The Middle East’s oldest dictatorship

As the conventional wisdom goes – especially in the West – Israel is the “only democracy” in the Middle East. And that is so, particularly for its Jewish citizens. However Israel has been anything but democratic for the indigenous people of the land, the Palestinian Arabs.

By nature and precedence, foreign military occupation is temporary. Colonialism on the other hand, and more precisely civilian colonisation, is a socio-political system of ruling over another people.

Since its inception at the end of the 19th century, Zionism preached self-determination for the Jewish people in “their” homeland. In reality, Israel has directly or indirectly driven Palestinians out of their homeland, confiscated their properties, rejected their right to return to their homeland despite UN resolutions, and occupied and colonised the rest of their homeland for the last four decades.

Throughout, Israeli military and security services ruled over another people against their will. They oppressed, tortured, exploited and robbed the Palestinians of their land, water and most importantly, their freedom. There has been more political prisoners in Israeli jails than any of its neighbours.

In denial over their predicament, Israeli leaders have taken shelter in the illusion of surplus morality.

This was best expressed by late Israeli prime minister Golda Meir, who warned the Arabs: “We can forgive you for killing our sons. But we will never forgive you for making us kill yours.”

A wild illustration of Israeli chutzpah.

Occupation as colonial dictatorship

Unlike other colonial powers and dictatorships in recent memory, Israel took all, but gave nothing in return. The settlements, the bypass roads and the industrial zones it built, are exclusively for Jews.

Israel and its various Zionist organisations have built over 600 towns, villages and other form of settlements for the Jews, but none for the Palestinians – not even those it considers part of its own citizens, who make up almost one-fifth of its population.

And much like other dictatorships, it’s in denial over the damage it has caused to the people under its rule, and delusional over occupation it deems necessary, benevolent, or even divinely promised.

No other dictatorship in the region has been as indifferent and destructive for so long over those it ruled, as the Zionist regime has been in Palestine.

It didn’t hesitate to use lethal, excessive force time and again against those under its occupation. The most recent war crimes have been documented and detailed in various UN reports, including that of Judge Goldstone regarding the 2008/9 war on Gaza, which added or changed little in regards to the reality on the ground.

Like other dictatorships it boasts of sacrificing for peace,  demonises its detractors and oppositions, and justifies any wrong-doing on the basis of national security, order and stability.

Although it preached democracy, Israeli leaders long preferred to deal with autocrats, not only in the Arab world but also in the greater Middle East, as well as in Asia and Africa.

Israeli leadership has lobbied for the Mubarak regime in its last days and reportedly its leaders voiced support for assisting Gaddafi.

The illusion of separation

In spite of the six-decade record of Israel’s joint history with the Palestinians, its leadership and supporters still maintain that Israel is nothing like its neighbours; that it’s a democratic oasis in a sea of totalitarianism; that when it fought its neighbours and ruled over them, it did so against its will.

But regardless of the motivation and justification for the post-1948 or post-1967 wars, the resulting reality can’t be ignored. Indeed, it is politically and academically dishonest and counterproductive to speak of Palestinians and Israelis as two separate social and political landscapes.

Any attempt to understand the nature and the political, economic and social – even religious – evolution of the Israeli state in separation from its colonial dictatorship over another people would be futile at best. In reality, misleading and destructive.

The same goes for the Palestinians. Their national and political evolution over the last century, and to a greater extent of the last six decades, is intertwined with that of Zionism and Israeli dictatorship.

Today, the maximum distance between any Israeli and Palestinian is less than nine miles.

Where is the Palestinian revolution?

It was no coincidence then, that the “Palestinian revolution” emerged following Israel’s 1967 war and occupation, when it defeated its neighbours’ post colonial leaders and their national projects, be it pan-Arab nationalism, Baathism, etc.

As Israel allied itself with the colonial and imperial powers of the time – France, Britain and the United States – the Palestinian revolution – as the Palestinian liberation movement was depicted at the time – was inspired by similar anti-colonial struggles, such as the Algerian FLN against the French colonial dictatorship of their country.

But Cold War polarisation, Arab divisions and its own mistakes and blunders led to the disintegration of the ‘Palestinian revolution’. With the advent of the post-Cold War Peace Process in 1991, the Palestinian liberation movement was finally reduced to spearheading accommodation with Israel’s colonialism.

The domestication of the Palestinian liberation movement by the Peace Process soon led to national divisions leading to armed conflict between the Islamist and secular currents under Hamas and Fatah.

Separated by hundreds of checkpoints, ‘security’ walls and fences, and policed by British/American trained Palestinian forces under the supervision of Israel military and security services, Palestinians today live under multiple levels of military dictatorship and police state.

Alas, the Hamas-controlled, Israeli-choked mini entity in the Gaza Strip doesn’t look much different in reality.

Instead of pursuing their struggle for liberation from dictatorship, ‘Palestine Liberation movement’ and PLO leadership in the West Bank are suppressing Palestinian eagerness to join the Arab revolution’s struggle to bring down the – in this case, colonial – regime.

For two decades, the PLO leadership has looked for salvation in Washington, and when that has proved a pipe-dream, it has decided to go to the UN for a recognition of a Palestinian state.

Come September, the PLO leadership will realise that the end result will, at best, be a state on paper, and its true realisation requiring more of the same diplomacy with Israel. All that assuming Washington wouldn’t veto such a draft resolution.

But regardless of the diplomatic acrobatics, at the end of the day, peace is possible between Palestinians and Israelis on the basis of one state, or two independent states divided by the 1967 borders.

It’s however not tenable nor moral, let alone revolutionary, for the Palestinians to be forced into accommodation or peace with Israel’s occupation or its colonial dictatorship.

(english.aljazeera.net / 21.04.2011)

Assad tekent opheffing noodtoestand

President Assad spreekt volk toePresident Assad spreekt volk toe
President Assad van Syrië heeft een decreet getekend dat na bijna vijftig jaar een einde maakt aan de noodtoestand. De maatregel werd dinsdag al aangekondigd.

Door de noodtoestand was elke oppositie tegen het bewind van Assad onmogelijk en mocht er niet worden gedemonstreerd. President Assad hoopt dat er nu een einde komt aan de protesten tegen zijn bewind.

Meer concessies

Het is de vraag of dat gaat gebeuren. Een leider van de oppositie heeft al gezegd dat het regime meer concessies moet doen. Hij eist dat het optreden van de ordetroepen aan banden wordt gelegd. Ook wil hij dat de Syrische justitie niet langer door vrienden van Assad wordt beheerst.

Mensenrechtenorganisaties zijn bang dat er weinig zal veranderen aan de onderdrukking in het land. Een paar uur nadat de regering dinsdag met de opheffing van de noodtoestand had ingestemd, werd in de stad Homs een prominent lid van de oppositie opgepakt.

In Syrië protesteren demonstranten al weken tegen het regime van president Bashar al-Assad. Veel betogers eisen dat hij aftreedt.

(nos.nl / 21.04.2011)

Artsen verdwijnen in Bahrein

Een gewonde Bahreini wordt een ziekenhuis binnengebracht Een gewonde Bahreini wordt een ziekenhuis binnengebracht
In het Golfstaatje Bahrein worden artsen en ander medisch personeel geïntimideerd en opgepakt als ze gewonde demonstranten helpen. Dat blijkt uit een e-mailwisseling tussen een Britse arts en een bevriende chirurg uit Bahrein.

De chirurg stuurde zijn vriend mails waarin hij vertelt dat mensen verdwijnen. In een maand tijd zijn volgens hem minstens 32 artsen opgepakt, sommige zelfs tijdens een operatie. Ook ambulancemedewerkers en verplegers zijn aangehouden. Verder zijn ziekenauto’s vernield.

In zijn laatste mail staat ook dat mensen van hun bed worden gelicht en dat iedereen in het ziekenhuis als verdachte wordt ondervraagd door politie en militairen. De chirurg werd ook zelf meegenomen voor een verhoor. Sindsdien is van hem ook niets meer vernomen.

De artsen zouden het slachtoffer zijn van een medogenloze en systematische campagne die elke oppositie tegen het autoritaire regime neerslaat.

Demonstraties

De laatste serie demonstraties voor democratie en tegen het autoritaire regime begon half februari in navolging van protesten in andere delen van de Arabische wereld.

De meerderheid van de bevolking van Bahrein is sjiitisch en eist zeggenschap in de Golfstaat. Die wordt al sinds 1783 geregeerd door de al-Khalifa’s, een soennitische familie.

Half maart besloot het regime met de hulp van Saudische troepen de protesten keihard neer te slaan.

(nos.nl / 21.04.2011)

Israeli Forces Demolish Industrial Facilities in Gaza

Israeli forces Thursday demolished several industrial facilities and warehouses in the industrial zone, in Al- Mintar corssing, also known as Karni crossing, east of Gaza.

Several Israeli vehicles, accompanied with a bulldozer, broke into the crossing area under heavy firing and bulldozed land along with several facilities and warehouses, according to witnesses.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces bulldozed and demolished lands in Johr al-deek area, southeast of Gaza city.

(english.wafa.ps / 21.04.2011)

Europe considering recognition of Palestine

France says European states considering recognizing Palestine; Britain echoes sentiment, says ‘nothing is off table with regard to recognition in September.’ Israel’s UN envoy: Peace cannot be imposed from outside

France said Thursday that European nations are considering recognizing a Palestinian state, heightening pressure on the United States and Israel to re-launch the Middle East peace process.

“Recognition of the state of Palestine is one of the options which France is considering, with its European partners, in a bid to re-launch the peace process,” French ambassador Gerard Araud told a Security Council debate on the Middle East.

Britain also indicated that state recognition could be considered.

“Nothing is off the table with regard to recognition in September,” said a British spokesman. “But nor are we specifying what conditions would be necessary, or sufficient, to recognize, or indeed not to recognize – we’ll have to look at all relevant factors at the time.”

Pressure has mounted on US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to break the deadlock in the peace process. Obama will soon make a speech on the Middle East conflict, diplomats said.

“We expect that in a couple of weeks the president will have an opportunity to talk in more depth about the Middle East and North Africa,” a senior US official said ahead of Thursday’s UN Security Council debate.

‘Talks remain only path’

At the meeting, US ambassador Susan Rice reinforced US calls for the Palestinian leadership to return to direct talks, frozen since last September amid recriminations over Israeli settlement building.

“Negotiations between the parties remain the only path to a solution that resolves all issues and establishes a sovereign state of Palestine alongside a secure state of Israel,” Rice told the Security Council, without mentioning Obama’s plans.

Israel’s ambassador Meron Reuben insisted there could only be peace through face-to-face talks.

“It cannot be imposed from the outside,” Reuben said. “And any lasting peace agreement must be built on the core principles of mutual recognition and security.”

Obama last year set a target of September 2011 for an accord to set up a Palestinian state. But talks between the rivals ended within weeks after Israel refused to extend a moratorium on settlements.

(www.ynetnews.com / 21.04.2011)

Banning Burqa is undemocratic. Muslim women groups protest in Mumbai

Mumbai: The latest in the series of agitations against the ban on burqa in France is one organized by the women wing of Jamaat-e-Islami Maharashtra and the Girls Islamic Organisation of India (GIO). The Muslim women groups protested against the ban on Wednesday in Azad Maidan of Mumbai.

Chanting slogans against France President Nicolas Sarkozy, hundreds of women braved the hot sun and gathered in Azad Maidan from every nook and corner of India’s commercial capital.

First year BUMS student Amina Khanam in her teens and the district coordinator of GIO, Mumbai came from Meera Road, nearly 60 km from South Mumbai to attend this agitation. She said, “Banning Burqa is undemocratic and the infringement of democratic right, we will agitate against this injustice.”

Europe is the mother of Secularism where everybody has a right to practice one’s religion and therefore Nicolas Sarkozy went against the basic tenets of secularism, Amina added.

Salma Baig, President of JIH, Ladies Wing, Mumbai, is very agitated and sees political angle in banning the burqa. She said, while talking to TwoCircles.net, “President Nicolas Sarkozy is trying to hide his failure and has resorted to xenophobia to attract far-right voters in France.”

Which problem will be solved by banning Burqa, she asked. “Everyone has a right to wear what he or she likes and it’s very ironic that roaming without clothes is allowed but burqa is banned.”

Proponents of the law in France say face-covering veils don’t square with the French ideal of women’s equality or its secular tradition. Answering to this question Salma Baig says, “Banning Burqa will not bring equality but will lead to injustice in the society. It’s not a question of equality but freedom of choice.”

Protesters were shouting the slogan that burqa is our ornament and we will never leave it, we want Hijab, Hijab is our right. They were carrying placards with slogans like Ban Bikini not Burqa, Nicholas Sarkozy shame, shame.

Salma Baig and Amina Khanam demanded that Indian Government must represent their case with the France Government as our Prime Minister did in the case of Sikhs turban.

(twocircles.net / 21.04.2011)

Israel preparing to open a tunnel network under Al-Aqsa Mosque

Israel preparing to open a tunnel network under Al-Aqsa MosqueLayers of Muslim and Christian heritage have been destroyed to reach the “Jewish days”.

Israeli media sources have reported that the occupation authorities are making final preparations to open a series of tunnels in the vicinity of Al-Aqsa Mosque. The network extends under the boundaries of the Noble Sanctuary (Temple Mount) and into the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem.

The tunnels have been dug in phases over the past 40 years and link together through a planned network with its main entrance in the district of Silwan, near Al-Aqsa, and through the Wailing Wall (the western wall of Al-Aqsa sanctuary), to reach the centre of the Muslim Quarter of the Old City; several settlement units and a synagogue have been established there. According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, 20 April, the Israeli authorities expect the tunnel network to be a tourist attraction, with up to half-a-million foreign visitors annually. They will enter through Silwan and walk underground to Jerusalem’s Old City.

The newspaper quoted official sources as saying that the tunnel project is intended to strengthen the settlements in the Muslim Quarter by linking them to the settlements in Silwan.

“These tunnels constitute a third dimension for settlement activity in Jerusalem, in addition to the settlement areas spread in the city and the religious dimension constituted in the Wailing Wall and other synagogues,” said the unnamed sources. One Israeli entity didn’t rule out the possibility that settlers may use tunnels in the future and for the Old City to be evacuated in the context of a “permanent settlement”.

The Haaretz report said that the excavations have damaged the archaeological heritage under the city for the sake of justifying the “Jewish account” of its history. Layers of Muslim and Christian heritage have been destroyed to reach the “Jewish days”. The Israel Antiquities Authority and the Elad Settlement Association have been criticised for distorting the history of Jerusalem and Judaism – which existed in the city for a relatively short period – while ignoring the other civilisations which existed in the city over many centuries.

Israeli archeologist Yoram Tseverir noted that excavations under Al-Aqsa Mosque are “wrong” and can’t lead to any scientific findings: “The claims that these excavations aim at finding scientific information are marginal,” he said.

(www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk / 21.04.2011)