| ‘We have nothing left to lose. I would rather die with my family under the rubble of our house than have a humiliating truce’: Palestinian youth demand justice!

‘We have nothing left to lose. I would rather die with my family under the rubble of our house than have a humiliating truce’: Palestinian youth demand justice ~ , Mondoweiss.

I awoke Sunday morning to news of a massacre in Gaza that evoked memories of Sabra and Shatila – not in terms of absolute numbers, but in the nature of its brutality.  An estimated 60 Palestinians had been killed, more than 300 injured and hundreds more forced to flee their homes as Israeli troops and tanks barreled into Shejaiya, a neighborhood in eastern Gaza City. Spokesman for the Palestinian Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qidra reported that Israeli forces had denied ambulances access to the houses under siege, saying that the area was a “closed military zone.”

Palestinian youths gesture during a demonstration next to the security fence standing on the Gaza border, east of Khan Yunis, in the Gaza Strip, on November 23 2012. (Photo: AFP - Said Khatib)

And yet. amidst the reports of destruction, pain and loss, there were Facebook posts like this one from Malaka Mohammed, a young woman from the same Gazan neighborhood who is studying international law in the UK: “Watching Al-Jazeera and my friends and relatives among the casualties. And still strong. I have not seen my family as strong as today. We will never give up till we get our freedom.” For an hour and a half, her father refused to evacuate, even as the bombs were landing at a rate her neighbor described as “more than three in one second.”

In a post the day before, from the Jabalya refugee camp, Sarah Ali (a contributor to a collection of short stories called Gaza Writes Back) wrote: “Last night was horrible. My house shook every five minutes! Except for half an hour in the evening, we’ve been without electricity for over 48 hours. Due to the long blackout, we had no water as well. The Israelis have (again) bombed a main power generator that supplies electricity to many areas. There was Israeli shelling from the sea, air and land. I could hear the kids in our neighbors’ houses crying in terror all night. This is not about destroying Hamas; this is about destroying every Palestinian in Gaza, destroying our lives, crushing our dignity and morale. Let it be known to (Israel) that the more they kill and destroy, the stronger we become. We have nothing left to lose. Now I would rather die with my family under the rubble of our house than have a humiliating truce. No justice, no peace.”

In dozens of conversations with other youth in Gaza (who make up 65 percent of the population of nearly 1.8 million), the opinion was nearly universal: Despite their heavy losses and the gross imbalance of power, they do not want a ceasefire that merely stops the immediate fighting and promises to open negotiations on their other grievances. (The Gaza Strip has been under Israel’s control in some fashion for 47 years, but with suffocating intensity since 2007. Israel strictly limits travel in and out; controls the supplies that come in, including a ban on most construction materials; and prohibits virtually all exports, thus crippling the economy and triggering one of the highest poverty and unemployment rates in the Arab world.)

No. What they insist on – demand – is a ceasefire tied to an end to their repression, even if it means more death and destruction for their people. Life is meaningless, they say, if it is spent under the boot of an oppressor.  My conclusion after numerous interviews with ordinary youth, from one end of Gaza to the other? Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his spokesmen are wrong when they accuse Hamas of ordering a sheep-like people to act as human shields or to remain in their homes in the face of warnings to evacuate. The decisions of tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza to stay in their homes until they were literally forced to leave were for some an act of desperation, saying they had nowhere else to go. (UN schools already are crammed with 84,000 displaced individuals.) However, for many others, they were the principled actions of a proud, independent people. And when Hamas rejected the ceasefire unilaterally declared by Egypt and Israel, it had the support of the vast majority of residents.

“Honestly, most of the Gazan people are urging the resistance to continue fighting until they achieve our conditions – which is simply to be able to live as humans with freedom and dignity,” says Fadi Alshaer, a 29-year-old who studied English at the Islamic University of Gaza and lives in the Rafah area. “People here don’t believe that Israel will do anything to give us back our rights if they are not forced to.”

Ola Ziada, a 24-year-old news reporter and English instructor in Gaza’s Jabalya camp, is even stronger:   “If they accepted the ceasefire with no preconditions, then I would consider it a betrayal of the blood that has been shed, of the four kids who were murdered just for playing on the beach. We would rather die than go back to the way we were before, imprisoned and forbidden from enjoying what a human should have for a decent life. We have been negotiating for decades and we have gotten nothing. I believe this is the war to determine whether to be or not to be.”

Of course, there are others who have paid a dear price who reluctantly feel otherwise. Omar Mansour, who lives in a town in northern Gaza that has been hit particularly hard, believes the casualties are too high and an internationally negotiated ceasefire should be accepted, even with no pre-set conditions. After holding out even after the Red Crescent tried to help his family evacuate, Mansour finally accompanied his parents to the home of friends in Gaza City when two relatives were killed and much of his block was destroyed. Still, he says he will return in the next day or so, despite the continued violence in his area. “I’m not afraid of death. All I’m afraid of is to watch them destroying my lovely house,” he says.

Mansour doesn’t disagree, however, when Alshaer, Ziada and others point out that the only significant “wins” the Palestinians have ever achieved is not through pleas to the United Nations or international courts, but through rocket fire (such as the concessions achieved at the end of the 2012 “eight-day war”) or abductions of soldiers (Gilad Shalit is a case in point, who was released in return for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners).

Lest one think that these are the fantasies of young people not properly schooled in history or the lessons of life, consider these words of Haider Eid, associate professor of postcolonial and postmodern literature at Gaza’s al-Aqsa University:

“The urgent question facing us in Gaza is not just how to survive for today, but how to hold Israel accountable to international law and basic principles of human rights; how to stop the current escalation and the ongoing massacre and how to stop this from ever happening again.

“Knowing that the credible Goldstone report on suspected war crimes in Gaza in 2008-09, and reports by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are all ignored or undermined, there is a bitter awareness that we in Gaza can have no expectation of Israeli accountability for the current onslaught…What Palestine needs from the world today is not just a condemnation of the Gaza massacres and siege, but also a delegitimization of the ideology that produced this policy and justifies it morally and politically, just as the racist ideology of apartheid was delegitimized.”





| #ICC: PLO’s Hanan Ashrawi: ‘Deliberate Massacre’ in Gaza!

PLO’s Hanan Ashrawi: ‘Deliberate Massacre’ in Gaza ~ Sandra Petrykowski, ABC NEWS.


PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi lashed out at Israel today over what she described as “war crimes” and the “deliberate massacre” of Palestinian civilians during Israel’s current ground offensive in the Gaza Strip.

PLO’s Hanan Ashrawi: ‘Deliberate Massacre’ in Gaza

“This morning, it’s nothing short of a massacre, a deliberate massacre. War crimes committed daily. But now there is a deliberate shelling and bombing and destruction of whole areas, of residential areas,” Ashrawi said on “This Week.”

“These are war crimes being committed before the world, before the eyes of the whole world and I just can’t understand how people sit back and say [it’s] self-defense. I just can’t take the language, I can’t take the propaganda, I can’t take the mantra that Israel has a right to defend itself. Against whom? Against innocent civilians? More than 80 children have been torn to bits. Is this self-defense?” Ashrawi added in her extended interview with ABC’s Hamish Macdonald reporting today from Ramallah.

As of Sunday morning, more than 400 Palestinians have been killed – including at least 60 on Sunday alone – and more than 35,000 Gaza residents have been displaced since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on July 8, in response to Hamas rocket fire into Israel. Eighteen Israeli Defense Forces troops have been killed in the latest ground offensive into Gaza, now in its fourth day.

“Look there, there is no human being who cannot be affected by this. Unless you lose the last vestiges of humanity, you cannot allow this to go on. It has to stop,” Ashrawi said of the latest violence in Gaza. “And Mr. Obama, and the Congress, and everybody has to know that these are human beings. Think of your children. I’m a mother, I’m a grandmother. I cannot tolerate to see torn limbs. I cannot see grown men break down and sob. I cannot see people – a whole nation in a state of trauma.”

READ: Benjamin Netanyahu: Hamas Committing ‘Double War Crime’; Rails Against ‘Mad Islamists’

Israel maintains that the goal of this latest incursion is to destroy Hamas’ infrastructure and terrorist tunnels leading into Israel, and says they give neighborhoods ample warning to evacuate. Ashrawi said the numbers of innocent victims are disproportionate because they are trapped.

“These are all human beings and they’re being abstracted and they’re being anonymously shelled by the strongest army in the region and they are defenseless,” Ashrawi said. “They are hemmed in by land, by air, by sea and then if they try to dig tunnels as a way out – what do you expect?”

As Israel intensified its ground operation in Gaza today, Ashrawi said the blame is being misplaced on the civilian population.

“If they respond in any way, they are not only labeled as terror targets, they are dehumanized, they are terrorized, and they’re being killed. It’s not just adding insult to injury, it’s just double and multiple murder. You’re maligning a whole nation, and you are giving Israel the time and the means to continue with these massacres and these war crimes. One day they will be held accountable.”

When Macdonald asked Ashrawi if Palestinians plan to apply to join the International Criminal Court to bring war crime charges against Israel, she said they plan to take that step, but she’d like to see the situation addressed by the international community before a legal case is prepared.

“I don’t believe the world has to wait until we do these things and until we prepare these cases,” Ashrawi said. “There has to be immediate intervention to provide the Palestinians with protecting, to curb the Israeli violations and to hold Israel accountable.”


| truthaholics EDITORIAL

It must be conceded that the two-state solution is no longer viable due to relentless settlement expansionism (unless one pretends that two isolated apartheid-era bantustans can remotely resemble a sovereign nation.) Which, on scrutiny, simply provokes outrage.
Zionist settler/squatter hotshots stomping around the Holy Land, vandalising and killing at will are an insult to humanity and their cost to the rest of us is too high. 
Enough is enough.
Bring on one-state for all, from the river to the sea.
Repeal everything RACIST and simply espouse universal, democratic values.Those who don’t like it can quit.
But, let the refugees back.
They’re innocent, the genuinely aggrieved VICTIMS here, rendered voiceless and invisible, like those living under ILLEGAL OCCUPATION.
Which requires issuing equal passports to all – including the stateless hitherto unjustifiably excluded – but barring War Criminals, who get tried and face criminal prosecution. And, along the lines of post-apartheid South Africa, setting up a post-zionism Truth and Reconciliation Commission would be no bad thing either.





| Eggs Fail To Recognize Omelette’s Right To Exist!

Eggs Fail To Recognize Omelette’s Right To Exist ~ 

Lawrence of Cyberia.

One of the Quartet’s conditions for dealing with a Hamas-led government of the Palestinian Authority is that it must “recognize Israel”. Quite often, this demand that Hamas recognize Israel morphs into the requirement that Palestinians must “recognize Israel’s right to exist“. This sounds similar superficially, but really is a quite different demand altogether. And it’s one that even the most amenable, “moderate” Palestinian is unlikely to comply with, let alone Hamas.

“Israel’s right to exist” is code for a very specific demand. It isn’t asking the Palestinians to recognize that the state of Israel exists and has the right to security within mutually agreed borders (which is essentially what the PLO has accepted). And it doesn’t mean that the Palestinians must recognize an Israeli state where Jewish and non-Jewish citizens alike enjoy full rights of citizenship (as proposed in the partition resolution of 1947, in which “Jewish Palestine” was essentially a binational state). When Israel and its supporters demand that Palestinians must “recognize Israel’s right to exist” they specifically mean that Palestinians must acknowledge Israel’s “right” to exist as a Jewish state on the lands of former Mandate Palestine.

Why would that be a problem for Palestinians? Well, bear in mind that when Zionists established their first settlement in Palestine in 1882, the population of the land that they proposed to turn into a Jewish state was not in fact Jewish, but 95% Muslim and Christian Arab. Bear in mind too that throughout the twentieth century, Palestinians maintained one of the highest birthrates on earth. So even though the proponents of a Jewish state managed in mid-century to create a Jewish majority by expelling large numbers of Arabs, within a couple of generations they are – even without allowing the expelled population to return – once again facing the prospect of a Palestinian majority. So creating a Jewish state in Palestine comes down to an endless battle to gerrymander a Jewish majority where one does not naturally exist.

There are various ways you can do this. You can do it by killing off or expelling the majority population, till it is reduced to a manageable size, as in 1948. (And then you can even afford to give the vote to the remnant left behind, and proclaim yourself a democracy, because you have made sure that the natives are so reduced in number they can never democratically bring about any change in their status). Or you can do it by simply disenfranchising large numbers of the “undesirable” population in the land you claim for your Jewish state, as is the current situation for millions of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. These ugly means are not an unfortunate by-product of an Arab propensity for “terrorism” or “anti-semitism”, forced upon unfortunate Zionists who would otherwise have preferred to peacefully coexist; they are absolutely intrinsic to creating a Jewish-majority state in Palestine. They are simply what you have to do in order to create a regime that favours one kind of people over another, in a land where the “other” people are the majority. Presumably, for Zionism, the end goal of creating a Jewish state in Palestine is of such import that its benefits outweigh the “collateral damage” that this inevitably involves for the Palestinian population.

When you demand that Palestinians acknowledge the “right” of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, you are asking them to say that they too think Zionism is worth all this “collateral damage”. You are asking them to acknowledge that it was and is morally right to do all the things that were and are necessary for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, even though these necessary things include their own displacement, dispossession and disenfranchisement. You are asking them to internalize the fact that they have less right to live freely on their own ancestral lands where they have lived in unbroken continuity for millenia, than an immigrant to the Middle East who, by an accident of birth, happens to have been born into a “preferred” religion.

While every nation’s tragedies are unique, the fact is that the Palestinians are not the only people who have had their modern national consciousness shaped by catastrophe. African-Americans have been shaped by slavery, Jewish Israelis by the Holocaust, and present-day South Africans by apartheid. But Palestinians are the only people that are told they must recognize the “rightness” of the catastrophe that befell them. And we demand this because, in the U.S., Zionism is the prism through which we look at the Arab-Israeli conflict. For us, Zionism is worthy and normative, and it is very difficult for us to acknowledge that for the people who have been – and inevitably had to be – on the receiving end of it, Zionism is cruel, and violent, and racist. But try to imagine what you would think if you heard someone demand that – in the interests of reconciliation with their former oppressors – African-Americans must acknowledge not only that the slave trade existed, but that it had a “right” to exist. Or that black south Africans must recognize the “right” of apartheid to exist. Or Jews, the Holocaust. Just by describing the scenario, we can see that we would be demanding something grotesque. But we take it for granted that the Palestinians must do it; and condemn them for anti-semitism when they refuse.

Usually when you hear the Israeli government say, “Of course we want to talk, but first….”, you are simply hearing excuses from a government that has no intention of ever entering meaningful talks with the Palestinians, and can always come up with one more precondition to ensure that they don’t have to. But the demand, “first they must recognize Israel’s right to exist”, is a precondition of a different kind altogether. It goes much deeper than a desire to avoid negotiating, and arises instead from a need to avoid recognizing the original sin at the heart of Zionism, which is that it could be realised only by destroying the people already in Palestine.

I wrote in an earlier post – Islamofascists – about the tendency of Zionists to present Zionism as merely a project to establish a national homeland for the Jewish people, while leaving out the rather important point that it is actually a project to create a national homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine, which already had an indigenous, non-Jewish population. For a long time, Israelis simply denied that there was a problem – maintaining a contradictory narrative that said that the Palestinians didn’t exist, but also that (despite not existing) the Palestinians “left” in 1948 because they wanted to, not because they were expelled. But Israel’s own New Historians put an end to those fictions, leaving Israelis with two choices. Either acknowledge the catastrophe that creating a Jewish state inflicted on the Palestinians, express regret for the suffering it caused, and discuss with them in good faith where both peoples can go from here. (And really, if you read the moderate kind of wording that the two sides were working on in Taba in relation to the refugee issue, you can see that nobody was asking Israel to rend its clothes or don sackcloth and ashes over this). Or deal with it by pretending you have nothing to regret, and beating the Palestinians as hard as you can in the hope that they will eventually tell you, “it’s OK, it doesn’t really matter”; which is what the “right to exist” precondition boils down to.

But the second option is not going to happen. No matter how much you hurt them, the Palestinians are never going to internalize the claim that their individual human rights and their collective national rights are inherently inferior to someone else’s, merely because of their failure to have a Jewish mom. They are never going to tell you that it was all right to dispossess them, just because this will make you feel better about the nagging doubt over your own legitimacy that is eating away at you. Palestinians are willing to reach a negotiated settlement in which the two parties will agree on what terms they will coexist, then legally recognize the existence of each other and the right of each to live in security within the framework they have mutually agreed. That is the only kind of recognition that can realistically be demanded of the Palestinians. They are not going to become Zionists in order to save Israelis from having to confront the skeletons in their cupboard.

If Israelis feel such a crisis of national legitimacy that they need someone to hug them and tell them that what Zionism has done to the Palestinians doesn’t really matter, they’d better find a therapist to do it, because the Palestinians won’t. No Palestinian is ever going to tell them, “You’re right, I am a lesser breed of human being, of course your rights are superior to mine” which, from a Palestinian perspective, is essentially what recognizing the “right” of Israel to exist as a Jewish state in Palestine entails.