American Anthropological Association Historical Vote to boycott Israel

DENVER, Nov. 20 — In a historic vote Friday night, the American Anthropological Association at its annual business meeting resoundingly approved a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions by a vote of 1040-136. The resolution will now be forwarded to the full membership for a final vote by electronic ballot in the coming months.”
The anthropologists against the resolution issued today the following statement after the vote was published by the organization they insist that it is injustice to boycott Israel when Palestine is not even a state.
“We, the undersigned anthropologists, oppose the recent call by some of our colleagues to boycott Israeli academic institutions. Today, there is a state of Israel but not yet a Palestinian state: this injustice should be rectified as soon as possible. ”
From all the movement of solidarity with Palestine today historical vote put Palestine at the at the level of Israel as a state.
Now is not only Prof Ilan Pappe the Israeli scholar telling the world that Israel is ethnic cleansing the indigenous population of Palestine, the AAA now can vouch that claim as well.
Since 2012 the issue of Palestine/Israel conflict was on the conversation in the organization and finally on 2014 the AAA sent a team of Anthropologists research team to Palestine and the Occupied Territories (Israel) to find facts of claims made by writers, journalists, activists and Palestinians regarding the situation. A report was issue on October 1, of the findings and today in their annual meeting the members of the AAA gave their scientific opinion and vote to boycott Israel.

The resolution enjoins the Association not to enter into any formal collaborations with Israeli academic institutions. Individual Israeli scholars may continue to participate in AAA conferences and publications. Moreover, individual AAA members will remain free to determine for themselves whether and how to apply the boycott in their own professional practice.

As heirs to a long tradition of scholarship on colonialism, anthropologists affirm, through this resolution, that the core problem is Israel’s maintenance of a settler colonial regime based on Jewish supremacy and Palestinian dispossession. By supporting the boycott, anthropologists are taking a stand for justice through action in solidarity with Palestinians.

Today’s historic result is due to over three years of organizing within the Association to educate and mobilize members to stand against Israel’s widespread, systematic, and ongoing violations of Palestinian rights, as well as to protest the complicity of Israeli academic institutions in these abuses. The vote was also a powerful act of protest against U.S. support for Israel’s actions.

Read the report here

Settlers violence is the root of the problem in Palestine

Settlers attacking Old Palestinians woman/ Old Photo

This is piece is to respond to Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic: The Paranoid, Supremacist Roots of the Stabbing Intifada, where he said his version of the story going back to 1920 through 2015: Palestinian leaders incite violence now as they did in 1920.
The current stabbing Intifada taking place in Palestine he said a quasi-uprising in which Palestinians have been trying, and occasionally succeeding, to kill Jews with knives. Goldberg should know that the definition of Intifada is uprising. He used Intifada as part of the name of the article and then he calls the intifada quasi-uprising. Mr Goldberg, it is an intifada or is not.

Palestinian sources said that when two terrorist settlers tried to strip the woman of her Hijab, she defended herself with a knive. Immediately, one of the settlers shot the woman from a close range. Clashes in al-QudsThe woman was heading to al-Aqsa Mosque, before being attacked by the settlers, eye witnesses said.

Well he goes to blame the current situation to the leaders of Palestine for the anger that is uncontrollable and has been displaced by the Palestinian youth mostly in recent incidents. Worth mentioning that only part of the stabbings did really happened as published by Palestinian news and other outlets, the rest of the Palestinians killed have been staged by  the settlers filled with their common hate for any Arab; Christian or Muslim. And even there is an incident that a settler confused the darker skin of an individual for Palestinian and it was a Jew.  Last Thursday, The New York Post said that 31 Palestinians were killed recently from which only, 14 were recognized as attackers, according to mathematics the other 17 were indeed executed

Anyway, going back to Goldberg’s article, he goes on saying the violence, “is prompted in good part by the same set of manipulated emotions that sparked the anti-Jewsh riots of the 1920’s; a deeply felt desire on the part of the Palestinians to “protect” the Temple Mount from the Jews” he said. Goldberg does not make any mention of the thousands of settlers and IOF incidents of unprovoked attacks prior to this 2015 youth uprising. No, he prefers to say only what the Israel’s public loves to hear; the eternal victim-hood of the Jewish people wondering in the wilderness looking for God’s promise land; for his chosen people. Let’s forget about religion and come back to reality.
Palestinians have been living in Palestine for centuries as history records.
If you like recorded history and want to learn more about Palestine, I invite you to visit Palestine Remembered where you can watch videos of interviews from Palestinians and Jews before the creation of the political entity Israel, photos of villages all gone now, stories of battles and more.”The CORE issues of the Palestinian-Israeli are the collective dispossession and ethnic cleansing (compulsory population transfer to achieve political objectives) of the Palestinian people for the past six decades. In our opinion, the conflict would have been at the same level of intensity even if both parties had been Jewish, Muslims, or Christians. ” PalestineRemembered.com

Golberg repeats the same mantra that is being distributed by the Streaming Media: “Netayahu has said that the State of Israel is not trying to change the Status Quo.”

But what is the “Status Quo”?

The State of Israel is not “officially” promoting settler violence but it is permitting the violence with the protection of the IOF and Israeli security forces allowing settlers to attack worshipers and allowing the settlers to enter Al-quds with shoes to vandalize inside the mosque.
If Netayahu mean he is not going to change the Status Quo then:
What is the Status Quo in Jerusalem and in the rest of the occupied territories?
Occupation Territories is the Status Quo?
Are check points the Status Quo?
“Each checkpoint looks like a military zone, consisting of a guard tower, a pedestrian waiting area, and two car lanes: one with a long wait for Palestinian cars and a special open car lane for Israeli cars. ” Electronic Intifada 2004
Palestinian Muslim males over 45 not allow to enter Jerusalem.

The South Africa pass laws implemented in Israel are kicking and running. Palestinians need to secure a permit to move around the occupied territories. If Israel feels like it, it won’t grant a permit.

Palestinians are not allowed to freely move in Palestine at all. Shuhada Street in Hebron is one of the best examples of living under a military dictatorship occupation. Shuhada Street is close for Palestinians but Jews can freely walk and harass the Palestinians residents that live on Shuhada street but need to leave their homes thru a hole on the roof.
Jerusalem is only open on Friday and males 55+, women 45+ after IOF clearance.
People living in Gaza are not allow to enter West Bank at all, actually the refugee camp of Gaza is a deportation camp. Families are completely separated.

Is the #Apartheid Wall part of the Status Quo?

Palestinian protesters and IDF soldiers at the beginning of the weekly protest near Bil’in. The apartment houses of Modi’in Ilit can be seen in the distance. March 30 2013 (photo: Noam Sheizaf)

Do allowing the settlers and sometimes IOF escorting them to harass farmers during their work in the field the Status Quo?
Do allowing the settlers to harass women in their way to the market the Status Quo?
Do allowing the settlers to harass children in their way from and to school the Status Quo?
Do allowing the settlers to burn thousands of olive trees every year the Status Quo?
Are the demolitions of Palestinian homes, separation and forced eviction of Palestinians part of the Status Quo?
Are the separate roads for settlers and Palestinian part of the Status Quo?
Is the killing of youth rather than access to courts the Status Quo?
Is the harassment of the children of Palestine in the middle of the night to take their photos part of the Status Quo?
Is the confiscation of Palestinian land for “security reason” and part of the Status Quo?
And also do not forget that the violence is not only in Jerusalem but in all the occupied territories including the modern concentration camp of Gaza which has been blocked from the rest of the world for almost 10 years.
So, people do not swallow the pill that this is a religious war, is not.Goldberg makes an excellent surgical extraction of the truth to portray the Israel’s side of the story.
For people that only follows the main stream media news, Goldberg’s piece is an excellent source to stay uninformed, misinformed and with this stripping Palestinian of all their humanity and right to fight for their existence in the only way they know; throwing rocks and now using kitchen knives.
Remember Israel has tanks, F16s, Apache Helicopters, Drones, War ships to attack Gaza, in other words Israel has all the defense gadgets and Palestinians has none but stones and knives. The fact that Palestine has been invaded many times in history does not mean it did not exist before United Nations decided to partition the land in 1947. It does not means either that the violence started on 1947.  It only means that Palestinians have been peaceful people that never wonder outside of their land, they have been farmers and shepherds, not conquerors.
Further reading    Survey of Palestine by British Mandate 1200 pages report includes 1917-1945

21-Century-Israel-Pet-Project fails – ADL Jewish existential thread

The Palestine Post front page, May 1948. Against US warning Israel declares itself independent

The Palestine Post front page, May 1948. Against US warning Israel declares itself independent

by Marivel Guzman

The inevitable is coming, The Zionists dreams to insert ‘Jews’ in Palestine, what they (Zionists) insist in calling their homeland has failed. The Zionist Apartheid Entity could never achieve a status of a nation, the closest to a State was a military dictatorship ‘entity’.. They’ forged’ history to their convenience, and after all, all they got was a mimic of a nation. A nation infected with nationalism, and invented threats, and fear into the sane soul of the Jew, now more than ever the Jews really fear a real threat to their own existence as an isolated group.

 

“The recent UN General Assembly vote recognising Palestine as a state with observer status requires a more complex analysis, but it does reveal Israel’s utter isolation in the world community.”Zionism as a failed project, by Nivedita Menon

 

The global Jewish community has to thank to the Anti-Defamation League for fueling a non-existent threat. Now after years of fear mongering the threat have become real, but not because they are persecuted as the Zionists want them (Jewish people) to believe, but because now more than ever the same Jewish groups around the world have discovered the scheme, and they themselves are unmasking the Apartheid Zionist entity.

Semarian Palestinian Jews in the Holy Land

Semarian Palestinian Jews in the Holy Land

The Palestinian Jews have come to the conclusion that they have always been in their homeland, that promise land that their holy books speaks of. It has always been there , the others, the settlers, the new comers, are impostors, thieves backed by a militay enterprise called Israel.

Other Jewish writers blame the progressive Jews for the ills of Israel project, attacking a non-existential threat as real and blaming the Jewish that feel the need of walking away from the Zionist’s dream.

“Anti-Semitism is on the rise — and progressive Jews are to blame, according to a recent essay published by the American Jewish Committee (“‘Progressive’ Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism”). Its author, Alvin Rosenfeld, argues that sharp criticism of Israel is equivalent to arguing that Israel shouldn’t exist — which means Jews shouldn’t exist.” said Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz, in its article ‘Some Notes on Anti-Semitism from a Progressive Jewish Perspective‘ published in Jews currents in its March 2007 edition.

What transpires in this article, is the repetitive argument that ‘everyone is coming to get the Jews,’ and if-you-are-not-with-me-you-are-against-me-argument, Zionists defenders would blame the earth for the fail of their project, but, will never blame themselves for attemping to change history.

Mondoweiss.net published a significant article-Arendt: Born in conflict, Israel will degenerate into Sparta, and American Jews will need to back away – Mondoweiss– that put flat on the table the argument of the present sentiment of the Jews not only of Jewish philosophers and academics, but that of the Jewish community in general.

“And even if the Jews were to win the war, its end would find the unique possibilities and the unique achievements of Zionism in Palestine destroyed. The land that would come into being would be something quite other than the dream of world Jewry, Zionist and non-Zionist. The ‘victorious’ Jews would live surrounded by an entirely hostile Arab population, secluded into ever-threatened borders, absorbed with physical self-defense to a degree that would submerge all other interests and acitvities. The growth of a Jewish culture would cease to be the concern of the whole people; social experiments would have to be discarded as impractical luxuries; political thought would center around military strategy…. And all this would be the fate of a nation that — no matter how many immigrants it could still absorb and how far it extended its boundaries (the whole of Palestine and Transjordan is the insane Revisionist demand)–would still remain a very small people greatly outnumbered by hostile neighbors.”  wrote Hannah Arendt in a essay published in The Jewish Writings in 2007

 

The facts do not lie, Israel did not take a lesson from history and is now doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.

In history Jews have insisted in maintaining themselves in isolation, keeping their communities acting as micro-cities, but at the same time inserting themselves into the political system of their states, soon to be controling but without relinquishing their status as autonomous entities.
All throughout history Jewish blocks have been expelled from the states that gave them shelter and allowed them to flourish. The latest example would be the vilified Germany.

 

Nationalism is bad enough when it trusts in nothing but the rude force of the nation. A nationalism that necessarily and admittedly depends upon the force of a foreign nation is certainly worse. This is the threatened state of Jewish nationalism and of the proposed Jewish state, surrounded inevitably by Arab states and Arab people. Even a Jewish majority in Palestine–nay even a transfer of all Palestine’s Arabs, which is openly demanded by the revisionists–would not substantially change a situation in which Jews must either ask protection from an outside power against their neighbors or come to a working agreement with their neighbors…Read the entire article in Mondoweiss

| Stealing Palestine: Interview with Richard Falk!

Stealing Palestine: interview with Richard Falk ~ Stuart LittlewoodRedress Information & Analysis.

Creeping annexation, ethnic cleansing and “the politics of fragmentation” inflicted by criminals who strut the world stage and thumb their noses at international law.

As the international conspiracy to rob Palestinians of their freedom and homeland is exposed a little more each day, observers and activists still puzzle over the duplicity of the United Nations in the decades-long illegal occupation and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian territories, not to mention the true intent of Palestinian leaders. So when Richard Falk, Professor of International Law at Princeton and UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Occupied Palestine, visited Norwich recently, I took the opportunity to put some questions to him.

“Peace process”

[Stuart Littlewood] Can we start with the so-called “peace process”, please? Does the resignation of the Palestinian negotiation team, and the reasons given, effectively end the already discredited “peace talks”? Should the Palestinians walk away or carry on playing a pointless game for another six months?

[Richard Falk] It is difficult to know how to assess the current suspension of peace talks. The Palestinian Authority (PA) seems always ready to bend to pressure, although with some outer limits. In this respect, the future of this phase of “peace talks” will be determined not in Ramallah, but in Washington and Tel Aviv. It should be evident 20 years after Oslo that the peace talks serve Israel’s interest in “creeping annexation” of the West Bank and ethnic cleansing in East Jerusalem, while diminishing Palestinian prospects, and even harming the Palestinian image by disinformation that blames the Palestinian side for the breakdown of the process when and however it occurs. It would be a welcome sign of PA independence if they come forth and denounce this peace process for what it is.

The sad reality is that this is almost certain not to happen, and more likely than not the period of negotiations will be extended beyond the nine months set aside, on the entirely false claim that the parties are on the verge of resolving all their differences, and with a little patience, the prospects for a deal are quite bright.

[Question] The negotiators said they were resigning because of the “unprecedented escalation” of settlement building and because the Israeli government wasn’t serious about a two-state solution and had failed to fulfil commitments given before the present talks were resumed. I now read that [Palestinian negotiator Saeb] Erekat has already been back to Washington for more talks with Tzipi Livni (Israel’s lead negotiator), [US Secretary of State John] Kerry and US envoy [Martin] Indyk. Far from denouncing the process they are once again endorsing it, which makes your point.

In any case, how acceptable is it for a weak, demoralized and captive people like the Palestinians to be forced to the negotiation table with their brutal occupier under the auspices of a US administration seen by many people as too dishonest to play the part of peace broker?

[Answer] Even if the United States was acting in good faith, for which there is no evidence, its dual role as Israel’s unconditional ally and as intermediary would subvert the credibility of a negotiating process. In fact, the US government signals its partisanship by White House appointments of individuals overtly associated with the AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] lobbying group as special envoys to oversee the negotiations such as Dennis Ross and Martin Indyk. It is hard to imagine the fury in the West that would exist if the conditions were reversed, and the UN proposed a one-sided “peace process” biased in favour of the Palestinians. The unsatisfactory nature of the current framework of negotiations is further flawed by weighting the process in favour of Israel, which enjoys a position of hard power dominance.

Palestinians’ main grievances are all reinforced by an objective interpretation of international law

[Q] There can be no peace without justice, so is it right for final status “negotiations” to be held before competing claims are tested in the courts and the many outstanding rulings under international law and UN resolutions are implemented? In any case, shouldn’t a neutral UN peace commission be supervising the final settlement of this long struggle, rather than the US or the Quartet?

[A] Yes, if the priority were to attain a just and sustainable peace, a framework would be developed that had two characteristics: neutral as between the two sides and sensitive to the relevance of rights under international law. Such sensitivity would favour the Palestinians as their main grievances are all reinforced by an objective interpretation of international law, including in relation to settlements, Jerusalem, refugees, borders, water.

Mahmoud Abbas’s legitimacy

[Q] How much legitimacy does Palestinian President Abbas enjoy, having overstayed his term of office?

[A] This question of political legitimacy of President Abbas turns on the subjective mood of the Palestinian people. Because the PA is a political entity so vulnerable to pressures and manipulation, the status of its presiding leader seems to be widely seen as a secondary matter of limited significance. When President Abbas has articulated the case for Palestinian statehood during the last three years at the United Nations he gained considerable personal respect among most governments and for many Palestinians. He seems a leader caught between the realities of his compromised position and the occasional opportunities to express the national ambitions and support the rights of the Palestinian people. The division with Hamas, and the failure to find a formula to restore Palestinian unity in relation to the West, is a further source of weakness for PA claims to represent the Palestinian people as a whole. The failure to hold scheduled elections highlights the insufficiency of PA and Palestinian leadership.

Two-state solution

[Q] Do you believe a two-state solution is still feasible?

[A] No. I think Oslo has been dead for some years, primarily due to Israeli policies designed to encroach upon the remnant of Palestinian territorial and symbolic rights, especially by the continuously expanding settlement archipelago, the unlawful separation wall built on occupied territory, and the demographic manipulations in East Jerusalem. The pretence that Oslo plus the Roadmap point the only way to peace serves American and Israeli purposes in quieting growing complaints about the persistence of the conflict. It represents a diplomatic attempt to deflect criticism, and to divert attention from Palestinian grievances and a growing global solidarity movement.

[Q] The 1947 UN Partition was unworkable as well as immoral. Shouldn’t the whole territory [of historic Palestine] be returned to the melting pot and shared out more sensibly? Shouldn’t Jerusalem and Bethlehem become an international city, or corpus separatum, as the UN originally intended?

[A] For me the fundamental flaw with the partition proposals contained in GA [UN General Assembly] Resolution 181 was the failure to consult the people resident in Palestine at the time. A secondary flaw was the unfairness of awarding 55 per cent of the territory to the Jewish presence as represented by the Zionist movement, which in 1947 represented an estimated 7 per cent of Palestine’s population. This idea of determining the future of Palestine by outsiders, even if well intentioned, which seems not to have ever been the case, is incompatible with the historical trend toward resolving the future of peoples by way of the dynamics of self-determination. In Palestine’s case, at least from the issuance of the Balfour Declaration onwards, this effort to control the future of Palestine has been justly condemned as the last major example of “settler colonialism”. It is a particularly acute example as the settlers have no mother country to which to return, and take a poker player’s high risk posture of “all in”.

International Criminal Court

[Q]  Turning to the role of the International Criminal Court [ICC], this is an organ of the UN. So why doesn’t the ICC initiate its own prosecution of Israeli crimes based on UN reports and the mountain of evidence available to it, especially in view of Palestine’s upgraded status?

There is no authoritative explanation of ICC passivity in face of the Israeli criminal violation of fundamental Palestinian rights.

[A] There is no authoritative explanation of ICC passivity in face of the Israeli criminal violation of fundamental Palestinian rights. As a matter of speculation, it is plausible to assume an absence of political will on the part of the prosecutor’s office to initiate an investigation that would be deeply opposed by Israel and the United States. The ICC has been recently criticized for its Western bias, and its failure, for instance, to consider whether the United Kingdom and the United States violated the Rome Statute’s enumeration of international crimes by initiating and conducting the Iraq War. The African Union has complained about the seeming focus on the criminality of African leaders, and the bypassing of grievances directed at Western behaviour.

Responsibility to protect in Palestine

[Q] We hear you and others calling for intervention to prevent humanitarian catastrophes, e.g. the Gaza water crisis. Who exactly are you calling on? What is the chain of responsibility for intervening.

[A] There has been evolving within the UN and in international society more generally a sense that there is a “responsibility to protect” [R2P] peoples subject to severe threats of humanitarian catastrophes or natural disasters. Such sentiments are part of a process I have described as “moral globalization”.

In fact, R2P diplomacy has been discredited by being used as a geopolitical instrument, most dramatically as the normative foundation for the UN endorsement of the NATO 2011 military intervention in Libya. With respect to Libya the justification was protection against a feared massacre of civilians in the city of Benghazi, but the actual military operation from its outset seemed designed to achieve regime change in Tripoli. When it comes to Gaza where the present crisis has passed into a zone of desperation, the UN and world community are silent as if stone deaf to this deepening human crisis of survival.

So long as it is useful for Israel and Washington to treat Hamas as “a terrorist organization” the UN will be limited in its role to being a provider of a subsistence existence for the Gazan people…

[Q] We have just seen the UN intervening to bring fuel into Gaza as it teetered on the brink of a full-blown public health crisis. There are many such emergencies thanks to Israel’s continuing blockade. Why doesn’t the UN take over the supply of fuel full-time? And indeed the supply of medicines, drugs, medical equipment and spares?

[A] The tragic situation in Gaza cannot be understood without taking account of the political context, above all the split between Fatah and Hamas, and the Israeli posture toward Gaza after its “disengagement” in 2005 and the imposition of a punitive blockade in mid-2007 after Hamas took over the governance of Gaza. The UN has no capability to override geopolitical priorities, and so long as it is useful for Israel and Washington to treat Hamas as “a terrorist organization” the UN will be limited in its role to being a provider of a subsistence existence for the Gazan people, long victims of unlawful Israel policies of “collective punishment”, unconditionally prohibited by Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

After the Egyptian coup of 3 July this year [reference to the mass popular uprising against the Muslim Brotherhood’s President Muhammad Morsi], the subsistence regime evolved in Gaza is itself in jeopardy. The tunnel network has been substantiallydestroyed by Egyptian military action and the Rafah crossing from Gaza to Egypt has been mainly closed, isolating the people, and creating emergency conditions due to fuel shortages that have made electricity available only in very limited amounts.

The results are horrifying: sewage in the streets, insufficient power to run machines needed to keep the terminally ill alive, fuel shortages that virtually preclude economic activity, and closed borders that seal the fate of 1.6 million Gazans. Long before this dramatic further deterioration of life circumstances, observers were calling Gaza the largest open air prison in the world.

Israeli theft of Palestinian water and gas

The wrongful appropriation by Israel of Palestine’s water, land and energy resources has been a massive crime against the Palestinian people…

[Q] What is the UN doing to protect Palestine’ s precious aquifers and offshore gas field from being plundered by the Israelis?

[A] Again, the UN has no independent capability, or ever will, to challenge Israel or to protect Palestinian rights. It is a case of geopolitical manipulation and Palestinian victimization. The wrongful appropriation by Israel of Palestine’s water, land and energy resources has been a massive crime against the Palestinian people that has been continuous with the occupation that commenced in 1967.

[Q] Why is the requirement, often repeated, to allow Palestinians free and unfettered movement in and out of Gaza not implemented? Gaza and the West Bank are supposed to be a contiguous territory but, for example, Palestinian students in Gaza are prevented from attending their excellent universities in the West Bank. And why are Gazan fishermen still restricted to a mere fraction of their territorial waters, despite agreements to the contrary, and regularly fired on? Why is Israel not prosecuted for acts of piracy in international waters against humanitarian traffic to Gaza?

Israeli military dominance, as politically reinforced by American geopolitical muscle, overrides all of these Palestinian claims of right… Such injustice and suffering can only be challenged by Palestinian resistance and international solidarity.

[A]  As earlier, the hard power realities of Israeli military dominance, as politically reinforced by American geopolitical muscle, overrides all of these Palestinian claims of right. In this respect, such injustice and suffering can only be challenged by Palestinian resistance and international solidarity. The specific abuses can and should be delimited to raise public awareness and contribute to the mobilization of support for the Palestinian struggle, but it is pointless to expect the UN to do more than its capabilities allow. The whole structure of the organization, combined with the method of funding, gives geopolitical pressures great leverage in relation to specific situations. The veto power given to the permanent members of the Security Council is a major expression of this weakness that was built into the constitutional structure of the UN from the moment of its establishment.

“Nuremberg Promise has not been kept”

[Q] People reading what you say here will be alarmed that US geopolitical power and Israeli military might can so easily override international and humanitarian law. After Nuremburg our legal institutions were strong enough to bring Nazi era criminals to book, but present-day war criminals walk free and thumb their noses. What hope is there for mankind and our brave new world if this is allowed to continue?

The bottom line is that we live in a world in which the primacy of hard power prevails in the relationship among states.

[A] The Nuremberg experience was based on “victors’ justice”, holding the defeated leaders after World War II criminally accountable, while exempting the crimes of the victors from accountability. There was a promise made at Nuremberg that in the future the rules by which the Germans were judged would be applicable to all who committed state crimes in the future. This Nuremberg Promise has not been kept. The political and military leaders of the main states enjoy impunity while the leaders of defeated countries (e.g. Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic) or sub-Saharan African countries are prosecuted by international tribunals. Double standards prevail, and it is questionable whether an international criminal law that punishes the weak and exempts the strong is to be treated as legitimate, even if those accused receive a fair trial and are convicted and punished only if they were guilty of grave misconduct.

The bottom line is that we live in a world in which the primacy of hard power prevails in the relationship among states. Geopolitical leverage enables Israel to defy the most basic principles of international law, and yet their leaders are not held accountable. There are only two paths available that challenge this result. National courts can be empowered by what is called “universal jurisdiction” to investigate, indict, prosecute, convict and punish anyone accused of state crime that can be personally delivered to the relevant court. In 1998 the Chilean dictator was detained in London after the Spanish government requested that [Augusto] Pinochet be extradited. After lengthy litigation it was found that Pinochet could be extradited for torture committed during part of his reign, but in the end he was sent back to Chile because of health reasons, and never faced trial in Spain. Yet such a possibility exists in relation to Israeli political and military leaders, and seems to have discouraged their travel to countries whose criminal law contains the authority to invoke universal jurisdiction.

The other possibility is by convening a peoples tribunal of the sort constituted in the past by the Bertrand Russell Foundation in Brussels and the Lelio Basso Foundation in Rome. The Russell Foundation sponsored four sessions devoted to various allegations of criminality attributed to the government of Israel. It produced convincing documentation of the charges, and issued judgements that called for civil society initiatives. Such a tribunal, although acting on evidence and in accord with the relevant provisions of international criminal law, possesses no formal authority and lacks implementing capabilities. Its role is limited to documenting the case against a government, and providing symbolic support to those who contend that there have been violations of international criminal law. Such outcomes may influence public opinion, and help change the balance of political forces by undermining the legitimacy of an established order of oppression as exists with respect to Israel’s relationship to the Palestinian people and the denial of their collective right of self-determination.

Palestinian disunity

[Q]  What are the chances as you see them for achieving unity between Fatah and Hamas, and how should the Palestinians play their cards in future?

The “politics of fragmentation” designed to undermine Palestinian unity… has been alarmingly successful.

[A] There is a near unanimous belief among Palestinians and their supporters that unity is needed to move the struggle forward. Such unity existed throughout the early decades of the Palestinian national movement, despite many ideological differences relating to tactics and goals, but within a shared resolve to achieve national liberation. The unifying image provided by Yasser Arafat’s uncontested leadership was also important.

Israel has pursued a policy I describe as “the politics of fragmentation” designed to undermine Palestinian unity, and it has been alarmingly successful. Oslo contributed to this end by dividing up the West Bank into Areas A, B and C, by splitting the administration of Gaza off from the rest of Palestine. The emergence of Hamas highlighted Palestinian fragmentation, a result welcomed by Israel even as it was condemned. Fatah appears to have been inhibited in reaching some kind of functional unity with Hamas by pressures to refrain from such moves mounted in Israel and the United States. So long as Hamas is treated as a terrorist organization, even in the face of its turn from armed struggle and entry into the political process back in 2006, there will be strong opposition to moves towards unity…

Deflection by defamation

[Q]  Finally, Richard, your robust defence of Palestinian rights has ruffled many feathers and led to demands from “the usual suspects” for your dismissal. Should the people you speak up for be concerned about this?

[A] The attacks on me, and others who have tried to bear witness to the directives of international law and political justice, are part of a deliberate campaign by Israel, and its cadres in civil society, to deflect attention from the substantive grievances of the Palestinian people. It is what I have described as “the politics of deflection”, go after the messenger so as to deflect attention from the message. The media have been largely compliant as have Israel’s powerful governmental friends, including the United Kingdom, US and Canadian governments. Of course, many NGOs and elements of the public push back against such tactics. In my case the defamatory efforts of UN Watch, in particular, have been unpleasant, but have not altered my effort to do the job of witnessing to the best of my ability and in accordance with the canons of truth telling.

Those of us living in comfort should not turn our gaze away from the children of Gaza this Christmas.

[Q] Thank you for being so generous with your time and sharing your assessment of the situation. But before you go, what sort of Christmas can the children of Gaza look forward to?

[A] We can only imagine the horror of Christmas this year in Gaza for young and old alike: from life amid raw sewage to freezing cold, scarcities, desolation and a sense that the world is elsewhere, indifferent to such acute suffering, such sustained injustice, such blind hate.

And yet also knowing many Gazans makes me believe that even in such dire circumstances there remains space for some laughter, and much love, and that such a spirit of resistance lives on among the children of this place haunted by the evils of our world. If present these days in Gaza it would likely make me feel a mystifying blend of sadness and inspiration.

At the very least, those of us living in comfort should not turn our gaze away from the children of Gaza this Christmas: we should demand empathy from our leaders and be as personally attentive as possible, whether by commentary, prayer, donations, a compassionate scream! We should not allow these days of celebration and renewal to pass this year without moments of reflection on selfish joys and cheerful carols, as contrasting with the miserable destiny bestowed upon the innocent and abused children of Gaza

Let us look the children of Gaza in the eye if we can. And if we can’t, as I could not, seize the moment to reflect on what it means to be (in)human during this holiday season.

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