremists on both sides would opt to move to Gaza and Judea, and the very secular citizens would move to the East Shore or Galilee, and the economically minded people might reside in the Negev backed by strong financial incentives.

The second phase will witness the return of the Palestinian refugees as ordered by the UN resolution of 193 in 1948 and the refugees would have the right to select the canton of their preferences.

I can foresee that the key offices in the central government would be equally, including genders, shared by the Palestinians and Israelis on a rotation imposed law.

The representation in the cantons would be proportional to the general census of the period (at 5 years intervals).  The representation among sects, factions, or other types of social divisions within each “people” would also follow the proportions in the census.

I suggest to the interest of the future “Palesrael” State that Israel let Lebanon structure and experience, without foreign interventions, study the pitfalls and strength of such a system of co-existence and avoid the unnecessary miseries of minor civil wars and countless frustrations in its future unfolding.

It would be inevitable that the State of “Palesreal” be guaranteed a neutrality status (No pre-emptive wars within and outside its borders) by the world community and the regional powers.  It is evident that this could be plausible after Syria recover all its lands and settles on a political constitution that safeguard its autonomous decisions.

Then, it is hoped and strongly desired that the State of Lebanon would secure this neutrally status.  Amen.

My Speech for London Rally in Support of Palestinians’ Rights to Exist, Resist and Return

My name is Shahd Abusalama and I’m a 3rd generation Palestinian refugee, born and raised in Jabalia Refugee Camp, northern Gaza.

I’m standing here with so many Palestinians, born in Palestine and exile, to tell the founding Zionists of Israel who assumed that the old will die and the young will forget, that we will not forget Palestine, and we will never surrender our fundamental rights to exist, resist and return.

We stand representative of many indigenous communities who faced various forms of oppression across the history of European colonialism and imperialism, to remind the world that settler colonialism is not a culture of the past, but a current reality that we have lived and defied from America, Australia and Ireland to Palestine.

My grandmother described a peaceful childhood in green fields of citrus and olive trees in our village Beit-Jirja. This life, the tastes, the sounds and the smells remained fixated only in her memories as Beit Jirja was dismantled alongside other 530 villages and towns that were depopulated and destroyed by Zionist thugs in 1948.

For Palestinians, the Nakba was never a one-off event that happened in 1948.

Israeli colonial oppression has never stopped and many Palestinian communities within Israel, including the people of Khan Al-Ahmar, are still fighting against their ethnic cleansing as we stand here.

My grandparents are present today more than ever as we mark the 71st anniversary of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, for what happened then is why I was born in Jabalia with a gun pointed at my head.

During my mother’s labour, Israeli soldiers disrupted her way to Jabalia UNRWA Clinic as they forced a curfew that indoctrinated to shoot any moving being. Shooting to kill was common in the 1st Intifada when I came to life, and is a common practice now.

We saw it in the shooting and maiming of Gaza’s Great Return March protesters who stood with their bare chests against Israeli snipers to claim their humanity and to bring their right of return, an issue that Israel firmly rejected across the past 7 decades on racist grounds, to the centre of political debate.

Their cries for justice come amidst US-Israeli attempts to push the right of return and Jerusalem “off the table”. It is time that we call those world leaders what they are: racist trolls. It is time to stand firm in our support of the Palestinian right of return, as without justice, there will be no meaningful peace.

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip just survived another a 3-day deadly Israeli attack last weekend, which claimed 25 lives, including two pregnant women, two toddlers and a 12 year old child.

While world news was quick to move on after the truce was announced, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip returned to a daily struggle for survival while more deadly violence is expected at any moment.

That’s how my family welcomed Ramadan. Following the truce, I heard my parents calling relatives and friends and saying, “glad you survived” before continuing “Ramadan Kareem”.

Imagine living in an open-air prison where there is constant presence of death, and fear of walls falling inwards. This fear of being uncertain about anything, including your own life, even while in your home, is terrifying.

This is what 2 million people faced last weekend as they are besieged by Israeli weaponry from air, land and sea, turning Gaza into a laboratory for its lethal arms, which Israel markets as ‘battle-tested’ in notorious arms fairs around the world, such as DSEI which London is hosting again this year.

It is not a coincidence that Gaza comes under attack during Israeli elections over and over again.

Those elections are led by criminals using Palestinian children’s blood to win popular support.

Meanwhile, the world is about to celebrate Eurovision in Apartheid Israeli on top of an ethnically-cleansed Palestinian land, a show whose whole purpose is to expose Israel’s ‘prettier face’ while deflecting global attention from its daily crimes against the Palestinians.

Shame on all contestant countries, all the participants and audiences if they still support Eurovision in Israel while our victims’ blood haven’t dried.

This is nothing new. This is our decades-long lived experience that is normalised by a dominant media discourse that finds it comfortable to avoid addressing the power imbalance between the occupier and the occupied, to remove the context of settler colonialism and reduce it to conflict, effectively demonizing Palestinians and their legitimate struggle against their systematic dehumanization.

Our injustice is also normalized by tax payers whose money is paid as military ‘aid’ for Israel, by politicians who suddenly fall short on words of condemnation once the perpetrator is Israel.

And by international institutions doing business with Israel or corporations that enable Israeli crimes, by Muslims of the world who normalise relations with Israel and buy Israeli dates merged with our pains of loss and dispossession, by Zionist Jews and Evangelical Christians who support the uninterrupted process of ethnic cleansing against the native people of the ‘promised land’ in the name of God.

The best response to such brutality and normalisation is active solidarity!

We have a beautiful demonstration of solidarity today with thousands uniting from different races, religions, genders, professions and cities, to say: we’re not turning our back to the Palestinian people. We know too well that whether Palestine on news headlines or not, Israel is perpetrating violence uninterruptedly.

Every minute, innocent souls are buried, (as if it should be a common occurrence when Israel does the killing)

And building that took a lifetime to build are flattened. It is urgent that people of conscience all over the world join in solidarity and resist the collusion of their governments and institutions in this long-standing crime against humanity.

Note 1: Do you know that 80,000 Evangelical preacher/pastors main duty is to disseminate world Zionism ideology?

Note 2: Do you know that this bogus “Deal of Century” was Not discussed with the Palestinians?

 

Stories of devastatingly normal suffering in Gaza

I got an email from a man asking if we could help him and his family escape Gaza if war broke out. It seems so reasonable, until you realize there is no precedent for evacuating Palestinian civilians in time of war.

By Tania Hary.

Palestinian men sit in the rubble of a destroyed home in the Nusseirat Refugee Camp, which was shelled by Israeli forces a few hours earlier, Gaza Strip, May 6, 2019. (Hassan Jedi/Flash90)

Palestinian men sit in the rubble of a destroyed home in the Nusseirat Refugee Camp, which was shelled by Israeli forces a few hours earlier, Gaza Strip, May 6, 2019. (Hassan Jedi/Flash90)

A popular social media figure from Gaza tweeted yesterday that if he had to choose a movie that most resembled life in the Strip it would be Groundhog’s Day.

In the 1993 comedy, the main character is forced to re-live the same day over and over. It may seem like a flippant observation, given that yesterday was the single deadliest day of fighting between Israel and Gaza since the 2014 military operation, with 27 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces and four Israeli citizens killed by rockets fired from Gaza.

The death, destruction, and fraught anticipation of another war experienced by millions are hardly things to be light-hearted about.

The observation was of course about something much more sinister – a pervasive feeling that we’ve all been here before, watching the same movie. We wake up, there’s an escalation, people (mostly Palestinians) are killed, a ceasefire whose details are never fully revealed goes into effect at just the moment when it feels like things could really spiral out of control, and then cut, the movie ends.

However, as many analysts have rightfully observed, the agreements reached in these obscure ceasefires are not being implemented by Israel, thus propelling Palestinian factions to take up arms again and reinforce their negotiating positions. We wake up, there’s an escalation, people (most Palestinians) are killed, etc. over and over again, you know the sequence.

I’m watching that movie too, from my own perspective outside the Strip, mostly from the Tel Aviv office where I work as the director of an Israeli human rights organization that promotes freedom of movement for Palestinians. But of course it’s not a movie and people are living the reality of life in Gaza – when the media is reporting and when it is not.

I heard many stories yesterday from our friends, clients, partners and other contacts in Gaza. They weren’t necessarily the most dramatic stories; they didn’t make it to the nightly news. They were the devastating but normal stories of the lived experienced of so many people in Gaza. They were the stories of the new normal of Groundhog Day in Gaza.

An email with the subject line “Evacuation in the case of war,” where a man asked if Gisha could help evacuate him and his family. It seems so reasonable, until you realize that there is no precedent for evacuation of civilians from Gaza during the last three major military operations. The only people evacuated were a few hundred foreign passport holders, and that only after the fighting had stopped.

Our field worker in Gaza shared that he tried to tell his children that the explosions they were hearing were either nothing, or were distant, or didn’t pose a threat, but lamented (half-proudly) that his young sons know better than to believe him.

A young man, just 29 years, sent us photos, before and after, of his destroyed clothing shop. He shared that he’d sunk his meager life savings into the shop and pre-ordered clothing for Eid-al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan when people who can afford it buy new clothes.

The ground-floor store was reduced to a pile of rubble and all his merchandise destroyed in one of the strikes that took down an entire building. A missile strike put him and his two employees out of work and plunged him into the abyss of unmanageable debt in just a split second. They were maybe lucky to have escaped alive, rendering their story almost unremarkable. They don’t even make it into the macabre count of “their” dead versus “ours” on the evening news programs.

The Samra Fashion store, before and after it was bombed by Israel. "Everything I had is gone and I can’t get it back. I don’t know what to do," owner Mahmood Said Al Nakhaleh told Gisha.

The Samra Fashion store, before and after it was bombed by Israel. “Everything I had is gone and I can’t get it back. I don’t know what to do,” owner Mahmood Said Al Nakhaleh told Gisha.

So many civilians have paid, are paying and will pay the price for the folly of morally rudderless leaders heaving us towards, and then just as suddenly away from, war. There aren’t just “two sides” to this story, there are multiple ways this can end and not all of them promise war on millions of people.

We’re stuck in a loop not just because the ceasefire agreements aren’t being implemented, but because Israel and many of its allies refuse to acknowledge that civilians make up the vast majority of the population of the strip.

Their lives and every element of life in the strip have been reduced to bargaining chips – will the fishing limit be six nautical miles or 12 or 15 or back to six again? Will strawberries reach the West Bank next season? Will you get to see your sick father in the West Bank?

Israel is the main actor making choices about whether Palestinians in Gaza will live or die during any given escalation, but also about how they live in between those violent escalations – whether the shop they own will get its wares, whether they’ll get to the medical treatment they need, whether they can fish or farm safely. Other actors – Hamas, other Palestinian factions, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Qatar, and the rest of the international community – are all playing roles too.

But if Israel wanted out of the loop, it could, at any given moment, take any number of steps to change course in Gaza and recognize the ordinary lives of ordinary civilians who have a right to live – meaning, not just survive, but thrive. The guns have fallen silent, so to speak, but this isn’t the time to look away. It’s not about implementing or not implementing the ceasefire, it’s about breaking the curse of repeating the same script over and over again.

Tania Hary is the executive director of Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement.

Israel forced 3,000 Palestinians out of their homes in Jerusalem in 15 years, NGO

Apr 29,2019

Israeli occupation does not give building licenses to Palestinians, while pay generously to build homes for Jews.

B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, revealed on Sunday that Israeli occupation authorities have forced around 3,000 Palestinians from their homes in Jerusalem between 2004 and 2019.

“The Jerusalem Municipality demolished 830 residential units, and 120 more were demolished by their owners on the municipality’s orders,” explained B’Tselem in a report published on its website. “The municipality deliberately left 2,927 people homeless, 1,574 of them minors.”

The report points out that the Israeli-run municipality adopts policies which have deliberately created an acute construction crisis for the city’s Palestinian population, while Jewish neighbourhoods enjoy massive development and substantial funding.

“Israel has expropriated more than a third of the land it annexed from the West Bank and has built 11 neighbourhoods exclusively for Jews,” said B’Tselem.

It noted that these neighbourhoods are as illegal under international law as Israel’s settlements are in the occupied West Bank.

The Israeli authorities use a number of strategies to block Palestinian use of the land. According to the human rights report, they either declare Palestinian-owned land as “open scenic areas”, where development is forbidden, or as national parks, where construction and urban development are almost entirely forbidden.

In other parts of the occupied Palestinian territories, large areas, including towns and villages, are declared to be “military zones” almost as a matter of routine, and residents have to leave their homes for set periods when the army moves in.

The Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem “have no choice” but to build without permits because the Israeli municipality rarely grants the right to build or extend homes.

Israeli occupation estimates that between 15,000 and 20,000 Arab homes have been built or extended without planning permission in the past five years.

“Thousands of Palestinians in the city are living under constant threat to their homes and businesses; in many cases, the authorities follow through on this threat or force residents to demolish the structures themselves,” said B’Tselem.

It added: “Israel does not see the residents of East Jerusalem [the Palestinians] as human beings with equal rights, but as people it strives to remove from their homes, as they are an obstacle to Judaising the city.”

The measures adopted by Israel to achieve that end, added the respected human rights group, are all illegal.

According to the Israeli NGO, the Israeli occupation “deliberately denying Palestinians construction permits for residential and other purposes, issuing demolition orders for structures built without a permit for lack of choice, and demolishing dozens of such structures a year.”

Israel, concluded B’Tselem, has implemented this policy, designed to clear parts of the city of Palestinians, since occupying the West Bank and annexing East Jerusalem and the surrounding villages [in 1967].

 

Palestinian citizens of Israel debate an election boycott

After four years of one of the most hostile governments for Palestinians in Israel, Arab citizens are debating whether participating in or boycotting the upcoming Knesset elections is the best way to advance their struggle.

By Henriette Chacar and Edo Konrad

Palestinian citizens of Israel and Jewish supporters protest against the Jewish Nation-State Law in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, August 11, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Palestinian citizens of Israel and Jewish supporters protest against the Jewish Nation-State Law in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, August 11, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Frustrated with the breakdown of internal Arab party politics, and beset by an endless stream of attacks by politicians from across the political spectrum, many Palestinian citizens of Israel are expressing reservations about voting in this week’s elections.

Despite a historically high voter participation rate, a small but prominent movement is urging Palestinian citizens to boycott the vote.

The fierce debate pits Palestinians calling to boycott elections against those who see participating in the political system as one of the few tools available to them for contesting Israel’s persecution of Palestinians — both the 20% of its population Israel calls a “demographic threat” and the millions of Palestinians in the occupied territories who live under Israeli rule but cannot vote.

The debate is as old as Israel itself.

But this year the calls to boycott have grown more prominent and heated than they have been in years. Activists have plastered posters across cities in Israel encouraging Palestinian citizens to stay home on Election Day, and prominent Palestinian politicians, journalists, and even hip hop stars have weighed in.

Palestinian hip hop star Tamer Nafar’s video on the boycott:

The ambivalence is striking, considering how electrified Palestinian citizens were in the run-up to the 2015 elections.

After the Israeli right raised the electoral threshold in an attempt to keep Palestinian parties out, the four major Palestinian parties united on a single ticket in order to survive. The Joint List promised to prioritize the needs of Israel’s Palestinian citizens after decades of division and political infighting. I

t was a watershed moment for Palestinians in Israel — the Joint List won 13 of the Knesset’s 120 seats, the most since the founding of the state.

The promise of unity, however, coincided with one of the most dangerous Israeli governments Palestinians citizens have ever seen.

The last Netanyahu government sought to demolish entire villages, upheld laws to enshrine ethnic and racial segregation, and incited a new wave of racism against Arab citizens.

Then, in June 2018, the Knesset passed the Jewish Nation-State Law, constitutionally enshrining Jewish supremacy in Israel. The crescendo came when the Joint List — which united Palestinian communists, Islamists, and nationalists — split in two.

“The minute they get more oppressive, we need to fight back even more strongly,” MK Aida Touma-Sliman from the Jewish-Arab Hadash party told +972 Magazine. The Palestinian community, as an “oppressed and persecuted minority,” needs to have representation in parliament, contended Touma-Sliman, if not to promote the rights and needs of Palestinians, then to “reveal the hypocrisy and the [government’s] racist approaches.”

“We are helping the general public understand that this is not democracy,” said Touma-Sliman.

Joint Arab List MK member Aida Touma-Sliman seen in the Israeli Knesset, November 21, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Joint Arab List MK member Aida Touma-Sliman seen in the Israeli Knesset, November 21, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Back to the drawing board

Nasreen Hadad Haj-Yahya, a social and political activist who lives in Taybeh, a small city in central Israel, believes that Palestinians abstaining from voting is what the right wing wants — “to pretend we don’t exist,” she explained. “Unfortunately, we’ve been delegitimized to such an extent that, today, even the left is willing to lose another round of elections rather than be associated with Arab voters.”

“I don’t blame [those boycotting the elections] because I know how difficult it is to vote when you know your ballot doesn’t mean anything,” said Hadad Haj-Yahya. Palestinians parties have always been in the opposition, which means they have never held any government positions, let alone any with much influence. “Morally, it’s very difficult to sit in a government that continues to oppress the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza.”

This is precisely why Hadad Haj-Yahya opposes the boycott. “This hopelessness, the sense that we will never succeed — it only makes us weaker. We don’t have the privilege to throw our hands in the air and say we’ll wait and see what happens in this country. We must take matters into our own hands and try to promote our interests,” she argued.

But for Palestinians calling to boycott, the struggle is about something bigger than just toppling the government. They reject the very idea of participating in an institution that embodies Jewish supremacy.

“If I participate in Knesset elections, that means I give them legitimacy,” said Nizar Hawari, a social and political organizer from Tarshiha, a town in the Galilee. Hawari, who is 58, said she has been boycotting Knesset elections since she became eligible to vote. Not even the Joint List spurred her to vote, which she said united Palestinian voters with the promise of greater representation, not a political vision.

Palestinian Knesset members Ayman Odeh and Ahmad Tibi, February 21, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Palestinian Knesset members Ayman Odeh and Ahmad Tibi, February 21, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

If anything, Hawari added, voting has only made things worse by stalling popular struggles and creating “an obstacle to the Palestinian national liberation project.”

To Hawari, the alternative is a return to local, grassroots mobilization. The boycott movement represents a political awakening that could re-energize the Palestinian public and “bring our struggle back to the drawing board.” The campaign shouldn’t end on Tuesday, she asserted, and boycotters should “translate our principles into continuous action.”

Boycotters have plastered posters across cities in Israel calling on Palestinian citizens not to participate in Israel’s “military democracy.” Some have banded together in a group calling itself the Popular Campaign to Boycott the Elections of the Zionist Knesset.

“The Jewish state deprives us of our civil rights, not because of a shortage of those who claim to represent us in the Knesset, but because they deal with us as a demographic problem,” a post on the group’s Facebook page from late February said.

The organizers behind the boycott campaign declined to be interviewed for this article.

“Arab political parties are engaging in Israel’s colonial system and are undermining the real basis for liberation from colonialism, through the development of an alternative that involves all political, social, and economic tools,” another post argued.

Voting in droves 

Despite what leaders across the political spectrum would have Jewish Israelis believe, Palestinian citizens have historically taken their citizenship and their right to vote seriously, said Hillel Cohen, who heads the Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

In the 18 years following Israel’s establishment, the nascent state put those Palestinians who were able to remain in the country after the 1948 war under a military regime that restricted their freedom of movement and expropriated their land.

While some wanted to completely or partially disenfranchise the new Arab citizens, Cohen explained, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion insisted they be given the right to vote, a decision he made partly in order to procure the support of the international community.

Ben-Gurion’s argument prevailed, said Cohen. And although the military government did not technically bar Arabs from voting, it severely interfered in the process, including by jailing or relocating activists in the run-up to elections.

The heads of the Arab city Umm al-Fahm, in the presence of Israeli military officials, sign an oath of allegiance to the State of Israel after the city came under Israeli control in the 1948 war. (GPO)

The heads of the Arab city Umm al-Fahm, in the presence of Israeli military officials, sign an oath of allegiance to the State of Israel after the city came under Israeli control in the 1948 war. (GPO)

At the same time, the Israeli leadership established a number of Arab satellite parties led by local leaders with strong ties to Mapai. Through those tightly-controlled parties, the government was able to ensure a high Arab voter turnout that would be a reliable source of support.

Average voter turnout among Palestinians hovered around 85 percent until the end of military rule. Yet even after they were no longer under the boot of the military government, Palestinians continued to participate in Israeli elections in relatively high numbers. In the late 1980s, Palestinian citizens formed the first non-satellite Arab parties, and in 1992 those independent Arab slates served as a parliamentary backing block to stabilize Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s minority government as he pushed the Oslo Accords through the Knesset.

Palestinian citizens have for the most part continued to participate in the democratic process over the years. However, Palestinian turnout took a plunge in the early 2000s after police shot dead 13 Palestinians — 12 of them citizens of Israel — in what has come to be known as the October 2000 events.

That often-deadly police violence, and lack of accountability, have profoundly shaped the Palestinian community in Israel in the years since. It took a decade and a half and the establishment of the Joint List to bring Palestinian voting numbers back to where they were before October 2000.

Thousands hold a funeral for Yacoub Abu al-Qi'an in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran. Abu al-Qi'an was shot dead by police as security forces demolished homes in the village, January 24, 2017. (Keren Manor/Activestills.org)

Thousands hold a funeral for Yacoub Abu al-Qi’an in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran. Abu al-Qi’an was shot dead by police as security forces demolished homes in the village, January 24, 2017. (Keren Manor/Activestills.org)

According to Yousef Makladeh, who heads Statnet, a research institute that focuses on Israel’s Arab community, that number may once again decrease on Election Day this year. Makladeh’s recent polling shows that only 55 percent of Palestinian citizens are planning to vote on Tuesday — down nine percentage points from 2015. Moreover, Makladeh said that while only 18 percent of Arab voters supported Zionist parties in the last election, his polls show that that number has increased to 30 percent.

“There are 940,000 Arabs eligible to vote in Israel,” Makladeh said. “When you look at the incitement against Palestinian citizens of Israel, which began with the wildfires in 2016, continued with the killing at Umm al-Hiran, and finally the Jewish Nation-State Law — all of these have pushed Palestinian citizens to stay home and not vote.” They no longer want to try and integrate into Israeli society, he added.

Meanwhile, over 70 percent of Arabs say they want their elected officials to be part of a governing coalition, which Makladeh explained was the result of their disillusionment with the Joint List. “Many Arab voters believe that the Joint List has not succeeded in improving their living conditions, that it has not helped put more food on their table. They have grown tired of them and now want practical politics.”


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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