Archive for Racism

Israel’s Arab Citizens Call General Strike

Posted in Activism, Everyday life in the West Bank, History, Israel, Israeli occupation, Israeli politics, Palestine with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 09/09/2009 by 3071km

Written by Jonathan Cook

Date published: 9th September 2009

Source: Dissident Voice

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Israel’s Arab Citizens Call General Strike

by Jonathan Cook / September 9th, 2009

The increasingly harsh political climate in Israel under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government has prompted the leadership of the country’s 1.3 million Arab citizens to call the first general strike in several years.

The one-day stoppage is due to take place on October 1, a date heavy with symbolism because it marks the anniversary of another general strike, in 2000 at the start of the second intifada, when 13 Arab demonstrators were shot dead by Israeli police.

The Arab leadership said it was responding to a string of what it called “racist” government measures that cast the Arab minority, a fifth of the population, as enemies of the state.

“In recent months, there has been a parallel situation of racist policies in the parliament and greater condoning of violence towards Arab citizens by the police and courts,” said Jafar Farah, the head of Mossawa, an Arab advocacy group in Israel. “This attitude is feeding down to the streets.”

Confrontations between the country’s Arab minority and Mr Netanyahu’s coalition, formed in the spring, surfaced almost immediately over a set of controversial legal measures.

The proposed bills outlawed the commemoration of the “nakba”, or catastrophe, the word used by Palestinians for their dispossession in 1948; required citizens to swear loyalty to Israel as a Zionist state; and banned political demands for ending Israel’s status as a Jewish state. Following widespread outcries, the bills were either watered down or dropped.

But simmering tensions came to a boil again late last month when the education minister, Gideon Saar, presented educational reforms to mark the start of the new school year.

He confirmed plans to drop the word “nakba” from Arabic textbooks and announced his intention to launch classes on Jewish heritage and Zionism. He also said he would tie future budgets for schools to their success in persuading pupils to perform military or national service.

Arab citizens are generally exempted from military service, although officials have recently been trying to push civilian national service in its place.

Mohammed Barakeh, an Arab member of the parliament, denounced the linking of budgets to national service, saying that Mr Saar “must understand that he is the education minister, not the defence minister”.

The separate Arab education system is in need of thousands of more classrooms and is massively underfunded – up to nine times more is spent on a Jewish pupil than an Arab one, according to surveys. Research published by the Hebrew University in Jerusalem last month showed that Jewish schools received five times more than Arab schools for special education classes.

Mr Netanyau, who accompanied Mr Saar on a tour of schools last week, appeared to give his approval to the proposed reforms: “We advocate education that stresses values, Zionism and a love of the land.”

Mr Barakeh also accused government ministers of competing to promote measures hostile to the Arab minority. “Anyone seeking fame finds it in racist whims against Arabs – the ministers of infrastructure, education, transportation, whoever.”

Mr Barakeh was referring to a raft of recent proposals.

Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister and leader of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party, announced last month that training for the diplomatic service would be open only to candidates who had completed national service.

Of the foreign ministry’s 980 employees only 15 are Arab, a pattern reflected across the civil service sector according to Sikkuy, a rights and coexistence organisation.

The housing minister, Ariel Atias, has demanded communal segregation between Jewish and Arab citizens and instituted a drive to make the Galilee, where most Arab citizens live, “more Jewish”.

The interior minister, Eli Yishai, has approved a wave of house demolitions, most controversially in the Arab town of Umm al Fahm in Wadi Ara, where a commercial district has been twice bulldozed in recent weeks.

The transport minister, Israel Katz, has insisted that road signs include placenames only as they are spelt in Hebrew, thereby erasing the Arabic names of communities such as Jerusalem, Jaffa and Nazareth.

Arab legislators have come under repeated verbal attack from members of the government. Last month, the infrastructures minister, Uzi Landau, refused to meet Taleb al Sana, the head of the United Arab List party, on parliamentary business, justifying the decision on the grounds that Arab MPs were “working constantly here and abroad to delegitimise Israel as a Jewish state”.

Shortly afterwards, Mr al Sana and his colleague Ahmed Tibi, the deputy speaker of parliament, attended Fatah’s congress in Bethlehem, prompting Mr Lieberman to declare: “Our central problem is not the Palestinians, but Ahmed Tibi and his ilk – they are more dangerous than Hamas and [Islamic] Jihad combined.”

Mr Tibi responded: “When Lieberman, the foreign minister, says that, ordinary Israelis understand that he is calling for me to be killed as a terrorist. It is the most dangerous incitement.”

Israel’s annual Democracy Index poll, published last month, showed that 53 per cent of Israeli Jews supported moves to encourage Arab citizens to leave.

Mr Farah said the strike date had been selected to coincide with the anniversary of the deaths of 13 Arab citizens in October 2000 to highlight both the failure to prosecute any of the policemen involved and the continuing official condoning of violence against Arab citizens by police and Jewish citizens.

Some 27 Arab citizens have been killed by the police in unexplained circumstances since the October deaths, Mr Farah said, with only one conviction. Last week, Shahar Mizrahi, an undercover officer, was given a 15-month sentence for shooting Mahmoud Ghanaim in the head from point-blank range. The judge called Mizrahi’s actions “reckless”.

This week, in another controversial case, Shai Dromi, a Negev rancher, received six months community service after shooting dead a Bedouin intruder, Khaled al Atrash, as the latter fled.

Mr Farah said the regard in which Arab citizens were held by the government was illustrated by a comment from the public security minister, Yitzhak Aharonovitch, in June. During an inspection of police officers working undercover as drug addicts, the minister praised one for looking like a “real dirty Arab”.

Israeli historian Ilan Pappé thinks ‘there will never be two states’

Posted in History, International community, Israel, Palestine, Peace process, West Bank with tags , , , , , , , , , on 17/08/2009 by 3071km

Date published: 17th  August 2009

Source: Orange.es (translated from Spanish into English by 3.071 Km).

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When the Israeli historian Ilan Pappé said that ‘there will never be two states,’ one Israeli and one Palestinian, it is not with pessimism, but from the sad conviction that the ‘Zionist colonial project’ has no reverse gear.

Scourge of the official historiography of the Jewish State, Pappé (Haifa, 1954) does not scrimp on controversial terms ( ‘racism’, ‘ethnic cleansing’) and hide in the political correctness ( ‘I am an anti-Zionist historian and a peace activist ‘) to analyze the past and present of his country in an interview with Efe.

Two years ago, tired of pressures and threats, Pappé made the bags and changed the University of Haifa their home by the Department of History of Exeter (England).

Last week he returned to the area to give a lecture sponsored by the Spanish Cooperation in the Arab village of Anata, West Bank, where husking that ‘another story’, which says, ‘Israeli society is not yet ready to listen” .

‘People break the mirror when they do not like what they see in it. I am the mirror that the Israelis do not like, which does not mean that what they see is not there,’ he pointed.

Pappé is one of the passionate supporters of the imposition of sanctions on Israel and boycotting their products, events and universities to ‘send a message to their society and government, both of which strongly want to be part of the West, that in these circumstances they can not expect to be seen as a civilized nation.”

‘Inside Israel there is very little hope of change. And things turn to worse. So we need pressure from outside, although it is not known whether it will work. We must try for the sake of the people who are here,’ he argues.

The author of ‘The ethnic cleansing of Palestine’ and ‘History of Modern Palestine: one land, two peoples’ rejects the idea that a boycott of Israel might be counterproductive to the Jewish State, entrenched in a ‘the world hates us’, in front of measures that could remind to an extent the ones the Third Reich took against Jews in Germany.

“Israeli society can not close itself more. It is already in the worst side of its history in terms of understanding what is happening around them. The boycott can only be for the better. Maybe a blow like this will open their eyes “, says.

Pappé argues it is essential to convince the international community that the Zionist project is as colonial as the South African apartheid was.

In fact, one of the projects that he is working on is the release of a comparative analysis among the two paradigms that is revealing ‘many similarities’.

‘In some cases, the Palestinians are being treated much better than the Africans in the South African apartheid, but in others it is far worse here. In both cases there is a colonial project. However, while in South Africa all the world saw it as such, in Israel we are still fighting to convince  the international community about it,” he says.

Son of German Jews who escaped the Nazis, Pappé criticized, however, another frequent comparison of Israel with Hitler’s Germany.

‘Surely it is not politically or historically rigorous, because the Nazis practiced genocide and Israel practices what might be called ethnic cleansing, which is different’, differenciated.

‘The Nazis – he continues -, were a unique case and comparisons with them will not help to understand the situation. I do not judge it as an Israeli, this is not my problem, but as a professional historian and as an activist for peace. I think, in fact, that this comparison undermines the Palestinian cause. ”

A cause that, in his view, is not based on claimin the creation of a state in Gaza and the West Bank, but the establishment of a single secular multi-ethnic nation in the historical Palestine.

‘In Ramallah, Nablus or Anata there is no independence. Everything is part of Israel in different legal systems. There will never be two states, because the only state already exists. So you can only dream of a different regime. It is a utopia, but the only one by which it is worth fighting,” he concludes.

Is it not too late, after decades of accumulated hatred, for Jews and Arabs living together in a single country? ‘I think it’s just the opposite, – replied with determination -,  ‘the one state solution is already a reality: Israel, which controls everything.”

Galilee communities: We’re not racist, we just don’t want Arabs

Posted in IDF, Israel, Palestine with tags , , , , , , , , , on 06/06/2009 by 3071km

Written by: Eli Ashkenazi

Date published: 5th June 2009

Source: Hareetz

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Residents of the Misgav bloc of communities in the Galilee consider themselves to be liberal, peace-loving people who support coexistence with their Arab neighbors and even root for Bnei Sakhnin, the soccer club based in a nearby Arab town considered a prominent symbol of that community. Which is why they were shocked this week when proposals raised at local council meetings to accept only applicants who shared their Zionist principles drew negative headlines and criticism for alleged racism.

“The label upsets me,” South Africa-born lawyer Michael Zetler, who founded the Misgav community of Manof in 1980 with other immigrants from what was then an apartheid state, said Thursday. “It hurt me. I am not a racist.”

Although few people will say so, the panic that spurred the submission of the controversial proposals are related to the High Court of Justice’s ruling two years ago that upheld the right of Ahmed and Fahina Zubeidat, an Israeli Arab couple, to buy a house in the exclusively Jewish community of Rakefet notwithstanding the local admissions committee’s objection.

Since then, some residents of Jewish communal settlements in the Galilee fear that the region’s substantial Arab population might seek to buy property in their communities, where the standard of living is far higher, causing Jews to move out. In some areas of the Galilee this has already taken place: Portions of the once-exclusively Jewish town of Upper Nazareth are now populated by newcomers from the nearby Arab city of Nazareth.

“I agree that there is a problem, but whether this is the right way to deal with it, I am not sure,” Zetler said yesterday. “Experience will tell. But there is a problem in the Galilee and people are challenging the political right of [Jewish] communities.”

Unpleasant to be called Lieberman

Residents of the Misgav bloc are not used to being accused of racism, and dismay at being compared to Jewish settlers in the West Bank. “It’s unpleasant and even offensive to wake up one morning and find that you’ve turned into [Avigdor] Lieberman when in fact it’s the other way around,” Alon Mayer, another resident of Manof, said, referring to the hawkish Yisrael Beiteinu chairman who proposed that Israeli Arabs be required to take an oath of loyalty to the state.

Mayer pointed out that the right-wing party headed by Lieberman garnered only 2.5 percent of the town’s vote in the last Knesset elections – far below the national average. Despite feeling on the defensive, Mayer will not apologize for supporting the demand that applicants who seek to buy property in the communal settlement should adhere to the locals’ basic cultural and political beliefs.

“When we decided to move to Manof, we sought a community that chose similar basic principles to our own, such as good education for children, culture, celebrating a Jewish communal lifestyle and protecting the environment,” a woman from Manof said. “We joined this community knowing it is founded on these values.”

Some Misgav bloc residents accuse Arab rights groups such as Adalah, which would rather Israel be defined as a binational state than a Jewish one and championed the Zubeidats’ cause in the courts, of intentionally causing provocations. “An Arab narrative exists that proclaims ‘we were not conquered, we did not desert,'” said Danny Ivri, a resident of the Misgav bloc community Yodfat. “They say ‘we were manipulated in various ways, such as through military rule and suppressing our development by placing Jewish communities between our own communities.”

Misgav bloc residents also fear increased tensions that could result from Arabs and Jews living in close proximity, and point at the occasional spurts of sectarian violence that break out in nearby non-Jewish towns between Muslims, Druze and Christians. “You can’t impose a demographic mix on us that will recreate the sort of friction between Muslims, Christians and Druze that exists in Maghar, Peki’in and Rameh,” Mayer said, referring to cities prone to periodic unrest. “High Court justices don’t understand what it’s like to live in a small community which was founded with great hardships, a community which is trying to hold on to a certain way of life.”

Zionism’s bond of blood

A few weeks ago a ceremony was held in Yuvalim, the largest town in the Misgav bloc, which exemplified its inveterate ties to the state of Israel. The regional council unveiled a promenade in memory of slain Israel Defense Forces soldier Arbel Reich, whose father was among Yuvalim’s founders.

“It was an emotional ceremony,” recalled regional council head Ron Shani. “This event was part of the community’s narrative, part of its spirit, just like the fact that we educate our children to serve in combat units. That’s what it’s like here and we’re proud of that.

“A resident who wishes to join Yuvalim will have to feel comfortable at such a ceremony, and if not he can go elsewhere, where he wouldn’t be offended,” he said.

Palestine: settlement expansion part of Zionists agenda

Posted in Gaza, History, Israel, Israeli occupation, Palestine, Siege, West Bank with tags , , , , on 02/06/2009 by 3071km

Written by Ashraf Tantish

Published 2nd June 2009

Source: The Palestine Telegraph

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har_homa_settlement_near_bethlahem

Gaza, June 2, (Pal Telegraph) – Sixty years ago this May, the Zionist movement in Palestine took over seventy-five percent of the country through conquest and transformed it into a Jewish state.

The Palestinian population in the area expelled or terrorized into fleeing , became refugees in the surrounding countries. The Jewish state, known as Israel , was to become a fait accompli.

The Palestinians were then dubbed the “Arab refugees” and were to be settled or resettled in under populated regions of the Arab world .

Israel began to define itself as a state whose quarrel with the Arabs had to do exclusively with post-1948 issues.

The Palestinians, fragmented and leaderless, were seen by the Western world purely as a refuge problem, not a national problem, the West , afflicted with a whole body of racist mythology about the identity of the Palestinians began to view the people of Palestine as a problem that , in time would be resolved in the context of billion dollar loans for resettlement. Surely , a new generation of Palestinians , it was argued, that grew up solely in the Arab countries, will ultimately be assimilated. The Palestinian conflict will be transformed into an inter-state conflict between Israel and the Arab states, having to do with territorial disputes, diplomatic recognition and the rest of it.

The Palestinian , however, sixty years after the dismemberment of their country, or sixty one years after the Belfour declaration, have belied these attempts to deny their existence , to impose settlements over their heads and to reach decisions in the absence of their representatives.

The Palestinian struggle, now as then, in the Gaza Strip and West Bank are known. They are to achieve statehood and freedom and a very democratic Palestine. There will be no recognition of Israel , no coexistence with Zionist apartheid, and no attempt to legitimize Israeli occupation.

In the other words, the struggle of the Palestinian people is identical to any other struggle that confronts settlers-colonialism and apartheid movements in the Third World.

The Zionist movement, like other settler-colonial movements before it has predictably clung to the values and aspiration of arrogant racism: the natives are an inferior people; their land and its resources are fair game for exploitation; and might is right.

Zionism , as we have seen in it action in the past sixty years, and which Palestinians know better than any other people in the world (if for no other reason than they have chafed under it all this time), has had one component to it that separates it from other racist movements. Zionism has never been fixed, and remains, publicly, always undefined in its territorial and political ambitions.

The reason for that is that the Zionists have always taken care not to be committed to aim which are difficult to achieve, or to proclaim certain intentions which may provoke such opposition as to make them unrealizable, accordingly, Zionist ideology developed and crystallized gradually as the Zionists grew in strength and numbers. Whenever any stage during which certain gains were realized came to an end, the ideology itself officially changed and became more clear in its quest for other, broader objectives.

In this regard, consider the territorial of aspect of Zionism. By the 1947 the Zionists, proclaiming that the borders were delineated by the united nations partition plan of that year, represented their final goal of their claims on Palestine as these borders. A year later, after they had conquered another twenty five percent of Palestine in the war of that year, their conquests became non-negotiable.

Between 1948 and 1967, there were no public statements made by Israeli leaders about the West Bank and Gaza as being “biblical Israel”, when these territories were taken over that years. Leftwing and rightwing Zionists immediately began to speak of greater Israel. Today, no one has bothered to ask Netanyahu and his party whether they have changed their political platform regarding the whole of Gaza, West Bank, Syria, and Lebanon being part of great Israel.

Whenever certain Israeli leaders show flexibility( which is rare), as a result of the need to make some gestures to the international community , this does not conceal their continued adherence to the principles of conquest, expansion, terror and racism.

This adherence is neither accidental, tactical nor dictated by existing political conditions, it is rooted profoundly in the ethos of Zionism.

Racism, boycott and a big dose of hypocrisy

Posted in International community, International conferences, Israeli occupation, Israeli politics, Palestine, Siege with tags , , , , , , , , on 01/05/2009 by 3071km

Written by Isabelle Humphries

Date: 28 April 2009

Source: The Electronic Intifada

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Mainstream reports on the last UN Durban Review Conference on racism seem only to highlight Ahmadinejad’s discourse and its boycott by Western leaders. However, such reports dismiss the failure of the Conference on discussing racism and its causes.

In this article, Isabelle Humphries writes on the failure of the international community to tackle about Zionism, the different approaches towards boycott of Western leaders, and the hipocrisy of the international community when it comes to adressing Palestinian issues.

International activists seeking justice in Palestine call for a radical reflection on the overall framework of Zionism, which as an ideology prioritizes the rights of one racial group over another. While no one was expecting that the Durban Review Conference would adopt an apartheid analogy, in recent years many senior international figures have sharply criticized Israel’s systematic discrimination against the Palestinians. While Palestinians are as aware as any other occupied nation that UN resolutions do not necessarily lead to international action, nevertheless the document resulting from the Durban 2001 UN World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) was considered something of a landmark. Dismissed as “anti-Semitic” by the usual US-Israeli suspects, the declaration named Palestinians as specific victims of racism. Though it failed to mention the source of this racism, many civil society organizations saw Durban as a useful conceptual framework for combating the racism at the heart of the protracted plight of the Palestinians.

The Durban Review Conference held last week was initially intended to be a forum to evaluate the progress towards goals set eight years ago. But bullying tactics by certain European/North American states ensured that the draft Durban Review Conference declaration excluded any criticism of Israel. In the planning process original “offensive” statements such as those referring to “unlawful collective punishment” and “torture” were removed. Israel, Canada and the US — under both presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama — had no intention of allowing a repeat of the language of 2001. All three boycotted the process from the start. Obama initially rejoined the planning stage but pulled out again.Despite the fiasco of the main event, a successful two-day conference sponsored by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) brought a group of international legal experts and activists together to examine and develop possibilities of using legal instruments to combat Israeli racism.

The hypocrisy of being told by European politicians and media that boycotts against Israel are either anti-Semitic or counter-productive, yet to be instructed that boycott of Ahmadinejad or even the whole UN racism conference is right and justifiable leaves anyone dedicated to justice fuming. That’s what I feel like — I can only imagine how Palestinians feel to be let down by the international community. Again.

Different uses (and abuses) of the word ‘racist’

Posted in Gaza, International community, International conferences, Israel, Israeli occupation, Palestine, War crimes with tags , , , , , on 21/04/2009 by 3071km

Mahmound Ahmadinejad’s polemic speech in the UN Conference on racism and the reactions to it have silenced an important step forward of the international community. Indeed, more than 100 countries have agreed a 16-pages final declaration calling on the international community to combat intolerance, a document that has been described as an “historic outcome”.

Despite dropping a controversial phrase from his draft speech casting doubt on the Holocaust, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been the main character of the day for his definition of Zionism as racism. His remarks have pushed many Western representatives to leave the conference room and accuse him of racist and his words of inadmissible.

Below you can check Ahmadinejad’s draft speech and actual speech, but here you have some excerpts related to Palestine and Israel:

After the Second World War, by exploiting the holocaust and under the pretext of protecting the Jews they made a nation homeless with military expeditions and invasion. They transferred various groups of people from America, Europe and other countries to this land. They established a completely racist government in the occupied Palestinian territories. And in fact, under the pretext of making up for damages resulting from racism in Europe, they established the most aggressive, racist country in another territory, i.e. Palestine.

The Security Council endorsed this usurper regime and for 60 years constantly defended it and let it commit any kind of crime.

Worse than this is that some Western governments and America are committed to support genocidal racists while others condemn the bombardment of innocent human beings, the occupation of their land and the disasters that took place in Gaza. Even before they kept silent, not responding to all the crimes of that regime, and supported it.

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But dear friends, today the human society is facing a kind of racism which has an ugliness that has completely distorted the honour of mankind at the verge of the third millennium and it has made the global society shameful. The global Zionism is the complete symbol of racism, which with unreal reliance on religion has tried to misuse the religious beliefs of some unaware people and hide its ugly face. But what should be seriously considered are the goals of certain superpowers and those in possession of major interests in the world; those who try their best through economic power and political influence and wide media means, to lessen the crimes and ugliness of the nature of the Zionist regime. Here, the main issue is not ignorance and therefore, cultural movements on their own, are not sufficient to fight this evil phenomenon. But we should try to put an end to the misuse of international means by the Zionists and their supporters. And by respecting nations’ demands, we should motivate the united governments to eliminate this clear racism and step on the path of reforming international relations and mechanisms with courage.

Related links:

UN conference on racism draft outcome

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech –  BBC translation from a speech transcript supplied by the Islamic Republic of Iran News Network, Tehran, in Persian.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s draft speech – Different in some respects from the draft submitted previously by the Iranians to the UN.

World reactions to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech – Compiled by BBC

The 2009 WCAR dismissal of Palestine

Posted in Gaza, Gaza war crimes investigation, Israel, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, USA foreign policy, War crimes with tags , , , on 17/04/2009 by 3071km

Written by Nora Barrows-Friedman

Published 16th April 2009

Source: IPS

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The Durban Anti-Racism Review Conference in Geneva to be held on Monday will not address any discussion on Israel’s actions in Palestine as this has been deliberately eliminated from the official programme, which has been structured by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN OHCHR).

This conference is a follow-up to the 2001 World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) in Durban, South Africa, that outlined an international legal and political concept to deal with global issues of race and human rights.

The Durban Review Conference website states that the 2009 Geneva symposium is designed to “review progress and assess the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA).” Adopted by general consensus at the 2001 WCAR in Durban, “the DDPA is a comprehensive, action-oriented document that proposes concrete measures to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. It is holistic in its vision, addresses a wide range of issues, and contains far- reaching recommendations and practical measures.”

However, it will not address Palestinian issues. On April the 3rd, less than three weeks before the Durban Review Conference, the UN High Commissioner’s office verbally informed that all side-events pertaining to the specific issue of Palestine and Israel had been banned.

Civil society groups believe that the United States, countries within the European Union and Israel pressured the UN to omit a review of Israel’s racial discrimination against Palestinians.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration appears to have decided not to attend the Durban Review conference. In 2001, the United States representatives walked out of the first Durban conference when Zionism was defined as racism against Palestinians.