Violence against Palestinians becomes the norm

As the US eliminates references to Israel’s occupation

By Ramona Wadi    Ramona Wadi

The latest US annual report on human rights violations, released last Friday, carried an intentional omission. There is no longer any mention of the occupied Palestinian territories. In a move which normalises Israel’s colonial project and military occupation yet further, the relevant entry reads: “Israel, Golan Heights, West Bank and Gaza”.

A statement by the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, published in part by Wafa news agency, described the change thus: “The American administration is not only biased towards Israel, but fully embraces its illegal policies to a point they have become part of US ideology and policies.”

There is no doubt that US President Donald Trump has supported Israel overtly, exposing the policies of previous administrations which maintained a more calculated, covert approach. With the unilateral declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the forthcoming move of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to the Holy City, the US has set new precedents in normalising colonialism. In doing so, it has encouraged other countries supportive of Israel to follow suit, or declare such intentions.

Yet, there is an earlier precedent which was met with derision rather than preoccupation. When Trump failed to uphold the distinct and internationally accepted two-state paradigm, the media was more concerned with his lack of eloquence, rather than the significance behind the admission. At best, talk of a one-state solution was brought forward tentatively, albeit with little attention as to how the concept can be misinterpreted. Associating a one-state concept with equal rights for Palestinians prevailed. However, little was said about the pitfalls of implementation within the context of a colonial entity whose concept of a state is one that eliminates Palestinians and their legitimate rights in order to maintain a Jewish identity and majority.

Removing references to Israel’s military occupation of Palestine is undoubtedly damaging. There are, though, varying degrees of danger for Palestinians, including defining the military occupation without its settler-colonial context, one of the few instances where the Palestinian Authority is consistent. Both approaches reflect the normalisation of Israel’s colonial appropriation of Palestine. The complete omission as articulated by the US is just a step ahead of the PA and the international community in terms of isolating Palestinians in terms of politics and rights.

That the US has fully aligned itself with Israel is nothing new. On the other hand, the language used by the PA complements the fragmentation of Palestine which is promoted by Israel. The statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ramallah is complacent and seeks to dismiss the US intent by insisting that it “does not eliminate the concept of occupied territory according to international law and international legality, but it reveals to the world once again the reality of the US positions, especially for those who refuse to see them as they are.”

If by this the PA is alluding to the apparent dismissal of the two-state compromise by the US, it should be remembered that, in the absence of a unifying anti-colonial alternative which the PA refuses to consider, there is little to indicate that Palestinians will be able to define themselves politically at an international level. This is due entirely to coercion from the coloniser and the circle of collaborators within the PA who keep insisting upon the obsolete “peace process and “two-state solution”. Meanwhile, Israel’s state violence against the Palestinians becomes the norm, and the international community led by the US is complicit.

(Source / 27.04.2018)

We need to challenge the ICC statement about Israel

Ramona Wadi

By Ramona Wadi

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is back on the scene, with more evidence that it gives Israel the benefit of the doubt. ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s statement last Sunday indicated that her office has monitored the demonstrations in Gaza which have resulted in Israel killing 29 Palestinians and wounding more than 1,600 others.

However, Bensouda’s cautious tone was obvious: “Violence against civilians – in a situation such as the one prevailing in Gaza – could constitute crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.” Giving Israel the benefit of the doubt, she added that the preliminary examination being conducted by her office “is not an investigation” and emphasised that the ICC will “continue to closely watch the situation and will record any instance of incitement or resort to unlawful force.”

There is little doubt that the ICC, like other international institutions, is competent in recording human rights violations. This is, after all, their lifeline. What happens with the evidence is another story, though, and one that has been repeated to the point of perfection. Besides Israel’s refusal to allow proper investigations to take place, there is also the context of the organisations themselves and their dependence upon the violation of human rights, which has created a vile cycle of abuse to the point of rendering humanity subjugated to the organisations’ bestowal of impunity upon the perpetrators.

On Monday, Likud Spokesman Eli Hazan declared on a television programme that all 30,000 Palestinians demonstrating are legitimate targets for Israeli snipers on the borders. The statement is evidence of premeditated intent to murder and injure Palestinians who are within their right to reclaim their return to historic Palestine. According to the Jerusalem Post, Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman has also called for human rights group B’Tselem to be investigated for calling upon soldiers to disobey illegal government orders to fire on Palestinian protestors.

Like other shows of violence which put Israel under the spotlight and trigger a wave of support for Palestinians — that usually dwindles until the next planned aggression — the Great Return March’s intent has been obscured by Israel’s appropriation of terminology to legitimise its theft of Palestinian territory. Hence, the emphasis upon “borders”, which in turn elicits rhetoric such as “both sides” in official comments; both examples are used as foundations for mainstream media misinformation about purported clashes in which Palestinians simply die, rather than “have been killed by Israeli snipers”.

Taking such wilfully inaccurate simplifications further, there is another discrepancy which provides Israel with the impunity it needs to sustain its colonial existence and violence. The reliance upon “context” is becoming a dangerous precedent for Palestinians as the larger framework of colonialism is eliminated from the context of the violence meted out by Israel. All the ICC referred to, for example, was the “violence and deteriorating situation in the Gaza Strip.”

The Great Return March is a direct result of the context in which Palestinians find themselves, which started with the colonisation of Palestine back in 1948 and even earlier. For convenience, as well as the perpetual perpetration of human rights violations, international institutions have enshrined their preference for ignoring and obliterating the core of the context — the creation of Israel on Palestinian territory — and influenced the world to think in the same terms. This has gone as far as a rethinking of support for Palestine, which at times fragments the struggle, with a corresponding negative effect on the ultimate aim of fulfilling the legitimate right of return. The current Israeli violence is but a part of a long colonial process which has created its own shameful history of such atrocities. That is the real context of the “violence and deteriorating situation in the Gaza Strip.” We need to challenge the ICC on this.

(Source / 13.04.2018)

Using Aid to Trap Palestinians, while Their Rights are Being Depleted

Entrance goods into Gaza

An Israeli army officer monitoring the entrance of goods into Gaza

By Ramona Wadi

More rhetoric and the absence of any constructive action have created a spectrum of expectations for Gaza. The past few days have seen an escalation of alarm juxtaposed against fake optimism. The latter is a veneer for a widespread complacency that is not bothered by the decline in financial aid for the enclave.

According to Wafa news agency, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah claimed that,

“United, we will be able to withstand all plots against our national cause and our just right and will allow us to face unfair American decisions and constant Israeli violations.”

Two days earlier, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov used Twitter to give details of a meeting between Hamdallah and Israeli Major General Yoav Mordechai. Mladenov claimed that the two officials discussed “critical humanitarian solutions.” He concluded with a bizarre statement: “Much can be done if the conditions are right.”

In both statements, it is implicit that Palestinians must subjugate themselves. Hamdallah should not be authorized to speak of unity on behalf of all Palestinians, let alone mangle the history of resistance to exploit the temporary limelight for himself. There is more than enough evidence of the efforts by Hamdallah and the Palestinian Authority to coerce the people of Gaza into yet another farcical attempt at reconciliation by further depriving the population of access to basic necessities through the enforcement of punitive measures.

National unity is absent from the equation, as Hamdallah well knows, being part of an entity that exists to prop-up the Israeli occupation and thrives upon thwarting Palestinian independence. The only equivalence that can be garnered from his comments is the imposition of different forms of oppression upon Gaza derived from its unique circumstances, in a way that complements the ongoing violence in the occupied West Bank. Different tactics yielding a similar result: suffocate all means of people’s resistance in order to place the narrative directly into the hands of a few complicit “representatives”.

If Palestinians are eliminated from their own narrative, the only body with which the international community can negotiate is the PA.

This gives Mladenov’s comment additional context. It defies all considerations and obligations. If the conditions were right, Gaza would not have been reduced to dependence upon international humanitarian aid; the UN’s involvement should emphasize this fact, rather than emulate Israel and blast the enclave into oblivion by other means, in this case collaboration to prolong human suffering.

Since the conditions are not right, Mladenov has the obligation to address the discrepancies in terms of provision on the humanitarian and political level. Humanitarian aid must not be provided on condition that the Palestinians relinquish their political and human rights.

With failed initiatives becoming another premeditated, external imposition upon the Palestinians in Gaza, the political actors involved in Palestine are dedicated to maintaining the deprivation of the enclave’s residents to the point that they will be trapped into relinquishing their political objectives. Humanitarian aid is a powerful weapon and one that is being used by Israel, the US, the PA and the UN to trap Palestinians into navigating parts of the planned deprivation system that they are experiencing.

As the focus keeps shifting upon the most crucial aspects of well-being, the political backdrop is left increasingly in the hands of institutional representatives who alter Palestinian demands from autonomy to charity. This is what should be remembered when listening to statements from the likes of Hamdallah, Mladenov and the power structures that they represent.

(Source / 24.02.2018)

A sliver of truth amidst UN manipulation of Palestinian rights

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres talks at a press conference in Beit Lahia, Gaza on 30 August 2017

By Ramona Wadi

As always, UN officials take pride in pontificating about Palestine. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has proved to be no exception, faithfully pursuing the same agenda which resulted in Palestinians becoming a marginalised subject of discussion. Israel may complain of rhetorical visibility allocated to Palestine at the UN, however, it is this tactic which allows Israeli violations to continue unhindered.

International committees, agencies, meetings and resolutions have placed an irreparable burden upon Palestinians, resulting in extreme political isolation. Sometimes, this isolation is publicly voiced, albeit without the desire to allow Palestinians to reclaim their rights to territory and return.

In his address to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Guterres spoke a sliver of truth: “As we all know, the question of Palestine is inextricably linked with the history of United Nations and is one of the longest unresolved issues on our agenda.” Lest a sliver of false hope is ignited, Guterres reiterated that there is no “plan B” to the two-state compromise. His ending remarks comprise of: “A two-state solution is the only way to achieve the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and secure a sustainable solution to the conflict.”

From father to son: How the Palestinian struggle is passed from one generation to the next

Besides the tedious regurgitation of the usual summary which even refrains from attributing colonial expansion directly to Israel, anyone reading or listening to Guterres’ address would have benefited from an acknowledgement that the colonisation of Palestine was aided by collusion and incompetence on behalf of the organisation claiming to protect human rights. It is unacceptable that the UN maintains its façade of responsibility for human rights when it thrives upon allowing its influential members to break international law with impunity.

The constant appropriation of Palestinian voices through international institutions has not ceased. It is following the designated trajectory set in the early years of the UN, as Guterres has pointed out in his generalised statements. Placing his statement within context, one such example of Palestinian absence can be found in the intervention by the Guatemalan Ambassador to the UN in 1947 when the Partition Plan which paved the way for the colonisation of historic Palestine was being debated. The words uttered by Jose Garcia Granados: “An ignorant majority should not be allowed to impose its will. A million progressive human beings should not be the plaything of a few ringleaders supported by millions of human beings of less advanced ideas,” summarise the UN’s perpetual attitude towards oppressed populations.

Decades later, the colonisers, supported by the UN, have flaunted their purported superiority by massacres, displacement and dispossession of Palestinians while the organisation exploits every life lost through aggression committed by Israel, to create a spectacle out of the colonised. It is puerile to assume that just because the UN regularly debates Palestine; it is a proponent of Palestinian rights.

Palestinian absence has become a requirement in discourse regarding Palestine. Guterres could have substituted his entire speech by publicly asserting that every international action, rhetorical or otherwise, constitutes a collaborative approach towards colonising more Palestinian territory. The UN is well aware of the fact that absence is not equivalent to meaningless. Pursuing such duplicity at the expense of Palestinian lives makes an update on the UN’s motives a prerequisite.

(Source / 08.02.2018)

Projects take precedence over the protection of Palestinian rights

Israeli security forces gather around a demolition site in Jerusalem on 14 March 2017 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli security forces gather around a demolition site in Jerusalem on 14 March 2017

By Ramona Wadi

If references to international law were effective in reducing or reversing Israeli violence, Palestinians would have tasted freedom many decades ago. The recent demolition by Israel of two EU-funded classrooms in Abu Nuwar was nothing unusual in this regard, and produced the usual, by now meaningless, responses. The Israelis said that no permits had been issued for the classrooms, bringing to mind the description “construction terror” used by Israeli MK Moti Yogev.

Despite the systematic violence targeting sectors which are crucial for Palestinians and their existence, such as education, there has been no variation in the rhetoric of response from UN and Palestinian Authority officials. Roberto Valent, the UN’s acting Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territories, issued a detailed statement, reminding everyone that the Abu Nuwar School had been targeted by demolition for the sixth time. Israel’s policies, he added “have created a coercive environment that violates the human rights of residents and generates a risk of forcible transfer.”

PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah cited the right to education in international treaties. Demolitions which target education facilities, he added, constitute “a deliberate policy of the Israeli authorities to pressure Palestinian communities to leave, in order to confiscate their land and build additional settlements.”

Read: Palestinians, rights groups urge UN to name companies complicit in settlements

The difference between both statements is that the UN has preferred to address forced transfer as a possible consequence of Israeli demolition of Palestinian properties. Hamdallah’s statement leaves no doubt about the policy of forced transfer, yet fails to seek accountability beyond referencing international laws and conventions. If both approaches were to be analysed together, one would discover a complementary approach that safeguards Israel’s perception of itself as being above any law, international or otherwise. It also validates the self-identity which the colonial entity has constructed while requiring that Palestinians adhere to their enforced marginalised existence.

There is certainly enough awareness of the correlation between the destruction of education facilities and forced transfer. However, a statement by Shadi Othman from the EU office in Jerusalem indicates the misplaced priorities of international institutions which fund projects for Palestinians. “The European Union,” he explained, “has demanded from Israel more than once not to demolish projects [that] the European Union funds and which aim to improve the living conditions of the Palestinians.”

This is interesting, because the humanitarian aspect of seeking to improve Palestinians’ lives is not a direct challenge to Israeli politics and policies that create violence against, and the vulnerability of, the Palestinian people. It is also convenient for the EU to have humanitarian structures demolished rather than risking a disruption of economic relations with Israel by, for example, introducing sanctions to put pressure on the state. Thus, it can be deduced that Palestinians and their legitimate rights are far from being a priority for the institutions funding a number of facilities in the occupied territories. If international institutions are forced to address the consequences of forced transfer, an allocation of funds for yet another project to be targeted by Israel will no doubt be forthcoming. It will not, however, come with any kind of diplomatic or other protection for the Palestinians.

Read: International community urged to take immediate action to save patients in Gaza

The responses to the demolitions are detrimental to the people of Palestine; indeed, the approach taken actually safeguards the interests of both Israel and international donors. It is obvious (and has been for decades) that Israel will not bat an eyelid when reminded that it is in constant violation of international law, particularly when it knows that it can exert so much influence at the UN, either directly or through its proxies at the US State Department and its client nations.

The EU, on the other hand, has created a project out of Palestinian suffering, which makes the cycle of violations, including demolitions, favourable for its purportedly humanitarian agenda “to help” Palestinians. All of this posturing, though, merely enables the political actors to divert attention away from the fact that projects, even those scheduled for eventual destruction, are more important than developing and implementing a political framework which makes Israel accountable under international law. Between prioritising projects and people, international institutions prefer the façade of the former over the protection of Palestinian rights.

(Source / 06.02.2018)

Impediments reflect the intention to make violations permanent

Ramona Wadi

By Ramona Wadi

Last year, Israel and the US invested unprecedented efforts in discrediting the legitimate rights of Palestinians and seeking to limit, to the point of dysfunction, the role of institutions working directly with Palestinian refugees, notably the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

During a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in June 2017, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley accused the UN of bullying tactics against Israel, prompting Netanyahu to state mere days later that UNRWA should be dismantled.

Since the early days of Donald Trump’s presidency, Israel is no longer choosing who to discredit. Supported in international institutions by the US in an overt manner, Netanyahu has adopted a different strategy – that of leveraging similar attacks on the UN and Palestinians (despite the body’s support for Israel’s colonial project).

However, both the UN and Palestinians are subjugated to the point of dependence, albeit under different circumstances. The UN’s dependence is directly linked to maintaining the cycle of human rights violations. Palestinians, on the other hand, have been forced into dependence for survival because the international community, in accordance with Israel’s demand, eliminated the possibilities for anti-colonial struggle and framed the political cycle of displacement as a humanitarian concern.

The recent news that Trump is withholding more than half of its financial annual contribution to UNRWA makes this dynamic even clearer. Commissioner General Pierre Krähenbühl’s statement reflects both the necessity of the organisation’s work, as well as the importance of assuring the permanence of services offered to Palestinian refugees.

It is no secret that the US has always guaranteed billions for Israeli violence and millions as hypocritical compensation for the perpetual violations inflicted upon Palestinians. Identical tactics have been implemented in the context of UNRWA. The needs of Palestinian refugees are not being met in a way which befits autonomy and independence, despite the US being the largest single donor until 2017. The deficit created through US collaboration with Israel ensures that UNRWA will be restricted in its accomplishments, with the result that Palestinians will remain tethered to priorities related to basic needs in order to survive.

Thus, it is contradictory to call for the dismantling of UNRWA while reducing its budget. The needs of Palestinians perpetuated by Israel, the US and the international community, have to be met in a specific manner that is stronger than the current measure. If the organisation’s budget is severely crippled, it stands to reason that necessities will have to remain a priority. Since Palestinians are not fictitious, despite what Netanyahu and the Zionist narrative proclaim, neither the refugees nor their needs will disappear.

UNRWA’s existence is a consequence of the Israeli colonial project. In a world not morally warped, the focus of accountability would be shifted upon the aggressor, rather than a dependent organisation that cannot completely guarantee the well-being of Palestinian refugees, let alone autonomy. Perhaps Netanyahu can consider the obvious solution which would see the end of the humanitarian approach towards Palestinians: decolonise the land, let the refugees return to historic Palestine, and the UNRWA saga will come to a dignified end.

(Source / 20.01.2018)

Trump’s decision a reflection of the UN earlier colonial impositions

Ramona Wadi

Since 1967, the UN regularly adopted resolutions concerning the status of Jerusalem, most of them dealing with withdrawing military forces, condemnation of land confiscation and settlement expansion, as well as requesting that Israel refrains from holding military activities in the city. A recurring warning was that no action should be taken to change the status of Jerusalem.

US President Donald Trump exposed the fallacy behind international recommendations yesterday with his unilateral declaration of recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city. Away from the outpouring of indignation from Palestinians who have resisted the Zionist colonial project, the opposition to Trump’s declaration has been mostly diluted by statements that simply acknowledge the action taken as reprehensible, instead of focusing upon responsibility, accountability and ramifications – all of which should lead directly to the UN.

The hype generated by Trump on previous occasions, which illustrated his administration’s support for Israel, is becoming a convenient tool for Israel, the PA and the UN, due to such tactics generating a fragmented response and one that strengthens reliance upon symbolism. Trump’s statement goes against UN resolutions. However, it is a known fact that UN resolutions are a façade for the allowance of international law violations. Palestine is no exception – on the contrary, it is an epitome of how international politics have shaped the disappearance of people and territory, leaving only slivers of land as a specific focus detracting from the entire colonial structure and the institutions supporting it.

Without detracting attention from the latest development, discussing Jerusalem in isolation puts the rest of Palestine at risk at a political level. Trump has stepped away from the requirements of the Quartet, namely the two-state compromise which, months ago, was mulled over publicly by the US president in sentences which attracted more derision than scrutiny. What will it take now to declare an official departure from the negotiations which have changed Palestine in a more dangerous manner than Trump?

The UN’s useless, specific focus on Jerusalem can, however, serve as an example of how it has allowed colonialism and its allies to change Palestine permanently. The Times of Israel is already quoting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stating: “We are holding contacts with other countries who will also recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.” The prediction for such moves, Netanyahu stated, is based upon the future relocation of the US embassy. Again, this rhetoric is nothing new – a few months ago Netanyahu made similar statements regarding Jerusalem and the eventual relocation of embassies. If other countries follow suit, even if these are a minority, how does the UN plan to safeguard Jerusalem’s status through resolutions?

This also begets another question – how will the UN frame the two-state compromise, which UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres immediately reiterated as the only solution, now that a clear departure from the obsolete formula has been made? Trump’s actions have defined previous warnings on the subject which the UN preferred not to heed in its quest to deprive Palestinians of a political solution – something it has done since its inception. With such an obscene human rights violations record, expecting the UN to protect Palestine and Palestinians, as has been requested on several occasions, should not even be considered, let alone devise an approach. For decades, the UN has stolen the rights of Palestinians to claim their land. It also bequeathed Israel with a farcical legitimacy through one main omission – that of recognising a colonial entity as a state.

Sadly, the Palestinian Authority, as a derivative of such corruption, never prioritised Palestine and Palestinians. Jerusalem, however, will provide Mahmoud Abbas with an opportunity to pontificate meaninglessly, embellishing this degeneration with adjectives depicting illusion instead of defining true ownership. Once the furore over this episode abates and it is consigned to the growing timeline of violations, Abbas will undoubtedly pursue the remnants of the internationally-accepted fabrication of negotiations and compromise to earn plaudits from the UN, until there is nothing left to compromise over.

(Source / 11.12.2017)

Palestinians stand alone in defending their land

Image of the Israeli wall along the West Bank which isolates the Palestinians and keep them confined in their own land [Scottmontreal/Flickr]

Israeli wall along the West Bank which isolates the Palestinians and keep them confined in their own land

By Ramona Wadi

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah has relished the spotlight so far this year. In February, the PA launched the five-year National Policy Agenda which prioritised national unity and economic independence, among other plans. Meanwhile, Hamdallah was pushing for PA control over Gaza as the enclave succumbed to unprecedented humanitarian deprivation as a result of collective punishment inflicted by Israel and PA leader Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas’ relinquishing control over Gaza so far seems to be going according to Hamdallah’s plan.

Last Wednesday at the annual olive picking festival in the district of Bethlehem, Hamdallah accused Israel of hindering Palestine’s economic growth. The rhetoric chosen by the Palestinian prime minister is weighed down by a multitude of facades – the most prominent among them being the impression of a leadership in concordance with the will of the people. Using imagery and evoking the Palestinian people’s tenacity towards the land, Hamdallah’s attempts at glorification, while remaining dissociated from the ramifications of settler-colonial expansion, could have impressed only if the leadership possessed a sliver of will to protect the remaining fragments of Palestinian territory.

Quoted by Wafa news agency, Hamdallah stated:

Israel aims at undermining our potential and resources, marginalising Palestinian productive base and obstructing the ability of our national economy to grow and develop.

Israel’s targeting of Palestine’s agricultural heritage is a continuation of the earlier historical violence unleashed upon the territory through the promotion of industrialisation. In recent years, settler violence has routinely targeted Palestinian cultivation of the remaining territory – stealing produce and damaging olive trees are a regular occurrence. This week, the International Middle East Media Centre reported the flooding of olive orchards in Deir Al-Hatab with sewage water. Restricting Palestinian freedom of movement has enhanced the settlers’ freedom to extensively damage Palestinian land and produce with impunity.

Hamdallah’s summary of Israeli violations, however, does not incorporate a challenge to the colonial authorities, to the extent that the damage incurred by Palestinians, in terms of politics and human rights, amounts to a mere illustration of daily infringements. There is also a lack of correlation between the projects which the Palestinian Authority, according to Hamdallah, is undertaking to aid the agricultural sector, and Israel’s usurpation of natural resources, such as water. The permanent backdrop of settler-colonies and military occupation is eliminated in the context of PA projects, thus enabling Israel to indulge in additional aggressive tactics.

Read: Pope Francis appeals for end to discrimination in Holy Land

If one had to glean anything of significance in Hamdallah’s speech, it would be the persistent isolation of Palestinians facing constant settler attacks. Indeed, the isolation is emphasised: “You bear the message of truth, justice and steadfastness in the face of destruction, displacement, settlement schemes and land confiscation.” If the PA was truly a representative of the Palestinian people, Hamdallah would have spoken differently. The futile glorification would have been replaced with a collective strategy that is politically supported by the leadership. There is a lot to be said about PA’s culpability in reducing Palestine to a transient metaphor, when Palestinians are actively resisting plans of obliteration.

(Source / 29.10.2017)

Israel paralysed a Palestinian child. Now they’re exploiting her

Maria Aman, Palestinian girl paralysed by Israeli missile in 2006 [Twitter]

Maria Aman, Palestinian girl paralysed by Israeli missile in 2006

By Ramona Wadi

In 2006 the Israeli assassination of Islamic Jihad leader Muhammad Dahdouh while he was driving through Gaza City also killed and injured other civilians. Maria Aman, who was travelling with her family when the missile struck Dahdouh’s car, was left paralysed, while four of her family members were also killed.

There was much attention on her case when Israeli authorities attempted to terminate her treatment and revoke her temporary residence status which allowed her to receive treatment in Israel. In October 2016 Maria was granted permanent residency, while her father and brother – who are also her only carers – have to renew their temporary residence status each year.

The Times of Israel has published an interview with Maria’s father, Hamdi, framing her presence in Israel as a symbol of Israel’s benevolence. If targeted assassinations were not an Israeli policy, Maria might have escaped paralysis and her family members would still be alive; that is, if they had also managed to evade being murdered or injured during Israel’s massacres on the enclave.

What is most evident in the report, however, is the exploitation of needs and fear. Statements have been attributed to Maria such as: “She’s not angry about being paralysed. ‘I got used to it,’ she says with a smile.”

Read: Three years after the war, Gaza youth speak out

It is easy to see how such statements, if true, are projections of fear. Within a wider framework it highlights the fragmentation of Palestinians as a direct result of the situations inflicted upon them by Israel. Had Maria remained in Gaza she would not have had access to the necessary treatment. But as a result, staying in Israel for medical treatment has had repercussions on Maria’s family whose residency status is still subject to manipulation by Israel – revoking the permits is a simple matter for the authorities.

Israeli spokesperson for the Population and Immigration Authority Sabin Hadad attempts to evoke similarities between Maria’s case and those of Palestinians who collaborate with Israel: “Who else besides a collaborator gets to stay in Israel? Gets a place to live? A car?”

The fine line between appeasement and fear is what Israel seeks to maintain. Given the vast experiences of Palestinians as a result of Israeli colonial violence, it is becoming even more difficult for each unique situation to generate enough social support.


On the surface, there are violations which – owing to their frequency – have been categorised as collective experiences. Palestinian prisoners, home demolitions, forced displacement, incarceration of Palestinian minors and torture are a few of these instances. Yet within these categories the individual Palestinian experience is not only lost but it is fraught with complications. It forces reactions bordering on the absurd which can only be understood within the context of that particular suffering.

At every opportunity Israel exploits Palestinians and then blames them for being fragmented. It is not without reason that patronising statements have been quoted in the context of Maria’s situation. The chilling aspect, however, is that no amount of statements which demonstrate assimilation – imaginary or otherwise – will influence or detract from Israel’s power to use families as pawns. The luxury of choosing is not available to Palestinians.

(Source / 05.09.2017)

The possibilities of challenging Netanyahu’s claims about L. America

Latin America is once again Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s diplomatic target, at a time when violence in the region fomented by US imperialism is once again rising to the fore. Coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the UN Partition Plan, Netanyahu is planning to visit Mexico and Argentina before addressing the UN General Assembly next month.

Israeli media is reflecting on the historical processes of the Partition Plan, when several Latin American and Caribbean countries voted in favour, giving approval for Israel’s intended colonisation of Palestine. Six countries abstained and Cuba voted against the resolution, with Cuban delegate to the UN Dr Ernesto Dihigo declaring partition to be “contrary to law and justice”, adding: “We have solemnly declared the principle of the free determination of the peoples, but with great concern we see that when the time has come to enforce it we forget it.”

Support for the Partition Plan from other countries, however, still forms a premise for Netanyahu. At a time when political violence is threatening to engulf the region, it comes as little surprise that Netanyahu has envisaged the possibilities of exerting additional influence.

In 2014, while still Mayor of Buenos Aires, Mauricio Macri, now president of Argentina, travelled to Israel for a conference during which he stated: “Israeli suffering has to be understood. From afar it’s easy to give advice, but you have to be in Israel to really understand the situation.” The comments should not come as a surprise from Macri, who last year angered Argentinian victims of the Videla dictatorship by refusing to acknowledge the thousands of murdered and disappeared civilians.

Mexico’s hosting of Netanyahu comes after a call earlier this month made by US President Donald Trump to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. A transcript of the call published by the Washington Post includes Trump’s reference to Israel and Netanyahu over the Apartheid Wall – which Trump wants to construct as border control between the US and Mexico. According to the transcript, Trump stated:

Israel has a wall and everyone said do not build a wall, walls do not work – 99.9 per cent of people trying to come across that wall cannot get across and more. Bibi Netanyahu told me the wall works.

The region’s ties with Israel cannot be disputed particularly at a time when Latin America was colonised, plundered and exploited by the US. Some countries have remained staunch allies of Israel and the US due to their political allegiances which have not changed. Guatemala’s support for the partition of Palestine and its lobbying to enable the passing of the resolution is one such instance and its support for Israel remains referenced to earlier historical ties. Chile under Augusto Pinochet also sustained ties with Israel: repression, surveillance, murder and disappearance of civilians constituting a common ground for the colonial entity and the dictator.

Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia have, in the past years, been the staunchest supporters of Palestine. The deaths of Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro have left a political void that is hard to emulate. However, both countries’ experience of US imperialism has instilled in the people an internationalist approach – one that has the potential to lead if other countries follow suit. Brazil’s refusal to accept settler leader Dani Dayan as ambassador last year was step in the right direction – Netanyahu’s efforts to promote settler colonialism through a settler leader advocating for expansion failed.

However, Latin American countries must also shoulder responsibility for consistency when it comes to supporting Palestine and its struggle against colonisation. If Netanyahu’s plans are to be thwarted, Latin American countries must develop a narrative of Palestinian support away from the two-state compromise. In doing so, Netanyahu’s claims of a region friendly towards Israel can be dispelled and Palestinian internationalist support will benefit from a new approach – that of former victims of colonial and neoliberal violence uniting and challenging the passive acceptance of Israel at an international level.

(Source / 19.08.2017)