Truths, Facts and Facts on the Ground. By Joseph Massad

With Obama’s visit to the Israeli apartheid state, it is important to point out the old lies about Palestine that Obama and Netanyahu insist are “facts”.

This article originally appeared on english.aljazeera.net on 27 October 2011.

Much of the international support that Israel receives is based on several lies it tells and re-tells as “facts”.

In 1991, negotiations started officially and unofficially between the Palestine Liberation Organisation (and the Palestinians associated with it) and the Israeli government. At the time, Israel had occupied the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip for the previous 24 years.

Today, 20 years later, Israel and President Obama insist that the only way to bring about peace, and presumably end the Occupation, is to continue with negotiations. It is unclear if what Obama and Israel are claiming is that Israel needs 24 years of negotiations in order to end its 24-year occupation of Palestinian land, so that by the time the occupation ends, it will have lasted for 48 years.

This of course is the optimistic reading of the Israeli and US positions; the reality of the negotiations and what they aim to achieve, however, is far more insidious.

The negotiations have been based on specific goals to end certain aspects of the Israeli relationship to the Palestinians, namely some of the parts introduced since the 1967 war and the occupation, and the beginning of exclusive Jewish colonial settlement of these territories.But what always remains outside the purview of negotiations is the very core of the Palestinian-Israeli relationship, which the Palestinians are told cannot be part of any negotiations.

These off-limits core issues include what has happened since 1947-1948, including the expulsion of 760,000 Palestinians, the destruction of their cities and towns, the confiscation and destruction of their property, the introduction of discriminatory laws that legalise Jewish racial, colonial and religious privilege and deny Palestinian citizens of Israel equal rights and reject the right of the expelled refugees to return.

Yet, this core, which the Israelis summarise as Israel’s right to be, and to be recognised as, a “Jewish” state, is what is always invoked by the Israelis themselves as central to beginning and ending the negotiations successfully and which the Palestinians, the Israelis insist, refuse to discuss.

But the core issues of the question of the relationship between Palestinians and Israelis have always been based on the agonistic historical, geographic and political claims of the Palestinian people and the Zionist movement.

While the Palestinians have always based their claims on verifiable facts and truths that the international community agreed upon and recognised, Israel has always based its claims on facts on the ground that it created by force and which parts of the international community would only recognise as “legitimate”, retroactively.

How is one then to sift through these competing notions of truths and facts on the one hand, and facts on the ground, on the other? Continue reading

Fomenting Armageddon: Jerusalem’s Colonization and Western Apathy. By Dr. Ahmad Yousef

Via: The Palestine Chronicle.

The Israelis are instigating a Jewish holy war staged in Jerusalem; and they are playing a superb game of propaganda painting the Palestinians as the “real” fundamentalists, despite the fact that the Knesset has more active right-wing political parties than any state in the civilized world. It’s a strategy that has caught the West by surprise as they continue to react with template disappointment.

Successive governments have supported colonization for decades; yet Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu’s recent moves have all but dispelled the façade of a secular rationale. Unfettered, expedited settlement construction in Jerusalem, with images of soldiers traipsing through Islam’s third holiest site in army fatigues, mark a new low for the Israelis; yet equally indicate a new level of brazen physical and psychological aggression that will result in a new intifada.

Netanyahu and the extreme right feel it is time to goad Palestinian Christians and Muslims into reacting with force (which has happened with minor riots in the past few weeks). Much of the Arab and Islamic worlds are limited to flaccid objections, following in the footsteps of the United States and the European Union who similarly are not interested in punitive measures. The Bibi Plan, therefore, is for Palestinians to rebel, face overwhelming military might, and lose Jerusalem once and for all under the premise of security concerns.

Yet this time, the violence will take on a distinctly religious theme. Although Jewish notions of holy war have been in play since the 1960s, albeit ill-covered by the media, Netanyahu has made official, and partially public, the premise that Jerusalem is proprietary to Judaism; and the use of this territory by gentiles is a privilege and not a right. Extremist religious and nationalist groups that play roles as coalition partners are vocal about this view; but rarely has a ruling party been as emboldened in acting upon this view as the current Likud. Continue reading

Silencing Palestinian Voices in Jerusalem. By Omar Radwan

Via: Middle East Monitor.

Last week, the Israeli Ministry of Interior issued Palestinian geographer Khalil al-Tafakji with a six-month travel ban. Tafakji’s activities are largely confined to surveying and cartography, he is not a politician.  However, his work has created major obstacles for Israel’s plans to Judaize the city of Jerusalem and decrease its Palestinian population.

Tafakji is employed by the Mapping and Geographic Information Systems Department (GIS) of the Arab Studies Society. The aim of this department, as described by Tafakji, is “to research and document the effects of Israeli policies and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) relating to land and property, and to be able to produce maps showing these effects”.  Among the maps produced is one showing Palestine as it was in 1945 and one plotting every illegal Israeli settlement built in the West Bank and the Jerusalem area from 1967 to 1994. In 1998, GIS completed a project surveying all Palestinian property in Jerusalem and the department now serves as the main reference point for people engaged in land transactions.  The work of GIS has stalled Israeli plans for Jerusalem in various ways.  It now holds accurate details of property entitlements in the city, so GIS has been able to stop sales of property to Israeli parties by people with forged title deeds.  In addition, it has been able to submit zoning proposals to the Jerusalem municipality designed to prevent Israeli takeovers of Arab areas of the city.  These are usually signed by all the residents of a certain area and are, therefore, difficult even for the Israelis to refuse.

Three weeks ago, Tafakji returned to Jerusalem from a tour which took him to a number of countries, including India, Tunisia, and Turkey.  He had been speaking about the effects of Israeli policies in Jerusalem on the city’s Palestinian population.  No such travel ban as has been imposed on Tafakji has ever been imposed on any other Palestinian; the only similar case is that of Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, who has been prevented from leaving the country ever since his release from prison.  It seems that Israel is very fearful that facts about its policies in Jerusalem – which can be best described as ethnic cleansing by stealth – reach a wide audience outside the country. Continue reading

Canadian Policy: The Jerusalem effect. By Bahija Reghai

Via: OpEndNews.

One must wonder why the Government of Canada feels the need to by-pass the Canadian electorate and announce changes in its policy relating to Israel/Palestine through Israeli media: these announcements should have been made in Canada because they have a profound impact on Canadian interests and need to be debated in Canada.

And our national media have gone AWOL on a number of issues when they are supposed to be their readers’ and viewers’ watchdogs, especially since Parliament has been prorogued.

First, we learned of the Security Agreement through the Jerusalem Post in 2007. On March 2, 2008, a Declaration of Intent was signed by then Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day in Tel Aviv. Having a mutual security agreement with a country that grants rights according to religion rather than citizenship is not in accord with Canadian values.

The fact that Israel is an occupier state and uses its army against Palestinians while occupying their land should also raise a red flag as intelligence gathered on Canadian Arabs of Palestinian and Israeli background may be skewed, “shared”, and used against them. The implications of such an agreement should be the subject of parliamentary debate and oversight.

Second, the Israeli settler radio station Arutz Sheva said in October 2009 that Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon had announced in Israel his intention “to present the Canadian Prime Minister with a plan to revive the multilateral “refugee committee’ headed by Canada that was established in the Madrid Conference in 1991.” The question of Palestinian refugees has been a core issue in the Arab-Israeli conflict since 1948. As the “gavel-holder” of the Refugee Working Group (RWG), Canada has a special responsibility towards all Palestinian refugees. Continue reading