Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘palestinians

 

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.”

Another year of trying hard to erase Palestine and Palestinians

From Google Maps’ erasure of Palestine, to Israel’s Eurovision win, to the new Jewish-Arab movement that plans to save the Israeli left, here are the most popular articles we published this past year.

By +972 Magazine Staff

25. ‘We’ll ensure it doesn’t escalate to violence — on our end’

It’s hard to believe now, but 2018 began with a glimmer of hope for the residents of the Gaza Strip, as nonviolent activists planned mass demonstrations at the Israel-Gaza fence demanding freedom and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

Ahmed Abu Artema, one of the organizers of the “Great Return March” spoke at the time to +972’s Rami Younis about why he believed hundreds of thousands of people would show up, and what message he’d like to send to Israelis. Read the interview here.

Palestinians demonstrate near Khan Yunis by the border fence between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip on March 09, 2018. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/ Flash90

Palestinians demonstrate near Khan Yunis by the border fence between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip on March 09, 2018. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/ Flash90

 

24. In memory of the first lawyer to bring the occupation to court

Felicia Langer was a Holocaust survivor, a communist, and one of the first Israeli lawyers to defend the Palestinian residents of the occupied territories in the Supreme Court. Read human rights attorney Michael Sfard’s eulogy here.

Felicia Langer exits the High Court in Jerusalem, after the hearing of the appeal against Bassem Shaka's expulsion. November 22, 1979. (Herman Hanina)

Felicia Langer exits the High Court in Jerusalem, after the hearing of the appeal against Bassem Shaka’s expulsion. November 22, 1979. (Herman Hanina)

 

23. Who profits from keeping Gaza on the brink?

Keeping Gaza on the verge of collapse keeps international humanitarian aid money flowing to exactly where it benefits Israeli interests, writes Israeli economist Shir Hever. For the full article, click here.

Palestinians wait to cross into Egypt through the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip after it was opened by Egyptian authorities for humanitarian cases, February 7, 2017. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Palestinians wait to cross into Egypt through the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip after it was opened by Egyptian authorities for humanitarian cases, February 7, 2017. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

 

22. New film uncovers ‘rotting foundation’ of U.S. Israel lobby

A new Al Jazeera documentary provides a sobering look at a lobby that continues to defend Israel’s control of Palestinian lives, despite the many Americans turning against it. Click here to read more.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the AIPAC Conference in Washington D.C. on March 6, 2018. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the AIPAC Conference in Washington D.C. on March 6, 2018. (Haim Zach/GPO)

 

21. ‘Apartheid is a process’

With the passage of the ‘Jewish Nation-State Law,’ Israel constitutionally enshrined discrimination against its Palestinian population. ‘We don’t have to keep looking for policies that resemble Jim Crow,’ Attorney Fady Khoury told +972’s Edo Konrad. Read the interview here.

Palestinians cross the Bethlehem checkpoint as they head to Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City to attend the third Friday prayers of Ramadan on June 1, 2018. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

Palestinians cross the Bethlehem checkpoint as they head to Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City to attend the third Friday prayers of Ramadan on June 1, 2018. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

 

20. We are all accomplices to Israel’s massacre in Gaza

On May 14, Israeli snipers gunned down 60 Palestinian protesters who took part in Gaza’s “Great Return March.” At the time, Mairav Zonszein wrote: “There has been no outrage. We all let this happen. But it is not too late to speak out.” Read the article here.

Protesters carry away someone who was shot by an Israeli sniper along the Gaza border, May 14, 2018. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Protesters carry away someone who was shot by an Israeli sniper along the Gaza border, May 14, 2018. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

 

19. Arabic was an official language in Israel for 70 years, 2 months, and 5 days

Why upend the status quo of the past 70-plus years? Ask the Israeli government.

Israeli Border Police officers guard the entrance to Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, September 21, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli Border Police officers guard the entrance to Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, September 21, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

 

18. How Google Maps is erasing Palestine

Ever wonder what it’s like for Palestinians to travel between Israeli checkpoints and roadblocks in the West Bank? A new report details the ways Google Maps’ mapping process in the occupied territories serves the interests of the Israeli government, while contradicting the company’s stated commitment to human rights. Read Henriette Chacar’s article here.

Israeli soldiers inspect Palestinian cars at the Beit Furik checkpoint, near Nablus, West Bank, May 27, 2015. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Israeli soldiers inspect Palestinian cars at the Beit Furik checkpoint, near Nablus, West Bank, May 27, 2015. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

 

17. My great-grandfather saved Jews. Now I’m in jail for refusing to enlist in the IDF

Matan Helman, an Israeli conscientious objector, pens a poignant letter about his Dutch great-grandfather, Richte Taklenbroch, who refused to enlist in the Nazi work camps during the German occupation of the Netherlands. Richte escaped and joined the underground resistance. Read the letter here.

Israeli activists demonstrate on Purim in support of Israeli conscientious objectors, March 24, 2016. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israeli activists demonstrate on Purim in support of Israeli conscientious objectors, March 24, 2016. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

 

16. Birthright walk-offs get a taste of settler violence

In June, eight Birthright participants walked off their trip in order to learn firsthand about the occupation. While touring through occupied Hebron with Breaking the Silence, they witnessed the violence meted out against Palestinians and anti-occupation activists in the city. Read more here.

Israeli soldiers escort Jewish settlers as they tour the Old City of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, June 4, 2016. The Israel army has enforced segregation in the city for over two decades, restricting residents’ movement according to their religion. (Wisam Hashlamoun/FLASH90)

Israeli soldiers escort Jewish settlers as they tour the Old City of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, June 4, 2016. The Israel army has enforced segregation in the city for over two decades, restricting residents’ movement according to their religion. (Wisam Hashlamoun/FLASH90)

 

15. The color of racism: What many get wrong about race relations in Israel

When an Arab family declared their intention to move into Afula, a mostly Mizrahi middle-class city in northern Israel, the locals responded with racism and hate. Meanwhile, anti-racist activists accused the residents of promoting ‘white supremacy.’ Lihi Yona writes that understanding the ways Jewish supremacy and white supremacy intersect in Israel is the first step toward dismantling them. Read the full article here.

Israeli right-wing protesters shout at a pro-peace demonstration, Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, August 9, 2014. Hundreds gathered in Tel Aviv to protest Israel’s attack on Gaza, despite a police decision to revoke the demonstration permit. (Keren Manor/Activestills)

Israeli right-wing protesters shout at a pro-peace demonstration, Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, August 9, 2014. Hundreds gathered in Tel Aviv to protest Israel’s attack on Gaza, despite a police decision to revoke the demonstration permit. (Keren Manor/Activestills)

 

14. The new Jewish-Arab movement that plans to save the Israeli left

Standing Together, a new joint Arab-Jewish movement, is aiming to transform Israeli politics. It won’t be easy, but the Israeli left’s first step back to power might be believing that it can win again. Click herefor the full article.

African asylum seekers and human rights activists, including Standing Together members, protest against deportation of asylum seekers at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on March 24, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

African asylum seekers and human rights activists, including Standing Together members, protest against deportation of asylum seekers at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on March 24, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

 

13. Israeli minister posts video with genocidal chants by fans

At the end of a Facebook video encouraging fair conduct by fans from Beitar Jerusalem, one of Israel’s notoriously racist soccer clubs, those surrounding Miri Regev break out into chants of ‘burn your village,’ directed at the opposing team — from an Arab city in Israel. Read the full story here.

Miri Regev with Beitar Jerusalem fans, January 22, 2018. (Screenshot from Miri Regev's Facebook video)

Miri Regev with Beitar Jerusalem fans, January 22, 2018. (Screenshot from Miri Regev’s Facebook video)

 

12. The far-right nationalist movement roiling Eritreans in Israel

A new militant anti-Muslim movement seeks to establish a Tigrinyan Orthodox-Christian state in what is now Eritrea and parts of Ethiopia. Known as “the Agazians,” the activists are deepening the divisions within the already fractious Eritrean opposition. Read more here.

A man holds an Eritrean flag as asylum seekers protest continued detentions and demand Israel examine their asylum claims, January 5, 2014. (Photo: Activestills.org)

A man holds an Eritrean flag as asylum seekers protest continued detentions and demand Israel examine their asylum claims, January 5, 2014. (Photo: Activestills.org)

 

11. How Childish Gambino explains the problem with Israel’s Eurovision win

Childish Gambino shocked the world this year with a new music video for his hit, “This is America,” which focuses on the oppression of African Americans. In the Israeli context, says Amjad Iraqi, the video serves to illustrate why audiences should focus on the injustices unfolding in the background of artistic performances – especially those representing the state. Read the article here.

Screenshot from Childish Gambino's music video for 'This is America.'

Screenshot from Childish Gambino’s music video for ‘This is America.’

 

10. In memory of Razan al-Najjar

The 21-year-old paramedic was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers while trying to aid wounded protesters near the Gaza-Israel separation fence. Many Israelis either refuse to believe she was actually killed or claim that her killing was somehow justified. Click here for more.

The photo of Razan that circulated on social media.

The photo of Razan that circulated on social media.

 

9. The untold story of Jewish anti-Zionists in Israel

For nearly as long as Palestinians have resisted their displacement, small groups of Jews have joined them. Ran Greenstein’s book, “Zionism and Its Discontents,” brings to life the complex, often contradictory story of those Israelis who saw Palestinian and Jewish liberation as one and the same. Read Joshua Leifer’s review here.

Israeli soldiers hold down an Israeli activist during a demonstration in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. (photo: Activestills)

Israeli soldiers hold down an Israeli activist during a demonstration in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. (photo: Activestills)

 

8. Ad for Israeli maternity ward portrays fetus as future soldier

Yes, it’s as absurd as it sounds.

An advertisement for Ichilov Hospital's Lis Maternity and Women's Hospital. (Screenshot)

An advertisement for Ichilov Hospital’s Lis Maternity and Women’s Hospital. (Screenshot)

 

7. The Palestine movement taught me to confront anti-Semitism

On American university campuses, pro-Palestine activists are routinely smeared as anti-Semites seeking to destroy Israel. But contrary to what pro-Israel activists claim, the BDS movement has been instrumental in challenging anti-Semitism on the left. Click herefor the full article.

UC Berkeley students demonstrate after the student senate the student senate did not overturn a veto on a bill that would divest from American companies profiting off the occupation. (photo: Ramsey El-qarey)

UC Berkeley students demonstrate after the student senate the student senate did not overturn a veto on a bill that would divest from American companies profiting off the occupation. (photo: Ramsey El-qarey)

 

6. Nabi Saleh is where I lost my Zionism

By the time +972’s Lisa Goldman began going to Nabi Saleh, she had spent about four years reporting on what she saw in the West Bank and Gaza, watching detachedly as her politics moved ever leftward. What she witnessed in that small West Bank village was the last straw. Read the full article here.

Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli troops during a protest to show solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, Nabi Saleh, West Bank, April 21, 2017. (Flash90)

Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli troops during a protest to show solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, Nabi Saleh, West Bank, April 21, 2017. (Flash90)

 

5. The myth of the Gaza ‘border’

What Israel fears more than a Palestinian state is a Palestinian population it cannot disown, and the myth that Gaza is “separated” from Israel helps it balance that fear. That myth must be broken, and that racist fear must be exposed, writes Amjad Iraqi. Read the full article here.

Palestinian protesters inside the Gaza Strip throw stones in the direction of an Israeli military position on the other side of the border fence, Gaza Strip, December 8, 2017. (Ezz Zanoun/Activestills.org)

Palestinian protesters inside the Gaza Strip throw stones in the direction of an Israeli military position on the other side of the fence, Gaza Strip, December 8, 2017. (Ezz Zanoun/Activestills.org)

 

4. Why Israel’s Eurovision contestant became a target for BDS

Netta Barzilai stunned Europeans this past year with a feminist anthem that won the annual Eurovision Song Contest. Despite her undeniable talent, Barzilai is still the official representative of a country that, for more than half a century, has denied millions of people basic rights under a brutal military occupation, writes Orly Noy. Read her full article here.

Netta Barzilai seen during a press conference after the first semifinals of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest. (Wouter van Vliet, EuroVisionary/CC BY-SA 4.0)

Netta Barzilai seen during a press conference after the first semifinals of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest. (Wouter van Vliet, EuroVisionary/CC BY-SA 4.0)

 

3. Videos show Israeli soldiers sniping unarmed protesters in Gaza

As Gaza’s ‘Great Return March’ turned into a full-fledged popular protest movement, the Israeli army scrambled to explain the growing body count. Infographics were released. Talking points were distributed. Israel was defending its sovereign border, they said. Then came the videos.

Israeli snipers seen on the border with Gaza during the Great March of Return, March 30, 2018. (IDF Spokesperson)

Israeli snipers seen on the border with Gaza during the Great March of Return, March 30, 2018. (IDF Spokesperson)

 

2. Denying Palestinians the right to challenge oppression

Attacks against the UK Labour Party for its newly adopted definition of anti-Semitism only contribute to the silencing of Palestinian voices, the potential criminalization of their struggle against Israeli policies, and the negation of their demands for freedom and equality, say two London-based human rights activists. Read the article here.

Illustrative photo of pro-Palestine protesters in London, June 10, 2018. (Alisdare Hickson/ CC BY-SA 2.0)

Illustrative photo of pro-Palestine protesters in London, June 10, 2018. (Alisdare Hickson/ CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

1. ‘I won’t fly refugees to their deaths’: The El Al pilots resisting deportation

The Israeli government announced late last year that it would begin deporting asylum seekers to third countries, where they would be vulnerable to exploitation, humiliation, human trafficking, frequent arrests, and possible death. Months before the plan was nixed, at least three pilots for Israel’s flag carrier published declarations publicly refusing to take part in the forced deportations. Read more here.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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