Palestinians have a problem with occupiers not Jews

The Middle East Monitor published this article, my first for the website.

Friday 30 October 2015

Palestinians have a problem with occupiers not Jews

One extremely disturbing feature of the recent clashes between Palestinians and Israelis has been what seems a deliberate framing by Israel of the reasons behind the knife attacks as simply hatred of Jews because they are Jews. Reference to casualties has not been to Israelis but to Jews. The claim is that Palestinians raise their children to hate Jews and that even the head of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas incites against Jews. The context of the nearly 50 yearlong illegal occupation of Palestine is deliberately omitted. In fact as far as a number of senior Israeli politicians are concerned there is no occupation.

In another Israeli stunt at the United Nations, Israel’s new Ambassador Danny Danon held up a diagram of the human body entitled “How to stab a Jew”. He claimed that Palestinian children were shown these and shown “how to hate [Jews]”.

Most recently, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu even attempted to blame the worst mass murder in history – the Nazi Holocaust – on the Palestinians. He claimed that Hitler only intended to expel Jews but that in his infamous and only meeting with the grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin Al-Husseini the mufti suggested that he “burns the Jews” to stop them heading for Palestine upon their expulsion.

It is also noteworthy that Netanyahu has referred to what many commentators and analysists have called an intifada as a series of acts of terrorism, specifically by Palestinian “Arabs” against “Jews” rather than an “intifada” against the continuing occupation.

This is Netanyahu’s and other Israeli leaders’ way of demonising the Palestinians simply as terrorists who hate Jews. That there is no other reason for their actions than this hatred. He recently claimed that it isn’t illegal settlements or Israeli actions in Al-Aqsa Mosque that led to the recent wave of attacks, mostly on Israeli security forces but that “they’re attacking us not because they want peace or don’t want peace,” he said. “It’s because they don’t want us [Jews] here [in Israel]”.

One can therefore summarise the current Netanyahu position as: “The Palestinians hate us because we are Jews and their then leader the grand mufti convinced Hitler to exterminate the Jews rather than expel them.” It is also a dangerous attempt to turn what is a struggle between an indigenous occupied people and their colonialist occupiers into a religious confrontation between Jews and the mostly Muslim Palestinians.

The grand mufti

The claim that the grand mufti called for the extermination of Jews by Hitler during the one meeting he had with him in 1941 has been shown to be a lie by most respected historians. While the lack of condemnation of his fabricated assertion by world leaders has been worrying, only ardent Zionists and Israeli apologist give this claim any credence. But to imply that Haj Amin was such a powerful man that he was able to convince a then world leader to develop a policy to exterminate millions of people would be laughable if it wasn’t such a serious issue. If he were so powerful, he could have ejected the British and declared independence for the Palestinian people before 1948.

However, it should not be surprising for the mufti to have been worried that Zionists were encouraging Jews to migrate to Palestine against the will of the indigenous Palestinians. After all, that was their plan. This was therefore a known threat to the “demography” of historic Palestine and if the Palestinians yearned for independence from the then British occupation they would object to the mass migration of hundreds of thousands of members of a particular group aliens to their homeland. You only need to look at the current fear of mass migration to Europe from the Middle East to understand that his would have been the natural reaction to a known threat. Would any people allow open migration from Syria to their homeland that could result in a Syrian majority population?

The Palestinians did not choose their occupiers, they chose Palestine

As for the claim that Palestinians hate Jews because they are Jews, well this claim can be easily debunked. The Palestinian people did not choose to be occupied either by the British or then by a newly established state, Israel. As it happens Israel was established for Jewish migrants on the land of the Palestinians. Their occupiers were therefore Jews. If it were, say the Japanese that decided to take Palestine and settle hundreds of thousands of Japanese people there, the Palestinians’ problem would have been with the Japanese. If it was the Mexicans, it would have been with Mexicans. In other words, when Palestinians resist the occupation they resist the occupiers regardless of what their religious or ethnic origin is.

The Zionist movement could have succeeded in creating Israel in a number of other locations. If Israel had been created in Uganda, the indigenous Ugandans would have been entitled to be angered by this. They may have resisted the taking of their land for another people. They may have fought the designation of Kampala as the capital of the Jewish homeland, not the African Uganda. A solidarity movement may have been created to help them end the occupation.

If Israel was created in Uganda and the Japanese had occupied Palestine, would the Palestinians have formed Fatah or later Hamas or Islamic Jihad to travel to Uganda to attack Jews or would they have resisted the Japanese?

The answer to the above question is clear and unambiguous. Palestinians would have directed their efforts against their occupier to bring about an end to the occupation and the return of the refugees. When they resist today, including through violent means, they do so against the occupier. When they attack an Israeli soldier or policeman, they do not ask him if he is Jewish, Bedouin Christian or Druze. They attack him because to them he is the frontline of the occupation.

It is of course impossible to claim that no Palestinian has racist or anti-Semitic tendencies and those that do represent themselves and not an entire people. However, it is also wrong to claim that Palestinians somehow wake up in every morning and plot how they will hurt Jews.

Palestinians are occupied by Israel which claims to be the “Jewish State”. It takes actions against the Palestinians in the name of Jews. Prime Minister Netanyahu has proclaimed himself the leader of the Jews across the world even though most of them did not elect him.

Netanyahu and those that make similar claims to the above are themselves guilty of raising hatred against Jews through their actions, including the fabrication of history, brutal occupation, racism and apartheid policies.

Peace cannot come while they continue to do this. It will come to historic Palestine when they acknowledge the Nakba, apologise and a just solution is found.

Guardian advert calling for boycott of Israeli academic institutions 

I signed the Guardian advert together with over 300 UK academics calling for a boycott of Israrli academic institutions until Israel confirms to International Law.

The attacks the advert received from apologists for Israeli Apartheid, racism and occupation were predictable.

Those who claim dialogue is better than boycotts have been saying this ever since the idea of academic boycott was considered by the AUT now UCU. There is no evidence that dialogue with Israeli academic institutions has moved them to call for an end to the illegal occupation or the repeted attacks on Palestinians in the whole of historic Palestine.

Zionists who attempt to label those of us who call for pressure on Israel while it acts illegally  ‘antisemites’ abuse the term which should be reserved for anti Jewish hatred. They themselves are pro occupation, pro settlements and anti just peace. 

Calling for peaceful boycotts is moral and principled. It is Israel that is acting illegally, immorally and claiming to represent all Jews. It does not.

  

  

PRESS RELEASE ON CURRENT SITUATION IN PALESTINE / ISRAEL FROM BRITAIN-PALESTINE APPG, 19 October 2015

  
I reproduce below the press release from the Britain-Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group

PRESS RELEASE FROMBRITAIN-PALESTINE APPG, 19 October 2015

 

For immediate release

THE ESCALATING VIOLENCE IN ISRAEL-PALESTINE IS ROOTED IN FAILURE TO END THE OCCUPATION

All murders and other attacks on civilians are unacceptable, whoever commits them and whoever are the victims. As of 19 October, the recent alarming escalation of violence in Israel and Palestine has claimed the lives of 9 Israelis who have died in knife and other attacks by Palestinians. Over 40 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and settler attacks. Estimates suggest around half the Palestinians killed were attackers; the rest having been killed during demonstrations, in clashes with Israeli troops and in air strikes on Gaza.
The escalation of violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories is tragic, alarming but sadly all too predictable.

For months, politicians familiar with the issue, human rights groups, aid agencies and United Nations agencies have warned that the situation was completely unsustainable and that more violent clashes would erupt.
Whilst the proximate causes may have largely concerned the future of the Holy Places in Jerusalem, the long-term causes need to be addressed for any chance of calming the situation.

Over two thousand people died in Israel’s military assault on Gaza last year. Since 2013, however, the UN and various human rights groups such as Amnesty International (1), have also been highlighting the increasing use of live ammunition by the Israeli army in the West Bank. Their fears have been echoed by Israeli human rights organisations such as B’Tselem and the army veterans’ organisation, Breaking the Silence.

In 2013, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 25 Palestinians were killed by live ammunition from Israeli forces in the West Bank. This was 1.5 times the number of those killed in 2011 and 2012 combined. The recent escalation has demonstrated this very troubling trend. This is why we support the U.N. Secretary-General’s call for Israel to review its use of force.

Israel has a duty and obligation to protect its citizens, but in accordance with international law and with a view to de-escalating the tensions. Both sides should refrain from any incitement of provocations.

This week, UK MPs will hear directly from former Israeli soldiers from “Breaking the Silence” in a special briefing hosted by the Britain-Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group. With considerable bravery, Breaking the Silence place on record a very different perspective on Israeli military actions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. These testimonies not only show why Palestinian frustration and anger have reached their limit, but that there are Israelis who understand this too.

Palestinians want to see an end to the Israeli military occupation, an occupation that has intensified with ever-expanding illegal settlements that take Palestinian land and resources like water. The Israeli Defence minister has confirmed that settlement building “was not frozen for even a minute.”(2) Israeli ministers make clear that they do not support the creation of a Palestinian state to which Israel has told the international community it is committed. On the ground, the impact of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policies – including settlement building and removal of Palestinians from their homes – is increasingly making the two state solution impossible.

Faced with this, the international community must be far more proactive in promoting a political settlement to secure peace and justice for both Israelis and Palestinians.

This has to include:

1) An end to the occupation. As the Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem has made clear, the Israeli government “bears responsibility for the reality of the occupation.” No people should have to endure such a blanket denial of freedom for nearly five decades.

2) All sides must adhere to international law with full accountability for those who violate it. This is a principle that should be applied for any conflict zone. In the case of Israel/Palestine this must include an end to all attacks on civilians; collective punishment including the blockade of Gaza, demolition of the homes of families of alleged attackers; no forced transfer and a complete cessation of all settlement activity.

Britain-Palestine Group Chair, Richard Burden MP, said today:

“Former Israeli soldiers are showing real bravery by breaking the silence about what is really going on in Israel and Palestine. Here in the UK, our responsibility is to press both our own government and the EU to use the diplomatic and economic power we have to help bring about change to secure peace and justice in that part of the world.

———-ENDS———–
For further information and comment, please contact Josh Newton via email josh.newton@parliament.uk or 020 7219 2318.

NOTES

1) https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2014/02/trigger-happy-israeli-army-and-police-use-reckless-force-west-bank/
 
2) http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-settlement-expansion-ongoing-but-best-to-keep-it-under-wraps/
 

London protest for Palestine after rising violence in Jerusalem


The Palestine Solidarity Campaign together with a number of partners held a demonstration outside the Israrli Embassy in London on Saturday 17 October.  I estimated that up to 3000 were in attendance.


I spoke to the demonstration and was then interviewed by Sky News.  Here is a link to the interview.


I also contributed to Aljazeera online report in Arabic. The link can be found here.

Update: 20/10/2015

I have been asked to clarify my comment in the SKy News interview that implied it was Israeli Government policy to take Alaqsa, demolish it and build a Jewish temple in its place.  My reference in ‘they’ was to what Israelis wanted to do and not  to specific publically stated Government policy.  See link here and here for examples.

What would help reassure Palestinains and Muslims is a clear commitment by Israel to never take the Al-Aqsa mosque compund over and change it either through division or by replacing the existing strucutres with any new structures.

Is A Third Intifada Starting?

My article below for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, was published in the Morning Star on 13 October 2015

Is A Third Intifada Starting?

2015 Tuesday 13TH

posted by Morning Star in Features

As violence escalates an end to Israeli occupation is the only meaningful solution, writes Kamel Hawwash

A POSSIBLE third intifada is underway in Palestine and Israel. The past couple of weeks have seen an escalation in violence between Palestinians and Israelis the likes of which we have not seen since last year’s 51-day attack on Gaza.

While the spark was in Jerusalem, Palestinians are rising against the occupation, discrimination, inequality and the Gaza siege in the West Bank, Gaza and inside the Green Line. This has included daily clashes between unarmed Palestinians and the Israeli occupation forces, but also a number of knife attacks and incidents of stone-throwing by both Palestinians and Jewish Israelis.

As with previous incidents, the heaviest casualties have been on the Palestinian side, with hundreds injured and a more than 20 killed at the time of writing, including a pregnant woman and her three-year-old daughter in Gaza.

A further worrying development has been the killing almost at point-blank range of Palestinians who had not posed any danger, as documented by video clips from the scene on social media. Those include Asma’a Abed from Nazareth and Fadi Alloun from Issawiya, Jerusalem.

In addition, Palestinian medical teams have been targeted by Israeli forces. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society “documented 53 attacks against its teams and ambulances in which 37 emergency medical technicians were wounded and around 20 ambulances were damaged since October 3.”

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign is saddened by the loss of any innocent life in the conflict. But in order to avoid any further loss of life in the future, it is important that the cause of recent events is analysed and lessons learnt to bring about a just peace in the future.

We must first remember that the root cause of the continuing instability and violence is the longest military occupation in history, that the Palestinians continue to suffer from. In 1967 Israel completed the occupation of the whole of historic Palestine, the remaining 22 per cent. It immediately announced the annexation of east Jerusalem and later of the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.

Forty eight years on and the Palestinians continue to live under a brutal occupation, with no hope of this ending soon.

They see Israel expanding illegal settlement construction on their land in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. The number of illegal Israeli settlers now stands at 600,000. Israel interferes with every aspect of Palestinian lives. It controls their movement between their towns and villages and also their exit and entry to the occupied territories via Jordan.

Recent years have seen growing settler violence, which Palestinians see as terror, in which they attack their villages and crops and cut down their olive trees. The perpetrators call them “price tag” attacks. The violence has further escalated as it has gone unchecked by an Israeli government which is hugely sympathetic to the settlement enterprise and has largely shied away from calling them terror attacks.

The Dawabshe family paid with their lives when settlers burnt them to death in their home in Duma village. Their killers have not faced justice, despite strong suspicion by Palestinians that they are known.

Gaza is separated from the West Bank and Jerusalem and has been under an almost permanent siege since 2007, with access to the West Bank through Israel, or to Egypt through the Rafah Crossing, almost impossible. Even Prime Minister David Cameron called it a “prison camp” in 2010 but the situation continues to worsen, especially after last year’s Israeli war, which left over 2,000 dead, tens of thousands injured and tens of thousands of homes destroyed, with little reconstruction since.

If all of this was not enough to ignite an uprising by the Palestinians, Israel has been slowly but surely implementing policies that would change the situation on the ground in occupied east Jerusalem.

Prior to 1967, east Jerusalem, Al-Quds in Arabic, was home to Palestinian Muslims and Christians. But since its annexation Israel has implemented policies that restrict the growth of the Palestinian population, through the almost guaranteed refusal of planning permits for homes or businesses, and also the planting of illegal settlements among the Palestinian population, which only Jews can populate.

Which other democracy would build homes for only one ethnic or religious group?

The illegal settlements also encircle east Jerusalem with the plan to cut it off from the West Bank, making it impossible for it to be the capital of a future Palestinian state. The wall cuts through Palestinian areas, placing some outside Jerusalem and necessitating a daily crossing through a checkpoint, but also endangers their precious Jerusalem ID card which allows them access to the City. Israel regularly takes this away if a Palestinian resides outside the city.

In addition, Israel has its eye on Al-Aqsa mosque, the first point to which Muslims turned when praying and the third holiest mosque in Islam. Jews revere the area too, where they are told two Jewish Temples existed. Among Israeli government ministers and members of the Knesset are individuals who believe that a third Jewish Temple should replace Al-Aqsa Mosque. This kind of talk can turn the conflict into a religious conflict with predictable dire consequences.

In recent months, large groups of mainly extremist settlers, government ministers and Knesset members have forced their way into Al-Aqsa, protected by armed security forces, provoking Palestinians as they walked through the Old City.

Israel claims that a “status quo” exists, agreed with Jordan, that non-Muslims including Jews can visit the site but are not permitted to pray. But this did not imply daily unco-ordinated break-ins and a closure of the mosque to Muslims. This has though become the norm in recent months. Palestinians are worried that Israel wants to divide the mosque, first through scheduling Jewish-only times and then geographically, which they completely oppose, as does Jordan.

Recent violent attacks saw Israeli troops enter the Qibli mosque and desecrate it. Barring Muslims and specific individuals who have taken to protecting the mosque through their presence and challenging those who break into the mosque have led to clashes and raised tensions.

This, it seems, was a deliberate policy by Benjamin Netanyahu to change the status quo while the world was busy with Syria, Iraq, Isis and the Iran deal. He badly miscalculated and underestimated the resilience of the Palestinians. This was the final trigger for the recent violence.

The rising tensions and the lack of a genuine process to bring justice to the area have led to the current crisis and unless this is addressed in good faith, it will continue to cause regular spikes in violence, even if the current round subsides soon.

Successive British governments have sided with Israel. This has added to its sense that it can do almost anything illegal and not be censured. In the absence of government action, the British people have joined the escalating Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement to put pressure on Israel until it comes to its senses and accepts the implementation of international law.

It is quite simple. As Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti recently said in an article in the British Press: “The last day of the occupation will be the first day of peace.”

Professor Kamel Hawwash is vice chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Join the London protest for Palestine on Saturday 17 October

 

Netanyahu miscalculated and is to blame for the escalating clashes 

  
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his settler-led Government miscalculated badly when they thought the eyes of the World were on Syria and the Iran deal and that they had a free hand in Palestine.

They forgot that they were dealing with a most resilient and fearless people, the indigenous Palestinians. The first and second intifada a seemingly a distant memory for the Zionists but historical inspiration for Palestinians.

Israeli ministers have claimed in recent months that the ‘conflict’ was no longer an issue. President Obama did not even mention it in his UN address. 

Netanyahu spent most of his speech on Iran. His only reference to ‘the conflict’ was his disingenuous claim that he was ready for peace talks ‘without conditions’. He then went on to lay conditions.

The last few months saw a rabid assault on the Holy Sanctuary, Alaqsa mosque. Israel was slowly dividing it between Muslims, whose mosque it is and Jews who want to replace it with a Jewish temple. Extremist settlers and politicians led and protected by Israeli security forces made daily incursions against the will of the Palestinians. 

Muslims were barred from entering when they did and those who feared for the mosque did their best to protect it. The attacks on Alaqsa raised hatred between Palestinians and Jews. Netanyahu claimed that the visits were part of the ‘status quo’, but the status quo was not designed to allow fanatics with the aim of demolishing it to visit.

Let me be clear. Muslims do not want to bar visitors to the mosque but why aren’t the visits of Jews conducted under the supervision of the Islamic Waqf? 

The attacks on Alaqsa, the siege on the old city, the theft of homes and planting of settlers in East Jerusalem, coupled with the continuing oppression of Palestinians in the West Bank were raising hatred. The violence by settlers which has recently taken the firm for burning Palestinians was on the increase in Jerusalem and the West Bank. The siege on Gaza and the Lack of hope of a better tomorrow finally lit the spark for what feels like a third intifada.

Palestinians do not have weapons. They threw stones but Netanyahu ordered snipers to shoot them. This finally led to a number of young men taking to stabbings. Israel’s heavy handed response, including home demolitions ignited wider clashes. Execution style killings in Jerusalem and most recently in Afula of a young woman from Nazareth have fuelled heavier and more widespread clashes.

Netanyahu’s response was to say that it was a ‘war to death’. The archetypal inciter of hatred has succeeded in triggering violence that he thinks he can be ended with more Israeli violence. He forgets that the Palestinians have a higher pain threshold both emotional and physical than his electorate. 

He has watched clashes spread from Jerusalem to the West Bank to Gaza and to the 1948 areas inside the Green Line.

Netanyahu is fully to blame for the current events. He has miscalculated and his ‘deafening silence’ stunt at the UN must now seem a distant memory. 

What Netanyahu needs to do is to end the siege in the old city of Jerusalem and end the uncoordinated tours of Alaqsa mosque and that is for starters.

For Israelis now, it isn’t Iran or Syria that worries them. It is the third intifada.