Sunday, March 27, 2011

Justifying reactions to the murder of Israeli settlers

The five members of an Israeli family that were murdered in their beds in the West Bank settlement area of Itamar cannot be justified in any way. There is no excuse for the cause of such a horrific act of injustice. A murder is a murder, whether it is an isolated incident from an individual act of violence or a war crime committed by a government. This particular attack was blamed on the Palestinians, sparking a huge manhunt and international condemnation, but nothing was actually confirmed as to who was responsible for the slaying and what organisation they represented.

Equally as condemned was the reaction of an immediate approval of 500 more illegal settlements in the West Bank over land that would potentially be owned by 500 Palestinian families. Not to mention the families that have already suffered from the already existing illegal settlements that were constructed in Itamar in the first place. Is one family more important than hundreds more?

The construction approval is a poor attempt to justify, and worse, change the focus of the overall situation that is currently causing serious strain for both the Arab and the Jewish communities.

Israelis say they understand that they have had a "checkered" history but have no reason to continue peace negotiations because of this particular incident, yet again pointing the finger at the Arab authorities and their responsibilities of upholding security - ironically, security which they have no power to enforce because of Israeli occupation.

Arabs already agree on how poorly Arab dictators treat their people, and how Hamas and the PLO can't even unite their own people - that is exactly the reason why there are protests and revolutions currently happening all over the Middle East. Israelis keep making the same age-old mistake by claiming that although they might have done acts that would be considered "questionable" and that there is wrong on both sides, the fundamental issues lay with the Arab leaders failing to contain their people and prevent horrific acts such as those that occurred in Itamar.

Based on their arguments, if there really is wrong on both sides, there is no real attempt to show a strong correlation. Since Arabs are protesting against their own leaders - and thus agreeing with Israeli arguments, would Israelis themselves also agree in protesting against their own government for the horrific attacks made on Palestinian people in the West Bank? Would the people of Israel denounce their government for the slaying of countless other families in Gaza? Would they stand out with banners describing what their government has actually done which has resulted in the violent reactions they have received because of the injustice of their occupation?

Currently, there are no real attempts to propose a lasting solution for a two-state resolution especially since the US has recently vetoed a decision to stop illegal settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem. The reality is that there never was any intent on giving back that land, regardless of what a handful of Israelis and their own empty philosophical ideas have attempted to present as a solution. Some even have the gaul to suggest that the borders of negotiation should be drawn around the already existing settlements, and these suggestions existed long before the Itamar incident had occurred.

So ultimately if we peal away the deception, we would come to the conclusion that this incident was simply a perfect excuse to continue justifying the ongoing expansions of illegal settlements.

Reality shows that Israelis don't really want peace, they want the entire land, and they are already 90% there anyway. If they argue contrary to this, the only evidence to prove that their statements are true, is whether or not they are willing to protest against their own Israeli settlements, and demand a halt on construction of new homes as well as the removal of the existing homes to give an opportunity for the Palestinian people to build their own sovereign state.

In hindsight, the Itamar incident could have been avoided if this peaceful decision was made by Israel a long time ago.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Is Israel truly an apartheid state?

The following article may shed some light on the current situation within Israeli territory, and one can make up their own mind.
"Israel’s apartheid policies can best be exemplified by its treatment of the Palestinians living within Israel proper. Israel discriminates against its Palestinian minority—20 percent of the total population—by corralling them in ghettos, tying social benefits to military service in the Israel Defense Force, denying jobs to those without military ID, allowing landlords to rent to Jews only, effecting unequal marriage laws, and denying certain purchasing rights of property in the country to non-Jews. Furthermore, municipal services such as street lighting and trash collection are only provided in Jewish areas, and Jewish schools receive four times as much federal funding as Arab schools, which are often kept segregated. According to Amnesty International, 8,000 Palestinians are held in Israeli jails, which is made possible by Israel’s 1979 Emergency Law that states individuals can be held without charge “if the Israeli police or army find that ‘reasons of state security or public security require that a particular person be detained.’” Even Israel’s identification card system is segregated, as markers are used to distinguish Jewish citizens of Israel from Palestinian, Christian, or Muslim citizens. Most recently, Israeli legislators are working to remove Arabic as one of its official national languages, even though it is the native language of the land. They are also trying to pass a law that criminalizes Israeli citizens for supporting the Palestinian Civil Society call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel and speaking out against apartheid.

Israel is an apartheid state according to legal definition, but it doesn’t take legal expertise of international law to understand that what is happening to the Palestinians is anything but apartheid­—it just takes a simple examination of the situation. Hoping to blur the lines of ethics, some might like to call the conditions complicated... Racism, colonialism, and settler-states are not complicated and in fact have existed systematically for many years."

Another report describes a specific Arab village in Israel as follows:
Baqa al-Gharbiyya, Israel – This sleepy agricultural village, an hour’s drive northeast from Tel Aviv, feels worlds apart from Israel’s commercial capital. Garbage lines many of the narrow, rutted streets, symptoms of the lower level of government funding bestowed upon the town; unemployed men mill about, complaining that Israel’s policies have hurt the local economy.
Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s hard-right foreign minister, has proposed annexing this and other Arab villages to a future Palestinian state. Their inhabitants would be stripped of their Israeli citizenship unless they were willing to leave their land and swear a “loyalty oath” to the state.

His plan is deeply unpopular here and in nearby villages.

Another Al-Jazeera report talks about the Arab village, stating the following:
Baqa al-Gharbiyya used to be just Baqa, a name still used by many residents. The creation of the state of Israel split the village in half, with Baqa al-Gharbiyya on the west side of the 1948 armistice line and Baqa al-Sharqiyya on the east.

Residents regularly travelled back and forth between the two until six years ago, when the Israeli separation barrier was built. Several streets in the villages now dead-end at an eight-metre-high concrete wall topped with barbed wire.

Those who live in Baqa al-Gharbiyya face what they, and many Israeli and international human rights groups, describe as systemic prejudice. Israeli Arabs routinely face discrimination when applying for jobs, and their towns and villages often receive a lower level of government funding than Jewish communities.

In its 2009 report, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel described the discrimination faced by Arabs as "open and explicit", and warned that the government is threatening "their most basic rights – to equality, education and employment – as well as their very citizenship".

Moreover, Arabic is planned to be removed from schools, different funding schemes are provided for Arab populated villages compared to Jewish ones, and transport to and from Israel and the West Bank provides Jewish-only buses on Jewish-only highways to Jewish-only settlements.

Restaurants don't allow Arabic, and indeed two Arabs were fired for speaking the language.
McDonald's Confirms 'No Arabic' policy at its restaurants in Israel

The Soho restaurant in Rishon Letzion have a no Arabs policy.
No Arabs Allowed

Then there is the Law of Return, that only gives Jews the right of return and the right to live in Israel and to gain citizenship. This can only be extended to non-Jews with a Jewish grandparent.

There is also the Marriage Laws in Israel that provides no option for civil marriage or interfaith marriage, only those who are recognized as Jews according to Orthodox Jewish law can get married in Israel, and members of other religions can only marry spouses of the same religion.
Israel's "Jews-Only" Marriage Laws Explained

Despite this blatant ethnic discrimination, Israelis still use a lot of syntactic ambiguity to deny the apartheid regime that exists in their very own country. They will go as far as diverting the argument by mentioning Arab representatives in the Knesset.

But the real question is, could an Arab ever be elected Prime Minister of Israel if Zionism enforces the demographics to maintain the "Jewishness" of the state? Arab minority is deliberately invoked which is why Israel doesn't want to recognize the Right of Return of displaced Arabs as part of the UN Resolution 194 which would naturally change that demographics of the country.
So much for democracy if the rights of people in the region are denied because of their ethnicity.

Ultimately this mistreatment and discrimination falls under the meaning of apartheid. By definition it is the minority ruling over the majority based on race and ethnicity without the opportunity of equal rights. That is exactly the system Israel adopts... unless of course Israelis believe that an Arab could potentially run for Prime Minister of Israel one day.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Anti-semitism and Anti-humanitarian

Many Israelis talk about the UN General Assembly being anti-Semitic. Incidentally, just about anyone who opposes or condemns Israel for events that have taken place in its history are considered anti-Semitic.

Looking at Israel's actions over the past few decades, can we justify the use of white-phospheous chemical weapons resulting in the deaths of 1300 men, women and children in 2009?

This chemical weapon is illegal, and was one of the excuses used to invade Iraq based on "weapons of mass destruction".

During the siege on Gaza it was used on densely populated areas such as schools and hospitals and the UN Resolution 1860 called for an immediate cease fire. Would we consider that resolution anti-Semitic or did the International Community have a case against international war crimes?

What about UN Resolution 1322 when Ariel Sharon's visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the subsequent violence had resulted in the deaths of over 80 Palestinian civilians? Is it anti-Semitic for anyone to condemned that?

What about UN Resolution 904 as a result of the "Cave of the Patriarchs" massacre that occurred in 1994 when 29 worshippers were killed, with more than 125 wounded in the Mosque of Ibrahim in Hebron. Is it anti-Semitic for anyone to condemned that?

What about UN Resolution 799 condemning the deportation of 413 Palestinians by Israel in the occupied territories. Is it anti-Semitic for anyone to condemned that?

What about UN Resolution 672 with the massacre that took place in Al-Aqsa Mosque 1990, killing civilians and worshippers, and injuring hundreds more. Is it anti-Semitic for anyone to condemned that?

What about the treaty of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons that Israel have ignored?

The UN has also condemned Hamas for not investigating the rockets fired over their borders, and condemned the Libyan President for being a delusional dictator, and has condemned Liberian President in 2005 for killing innocent people, and has condemned South Africa's apartheid pre-1994, and has condemned the Lebanese military for their horrific acts in 1982. There are also countless UN Resolutions on Somalia, Ivory Coast, Afghanistan, East Timor, Iraq, and even against Al-Qaida (even though they confidently justify their own actions as being provoked).

Numerous UN resolutions about an endless list of war crimes world-wide have been drafted because ultimately the UN is the voice of the world. They aren't a body with their own independent members created as a "hate group" specifically for Israel. If Israel causes genocide on numerous occasions we will see numerous reactions from the International Community.

With all these condemnations on acts occurring around the world, why is Israel innocent of the ones they commit?

Why is Israel immune to condemnation from an assembly that was established to prevent crimes such as those that were committed by Nazi-Germany?

Why is Israel exempt from the International Laws that were created to prevent what happened to them in WWII?

Anti-Semitism is a perfect term to ensure no one questions crimes that would otherwise be deemed anti-humanitarian.

Ronnie Barkan, 34, son of a holocaust survivor explains it perfectly:
"I think that the main lesson to be learned from the Holocaust is 'never again to anybody' not 'never again to the Jews.'"

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Solution to the Middle East Crisis

There is a the fundamental problem that exists in the region with a lack of equal opportunity for both Arabs and Jews. If the Palestinian people are provided with an opportunity to a sovereign state of their own without occupation, they would have reason to elect a party responsible to govern their land and deal with its social infrastructure, which would ultimately outweigh their reasons to "resist occupation" or react to what they believe is the denial of their human rights.

Israelis already have an independently established state, yet it still remains very volatile. This dilemma would naturally be dissolved when the Palestinian people no longer have a reason to react, which therefore means resistance groups like Hamas would cease to exist since there would be nothing to "resist". This would be Israel's best opportunity to defeat their counter-parts in the Gaza Strip.

The question is, how can equal opportunity be established? The following points would provide the best solution:

1. Right of return for all Palestinians refugees, including those who originally lived within the current Israeli borders becoming Israeli citizens. That involves most of the 4.5 million displaced people having the opportunity to rebuild their homes if they were originally demolished.

2. Implementing pure democracy in a two-state scenario, without racial discrimination, meaning that a majority vote for any political body to govern Israel and the new Palestine. That includes the possibility of an Arab President ruling Israel if that is what the people's majority want. The same would obviously be implemented for the new Palestine if a Jew wanted to run for elections with the backing of the majority. The very definition of apartheid is the minority ruling the majority based on race or religion.

3. No boundary redrawing to take into account any settlements, because all have been deemed illegitimate by International Law. Palestinian citizenship would be required for those settlers, and the land would remain part of the new Palestine. The pre-1967 borders are already a large concession considering that it is probably more realistic to implement something similar to the UN Partition Plan of 1947 based on populous, however most Palestinians are already willing to accept the armistice green lines.

4. Equal opportunity in both Palestine and Israel to establish a defense force for their respective states, just like any other sovereign state. Weapons can be supplied to both states regardless of who supplies them so long as they are legal. (Probably meaning the confiscation of grad rockets... and of course adhering to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as well as confiscation of white-phosphorous chemical weapons). Every peaceful country has the right to defend its sovereignty.

These elements would naturally dissolve organisations like Hamas and any other radical group when freedom of opportunity and free elections are given to the people. Reactionists would cease to exist when people believe they have a chance to live a normal life.

A good first step would be an immediate halt to any new construction of settlements in Palestinian territory since they are not "defensive strategies" nor are they provoked reactions. You can't negotiate slices of a pizza if one person is already eating from it.

The above points would define the inalienable rights for the Palestinian people (UN Resolution 3236), and would naturally define the inalienable rights for the Israeli people.

Regarding these points, in order for justice to prevail there has to be a like-for-like. One of the following options would then be required:
  • A full withdrawal of settlers back to Israel and the millions of Palestinian refugees squeezed into West-bank, Gaza strip and East-Jerusalem.
  • Otherwise the Palestinian refugees should be returned back to their own lands even if they fall within Israeli borders at least as citizens of Israel. This would mean that Israeli settlers could stay in Palestinian land as citizens of the new Palestine.
The latter would have the millions of refugees outnumber the Israeli population, and if pure democracy is implemented, meaning that there is no discrimination as to who can be nominated for Presidency, the state would be ruled by a majority vote which would most likely result in Arab leadership.

Obviously that means that the Jews no longer get what they want with regards to their traditional prophecies of a "Promised Land", so the former solution would most likely be more practical to them. That ultimately means they would have to oblige to a full withdrawal of the settlers camped within the Palestinian territories to fit the millions of displaced refugees into the relatively smaller patches of Arab land.

The problem with this is that a full withdrawal of settlers has not been a popular concept in the Jewish quarter, and that is the source of the dilemma when peace talks and negotiations fail.

The current situation clearly shows that ancient traditions cannot be forced into the region regardless of the overwhelming population, especially when those traditions do not cater for the interests of the multicultural society that undeniably exist in the region. It has evidently resulted in the pushing out of Arabs, with a further pushing out because of the illegal settlements and the current situation gives very little option for a lasting stability in the region; hence why there is a growing number of reactionists.

Arabs are asked not to look at past acts of systematic deportation and genocide so that there can be a viable solution moving forward, yet Israelis tend to look to the past when considering their own "Promised Land" which only sees fit to benefit their own Jewish interests.

If cultures and beliefs can provide open-minded approaches towards equal opportunity for humanity in general and not for one race it would definitely be possible to have a scenario where both can co-exists, just as it did centuries ago.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Diary: Arabs and Jews alike

With the many heated discussions I have had about the general Arab perspective on Jews in Israel, I can vouch that mainstream Arabs and Muslims will attest to my statements.

Just to be clear, I am not specifically anti-Zionist, neither would I be anti-Semite. In fact that would be impossible, because I myself am a Semite. Most Jews forget that Semites are Arabs, Jews, Aramaic and Phoenicians, so that word cannot be used synonymously with anti-Jewish sentiments.

I am in fact humanitarian, and believe, as do many, that Israel as it stands today is not fit to govern a multicultural society because so many war crimes have occurred under its governing powers.

Governments above all have a responsibility, and that is why Israel have been asked to be brought forth before the International Criminal Court for charges of war crimes and lack of regard for the Fourth Geneva Convention.

There is already so much noise about the condemnation of Arab terrorism which is why it is pointless for me to create more noise. Even though we are put under the spotlight to ensure we publicly condemn their acts, and do so willfully, the same is not done in the Western world for the crimes committed against humanity by the Israeli government; worse, rather than condemnation, there is justification.

As an Arab, I strongly condemn Arab terrorism as do the majority of the Arab world, which is why they are all currently fighting regimes. It is not enough for mainstream Jews to give the proverbial "slap on the wrist" to their leaders. They should also be denouncing the Israeli government. That would provide the purest unity between the Arab and Jewish people.

That is what the International Community wants: Mainstream Jewish condemnation. Not the justification of the 2009 Gaza siege; not the justification of the destruction of Palestinian infrastructure; not the justification of the 2000 Al-Aqsa Mosque massacre committed by Ariel Sharon; not the justification of the 1967 invasions of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian Lands.

When the world points to us about Al-Qaeda, we say "sorry". When the world points to Israel, they say "what about the Arabs".

Delusional quotes like "people are boycotting Israel just like Nazi Germany did because the thought that Jews should be allowed to have rights and freedoms is anathema to them" is exactly why the world is frustrated. These people are talking about the Turks, Swedes, Venezuelans, Brazilians, South Africans, Canadians and so many more who are boycotting a criminal government. Do Israelis really think it’s because they unconditionally detest Jews?

Furthermore, we are continually reminded of the necessity to sympathise for the Jewish needs because of the Holocaust.

Hitler believed in the "pure" human race. That meant that he persecuted Jews, Arabs and Muslims, Homosexuals, and even "half-breed" Germans. The pop culture of today has taken a significant stand on sympathy for Jewish trauma alone. People even forget Stalingrad where millions of Russian civilians were also killed during WWII by the Nazis, and the countless refugees and homeless scattered throughout the world as a result of the largest war seen in modern history.

From a Muslim's perspective, we believe that the Hebrew Messiah Issa will return to rule Jerusalem and will establish a land of peace. The majority of Islamic teachings is based on Hebrew Prophecies and in the continuation of the Abrahamic faiths. We also believe that the Hebrews were chosen by God.

However the problem is that Israel has been established by Zionism, not by Judaism, otherwise the death tolls and displacements would never have been so excessive. It’s not because Arabs detest the thought of Jews being in the land, but because Arabs have been squeezed out of a land they originally shared with the Jews.

Ultimately, the sooner Israelis claim ownership on their own criminal acts, just as Arabs have over the last decade, the sooner peace will being to take shape in the region.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

International Law: War Crimes made by Israel

The International Community have asked Israel to be brought before the International Criminal Court for charges of war crimes as Norman Finkelstein explains: