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2003 - Part 2

1. Clarifying the Occupation Lexicon
2. The Best Show in Town
3. Palestinians Get Thirstier..
4. Refusnik Update
5. Sharon's Agenda...
6. Some Comparisons...
7. Wombs in the Service of the State
8. Glancing Back at Gaza
9. Battle Cry

Amira Hass - Ha'aretz 11.06.03

Israeli political discourse relies on terms that have become so distorted in meaning that the understanding of the reality behind them has also been distorted. Here are some examples:

Closure: On the eve of the Aqaba summit, the Israel Defense Forces announced the "closure was lifted." Radio reporters hurried to announce, "the closure is lifted." Then everyone was amazed the Palestinians weren't grateful. It should be said for the millionth time: The closure on the Palestinians is never lifted; it is only relaxed a little, sometimes. The closure regime was imposed on all Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank and has continued, without release, since January 1991. That's before Oslo, the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, and the suicide bombings in Israeli cities. Since then, Israel has maintained a sweeping policy that prevents travel by Palestinians. The military authorities grant travel passes to a minority of Palestinians. When the authorities want, it's a large minority, and when they want, it's a small minority.

There are "ordinary" closures that cover travel from the territories to Israel and from Gaza to the West Bank. And there are "internal" closures, which in the last two and half years have been very tight. Hundreds of checkpoints and blockades prevent travel from city to city, village to village. There are places where people are allowed to cross by foot, to walk one or two kilometers from one vehicle to another. Sometimes, in certain places, people are prohibited from leaving a village or city. People get through in roundabout ways. Often, they are caught by soldiers and, as punishment, are held for hours on a hilltop, at an intersection, in the sun, in the cold, throughout the entire West Bank. Palestinians are not allowed to travel on the main highways of the West Bank, which only settlers are allowed to use.

Checkpoints: Israelis are convinced the checkpoints are meant to prevent terrorists from reaching the country. Nobody asks how the checkpoints between village and village or city and village service the purpose, even when the villages and towns are far from the Green Line or even a settlement. A checkpoint harms more than the economy. Its purpose is to harass and humiliate, on a daily basis. It means constant conflict with soldiers, like on Monday, at the Sudra checkpoint in northern Ramallah. Those passing through it need to walk about two kilometers on foot, from taxi to taxi. Ambulances are not allowed through. The elderly and the ailing are pushed in wheelchairs provided by Palestinian medical relief committees. Sometimes, when there's no alternative, the sick are put on little carts that usually serve to carry heavy loads.

On Monday afternoon, an IDF squad made the men going home line up in two rows on both sides of the checkpoint. Those coming from Ramallah were checked and allowed to pass, at a slow pace. Those coming from the north, particularly students, were made to line up for an hour without anyone checking them. According to an eyewitness, a university professor, one soldier moved constantly along the line pushing them to "keep order." The atmosphere was actually relaxed. It wasn't too hot, the students chatted. One chuckled. The soldier got angry for some reason, jumped at the student and stuck the rifle butt into the student's stomach. The student looked him straight in the eyes. The soldier made a fist and hit him in the face. (The IDF did not respond by press time.)

Illegal outposts: The original intention was to extend settlements during the Oslo process, without being stopped. Meanwhile, most have been legalized whether de jure or de facto. People forget that. Using the term "illegal" makes people forget the fact that international law prohibits all the settlements in the West Bank and Gaza because international law prohibits the occupying power from moving its population into the occupied territory. But forget international law. If it's so natural for Jews from Tel Aviv and Ra'anana to move to new settlements near Ramallah and Hebron, why can't Palestinians move from Ramallah and Gaza to neighborhoods near Tel Aviv (with government financing)? Why are extra rights enjoyed by Jews between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River so self-evident?

We don't want to control the Palestinian population: Ariel Sharon said that to correct the impression left by his statement that the occupation must end. There's nothing new in it. Already, at the start of Oslo, it was clear Israel didn't want to be bothered by the annoying responsibility of controlling a civilian population that has no electoral rights and does not want to be ruled. Therefore, Israel transferred to the PA all the civic responsibilities, without granting the PA any authority over land in the West Bank. Would Jews agree to live in self-governing "Jewish Councils" in closed enclaves without any land reserves? Obviously not. Why should Palestinians agree to that, without land, water, and freedom of movement - the raw materials necessary for the development of any human community? So why regard the Sharon statement as a great achievement for the peace project?

Uri Avnery - 21.6.03

The most talented director could not have done better. It was a perfect show.

Television viewers all over the world saw heroic Israeli soldiers on their screens battling the fanatical settlers. Close-ups: faces twisted with passion, a soldier lying on a stretcher, a young woman crying in despair, children weeping, youngsters storming forward in fury, masses of people wrestling with each other. A battle of life and death.

There is no room for doubt: Ariel Sharon is leading a heroic fight against the settlers in order to fulfil his promise to remove "unauthorized" outposts, even "inhabited" ones. The old warrior is again facing a determined enemy without flinching.

The conclusion is self-evident, both in Israel and throughout the world: if such a tumultuous battle takes place for a tiny outpost inhabited by hardly a dozen people, how can one expect Sharon to remove 90 outposts, as promised in the Road Map? If things look like that when he has to remove a handful of tents and one small stone building - how can one even dream of evacuating real settlements, where dozens, hundreds or even thousands of families are living? This must have impressed George Bush and his people. Unfortunately, it has not impressed me.

It makes me laugh. In the last few years I have witnessed dozens of confrontations with the army. I know what they really look like.

The Israeli army has already demolished thousands of Palestinian homes in the occupied territories. This is how it goes: early in the morning, hundreds of soldiers surround the land. Behind them come the tanks and bulldozers, and the action starts. When despair drives the inhabitants to resist, the soldiers hit them with sticks, throw tear gas grenades, shoot rubber-coated metal bullets and, if the resistance is stronger, live ammunition, too. Old people are thrown on the ground, women dragged along, young people handcuffed and pushed against the wall. After a few minutes, it's all over.

Well, they'll say, that's done to Arabs. They don't do this to Jews. Wrong. They certainly do this to Jews. Depends who the Jews are. I, for example, am a Jew. I have been attacked with tear gas five times so far. Once it was a special gas, and for a few moments I was afraid that I was going to choke to death.

During one of the blockades on Ramallah we decided to bring food to the beleaguered town. We were some three thousand Israeli peace activists, both Jews and Arabs. At the A-Ram checkpoint, north of Jerusalem, a line of policemen and soldiers stopped us. There was an exchange of insults and a lot of shouting. Suddenly we were showered with tear gas canisters. The thousands dispersed in panic, coughing and choking, some were trampled; one of our group, an 82-year old Jew and kibbutznik, was injured.

I have witnessed demonstrations in which rubber-coated bullets were shot at Israeli citizens (generally Arabs). Once I was in the gas- filled rooms of a school at Um-al-Fahem in Israel.

If the army had really wanted to evacuate Mitpe-Yitzhar quickly and efficiently, it would have used tear gas. The whole business would have been over in a few minutes. But then there would not have been dramatic pictures on TV, and George W. would have asked his friend Arik: "Hey, why don't you finish with all the outposts in a week?"

In other words, this was a well-produced show for TV.

A few days before, the leaders of the settlers met with Ariel Sharon. As they left and faced the cameras they uttered dark threats, but anyone who knows these people and looked at their faces on TV could see that there were no strong emotions at work. Of course, the "Yesha rabbis" (Yesha is settlerese for the West Bank), a group of bearded political functionaries, called on the soldiers to disobey orders and requested the LORD and the messiah to come to their help, but even they lacked real passion.

Why? Because all of them knew that everything has been agreed in advance. The army chiefs and the leaders of the settlers, comrades and partners for a long time, sat together and decided what would happen, and, more importantly, what would not happen: no sudden attack, no efforts to prevent thousands of young people from reaching the place well in advance, no use of sticks, water cannon, tear gas, rubber-coated bullets or any other means beyond the use of bare hands. The soldiers would not wear helmets nor be equipped with shields. The settlers would shout and push, but would not hit the soldiers in earnest. The whole show would be less violent then a normal scuffle with British soccer hooligans, but would look on TV like a desperate battle between titanic forces.

Ariel Sharon has some experience with this kind of thing. A dozen years ago he directed a similar show when, following the peace treaty with Egypt, he was ordered by Prime Minister Menahem Begin to evacuate the town of Yamit in the northern Sinai peninsula. At the time, Sharon was Minister if Defense. And who was one of the leaders of the dramatic resistance? Tsachi Hanegbi, now the minister in charge of the police.

All the arms of the establishment cooperated this week in the big show. The media devoted many hours to the "battle". Dozens of settlers were invited to the studios and talked endlessly - while, as far as I saw, not a single person belonging to the active peace camp was called to the microphone.

The courts, too, did their duty: the handful of settlers that were arrested for resisting violently were sent home after spending a day or two in jail. The courts, who never show any mercy when Arabs appear before them, treated the fanatical settlers like erring sons.

The whole comedy would have been funny, if it did not concern a very serious problem. Such an "outpost" looks like a harmless cluster of mobile homes on top of a god-forsaken hill, but it is far from being innocuous. It is a symptom of a cancerous growth. Not for nothing did Ariel Sharon - the very same Sharon - call upon the settlers a few years ago to take control of all the hills of "Judea and Samaria".

The disease develops like this: a group of rowdies occupies a hilltop, some miles from an established settlement, and puts a mobile home there. After some time, the "outpost" already consists of a number of mobile homes. A generator and a water-tower are brought in. Women with babies appear on the scene. A fence is set up. The army sends some units to defend them. They declare that for security reasons, Palestinians are not allowed to come near, in order to prevent them from spying and preparing an attack. The security zone becomes bigger and bigger. The inhabitants of the neighboring Palestinian villages cannot reach some of their orchards and fields any more. If someone tries, he is liable to be shot. Every settler has a weapon, and he has nothing to fear from the law if he uses it against a suspicious Arab. All Arabs are suspicious, of course.

As it so happens, I have some experience with Mitzpe Yitzhak, the particular outpost that figured in this week's show. Some months ago we were called by the inhabitants of the Palestinian village Habala to help them pick their olives in a grove near this "outpost". When the pickers came near to the outpost, the settlers opened fire. An Israeli in our group was wounded when a bullet struck a rock at his feet.

The "unauthorized" outposts were in fact established systematically, with the help of the army and according to its planning. When several outposts take root in a region, the Palestinian villages are choked between them. Their life becomes hell. The settlers and officers clearly hope that in the end they will give up and clear out.

Will Sharon really evacuate them by the dozens? That depends, of course, on his friend George W. If the "hudna" (truce) between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas is achieved, Bush may perhaps exert serious pressure on Sharon. When I visited Yasser Arafat yesterday, he seemed to be cautiously optimistic. But he, too, said that there are no more than four months left for getting things moving: starting from November, the American President will be busy getting himself reelected.

This means that Sharon has only to produce a few more shows of this sort for television, and then he and the settlers will be able to breathe freely once again. "The governmental and military decision makers do not even bother to conceal or at least vary their acts. Again and again they get back to the same provocation and with the same purpose. Each time that the negotiations between the Palestinian factions seem to get somewhere close to a positive conclusion - and the possibility of achieving a cease- fire which would end the suicide bombings becomes a concrete option - they are in a hurry to carry out another "liquidation". Thus, the government is offering to Hamas on a silver platter a pretext to refuse the requests of Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). As the majority of the public already understands, such actions are not intended to prevent the terrorist attacks. This government is interested in them; they serve its policies.

Mark Heinrich - 3.08.03 - from: asia.reuters.com

AL-DHAHRIYEH (Reuters) - The Khabirat family postpones having a bath as they await the next water tanker to replenish their well in parched Palestinian territory under Israeli blockade. The tanker driver has to sneak a hose through a tunnel under a highway reserved for Israeli traffic to access his well on the other side, then take long detours on atrocious back roads to reach homes like the Khabirats'.

Palestinians, especially in the arid southern West Bank, ration and improvise to offset water shortages aggravated by Israel's closure of their area, imposed after suicide bombings. Arduous, roundabout routes inflate delivery prices for people already impoverished by the closure that, along with worsening drought, has highlighted a long unequal contest to control water that is central to Middle Eastern conflict.

Israel takes 80 percent of the West Bank's mountain aquifer, one of two major renewable water sources in the territory it seized in a 1967 war. The other source, the Jordan River dividing the West Bank from Jordan, is dominated by Israel for nearby Jewish farms.

Water will be a thorny "final status" issue in a U.S.-backed peace "road map" aiming at an independent Palestinian state.

"Occupation has played a big role in inequality. Israel should be concerned, for if Palestinians lack sufficient water to improve their lives, they will lack the will to uphold peace agreements," said Yehezkel Lein, water expert at B'tselem, an Israeli group monitoring human rights in occupied territories.

Winter rainwater collection doesn't last

Families in the barren village of al-Dhahriyeh said winter rainwater they collect soon ran out in the long blazing summer. "We used to bathe and wash clothes every day, now it's every two to three days. We'd love to have water for a garden, trees, even a pool like the Jews do (in nearby settlements)," said Siham Khabirat, a 40-year-old mother of six.

"Most of us must buy water to top up wells but tanker prices are up 100 percent under closure. It's a double blow when our own income has plunged due to lack of work," husband Yusuf said. They were sitting in their living room under a painting of a glistening Alpine lake. "It cheers us up a bit," said Siham.

Mahmoud Ahmad Tayyem, 61, a father of 10, keeps his melon and mint alive by watering them in drips from a tiny hole in a plastic jug he holds patiently at an angle over them. "Once I could just hose the plants, but deliveries are too few and far between to risk that now," he said.

Israeli forces erected dirt-and-rock barricades at junctions between village roads and highways earlier in the 33-month-old uprising to prevent all but localized movement by Palestinians. Palestinians also complain of disappearing water pressure and increasingly brackish water, blaming Israeli "overpumping."

Israel says more than 4,000 wells drilled by Palestinians in defiance of restrictions imposed to shore up the water table are to blame. Palestinians say they suffer far more from such curbs than Israelis, forcing them resort to illegal wells.

Israel says it conserves water

Jacob Kaidar, head of water negotiating issues at Israel's Foreign Ministry, said Israelis consumed less water per head than any Middle East state except Jordan and denied they were arbitrarily curbing Palestinian access to precious sources. "Israel is known the world over for its know-how in water conservation, especially in agriculture," he said. "We have worked hard to keep Palestinian communities supplied with water by repairing pipes damaged in fighting, and (protecting) wells and tanker traffic."

An army spokesman said Palestinians could deliver water on through-roads with prior security clearance. Tanker drivers said they had been held up at checkpoints even with such passes.

A B'tselem study found Palestinians' water consumption under the closure had fallen to half the minimum recommended by the World Health Organization.

In a 2002 study, PASSIA, an independent Palestinian think- tank, said Israeli settlement policy had been guided in part by the imperative of securing control over high-yield aquifers. It said a now overshadowed interim peace deal entrenched such dominance in 1995 by granting each Jewish settler a water quota six times over that for Palestinians in the West Bank.

A new World Bank report says a security fence Israel is building across Palestinian farmland atop the mountain aquifer may disrupt access to wells critical to olive and citrus groves. "The Palestinian population is growing 3-4 percent a year but the water supply is static," said Lein. "When they see not only land seized for settlements but settlers enjoying a very generous water supply with a high quality of life, it generates much frustration and even hatred."

Israel's Kaidar said giving more to Palestinians without finding new sources would not solve the water conflict. Desalination and recycling have been mooted but high costs in times of fiscal austerity stand in the way.

An letter from Matan Kaminer, on trial in an Israeli military court
to Stephen Funk in the US Marines, August 12, 2003
Matan Kaminer is in 'Open Detention' at Tel Hashomer Camp, Israel

Dear Stephen,

Is this what they call "globalization"? We live half a world from each other, we have led quite different lives, and yet we are both in the same situation: conscientious objectors to imperial war and
occupation, we are both standing military trial this summer. Reading your statement I couldn't help but smile at the basic sameness of military logic around the world - including its inability to understand how anybody could be enough against a war to resist going to kill and die in it.

But I've been presuming you're familiar with my situation. In case you aren't, let me fill you in briefly. I was slated for induction into the Israeli army in December 2002. After a year of volunteer work in a Jewish-Arab youth movement, I had made up my mind to refuse to enlist. Together with other young people in my situation, I signed the High School Seniors' Letter to PM Sharon, and to make myself
absolutely clear I sent a personal letter to the military authorities notifying them that I was going to refuse.

They let me know they weren't about to let me go: the army only exempts pacifists (at least that's what it claims) and I didn't meet their definition of a pacifist. So beginning in December I was sentenced by 'disciplinary proceedings' (do they have this ridiculous institution in the Marines too?) to 28 days in military prison -- three consecutive times. After my third time in jail, I asked to join my friend Haggai Matar, who was being court-martialed, and within a few weeks three of our friends -- Noam, Shimri and Adam -- joined us. Now we are on trial and stand to get up to three years in prison for refusing the order to enlist.

Sounds familiar, huh? But it's not just what they're doing to us that's similar, it's what they're doing to others: occupying a foreign land and oppressing another people in the name of preventing terror. People like you and me know that's just an excuse for furthering economic and political interests of the ruling elite. But it's not the elite that pays the price.

The people who pay the price are in Jenin and Fallujah, in Ramallah and Baghdad, in Tikrit and in Hebron. They are the Iraqi and Palestinian children, hogtied face-down on the floor or shot at on the way to school. But they are also the Israeli and American soldiers, treated as cannon fodder by generals in air-conditioned offices, whose only way to deal with their situation is dehumanization - first of the strange-looking foreigners who want them dead, next of themselves. You can ask your Vietnam veterans or our own.

Stephen, people our age should be out learning, working and transforming the world. People our age should be going to parties and protests, meeting people, falling in love and arguing about what our
world should look like. People our age should not be moving targets, denied their human and civil rights; they should not be military grunts, exposed to harm in mind and body, lugging around M-16's and
guilty consciences; they should not be thrown behind bars for not wanting to kill and die.

Your trial is set to begin soon. Mine has already begun so maybe I can give you a few pointers. Look the judges in the eyes. Use every opportunity you have to explain why you stand there. They are human
just like you, but they try to deny it to themselves. Don't let them. War is shit and they know it. They should let you go and they know it. It's likely that we'll both get thrown in prison when this all ends.
There will be dark moments in prison, moments when it seems that the outside world has forgotten all about us, that what we did and refused to do was in vain. Well, I know what I'll do in those moments: I'll think of you, Stephen, and I'll know that nothing we do for humanity's sake is ever in vain.

With greatest solidarity,
Matan Kaminer

Moshé Machover

What is Sharon trying to achieve by the massive devastation of the Occupied
Territories, the widespread humiliation of the Palestinian population and the brutal bloodshed? Surely, as anti-terrorist strategy this is patently counter-productive: it can only engender hundreds of new suicidal would-be martyrs, who -- reversing Samson's last words -- will pray to their merciful and compassionate god: "Let me die with the Jews, and take with me as many of them as you please". Any fool can see this; and Sharon is certainly no fool.

Another, apparently unconnected, curious fact: some time ago Sharon called Yasir Arafat "irrelevant". What did he mean? As a term of abuse, "irrelevant" is rather weak, certainly by Israeli standards; and Sharon is anything but weak. It could of course be interpreted as a subtle insult; but Sharon is not a subtle man. Cunning, yes; but this is quite a different matter.

No: Sharon's description of Arafat was in fact chillingly literal. It can best be understood as addressed not to Arafat himself or to the outside world, but in the context of an internal discourse within the Israeli leadership.

In order to decode Sharon's deeds and words, we have to go back to the early 1990s. The first Intifada, which erupted in late 1987 and went on for several years, had by 1991 taught the Israeli leadership that Israel could not long continue its direct rule over the Palestinians: keeping "order" in the Occupied Territories was just too costly -- not only in economic terms but also in its adverse effects on Israel's army and society.

Shimon Peres concluded that a way must be found to get the Palestinians to police themselves. This of course meant giving them some degree of autonomy. It also required a willing Palestinian partner, who would be ready to lead an autonomous Palestinian Authority -- on Israeli terms. These terms include bearing sole responsibility for preventing any attack on Israeli soldiers, settlers or civilians -- and taking full blame for any attacks that do occur.

As it happened, such a partner was found in the apparently unlikely shape of Yasir Arafat, who was desperate for a deal at almost any price. His feeble bargaining position was of his own making. By foolishly siding with Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War (instead of taking the morally justified and politically astute position of "a plague a both your houses"), Arafat cut the financial branch on which he had been sitting so comfortably. Until the Gulf War, he had maintained his control of the PLO and manipulation of its personnel by means of ample funds flowing from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, both as direct government subventions and as taxes he was allowed to levy on the large Palestinian refugee community profitably employed there. Suddenly the funds were cut off, and Arafat was left bereft of his means of control.

No wonder he was ready to accept Israel's terms at Oslo, without -- so insiders report -- even bothering to read the small print. For Peres' plan, which he eventually managed to sell to an initially reluctant Rabin, this was a very "relevant" Arafat. In fact, he was vital.

But other Israeli leaders -- some in the Labour party, but most in the Likud and its far-right allies -- drew a different lesson from the first Intifada. Yes; Israel cannot indefinitely subdue an oppressed Palestinian population. But allowing the Palestinians to do it on a DIY basis was too risky: it may start as a Bantustan, but who knows where it might lead, given time? After all, had not Zionist colonization of Palestine also started from modest beginnings, under foreign control? The only alternative was to complete the ethnic cleansing -- or, to use the Israeli term: "transfer" -- that had been massively begun during the 1948 war and in its immediate aftermath, and attempted again, with much lesser success, inthe wake of the 1967 war.

For this transfer plan, now supported by 46 per cent of Israel's Jewish citizens and openly advocated by several of Sharon's ministers, Arafat is indeed highly irrelevant. If the Palestinians are to be stampeded across the Jordan, even his feeble and corrupt leadership is merely an obstacle. For a stampede, you don't need any leader; what you do need is to terrorize the Palestinians into becoming a frightened herd. If some become frenzied suicide bombers, this is a price worth paying for the greater national good. This is what Sharon is attempting to do. His plan is not new: it long predates Oslo. It is part of a breathtakingly grandiose plan to re-arrange the whole Middle East under Israeli hegemony, with client Arab states in all parts of the region, including a Palestinian Bantustan -- not in cisjordanian Palestine, but across the river, in what is now Hashemite Jordan. It was this plan he was trying to implement in 1982, when he deceived the Begin cabinet into supporting his Lebanese adventure. Nor is Sharon's Grand Plan a deeply held secret: at the time of the Lebanese war it was openly and widely discussed in the Israeli press.

That time it failed. But Ariel "The Bulldozer" Sharon is nothing if not dogged. He will try it again; he is trying it again. Yes, he will promise the Americans to behave; he will agree to cease fire; he will consent to negotiate. But he will break any promise, violate any agreement and torpedo any talks -- if they stand in the way of his Plan.

An excellent opportunity will arise if and when Bush II starts another large-scale "anti-terrorist" war on Iraq. And after that? The next item in the Grand Plan is Iran, which is the only serious potential obstacle to Israeli regional hegemony.

Will Sharon's Grand Plan succeed? Will he be able to implement even its first stage, the "transfer" of the Palestinians? He may well do, if the world lets him.

Shraga Elam, Zurich/Switzerland

The comparison between the processes prevailing in Israel and those in Nazi Germany is not very "political correct". It is considered as a clear proof of Judeophobia if done by a non-Jew, almost legitimate if done by a Jewish right radicals so attacking some enemy, and if done by some Jewish peace activist, like myself, it is considered to be, in the best case, an tactical mistake. The Israeli policy is considered to be bad enough and there is no need to loose energy on unfruitful disputes, which will heart unnecessarily the feelings of potential sympathizers.

I want to point out the fallacy behind the last argument, a basic misunderstanding of the National Socialism and its policy towards the Jews. The Nazi war crimes are automatically identified solely with
Auschwitz and with gassing of the Jews, Gypsies and others. The developments leading to Auschwitz are not taken really into consideration. This is a fatal mistake, which we have to consider if want to prevent similar catastrophe from happening. One has to fight genocidal tendencies long before they are realized.

All the researchers agree that there was a gradual escalation of the anti-Jewish Nazi measures: starting with a 'voluntarily' transfer (1933-1938), expulsion (1938-1941) and annihilation (as of 1941/42).

Considering the numerous alarming tendencies and indications in the Israeli society and mainly in the army like in the enclosed reports, peace activists, cannot any longer close their eyes and refuse
to acknowledge a distressing similarity. Drawing such a comparison is part of a protest.

Two central activists of the Jewish-Arab organization Ta'ayush write in today's Ha'aretz: about the ongoing expulsion called euphemistic 'Transfer' "Anyone who is waiting for a dramatic moment is liable to miss it as it happens." The point isn't that we are going to miss it. The point is that it is going to be too late! ( See below for the article).

The former Israeli education minister said in a demo in Tel Aviv this year: "The Israeli government and army misused the Shoa [Nazi-Genocide] in order to justify their politics. In the name of the Shoa we have to protest against this."


Gadi Algazi & Azmi Bdeir, Ha'aretz 15.11.02

[Transfer isn't necessarily a dramatic moment, a moment when people are expelled and flee their towns or villages. It is not necessarily a planned and well-organized move with buses and trucks loaded with people, such as happened in Qalqilyah in 1967. Transfer is a deeper process, a creeping process that is hidden from view. It is not captured on film, is hardly documented, and it is going on right in front of our eyes. Anyone who is waiting for a dramatic moment is liable to miss it as it happens. ]

As these words are being written, Khirbet Yanun still exists. Or maybe not: 15 of the 25 families that lived in the village are still there. This is not an insignificant number: If the reader recalls, on October 18 only two old men remained there, having refused to leave even after the last families departed, holding on by their fingertips to the village despite the abuse of settlers. The others had decided to take their possessions and move to the nearby town of Akrabeh.

However, Khirbet Yanun's existence is still frail and incomplete. There is still no electricity or running water, the houses are without furniture, the presence of residents sparse, their security unassured. At the beginning of last week, volunteers from Israel and abroad - Jews and Arabs who belong to the Ta'ayush movement - were still on site, but their presence there was transitory. Come the next
attack by settlers, which will happen sooner or later, Khirbet Yanun may be emptied of its residents for good.

Many Israelis who are committed to a life of peace and justice in this country are convinced, it seems, that despite all the horrors of the occupation and the violent conflict, there are still certain red lines that they will not allow Ariel Sharon and his government to cross: Transfer will not be permitted to happen. When the critical moment arrives, they will stand up and stop it.

But transfer isn't necessarily a dramatic moment, a moment when people are expelled and flee their towns or villages. It is not necessarily a planned and well-organized move with buses and trucks
loaded with people, such as happened in Qalqilyah in 1967. Transfer is a deeper process, a creeping process that is hidden from view. It is not captured on film, is hardly documented, and it is going on
right in front of our eyes. Anyone who is waiting for a dramatic moment is liable to miss it as it happens.

The main component of the process is the gradual undermining of the infrastructure of the civilian Palestinian population's lives in the territories: its continuing strangulation under closures and sieges
that prevent people from getting to work or school, from receiving medical services, and from allowing the passage of water trucks andambulances, which sends the Palestinians back to the age of donkey
and cart. Taken together, these measures undermine the hold of the Palestinian population on its land.

When the water trucks don't make it to the villages, when every trip to work becomes an adventure with an unforeseeable end, when schools are closed and hospitals in the nearby urban center begin to grow
further away - the local fabric of life begins to disintegrate. Some of the young people, who used to work outside the village and then return home every night, remain outside, choosing not to attempt to pass through the succession of roadblocks each morning. Families that are able to do so move to safer places, closer to their sources of income, inside the population centers.

And the number of instances are mounting up: the butcher from Jerusalem, who despairs at the attempt to cross the Qalandiyah roadblock and who has closed his shop that is situated north of it; the taxi driver who moved out of his home in northern Jerusalem to live, crowded with the rest of the family, in his parents' home in the Old City, in order to have a chance to get to work; residents of a West Bank village whose son was about to begin studies in the nearby city of Nablus, but because it is no longer so accessible even by public transit, are poised to leave their village and move to the city. All of these cases signal how the hold of the Palestinian population on the land is being weakened.

Not an isolated case:

What the army's closures and sieges don't achieve, the settlers do: Every new settlement and outpost requires security, of course, and the meaning of security to settlers is eviction of Palestinians from the surrounding area, and transformation of the agricultural lands to death zones, for whoever enters them to pick olives or work the land may end up paying for the act with his life. In order for a handful of settlers to dominate almost half of the land of the occupied territories, an organized action, a conquest of the land, a tower-and-stockade thrust is required. Armed, subsidized and organized, they systematically rough up residents of the villages, very much like the paramilitary units employed by hacienda owners in
Latin America to inflict a reign of terror on the peasantry. They are above the law.

The campaign against the olive harvesters was therefore an important component of the settlers' attempt to pull out from under the legs of the villagers the little that they still have. It is also intended to show them that the settlers are the real masters, that they can pick the olives of the villagers with impunity, and drive off with gunfire anyone who tries to stand in their way.

Khirbet Yanun is not an isolated case. Dozens of villages in the area of Tul Karm and Qalqilyah, Salfit and Nablus have been subjected to intense existential pressure for several months. This is not
necessarily marked by dramatic incidents causing death and casualties, but by organized abuse, constant deterioration of living conditions, tightening of the stranglehold, and increased isolation
from the economic, cultural and political centers of Palestinian society.

All of these long-term structural processes, which gradually undermine the population's hold on its land, are clearly expressed at Khirbet Yanun. It is a small and isolated settlement that lies only a few hundred meters from the outposts established by the settlers of Itamar. The outposts were established in the hills above Yanun in the late 1990s, under the auspices of the "peace process." Akrabeh is
situated a 15-minute drive away, via a poorly maintained dirt road that is easy to block off.

Venture out at night into the streets of Yanun. The little village is dark, the landscape pastoral. But even in the village itself, residents are not alone: On the hill opposite, the settlers' watchtowers can be seen, and from the hill on the other side, the caravans and cars are visible. The lights of the patrol vehicles can be seen from far away. Here in their homeland, the people of Yanun sit surrounded, as in a sort of reserve whose days are numbered. The settlers may appear at any moment, and they do: The children hide whenever they hear the sound of their all-terrain vehicles. The residents freeze in place in the olive grove whenever the settlers appear.

This, too, is not an isolated case: If you find yourself in the southern Hebron hills along the edge of the desert, along with Palestinian residents living in their tents in Susya, here too you will find that there is no room for the local residents. Look up and you will see a star-studded sky, but all it takes is a glance around you and you will understand that you are surrounded - army vehicles patrol the road, which the Palestinians are not allowed to approach. On the other side are the settlers of Susya: Woe to anyone who gets too close to the fields adjacent to the settlement. And Susya continues to expand. An illuminated security road passes behind you, in the wadi, and if you take a look northward, you will see the lights of the nearby army base and hear the announcements crackling from the loudspeakers.

This reality conveys an unambiguous message: Residents of the reserve - you are surrounded; it would be best if you surrendered. And these are also the explicit words uttered by the settlers to the people of Khirbet Yanun during recent attacks on the village, when they broke into homes, when they beat Abd al-Latif Bani Jaber in front of his family: Get out of here, go to Akrabeh.

Complaints lodged by Yanun residents to the police provide a documentation of the process by which their village has turned into a ghost town. The village is situated in Area C, which is under the full security and administrative responsibility of Israel, but in the opinion of local residents, there is a tacit agreement between the army and the settlers. All development in the village is blocked. Indeed, since 1992, the Israeli Civil Administration has forbidden any construction there. The fields have become unsafe. The settlers used to come down the hill and treat the village as if it were their own. Local residents quote one of the settlers from Itamar, who told them that he and he alone ruled the area. I will remain here, he said, when the police and the press have gone. According to residents, it was he who led the raids on the village.

And so, long before they burned the electrical generator in April 2002, the infrastructure of daily life was increasingly being undermined. The children of Khirbet Yanun used to go to the elementary school in Yanun a-Tahta, which is near Akrabeh. When the raids grew worse and the road became unsafe, a small school was opened in the village, less than two years ago. This school was closed when the last families left the village. The walls were closing in on the daily lives of the villagers. The nearest high school is in Akrabeh, which has become so much more distant. So anyone who wants his children to stay in school is compelled to leave Yanun and move to the town. But even without this consideration - who is going to decide to stay in a village where settlers come and go as they please, day and night, marching on the roofs of the houses and breaking into the homes?

On Thursday, October 17, the principal of the small school in Khirbet Yanun bade farewell to his last students. The next day, the last six families left town. Two days later, the Ta'ayush volunteers arrived in order to enable residents to return to their village. Most of the residents are still there.

Danger signal:

Khirbet Yanun sends a danger signal that should not be disregarded: Tens of thousands of people are liable to become displaced persons and refugees. In addition, Israeli "security sources" repeatedly leak reports that in time of war or escalation of the conflict, the Sharon government may try to displace many others, on an organized basis. The pain of displacement will not be soothed by time. For years to come, Israeli society will have to contend with the violent cost of this displacement, which is added to previous rounds of it.

Yanun is a warning sign not only to Israelis but also to Palestinians. The danger of transfer is tangible. In order to eliminate it, there is a need for serious work in the field and a strengthening of the local economy. First and foremost, there should be a focus on rejuvenating the social fabric and strengthening the internal solidarity within Palestinian society. Without these, a new wave of refugees is liable to be added to the old camps or join existing urban centers.

The foundation that is required for tsumud (the stubborn clinging to the land, the determination to hold on in spite of the occupation) will not be found in symbolic actions, in focusing on international public opinion at the expense of dealing with the distress at home, or in armed demonstrations of power. In order to contend with the creeping process of transfer, Palestinian society must enlist its human resources in order to struggle over every meter of land and every goat. Will this effort find loyal Israeli allies in the civil struggle against dispossession?

Ta'ayush volunteers came to Khirbet Yanun for two weeks to fend for the residents, to facilitate their return home and to roust public opinion out of its state of apathy. Fifteen families have returned to their homes, albeit hesitantly and fearfully, and their return is not complete.

During our stay here, the army has been compelled to demonstrate its presence. But past experience teaches the residents that despite their calls for help, the maltreatment will not end. During our stay
here, the Itamar settlers succeeded in swooping down on the village and severely beating two residents and four volunteers. None of the rioters was arrested. A sign of things to come.

Our presence in Khirbet Yanun was temporary. It is impossible and it is wrong for the presence of Israeli citizens to be the only guarantee to ensure the continued existence of a Palestinian village. Unless people in Israel stand up to the injustice and support the people of the village, they will remain at the mercy of the settlers. When will the next attack come? Will it be after the residents leave? Will they blow up the houses of the village? Or move into the houses? And where will they stop?

The sights from three weeks ago remain with us. On the moonlit night when we arrived in Yanun, we walked through the abandoned Arab village. The residents had time to prepare themselves, to take their
belongings, gather light fixtures and pull out the electrical wiring. There wasn't even the sound of a single dog barking in the village.Still, wherever you turn, you see open homes, broken-down doors, yawning black voids. And on the surrounding hillsides, the watchtowers of the settlers of Itamar. More or less, this is how the Palestinian villages looked after 1948. Fifty-odd years later, we are here again, Israelis and Palestinians, captives of a history whose bitter lessons we have forgotten.

Gideon Levy, Ha'aretz 9.09.02

Israel has decided to tackle its "demographic problem" head-on. Last week, after a five-year hiatus, Shlomo Benizri, the minister of labor and social affairs, convened the Israel Council for Demography. There were two items on the agenda, reports said - the need to encourage families to have more children, and the problem of foreign workers in Israel.

On the face of it, this is just another committee. But the reconvening of this particular body, and the total indifference with which the event was greeted, is cause for serious concern. In the present public mood in which outbursts of racism are considered politically correct, Benizri's move - as a representative of the increasingly nationalist ultra-Orthodox Shas party - is no surprise. Nevertheless, one can only express astonishment at the people who have agreed to sit on a committee that evokes appalling historical connotations.

First, there is the makeup of the committee - its 37 members include public figures, lawyers, scientists and physicians. No fewer than three leading gynecologists are on the panel - Prof. Shlomo Mashiach,
the president of the association of obstetricians and gynecologists, Prof. Yosef Shenkar, Dr. Hanna Katan, and an immunologist, a microbiologist and a physician who specializes in medical ethics.

There are also representatives of the women's organization Na'amat, and the Women's Lobby. For what purpose did gynecologists and women's representatives convene? To encourage a higher birthrate in Israel? Not at all. They convened to encourage the Jewish women of Israel - and only them - to increase their child bearing, a project which, if we judge from the activity of the previous council, will also attempt to stop abortions. Does this remind you of anything?

And how will the gynecologists contribute to this endeavor? Will they make do with proposing methods to increase the Jewish fertility rate and prevent abortions, or will they also suggest techniques to
encourage abortions and reduce the birthrate among Arab women? And what about non-Jewish women from the former Soviet Union?

As blunt as these questions may sound, they will in fact be at the center of the committee's discussions, even if they are swaddled in various bizarre disguises. After all, getting into the bedrooms of the country's citizens, and the use of scientists, physicians and women's organizations to mobiliz the wombs of women for national purposes, are elements of control reserved for totalitarian regimes. True, David Ben-Gurion also campaigned for a higher birth rate, but he didn't do it by means of gynecologists and a war on abortions.

However, even if the committee should decide not to enter into questions of birth rate, we should recognize that the "demographic problem," if it is in fact a problem, will not be solved by a committee or by any other methods dictated by government. There is no reason to suspect Benizri of desiring the end of the occupation - which is the only democratic solution to preserve Israel's Jewish character that will work - since he and his party have recently expressed vigorous support for the settlements.

Therefore, the only solution remaining for anyone who is so upset by the demographic problem is population transfers. First we expel the foreign workers, then we move the Arabs.

In the early 1970s, the Gafni Commission, an interministerial body with task of "examining the rate of development in Jerusalem," was established. Its recommendations, which were submitted in August
1973, stated: "The ratio of Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem must be preserved" - the ratio at the time was 73.5 percent Jews and 26.5 percent Arabs. Since then, Israeli governments have invested great
efforts to implement that recommendation - innumerable new neighborhoods have been built for Jews only, while the lives of the city's Palestinian residents are turned into a living hell. They are stripped of residency rights, their homes are demolished, they are denied construction permits, they receive meager services and master plans for their part of the city are not approved. The aim of all this is to push them out of the city and maintain the sacred balance. The result? Twenty-nine years after the Gafni Commission turned in its report, the Palestinian minority in Jerusalem has increased to 32.5 percent. The conclusion? Either a population transfer or the end of the occupation in Jerusalem. No commission is needed to conclude that. Israel is a binational, multicultural state, and it is high time we
recognized that fact.

The only way to cope with it is to become a society that is more just. The only legitimate way to preserve the Jewish majority, for those to whom that goal is of overriding importance, is to end the occupation and perhaps also step up immigration. Defining the Arab citizens of Israel as a "demographic problem" raises harsh memories and sends them a highly offensive message.

What are they supposed to feel when the government, which is also their government, convenes a committee that has the aim of reducing their share of the population, as though they were a cancer whose growth must be stopped.

Since the rate of natural increase among the country's Arabs is higher than among the Jews, what's needed is not a commission of gynecologists but a different policy, which will turn the Arabs into
citizens capable of identifying with their country.

The Arabs in Israel will be neither a "problem" nor a "demographic demon" if the attitude toward them is fair and egalitarian. This is a country in which the streets are plastered with posters calling for a
population transfer and no one bothers to remove them or to indict those who put them up. (It is not difficult therefore to guess what would happen if posters were put up calling for the expulsion of the
Jews). A commission on demography is just another bad omen.

Jennifer Loewenstein

Occupied Palestine. "Welcome to the Erez Crossing".
The sign on the way out of Gaza really says this. Yes.

Greetings. Welcome to a half a mile of concrete barriers and barbed wire. Welcome to electrical wires and fortified soldiers' bunkers. Take no notice of the machine guns pointed at your head. Follow the arrows and obey the signs. Put your hands up, leave your bags behind you, walk slowly, show us your passport, tell us what the hell you think you're doing in this human garbage dump. No, you can't be trusted. You're living in Gaza.

Welcome to the Erez Crossing. Make yourself at home.

A young, blue-eyed soldier with a crew cut and a machine gun watches me enter the main office at Erez. I say a meek "shalom"; I don't want to get into a conversation. But he wants to know where I'm from and what's my name. His eyes pierce mine and he grins in an unpleasant manner. He looks like the stereotype of a Nazi soldier, I catch myself thinking. Don't. Don't have that thought. It's not allowed. Outside, another hundred meters away, is the last guard post. I pass by it easily, handing over my gate pass, and feel relieved to see that my taxi is waiting for me. But in between me and my last few steps at this God-forsaken transit point is a family of four, a mother, father, and two young children -sitting on the pavement in the sun, the 100-degree-Fahrenheit, humid Gaza sun-waiting for the master boys in uniform to deign to let them back into prison. How many hours have they been kept there in the withering heat? The soldier at the gate shouts for the father to approach in the tone of voice used for disobedient dogs. I feel sick "I'm so sorry. I know my country is paying for this." They're the only words I can find and I utter them in broken Arabic. The father looks at me surprised. "Never mind. It's not your fault."

Worthless lives can sit for hours at the gates of an inferno. No one will ever know. And the man who waited at Ben Gurion airport for ten hours to get permission to return to his Gaza hovel was finally allowed in -without his wife and daughter, who were threatened with deportation for no apparent reason.
You never heard about him either or the hundreds with similar stories. Or about the woman sitting in the back seat of a taxi with her child one early morning this past June: Soldiers in a nearby outpost fired bullets through the window of their car killing them both. They have no names, no faces, no relevance.

More than 150 people have been murdered by the Israeli Occupation Forces in the Gaza Strip just since the middle of March. Three made news in the US. The New York Times labeled them "suicide bombers" though they had no explosives on their bodies. They were 14 and 15 year old boys stupidly driven to
trespass into the Netzarim settlement, illegally situated on their land. They were shot in the head and chest, ridden over by an armored vehicle that disemboweled and utterly disfigured them, and left to the mercy of dogs until the next afternoon.

Do you remember them?

Are we really surprised that an F16 warplane would drop a 2000-pound bomb on a family home at midnight killing 15 people, nine of them children and two of them mothers? Where has the outcry been up to now that over a million human beings -treated like refuse, spoken of like vermin, drained of the
trappings of basic dignity- live in a ghetto walled off from humanity surrounded and strangulated by an occupying army that kills them at will and with complete impunity? Why should fifteen more deaths matter when the hundreds of others never did? Because this time the killers were so purposefully indiscreet.

When I step into my taxi for the weekend trip to Ramallah my Arab Israeli driver greets me tentatively at first. I thank him for being at Erez so promptly; for not making have to wait in that miserable place. Anguish fills me when I turn back to look at the entrance to Gaza. Let me try to forget for a while. "Where are you from," I ask the driver in Arabic, in an attempt to focus my thoughts elsewhere. "I am Palestinian," he answers me in a voice of controlled calm.

Erez, it seems all your greetings have failed.

Article downloaded on 28th July 2002 from:

Boycott of all Israeli Art Institutions

We appeal to all artists of good conscience around the world to cancel all exhibitions and other cultural events that are scheduled to occur in Israel, to mobilize immediately and not allow the continuation of the Israeli offensive to breed complacency. Like the boycott of South African art institutions during apartheid, and the boycott of Austrian art institutions when Haider was elected, the art world must speak out against the current Israeli war crimes and atrocities.

We reach out our hand in support of all Israeli artists who are active against the occupation. We support them and their work. It is especially important at this time to extend all our support to those brave Israeli artists who are against the current Israeli offensive and are speaking out against their own government.*

We, members of the international art community are calling on Israel for a complete withdrawal back to the 1967 borders as well as a dismantlement of all West Bank settlements. We will boycott all Israeli art institutions and cultural events until that time.

We appeal for an end of the current military offensive in which Apache helicopter gunships, tanks,
F-16s, M-16s, and anti-aircraft missiles are terrorizing an entire civilian population who were already living under the hardships of occupation.

We urgently appeal for food and drinking water, and for the general access of all humanitarian agencies. The situation is on the verge of a humanitarian disaster.

We appeal for the safety of all individuals.

We appeal for medical supplies and access to medical treatment, electricity, water, phone lines and other necessary facilities.

We appeal for freedom of movement within all cities and outside all Palestinian cities. Before the current military offensive, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza were denied freedom of movement due to over 300 Israeli checkpoints. It is unforgivable that in the 21st century, people are killed just trying to get to work, deliver babies, or visit a relative in a neighboring village...

We appeal for the immediate end to vandalism, looting, humiliation, and gratuitous violence and destruction.

We appeal for access of humanitarian agencies, including the ICRC, Red Cross, and the Red Crescent to all detainees, prisoners and hostages, including Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, to ensure their well-being.

Emily Jacir, Anton Sinkewich, Oz Shelach
7th April 2002

*Following a comment that naming 5 Israeli artists active against the occupation risks acting as a reverse "blacklist", we removed those names from the appeal. We nominate no one to compile lists of politically good or bad artists.

To endorse the above appeal send an email to the address below. Please include your full name, field of activity/institutional affiliation, and city:

The list of signers is kept online at:

In Support for Boycotting Israel
Yehudit Harel - A letter sent to an export company in Texas

Dear Mr. Harris,

I am an Israeli citizen living in Israel and struggling against the oppressive steps my Government is engaged in against the Palestinian People's legitimate struggle for Liberation and Independence.

I heard about your courageous step to refrain from selling goods to an Israeli customer and I wish to support your decision. It's not at all easy for me to do so, as I am an Israeli citizen, Israel is my
home and my country and I wish I didn't have to do so. However, I am compelled to act in this extreme way so as to express not only my total indignation and resentment of my Government's policies and the crimes committed against the Palestinians, but also as a result of a deep frustration and desperation.

I am afraid that we, Israeli Peace activists have exhausted our means for an effective internal struggle against our Government and it seems to me that the legitimate civil struggle inside the Israeli Society is leading us nowhere. The prevailing state of extreme imbalance of power in every respect, both political, military and public relations wise is making our situation even more hopeless. The weak and the oppressed - i.e. the Palestinian side - is successfully being portrayed in the local and international arena as a "Terrorist" entity - while the usurper, the occupier and the aggressive oppressor - i.e. Israel - manages to get the World's and mainly US's sympathy, military and political backing to carry out it's unjust and cruel policy towards the victims.

The Israeli public opinion is biased against the Palestinians as a result of many years of propaganda and brainwashing, and more recently also due to unacceptable means used by the Palestinian
resistance, such as targeting of innocent civilians by suicide bombers. The much these acts are repelling and immoral - they should not avert one's mind from their root causes which are the 54 years old oppression and total dispossession of all their rights, their land, their identity, their human dignity, their continuous humiliation in various forms of abuse and degradation. In addition to all this - in this recent Intifada, Israel applied extreme military power such as targeting populated areas with Apaches and F16's, using extra-judiciary executions, imposing hermetic closure on large civil populations, causing starvation and prevention of medical aid and food supply to hundreds of thousands of innocent people. These are the root causes that drive some Palestinians to such depths of utter despair, frustration, anger and revenge that eventually trigger the suicide bombings.

Israel under Sharon, backed by the US administration is not at all in the direction of revoking its oppressive policies. On the contrary - I am afraid that Mr. Sharon has not yet finished his scheme to
effectively annihilate the Palestinian Authority and render the establishment of a free and viable Palestinian state impossible. Sharon is now waiting for the right opportunity to continue the assault.

Therefore - the only way to change this dangerous tide is by exerting effective external pressure on Israel. As American and UN pressure seem unlikely - what remains is the mobilization of the International Civil society of which the economic community is an important component. Therefore I wish once again to congratulate you and strengthen your decision to boycott Israel. Please do not give in to the Jewish Lobby's pressure and remember that what you are doing is also for my benefit as an Israeli, and for my children's benefit and their future. We Israelis and Palestinians want to live here in Peace, so it is us whom you have to listen to and not to the corrupt American Jewish Holocaust mercenaries.