Reparations and the Nakba

What does it mean to advocate for compensation and repatriation when these processes are embedded within settler colonial and colonial frameworks?

Since 1948, there have been numerous maximalist and minimalist proposals to resolve the fates of Palestinian refugees by those outside the homeland and those internally displaced within Israel. For the State of Israel and many Jewish Israelis, the ideal solution encompasses a hoped-for absorption (i.e. disappearance) of Palestinians into host countries, elsewhere. For Palestinians, the rights of return and reparations (including restitution and compensation for lost properties and human suffering) are non-negotiable.

Discussions continue concerning the ways in which to calculate current equivalent values for Palestinian losses, or, even, to determine recipients to whom compensation is owed. Israel contests the baseline definitions of “refugee” established by the United Nations Work and Relief Agency for the Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), the international assistance organization for humanitarian aid to Palestinians. Even if Israel were to miraculously reverse position and recognize the Palestinian right of return, further roadblocks are raised to question whether this refers to repatriation within the 1948-67 borders of Israel, or only within the framework of a two-state solution into the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), constituted solely from the West Bank (excluding Jerusalem) and Gaza: Would Palestinians accept the principle of acknowledgment of the right of return, but not its full practical application? Are financial compensation and restitutions collective or individual? None of these issues are insoluble, and many remarkable proposals have been circulated. Numerous visionary overtures and practical recommendations concerning reparations, restitution, return and compensation have been set forth by a plethora of actors and are available in books, articles, lectures, and Internet groups.

Reparations are often discussed without reference to the political entity that dispenses compensation, which may be a one-state Palestine/Israel, the two separate states of Israel and Palestine in negotiation with each other, or any semblance of a federal or confederated framework. In theory, compensation to internally displaced and diasporic Palestinian Arab refugees may be endorsed and underwritten by any number of potential parties and agencies – the State of Israel, the American government (redirecting three billion dollars their annual weapons budget to Israel for reparation and repatriation), and overseas Jewish organizations and donors, including those in which my mother was active (for example, if B’nai Brith and Hadassah-WIZO would enlarge their humanitarian aid on behalf of reparations to Palestinians).

But, what does it mean to advocate for compensation and repatriation when these processes are embedded within settler colonial and colonial frameworks? As with the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, settler colonial societies triumphed because they held on to the majority of land and they did not depart; they succeeded because they laid claim to indigeneity and native-ness for themselves. As Awni al-Mashni notes, it may be that reparations actually mark the triumph of settler colonialism: Even the millions of dollars in compensation cannot erase the reality of Palestinian displacement, which is no longer a mere objective fact, but has, rather, come to shape and has taken over the Palestinian conscience, much like what the crematories and the concentration camps have done to the Jews. Have German reparations, in spite of their exorbitant amounts, drawn attention away from the crematory?

Even the vision of a one-state solution with equality between Palestinians and Jews is an acknowledgment, at some level, of the triumph of Jewish Israeli settler colonialism. Along these lines, the question is open as to whether reparations from the settler minority to the native majority would diminish or reinforce the power of settler colonialism. For example, compensation for the indigenous Maori of New Zealand was aimed at making up for the manifest legacies of colonialism but, also, to maintaining the continuation of the white settler colonial regime.

Reparations to the colonized may temporarily restructure hierarchies in which social inferiors were hitherto forced to make material tribute to higher status colonizers. But, it must never be forgotten that reconciliation between native and settler is about rationalizing ongoing settler colonialism – by demonstrating “generosity” and paying compensation, the colonizer reinforces their superior position in the social hierarchy. Thus, compensation remains mired in the messy realities of festering disputes between colonizer and colonized, or settler and native, even when opposing sides – such as the Maori native and the white New Zealander – are in agreement that reparative processes must advance.

(Source / 10.12.2016)


Morsi’s family denounce arrest of his son

Image of Osama Morsi

Image of Osama Morsi

The family of Egypt’s former President Mohamed Morsi yesterday denounced the arrest of his son Osama at the hands of Egyptian authorities.

Osama’s brother, Ahmed said: “The arrest of Osama, who is our family spokesman, is a new crime against the president’s family and a continuation of the harassment against the president and his rights.”

The family demanded “the free world” reject and condemn Osama’s arrest, adding that “settling scores with the family will not deter the president.”

Osama was arrested from his home yesterday in the Sharkiya province. No reasons were given for his arrest.

(Source / 10.12.2016)

Turkey court rules to stop legal cases against Israelis over flotilla raid

People shout anti-Israel slogans as the lawyers of the Turkish victims of a 2010 Israeli raid speak to the media outside Istanbul’s main courthouse, December 9, 2016. (Photo by AP)

People shout anti-Israel slogans as the lawyers of the Turkish victims of a 2010 Israeli raid speak to the media outside Istanbul’s main courthouse, December 9, 2016

A court in Turkey has ruled that litigation must be dropped against four Israeli military officials over a commando raid that killed 10 Turkish humanitarian aid workers in 2010.

The Turkish court trusted with the case dropped it after a closed-door hearing on Friday as per an agreement between Ankara and Tel Aviv on the restoration of bilateral diplomatic ties, which had been severed after the attack.

Under the agreement, which was struck in June, Ankara settled for just an apology and compensations to the families of the Turkish victims, pledged not to hold Israeli individuals liable for the assault, and also backed down from its earlier demand that Tel Aviv lift its siege of the Gaza Strip.

Turkey’s private Dogan news agency reported that the court had also waived arrest warrants against the Israelis, among whom was the regime’s former military chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi.

The Turkish activists were attacked on board Mavi Marmara — the lead ship in a six-vessel aid convoy heading for the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip — in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea. Nine died on the spot, and a tenth succumbed to injuries later. The others were detained by Israeli forces.

The court case had been brought on behalf of 740 individuals from 37 countries, who say their loved ones had been wounded, assaulted, or imprisoned during the raid.

The normalization of ties between Turkey and Israel also entailed the posting of ambassadors. Israel’s first ambassador to Turkey since the rupture in the relations, which saw Ankara expelling the previous envoy, commenced his work on Monday.

Reports said that tumult erupted at the courthouse before the verdict was read.

The lawyers and families of the victims walked out of courtroom shouting “Damn Israel” and “Mavi Marmara our honor.”

Selcuk Kar, a lawyer from Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), which had sponsored the aid convoy, said the judge dismissed the case in haste. “The judicial process will continue. It is not over yet. We will continue to try all legal ways but… Israel is already convicted,” he said.

With the bilateral deal between Turkey and Israel, it will be very unlikely, if not impossible, for the plaintiffs to be able to press their case again in a Turkish court.

(Source / 10.12.2016)

Israeli troops kidnap little Palestinian girl

The girl was kidnapped because she was spotted putting her hands in her pockets, spokeswoman of Israeli police says

Israeli occupation troops kidnapped on Saturday 15-year-old Palestinian girl at illegal Israeli checkpoint south of West Bank city of Qalqilya.

“My daughter is lucky as she was beaten and kidnapped,” Mother of the girl told Days of Palestine, “others were immediately shot and left bleeding to death”

Israeli occupation troops kidnapped on Saturday 15-year-old Palestinian girl at illegal Israeli checkpoint south of West Bank city of Qalqilya.

Eyewitnesses said that the Israeli occupation soldiers fired warning shots in the air before kidnapping the little Palestinian girl, who arrived in the area with her parents.

Palestinian sources identified the girl as Nawras Ali Zamari,15. The girl was handcuffed and leg-chained before she was inhumanely put in an Israeli military jeep and taken away.

Spokeswoman of the Israeli police Luba al-Samri said that the Palestinian girl was wearing “men clothes” and approached the location of the Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint “while he hands in her pocket.”

The Palestinian girl was inhumanely treated in front of all the passengers at the checkpoint and was handcuffed and leg-chained, but Al-Samri claimed the girl was not hurt and received humane treatment.

“My daughter is lucky as she was beaten and kidnapped,” Mother of the girl told Days of Palestine, “others were immediately shot and left bleeding to death.”

While in tears, the mother said that she was sure that he daughter would be released very soon as she did not have any intention to cause any harm to the Israeli occupation soldiers at the checkpoint.

(Source / 10.12.2016)

The Russian ambassador to the UN:Israel Helps ISIS Recruit Militants in Syria

The Russian ambassador to the UN says Israel is assisting Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) militants in recruiting fellow Takfiris from the Caucasus and Central Asia to join the foreign-backed militancy in Syria.
Vitaly Churkin made the comments in a February 10 letter sent to the UN Security Council, explaining that Daesh recruiters have supposedly formed a network in the Israeli city of Eilat for foreign militants from the former Soviet Union, AFP reported on Thursday.

According to the letter, a Russian national identified as Ruslan Alexei Khaibullov, who lives in Eliat and has Israeli permanent residence, is leading the network.
The recruiters in Israeli detention centers are said to connect lawyers with foreigners who agree to join the ranks of Daesh when they are set free.
Israel also stands accused of buying oil from Daesh. Late last year, Russia released satellite images, showing long lines of trucks carrying oil from Daesh-controlled areas in northeastern Syria into Israel.

(Source / 10.12.2016)

Canada, Palestine and the Ku Klux Klan

Image of Ku Klux Klan [Martin/Flickr]

Image of Ku Klux Klan

A Canadian politician has likened a grassroots, human rights movement to the notorious, white supremacist, Ku Klux Klan. And the overwhelming response was silent acquiescence.

On 1 December, Ontario provincial parliament member Gila Martow brought Motion 36 to a vote in a half-empty legislature. The motion, which passed with 49 in favour and five against, affirmed the parliament’s rejection of “the differential treatment of Israel,” including the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

“We would not be here supporting a Ku Klux Klan on our campuses, so why are we allowing BDS movements?” Martow said before the vote.

Effectively, in her brazen statement, Martow labelled activist students across Ontario campuses, which are some of the most ethnically diverse organising places in the world, akin to a dangerous and violent white supremacist group.

Let that sink in for a moment.

One group was founded by Palestinians living under decades of military occupation and systemic racism, discrimination and apartheid. Since the BDS call was launched in 2005, the nonviolent movement has galvanised people of colour and marginalised groups from around the world, and has maintained a network of allies united under the principles of human rights, international law and social justice.

Groups such as Black Lives Matters, Idle No More, No One Is Illegal and Independent Jewish Voices have signed up to BDS. It has been backed by figures like Cornel West, Angela Davis, Judith Butler, Naomi Klein and veteran South African anti-Apartheid campaigner Archbishop Desmond Tutu, to name but a few.

Martow has compared this movement to one which has a dark and bloody history. The KKK was created with the sole purpose of upholding white supremacy. It is responsible for racist lynchings, firebombings and murders in the United States under Jim Crow segregation laws. More recently, it has been reinvigorated by the victory of US President-elect Donald Trump and adherents to its toxic, racist ideology now figure within the highest echelons of power.

When a member of parliament, from her comfortable position of power and privilege at Queen’s Park, likens students, people of colour and grassroots human rights activists to KKK members, she is effectively accusing them of perpetrating the very violence to which their communities were and continue to be subjected. The extent to which Israel’s apologists will stoop in order to silence legitimate criticism of the state’s policies has long been known, but this level of absurd and baseless bullying is alarming, and dangerous.

It reflects a growing trend of top-down suppression of transnational, social justice mobilisation around Palestine, and the widespread conflation of anti-Semitism with critiques of state policies. Calling for an end to Israel’s occupation, the legitimate right of return for Palestinian refugees and equal rights for all citizens of Israel – the three tenets of BDS – is neither racist nor violent; it certainly does not merit comparisons to the KKK.

While entirely symbolic, Motion 36 is the latest in a series of anti-BDS measures pursued by governments in Europe and North America, including France, Britain, the State of New York and the US Senate, and Canada’s own government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Ultimately, the message being sent here is clear. When university campuses emerge as key sites of nonviolent organising in solidarity with Palestine, parliaments will become spaces to institutionalise censorship. When equating human rights activism with white supremacy is not only normalised, but also triggers virtually no public outcry, the criminalisation of free speech and the right to dissent is never far behind.

When marginalised communities are bullied so blatantly by the very people meant to represent them, it is the responsibility of their fellow citizens to condemn unequivocally the atmosphere of fear and intimidation. We’re still waiting.

(Source / 10.12.2016)

A British citizen has been tortured by Israel’s secret police

Palestinian Flag

By  Asa  Winstanley

Israel’s secret police have tortured a British citizen into “confessing” to a crime which he insists he did not commit. Although Haaretz claimed last month that he had been released, it appears that Faiz Sherari remains in the custody of a “military court” run by Israel’s illegal occupation regime that rules the fate of all Palestinians in the West Bank.

Israel’s system of military “justice” in the occupied Palestinian territories is, in fact, a farcical pretence, one which is applied on strictly apartheid lines. If they are ever accused of criminal acts by the Israeli state, the Jewish colonists who illegally occupy Palestinian land and properties in the West Bank get charged under Israel’s civilian legal system.

For Palestinians in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, though, there is a separate set of military laws, and a court system run directly by the same Israeli army thugs who hold the whip hand of the illegal occupation. The whole thing is nothing less than a kangaroo court. Underlining the racist nature of the regime, Palestinian citizens of Israel (supposedly equal with Israeli Jews according to pro-Israel propagandists) are often tried under military law too.

According to the Guardian, Sherari is a British citizen; although born in Lebanon, he has lived in the UK for almost a quarter of a century. The Shin Bet — Israel’s secret police with a long and brutal record of torture, kidnapping and assassinations – accuses Sherari of “providing cash and mobile phones to Hamas” during a four-day trip to Palestine in September. However, even the Israeli “judge” (actually a high-ranking officer in the occupation army) admitted that Sherari had been tortured into confessing this “crime”.

Lieutenant-Colonel Azriel Levy said that the confession, “which was given an hour after the end of his Shin Bet interrogation… [was] dramatically influenced by the method of interrogation,” a euphemism for being tortured into giving a false confession. This so-called interrogation was, in fact, torture. According to Levy, it “included pained and prolonged shackling”, threats and psychological pressure.

Sherari’s lawyer, Ramzi Katilat, told the Guardian that, “in the interrogation he made an admission. But what we are saying is that it is untrue. What he said was to satisfy the interrogator who used illegal pressure. He is saying he is not guilty.”

The court ordered Sherari’s release at the end of October, but then apparently changed its mind. Sherari remains in an Israeli jail.

Despite Haaretz claiming at the start of November that the military court had “released [Sherari] from custody last week,” a British government official stated more recently that “our embassy in Tel Aviv has raised, and continues to raise, the detention of Mr Sherari with the Israeli authorities, most recently on 15 November.” This statement was made on 28 November in answer to an MP’s written question. Minister for the Middle East at the Foreign Office in London, Tobias Ellwood, replied that “consular officials continue to provide consular support to Mr Sherari and his family.”

Asked on Friday for an update on the state of the case, the Foreign Office did not reply to my request.

Ellwood’s use of “consular officials” implies that it is the British Consulate in Jerusalem (rather than the embassy in Tel Aviv) which is in contact with Sherari and his family. This in turn implies that he may have Palestinian family in the West Bank. Even though he was born in Lebanon, it is possible that he is a Palestinian refugee, although I am speculating about this.

This apparent lack of concern by the British government about the basic human rights of a British citizen is yet another reminder of the impunity that the Israeli government enjoys in Westminster and other Western capitals.

Had Sherari been imprisoned and tortured by an official “enemy” state such as Iran, Syria or Russia, his name and photograph would have been on all the front pages of the newspapers as well as TV news. As it stands, the single Guardian report is the only article in the British media that I can find to-date. It’s a sad state of affairs.

Israel should either produce evidence of Sherari’s alleged crime or release him immediately. The British government, meanwhile, should start to shoulder its responsibilities and begin demanding this without further delay.

(Source / 10.12.2016)

Hamas: The US support for Israel legitimizes terrorism


Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum has said that the continued US military and financial support for Israel confers legitimacy on terrorism.

In press remarks on Saturday, Barhoum accused the US regime of helping Israel to commit more crimes and persist in violations against the Palestinian people.

Israel is the largest recipient of US financial aid. It has obtained over 121 billion dollars in addition to other undeclared funds since World War II and used all that money primarily since then to buy and make weapons and build settlements.

In addition to financial and military aid, the US also provides political support to Israel, having used so far its UN Security Council veto power 42 times against resolutions condemning and relating to Israel.

(Source / 10.12.2016)

Israeli forces deliver 13 demolition notices to Palestinian neighborhood in Jerusalem


JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli Jerusalem municipality crews escorted by armed Israeli forces raided on Friday the al-Bustan neighborhood of the village of Silwan in the occupied West Bank Jerusalem district, and delivered 13 demolition notices for several residential structures.

Activist and member of the Committee for the Defense of Silwan Properties Fakhri Abu Diyab told Ma’an that municipality crews handed 13 demolition notices to several families in al-Bustan neighborhood.
Abu Diyab noted that the houses slated for demolition have been built for tens of years, and are home to more than 100 Palestinians, including women and children.
He highlighted that Israeli municipality crews raid the town on a weekly basis, mostly on Fridays and Saturdays, and deliver demolition notices and summons for residents under different pretexts.
“The municipality’s raids aim is to tighten the situation and create a psychological, economical and social pressures on residents to force them look for other places to live in,” Abu Diyab said.
A spokesperson from Israel’s Jerusalem Municipality was not immediately available for comment.
Friday’s targeting of the al-Bustan neighborhood is part of a decades-long battle that began in the 1970’s between Israel’s Jerusalem Municipality and the neighborhood’s residents over the Israeli government’s plan to build a national park in the area.
According to the city’s “Master Plan No. 9,” al-Bustan Valley was defined as an open space where construction was prohibited.
Due to the designation, residents have long faced great difficulties contending with demolition ordersissued against their homes, due to the fact that they cannot lay down proper infrastructures, build public facilities, or build additions to their homes or new homes on the lands that they had owned long before the annexation of occupied east Jerusalem in 1967.
The municipality began issuing demolition orders and indictments to homes in al-Bustan in 2005 as part of the Israeli authorities plan to establish the Jewish site “King David’s Garden” in Silwan and around the “Holy Basin,” which includes many Christian and Muslim holy sites.
In 2009 the municipality announced its intention to demolish 88 homes in al-Bustan, to displace some 1,500 people.
After the residents’ appeals were rejected, the Jerusalem Municipality proposed that they voluntarily relocate to another Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Hanina, in northern occupied East Jerusalem, but the residents refused.
In early 2010, the municipality filed a new plan which included a tourist park called “King’s Valley” or “King’s Garden” in al-Bustan, that called for the demolition of structures in the neighborhood’s western part — at least 22 — while structures in the eastern part of al-Bustan– about 66 — would receive retroactive approval along with increased building rights.
“The plan fails to specify how this is to be implemented in practice… The municipal plan was approved by the local committee in June 2010 and awaits approval from the district committee,” Israeli NGO B’Tselem said in a 2014 report.Despite the freeze on plans since 2010, Israeli forces have regularly raided the al-Bustan neighborhood and issued demolition orders to residents.
Additionally, Abu Diyab highlighted the heightened risks that Palestinian residents across the Jerusalem district face as the demolition date of Israel’s illegal Amona outpost in the occupied West Bank fast approaches, with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat last month warning that any dismantlement of the illegal Israeli outpost would be met with the mass demolition of Palestinian homes lacking Israeli-issued building permits in occupied East Jerusalem.
Silwan is one of many Palestinian neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem that has seen an influx of Israeli settlers at the cost of home demolitions and the eviction of Palestinian families. The area has also come under heightened presence of Israeli military forces in recent months.
Silwan residents — like most Palestinians in Jerusalem — have long engaged in efforts to prevent their displacement by the Israeli government, which has aimed to establish a Jewish majority since Israel first illegally occupied East Jerusalem in 1967.
Palestinians’ ability to build homes or expand existing structures legally is severely limited by the Jerusalem municipality, and more than 3,000 Palestinian structures have been demolished since 1967, according the PLO Negotiations Affairs Department.
(Source / 10.12.2016)

15-year-old Palestinian girl detained at Qalqiliya checkpoint for running in restricted area


QALQILIYA (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained a 15-year-old Palestinian girl on Saturday morning at the 109 checkpoint south of Qalqiliya in the northern occupied West Bank, for allegedly running toward the checkpoint.

Witnesses told Ma’an that Israeli forces fired warning shots in the air before detaining Qalqiliya resident Nawras Ali Zamari,15, and taking her in for interrogation.
Israeli media quoted Israeli forces in a statement saying that Zamari was “wearing manly clothes” and was running in an area of the checkpoint that is banned for Palestinians, “while putting one of her hands in her pocket.”
The statement added that soldiers detained the teenager without harming her.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an they were looking into reports.
Since a wave of violence spread across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in October 2015, Israeli forces have detained, shot, and killed a number of Palestinians at checkpoints across the West Bank who forces claimed were attempting to commit attacks.
The violence has been largely characterized by alleged, attempted, and actual small-scale attacks committed by Palestinians against uniformed Israeli soldiers or police, mainly using knives or similar weapons, and in some cases shootings.
Israel’s response to attacks and alleged attacks — both large and small — such as punitive home demolitions, the sealing of entire villages, mass detention campaigns, and withholding the bodies of Palestinians slain while committing attacks, has been condemned by rights groups, who have said the measures amount to “collective punishment” and represent a clear violation of international law.
(Source / 10.12.2016)