Saturday, September 18, 2010

My letter to a Palestinian human rights activist by Barry Shaw

My letter to a Palestinian human rights activist
by Barry Shaw
Reprinted in its entirety out of sheer laziness

So you support Palestinian rights. So do I. However, we have to define what those rights are.

Would you consider Jews, descendants of those who lived here during the Ottoman Empire or the British Mandate, as Palestinians, or Israelis? Do you call an Arab, born in Israel post 1948, Palestinian or Israeli?

You tell me you are a human rights supporter. So am I.

You live abroad. I live in Israel. Let's understand each other - clearly, fairly, honestly.

At the outset, I have to ask you why your activism for human rights is confined to the Palestinian cause?
Why have you not expressed your outrage for other, far more critical human rights disasters? More of this later.

I understand you like political adventurism. Why have you not joined a flotilla to feed and care for the thousands of dying children in Africa? Why have you not turned your attention to the horrendous human rights crimes of the Iranian regime against their own people? Beatings, tortures, killings, stoning, lashing women to death and executions of homosexuals do not seem to move you.

In fact, why aren't there flotillas and convoys to save lives in Africa? Why is it that all the flotillas I hear about want to head for middle class Gaza? Ever thought about that? Don't you stop to consider that there are millions who urgently need your activism far more disparately than people in Gaza?

What is it about the Palestinians that get you going over all other humanitarian tragedies? Could it be that you cannot incriminate Israel in human rights crimes perpetrated in Iran, Lebanon, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Burma, Russia, China, Pakistan, China, Turkey and Cuba so these abusive regimes do not get you emotionally involved?

You say you support the Palestinians and are upset by human rights abuses against them. I tell you that your support is limited, and tainted. I tell you that my support is far broader, and more international, than yours.

You are ready to take action in support of the human rights abuses of the Palestinians in Gaza.You are ready to demonstrate, march, participate in flotillas and really get involved on behalf of the Palestinians when you feel it is the Israelis that are doing the abusing.

For me, I question the abusing by Israelis. I also suggest that you consider that the Israelis have a really good case when it comes to being abused by Palestinians - especially from Gaza. Recent killings of Israelis by Palestinians, however, took place in the West Bank (what we call Judea and Samaria). I can also send you a very long list of terrible crimes committed against innocent Israelis by Palestinians for decades, but let's put that aside for now.

Let me concentrate on the issue of your limited support for Palestinians. It seems to be confined the Gaza these days. Why? Why is it that, with the rapid improvement in the living conditions of Palestinians, you have to increasingly exaggerate a false picture of Gaza to make your point to the world? You shout, in emotional terms, about the condition of Palestinians in Gaza. Give me your email address and let me send you the numerous photographs I have on Gaza today. In fact, go to Google Earth and find them yourself. You will see Palestinian kids having fun among the slides in the Water Park, and the rides in the Lunar Park.

I also have photos and videos of Palestinian terrorists grabbing kids and using them as human shields in their fight against IDF soldiers. I didn't hear your outrage at these abuses of human rights against Palestinian children by Hamas terrorists. Why not? Maybe it's because you don't consider Hamas as a terrorist organization? If not, where do you draw the line between freedom fighter and terrorist? Do you not consider suicide bombers, deliberately targeting innocent Israelis, as terrorists? Are they not terrorists under any definition of the word? Are they not committing the most heinous human rights crimes when they target buses and shopping malls?

You scream bloody murder when Israel fires at terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip, but stay silent when Hamas fires tens of thousands of rockets into Israeli civilian areas. How come? If your are truly a human rights activist, where is your humanity? Or is it a one-sided morality?

But let me return to my pictures of Gaza. You see the mansions and luxury apartments, the fine restaurants, the five star hotels, the new Gaza Shopping Mall, and the crowded and well stocked stores and markets. They clearly have the funds and the materials to build and equip these wonderful buildings. They also prove a source of income and employment for the Palestinian population. That's how it should be. But this raises two questions.

Your protest that Gaza is the biggest humanitarian crisis on earth is somewhat in conflict with the facts on the ground. The Palestinians are enjoying an increasingly good lifestyle, certainly in the West Bank and evidently in Gaza. How have they managed this if Israel's 'brutal occupation is preventing basic needs from getting through to the Palestinians'? Clearly someone has not been telling the truth here.

You can't build without supplies of building material and equipment.They are not living in tents. They are living in nice apartments and beautiful houses. They do not walk. They drive. Clearly the statements about Palestinians being deprived of building materials, equipment, furniture, appliances, was a lie. Did you help spread that lie?

They drive modern cars and trucks. I thought you told the world that they are barely surviving? How are they able to buy, drive and maintain these vehicles? Off charity? You can't complain about Palestinians not having the most basic needs when the markets and shops are brimming with the widest variety of produce and products. They are not starving. They are eating well. International statistics show that Palestinians live longer than Turks. Their infant mortality rates are better than most other Arab countries. Things aren't at all bad for Palestinians living in Gaza or the West Bank.

Things will be even better when they turn away from supporting the Islamic terror regime of Hamas, willingly supported by Islamic Jihad and other unsavory gangs sponsored and equipped by Hamas in Gaza.Nowhere do you mention peace. Do you think there will be peace if Hamas, God forbid, takes over the West Bank from the Palestinian Authority? Will you continue to champion the Palestinian cause if that happens?

It is here that I will prove to you that I care more for the Palestinians than you do.

You are completely silent on the condition of Palestinians outside of the Palestinian territories. I, on the other hand, have written and spoken out about the inhuman conditions in which they are forced to live in places like Lebanon, Kuwait, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. After decades living in these and other countries they are denied citizenship. They are prevented from entering into the national work force. They are not allowed proper education that would allow them to study and become useful professionals in many fields.
Isn't this ethnic discrimination? Forced to live separately from the indiginous population is, surely, apartheid? Where is your protest in support of the people you claim to love?

If you really care about the Palestinian condition you should be demonstrating about the continuing saga of confining them in refugee camps in these so-called 'friendly' Arab states. So who is more international about human rights for Palestinians? You, or me?

Have a look at the children of Gaza swimming in the Olympic-sized pool in Gaza City. That's great. I live in Netanya. We have been hit by repeated Palestinian terror attacks that include shootings, car bombings, and numerous suicide bombers that have killed about fifty of our citizens and maimed over three hundred.
We don't have a municipal Olympic-sized swimming pool. Neither does Sderot, the target of thousands of rockets and mortars fired on them by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Aren't they worthy of your sympathy? Don't they deserve to enjoy facilities such as Olympic swimming pools?

Sderot does not warrant the massive amounts of aid and funding that is pumped into Palestinian society by the international community. True, diplomats make a sympathy pilgrimage to Sderot but they limit their huge budgets exclusively to the Palestinian cause. That is why I can show you the evidence of Gazans enjoying a middle class lifestyle, while the kids of Sderot barely receive trauma treatment.

Palestinian society is radically split. The internal violence is shocking. Palestinians hate Palestinians to the point of brutality, including torture and murder. I share your concern for innocent civilians. But, where was your voice when Hamas activists were throwing Palestinians off rooftops, shooting political rivals, torturing them, killing Palestinians who champion the cause of peace, firing rockets from schoolyards and from heavily populated areas? I spoke out. I did not hear you.

If you really stand up for human rights abuses why have you remained silent over the abuse of w omen's rights in Palestinian society? I have written and spoken about the repression of women under Arab and Palestinian control. Why haven't you? Why do you condone, by your silence, honor killings as respectable behavior in Palestinians households, not to mention genital mutilation of girls? If you truly stand for Palestinian human rights you should be demanding the major human rights organizations to investigate this serious tradition of abuse against women and girls.

Why don't you join me in protesting these abuses? Or is you advocacy for Palestinians confined only on issues that allow you to attack Israel? Are you simply echoing the 'Palestinian narrative' as it applies to Israel while ignoring the gross abuses they suffer from their own leadership and other Arab regimes?

As an Israeli, I can tell you that the Palestinians could have achieved their own state decades ago. They could have it today if having their own state alongside the Jewish States of Israel was a priority for them.
But it's not. Just read the Hamas Charter and you will learn what is really at the heart of the conflict here. In fact, have a look at the Palestinian National Covenant as well. They share the same aims.

Have a glance at Article 7 of the Hamas Charter. If the Palestinians want their state to be an Islamic Republic that's fine with me, as long as they respect my rights to my Jewish democratic state, but Article 7 reads:

The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!"

As a human rights activist, don't you find that racist? Doesn't that national charter sound to you like incitement to genocide against my people?

And, as for peace, go to Article 13. Here it is written:

Article Thirteen: Peaceful Solutions, [Peace] Initiatives and International Conferences: [Peace] initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement. For renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion; the nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its faith, the movement educates its members to adhere to its principles and to raise the banner of Allah over their homeland as they fight their Jihad."

I ask you. Do you share these resolutions? Is this an integral part of your support for Palestinian rights?
Because, if you share these points, you also support Articles 14 and 15.

Article Fourteen:

The Three Circles: The problem of the liberation of Palestine relates to three circles: the Palestinian, the Arab and the Islamic. Each one of these circles has a role to play in the struggle against Zionism and it has duties to fulfill. It would be an enormous mistake and an abysmal act of ignorance to disregard anyone of these circles. For Palestine is an Islamic land where the First Qibla and the third holiest site are located."

And Article Fifteen:

The Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine is an Individual Obligation. When our enemies usurp some Islamic lands, Jihad becomes a duty binding on all Muslims. In order to face the usurpation of Palestine by the Jews, we have no escape from raising the banner of Jihad."

I ask you. In your support of Palestinian rights are you supporting Islamic Jihad against me? There is no way of avoiding this question. I do not expect you to be a Zionist, but if you are not a Zionist, are you a Jihadist?

The 'moderate' arm of Palestinian society is headed by the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, ably supported by Prime Minister, Salim Fayad. I heard Fayad speak at the annual IDC Conference on Herzlia where he was invited as a keynote speaker. He was given a warm reception by the Israeli audience who yearn for a permanent peaceful solution to the painful conflict.

But, let me read you some sections of the Palestinian National Covenant, which is their national constitution.

Article 2 states that any Palestinian state will be 'with the boundaries it had (sic!!) during the British Mandate, as an indivisible territorial unit.' Really? I thought we were negotiating a Two State Solution? Where is Israel in this equation?

This is confirmed in Article 19 of their National Covenant which defies UN Resolution 181. It reads:

The partition of Palestine in 1947 and the establishment of the state of Israel are entirely illegal, regardless of the passage of time, because they were contrary to the will of the Palestinian people and to their natural right in their homeland, and inconsistent with the principles embodied in the Charter of the United Nations, particularly the right to self-determination."

Again, Israel has disappeared. Is this part of your support for Palestinian rights? The Palestinian National Covenant also denies the Jews biblical, historic, political, cultural rights to Israel.

Article 20:

Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood."

While wanting to create an Islamic state of their own, they deny me any national rights:

Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong."

Am I going to allow Palestinians to define who I am? Am I going to allow them to deny me my history? Whatever happened to the nation of Judah, to Zion, to Jewish national aspirations, throughout centuries of diaspora dispersion?

You probably share the Palestinian outrage when people rightly say that Palestinians never had a nation of their own and neither do they have any national rights enshrined in international law as do the Jewish people.
From my perspective, the Palestinian narrative is based on a lie. It is based on a deconstruction of history. It is based on rights they never had as a people. I can go on about the calls for violence to establish this Palestinian state but I want to return to our core problem.

This is our problem. The problem between you and me.

If you approve of the advancement of Palestinian rights alongside the Jewish State of Israel then we have what to discuss and agree on. Israel has, and will, make painful concessions for peace. If the issue is land, it is ours to give. It is not theirs to take.

If, on the other hand, you promote Palestinian rights over my rights to exist this letter will, doubtless, be our last communication.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Israel BDS. Its not about Peace: The attack on Pete Seeger and the Arava Institute

I've developed a dysfunctional hobby lately. Out of sheer boredom this summer, I registered to receive "alerts" for promoting truth, justice and Islam in the world today. I had no idea what I was in for.

One of the priorities of this group, apparently has been pressuring performing artists NOT to to play in Israel. It’s a simple routine. We get the names of artists performing in Israel, we do an "email Blast" and phone blast" to their agents, labels, mothers, babysitters. Anyone who might have influence. We also get links to Facebook fan pages.

There has been limited success with this routine, but lots and lots of failures as well.For every Pixies and Elvis Costello there has been Elton John, LCDS, Jethro Tull.

Some of the artists are well aware they are being manipulated and respond appropriately. I just love this quote from Johnny Rotten (aka Johnny Lydon) "Belief is a very personal thing but when someone inflicts their view on other people, they're a pig."

Well Johnny, guess what the pigs are up to now? The icon of American folk music, Pete Seeger, a 91 year old man who lives, eats, and breathes peace is under attack for daring to promote peaceful co-existence in the Middle east. He's not even playing IN Israel. It’s a virtual concert, and its a fundraiser for one of the most progressive organizations in the Middle east

The Arava Institute is the leading environmental teaching and research program in the Middle East. It prepares future Arab and Jewish leaders to cooperatively solve the region’s environmental challenges and works towards developing a sustainable future for the region’s human and natural resources. These issues know no borders.

Seeger is slated to be the featured guest of With Earth and Each Other – A Virtual Rally for a Better Middle East, to be broadcast online on November 14. The event is sponsored by the Friends of the Arava Institute, a US-based non-profit organization with the primary goal of raising support and visibility for the Arava Institute

From their website : Over 600 students, including Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians, and others, have participated in the Arava Institute program.
According to the institute’s director, David Lehrer,

"With Earth and Each Other (WEAEO) wasn’t designed to be a political rally, but “to show the world that there is another side of the conflict in which people across borders are striving to work together for the betterment of all.”

“Although I sympathize with some of the criticism that people have about Israeli policies regarding Palestinians and within Israel itself in terms of our Arab citizens, I don’t believe the way to end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and the way to create a sustainable and peaceful Middle East in which everyone lives together with equal rights and opportunity is by staging a boycott,”

“It’s through dialoguing and that’s what the Arava Institute is all about. That’s what the program we’re running is doing and it’s what With Earth and Each Other is all about – bringing people together through dialogue. And you can’t do that if you’re staging a boycott.”

Whats a progressive thinker to do? We have to fight back. Join the virtual rally for a Better Middle East Thats a start. And we need more help. Right now, a battle is raging on Pete Seeger's Facebook page. Join Muslim queers, Welsh agnostics and a scattering of Zionists as we tell the world that co-existence is a worthy goal. It is through dialog, interactions and working together that we will achieve peace. It won't be easy, but its a worthy goal

Saturday, September 11, 2010

BDS isn't about peace

BDS isn't about peace. I realized that when my school disintegrated into racism and chaos during our brief stint with divestment. I'm not the only one who has come to this conclusion.

Next You Will Be Telling Us Shergar is Dead

"Ella from It’s Complicated reproduces a statement from PACBI, or the Palestinian Campaign for Judenrein Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. (I will not link to their webpage, if only to impress on them the unacceptable nature of their using Zionist-developed PhP.)

“While we welcome acts of protest against any manifestation of Israel’s regime of colonialism and apartheid, we believe that these acts must be both morally consistent and anchored in international law and universal human rights. First, we believe that the exclusive focus on settlement institutions ignores and obscures the complicity of all Israeli academic and cultural institutions in upholding the system of colonial control and apartheid under which Palestinians suffer. PACBI believes there is firm evidence of the collusion of the Israeli academic and cultural establishment with the major oppressive organs of the Israeli state. Focusing solely on obviously complicit institutions, such as cultural centers in a West Bank colony, serves to shield mainstream Israeli institutions from opprobrium or, ultimately, from the growing global boycott movement that consistently targets all complicit institutions.”

Shurely shome mishtake? Surely PACBI is not a bunch of political psychopaths who exist only to punish and ostracise one nation group above all others? Whilst using Zionist-developed PhP."

Apparently- its not enough to boycott "settlements". Its all of Israel that needs to be boycotted, according to the PACBI. A statement by American artists refusing to play in Ariel, on the other side of that mythical green line just doesn't go far enough.

Will someone explain just how this promotes peace?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

To My Friends of all Faiths

Keep Moving towards the source of All Light.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

US Palestinian Community Network rejects Peace- and Peace talks

Peace talks are a good thing, right? You'd expect the world to embrace the possibility of peace, and to encourage the parties involved. But its never really that simple:

An organization calling itself the US Palestinian Community Network has sent out a mass email calling for rejection of the peace process as posing a threat to the Palestinian people. All who genuinely seek peace should be appalled by this blatant rejectionism. Their email follows:

The US Palestinian Community Network calls upon all organizations, associations, and Palestinian and Arab community groups, as well as solidarity organizations, and individuals, to sign on to the below statement rejecting the resumption of direct negotiations, in the midst of ongoing Israeli structural racism and violence inflicted upon Palestinians, to take place between Palestinian Authority
We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, declare our commitment to the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people – one land, one people, one cause. Our people, in the West Bank and Gaza, suffering and steadfast under siege and occupation; our people in Palestine 1948, confronting racism, ethnic cleansing and political repression; and our people in the refugee camps and in diaspora around the world, struggling to return home and liberate their homeland, deserve a leadership that defends their inalienable rights, takes its legitimacy from its popular support, and upholds the liberation of its land and its people as the highest national goal. We deserve a leadership that defends our collective rights. As such, we reject the direct negotiations taking place in Washington, DC on September 2, 2010, which shield Israel as it continues its colonial and apartheid project. Negotiations in these current conditions without necessary pressure and any terms of reference amount to the barter of Palestinian cities as opposed to the defense of collective rights and to that we say: Palestine is not for sale!
These direct negotiations have not served the interests of Palestinians, who, under the conditions of the peace process have been forced into further policing of our own people already suffering under the yoke of occupation, in exchange only for worsening conditions.
Indeed, the past 17 years of the Oslo accords have witnessed the ongoing imprisonment of people of conscience, settlement-expansion, ethnic cleansing and racism against our people, while our national institutions and liberation movement have been systematically dismantled and replaced with an Authority whose primary goal is to respond to the demands of the Occupier in a Quixotic attempt to build a state without sovereignty. The Palestinian Authority should join the mounting voices and the growing movement that condemns Netanyahu’s instransigent rebuff of international law. While the international solidarity movement with Palestine is growing steadily; while reports of the international isolation of Israel, including the rising movement to boycott, divest and sanction Israel, multiply daily; while the conscience of the world demands justice, accountability and international prosecution of Israeli war crimes, the Palestinian Authority has chosen instead to provide cover to the Israeli occupation and its intolerable, bitter, racism, abandoning even the pretext of a “settlement freeze,” and going to direct negotiations while the occupier daily commits crimes against the Palestinian people.
Sadly, the Palestinian Authority is itself a creature of such negotiations. The vast majority of the Palestinian people, in Palestine and in exile, demand full recognition of our national rights, particularly the refugees’ right to return to their original homes, lands and properties. When the Palestinian Authority bargains our inalienable rights and puts them on the table to be carved up by the occupier, we must be heard, loudly and clearly, to say that this Authority does not represent Palestinians and will not be allowed to sell our cause and our people in our name.
As Palestinians in the United States, it is also clear that the Obama administration offers nothing new to the Palestinian people. The U.S. administration continues to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan and threaten the region with further war and occupation. It provides aid and has ongoing trade relations with despotic Arab regimes who, with U.S. support, can afford to repress the collective rights of their Arab populations. Additionally, it provides billions of dollars in military and economic aid to Israel on an annual basis, and unlimited political and diplomatic support to the occupier irrespective of its contravention of international law and announced U.S. foreign policy. We are not convinced by U.S. “assurances,” when the actions of the United States government have assured nothing for the Palestinian people to date but ongoing occupation and impunity for Israeli war crimes.
Today, we say – these direct negotiations pose only a threat to our people. As Palestinians in the United States, we find no voice being heard here – not the U.S. administration and not the Palestinian Authority – that represents our people, our rights, our dreams and our cause. These negotiations are a farce and doomed to failure – but worse than that, they are a cover for ongoing crimes. They discard any and all pretense of international legitimacy, relying on the goodwill of the U.S./Israeli alliance, and place our fundamental rights – particularly the right to return – up for sale. We will not allow this to happen. The Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas do not represent us, and these negotiations are illegitimate and unacceptable.
Instead, we call for international support of our people, not a “peace process” that perpetuates our dispossession and displacement and provides cover for the occupier. International isolation of Israel, boycott, divestment and sanctions, international prosecution of Israeli war criminals are necessary, as is clear support for our rights, including the right to resist occupation, the right to self-determination, and the right to return home – the key to our cause. As with all unjust and illegitimate regimes that have acted to liquidate the Palestinian cause, these negotiations and the Authority that comes to them will fail in the face of steadfast commitment to justice. Our voices must be heard now to ensure this is the case.