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Washington Faces the Arab Revolts: Sacrificing Dictators to Save the State

By James Petras | 02.07.2011

Introduction

To understand the Obama regime’s policy toward Egypt, the Mubarak dictatorship and the popular uprising it is essential to locate it in an historical context.

The essential point is that Washington, after several decades of being deeply embedded in the state structures of the Arab dictatorships, from Tunisia through Morocco, Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority, is attempting to re-orient its policies to incorporate and/or graft liberal-electoral politicians onto the existing power configurations.

While most commentators and journalists spill tons of ink about the “dilemmas” of US power, the novelty of the Egyptian events and Washington’s day to day policy pronouncements, there are ample historical precedents which are essential to understand the strategic direction of Obama’s policies.

Historical Background

US foreign policy has a long history of installing, financing, arming and backing dictatorial regimes which back its imperial policies and interests as long as they retain control over their people.

In the past, Republican and Democratic presidents worked closely for over 30 years with the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic; installed the autocratic Diem regime in pre-revolutionary Vietnam in the 1950’s; collaborated with two generations of Somoza family terror regimes in Nicaragua; financed and promoted the military coup in Cuba 1952, Brazil 1964, Chile in 1973, and in Argentina in 1976 and the subsequent repressive regimes. When popular upheavals challenged these US backed dictatorships, and a social as well as political revolution appeared likely to succeed, Washington responded with a three track policy: publically criticizing the human rights violations and advocating democratic reforms; privately signaling continued support to the ruler; and thirdly, seeking an elite alternative which could substitute for the incumbent and preserve the state apparatus, the economic system and support US strategic imperial interests.

For the US there are no strategic relationships only permanent imperial interests, name preservation of the client state. The dictatorships assume that their relationships with Washington is strategic: hence the shock and dismay when they are sacrificed to save the state apparatus. Fearing revolution, Washington has had reluctant client despots, unwilling to move on, assassinated (Trujillo and Diem). Some are provided sanctuaries abroad (Somoza, Batista), others are pressured into power-sharing (Pinochet) or appointed as visiting scholars to Harvard, Georgetown or some other “prestigious” academic posting.

The Washington calculus on when to reshuffle the regime is based on an estimate of the capacity of the dictator to weather the political uprising, the strength and loyalty of the armed forces and the availability of a pliable replacement. The risk of waiting too long, of sticking with the dictator, is that the uprising radicalizes: the ensuing change sweeps away both the regime and the state apparatus, turning a political uprising into a social revolution. Just such a ‘miscalculation’ occurred in 1959 in the run-up to the Cuban revolution, when Washing stood by Batista and was not able to present a viable pro US alternative coalition linked to the old state apparatus. A similar miscalculation occurred in Nicaragua, when President Carter, while criticizing Somoza, stayed the course, and stood passively by as the regime was overthrown and the revolutionary forces destroyed the US and Israeli trained military, secret police and intelligence apparatus, and went on to nationalize US property and develop an independent foreign policy.

Washington moved with greater initiative, in Latin America in the 1980’s. It promoted negotiated electoral transitions which replaced dictators with pliable neo-liberal electoral politicians, who pledged to preserve the existing state apparatus, defend the privileged foreign and domestic elites and back US regional and international policies.

Past Lessons and Present Policies:

Obama has been extremely hesitant to oust Mubarak for several reasons, even as the movement grows in number and anti-Washington sentiment deepens. The White House has many clients around the world – including Honduras, Mexico, Indonesia, Jordan and Algeria – who believe they have a strategic relationship with Washington and would lose confidence in their future if Mubarak was dumped.

Secondly, the highly influential leading pro-Israel organizations in the US (AIPAC, the Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations) and their army of scribes have mobilized congressional leaders to pressure the White House to continue backing Mubarak, as Israel is the prime beneficiary of a dictator who is at the throat of the Egyptians (and Palestinians) and at the feet of the Jewish state.

As a result the Obama regime has moved slowly, under fear and pressure of the growing Egyptian popular movement. It searches for an alternative political formula that removes Mubarak, retains and strengthens the political power of the state apparatus and incorporates a civilian electoral alternative as a means of demobilizing and de-radicalizing the vast popular movement.

The major obstacle to ousting Mubarak is that a major sector of the state apparatus, especially the 325,000 Central Security Forces and the 60,000 National Guard are directly under the Interior Ministry and Mubarak. Secondly, top Generals in the Army (468,500 members) have buttressed Mubarak for 30 years and have been enriched by their control over very lucrative companies in a wide range of fields. They will not support any civilian ‘coalition’ that calls into question their economic privileges and power to set the political parameters of any electoral system. The supreme commander of the Egyptian military is a longtime client of the US and a willing collaborator with Israel.

Obama is resolutely in favor of collaborating with and ensuring the preservation of these coercive bodies.But he also needs to convince them to replace Mubarak and allow for a new regime which can defuse the mass movement which is increasingly opposed to US hegemony and subservience to Israel. Obama will do everything necessary to retain the cohesion of the state and avoid any splits which might lead to a mass movement – soldier alliance which could convert the uprising into a revolution.

Washington has opened talks with the most conservative liberal and clerical sectors of the anti-Mubarak movement. At first it tried to convince them to negotiate with Mubarak – a dead end position which was rejected by all sectors of the opposition, top and bottom. Then Obama tried to sell a phony “promise” from Mubarak that he would not run in the elections, nine months later.

The movement and its leaders rejected that proposal also. So Obama raised the rhetoric for ‘immediate changes’ but without any substantive measures backing it up. To convince Obama of his continued power base, Mubarak sent his formidable thug-lumpen secret police to violently seize the streets from the movement. A test of strength: the Army stood by; the assault raised the ante of a civil war, with radical consequences. Washington and the E.U. pressured the Mubarak regime to back off – for now. But the image of a pro-democracy military was tarnished, as killings and injuries multiplied in the thousands.

As the pressure of the movement intensifies, Obama cross pressured by the pro Mubarak Israel Lobby and its Congressional entourage on the one hand, and on the other by knowledgeable advisors who call on him to follow past practices and move decisively to sacrifice the regime to save the state while the liberal-clerical electoral option is still on the table.

But Obama hesitates and like a wary crustacean, he moves sideways and backwards, believing his own grandiloquent rhetoric is a substitute for action … hoping that sooner or later, the uprising will end with Mubarakism without Mubarak: a regime able to demobilize the popular movements and willing to promote elections which result in elected officials following the general line of their predecessor.

Nevertheless, there are many uncertainties in a political reshuffle: a democratic citizenry, 83% unfavorable to Washington, will possess the experience of struggle and freedom to call for a realignment of policy, especially to cease being a policeman enforcing the Israeli blockage of Gaza, and providing support for US puppets in North Africa, Lebanon, Yemen, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Secondly free elections will open debate and increase pressure for greater social spending, the expropriation of the seventy billion dollar empire of the Mubarek clan and the crony capitalists who pillage the economy. The masses will demand a reallocation of public expenditure from the overblown coercive apparatus to productive, job generating employment. A limited political opening may lead to a second round, in which new social and political conflicts will divide the anti-Mubarak forces, a conflict between the advocates of social democracy and elite backers of neo-liberal electoralism. The anti-dictatorial moment is only the first phase of a prolonged struggle toward definitive emancipation not only in Egypt but throughout the Arab world. The outcome depends on the degree to which the masses develop their own independent organization and leaders.

February 7, 2011 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite | Comments Off on Washington Faces the Arab Revolts: Sacrificing Dictators to Save the State

Bush Ducks Geneva Criminal Torture Charges

By BILL QUIGLEY | CounterPunch | February 7, 2011

Justice for George W’s torture violations jumped much closer this weekend.  Ex-President George W Bush was supposed to fly to Switzerland to speak in Geneva February 15.  But his speech was cancelled over the weekend because of concerns about protests and efforts by human rights organizations asking Swiss prosecutors to charge Bush with torture and serve him with an arrest warrant.

Two things made this possible. Switzerland allows the prosecution of human rights violators from other countries if the violator is on Swiss soil and George W admitted he authorized water boarding detainees in his recent memoir.  Torture is internationally banned by the Convention Against Torture.

The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, the International Federation for Human Rights, and the US-based Center for Constitutional Rights prepared criminal complaints with more than 2500 pages of supporting material to submit to the Swiss prosecutor.  These criminal complaints were signed by more than 60 human rights organizations world wide and by the former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, the former UN Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and Lawyers, and Nobel Peace Prize recipients Shirin Ebadi and Perez Esquivel.

Amnesty International, which has repeatedly called for criminal investigation of torture by GWB, sent Swiss prosecutors a detailed legal and factual analysis of President Bush’s criminal responsibility for torture.

While some traditionalists in the human rights community scoff at the notion that GWB and others will ever be held accountable for their violations, experts disagree.

“Nobody – from those who administered the practices to those at the top of the chain of command – is under a shield of absolute immunity for the practices of secret detention, extraordinary rendition and torture,” Martin Scheinin, UN special rapporteur on human rights and professor of public international law at the European University Institute told The Guardian.  “Legally this case is quite clear. Bush does not enjoy immunity as a former head of state, and he has command responsibility for the decisions that were taken.”

Similar efforts to prosecute former President Bush, former Bush lawyers Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Federal Appeals Court Judge Jay Bybee, John Yoo, William J. Haynes II, David Addington, and Douglas J Feith are proceeding in Spain.

All of these international efforts to seek justice for the human rights violations committed by the Bush administration are possible only because the US has refused to prosecute – another disappointment by the Obama administration.

Ironically, February 7 is the ninth anniversary of the date when GWB unilaterally decided that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to enemy combatants.  GWB denied, as most facing criminal charges do, that the possibility of prosecution was involved at all in the decision to cancel his trip.

The human rights community promised to pursue Bush and the other human rights violators whenever they leave the US.  Katherine Gallagher and Claire Tixiere, the lead lawyers authoring the 2500 page criminal case in Geneva stated:  “The reach of the Convention Against Torture is wide – this case is prepared and will be waiting for him wherever he travels next. Torturers – even if they are former presidents of the United States – must be held to account and prosecuted. Impunity for Bush must end.”

For more on the Bush Torture Indictment see http://ccrjustice.org/ourcases/current-cases/bush-torture-indictment

Bill Quigley is Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and law professor at Loyola University New Orleans.

You can reach Bill at quigley77@gmail.com

February 7, 2011 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | 3 Comments

New Settlement Built in Negev to Judaise Area, Displace Indigenous Bedouin Communities

By Tania Kepler for the Alternative Information Center | February 7, 2011

The first housing plots in the new Negev settlement of Carmit went on sale this week.

jnf

A representative of the Or Movement, which promotes settlement construction in the Negev and the Galilee, said Carmit is being advertised as a town for “affluent immigrants from English-speaking countries.”

“There are 80 families of British, Americans and South Africans who are coming,” Roni Flamer, the movement’s co-founder, stated in March 2010.

Israel’s District Planning and Building Commission of the Southern Region approved the construction of 739 housing units for Carmit’s Phase A, back in 2005.

The new settlement has a wide collection of funders and supporters, including the Jewish Agency, the Metar Local Council, the Jewish National Fund, JNF – USA, JNF – UK, the Ministry of Construction and Housing, the Israel Land Administration, the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and Galilee, the American Evangelical group John Hagee Ministries, the OR Movement and various private donors.

Jewish National Fund chairman Effie Stenzler remarked that his organization “maintains that the first priority in Israel is the development of the Negev and Galilee, and that is why we have joined forces in the establishment of Carmit. The goal for the establishment of this community is to bring hundreds of new immigrant families, along with young native Israelis from central Israel.”

The first 116 plots are now on the market, and residents are expected to move into the first neighborhood during 2013. The settlement is intended to comprise over 2,500 housing units, each on an area of 1.5 acres.

“Marketing the plots for detached houses in the new community of Carmit is the next step in increasing the supply of land for residential purposes in the sought-after area of the northern Negev,” Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Attias said in a statement.

The JNF, whose slogan is “Caretakers of the land of Israel for over a century,” has a $600 million campaign to “revitalize” the Negev Desert, acting on the words of Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, who said, “The Negev will be the test of the creative ability and pioneering valor of Israel.” The group is claiming property rights to el Araqib in order to plant a “peace forest.”

They continue on to say, “JNF’s major initiative to revitalize Israel’s southern region is called Blueprint Negev – a name that describes the far-reaching and visionary plan to increase the area’s population and improve living conditions for all of its inhabitants.”

Their plan to “improve living conditions for all” excludes the area’s indigenous Bedouin community.

Carmit, for example, is located next to the Cramim Forest in the northern Negev, near the location of the future Israeli army Intelligence center base, and is surrounded by Bedouin villages.

While the JNF acknowledges that there are currently 160,000 Bedouin residing in the Negev, half of those in villages unrecognized by Israel, the group claims on its website that Bedouin’s “nomadic existence ceased in the 1950s.”

In November 2005, the Israeli government adopted the “Negev 2015” plan, a $3.6 billion 10-year scheme aimed at increasing the Jewish population of the Negev by 200,000, by developing upscale residential neighborhoods, fast transportation networks for commuters, high tech establishments, and better educational facilities, for recognized residents only of course.

In recent months the JNF and the Israel Land Authority (ILA) have been working to “encourage” the remaining nomadic Bedouin communities to settle in cities and stay off the land they want to populate. The encouragement has come in the form of regular demolitions of Bedouin villages, like El Araqib, which has been destroyed 12 times.

Bedouin land expropriation must stop. Foreigners purchasing houses in the Negev must realize they are kicking others out of theirs. Israel must recognize that the Bedouin have a right to their traditional way of life, that they have been on the land since before the existence of the State of Israel, and that the psychological tactics of destruction and non-recognition cannot continue.

February 7, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | Comments Off on New Settlement Built in Negev to Judaise Area, Displace Indigenous Bedouin Communities

PFLP: It is time to declare the death of Oslo and join the march towards a new Arab era

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said on February 6, 2011 that it is an urgent Palestinian national task to discard the Oslo Accords and the entire path that followed, and called upon all Palestinian forces and factions to meet and officially declare the death of these agreements, ending their compliance with these agreements and their consequent disasters for the Palestinian cause.

Comrade Dr. Maher al-Taher, member of the Political Bureau of the PFLP and leader of its branch outside Palestine, issued an official statement in which he said the Oslo accords were the beginning of a criminal process to force Palestinians to recognize the “right” of the Zionist occupation state to exist on the land of Palestine.

He said that in yesterday’s demonstrations in solidarity with Egypt in the streets of Ramallah, Bethlehem and other Palestinian cities, the slogans were raised: “The people want to drop the Oslo accords” and “The people want to end the division.”

Comrade Taher said, “Yes, it is time to declare the death and the end to this humiliating agreements, which accounted for the biggest victory of the Zionist movement and its aggressive projects in the region. Yes, it is the time to build Palestinian national unity established on the basis of a clear political program and struggle.

In this historical moment for the question of Palestine and the Arab nation, the Popular Front calls for all Palestinian forces and factions, without exception, to come together to a comprehensive national forum to announce the death of the Oslo accords and end their compliance with those accords and their consequent disasters for the Palestinian cause, said Comrade Taher.

The Popular Front for the Liberation expresses its pride and support for the great revolutions of the people of Egypt and Tunisia, which have revived the soul of the Arab nation and its future generations, and which emphasize that the era of tyrants is not long for this world.

The Egyptian people today are regaining their role, and Egypt’s historical significance, in the protection of Arab national security and supporting the Palestinian cause.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine salutes the martyrs of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolution, and is confident that the blood of the martyrs and wounded will not come in vain, and will open the pathway to a new Arab era.

February 7, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | Comments Off on PFLP: It is time to declare the death of Oslo and join the march towards a new Arab era

US-led forces kill 2 Afghan civilians

Press TV – February 7, 2011

US-led forces have killed two Afghan civilians and seriously injured another one in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province, a foreign company announces.

The Central Asia Development Group (CADG) said Monday that the foreign forces killed two Afghan employees of the Singapore-based engineering firm last week.

CADG added that another Afghan civilian hired by the company was injured by “friendly fire” from US-led security forces on February 3.

“On February 3, 2011, a CADG vehicle, carrying four of CADG’s Afghan national staff were caught in kinetic activity between ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) forces and insurgent forces on Highway 1 near Spin Masjid Bazaar, near Gereshk in Helmand Province,” CADG spokesman Matthew Goldthwaite told AFP.

“As a result of this exchange, two of the passengers were killed, one passenger was seriously wounded (and) the fourth passenger was unharmed,” Goldthwaite added.

“CADG was informed that ISAF have accepted responsibility for this incident… We believe it’s friendly fire,” he went on to say. ISAF has not yet commented on the incident.

US-led coalition forces and NATO troops in Afghanistan have been frequently criticized for the increase in civilian casualties caused by their military operations in the war-torn country.

More than 2,400 civilians lost their lives in violence across Afghanistan in 2010, marking the deadliest year for ordinary Afghans, a human rights watchdog said last week.

Civilian casualties have long been a source of friction between the Afghan government and 150,000-strong US-led foreign forces.

The loss of civilian lives at the hand of foreign forces has dramatically heightened anti-American sentiments in Afghanistan, causing thousands of Afghans to protest against US-led military presence in the Asian country.

February 7, 2011 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | Comments Off on US-led forces kill 2 Afghan civilians

Police clash with protesters in Dhaka

Press TV – February 7, 2011
Activists of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) clash with the riot police during a nationwide strike in Dhaka on February 7, 2011.

Riot police in Bangladesh have clashed with hundreds of protesters in the Capital Dhaka who insist swift parliamentary elections to topple the country’s ruling power.

The fighting erupted during a nationwide strike, called by Bagladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which is the country’s main opposition party.

Scores of protesters were wounded and at least 70 activists were arrested in clashes with the police, according to witnesses.

The police patrolled the capital and the main cities, using water cannons and batons to disperse the protesters who are discontent with high prices, weak public services in the impoverished land.

On Sunday, fighting between the police and the demonstrators left one policeman dead and dozens of people injured.

The BNP, which has been led by two times ex-Premier Khaleda Zia, is objecting the government’s economic policies and its alleged crackdown on the opposition.

February 7, 2011 Posted by | Economics | 1 Comment

Rejoinder to Open Letter to JNF Leadership

Dr. Uri Davis, JNFebook, vol. 3  | 07 February 2011

As chairperson of AL-BEIT: Association for the Defence of Human Rights in Israel, which is the publisher of the current volume*, I was utterly dismayed to have come across the text of an “Open Letter to Ronald Lauder, Stanley Chesley, Russell Robinson and the entire leadership of the Jewish National Fund” signed by 27 NGOs, human rights organizations and social movements from the Negev and Israel and by 7 American Jewish organizations.

jnf_apartheid

I find the said text to be a sad illustration of the ongoing weakness of such among “human rights activists, social organizations in Israel, Jewish and other allies in the United States and around the world” as failing to position at the center of their political programme and grass-root practice the demand for the implementation of the right of all 1948 Palestine refugees and their families to return and to the repossession of the titles to their properties inside Israel. Furthermore, the said text fails to recognize the extent of the JNF’s complicity in the racist and apartheid policies of the State of Israel since its founding in 1948.

Allow me point out at the outset that the term “apartheid” is not synonymous with the terms “racism” and “xenophobia”. The terms “racism” and “xenophobia” are not synonymous with the term “apartheid”.

Racism is defined by the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination of 1965 as “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life”. (Article 1) There is a certain degree of accuracy in the argument put forth by the Israeli Foreign Ministry (which is located in Jerusalem on land belonging to Palestinian refugees who were expelled from the city in the widespread ethnic cleansing perpetrated in Palestine in course of and in the wake of the 1948 war), and other representatives of the State of Israel around the world, that Israel should not be singled out from among other member states of the United Nations as a state uniquely afflicted by racism – not because Israel is not afflicted by racism, but because it is not greatly different from other member states of the UN, such as Indonesia and Canada, to name but two.

However, the State of Israel is not merely afflicted by racism. The core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict hinges upon access to land and to subsoil (minerals and, above all, water), and in respect of this core the State of Israel is anchored in a regime of apartheid. Apartheid is a political regime that imposes upon the population which is under its control racist preferences and choices by power of Acts of Parliament, and enforces the said racist preferences and choices upon the population which is under its control by means of the law enforcement instruments of the state, such as the judicial system, the security forces (police, army, secret services), the planning authorities, the municipal authorities, etc.

Whereas racism in the modern sense of the term is a rampant social affliction at one level or another in all of the member states of the UN (some more and some less), a regime of apartheid as defined above is less common and, to the best of my knowledge, with the dismantling of the apartheid regime in South Africa – a process that began with the release of Nelson Mandela from prison in 1990 and was completed with his election as President of the Republic in 1994 in the first democratic elections ever to be held in the history of South Africa – the State of Israel remains the only member state of the UN that is an apartheid state.

It is possible that my knowledge is insufficient; there may be additional member states of the UN which are apartheid states as defined above, but in any event they would be few and far between. An apartheid regime constitutes a blatant violation of the UN’s founding charter, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and of the standards of international law. Therefore, it is the duty of the international community to single out apartheid states, separately and collectively, including the State of Israel, for the same specific attention that was paid to the apartheid regime of the Republic of South Africa, i.e., a boycott of industrial and other products, academic, cultural and sport institutions (including research grants and international conferences), and international sanctions enforced by the UN. This is our duty, not because Israel claims to be “the Jewish state” (or any other name, for that matter), but in order to assist such states, in the same way as the international community assisted South Africa, to replace the apartheid regime with a democratic constitution.

In this regard it is important to note that, in the first democratic elections in the Republic of South Africa in 1994, Nelson Mandela was elected as President of the Republic by majorities of votes, not only among the “non-White” tribes and ethnic groups that comprise the social mosaic of the territory that comes under the authority of the Republic, but also among the “White” tribes and ethnic groups. This was after decades of political imprisonment and extensive and coordinated efforts on the part of the apartheid regime to remove him from sight and to defame him as a “terrorist”.

93% of the entire territory of the State of Israel within the borders of 4 June 1967 are defined as “national lands” and are legally designated for “Jews only”, more specifically, for those persons who are defined under the laws of the State of Israel as “Jews”. Only some 7% or less of the entire territory of the State of Israel within the borders of 4 June 1967 are privately owned, approximately half of which are estimated to be privately owned by Arabs and half by Jews. The legal system of apartheid by which this blatant discrimination is maintained in the territories under Israeli sovereignty has resulted in a land tenure system worse than that of the Republic of South Africa at the height of the apartheid regime, where 87% of the territory of the Republic was legally designated in law for the use of “Whites only”.

The strategic settler colonial apartheid legislation in the State of Israel is anchored, inter alia, on the following series of laws:

  • Absentees’ Property Law; Law of Return; Development Authority Law all of 1950
  • World Zionist Organization [WZO]-Jewish Agency for the Land of Israel [JA] (Status) Law, 1952
  • Jewish National Fund [JNF] Law; Lands Acquisition (Validation of Acts and Compensation) Law both of 1953
  • Covenant between the Government of Israel and the Zionist Executive, also known as the Executive of the Jewish Agency for the Land of Israel, 1954
  • Perscription Law, 1958
  • Basic Law: Israel Lands; Israel Lands Law; Israel Lands Administration Law all of 1960
  • The Covenant between the Government of Israel and the JNF, 1961
  • Agricultural Settlement (Restriction on Use of Agricultural Land and Water) Law, 1967

It is beyond the limits of this contribution to elaborate further upon the apartheid laws that operate in the State of Israel. In order to properly appreciate the case, one must begin by examining the cornerstones of the aforementioned legislation, and first and foremost understand how the Israel Lands Administration operates; what is the status in Israel of the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Fund; and the modalities and the links that obtain among them.

Given the above, aren’t the signatories to the above “Open Letter” aware of the articles of incorporation of the JNF company as registered in Israel such as were approved and signed in 1954 by the Justice Minister at the time, Pinhas Rosen? They read inter alia as follows:

To purchase, acquire on lease or in exchange, etc., … in the prescribed region (which expression shall in this Memorandum mean the State of Israel in any area within the jurisdiction of the Government of Israel) or any part thereof, for the purpose of settling Jews on such lands and properties (Article 3a, Jewish National Fund, Association Limited in Liability and Without Capital Distributed to Shareholders, Memorandum of Association, Government Gazette No. 354, 10.6.1954).

Aren’t the signatories to the said “Open Letter” aware of the JNF’s complicity with the crime against humanity of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine under the cover of the 1948-49 war and their critical role in “greenwashing” the said crime by planting its forests, cultivating its parks and developing its recreational facilities over the ruins of many of the 500 odd ethnically cleansed Palestinian Arab villages inside pre-1967 Israel and over their lands?

How can the said 27 NGOs, human rights organizations and social movements from the Negev and Israel and 7 American Jewish organizations suggest that “If you, the leaders of the JNF, fail to heed this call, you will bear responsibility for the betrayal of Israel’s commitment to the values of equality and justice enshrined in its Declaration of Independence”? It is the “greenwashing” by the JNF of the crime against humanity of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine that has significantly made possible for the apartheid State of Israel to conceal these crimes for several decades and project itself as the “only democracy in the Middle East”.

How can the said 27 NGOs, human rights organizations and social movements from the Negev and Israel and 7 American Jewish organizations call upon the leadership of the JNF “to end your complicity in the destruction of Bedouin villages in the Negev and in the dispossession of Israel’s Bedouin community”, rather than call upon governments world-wide and western governments in particular to direct their Commissioners of Charities to strike the JNF off the list of charitable societies the charitable registration of the JNF, to nullify the JNF tax privileges in their respective states (as well as demand that the JNF reimburse their respective treasuries with all the monies fraudulently gained as tax-exemptions), and to declare the JNF an illegal organization under their respective liberal democratic constitutions.

Political Zionism is a form of apartheid and the appropriate penalties prescribed by the International Covenant on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid of 1973 should be applied to its institutions, notably the WZO, the JA and the JNF, and to the State of Israel, which has granted those institutions statutory status by power of parliamentary legislation.

It is the duty of civil society, including professional associations, trade unions, and religious organizations, as well as the responsibility of every concerned individual of conscience (notably, the 27 NGOs human rights organizations and social movements from the Negev and Israel and the 7 American Jewish organizations) to single out the State of Israel for the same specific attention that was paid to the apartheid regime of the Republic of South Africa, inter alia in the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid of 1973, not because racism in Israel as defined in international law is that different from racism in the UK or North America, but because apartheid in Israel (the regulation of racism through Acts of Parliament) is akin to apartheid in the former (pre-1994) South Africa.

It is the duty of civil society, including professional associations, trade unions, and religious organizations, as well as the responsibility of every concerned individual of conscience (notably, the 27 NGOs human rights organizations and social movements from the Negev and Israel and the 7 American Jewish organizations) to mobilize for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) and act to:

NULLIFY ISRAELI JNF LAW!

REVOKE THE CHARITABLE REGISTRATION OF THE JNF AND CANCEL ITS TAX EXEMPT STATUS IN THE UK AND BEYOND!

ANNUL THE NGO OBSERVER STANDING OF THE JNF IN THE UNITED NATIONS AND DECLARE THE JNF AN ILLEGAL ORGANIZATION UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW!

*About the contributor and publisher of Vol 3 of the JNFebook:

Professor Dr Uri Davis is a Palestinian Hebrew, citizen of the alleged constitutional monarchy of the U.K. and of the apartheid State of Israel, born in Jerusalem in 1943. He has been at the forefront of the defence of human rights in Israel, notably Palestinian rights, since 1965 and has pioneered critical research on Zionism and the State of Israel since the mid-1970. He has published extensively in these fields, including Israel: An Apartheid State (Zed Books, London 1987 & 1990; abridged edition, MRN, Laudium, 2001); (associate author with Walter Lehn, author), The Jewish National Fund. Kegan Paul International, London and New York, 1988; Citizenship and the State: Comparative Study of Citizenship Legislation in Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Syria and Lebanon (Ithaca Press, Reading, 1997); Citizenship and the State in the Middle East: Approaches and Applications (co-ed) (Syracuse University Press, 2000) and most recently Apartheid Israel: Possibilities for the Struggle Within (Zed Books, London, 2003); A Secular Anti-Zionist COMPANION of an Abridged Passover Haggadah (with Ricky Romain, forthcoming).

Dr Davis is Associate Professor at AL-QUDS University, Institute of Regional Studies, Israel Studies Programme, Jerusalem/Abu Dis; member of the Middle East Regional Committee of the international Journal Citizenship Studies; Honorary Research Fellow at the Institute of Arab & Islamic Studies (IAIS), University of Exeter and Honorary Research Fellow at the Institute for Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies (IMEIS), University of Durham; Chairperson of AL-BEIT: Association for the Defence of Human Rights in Israel; member of the Palestinian National Liberation Movement (FATH) Revolutionary Council; and Observer-Member of the Palestine National Council (PNC).

AL-BEIT: Association for the Defence of Human Rights in Israel was founded in March 1995 by a group of Arab and Hebrew veteran human rights activists as a not-for-profit organization with the view to address a largely neglected area of human rights abuse in Israel, namely, the violation of Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR):

(i)            Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state;

(ii)          (ii) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

The organization has been a small and innovative voluntary association aiming to contribute to the process expanding the choice of residence in the State of Israel for all citizens (UDHR Article (i), above); advance the implementation of the right of return for all 1948 Palestine refugee families (UDHR Article (ii), above); and promote the idea of open localities and mixed cooperative and other communities, Jewish-Arab/Arab-Jewish communities in the first instance on an equal footing. AL-BEIT is a signatory to the Call for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (Published by PACBI: Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel http://www.PACBI.org). All members of the AL-BEIT Management Committee volunteer their time and their skills.

February 7, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | 2 Comments

The circles in the sky over Gaza

By Yasmeen El Khoudary writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine, 7 February 2011

The sky over Gaza City, 21 January 2011. (Yasmeen El Khoudary)

People keep talking of a new war. They tell you about their neighbors — they’re probably too shy to admit that its their family, not their neighbors — who already started stocking up on food items and candles in preparation for the upcoming war. “People are really scared,” they tell you, using “people” instead of “we.” Everyone — groundless news reports and loud rumors — is saying that they can hear the war drums, can’t you?!

Well, to me war has already started, and Israel is already chanting victory, given the very conversation the two of us are having. About two weeks ago I saw what looked to me like a confused Israeli pilot flying around in his F-16 jet, drawing circles in the sky. People immediately took it as a sign, a threat and a signal that war was coming. They even made up memories from back in 2008, and were convinced that on 27 December 2008, an Israeli jet, possibly even the same one, drew the same circles in the sky, and that was when war started.

Well, congratulations Israel for winning the psychological war on Gaza. No, you don’t find it enough that you are honored to be the only power on the planet that finds purpose in physically besieging a whole population, but you also want to drive them mad. Only when people started to heave a sigh of relief and take baby steps towards recovering from the 2008-09 war do you start disseminating rumors about a new war. What a fool you are, even if you think you’re winning!

Sure, some people actually believe your rumors and have already started buying supplies in preparation for the “eventual” war and shortage in all kinds of supplies, from baby formula to medicine. But have you heard of a single family that prepared itself for leaving Gaza? That question sounds absurd to you, doesn’t it? How can anyone question the possibility of running away in times of fear? In your traditions, you build and hide in safe shelters, prepare mass evacuation plans for your citizens and buy tons of gas masks as soon as you anticipate the launching of even the smallest rocket. In our traditions, people only buy candles to light their homes and flour to bake bread while you flatten their cities to the ground with your merciless army. They seek no safe havens nor are they provided with any kind of protection against gas, let alone phosphorous bombs. They seek protection from God and in their unity and their love, as they find war a good time for families, or whoever remains amongst them, to gather and share love and warmth.

You know, Israel, you remind me of the scientist and the frog. You — in this case the scientist — order the frog to jump, and it obeys. You cut off its arms, order it to jump, then it struggles to jump. You cut off its legs, order it to jump but it doesn’t jump. You then proudly announce your discovery: when a frog is limbless, it becomes deaf, and so it cannot jump. Yes, deafness caused the frog to lose that physical skill, not the fact that you amputated its four limbs. Is that not what you are trying to do to the Palestinians every single day? You have been slowly cutting off our limbs for the past sixty years, one by one. You have been forcing us into getting used to a life with one missing limb, two missing limbs, three missing limbs, and now four missing limbs slowly as the years go by. You run your experiments on us and show the world that we can still jump. When you cut off that last limb, however, you claim that we were unable to jump because we suddenly turned deaf. In real world terms, that translates into you blaming us for the misery that shapes our every day life, and take your occupation, your wars, your siege and your merciless acts out of the equation.

We might be accustomed to a limbless life, but that doesn’t mean that we lost our ability to jump. We will crawl on the floor and catch our own food. You will always be the oppressor, rather the foolish oppressor with false scientific theories, at least in this case. Living a limbless life means that we will continue to live any kind of life as long as we live it in our country, where we legitimately belong. Israel, when you cut off our limbs, we lose our ability to jump because you cut off our limbs, not because we turned deaf. However, we would indeed turn a deaf ear to your threats and your illogical claims; because frankly, nothing you say or do will succeed in making us even think of leaving this place. Some of us might see the circles in the sky as a sign of war, others might see it as a barbed wire fence stating that even the sky has a limit. To the frog, however, the circles in the sky are reason to keep its head high towards the sun, regardless of the missing limbs.

Yasmeen El Khoudary is a freelance writer and researcher based in Gaza City, Palestine. Her blog is yelkhoudary.blogspot.com.

February 7, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | 2 Comments