Frans Timmermans en Edith Piaf

Minister Timmermans die kleine stappen richting het Palestijnse volk aan het maken was, is de laatste tijd weer wat stil. Natuurlijk, het zijn zenuwslopende dagen voor het kabinet geweest, maar de minister van Buitenlandse Zaken had daar wat minder mee te doen.  Daarnaast was de aandacht van de media gericht op Syrië, want het verkoopt om met Acuut Nieuws te komen. Duidelijk is dat een bezetting die al meer dan 45 jaar duurt, minder interessant nieuws is.

Echter door dit alles werd Palestina weer naar achteren geschoven. Zo heeft de Nederlandse media het artikel gemist over het nieuws van de vergiftiging van Yasser Arafat. Juist een van ’s werelds toonaangevende medische tijdschriften, The Lancet, heeft een rapport uitgebracht waarin de eerdere bevindingen dat Arafat werd vergiftigd, werden ondersteund. Volgens het Britse tijdschrift werd Yasser Arafat vergiftigd met het radioactieve element polonium 210. Waar zou dat nu vandaan komen?

In juni 2012 hadden experts van de Universiteit van Lausanne, Zwitserland, gemeld dat ze bewijs hadden dat Arafat vergiftigd was met polonium. Volgens The Lancet zijn er inderdaad hoge niveaus van het sterk radioactieve element gevonden in bloed, urine en speekselvlekken op de kleren en tandenborstel van Arafat. Het rapport is ook gepubliceerd geworden op Al Jazeera.

In de actuele tijd gebeurt er ook weer van alles in Palestina. Ibrahim Abu Hijleh is weer opgepakt door de bezettende macht van Palestina om een straf van 28 maanden vanaf 13 oktober uit te zitten. Abu Hijleh is een van de gevangenen geweest die in oktober 2011 vrijkwam via de gevangenenruil, maar het lijkt er op dat deze gevangen weer vast gezet gaan worden. De Israëlische militaire aanklagers hebben aanvankelijk getracht om de oorspronkelijke straf van 16 jaar weer op te leggen. Echter dat is niet gelukt.

De bezettende macht zit niet stil. Er schijnt een smokkeltunnel ontdekt te zijn, die door de ambtenaren van de bezetters maar meteen de terroristentunnel is genoemd. Guy Inbar, woordvoerder van het Israëlische ministerie van Defensie, wist te melden:  “Vanwege veiligheidsredenen heeft het leger besloten te stoppen met transport van bouwmaterialen naar Gaza”.

Dit zijn zo maar drie voorbeelden van voorvallen die de laatste dagen zijn ‘voorgekomen’, maar de Nederlandse media is muisstil en minister Timmermans is waarschijnlijk op zoek naar een andere CD van Edith Piaf. Maar laat hij deze keer niet aankomen met “Non je ne regrette rien”, want dat gaat er niet in bij mij. We weten dat, wanneer iemand zwijgt, hij instemt.
Minister Timmermans,  ik roep u met klem op om te reageren op de aanvallen van Israël op de burgers van Palestina,  tevens afstand te nemen van de bezetting en de eerste stappen te nemen om Israël voor het Internationaal Strafhof te krijgen wegens overtredingen van de Rechten van de Mens, internationale verdragen, de UN resoluties, tevens in acht neming van de Wet oorlogsstrafrecht  (vervolging van oorlogsmisdaden).

Re-arrested Palestinian prisoner Ibrahim Abu Hijleh sentenced to 28 months

ibrahimahOfer military court sentenced Ibrahim Abu Hijleh to a 28 month sentence on October 13. Abu Hijleh is one of the former prisoners who was released in the October 2011 prisoner exchange, and was soon re-arrested. The Israeli military prosecutors originally sought to re-impose his original sentence and imprison him for an additional 16 years.

Abu Hijleh’s circumstances were similar to those of Ayman Sharawneh and Samer Issawi, who conducted lengthy hunger strikes demanding their release after re-arrest on dubious grounds. In Abu Hijleh’s case, Palestinian lawyer Jawad Boulos announced that the 28-month agreement had been struck prior to Abu Hijleh launching a similar hunger strike.

Boulos said that the occupation did not produce any substantive charges or evidence against Abu Hijleh, claiming instead that he was “violating terms of the exchange deal” and noting that he is a member of the Political Bureau of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Prior to his release in 2011, Abu Hijleh served 8 years in occupation prisons. He will be released on October 13, 2014 and will serve his sentence from the date of June 15, 2012 when he was re-arrested.

(Source / 13.10.2013)

Families, students protest in Hebron against PA arrests

HEBRON (Ma’an) — The families of students detained by Palestinian Authority security forces held a demonstration in the center of Hebron on Sunday to call for their release.

Fifteen students were arrested and are being held for their political activity at Palestine Polytechnic University, demonstrators said.

PA security forces said that the students have been in custody for 15 days for investigation, without providing further details.

Twenty-two PPU students held a sit-in on campus to protest the arrests.

The students are calling for the release of the detainees and demanding that the PA security forces take no further action against students who practice political activism on campus.

On Thursday, PPU suspended classes after an altercation between Fatah youth and the Islamic bloc students who organized a sit-in protest.

In August, Hamas accused PA security forces of arresting members of the Islamist movement, including an Islamic bloc student from the same university.

(Source / 13.10.2013)

Migrant boat ‘shot at’ as it left Libya

Italian Navy helicopter footage showed the rescue attempt

Migrants who survived when their boat capsized in the Mediterranean say they were were shot at as they left Libya.

One survivor told the BBC that people on the boat were shot, and that bullet holes caused the boat to start sinking.

At least 33 people died in the incident, a week after more than 350 migrants died in another shipwreck off the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Italy said on Sunday that it would step up naval and air patrols in an effort to prevent further sinkings.

The joint navy and air force operation would begin on Monday, Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta said.

“When we got inside the Italian waters, they lost hope and started shooting us with live rounds ”

AbdeWreck survivor

Defence Minister Mario Mauro said Italy intended to triple its presence in the southern Mediterranean.

That had become necessary “in part by the fact that Libya is currently a ‘non-state’,” he told Italian newspaper Avvenire.

‘Live rounds’

As many as 400 people were on board the boat that sank on Friday, many of them reportedly fleeing the conflict in Syria.

The man who spoke to the BBC said he was originally from a Palestinian refugee camp in the Syrian capital, Damascus. He did not want to be identified but gave his name as Abde.

He suggested that it was the Libyan coast guard that had fired at the boat, though other accounts suggested that rival trafficking gangs or Libyan militiamen may have been to blame.

Map of the Mediterranean

“When we got out in the international waters, they came after us and shot some fires in the air and we kept moving,” said Abde.

“When we got inside the Italian waters, they lost hope and started shooting us with live rounds.

“They shot two of the skippers. Some of the women got shot. The last thing they shot the engine room in the bottom of the boat and that’s when the water started to get inside the ship.”

Those on the boat raised the alarm with the Red Cross, but had to wait for up to an hour-and-a-half before being rescued, he said.

Some survivors were taken to Malta, and some to Lampedusa.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said three people were wounded in the shooting, citing reports from migrants. It said the shots were fired “perhaps by militiamen who shot to kill”.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres called for an investigation.

Rescued migrants arriving in Valletta, Malta, 12 October 2013The migrants were rescued by a Maltese patrol boat

“They escaped bullets and bombs only to perish before they could ever claim asylum,” he said of the migrants.

Many of those who attempt the perilous journey north across the Mediterranean come from African or Middle Eastern countries suffering from war and repression.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has responded to the latest disasters urging Europe to act, saying that a “cemetery” was being created in the Mediterranean.

Mr Muscat visited Libya on Sunday, where he discussed the issue of migrant boats with Libyan counterpart Ali Zeidan.

“We are determined to deal with the problem,” Mr Zeidan said.

“Several measures have been taken in terms of equipment and the addition of maritime police to increase the monitoring of our shores,” he added.

“But, as you know, human traffickers have gained considerable expertise on this matter and despite tightening measures sometimes it is out of the hands of the authorities.”

Armed militias still hold some power in parts of Libya since they helped topple Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Mr Zeidan was himself seized by militiamen on Thursday and held for several hours before being released.

(Source / 13.10.2013)

Angst als instrument voor propaganda

By Engelbert Luitsz           ©          (http://www.alexandrina.nl/?p=2648)

Aardrijkskundeboeken leren joodse Israëlische studenten om zichzelf als heersers over het land Israël/Palestina te zien, om de bevolking, het landschap en de ruimte te domineren, en om alles te doen om joodse overheersing en joodse ‘ontwikkeling’ – wat expansie betekent – te versterken.
Nurit Peled-Elhanan

Road sign to  education and future

In haar studie over ideologie en propaganda in het Israëlische onderwijs (1) heeft Nurit Peled-Elhanan een groot aantal schoolboeken bestudeerd om een beeld te krijgen van hoe de Palestijnen in het collectieve geheugen van de Israëlische joden terechtkomen.  De uitkomst was nog schokkender dan ze had verwacht. Het wordt kinderen met de paplepel ingegoten dat er een oorzakelijk verband bestaat tussen Palestijnen en geweld, dat ze primitief en onhygiënisch zijn, het liefst in grotten wonen en de vooruitgang in de weg staan. Direct na hun schooltijd gaan zowel jongens als meisjes in dienst, waarbij hen geleerd wordt dat empathie verbonden is met het eigen ras of geloof en dus geen plek heeft in de relatie met hun buren. Deze aangeleerde xenofobie, gekoppeld aan een obsessieve en mystiek aandoende aandacht voor mogelijke rampen, heeft het mogelijk gemaakt een ander volk etnisch te zuiveren en decennia lang wreed te onderdrukken, zonder dat er onder de Israëlische bevolking een “opstand uit schaamte” uitbrak.

Zoals de zogenaamde War on Terror ons heeft geleerd is gecultiveerde angst een machtig wapen in de handen van de machthebbers. Talloze wetten en regels zijn doorgevoerd onder het mom van “veiligheid”, de privésfeer van de burgers is niet meer heilig en willekeurige arrestaties, martelingen, het bombarderen van burgers en hele landen binnenvallen leidt tot verbijsterend weinig verzet onder de bevolkingen van de landen die daar verantwoordelijk voor zijn.

“Hoe meer angst je kunt inboezemen voor drugs, misdaad, bijstandsmoeders, immigranten en vreemdelingen, hoe meer je iedereen kunt overheersen”, luidt een bekend citaat van Noam Chomsky. In Israël gebeurt dit door de vreemdeling automatisch te koppelen aan juist die zaken: drugs, misdaad, onreinheid etc. Dat geldt niet alleen voor de Palestijnen, maar ook voor Afrikaanse asielzoekers en joden uit Arabische of Afrikaanse landen. Veel critici zien de koers die Israël heeft ingezet vanaf 1948 (of het zionistische project als geheel) dan ook als een zelfmoordmissie, of zelfs “een aftellen naar Armageddon” (Alan Hart). Het psychologisch en fysiek afsluiten van een volk van al zijn buren en zelfs van de geschiedenis moet op den duur wel tot een ramp leiden. De Duitse cultuurfilosoof Byung-Chul Han omschrijft xenofobie accuraat als “een ziekelijk uitvergrote immuunreactie die zelfs voor de ontwikkeling van het eigene schadelijk is” (2).

Hoe sterk een mythe kan inwerken op een volk merk je goed wanneer je intelligente mensen met een goede opleiding hoort praten over de 2000-jarige ontworteling en het terugverlangen naar het “thuisland”. De Israëlische schrijver David Grossman is zo iemand. Onlangs was hij nog te zien in ‘Boeken op reis’, waar dat trauma wederom ter sprake kwam, alsof het aangeboren en niet aangeleerd is. Duitse, Spaanse en Arabische joden zagen dat maar al te vaak anders, maar in zionistisch Israël is de “terugkeer” tot dogma verheven.

Wanneer we 2000 jaar teruggaan in de tijd leeft praktisch iedereen op aarde thans immers in de diaspora, nog afgezien van archeologisch en genetisch bewijs dat die mythe van continuïteit ontkracht. Niemand zal willen ontkennen dat de verschillende joodse gemeenschappen vaak geconfronteerd werden met discriminatie en geweld, maar dat gold natuurlijk voor talloze andere etnische en religieuze groepen. Vele volkeren zijn zelfs volledig uitgeroeid. Een belangrijk verschil is dat de Roma, de indianen van Noord-Amerika, of de Rohingya, om er maar een paar te noemen, geen sterke lobby’s hebben die hun zaak wereldwijd aanhangig kunnen maken. Zij hebben geen David Grossman, laat staan een Sheldon Adelson, Benjamin Netanyahu, Alan Dershowitz of Abe Foxman om het er elke dag in te wrijven. Geen enkel vervolgd of onderdrukt volk heeft een term als antisemitisme tot zijn beschikking, met een lading die elke discussie overbodig moet maken.

In 1998 schreef Grossman een kort verhaal (3) als reflectie op het 50-jarig bestaan van Israël. Verhalen over de holocaust spelen een enorme rol tijdens de opvoeding van kinderen en als iemand niet uit eigen ervaring een “gapende wond” heeft, dan “zorgt de Israëlische opvoeding er wel voor dat hij er een krijgt ingekerfd.” Hij noemt het feit dat iedere baby bij zijn geboorte van de regering “een soort luchtdichte wieg” krijgt “ter bescherming tegen gifgas en een aanval met bacteriën”. Overal zijn er bovendien schuilkelders, wat het gevoel van dreiging uiteraard alleen maar verhoogd. Tot ongenoegen van Frits Barend deed Jordi Cruijff daar erg laconiek over in een uitzending van ‘Israël, geliefd en gehaat’: “Daar heb ik mijn wasmachine staan.” Maar Jordi is dan ook niet in Israël opgevoed. In de Gazastrook, waar ze duizend keer meer behoefte hebben aan schuilkelders tegen het Israëlische geweld, mogen ze deze niet bouwen van Israël, maar dergelijke details vind je begrijpelijkerwijs niet terug in de propaganda.

De pogingen om het eigene ten koste van alles te laten prevaleren boven intermenselijk contact met de volken om hen heen wordt goed geïllustreerd door de Nakba-wet, een van de instrumenten die bedoeld zijn om de Palestijnen hun eigen geschiedenis af te nemen. De binnenlandse veiligheidsdienst Shin Bet ziet er zelfs op toe dat leraren het niet in hun hoofd halen iets over de Palestijnse geschiedenis te bespreken, op straffe van ontslag. In 2011 kreeg het hoofd van een school een officiële berisping van het ministerie van Onderwijs, omdat de leerlingen naar een demonstratie voor mensenrechten waren geweest en borden met leuzen tegen racisme hadden opgehouden.

Jonge kinderen worden op een reisje naar Auschwitz getrakteerd, waar alles in het werk wordt gesteld om hen het trauma te laten herbeleven, zodat ze, eenmaal terug in Israël, goed begrijpen waarom hun land zich zo wel moet gedragen ten opzichte van de Palestijnen, de buurlanden en de rest van de wereld. Dat dit soort “cynische fabricatie van emotie”, zoals Or Kashti het vandaag in een opiniestuk (4) in Haaretz formuleerde, vooral bij jonge kinderen goed werkt en een blijvend trauma kan opleveren, zal niet door veel ontwikkelingspsychologen worden ontkend. Door de overheid uitgegeven brochures wijzen kinderen op imminent gevaar. Dat kan ook een aardbeving of andere natuurramp zijn, maar de boodschap is dat er altijd gevaar op de loer ligt en dat we om die reden niet mogen verslappen.

Het ministerie van Onderwijs in Israël faalt op allerlei belangrijke punten, zegt Kashti, maar waar het wel volledig in is geslaagd, is het “bang maken” van de bevolking.

Angst is een noodzakelijk ingrediënt om de status quo te rechtvaardigen in het verhaal dat de joodse meerderheid over zichzelf vertelt. De ideeën die worden geprojecteerd op hen die daar buiten vallen – de Arabische minderheid, de Palestijnen in de bezette gebieden die een verlengstuk zijn van de nazi’s, en al die andere antisemieten in de wereld – zijn een illusie. Een student die heeft geleerd de realiteit om zich heen te interpreteren vanuit de wereldbeschouwing van het slachtoffer zal zich uiteindelijk terugtrekken achter grote hekken en hoge muren, om alleen nog samen te leven met hen die net zo zijn als hij.

Het is de illusie van macht die dit alles mogelijk maakt. De Palestijnen hebben niet de militaire of politieke mogelijkheden van Israël, maar de arrogantie van de macht leidt vroeg of laat tot een implosie. Moreel hebben de Palestijnen het al lang gewonnen, het zijn de politici en gevaarlijke bewegingen als de zionistische christenen met hun messiaanse boodschap die het grote gevaar vormen. Het kan niet zo zijn dat men in de regering van Israël niet inziet dat deze christenen, de “vrienden van Israël”, de ware antisemieten zijn. Zij steunen de terugkeer van alle joden naar Israël met slechts één doel: dat de Eindtijd kan aanbreken.

Vanmorgen zag ik nog, op de Family Channel nota bene, een discussie van mensen van de Pillar of Fire, een Nederlandse club van griezels met een erotisch verlangen naar een apocalyptisch einde van de wereld. Dat zijn de vrienden van Israël.

Niets kan uit niets ontstaan. Er zijn elementen aanwezig geweest die de tragische ontwikkeling van het zionisme mogelijk hebben gemaakt. De paranoïde idee van Theodor Herzl, dat de werkelijkheid een grotendeels statisch gegeven is waarin iedereen zijn plek heeft, behalve de joden die daar in hun diaspora verspreid doorheen wandelen, lijkt nog steeds de drijfveer te zijn voor het immorele en gevaarlijke gedrag van de joodse staat.

Weerstand bouw je niet op door je af te sluiten voor alles wat vreemd en eng is, doch juist door blootstelling aan het vreemde en enge. Het is de enige manier om tot een leefbare wereld te komen, waarvan de essentie variatie is. Het zal niet zonder slag of stoot gaan, maar dat is bij de huidige koers ook niet het geval. Uiteindelijk gaat het erom of er de wil is om samen te leven. En ook hier is angst een slechte raadgever.

1. Nurit Peled-Elhanan, Palestine in Israeli Schoolbooks, Ideology and Propaganda in Education, I.B. Tauris 2012

2. Byung-Chul Han, De vermoeide samenleving, Van Gennep 2011

3. David Grossman, Er waait een boze wind over het land Israël (In ‘Heilige strijd, Israël Palestina’, Trouw dossiers, Rainbow pocketboeken 2001)
4. Or Kashti, Stop, you’re scaring the children: Fear as a cornerstone in Israeli education

Zie ook (video):
Professor Haim Bresheeth over Zionisme, angst en racisme “From the Kindergarten to the grave”.
Is change possible in Israel?

PLO Crisis of Representation

 

Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian Authority, speaks during the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly at United Nations headquarters in New York, New York, USA, 27 September 2012.  Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian Authority, speaks during the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly at United Nations headquarters in New York, New York, USA, 27 September 2012.

Representation’ continues to draw urgency and attention from the Palestinian public.[1] In the post-Oslo era, the refrain refers to theFatah-Hamas rift, general elections and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Over the past year leading English-language** websites such as Jadaliyya magazine and al-Shabaka: the Palestinian Policy Network have hosted discussions around the basic value of the PLO and its legislative body, the Palestinian National Council (PNC).This article will survey some of the most recent contributions to this debate aiming to highlight the main ideas wielded for and against elections to the PNC by contemporary Palestinian thinkers. I will review positions put forward in the 1 May 2013 al-Shabaka roundtable: “An Open Debate on Palestinian Representation”[2] and, to a lesser extent, the Jadaliyya “Roundtable on Palestinian Diaspora and Representation” published on 11 September 2012.[3]Additionally, I will reference individual articles addressing this theme published over the past year on the two platforms.[4] In order to leave the ‘crisis’ behind, deciding on and building a political strategy is the main task before Palestinians.

The first PNC, the ‘parliament in exile’, convened in Jerusalem in 1964. The meeting established the National Charter creating the Basic Law of the PLO, thus forming the basis for the Palestinian people’s political structure. Reconstitution of the PLO in 1968 earned popular legitimacy by housing the Palestinian factions, unions and guerilla forces within it. While the PLO retains the title of “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”, internationally recognized in 1974 along with unofficial observer status at the United Nations,[5] the PLO is increasingly supplanted by the Palestinian Authority in most practical and meaningful ways.[6] However, even the PLO’s stunted form retains legitimacy: “the credibility of the PLO continues even at its weakest point to far outweigh that of the PA.”[7] In spite of its heritage, the sole representative body of the Palestinian people is in a state of disrepair.[8] Criticisms of the PLO orbit around its non-representation in the current political reality.

In the two decades since the erosion of the PLO’s primacy (the beginning of the ‘Oslo Peace Process’), it has become apparent that the Palestinian Authority has an unclear vision for a liberation strategy (see Navigating the Void, page 15).[9] Furthermore, the Palestinian Authority only administratively ‘represents’ a fraction of the Palestinian population further reduced to the West Bank since the 2006 fallout with Hamas. The UN status upgrade filed on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (under the guise of the PLO) in late 2012 marks an additional step blurring the representative scope between the Palestinian Authority and the PLO, both in terms of population and primacy.[10] The outcome of this is dramatic – leaving the vast majority of Palestinians worldwide unrepresented.[11] As a political non-strategy persists, Palestinian sub-citizens of Israel continue to be marginalized, Palestinians in Jordan risk having their citizenship revoked, Palestinians in Lebanon are refused basic rights in perpetuity, and Palestinians in Syria face the violent threat of secondary displacement.[12]

In light of this and aimed at reclaiming representation, responding to the national call for a registration drive of Palestinians in the shatat (exile) is seen as the first step to holding direct elections of the PNC.[13] The campaign to register Palestinians is a well-known civil society initiative seeking to lay the groundwork for accurate representation of the Palestinian body politic. Proponents of the initiative argue that direct elections to the PNC and the called-for reform is a common enterprise and  inspired by the self-organization of Palestinians during the 1970s and 1980s.

Critics of the registration for PNC elections fear that a flaw within the initiative’s vision will replicate current undemocratic structures, affirm the status quo (a backfire) and fail to achieve true reform of the PLO. In defense, Karma Nabulsi, former PLO representative and director of the Civitas Project volume entitled “Palestinians Register: Laying Foundations and Setting Directions”, wrote in Jadaliyya’s roundtable:

The aim [of organizing democratically and reclaiming our national liberation institutions] is simpler and more profound [than creating either a government or a state]: to determine for ourselves together, collectively, our strategy for liberation and return. And since it is the only principle that puts popular sovereignty at its core, it is therefore the only truly revolutionary one.[14]

Within a crisis of representation, the Palestinian people’s longstanding demand for unity is increasingly relevant and receiving greater attention from the political class. While the PLO is currently non-representative and dysfunctional, there is also an underlying consensus among commentators on al-Shabaka andJadaliyya that the PLO can be reconstituted. However, the question that commentators dwell on is if Palestinians should be reconstituting the PLO?

Al-Shabaka’s roundtable includes eight Palestinian authors, academics and activists who comment further on this question. The impetus for the 1 May 2013 roundtable arose in response to a paper by Osama Khalil, an academic at Syracuse University, in New York, in which he challenges the call for direct elections to the PNC. For Khalil, “[t]he limited effectiveness of the PNC before and after Oslo raises questions about the potential for reform of such a body”.[15] Issues relating to the authority of the PNC Executive Committee over the budget, as well as domestic and foreign policies, he says, constitute incurable institutional limitations. While the PLO and PNC have been criticized throughout their history for not being representative or representative enough, Khalil’s argument frames the institution as a tool of the self-serving political cliques rather than the ‘sole representative of the Palestinian people’. In his words, “[t]he state of Palestinian politics remains bleak and none of the existing political factions offers a compelling vision for the future. In large part it is because they do not represent the future of the Palestinians but their past.” Khalil argues that Palestinians should abandon the PLO along with its illegitimate leadership and an alternative body should be built to achieve truer representation.

Khalil represents a strand in Palestinian political thought that disputes the premise that the PLO can represent Palestinians at all. Instead, proponents of this approach argue that the pseudo-state reality of the Palestinian Authority is an outcome of the PLO’s irredeemable brokenness. One of the arguments against using the PLO holds that since 1968 the PLO has justified Fatah’s at-times illegitimate dominance while marginalizing other ideologies and thereby “enfolded the seeds of failure from the beginning,” as wrote Seif Da’na.[16] Following the argument leads to a scenario where habitual misuse over the course of the PLO’s history disqualifies it as a potential tool for reformation and representation.

Alternatively, others warn that complete dismissal of the PLO without presenting viable alternatives contributes to maintaining the Palestinian Authority and quasi-statehood. Hani Al-Masri, director of the Ramallah think tank Masarat, advocates that, “[w]e must follow through on [the potential of the PLO] and exhaust all possible means to bring it to life, while at the same time promoting new movements and forces.” By comparing the current moment to 1968 when political parties gained control of the institution from the traditional Palestinian elite, Al-Masri speculates whether current leaders will be a part of or an impediment to rebuilding the PLO: “In that year, the factions of the Palestinian revolution rebuilt the PLO, which had originally emerged to respond to the needs of the official Arab regimes rather than the needs and priorities of the Palestinian people.”[17]

One vision of a democratically reformed PLO[18]

 

Fajr Harb, a political activist, takes a clear stand for pursuing the PLO when writing: “[R]eform can come by revolutionizing the PLO itself and not by creating yet another body.”[19] Harb describes the Palestinian Authority as technically separate from the PLO, but leeching roles and effectively splitting representation. Moreover he argues that a new body, an alternative to the PLO, would add to the divisiveness of Palestinian representation. Expanding on the background for his position, and in response to Osama Khalil, he writes:

One of Khalil’s main arguments in favor of abandoning the PLO is that PNC members are chosen by quota, and that the political parties making up the PLO are themselves undemocratic and unaccountable. However, the author tends to overlook the huge number of Palestinians belonging to political parties. How does he envision the members bound within their parties’ framework defying their leaders’ authority in such a critical matter? Would changing the face and name of the representative organization render individuals more democratic? The problem is not merely the structure and vehicle of representation, but also the peoples’ understanding of authority. We need to work on reforming ourselves as individuals that belong to a society based on resistance along with reforming the body that unites us all.

It is hard to imagine achieving the blank slate that Khalil advocates for; Khalil writes that, “[Palestinians] will need to build that movement themselves from scratch.” Rather than rejecting options based on their weaknesses it is responsible (and admirable) to draw from the Palestinian community’s strengths. InHarb’s vision, altering the PLO structure before holding new PNC elections is a constructive approach. He references reform to the PLO Charter as an ideal next step.

The result of this debate is a thorough exploration of arguments detracting from using the PLO. Underlying authors’ participation is a common goal of furthering the Palestinian cause and a basic framework that the conflict with Israel is a liberation struggle, not a border conflict. From the spectrum of opinions, it is possible to identify certain patterns of thought. For example, three of the eight participants in the al-Shabaka discussion are explicitly for PNC elections, while one is explicitly against it. Not a single voice within the retinue of opinions on the viability of elections to the PLO presented a view where Palestinians were not in a crisis of representation. Additionally, no commentator challenged the registering of Palestinians in the shatat for elections.

As a whole, the roundtable fills in the analysis of PLO and PNC elections providing a firm footing for moving forward. Hopefully, such discussion will enable Palestinians concerned with policy to advance their thinking on the topic of electoral representation and avoid rehashing the debate in the future. Reflecting on the PLO’s utility is necessary, but should not undermine progress particularly in the context of a frozen national liberation movement while Palestinians undergo daily disenfranchisements. Without building towards an exit from this period of limited representation, dismissals of the PLO risk propping up an undemocratic Palestinian Authority.

Furthermore, academic-based debate on the topic is purposed with following in the footsteps of the community, particularly its most marginalized, which has affirmed the need for direct elections of the PNC.[20] Otherwise, the independent intellectual class risks becoming exclusivist and irrelevant, a position easily manipulated by the powerful elite, who debates on representation aim to hold accountable. Rather, the role of academics, intellectuals and authors is to serve the Palestinian body-politic through commitment to navigating the theoretical pitfalls in this moment of continued colonization, deteriorating conditions in host states like Syria and institutionalization of a neo-liberal and non-representative Palestinian Authority. A Palestinian political strategy requires constructive criticism, creative problem solving and a pooling of human resources to overcome pressing conditions of the ongoing Nakba. Future endeavors have the opportunity to orient their debates with relevancy to the majority of Palestinians – imbedding high-level policy with inclusion. The principle of inclusion is fundamental for leaving the clichéd ‘crisis of representation’ behind.

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**Both Jadaliyya and al-Shabaka also produce their content in Arabic.

[1]Jamil Hilal, “PLO Institutions: The Challenge Ahead,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 23, No. 1 (Autumn, 1993), p.54 at http://www.palestine-studies.org/files/pdf/jq/11408.pdf.

[2] The proceedings of the roundtable were published by al-Shabaka on 1 May 2013 athttp://al-shabaka.org/roundtable/politics/open-debate-palestinian-representation. The participants were Rana Barakat, Mouin Rabbani, Dina Omar, Fajr Harb, Hani al-Masri, As’ad Ghanem, Yassmine Hamayel and Aziza Khalidi.

[3] The proceedings of the roundtable were published by Jadaliyya on 11 September 2012 athttp://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/6082/roundtable-on-palestinian-diaspora-and-representat. The participants were Naseer Aruri, Seif Da’na, Karma Nabulsi and Sherene Seikaly.

[4]The articles I refer to are: al-Shabaka’s “Debating Palestine: Representation, Resistance and Liberation”, Jadaliyya’s “Beyond Sterile Negotiations: Looking for a Leadership with a Strategy” and al-Shabaka’s “‘Who are You?’: The PLO and the Limits of Representation”.

[5] The PLO was recognized as “the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people” by the Arab League and the United Nations in 1974, and by Israel and the USA in 1993.

[6] Noura Erekat, “Beyond Sterile Negotiations: Looking for a Leadership with a Strategy”, al-Shabaka, 2 February 2012 at http://al-shabaka.org/policy-brief/beyond-sterile-negotiations-looking-leadership-strategy?page=show.

[7] Rabab Abulhadi, “Debating Palestine: Representation, Resistance and Liberation,” al-Shabaka, 5 April 2012 at http://al-shabaka.org/node/387.

[8] “Editorial”, Jadal Issue 15, September 2012 at http://mada-research.org/en/files/2012/10/editorial-final-jadal-15.pdf.

[9]The International Court of Justice’s 2004 advisory opinion stated that the “construction of the wall…and its associated regime, are contrary to international law”, providing Palestinians with a strong and morally clear decision from the most respected legal body in the world. In one of the most egregious examples, the Palestinian Authority failed to pursue the decision legally or politically and, some say, intentionally thwarted utilizing it.

[10] Noura Erekat, “Beyond Sterile Negotiations: Looking for a Leadership with a Strategy”, al-Shabaka, 2 February 2012 at http://al-shabaka.org/policy-brief/beyond-sterile-negotiations-looking-leadership-strategy?page=show.

[11] The Palestinian Authority’s mandate is limited to the West Bank; more than  8 million Palestinians (70%) reside outside the PA’s mandate. For a review of statistics see BADIL’s Survey of Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons 2010-2012 athttp://www.badil.org/en/press-releases/142-2012/3638-press-eng-53.

[12] For details on secondary displacement of Palestinians from Syria see BADIL’s Nakba Day statement: “65th Commemoration: Ongoing Nakba and Secondary Forcible Displacement,” 15 May 2013 at http://badil.org/en/badil-news/829-story-1.

[13]Calls for unity and the democratic renewal of the PLO were adopted in various national Palestinian agreements such as the 2006 Prisoners’ Document (drafted by Palestinian leaders from all factions in Israeli prisons) and in reconciliation declarations by the PLO leadership in 2011, 2012 and 2013. See TayseerNasrallah, “Reclaiming the PLO: an urgent call to unite all Palestinians,” Electronic Intifada, 14 July 2012 at http://electronicintifada.net/content/reclaiming-plo-urgent-call-unite-all-palestinians/11488.

[14]Jadaliyya, “Roundtable on Palestinian Diaspora and Representation,” 11 September 2012 at http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/6082/roundtable-on-palestinian-diaspora-and-representat.

[15] Osama Khalil, “Who are You?”: The PLO and the Limits of Representation, 18 March 2013 at www.al-shabaka.org/policy-brief/politics/who-are-you-plo-and-limits-representation.

[16] Jadaliyya, “Roundtable on Palestinian Diaspora and Representation,” 11 September 2012 at http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/6082/roundtable-on-palestinian-diaspora-and-representat.

[17] Al-Shabaka, “An Open Debate on Palestinian Representation,” 1 May 2013 at http://al-shabaka.org/roundtable/politics/open-debate-palestinian-representation.

[18]Population numbers within the diagram are one estimate. For alternative statistics, see BADIL’s Survey of Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons 2010-2012.From Dag Tuastad in “Democratizing the PLO: Prospects and Obstacles,” Peace Research Institute Oslo, March 2012, Figure 3.

[19] Al-Shabaka, “An Open Debate on Palestinian Representation,” 1 May 2013 at http://al-shabaka.org/roundtable/politics/open-debate-palestinian-representation.

[20] Ma’an News Agency, “Palestinians in Syria register to vote for PNC,” 24 March 2013 at http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=578423.

(Source / 13.10.2013)

Israel cuts off all civilian building supplies to Gaza

A truck carrying supplies waits at the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip, on March 28, 2013
JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israel on Sunday froze shipments of building materials to the Gaza Strip after discovering an alleged “terror tunnel” entering its borders from the adjoining territory, a defense official said.

“Due to security reasons, (the army) decided to stop for now the transfer of building materials into Gaza,” Guy Inbar told AFP.

Inbar, spokesman for the Israeli defense ministry unit responsible for civilian affairs in the Palestinian territories, did not say how long the ban would remain in force.

Last month Israel permitted delivery of cement and steel for use by the private sector into the Gaza Strip for the first time since 2007, when Israel banned their transfer as part of a larger economic blockade imposed on the Strip at the time.

Israeli officials said on Sunday that a sophisticated tunnel running 450 meters into Israel and intended as a springboard for militant attacks had been uncovered by troops.

“I want to congratulate the army for exposing the Gaza terror tunnel,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday. “It is part of our offensive policy against terror, both in prevention and intelligence, proactive activity, reactive activity.”

The army did not immediately publish details of the tunnel, but the head of the Israeli local council where it was found said that he had been taken inside for an inspection.

“This tunnel, which looks like the New York subway, is apparently intended to kidnap soldiers or for some other kind of terrorist attack,” Haim Yelin told army radio.

“It is impressively executed, with concrete supports.”

Israeli news website Ynet said that the tunnel was equipped with railway tracks and lighting, and quoted chief military spokesman Yoav Mordechai as calling it “one of the most advanced terror tunnels to be uncovered in recent years.”

Yelin denied media reports that the tunnel was aimed at attacking an Israeli village or kibbutz or that it was to be used to set off explosives under a kindergarten.

“This tunnel penetrates into the state of Israel 300-400 meters from the border with the Gaza Strip,” he said.

“It is situated 2.5 kilometers from any of the kibbutzim and moshavim (collective villages) in the area.”

The Gaza Strip has been under a severe economic blockade imposed by the State of Israel since 2007.

The blockade was imposed following the victory of Hamas in the 2006 Palestinian elections and the subsequent 2007 clashes between Fatah and Hamas, which left Hamas in control of the Strip and Fatah in control of the West Bank.

The blockade has severely limited the imports and exports of the Gaza Strip and has led to frequent humanitarian crises and hardship for Gazans.

These have been particularly severe given frequent Israeli military assaults, particularly in 2008-9 and 2011, which killed around 1,400 and 170 Gazans respectively and led to major infrastructural damage.

(Source / 13.10.2013)

Report: Gaza tunnel leading to Israeli town discovered

A Palestinian man works inside a smuggling tunnel beneath the Gaza-Egypt border in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip June 24, 2013.
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces discovered a secret tunnel leading from the Gaza Strip to the Israeli town of Kibbutz Ein HaShlosha loaded with explosives on Thursday, according to Israeli news agency Ynet.

The tunnel was apparently 2.5 km long and began near Abasan al-Saghira, just east of Khan Younis, and ended near the Israeli town of Kibbutz Ein HaShlosha.

Reports on the tunnel’s length, however, have been conflicting. Security sources quoted in the Jerusalem Post said that the tunnel was merely “over 120 meters in length.”

Israeli security sources suggested that it was set up to carry out a “large-scale infiltration and attack.” Over the weekend Israeli forces defused explosives and sealed off additional tunnels leading from the main tunnel, according to Ynet.

Israeli forces found the tunnel mid-week but were under a “gag order” not to reveal its existence until Sunday morning, according to Israel National News.

Following revelations of the tunnel’s existence, local Israeli communities requested that plans to lessen additional Israeli security in the area be cancelled, according to Ynet.

The Gaza Strip has been under a severe economic blockade imposed by the State of Israel since 2007.

The blockade has severely limited the imports and exports of the Gaza Strip and has led to frequent humanitarian crises and hardship for Gazans. These have been particularly severe given frequent Israeli military assaults, particularly in 2008-9 and 2011, which killed around 1,400 and 170 Gazans respectively and led to major infrastructural damage.

Israeli forces regularly shoot farmers and other civilians inside the Gaza Strip if they approach the border fence, most recently on Sept. 30 when they opened fire on a group of farmers nearby.

(Source / 13.10.2013)

Witnesses: Israeli forces raid Jenin village, injure dozens

JENIN (Ma’an) — Seven Israeli military vehicles entered the Palestinian village of Jaba in the northern West Bank district of Jenin on Sunday, eyewitnesses said.

During the raid, clashes broke out between local Palestinians and Israeli forces in the Ein al-Sharqiya neighborhood.

Palestinians threw stones and empty bottles at Israeli forces while Israeli soldiers fired tear gas grenades and sound bombs toward Palestinians and their properties.

Dozens of Palestinians suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation as a result of the clashes, witnesses said.

Israeli forces stationed themselves in the village for an hour before repositioning at the main entrance to the village, sources said. No detentions were reported, and the motives for the raid are unclear.

An Israeli spokeswoman did not return calls seeking comment.

(Source / 13.10.2013)

Formation of Popular Committee for the Defense of Al-Aqsa in Gaza

GAZA, (PIC)– Dr. Ahmad Abu Halabiya, head of Jerusalem International Foundation in Gaza, announced the establishment of the Popular Committee for the Defense of Al-Aqsa, calling on all Palestinian forces and resistance factions to participate effectively in this Committee.

Abu Halabiya, during a seminar entitled “Liberation of Jerusalem between the Armed and Popular Resistance” held on Thursday, denounced the Palestinian division, and called for uniting the ranks in order to confront the occupation and its plans that target the Islamic and Christian holy sites.

He stressed that the Arab and Islamic nation, if it has the will, is able to liberate the Palestinian land.

In a worksheet entitled “the Achievements of the Armed Resistance in Jerusalem”, the Hamas leader Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri stressed that the city of Jerusalem represents a part of the Islamic sanctities and will never be waived.

For his part, the leader of the Islamic Jihad Ahmad Mudallal warned of occupation plans to demolish the Al-Aqsa Mosque through the ongoing excavations under it, and hailed the steadfastness of the worshipers and students in the Aqsa Mosque.

Leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Jamil Majdalawi said in a worksheet entitled “the Possibility of Combining between the Armed and Popular Resistance”: “The popular resistance is wider than the armed resistance.”

The speakers agreed that the futile negotiations constitute cover for the Israeli attacks against the Palestinians and Jerusalemites, and called for releasing the resistance in the West Bank and Jerusalem to confront the occupation schemes.

(Source / 13.10.2013)