Friday, June 15, 2007

Some comments on the Palestinian Crisis

16 June, 2007

Dear friends,

As of today, more than 110 people have died in the last 4 – 5 days and hundreds wounded.

However, today, there has been a strange sort of calm in many places throughout the West Bank (including the village I live in), while in other areas there has been factional fighting.

Talking with a number of contacts and friends in different villages and towns, it reminded me when I was here last time when Arafat died. Peope are sad and depressed and seem at a bit of a loss and not sure what to do next (of course this was a much more deeper sentiment when Arafat died). They are also angry (at both factions) and ashamed of what has been going on.

On Thursday night, Abbas declared a state of emergency and dissolved the unity government. However, what the Israeli and Western media have failed to report that the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) is still functioning and that it still remains the democratically elected body through which legislation must pass and it is still the body which must approve Abbas presidential decrees (even the Arab media have not reported this very clearly)

Under Section 7, Article 110 of Palestinian basic law, a state of emergency can be declared for 30 days (I have included a copy of Section 7 at the end of the email). However, the state of emergency can only be extended for another 30 days be a two third vote in the PLC.

Under Section 3, Article 45 of the Basic Laws (the section that deals with the Presidential powers),the President (in this case, Abbas) has the right to appoint and sack the PM and invite them to form the cabinet – ie. he as the right to sack the PM and the government ministry.

HOWEVER: there is nothing in the Basic Laws that give him the right to sack the entire Palestinian Legislative Council during an state of emergency. In fact the Basic Laws (Amended in 2003) strictly prohibit this, with Article 113 stating "The Palestinian Legislative Council shall not be dissolved or suspended in an emergency situation, nor shall the provisions of this chapter be suspended".

There are also no provisions in the Basic Laws for the President to unilaterally call for new elections (altho in the past some in Fatah have argued that because the basic laws does not explicitly prohibit the president from calling new elections that he in fact has the right to do so – but this is all very gray)

This is why Haniyeh and Hamas have declared Abbas to have acted hastily, saying that Hamas members of the Unity government will continue to functions as the legitimate government – ie. that the currently democratically elected PLC, which is dominated by Hamas, is still the legitimate parliamentary body until 2010. If Abbas wants to extend the state of emergency after 30 days, he has to go back to the Hamas dominated PLC to get the extension and of course this most likely would not be granted.

Today I spoke with one of the Palestinan dipolomats I know and he confirmed that, yes, that in effect there are now "two governments" and that Abbas has no way of implementing his decrees because they need to approved by the PLC (outside of the initial sacking of the PM and govt and declaring the initial state of emergency). He was not sure where this was all going to lead.

Haniyeh told Palestinian and Arab media that Hamas would seek "national reconciliation through the appropriate mechanisms and there is no change to the relations with the nationalistic forces. We will go ahead with the unity program alongside those who would like to work with us". Haniyeh went on to confirm that Hamas would adhere to "domestic treaties, including the Mecca agreement and the Cairo dialogues, and our relations with Arab states are still brother-relations".

According to Palestinian and Arab news reports, Abbas had appointed Salam Fayyad as the new head of the emergency government. Fayyad is not aligned with either Fatah or Hamas (although Fatah courted him in the run up to the 2006, promising him the PM position if they won). Fayyad, along with Hanan Ashrawi and Yasser Abed Rabbo set up the "Third Way Party", which won two seats in the 2006 elections. Fayyd is highly respected within Palestinian politics and also apparently by the Israelis, which is why he was appointed the finance minister in the Unity government.

In response to the sacking of Haniyeh and the dissolution of the unity government, Israel and the US have moved quickly to attempt to sure up Abbas. According to Israeli media reports, Olmert is looking to easy the economic blockade and hand over the taxes Israel stole. The Bush Administration has also announced that they want to "fast track" peace talks.

Both Abbas, Israel and the US are playing a dangerous game. While on one hand, as I mentioned last night, this is exactly what the US and Israeli have been pushing for and Abbas, the clique leading Fatah and the PLO desperate regain their once former dominant position in the Palestinian political landscape have obliged.

However, the US and Israel have not had it all their way. Despite spending millions and millions on shoring up around 40,000 presidential guard and other Fatah security forces, Hamas quickly over run them and took control of Gaza. This has completely undermined the US plan to use the newly trained Fatah forces to fight and over run Hamas. Now Israeli is demanding that an international force be sent into the Gaza , but not to keep peace but to fight Hamas (now that their proxy army has cut and run).

While both Israel and the US will be hoping that they can isolate Hamas in Gaza (and this could happen), Haniyeh and Mes'hal have been making clear overtures towards Abbas, while still remaining the dominant force in the PLC and also maintaining their position of control over the Gaza (today Mes'hal stated that Hamas has no interest in over throwing Abbas and are willing to "cooperate" with him in the name of the national interest).

Hamas's project is for a full Palestinian state not just a state in Gaza, in addition, they know that the Palestinian people as a whole will not accept such an arrangement. This is where Abbas is on the back foot.

He may be the legitimate president and have some control over the West Bank, but he has no control over Gaza . In addition, he has to deal eventually with the Hamas dominated PLC (unless he can somehow twist the Basic Law to allow him to call new elections).

The US and Israel are trying to shore him up, but Abbas while wishy washy is also not stupid, he knows that the Palestinian street will not support two separate states and he will be forced eventually to negotiate with Hamas (although, Israel and the US will do everything in their power to prevent this). Israel and the US have still not come to understand that they can not buy of the majority of the Palestinian people and that the majority of Palestinians are horrified by the factional fighting and will seek national reconciliation.

Some other things to note:
(1) Over the last two days, demonstrations have taken place in Gaza City, Khan Younis, Bethlehem and Hebron (and other cities) protesting the factional fighting. In Gaza city and Khan Younis, on Thursday before the Gaza fell to Hamas there were demonstrations of 1000 people in each city. There has been subsequent rallies organised by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) calling for an end to the factional fighting and national unity. Other demos have taken place as I mentioned in Bethlehem and Hebron.

(2) Pal media reported on Thursday, that Fatah in Gaza had split. According to one report, the new head of Fatah in the Gaza is now Abu Hilal, who went on to denounce Mohammed Dahlan and several other Fatah leaders as "collaborators". According to Abu Hilal, an emergency committee had been set up to rearrange affairs in the Fatah movement (not sure if this is at a national level or just in Gaza) and that he had reached an agreement with the leaders of Hamas and the Al Qassam brigades to ensure that the "good" people (ie. those not suspected of collaboration) were not harmed.

(3) Despite reports in Israeli and Western media, Hamas is not running around willy nilly killing every Fatah member they can get their hands on. On Wed and Thursday, Hamas definitely sought out Fatah members they believe to be collaborators and did carry out extra-judicial killings (as did Fatah of Hamas members). With Hamas taking control of the Gaza, they imposed a tense calm once the fighting was over. However, Hamas did carry out the execution of two Fatah members today, that they claimed was responsible for the killing of Hamas members.

However, Hamas has not made a point of going around rounding up Fatah members to execute them willy nilly. Today, Haniyeh and other Hamas leaders announced that Fatah members would be granted amnesty or clemency and that Hamas was only interested in routing out the collaborators within Fatah.

(4) In response to the Hamas victory in Gaza , Fatah fighters have started to target Hamas affiliated organisation and Hamas members, killing 1 Hamas member. Fighting has taken place in Nablus, Ramallah and Tulkarem. However, at least 12 people who were abducted from a Hamas aligned organisation on Thursday in Nablus were released unharmed by the Al Asqa Martyrs Brigade.

(5) With Hamas taking control of Gaza , the Israeli and Western media have gone into a feeding frenzy of speculation, including declaring that there will be a separate Islamic state in Gaza and/or that Hamas will impose Islamic rule over Gaza and that Gaza will become a "taliban style" strong hold.

This of course ignores completely that Hamas is nothing like the Taliban, other than the fact they both happened to be Islamic. However, even on this front, the two groups are widely divergent – Hamas does not engage in applying an extermist versiono of Shari'a law like the Taliban, which prohibits listening to music, engaging in other cultural activities and it does not prohibit women from attaining an education or working (the main force behind Hamas electoral success were professional women – doctors, lawyers, teachers). As Haniyeh made clear when he was elected in 2006, he has no plans to enforce the hijab and/or strict reading shari'a law (it should be note that Section 1, Article 4, part 2 of the Palestinian laws, signed into effect by Arafat and Abbas state, already that shari'a law is the basis of Palestinian legislation)

In addition, Hamas under the leadership of Khaled Mes'hal and Haniyeh and others have prioritised the national liberation agenda over Hamas religious agenda. They have consciously worked to ensure they do not alienate secular and Christian Palestinians and recognise that if they are to stay in the mainstream of politics, they need to be more pragmatic and not alienate all of those Palestinians who voted for them but do not necessarily agree with their religious agenda. To say that they are suddenly going to become a carbon copy of the Taliban is hysterical clap trap and a deliberate black propaganda on behalf of Israel to scare not only their own citizens but also the West.

In response to these wild predictions, which have little basis in reality (much of which is emanating from both the Israeli and Bush administrations in order to generate fear amongst the US, Israeli and international community, so they can push their own agenda), Haniyeh has stated quite clearly that Hamas has no interest in setting up a separate state in Gaza. In addition, Hamas political bureau chief, Khaled Mes'hal has denied that Hamas will implement blanket Islamic law across Gaza .

in solidarity, Kim


Rob said...

Kim, they're just gangsters. Open your eyes.

Kim said...

Who do you mean Rob? Fatah or Hamas? The United States? Israel?

Either way, Rob, making such blanket statements does little at all to help in trying to understand the situation and what is going on and why.

Rob said...

Fatah and Hamas. But primarily Hamas. Jumped-up wannabe Hizbollahites in alliance with the criminal gangs that have made Gaza a wasteland for two years.

Rob said...

Fatah is just a corrupt kleptocracy. Regrettable, yes, but understandable and essentially created by the open-ended bribe represented by the Oslo Accords.

Hamas is something else again. Islamist fundamentalists sworn to the destruction of the Jewish state, who commandeered the pitiful territory of Gaza from day one after the Israeli withdrawal to create a lawless swamp and a terrorists' kitchen.

According to Palestinian journalists, if a poll had been held in the last few weeks, 70% of Gazans would have opted for a restitution of the Israeli occupation, so hideous had life become for them.

And now in these past few days the last lights have finally gone out.

Yaakeric said...

You have got to be joking. This is a brawl between two gangs of corrupt thugs.

What of the status of Christian arabs in Hamas controlled areas. Do you seriously believe Hamas' supposed "tolerant sharia"??

They are a bunch of primitives. Where is your commitment to women's rights, gay rights, basic liberal democratic principles.

Marx would be rolling in his grave viewing this alliance of socialists with one of the most retrograde movements in the world today.

If the Palestinians adopted non violent tactics and peaceful resistance, centering around the right to vote, they would galvanise support among left wing Israelis and lead to an independent Palestinian state within a couple of years.

But to do this the corrupt "leadership" would have to risk their positions and perhaps start putting themselves and their children at risk, rather than the dupes they tie explosives to.

Jenya said...

Hi Friends,

I Find Absolutely FREE PlayBoy & Penthouse:

If I find something else I'll inform you.

Best Regards,

Bhumika Ghimire said...

Kim,allow me to express my concern for everyone living in West Bank and Gaza. i hope and pray for peace and stability in the region.

i had different view on Hamas before this incident but now i find myself can they attack their own people? the Palestinians..? how can they turn against their own brothers..?Fatah is no saint either..this news says that now Fatah is on a revenge spree

why can't they understand that divided they fall, if this continues then what about future of Palestinians? how long will the suffering go on..??

middle east desk, the newsroom

Kim said...

I think your assessment of Hamas is overly simplistic. While I am no expert on them, I have tried to inform myself as much as I can abougt their politics. I think it is short sighted and uniformative to just write the off as "Islamic fundamentalists". One of the best writers on the subject is a Palestinian christian author name Khaled Hroub. I want to suggest you can get a hold of his new book: Hamas: A beginner's guide.

Kim said...

obviously I disagree with both your and Rob's assessments. To try and make out that this is a "brawl between to gangs of corrupt thugs" is not only pattently simplistic and incorrect, it also as I said before does nothing to assist in understanding what is happening and why.

As for "what of the status of Christian arabs in Hamas controlled areas?".

If you mean are they treated badly or not allowed to practice their faith by Hamas, then the answer is no.

As survey done in at the end of 2006 (10 months or more after Hamas was elected to the PA revealed that 73.3 percent of Bethlehem's Christians believe that the Palestinian Authority treats Christian heritage with respect (see

Many Palestinians christians actually voted for Hamas in the last election. Bethlehem, which as you know is a Christian city, has a Hamas dominated municiple council.

Israel on the other hand has actively worked to purge Palestinian Christians from Bethlehem and also deny the right of Palestinian Chrisitians to worship at their holy places (see:

In relation to Shari'a law - as I pointed out in the original post, Shari'a law is ALREADY the basis for Palestinian law (being signed into effect by both Arafat and Abbas). In relation to Hamas, there is currently absolutely no evidence to support the accusation that they are seeking to introduced a blanket strict version of shari'a.

I am happy to have vigorious debate on this post, but I would ask both you and others to refrain from racist remarks such as "they are are all primitives".

In relation to Palestinian adopting non-violent tactics, again you show your prejudice and how ill informed you are. The majority of Palestinians do adopt non-violent tactics. Every week this can be seen in places like Bi'lin and before that Budrus etc etc (see my 2004: Budrus: the threat of a good example

Finally, just because I refuse to buy into wild blanket statements based on spurious motherhood statements and little fact, does not mean that I do not support "women's rights, gay rights and basic liberal democratic principles".

It simply means that I would like to engage in an informed debate, not one based on silly Islamophobic prejudices as you seem to want to do.

Kim said...

Hi Bhumika,
thanks for your post. I agree what is happening here is not a black and white situation and we should not treat it as such.

However, unfortunately, both the US and Israel have worked to push the Palestinians towards civil war. As veteran ME reporter Robert Fisk notes this is an imperialist back coup d'e'tat (see Welcome to Palestine

For the past 18 months, Israel and the US have done everything in their power to ferment civil war.

I share you grief and anger that it has come to this and that US/Israeli policy has worked and split the once united Palestinian struggle.

Unfortunately, as small section of the Fatah leadership desperate to regain control the PA have aided in this.

Like you I can only hope that both Fatah and Hamas will put aside their factional difference and start to rememember that it is the Palestinian people who come first.

Rob said...

Kim have you read Hamas' charter? It's straight out of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In other words, it is founded on Jew-hating fantasies derived from the most notorious anti-semitic forgery of all time.

It was constituted as the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, a fundamentalist Islamic movement born in Egypt, which calls for the establishment of a global Islamic caliphate.

Hamas has said times without number that it will not accept the existnece of the Israeli state and will continue its resistance (i.e. terrorism) until all the occupied territories are liberated. And that's not just Gaza (already liberated, with the unhappy results we have seen) and the West Bank (mainly under PA rule as per the Oslo Accords), but all of Israel.

Yaakeric said...


to characterise anything I have written as racist is absurd.

I was referring to Hamas, not Arabs. They are primitive, and their program is primitive. Given the opportunity to impose their theology on the Palestinian people, they would be no different to the mullahs in Iran.

For Palestinian law to be based on sharia law is terrible. I believe in a secular basis for law, which is what I would have thought most left leaning people would want.

Under sharia law, jews and christians explicitly have second class status. They are to be "tolerated" only if they accept that second class status, amongst other things paying additional taxes. Essentially, it is protection money.

Much more importantly, sharia law as Hamas would implement it if given a chance, would deny women equal status before the law, make homosexuality a criminal offense, make women a commodity to be bartered etc etc etc.

Your characterisation of the status of Christians under Islamic and Israeli rule is completely one sided. This is not the place to debate it fully, although I would be pleased to do so.

The only solution to this question is a two state solution. Those on both sides of the equation who will not accept this reality are condemning both peoples to a tragic, ongoing, disaster.

Rob said...

The problem, Yaakeric, is that neither Hams nor many Gazans accept a two-state solution. Thy want a one state solution, including an unlimited right of return.

See, for example, Dr Mona el Farra, who blogs at From Gaza With Love. Addressing the UN, she said recently:

"Now is the time to acknowledge that the two-State solution is not the answer."

Yaakeric said...

Quite a few Israelis don't want a two state solution either.

Both groups are deluded.

The broad mass of Israelis will never accept a solution which means giving in to the likes of Hamas.

Hopefully Hamas and their like will be removed from the leadership, one way or the other.

It will be a terrible time for the Palestinian people. Those who do not recognise the visceral threat posed by Hamas and other Islamist groups only make it worse.

The Hamas agenda, successfully applied, would be a nightmare for Palestinians as well as Israelis.

Yaakeric said...


I forgot to mention.

If to oppose Hamas is Islamophobia, this implies that Hamas represents mainstream Islam. I dont believe it does, but apparently you do.

Something is seriously wrong if it does.

Fortunately, I think what is wrong is your gullible acceptance of their propaganda.

Nothing I have written comes close to what you are alleging. It is just a smokescreen to avoid the crushing reality, faced by the palestinian people at the moment, that neither of their potential leadership groups can take them anywhere.

It is, as I have said, a tragedy.

Rob said...

Kim, I think maybe you should watch this video.

Kim said...

Yes Rob, I have read the Hamas charter and yes this is a lot of anti-semetic crap in there, which can not be condoned.

However, it is also a mistake to think that Hamas's politics have not developed since 1998, which is why I suggested you also read some of Hroub's material (also Beverly Milton Edwards is also very good on the subject) As Hroub, who has unprecedented access to the Hamas leadership and internal documents, points out in both his books on Hamas, that it is a mistake to just base, as some critics do, an understanding of Hamas on some of their earlier documents, such as its 1988 Charter.

According to Hroub, today, rather than seeing the occupation of Palestine as a result of a Jewish conspiracy, as it originally argued in their 1988 Charter, Hamas now view the conflict as a result of imperialist and colonial aggression. Hroub argues that Hamas views Zionism and imperialism as the main threat to Palestinian nationalism, as Zionism and imperialism attempt to prevent the development of nationalist movements in the region, so as to be able to establish Western hegemony over the region in order to serve the political and economic interests of imperialist countries, like the USA and Israel

The reason for this change has been the development of the movement both inside and outside of Palestine. In the early 1990s, hundreds of Hamas leaders were expelled from Palestine by Israel. This exiled component of the Hamas leadership has sinced been exposed to a broader political landscape than their counterparts who had originally drafted the Hamas charter . According to Hroub, in his previous book (Hamas: Political thought and practice written in 2000), their political experiences outside of Palestine influenced their understanding of the political situtation inside Palestine and as result, they "re-orientated Hamas's politcal thinking and influenced the formulation of its discourse".

In relation to the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas is not as you argue “constituted as the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood...etc”. While it is true that it has its roots in the MB, both Milton Edwards and Hroub (and another writer, whose name I can not recall right at this moment) have also said that Hamas while tracing their linage from the MB, view themselves as a completely separate organisation (with their own traditions, ideology and outlook) to the MB.

Yes, it is true Hamas rejects the “right” of Israel to exist and it will continue to resist the Israeli occupation (by the way did you know that under international law, an occupied people have the right to armed resistance?).

Its should be pointed out that there is a difference between recognising the “right” of Israel to exist and “recognising that Israel exists” (See Whitbeck

Hamas rejects the concept of Israel’s “right” to exist because to do so would mean means that you accept the “right” of Israel to be established on stolen Palestinian land, the right of Israeli to continue to steal Palestinian Land and the right of Israel to dispossess and continue to disposses 6 million Palestine refugees colonialism, their right to steal Palestinian land and the right.

As Whitbeck writes in his article “What Israel’s right to exist means to Palestinians” : There is an enormous difference between "recognizing Israel's existence" and "recognizing Israel's right to exist." From a Palestinian perspective, the difference is in the same league as the difference between asking a Jew to acknowledge that the Holocaust happened and asking him to concede that the Holocaust was morally justified. For Palestinians to acknowledge the occurrence of the Nakba – the expulsion of the great majority of Palestinians from their homeland between 1947 and 1949 – is one thing. For them to publicly concede that it was "right" for the Nakba to have happened would be something else entirely. For the Jewish and Palestinian peoples, the Holocaust and the Nakba, respectively, represent catastrophes and injustices on an unimaginable scale that can neither be forgotten nor forgiven.
To demand that Palestinians recognize "Israel's right to exist" is to demand that a people who have been treated as subhumans unworthy of basic human rights publicly proclaim that they are subhumans. It would imply Palestinians' acceptance that they deserve what has been done and continues to be done to them. Even 19th-century US governments did not require the surviving native Americans to publicly proclaim the "rightness" of their ethnic cleansing by European colonists as a condition precedent to even discussing what sort of land reservation they might receive. Nor did native Americans have to live under economic blockade and threat of starvation until they shed whatever pride they had left and conceded the point”.

It should be noted, however, that Hamas has stated repeatedly that they are willing to recognise Israels existence (but not their “right” to exist). Since its inception it has offered an “interim” solution in the form of a hudna (or ceasefire) ranging from anywhere to 2, 5, 10, 50 and 90 years. A hudna is different from signing onto the “peace agreement” which states Israel has the “right” to exist. A hudna recognises that Isarel exists as an entity and based on the premise that the Palestinians will not capitulate to Israel or international imperialism.

However, it allows for the defacto recognition of Israel as a geopolitical entity, but does not recognise its “right to exist”.

Kim said...

Hi Yaakeric,

I am not saying to "oppose" Hamas is Islamophobic, what I am saying is that we should not make crass statements that buy into Islamophobia (ie. that all Islamists are fundmentalists and share the same ideology, which if anyone takes the time to look at the different islamist groups is patently not true).

As a socialist, I am for secularism but I am also against imperialism, colonialism and the undermining of a sovereign people's right to make their own democratic choice.

In relation to Hamas, I do not support their religious program but I am interested in understanding it, along with their political program and their ideology. And you can not understand any of this, if you just simply buy into sterotypes, parodies, caricatures and ill informed prejudices about Islamists and "Islamic fundamentalism" as portrayed by most of the Western media and Western governments, including the US and Israel.

As I said, what I am for is informed debate and discussion on the subject.

Rob said...

A few comments, Kim.

"Yes Rob, I have read the Hamas charter and yes this is a lot of anti-semetic crap in there, which can not be condoned."

Well, that's easily fixed, then. Hamas can amend its charter and remove the gross anti-semitism. Too easy?

"Hamas now view the conflict as a result of imperialist and colonial aggression. Hroub argues that Hamas views Zionism and imperialism as the main threat to Palestinian nationalism, as Zionism and imperialism attempt to prevent the development of nationalist movements in the region, so as to be able to establish Western hegemony over the region in order to serve the political and economic interests of imperialist countries, like the USA and Israel"

This does not square with history as I understand it. The USA had nothing to do with the establishment of Israel. Jewish groups fought against the administering western power, prior to the establishment of Israel. At the time, there was no "Palestine", only territories partitioned and administered by western powers after the defeat and collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of WWI.

Israel is not an imperialist state. It does not desire to conquer or subjugate its neighbours or implement an imperialist program in the region of elsewhere. The worst that can be said of it was that in the aftermath of the Six-Day War, after the Arab states refused to accept the retrocession of the occupied territories in return for peace, Israel most unwisely allowed radical groups to establish settlements in the territories. At any time, before the settler bloc became immovable, the Arabs could have had those lands back in return for peace.

But, even so, the settlements were always negotiable in return for peace. Even Menachem Begin, the most extreme of the Israeli PMs, forcibly evicted the settlers from the Negev in return for a peace deal with Egypt. And Sharon ordered the evacuation of Gaza unilaterally in 2005. Result? Hamas turned the whole territory into a lawless swamp and a terrorists' kitchen.

"Hamas rejects the concept of Israel’s “right” to exist because to do so would mean means that you accept the “right” of Israel to be established on stolen Palestinian land, the right of Israeli to continue to steal Palestinian Land and the right of Israel to dispossess and continue to disposses 6 million Palestine refugees colonialism, their right to steal Palestinian land and the right."

Yes, and that's the nub of the issue - we can agree on that. Hamas wants returned to the Palestinians the land on which Israel now stands, which, in their view, was stolen by the Israelis in 1948. That's not negotiable. And that's why Hamas will never be a partner for peace. Until it accepts the loss of that land (and accepts the return of the West Bank and Gaza, but not the Israeli core), Hamas will be a party of war, not peace.

Accepting that Israel is "there" - for now - carries the subtext that it shouldn't be and one day will not be.

"To demand that Palestinians recognize "Israel's right to exist" is to demand that a people who have been treated as subhumans unworthy of basic human rights publicly proclaim that they are subhumans. It would imply Palestinians' acceptance that they deserve what has been done and continues to be done to them."

Palestinians are not treated as subhumans by Israel. Arabs who remained in Israel are full citizens and entitled to the same legal rights as Jews. I don't doubt there is discrimination - given the peoples' histories, it would be truly remarkable if there were not - but it is not state sanctioned and subject to recourse at law.

Palestiniamns are treated badly in the camps in Jordan and Lebanon, but that is not Israel's doing. Meanwhile, Jews are routinely depicted as subhuman in Palestinian literature and propaganda. Palestinian children are taught Jews are the children of pigs and apes, and they are brainwashed to dreams to genocide from the kindergarten on. You might like to check out the video I linked.

Yaakeric said...

The treatment of the Palestinians and the Holocaust cannot be equated in the manner you have chosen to.

If you want to understand Hamas, try understanding this basic historical fact. Millions of Palestinians live in Israel, vote in elections. They are discriminated against, but have a look at how the few Arabs living in Moslem countries are treated. Israel must address the second class treatment its Arab citizens receive. But to class this as apartheid is a nonsense.

Much worse treatment is meted out to minorities in many Muslim countries. This receives little or no attention in left circles. Why?

Please don't give me a catalogue of injustices suffered by Palestinians as I am very clear on this subject, believe the situation must be redressed and you will find I will argue very little about the facts on the ground.

At the same time, I would ask how many Jews were left living in Europe? Please think about this before blithely comparing the holocaust with the events of 48. There is no comparison. The fact is that Israeli Arabs are in no rush to give up their citizenship papers and the rights they give them. Which, I emphasise, is not to discount the very real issues of equality which must be addressed in Israel.

This is not to discount the genuine suffering of those made refugees in the founding of Israel.

Or of course those Jews (an approximately equivalent number) who fled arab countries. Like my Eqyptian Jewish brother in law whose family was forced to leave Egypt after hundreds of years, with the shirts on their backs.

They, and many like them, have got on with their lives in Australia, and after decades of struggle live happily hear. They dont talk or think about compensation.

Israel has a right to exist, endorsed by a majority vote in the UN. A Palestinian state was also provided for, but annexed at the time by Jordan (during which time Jews were not allowed to worship at holy sites etc etc). I am sure you know this.

Israel should recognise a Palestinian state, in return for full, unequivocal recognition from a Palestinian state.

I don't think it matters what provisos Hamas wants to put on its recognition of Israel. Israel's only real security is a strong military deterrence. The alternative is suicide for millions of Jews. And that is not going to happen.

Some say there should be a democratic secular unitary state. If there was another one in the Middle East as a model, perhaps there might be some hope for this. There isn't. Israeli Jews - millions of them - are not going to submit to the tender mercies of Hamas, despite the fact that you, a leftist (!) exhort us to understand Hamas and its ingrained antisemitism.

So, the least bad alternative is a two states. This is a possibility. And over time, if things develop as they might, there could be a far greater accommodation between the two peoples.

Islamists will not accept Israel, because of their concept of it being Islamic land and therefore cannot be compromised. On the other hand, a small minority of right wing Jews feel religiously compelled not to compromise their belief that the West Bank is Jewish Land. Neither of these beliefs can be encompassed in a real world agreement to solve this problem.

Hamas are a disaster for the Palestinian people. Their master stroke in Gaza is a classic case of shooting themselves in the foot. It looks like they have restricted themselves to Gaza and given Fatah the opportunity to seize power in the West Bank. They just may have rendered themselves irrelevant in the process.

The issue should be addressed in a cool, real world fashion. Israel exists, it is not going anywhere. Palestinian arabs exist, they are not going anywhere. An intelligent deal needs to be reached. Your vaunted armed struggle will get the Palestinians nothing but more pain. It is not possible for the Palestinians to militarily defeat Israel. Anyone who suggests otherwise is guaranteeing the Palestinian people more decades of bitter hardship.

The Palestinian people have been very poorly served by their leaderships.

Yaakeric said...

in my last post in the second paragraph, line 5, substitute the word Jews for Arabs.

Yaakeric said...

A Hudna means a truce, with a non muslim entity it is limited by Islamic law to 10 years.

You cannot expect millions of Israelis of every class to treat this prospect seriously. Their lives, and the lives of their children are at stake.

The Hudna is explicitly not a prelude to a full peace agreement. It is a temporary cessation of hostilities, reserving the right to attack later. Hamas cannot, for religious reasons, agree to a peace agreement.

That is there religious restriction, which if they want they will find a way around. Just as many (but not all) Rabbis found a way to endorse land for peace deals.

If they cannot, then they become irrelevant to the process, just as extreme right Israeli settlers will have to become irrelevant (eg in Gaza).

Most Israeli Jews would gladly leave the territories if there was a prospect of genuine peace. Understand this.

Rob said...

Totally agree, yaakeric, especially regarding the nature of hudna. It's an armed truce, tiding over until the renewal of hostilities.

Kim said...

Dear Rob and Yaarekic,
apologies for not posting earlier but this is my first opportunity to have some time to sit and read you posts properly.

First my answers to Rob:

US and Israeli imperialism

Yes, it is correct to say that US did not specifically “create” Israel, however, Israel is the US’s chief ally in the region and as a result, they have a shared imperialist relationship. with the US-Israel alliance based on shared political interests — opposition to any form of Arab radicalism that would threaten Western economic domination of the region.

Both the US and Israel are imperialist countries. Imperialism is the process by which powerful nations seek to extend their power and increase their wealth by bringing ever more of the world under their political and economic domination. Imperialism consists of not only direct control of another country (via colonisation, military occupation or political control) but it also refers to the economic exploitation of a region or country by another.

In the case of the United States, its imperialism can be seen in relation to its wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and its foreign policies in relation to Latin America and Asia which seek to dominate the region in support of America’s political and economic interests.

In the case of Israel, this can be seen in the manner in which Israel has acted not only as a colonial-settler state (see Maxime Rodinson’s ground breaking work on this). Israel’s imperialism is also evident in the way, Israeli has sought to keep the Palestinians subjcated political via the illegal occupation but also economically dependent on Israel.

Current Israeli policies, such as the occupation, the wall, the settlements etc, mean that it is impossible for a viable, contigious independent Palestinian state to be created. In addition, current Israeli policies, such as the occupation, mean that Palestinian economy is completely dependent on Israel.

This is the text book definition of Imperialism.

In relation to your argument that Israel “does not desire to conquer or subjugate its neighbours or implement an imperialist program in the region of elsewhere”, I would suggest you go and read some of the stuff written by David Ben Gurion and the other early Zionists (including Jabotinsky, Meir and others). They are explicit in their aims – they seek to conquer and subjugate not only the Palestinians but also their Arab neighbours to ensure the creation of a Zionist state.

Some examples:
David Ben Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel had this to say in 1937 – “We must expel Arabs and take their places."

In 1948 in the lead up to the establishment of Israel, Ben Gurion stated, "We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population." (Ben-Gurion, A Biography, by Michael Ben-Zohar, Delacorte, New York 1978).

On another occassion he said: "Let us not ignore the truth among ourselves ... politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves... The country is theirs, because they inhabit it, whereas we want to come here and settle down, and in their view we want to take away from them their country."
(David Ben Gurion, quoted on pp 91-2 of Chomsky's Fateful Triangle, which appears in Simha Flapan's "Zionism and the Palestinians pp 141-2 citing a 1938 speech)


“Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist. Not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either. Nahlal arose in the place of Mahlul; Kibbutz Gvat in the place of Jibta; Kibbutz Sarid in the place of Huneifis; and Kefar Yehushua in the place of Tal al-Shuman. There is not a single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population." (David Ben Gurion, quoted in The Jewish Paradox, by Nahum Goldmann, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1978, p. 99)

On the “right to exist”

The hypocrisy of this always astounds me.

Everyone bleats on about Hamas not existing the right of Israel to exist, but when is it going to be recognsied that consecutive Israeli governments and political parties donot recognise the right of Palestine to exist or even recognise there is even such thing as a “Palestinian people”. . In the current Israeli government, for example (but the same can be said about previous governments) there are a number of parties which explicity refuse to recognise the right of a Palestinian state to exist and they deny the very existence of a Palestinian people (calling them Arabs, not Palestinians and saying they can go live in Lebanon or Syria etc). In addition, there are parties both in this government and in previous Israeli governments which have explicitly called for the they forceable transfer (i.e ethnic cleansing) of the Palestinian people.

So why is this demand not applied equally to both the Israelis and the Palestinians. If you and others, think its perfectly acceptable to demand that Hamas and the Palestinians do this, then you should also be demanding that Israel and Zionists do this as well. However, this of course is never the case and the Zionists will never do this, this is why there has never been, as Israeli academic Tanya Rheinhart pointed out, an Israeli government interested in real peace or being a real partner for peace.

Treat of Palestinians by the Israeli state

Umm, Rob I suggest you click onto the link on the blog for the Adalah centre. There are currently (from memory) more than 20 laws that actively discriminate Palestinians with Israeli citizenship.

In addition, numerous studies have shown that in practice Palestinians with Israeli citizenship are discriminated and disadvantaged under Israeli law, both directly and indirectly.

For example see:
2004, 2003, 2001 US State Department Human Rights Report on Israel and the Occupied Territories (2004) (2003) (2001)

2001 Human Rights Watch study on the Israeli Education system – “Second Class: Discrimination against Palestinian Arab Children in Israel’s Schools

2001 Orr Commission (Israeli commission set up to examine the killing of 13 Palestinians with Israeli citizenship by Israeli security forces in 2000)

1998 Adalah (The Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel) study

Some examples:
1. According to the 1998 Adalah (The Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel) study: there were at the time 20 discriminatory laws in existence. These laws either related to the rights of Jews in Israel or abridged the rights of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship. The study found that 17 laws which either privilege Jews or abridge the rights of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship. These laws can be found in the Basic Laws, which are the source for Israeli Laws (Israel does not has a constitution as such, instead they have 5 Basic Laws) and revolve around citizenship, the right of political participation, land and housing rights, cultural rights, education and religious rights. The study found that the other three laws, while using neutral language and general terminology, however, in practice have a discriminatory effect on Palestinians with Israeli citizenship in relation to limiting land and housing rights of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship
Discrimination in the Education System

2. The 2003 US State Department Human Rights Report found that there was:

• socio-economic discrimination of Arab citizens.

• At the end of 2003, the Israeli Government still had not implemented the 2000 High Court of Justice ruling that the Government cannot discriminate against Israeli Arabs (ie. Palestinians with Israeli citizenship) in the distribution of State resources, including land.

• Government resources allocated for Palestinian Arab children (who were Israeli citizens) were scheduled to be built had been constructed.

• The Government needed to improve special education in the IsraeliArab sector

• Arabs who make up 20 percent of the population continue to be under-represented in the government sector.

• Palestinians with Israeli citizenship continued to face discriminatory treatment at the airport and security checkpoints.

• In 2002, NGO’s challenged the government plan to pay less social security child allowance benefits to families in which at least one parent did not serve in the IDF than to families in which at least one parent did.

• The government has yet to fulfil its commitment to resolve the legal status of unrecognized Arab villages including Bedouin villages in the Negev.

• The government’s passage of the Citizenship and Family Unification Law took away the right to Israeli citizenship for spouses living in the West Bank and Gaza.

• Specifically many Palestinian employees of press agencies were denied press cards. Only
Palestinian journalists were subject to a vetting process by the ISA.

• Freedom of peaceful assembly and association was violated on numerous occasions.

• The government provided proportionally greater financial support to Orthodox Jewish institutions than to non-Orthodox or non-Jewish groups.

• The Central Election Committee denied the candidacy of Dr. Ahmed Tibi, Azmi Bishara and the Arab Bal’ad Party list from running in the January 2003 election before the Supreme Court overturned the decision.

On top of this, then of course, is the discrimination and oppression that the Palestinians of the Occupied Territories face under the occupation.

3. In 2001, Human Rights Watch (see issued a report, which highlighted discrimination in the Israeli state education system against Israel’s Arab minority (ie. Palestinians with Israeli citizenship). The report found that Israeli operated two separate school systems, one for Israeli Jewish children and one for Palestinian Arab children who had Israeli citizenship.

According to the report, “Their schools are a world apart in quality from the public schools serving Israel's majority Jewish population. Often overcrowded and understaffed, poorly built, badly maintained, or simply unavailable, schools for Palestinian Arab children offer fewer facilities and educational opportunities than are offered other Israeli children”. The report went on to say, “Discrimination against Palestinian Arab children colors every aspect of the two systems. Education Ministry authorities have acknowledged that the ministry spends less per student in the Arab system than in the Jewish school system. The majority's schools also receive additional state and state-sponsored private funding for school construction and special programs through other government agencies. The gap is enormous--on every criterion measured by Israeli authorities”

Kim said...

Hi Yaarekic,

Please see my comments to Rob on the conditions for Palestinians with Israeli citizenship living in Israel.

Also see my comments to him on hypocrisy of the “right to exist”

I always find the attempt to minimise the oppressive, racist and discriminatory policies of the Israeli state against the Palestinians (both in Israel and the OPT) by arguing as many pro Zionists and pro Israel state, that is okay because supposedly other countries (whether Muslim or not or Arab or not) supposedly treat other people, a complete cop out.

Either you oppose racism, oppression and discrimination or you don’t. You can’t just oppose it in one place and no apply the criteria in another as you correctly point out.

Yes, it is true that many Muslim and Arab countries have regressive and oppressive policies, but how does this excuse the fact that Israeli has the same? How does it justify it?

Why if you oppose such policies there, don’t you oppose the same sort of policies in Israel?

Why do you and other proIsraeli state and Pro zionists seek to justify and make excuses for Israel’s racist, discriminatory and oppressive policies by deflecting attention and saying, “oh Israel is not as bad as such and such...”

Either you oppose ALL racism, discrimination and oppression EVERYWHERE or you don’t.

Just as woman is either pregnant or not, (ie. you can’t be a “little pregnant”, you are either pregnant or you are not), Israel is either racist, discriminatory or oppressive or it isn’t (ie. it can’t be just a “little” racist and oppressive, you are either racist and oppressive or you are not).

This is why I (along with many others on the left, so you are incorrect to say that the left does nothing on regarding discrimination/oppression in Arab or Muslim countires) have organised and attended rallies, forums and other activities opposing the treatment of miniorities by Arab or Muslim regimes, including rallies to oppose the beheading of women by Saddam Hussien, the gassing of the Kurds, the Muslim dictatorship in Sudan and its treatment of minorities and political dissidents.

We have organised and attended rallies and forums against the Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia, for the rights of the East Timorese to independence etc etc. The list could go on and on.

We do this because we oppose ALL racism, discrimination and oppression EVERWHERE.

My question to you then.... is why do supporters of Israel and Zionism conveniently ignore the fact that the left does in fact oppose the activities of other countries who are oppressive, racist and discriminatory?

Why do you and they seek to justify Israel’s actions by trying to deflect attention from them or attempting to minimise them?

Why if you oppose racism and discrimination in these countries (ie. Muslim and Arab), then why do you not oppose the same in Israel and why do you not speak out against it?

Yaakeric said...

I do oppose discrimination in Israel. Nothing I have written on any of the blogs says otherwise. It needs to be stopped.

This does not mean that Israel is not a legitimate state. Neither does it mean it is an apartheid state.

I believe in a two state solution. It is the only solution that can be reached in the real world.

If Israel does not withdraw from the occupied territories, it puts itself at risk. Israelis know this, and want to withdraw. Many of the settlements will have to be withdrawn from.

On the other hand, the Palestinians will have to recognise that Israel exists and will continue to exist. That means formal diplomatic recognition, not a temporary truce.

I believe Israel should completely dissociate itself from Gaza, and also withdraw from most of the West Bank. How much will depend on what is viable politically and militarily.

There is responsibility on both sides.

If and when a state of war is removed, it will be important that Israel does much more to heal its society, including separation of faith and state and improving treatment of the Arab minority.

As a matter of historical fact, Palestinians as a nation did not exist prior to the founding of Israel. However, they exist now, and this must be, and has been, acknowledged.

The left is very biased in its treatment of Israel. That will not change. The left applies standards to Israel that it does not apply to other countries. This is wrong. The clearest evidence of this is the campaign to boycott Israeli educational institutions - leaving the vast range of much much worse muslim countries totally unaffected by any such recommendations of a boycott.

What about a boycott of Iranian educational institutions. What about frank criticism of the broadranging human rights abuses within Palestinian society.

What about outright condemnation of the undeniably terrorist actions by Hamas and Fatah against Israeli citizens.

I am interested in a real world solution to the problem, which gives both peoples the possibility of a better future.

You, in my view, are an apologist for Hamas and their ilk.

Yaakeric said...

Kim writes that "to ask Palestinians to recognise Israel's right to exist is to treat them as subhumans" etc

No. International law recognises Israel as a legitimate state. Israel entered into agreement with the PLO, the recognised sole legitmate representative of the Palestinian people at the time, in which agreement the Palestinians recognised Israel and its right to exist.

More importantly, to not recognise Israel as a legitimate state simply puts a roadblock in the way to an agreement.

Israel will never give up its right to exist. To demand that it does, is not acting in the real world, and condemns both peoples to a dismal future.

You can twist and turn, bend over backwards, do whatever, there is no way the left should support the likes of Hamas.

Yaakeric said...

On Israel's recognition of the existence of the Palestinians and the need for a Palestinian State.

It has long been official Israeli government policy to support a two state solution. It is true that some parties do not endorse this position, but that is the nature of coalition politics in Israel. It does not change the fact that Israel has long endorsed a two state solution.

Your claims in this regard are, like many others you make, simply rubbish.

Yaakeric said...

In relation to the antisemitism of Hamas.

Unlike you, Jews have learnt through history to believe the threats made by Nazis and the likes of Hamas. Their antisemitic charter is just that - and they mean it.

By the way, while you are quoting Ben Gurion (which quotes I am checking out for their veracity), please don't neglect to include quotes from Palestinian leaders like the Grand Mufti who spent the war years in Berlin and was feted by arabs. Or other Arab leaders like Nasser, who was a nazi collaborator during the war.

They mean this stuff. As does the Iranian President. They are a visceral threat to forward thinking people and the democratic left throughout the middle east.

Kim said...


What determines whether a state, such as Israeli, is engaged in Apartheid practices or not is whether there exists a system of laws that (1) that allow for the domination of one group of another, politically, economically and socially, based solely on racial or ethnic grounds and (2) these laws allow for the enforced physical separation of one group from another based on race.

Israel's Basic Laws allow for the enforcing of land and property rights in favour of the Jewish majority over the Palestinian minority, economic discrimination, social discrimination in education and schooling and physical separation in town and municipal planning.

Israel, while differing from South Africa in many ways, is still an apartheid state precisely because it has laws that allow for the domination of one racial/ethnic group over another and because these laws enforce the physical separation based on race.

I suggest you take the time to read Israeli academic, Uri Davis' book, Apartheid Israel, which outlines in extensive detail the apartheid regime in Israel (you should be able to pick up or order a copy in any good bookshop)

In the mean time, you could also read:

This road is for Jews only by Shulamit Aloni (former Israeli Education Minister)

as well as the 2002 article by Tim Wise, an American Jewish anti-racism campaigner on “democracy in Israel”

In relation to Israel wanting peace I suggest you read the article by Israeli academic, Tanya Reinhart called: From Aqaba to Sharm - Fake peace festivals

As for the left being "biased" about Israel, this is as I pointed out before load of hooey. The problem for Zionists such as yourself is that they hate Israel being held up to the same standard that is expect of every other country. When they are, you cry fowl.

As I pointed out previously, there are many campaigns which the left are involved in regarding discrimination, racism and religious intolerance in relation to Muslim countries.

You seem to conveniently forget that what is going on in Israel is the longest occupation in the world. It has been going on for almost 60 years (yes, since 1948).

In relation to terrorist bombings, you again try to raise a straw argument regarding the left. The Left do not condone them and we have often and repeatedly condemned them (but you choose to conveniently ignore this fact). We do, however, also point out that four times as many Palestinians have been killed by Israeli state terror, as have been killed by Palestinian suicide bombings. This is fact. You might not like it, but thats too bad. To point this out is not to condone terrorist bombings. It does, however, reveal that violence in the conflict is not equal and that it is infact the Israeli state who is the greater perpetrator of violent acts.

Unfortunatley, Yaarekic what you are interested is not real solutions. You are interest in being an apologist for Israel and the state terrorism it perperates every single day on the Palestinian people.

Kim said...

you write:

"As a matter of historical fact, Palestinians as a nation did not exist prior to the founding of Israel".

While it is true that Palestine may not existed as a "modern nation state", it has existed as definite ethn-cultural community with defined geopolitical borders.

The modern nation-state only came into existence over the past 300 - 400 years and their formation coincided with the rise of capitalism. As feudalism began to decline and early or mercantile capitalism began to develop the modern nation also began to be formed. These new nation-states became consolidated as capitalism entered its monopoly and finance stage (the beginning of the 1800 to the just before the beginning of the 1900s) when industry grew massively and you started to see the emergency of industrial monopolies and later the development of banking and financial oligarchies.

Today, we are in what is often called late capitalism - or the imperialist stage of capitalism. This refers to the way in which global territories were and still are divided up amongst the biggest capital powers - Britain, the USA and France etc (from around the late 1800 to today) previously through colonialism and today through corporate globalisation.

However, while naton-states, with borders as we recognise them now, are only a modern phenomenon, the great majority of nation-states are built on "the historical shoulders" of what could be termed common ethnographic communities (which often but not always became the basis for national groupings and the later nation-state.

In the middle east, this was not the case, as the imperial powers literally got out a red pen and divided up the region between them, totally ignoring any ethnic and cultural groupings, which is one of the reasons we have the mess we have now)

In the modern sense of the word, a nation is a historically evolved, stable community of people, formed around the basis of a common language, territory, economic life and psychological makeup, manifest in a common culture.

These characteristics were and still are very much present in Palestine for many centuries, which is why it is valid to say that there existed a common identity amongst Palestinian Arabs.

According to Haim Gerber, an Israeli Jewish professor of Islamic History at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, contrary to zionist mythology, the concept of Palestine and the Palestinian people did not appear only after and in reaction to zionism.

Gerber notes that during medieval times (mid 800 - 1200) while Jund Filastin or the district of Palestine was subsumed under the province of Greater Syria, it also stood apart from it and its inhabitants used the term "bilad" or "ard" (Arabic for country) to describe where they lived. After the 1200, while the Mamluks and later the Ottoman's did not use the term, Filastin administratively, it was still a term used by the local inhabitants. Residents of the Holy Land in books and documents from the 1400 through to the 1900s regularly use the name, Filastin (Palestine), as name of their bilad (country) to describe their place of residence. In the early 20th century, in the wake of the revolt against the Ottoman empire, the two most important political newspapers in Palestine were called, Filastin (Palestine) and al Karmil (the Carmel).

So while a Palestinian "nation-state" in the modern sense of the word did not exist, Palestinians did see themselves as a definite ethnocentric community, unified in a geographical region or bilad (country) for hundreds and hundreds of years prior to modern colonisation and the creation of modern nation states.

Abdul said...

Head over to this site to understand the situation better by viewing some documentaries about the ongoing conflict.

The site works best with Mozilla Firefox browser.