The Supremes

The Supremes

In a scene of the original stage musical Hair, three black women in identical pink sequined dresses stood together and sang “White boys are so pretty” as a parody of the Supremes (the song was too controversial to be in the film version). At the end of the song they stepped apart to reveal they were in one large dress with three neck holes.

Listen up, Texans. It’s time to take a stand.

This state’s election of smug, pseudo-conservative (read: “selfish”), old, (presumably) straight white men to all of the statewide offices is no reason to shirk our duty.

Everyone knows the Texas voter ID law is un-Constitutional. A court said so. And then Antonin Scalia and his old Catholic men friends on the Supreme Court essentially said, “So what?”

On October 9, 2014, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos held that

. . . [Texas] S.B. 14 creates an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, has an impermissible discriminatory effect against Hispanics and African-Americans, and was imposed with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose. . . . The Court further holds that SB 14 constitutes an unconstitutional poll tax.

On October 19, the Supremes—dancing in their one-dress-fits-five à la Hair—struck down her ruling. Every time the five old Catholic men on the Supreme Court hand down one of their rulings without benefit of female or Protestant points of view, that image from Hair comes to my mind, the five of them in one sequined dress singing, “White boys are delicious.”

OK. I know that’s disrespectful. And don’t say I’m being anti-Catholic or something. I’m simply amazed that the Supreme Court has a 6-3 majority (all of the men and one of the women) representing one segment (and not the majority) of our population.

Of course, a ruling by a Hispanic woman judge could not stand. Especially one appointed by President Obama.

supremes reduxI’m not a Constitutional scholar and can’t explain details of the universal right to vote of Americans. Please go to this article for details (Douglas, Joshua A. “The Right to Vote Under State Constitutions.” Vanderbilt Law Review 67.1 [2014]: 89-149). The discussion of Federal Constitutional rights is pages 95-101. The rest of the article explains the rights guaranteed under the various state constitutions.

Don’t be put off if you have never read a law review article. It’s clear and easy to read—and you’ll be surprised how knowledgeable you’ll feel when you’ve finished. Read only the five pages I’ve suggested, and you will know all you need to know.

Those of us who care about the Constitution and our rights guaranteed under it can and MUST make our voices heard.
In Texas that’s easy: When you go to vote and the election clerks ask you for more ID than is necessary, show your IDs, but tell them you want to file a protest. They will give you a form (if they don’t have one, that’s cause for another protest).

Public announcement, Mineola, Texas, 1939

Public announcement, Mineola, Texas, 1939

In my protest I said that being asked for more personal information than is necessary is a violation of my right to vote under the Federal Constitution, detailed in the 15th Amendment and made universal in the 14th Amendment.

Fill it out. Give it to them or take it home and mail it.

Spread the word. Let the state know through this legal protest what you think of the law.

My friend Rita Clark of Dallas, who was an election clerk at a polling place in the last election (the first to use the draconian law) sent me this email detailing the effect of the Jim Crow law. Notice particularly the last paragraph.

Harold – You are so right! I worked as an election clerk in the last election and I was so distressed by what I saw happen to authentically registered voters that I decided I’d never take that job again. At least (I didn’t make a precise count) 12 to 15 voters were sent away from our polling place due to some perceived discrepancy in their voting registration or other ridiculous “error.” Of that number, at least four of them were elderly, had problems walking, but somehow, on walkers, made their way to the front desk only to be told they could not vote that day – some said they had been registered at the same address for 50 years – some were just too distressed by the whole ordeal that they left promising never to try again.
I’ve been working on a couple of campaigns this year and when I encounter people out in the neighborhoods they often say they won’t be voting because of the “hassle” or (I suspect) because they “don’t look American.” I am so disappointed in our “democracy.” I’ll continue working on the campaigns this time but I don’t know if I can do it again.
I voted yesterday – and Yep! they had to call downtown to clear me – didn’t like my registration info – I’ve never had it happen before. I really don’t know how we got in such a deep hole with this. I think we’ll hear more stories as the election goes along. The heroes of this story are the people with “foreign-sounding” last names and those who have a certain look—and they still go to vote! God bless those brave folks!
Thanks for sending your suggestion. I’m going to see if I can file a protest today.
Rita Clarke

You can join the group I’ve started on Facebook. But whatever you do. . .
PLEASE ASK YOUR FRIENDS TO FILE PROTESTS WHEN THEY VOTE!

Posted by: Harold Knight | 09/10/2014

World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel

"Feed My Sheep" Church of the Primacy of St. Peter, Sea of Galilee (taken on a tour led by Ann Hafften, 2008)

“Feed My Sheep”
Church of the Primacy of St. Peter, Sea of Galilee (taken on a tour led by Ann Hafften, 2008)

FROM ANN HAFFTEN’S BLOG

World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel 2014

Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum

Inauguration of Civil Administration in Palestine, 1920

Inauguration of Civil Administration in Palestine, 1920

According to Benjamin Netanyahu,
TERRORISM IS THE DELIBERATE AND SYSTEMATIC MURDER, MAIMING, AND MENACING OF THE INNOCENT TO INSPIRE FEAR FOR POLITICAL ENDS.

(Benjamin Netanyahu. Terrorism: How the West Can Win. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1986, page 9.)

Of Netanyahu’s definition, Joel Beinin (Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History and Professor of Middle East History at Stanford University) says,

While this definition begs the questions of who is innocent and what constitutes innocence in conflictual situations, it is provisionally serviceable if applied to both states and nonstate actors, which Netanyahu does not do. This condition offers the only possibility of rescuing the term terrorism from its predominantly propagandistic usage in current political discourse.

(Beinin, Joel. “Is Terrorism a Useful Term in Understanding the Middle East and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict?” Radical History Review 85 [2003]: 12. Academic Search Complete. Web.) NOTE: I have copied the Wikipedia biographical material of Joel Beinin at the end of this post.

Beinin closes his essay with these observations:

Can the term terrorism be rescued from its imbrication in such a web of propaganda? Is it worth doing so? While I am not absolutely opposed to using the term, it does not seem very useful in furthering understanding of the events discussed here.

The Bush administration’s adoption of Ariel Sharon’s specious argument that Yasir Arafat and Osama bin Laden are equivalents demonstrates how easily the term can be

Ariel Sharon at Temple Mount Mosque in Jerusalem inciting the Second Intifada, Sept. 28, 2000

Ariel Sharon at Temple Mount Mosque in Jerusalem inciting the Second Intifada, Sept. 28, 2000

abused to obscure the disparate histories of events that appear superficially similar. Palestinian extremists have indeed carried out horrific attacks on Israeli civilians. But that is the only similarity between the Palestinian intifada that has been going on since September 2000 and al-Qaeda’s attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001.

The principal issue in Israel and Palestine is not terrorism in the abstract, but the struggle of the Palestinian people against Israeli occupation and Israel’s refusal to permit the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state. Sharon, with his record of war crimes and atrocities stretching back to 1953, visited the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on September 28 “to show the Temple Mount is ours”— a provocation echoing the Betar demonstration near the same spot in 1929. Sharon’s visit and the Israeli security forces’ firing on Palestinian stone-throwers and other protestors the next day, killing four and wounding two hundred, sparked the Palestinian uprising, which has continued since.

Attacking civilians in any conflict is morally indefensible and politically counterproductive, but the case of settler colonialism proves more complex than most. Settlers typically claim that they only desire to live in peace. Colonial settlement involves the dispossession and disenfranchisement of indigenous populations, even when it does not entail direct violence. Hence attacks on civilians are a common feature of struggles against settler colonialism— in North America, Northern Ireland, Algeria, Kenya, and even South Africa. Ben-Gurion did not think that the acts of those he considered “Jewish Nazis” invalidated the political claims of Zionism. The reprehensible attacks on civilians by Palestinian extremists should not annul the national rights of the Palestinian people.
__________
Joel Beinin was raised as a Zionist in an American Jewish family. On graduating from high school, he spent six months working on a kibbutz, where he met his future wife. He studied Arabic at university, and received his B.A. from Princeton University in 1970. He spent the summer of 1969 studying Arabic at the American University in Cairo. Intending to move to Israel permanently, he joined other members of Hashomer Hatzair in living and working at Kibbutz Lahav. There, on encountering attitudes that struck him as being contemptuous of Palestinians, he gradually became disenchanted with his early ideals. He returned to the United States in 1973, and took his M.A. from Harvard University in 1974, and, after working in auto plants in Detroit, obtained his A.M.L.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1978 and 1982, respectively. He has also studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Posted by: Harold Knight | 08/14/2014

ADDRESSES TO MAKE DONATIONS FOR GAZA RELIEF

hamas-gaza-iaf-operation-protective-edge-bomb-airstrike-From The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) 

100,000 people now homeless in Gaza

On 17 July, UNRWA launched a Flash Appeal for US$60 million to respond to the immediate needs of those affected by the ongoing emergency in the Gaza Strip. However, the dramatic escalation of the Israeli ground offensive in recent days has resulted in a massive increase in displaced persons with many seeking safety in UNRWA Designated Emergency Shelters (DES), and in significant further damage to homes and other civilian infrastructure. As of 21 July, the number of people taking refuge at the DES’s has exceeded 100,000 people. This number continues to increase by the hour. In response to escalating humanitarian needs, UNRWA has revised its emergency response and expanded it to meet the greater scope of immediate and medium-term needs resulting from the intensified population displacement and infrastructure destruction. UNRWA has thus revisited the requirements presented in the Flash Appeal, and urgently seeks US$ 55 million in addition to the original $60 million.
TO RESPOND:
https://unrwausa.org/gazaemergency?srctid=1&erid=1273976&trid=31d1e76f-8936-4f5c-9f5c-e90642164a2a

UNWRA Gaza Situation Report #37–August 13, 2014:
http://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/emergency-reports/gaza-situation-report-37
____________________
KINDERUSA
KinderUSA is the leading American Muslim organization focused on the health and well-being of Palestinian children.
DONATE FOR GAZA RELIEF:
http://kinderusa.org/
____________________
LUTHERAN WORLD FEDERATION
Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem Needs Urgent Financial Assistance
Call for critical financial support for Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem to avoid interruption of essential health care.

For contacting government officials, See:
http://www.elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/PeaceNotWalls/220#sthash.6V3wRJtW.dpuf
TO DONATE FOR EMERGENCY RELIEF:
http://www.avh.org/missionsupport/missionsupport.html
____________________
ISLAMIC RELIEF WORLDWIDE
Islamic Relief is an independent humanitarian and development organisation with a presence in over 40 countries around the globe. We have been fighting poverty and injustice for 30 years, in a world in which over three billion people still live in poverty. -
See more at: http://www.islamic-relief.org/about-us/#sthash.awcHtENZ.dpuf

TO DONATE:
http://www.islamic-relief.org/
____________________
EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF TEXASAl Ahli hospital
Gaza’s Al Ahli Hospital appeals for urgent help
http://www.epicenter.org/article/gazas-al-ahli-hospital-appeals-for-urgent-help/
TO DONATE:
http://www.j-diocese.org/resources/file/news/Al%20Ahli%20Gaza%20Appeal%20July%202014.pdf
____________________
WORLD VISION  is the world’s largest international children’s charity.
Disasters Emergency Committee appeal raises more than £7m for Gaza
Tuesday 12, Aug, 2014
TO DONATE:
http://www.worldvision.org.uk/news-and-views/latest-news/2014/august/disasters-emergency-committee-appeal-raises-more-7m-gaza/

 
Ruins of the Monastery of Toling, Tibet, destroyed by China, c. 1951

Ruins of the Monastery of Toling, Tibet, destroyed by China, c. 1951

Printed below is a section of the article

“Tibet Through Chinese Eyes,” by Peter Hessler from The Atlantic, February 1, 1999.

The sub-title for the article is:
“Many Chinese working in Tibet regard themselves as idealistic missionaries of progress, rejecting the Western idea of them as agents of cultural imperialism. In truth, they are inescapably both.”

I came upon the article by accident looking for something unrelated. I thought I would find a discussion of Tibet that I would agree with and find interesting–after all, this is The Atlantic. Imagine my surprise to discover an article that essentially attempts to justify the Chinese annexation of Tibet by interviewing native Chinese who have moved to Tibet to settle and overtake Tibetan culture with Chinese.

In the section of the article below, I have changed almost nothing except the names of the two peoples. I leave it to you to decide if anyone who has a “Free Tibet” bumper sticker on their car or who agrees with such a sentiment should have one idea or another about the writing below.

If you think I’m making this up, you can read the original at http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1999/02/tibet-through-chinese-eyes/306395/>
__________________

Political views on Gaza tend to be as unambiguous as the hard blue dome of sky that stretches above its coastline. In Palestinian opinion, the “Gaza question” is settled: Gaza should not be part of Israel; before being forcibly annexed in 1967, it was an independent country. The Israelis are cruel occupiers who are seeking to destroy the traditional culture of Palestine. The Palestinians should be allowed to return and resume their lives either as an independent or at least a culturally autonomous Gaza. In short, in Palestinian eyes there is only one answer to the Gaza question: Free Gaza.

Of all the pieces that compose the Palestinian question, this is by far the most explosive: Hamas has targeted Israeli settlements as the greatest threat to Palestinian culture, and the sensitivity of the issue is evident in some statistics . . . Palestinians see the influx of Israeli settlements as yet another attempt to destroy their culture. . .
Regardless of the accuracy of the official Israeli view, many of the sttlers clearly see their role in terms of service. They are perhaps the most important historical actors in terms of the Palestinian question, and yet they are also the most-often overlooked. Why did they come to West Bank and Gaza? What do they think of the place, how are they changing it, and what do they see as their role?

. . . “But I also wanted to come help build the country. You know that all of the settlers in this district are Israeli citizens, and if you’re an Israeli, you should be willing to go to a settlement to live. So you could say that all of us had patriotic reasons for coming—perhaps that’s the biggest reason. But I also came because it was a good opportunity housing is cheaper than in the interior of Israel” (because it is subsidized by the government). . .

The Dream of Eretz Israel

From the Israeli perspective, Gaza has always been a part of Israel. This is, of course, a simplistic and inaccurate view, but Israeli history is so muddled that one can see in it what one wishes. The Israelis can ignore some periods and point to others; they can . . . explain that from 1917 to 1948 there were British imperial administrators, headquartered in Jaffa. In fact the authority of this mandate steadily decreased over time, and Palestine enjoyed de facto independence . . . An unbiased arbiter would find Palestinian arguments for independence more compelling than the Israeli version of history. . .

Most important, Israel’s reasons for wanting Gaza changed greatly over the years. For the Israelis after 1967, Gaza was important strictly as a buffer state. . . they wanted to ensure that the region remained peaceful, but they made relatively few administrative changes, and there was no effort to force the Gazans out. In reality, Gaza was a part of Israel but at the same time it was something different. The Palestinians. . . were allowed to maintain authority over most internal affairs.

As Israel struggled to overcome the [supposed desire of Arab nations to destroy it] Gaza became important for new reasons of Zionism. Religious and political leaders believed that Israel’s historical right to Gaza had been infringed by Arab powers, particularly Egypt and Syria, which invaded in 1967. . . and Gaza figured into the Israel’s pre-eminent task: the reunification of the motherland.

Gaza thus changed a central piece in Israel’s vision of itself as independent and free from Muslim and Christian influence. . . a longtime observer of Israel says that even today this perception is held by most Israelis. “I don’t think there’s any more sensitive issue with the possible exception of Jerusalem, because it grows out of the dream of a unified motherland—a dream that historically speaking has been the goal of almost every Israeli leader. This issue touches on sovereignty, it touches on the unity of Eretz Israel, and especially it touches on the issue of the Muslims as predator, the violator of Israeli sovereignty.”

The irony is that Israel, like an abused child who grows up to revisit his suffering on the next generation, has committed similar sins in Gaza: the overthrow of the culture and the violent redistribution of land, the mayhem of Political Zionism, and the restriction of intellectual and religious freedom that continues to this day. And as in any form of imperialism, much of the damage has been done in the name of duty (God?).

Gaza mosque destroyed by Israel one week ago

Gaza mosque destroyed by Israel one week ago

________________
The question remains, can Americans logically be aghast at the destruction of Tibetan culture by China and, at the same time, believe Israel’s destruction of Gaza is somehow justified?

Non-violent demonstration, Bethlehem

Non-violent demonstration, Bethlehem

With even a modest ability to consider objectively the barrage of “information” overwhelming us hour by hour by hour by minute, one can see that any media—any format—presenting information about the current attempt of Israel to obliterate Palestinian Gaza assumes a priori that Israel’s actions are justified.

The common—no the absolute overwhelming majority—wisdom is that “Israel has the right to protect itself.”

This is a “truth” so often repeated that it sounds as if it came from, Oh, I don’t know, perhaps the Holy Bible. Or the United States Constitution. Or the United Nations Charter. Or the Bhagavad Gita. Or the Qur’an. Or Shakespeare. Or SNL. It is simple truth, not to be questioned. It is as universal belief as the science of economics.

Belief in Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” is no less pervasive than that “Israel has a right to protect itself.”

Hardly anyone (at least hardly anyone in public) thinks about whether or not the proposition is true. And almost no one wants to hear any information that might contradict the received wisdom.

The wisdom began to be received, I would guess, during and immediately after the 1967 War between Israel and its Arab neighbors. I have, in fact, read about the process whereby the Israeli Cabinet decided to use Madison Avenue tactics to begin to persuade the American people that the belief, “Israel has a right to defend itself,” is simply true, is simply to be accepted without thought. I will plow through the stuff I have and find that article (or reread the book, whatever it takes).

Until then, trust me. OK, don’t trust me. There’s no reason for you to do so until I have located the evidence that I am correct.

So in lieu of trusting me, trust yourself. Ask yourself why the massive destruction of cities, the horrifying murder of civilians Israel is perpetrating right now is in any way an expression of the “right to self-defense.”

Do you think Russia’s annexation of Crimea was an act of self-defense?
Do you think Saddam Hussein’s annexation of Kuwait in 1990 was an act of self-defense?
Was the genocide of the Tutsi by the Hutus of Rwanda in 1994 an act of self-defense?
Which side in the Bosnian war of the 1990s, the Serbs or the Croats was exercising its right of self-defense?

Think. Simply think about it.

Defense against a child.

Defense against a child.

My guess is that anyone who might be reading this can quote the last sentence of

Perhaps someone might say, “Socrates, can you not go away from us and live quietly, without talking?” Now this is the hardest thing to make some of you believe. For if I say that such conduct would be disobedience to the god and that therefore I cannot keep quiet, you will think I am jesting and will not believe me; and if again I say that to talk every day about virtue and the other things about which you hear me talking and examining myself and others is the greatest good to man, and that the unexamined life is not worth living, you will believe me still less. Socrates speaking in Plato’s Apology [37 (e) to 38 (a)].

The unexamined life is not worth living.

“As I’ve said repeatedly, Israel has a right to defend itself from rocket attacks that terrorize the Israeli people,” [President] Obama said.

What on earth does that phrase mean—and what are its implications? Its implications are that Israel has a right to continue the ethnic cleansing of all “Arabs” (read “Palestinians”) from the territory Israel claims as its own—the ethnic cleansing that began during the war that led up to the declaration of the founding of Israel in 1948.
The constant repetition of an idea for decades does not make it true.

Ad populum: This is an emotional appeal that speaks to positive (such as patriotism, religion, democracy) or negative (such as terrorism or fascism) concepts rather than the real issue at hand.

Much writing is available to anyone who wants to think about the “received wisdom” that “Israel has a right to defend itself.” One might—after reading any or all of such writing—decide that the proposition is correct.

The question remains, however, where did the idea originate, and why was it first stated? Is it, in fact, the “truth,” or is it an Ad populum logical fallacy used to justify aggression and the subjugation of one people by another?

I said above there is much writing available. My project over the next few weeks is to gather a bibliography of such material and publish it here as a resource for anyone who believes that

talking and examining myself and others is the greatest good to man, and that the unexamined life is not worth living

includes questioning our received beliefs about atrocity.

The first installment of the bibliography is below Auden’s explanation of tyrannical speech. All of the entries are from my personal library both of books and of academic articles. As time goes on, I will annotate the list and add more. You are welcome to plagiarize anything I have written here or that I eventually add to the bibliography.

Oh, one other note: Do not accuse me of being one-sided or biased. If you want “fair and balanced,” all you need to do is turn on the TV, read a newspaper, or follow any of the links on your Yahoo home page or in you friends’ Facebook pages.

“Epitaph on a Tyrant,” by W. H. Auden (1907 – 1973)

Going home from work.

Going home from work.

Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after,
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.

__________________
Abbasi, Mustafa. “Nazareth In The War For Palestine: The Arab City That Survived The 1948 Nakba.” Holy Land Studies: A Multidisciplinary Journal (Edinburgh University Press) 9.2 (2010): 185-207.

Ashrawi, Hanan. This Side of Peace: A Personal Account. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995.

Confino, Alon. “Miracles and Snow in Palestine and Israel: Tantura, A History of 1948.” Israel Studies 17.2 (2012): 25-61.

Darwish, Mahmoud. Unfortunately, It Was Paradise. Selected Poems. Translated and edited by Munir Akash and Carolyn Forché. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.

Esber, Rosemarie M. Under the Cover of War: The Zionist Expulsion of the Palestinians. Alexandria, VA: Arabicus Books and Media, 2008.

Hass, Amira. Drinking the Sea at Gaza: Days and Nights in a Land under Siege. Trans. Elena Wesley and Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1999.

Khalidi, Rashid. The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood. Boston: Beacon Press, 2006.

Khalidi, Rashid. Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East. Boston: Beacon Press, 2014.

Khoury, Elias. “Rethinking the Nakba.” Critical Inquiry 38.2 (Winter 2012). Web. JSTOR.

Khoury, Samia Nasir. Reflections from Palestine: A Journey of Hope (personal memoir). Nicosia, Cyprus. Rimal Publications, 2014.

Kritzeck, James, Ed. Anthology of Islamic Literature: From the Rise of Islam to Modern Times. New York: New American Library, 1964.

Lutz, Charles P. and Robert O. Smith. Christians in a Land Called Holy. Minneapolis: Augsburg Press, 2006.

Manna, Adel. “The Palestinian Nakba and Its Continuous Repercussions.” Israel Studies 18.2 (2013): 86-99.

Mearsheimer, John J. and Stephen M. Walt. The Israeli Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2007.

Narwani, Sharmine. “Excuse Me, But Israel Has No Right to Exist.” Al Akhbar English. Thu, 2012-05-17 21:46. Web.

Nasrallah, Rami. “The Road To Partition.” Palestine-Israel Journal Of Politics, Economics & Culture 9.4 (2002): 58.

Pappe, Ilan. The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Oxford: OneWorld, 2006.

Said, Edward W. From Oslo to Iraq and the Road Map. New York: Pantheon Books, 2004.

Said, Edward W. “Permission to Narrate.” London Review of Books 6.3 (16 February 1984), 13-17.

Saint Joseph School for Girls, Bethlehem. Your Stories Are My Stories: A Palestinian Oral History Project. Ramallah: Arab Educational Institute, Culture and Palestine Series, 2001.

Saalakhan, Mauri. The Palestinian Holocaust. American Perspectives, Vol. 1. Silver Spring, MD: Awakening Publishing Group, 2008.

Santos, Madalena. “Relations of Ruling in The Colonial Present: An Intersectional View of the Israeli Imaginary.” Canadian Journal of Sociology 38.4 (2013): 509-532.

Shehadeh, Raja. When the Bulbul Stopped Singing: A Diary of Ramallah under Siege. London: Profile Books, 2003.

Shlaim, Avi. The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World. New York: W.W. Norton, 2000.

van Oord, Lodewijk. “Face-Lifting Palestine: Early Western Accounts of the Palestinian Refugee Problem.” History & Anthropology 22.1 (2011): 19-35.

Younan, Munib. Witnessing for Peace in Jerusalem and the World. Minneapolis: Augsburg Press, 2003.

 

The beginning of Nakba.

The beginning of Nakba.

Imagine, if you can, a history of the United States that leaves out the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, “taxation without representation,” the siege of New York, the British “prison ships system;” or a history of World War II that leaves out the blitzkrieg, the Holocaust, or D-Day; or a history of the Viet Nam War without My Lai or the Tet Offensive.

Yesterday I searched the (in my opinion) most useful academic database, EBSCO’s Academic Search Complete which indexes 13, 780 academic journals and provides online copies of most of the articles in them–10,000,000 articles. I was looking for articles about the Nakba (Wikipedia’s description is faulty at several points and incomplete, as Wikipedia is wont to be–to say nothing of unbalanced).

Academic Search Complete did not find (in 13,700 journals) a single reference to the Nakba. I was able to search all of the databases available to me at the SMU Library and found many informative and academically sound articles. (Some writers of American history have included the Boston Massacre, fortunately.) I have provided extended quotations from one such article. You needn’t be put off by the term “academic.” The writing is perfectly clear. Khoury is a literary critic, so his historical writing is in reference to a couple of literary works; the passages I have copied below are part of the history, not the literary criticism.

(To gain a limited understanding of the importance of the Nakba to Palestinians today, I suggest you read this short article before you begin reading the Khoury essay.)

Displaced Palestinians arriving in Ramallah

Displaced Palestinians arriving in Ramallah

The following (except for the last sentence) is from:
Khoury, Elias. “Rethinking the Nakba.” Critical Inquiry 38.2 (Winter 2012). One of the Chicago Journals, published online by JSTOR.

The facts about 1948 are no longer contested, but the meaning of what happened is still a big question. Was it a struggle between two absolute rights, as Oz formulated it? Before tackling this issue, I want to point out that I am questioning the approach of dealing with the nakba as a historical event that happened in the past and once for all. My hypothesis is totally different: what happened hasn’t stopped happening for sixty-two years. It is still happening now, in this moment.

In 1948, the Palestinians lost four main aspects of their lives:

  • 1.They lost their land, which was confiscated by the newborn Israeli state. Eight percent of the Palestinian population was peasants who became refugees, living in camps in the outskirts of different Arab cities, in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Even in Israel, the peasants of destroyed Arab villages became refugees in other villages and had no right to return to their original homes, although they had become citizens of the new state.

  • 2.They also lost their cities. The three major coastal cities—Jaffa, Haifa, and Aka—were occupied and their citizens evacuated. Jaffa, the biggest Palestinian harbor on the Mediterranean and the cultural center of Palestine became a small, poor suburb of Tel Aviv. Jerusalem was divided along new borders in 1948, and the Palestinian neighborhoods of west Jerusalem were evacuated. Haifa faced the implementation of the first Palestinian ghetto in Israel. Israeli historian Tom Segev gave a full description of this process in The First Israelis. Aka became totally marginalized, and the historical old city became the home of many Palestinian refugees. The destruction of the Palestinian cities left the Palestinians without any cultural reference and created a huge cultural vacuum. We had to wait until the 1960s to witness the emergence of a new Palestinian culture that arose in Haifa and Nazareth in the milieu of Al Ittihad newspaper (the organ of the Israeli Communist Party edited by Habibi) and in Beirut with the emergence of a new Palestinian consciousness and Kanafani as its leading figure.

  • 3.They lost their Palestinian name. Suddenly a whole people became nameless and had no right to use their name and refer to their national identity. This was one of the most painful elements of the 1948 war. One can argue that Palestine has never existed as an independent state. This is true not only for Palestine but also for most of the countries of the region. But this land was known to every one as the land of Palestine. Even in the Zionist documents, this name was used. The people who inhabited this land are known as Palestinians. Suddenly the name has vanished. The small Palestinian minority in Israel were renamed Arabs of Ertz Israel by the new authorities. The Palestinians of the West Bank that was annexed to Jordan after the war of 1948 became Jordanians, and the others who were scattered in Lebanon and Syria became simply refugees.

  • 4. They lost their story or the ability to tell their story. I want to refer to the replacement of muteness by deafness in Yehoshua’s “Facing the Forests” and Kanafani’s “Men in the Sun.” The narrator of the Israeli story begins with the hypothesis that the Arab (this is how the Israeli Palestinian is named) is mute, and his tongue was  cut. On the other hand, the narrator of the Palestinian story ends his novel with the water-tank driver Abul Khaizaran shouting, “Why didn’t they knock?”

(section about details of the literature is omitted, HAK)

I want to suggest an outline that permits us to read the different pages of the nakba from the expulsion of 1948 to the Wall and settlements in the West Bank and the expulsions that are taking place nowadays in Jerusalem.

  • 1.When we think of the confiscation of Palestinian land from 1948 onwards, two villages, Akrat and Bir’im, are an example of the destinies of those who stayed as strangers in their homeland and lived under military rule as second-class citizens in the democratic Jewish state of Israel until 1965.

  • 2.As the infiltrators were limited by Israelis, Palestinian peasants tried to return across the borders in order to rejoin their households or to collect their harvest. Habibi gave us examples of these cases in The Secret Life of Saeed, and Darwish’s autobiographical text In the Presence of Absence relates his personal story as a boy of eight when he crossed the Lebanese border with his parents and siblings to discover that their village al-Birwa was demolished.

  • 3.The refugee camps were structured as a combination of slums and ghettos, and the Palestinians suffered various kinds of oppression in different Arab countries (in politics, work, education, travel, and so on).

  • 4.The occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 and the new structure of settlements—including the Wall, the continuous confiscation of land and property, the uprooting of trees, laying siege to villages, and so on—make the occupation a continuation of the war of 1948. Even the retreat from Gaza became a way to create a ghetto under siege and fire.

  • 5.The massacres in Palestinian camps—Jordan (1970), Lebanon (1975), Tal Al Zaatar camp (1976), and Shatila and Sabra (1982)—are a continuation of the massacres of 1948.

(HAK note: And, I might add, the massacre in Gaza today.)

The Nakba continues.

The Nakba continues.

Israeli illegal settlement in the West Bank

Israeli illegal settlement in the West Bank

From Arutz Sheva: israelnationalnews.com
Published: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 11:01 PM

Op-Ed: My Outline for a Solution in Gaza

By: Moshe Feiglin, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, Knesset Member, and head of the Manhigut Yehudit (“Jewish Leadership”) faction of Israel’s governing Likud party

Clear and concise, the steps towards achieving quiet in Gaza.

Ultimatum – One warning from the Prime Minister of Israel to the enemy population, in which he announces that Israel is about to attack military targets in their area and urges those who are not involved and do not wish to be harmed to leave immediately. Sinai is not far from Gaza and they can leave. This will be the limit of Israel’s humanitarian efforts. Hamas may unconditionally surrender and prevent the attack.

Member of the Knesset, leader of his party, Moshe Feiglin

Member of the Knesset, leader of his party, Moshe Feiglin

Attack – Attack the entire ‘target bank’ throughout Gaza with the IDF’s maximum force (and not a tiny fraction of it) with all the conventional means at its disposal. All the military and infrastructural targets will be attacked with no consideration for ‘human shields’ or ‘environmental damage’. It is enough that we are hitting exact targets and that we gave them advance warning.

Siege – Parallel to the above, a total siege on Gaza. Nothing will enter the area. Israel, however, will allow exit from Gaza. (Civilians may go to Sinai, fighters may surrender to IDF forces).

Defense – Any place from which Israel or Israel’s forces were attacked will be immediately attacked with full force and no consideration for ‘human shields’ or ‘environmental damage’.

Conquer– After the IDF completes the “softening” of the targets with its fire-power, the IDF will conquer the entire Gaza, using all the means necessary to minimize any harm to our soldiers, with no other considerations.

Elimination- The GSS and IDF will thoroughly eliminate all armed enemies from Gaza. The enemy population that is innocent of wrong-doing and separated itself from

Legal Palestinian homes in Gaza

Legal Palestinian homes in Gaza

the armed terrorists will be treated in accordance with international law and will be allowed to leave. Israel will generously aid those who wish to leave.

Sovereignty – Gaza is part of our Land and we will remain there forever. Liberation of parts of our land forever is the only thing that justifies endangering our soldiers in battle to capture land. Subsequent to the elimination of terror from Gaza, it will become part of sovereign Israel and will be populated by Jews. This will also serve to ease the housing crisis in Israel. The coastal train line will be extended, as soon as possible, to reach the entire length of Gaza.

According to polls, most of the Arabs in Gaza wish to leave. Those who were not involved in anti-Israel activity will be offered a generous international emigration package. Those who choose to remain will receive permanent resident status. After a number of years of living in Israel and becoming accustomed to it, contingent on appropriate legislation in the Knesset and the authorization of the Minister of Interior, those who personally accept upon themselves Israel’s rule, substance and way of life of the Jewish State in its Land, will be offered Israeli citizenship.

 

Posted by: Harold Knight | 07/04/2014

Independence Day Greeting from Samia Khoury

Suha, mother of Mohammed Abu Khudair

Suha, mother of Mohammed Abu Khudair

Jerusalem
July 4, 2014

To my American friends: As I send you my warm greetings on the occasion of your independence day, I hope you do not mind that I wonder  whether you are actually more independent than we are. At least we are  aware of the physical  Israeli military occupation while your congress and administration as well as your media are psychologically under Israeli intimidation.

Commenting on the  shooting of teenagers Muhammad Abu Thahr and Naim Nuwara on May 15, 2014  Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director for Human Rights Watch, said: “The willful killing of civilians by Israeli security forces as part of the occupation is a war crime,” Yet those killings and the imprisonment of hundreds without charge or trial continue unabated despite all the concessions that the Palestinian Authority has made for the sake of peace. But it was only when three Israeli settlers were kidnapped and found killed that hell broke loose, as if they are human and we are subhuman. I Just watched the funeral of Mohammad Abu Khdeir from Shufaat, a suburb north of Jerusalem, who was abducted killed and burnt by Israeli settlers. Mohammad also has a family, a bereaved mother and father who are lamenting their great loss. Not only the double standard applies to the living but to the dead as well. However I must admit that Israeli voices have been critical of the way the Israeli government handled the matter as they exposed the agenda of the government which is basically to destroy the reconciliation between Fateh and Hamas. An American friend of mine wrote a couple of days ago:

“Never did I think that I would receive a message from a Jewish organization urging me to write letters to newspapers criticizing Israeli oppression of Palestinians! But that is what JVP is doing” It was actually the JVP who also supported the Presbyterian Church Divestment Vote from three companies that have been benefitting from the occupation of the PalestinianTerritories.
(Jewish Voice for Peace: http://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/ )

So will Israel heed  those Jewish voices and will it demolish the homes of those who killed Mohammad,   or  will   we continue to watch an era of terror launched by one of the most sophisticated  military forces and the  so called  only democracy in the Middle East supported morally and financially by the US congress and administration? 

Happy 4th of  July.  Samia

(http://mondoweiss.net/2014/06/presbyterian-divesting-companies.html)

Posted by: Harold Knight | 07/01/2014

By SUSAN ABULHAWA: “The searing hypocrisy of the West.”

From: Intifada, Voice of Palestine (http://www.intifada-palestine.com/2014/07/searing-hypocrisy-west/)

Palestinian children are assaulted or murdered every day and barely do their lives register in western press. No mother should have endure the murder of her child. No mother or father. That does not only apply to Jewish parents. The lives of our children are no less precious and their loss are no less shattering and spiritually unhinging. But there is a terrible disparity in the value of life here in the eyes of the state and the world, where Palestinian life is cheap and disposable, but Jewish life is sacrosanct.

 

By SUSAN ABULHAWA

The searing hypocrisy of the WestSusan Abulhawa  is a Palestinian-American writer and human rights activist. She is the author of a bestselling novel, Mornings in Jenin (2010) and the founder of a non-governmental organization, Playgrounds for Palestine.

The bodies of three Israeli settlers who went missing on June 12th were found in a hastily dug shallow grave in Halhul, north of Hebron.

Since the teens went missing from Gush Etzion, a Jewish-only colony in the West Bank, Israel has besieged the 4 million Palestinians who already live under its thumb, storming through towns, ransacking homes and civil institutions, conducting night raids on families, stealing property, kidnapping, injuring, and killing. Warplanes were dispatched to bomb Gaza, again and repeatedly, destroying more homes and institutions and carrying out extrajudicial executions.Thus far, over 570 Palestinians have been kidnapped and imprisoned, most notably a Samer Issawi, the Palestinian who went on a 266-day hunger strike in protest of a previous arbitrary detention. At least 10 Palestinians have been killed, including at least three children, a pregnant woman, and a mentally ill man. Hundreds have been injured, thousands terrorized. Universities and social welfare organizations were ransacked, shut down, their computers and equipment destroyed or stolen, and both private and public documents confiscated from civil institutions. This wonton thuggery is official state policy conducted by its military and does not include the violence to persons and properties perpetuated by paramilitary Israeli settlers, whose persistent attacks against Palestinian civilians have also escalated in the past weeks. And now that the settlers are confirmed dead, Israel has vowed to exact revenge. Naftali Bennet, Economy Minister said, “There is no mercy for the murderers of children. This is the time for action, not words.”

Although no Palestinian faction has claimed responsibility for the abduction, and most, including Hamas, deny any involvement, Benjamin Netanyahu is adamant that Hamas is responsible. The United Nations requested that Israel provide evidence to support their contention, but no evidence has been forthcoming, casting doubt on Israel’s claims, particularly in light of its public ire over the recent unification of Palestinian factions and President Obama’s acceptance of the new Palestinian unity.

In the West, headlines over pictures of the three Israeli settler teens referred to Israel’s reign of terror over Palestine as a “manhunt” and “military sweep.” Portraits of innocent young Israeli lives emerged from news outlets and the voices of their parents are featured in the fullness of their anguish. The US, EU, UK, UN, Canada and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) condemned the kidnapping and called for their immediate and unconditional release. Upon discovery of the bodies, there has been an outpouring of condemnation and condolences.

President Obama said, “As a father, I cannot imagine the indescribable pain that the parents of these teenage boys are experiencing. The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms this senseless act of terror against innocent youth.”

Although hundreds of Palestinian children are kidnapped, brutalized or killed by Israel, including several in the past two weeks, there is rarely, if ever, such a reaction from the world.

Just prior to the disappearance of the Israeli settler teens, the murder of two Palestinian teens was caught on a local surveillance camera. Ample evidence, including the recovered bullets and a CNNcamera filming an Israeli sharpshooter pulling the trigger at the precise moment one of the boys was shot indicated that they were killed in cold blood by Israeli soldiers. There were no condemnations or calls for justice for these teens by world leaders or international institutions, no solidarity with their grieving parents, nor mention of the more than 250 Palestinian children, kidnapped from their beds or on their way to school, who continue to languish in Israeli jails without charge or trial, physically and psychologically tortured. This is to say nothing of the barbaric siege of Gaza, or the decades of ongoing theft, evictions, assaults on education, confiscation of land, demolition of homes, color coded permit system, arbitrary imprisonment, restriction of movement, checkpoints, extrajudicial executions, torture, and denials at every turn squeezing Palestinians into isolated ghettos.

None of that seemingly matters.

It does not matter that no one knows who murdered the Israeli teens. It seems the entire country is calling for Palestinian blood, reminiscent of American southern lynching rallies that went after black men whenever a white person turned up dead. Nor does it matter that these Israeli teens were settlers living in illegal Jewish-only colonies that were built on land stolen by the state mostly from Palestinian owners from the village of el-Khader. A huge portion of the settlers there are Americans, mostly from New York, like one of the murdered teens, who exercise Jewish privilege to hold dual citizenship; to have an extra country no matter where they’re from, one in their own homeland and one in ours, at the same time that the indigenous Palestinians fester in refugee camps, occupied ghettos, or boundless exile.

Palestinian children are assaulted or murdered every day and barely do their lives register in western press. While Palestinian mothers are frequently blamed when Israel kills their children, accused of sending them to die or neglecting to keep them at home away from Israeli snipers, no one questions Rachel Frankel, the mother of one of the murdered settlers. She is not asked to comment on the fact that one of the missing settlers is a soldier who likely participated in the oppression of his Palestinian neighbors. No one asks why she would move her family from the United States to live in a segregated, supremacist colony established on land confiscated from the native non-Jewish owners. Certainly no one dares accuse her of therefore putting her children in harms way.

No mother should have endure the murder of her child. No mother or father. That does not only apply to Jewish parents. The lives of our children are no less precious and their loss are no less shattering and spiritually unhinging. But there is a terrible disparity in the value of life here in the eyes of the state and the world, where Palestinian life is cheap and disposable, but Jewish life is sacrosanct.

This exceptionalism and supremacy of Jewish life is a fundamental underpinning of the state of Israel. It pervades their every law and protocol, and is matched only by their apparent contempt and disregard for Palestinian life. Whether through laws that favor Jews for employment and educational opportunities, or laws that allow the exclusion of non-Jews from buying or renting among Jews, or endless military orders that limit the movement, water consumption, food access, education, marriage possibilities, and economic independence, or these periodic upending of Palestinian civil society, life for non-Jews ultimately conforms to the religious edict issued by Dov Lior, Chief Rabbi of Hebron and Kiryat Arba, saying “a thousand non-Jewish lives are not worth a Jew’s fingernail.”

Israeli violence of the past few weeks is generally accepted and expected. And the terror we know they will unleash on our people will be, as it always is, cloaked in the legitimacy of uniforms and technological death machines. Israeli violence, no matter how vulgar, is inevitably couched as a heroic, ironic violence that western media frames as “response,” as if Palestinian resistance itself were not a response to Israeli oppression. When the ICRC was asked to issue a similar call for the immediate and unconditional release of the hundreds of Palestinian children held in Israeli jails (which is also in contravention of international humanitarian law), the ICRC refused, indicating there’s a difference between the isolated abduction of Israeli teens and the routine abduction, torture, isolation, and imprisonment of Palestinian children.

When our children throw rocks at heavily armed Israeli tanks and jeeps rolling through our streets, we are contemptible parents who should be bear responsibility for the murder of our children if they are shot by Israeli soldiers or settlers. When we refuse to capitulate completely, we are “not partners for peace,” and deserve to have more land confiscated from us for the exclusive use of Jews. When we take up arms and fight back, kidnap a soldier, we are terrorists of the extreme kind who have no one to blame but ourselves as Israel subjects the entire Palestinian population to punitive collective punishment. When we engage in peaceful protests, we are rioters who deserve the live fire they send our way. When we debate, write, and boycott, we are anti-Semites who should be silenced, deported, marginalized, or prosecuted.

What should we do, then? Palestine is quite literally being wiped off the map by a state that openly upholds Jewish supremacy and Jewish privilege. Our people continue to be robbed of home and heritage, pushed to the margins of humanity, blamed for our own miserable fate. We are a traumatized, principally unarmed, native society being destroyed and erased by one of the most powerful militaries in the world.

Rachel Frankel went to the UN to plead for their support, saying “it is wrong to take children, innocent boys or girls, and use them as instruments of any struggle. It is cruel…I wish to ask: Doesn’t every child have the right to come home safely from school?” Do those sentiments apply to Palestinian children, too? Here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here are video examples of the abduction of Palestinian children from their homes at night and on their way to and from school.

But none of that matters either. Does it? It matters that three Israeli Jews were killed. It doesn’t matter who did it or what the circumstances were, the entire Palestinian population will be made to suffer, more than they already are

Older Posts »

Categories

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 60 other followers