The following are extracts from a recent report on house demolitions in East Jerusalem authored by Dr. Meir Margalit and published by the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. The chapters explore the underlying motivation behind house demolitions and set forth musings as to the significance of home demolition for a family; what East Jerusalemites undergo from the time they are served the demolition order until the bulldozer arrives: the scars left on the souls of young children, and the effects of house demolition on the fabric of life in Jerusalem.
Checkpoints, closures, curfews and the bureaucracy of permits and licences that back up these measures have long been the tools that facilitate the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. However, since September 2000 the system has been intensified, ‘industrialised’ and, increasingly, brutalized. This article will make the point that the very existence of this massive scheme of obstacles, even when no physical or verbal abuse are perpetrated there, is in itself an abuse of a fundamental human/civil right: freedom of movement. More than this, allegedly a necessary security measure, the checkpoints are in fact instruments of control and humiliation of a civilian population and the paralysis and disruption of their economy and society (World Bank, 2007). Checkpoints are a tool towards Israel's realisation of maximum territory with a minimum of Palestinians; yet another element in the ongoing system of population transfer that began with the Naqba-Disaster of 1948 and that continues, by various means, up to the present time.
A descriptive look at the daily life for the people of Gaza. The writer brilliantly illustrates the horrors of living under fire and portrays the Palestinians of Gaza as a people abandoned by the world to the murderous Israeli occupation, but whose will to resist strengthens with each atrocity committed against them.
The creation of Israel in Palestine in 1948 provoked untold human rights abuses both in terms of the collective rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and in terms of their individual human rights. While the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) outlined ample provisions guaranteeing civil and political rights including the rights to life and liberty of all peoples, Israel has stubbornly refused to conform to these international norms.
Former US president Jimmy Carter’s historical narrative of the various efforts he has been involved in to bring peace to Palestine is a fascinating insight into the politics behind the would-be peacemakers. Carter shows great courage in describing how pro-Israeli bias within the current American administration is the real obstacle to peace in the Middle East; a bias which gives the green light to a system of oppression and apartheid.
Perhaps more shocking than the accounts contained in this issue of Palestine Internationalist – accounts of humiliation, assassination, the targeting of civilians in brutal, bloody and systematic fashion, of starvation and deprivation, the destruction of homes, and all manner of misery – are the persistent attempts of some politicians and their friends in civil society to paint any criticism of the foregoing acts by Israeli authorities and agencies, as anti-Semitic.
This issue of Palestine Internationalist coincided with the OSCE conference on promoting tolerance and mutual understanding, held in Bucharest in June, wherein such claims were repetitiously made. Whilst the very real and ever nefarious problems of hate crimes against members of the Jewish community in Europe need urgent action, sections of civil society claiming to represent the victims of such crime, sought instead to stifle any criticism, however muted, of Israeli policy and practice. Whilst there was passing mention of the swastikas that many Jews and indeed these days many Muslims, find daubed across their doors, it was the boycott of Israeli academic institutions endorsed by the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) in the UK that was the focus of attention. According to the US governmental delegation, Israel was being held to an “impossibly high standard”, another member demanded that instead of focusing on various issues of intolerance (as the meeting did) including the societal and political hatreds levelled at amongst others, Muslims, Roma, Sinti and Christians, the OSCE’s focus should be solely anti-Semitism, or as many sought to rephrase it, anti-Zionism and the demonisation of Israel.
The demonisation of Israel. Is it really a hate crime to decry the demolition of Palestinian homes and the open talk of transfer, as Meir Margalit’s piece ‘No Place Like Home’ in this issue does? Is it an act of violence to monitor an Israeli checkpoint at which Palestinian women have been forced to give birth because IDF officers denied them passage to medical care? If so, is MachsomWatch/CheckpointWatch, whose co-founder Yehudit Kirstein-Keshet’s deeply moving article ‘Gateways to Hell’ appears on this site, an extremist organisation? Is Jennifer Lowenstein’s eyewitness account ‘Nightmares’, recalling the aftermath of an assassination – the smell of charred flesh, the instant decomposition of a burned out body – akin to the smashing of windows, or the desecration of synagogues and cemeteries? Is the account of the plight of Palestinian refugees - their displacement, marginalization and impoverishment – or the daily trauma of life under occupation for those that remain, as articulated by Daud Abdullah in ‘Palestinians under Occupation: Living without Human Rights’ an act of hate? Such accusations have already been levelled at former US President Jimmy Carter’s book ‘Palestine: Peace not Apartheid’ reviewed herein by Mohamad Nasrin Nasir.
There is evidence of hate, and there is evidence of violence aplenty in this issue.
When first conceived, this edition was meant to be a succinct reminder of the types of human rights abuses faced by Palestinians on a daily basis. Now it is also a challenge to civil society and activists everywhere. It is a challenge to ensure that the victims of racist violence, of discrimination, of hatred and intolerance manifested at the levels of the individual, wider society and the organs of state – no matter whom or where they are, have their voices heard.
Just as there should be no hierarchies of suffering, there should be no acceptance of hatred, and no attempt to stifle criticism of it and its effects. We hope that readers will take this message forward in whatever way they can, for therein perhaps lies hope.
Mohamad Nasrin Nasir
Towns such as Qalqilya and Hebron have seen the massive departure of their citizens as a result of the difficulties imposed by the checkpoints and, in the case of Hebron, because of unchecked settler violence. Although the term is usually associated with mass killings of populations, in the context of the Occupied Palestinian Territories the combination of oppression and containment of a civilian population, the denial of their most fundamental rights and the frequent killings of individual Palestinians, armed and unarmed, seems to me rather to add up to ethnic cleansing.
Copyright © 2005 Palestine Internationalist
source: Volume 2 Issue 4 (Jun 2007), http://www.palint.org/mag.php?issuenum=24
The opinions expressed on this site, unless otherwise stated, are those of the authors.