For Palestinian activists fighting corruption, Trump’s attacks are making their work even harder

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas with US President Donald Trump, during the UN General Assembly in New York, 2017. AFP
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas with US President Donald Trump, during the UN General Assembly in New York, 2017.  (photo: AFP)
In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, accountability is an uphill battle in the absence of basic laws and a working parliament.
By Miriam Berger | The National | June 17, 2019

‘Getting rid of corruption shortens the occupation and adds to the confidence of the people in the struggle for liberation and independence against the occupation,’
— Shawqi Al Issa, a former Palestinian minister who resigned over corruption

Earlier this month, cash-strapped Palestinians learned that their president Mahmoud Abbas had secretly approved a massive pay hike for ministers – finding out only because an anti-corruption collective leaked documents showing it online.

Indeed, both the Palestinian public and the Trump administration rate corruption in the Palestinian government as a top concern.

But when American officials and their allies attack the financially-strapped Palestinian Authority as untrustworthy in a push to delegitimise it, this all out assault on Palestinian sovereignty actually makes it harder for those working for more transparency and democratic reforms from within

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The neocolonial arrogance of the Kushner Plan

Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner attending the ceremonial opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, May 14, 2018. (photo: Menahem Kahana / AFP / Getty Images)
With the neocolonial plans they have concocted for the Palestinians, Kushner and his Israeli allies are swimming against the tide of history.

By Rashid Khalidi | The New York Review of Books | Jun 12, 2019

The Trump administration’s Middle East ‘initiatives’ so far have virtually all come pre-packaged from the Israeli extreme right’s storehouse of ideas, including moving the Jerusalem embassy, recognizing the annexation of the Golan, airily dispensing with the Palestinian refugee issue, trying to liquidate UNRWA, and withdrawing from the nuclear deal with Iran.

“You cannot do without us,” Lord Curzon condescendingly told the Indians over whom he ruled as British imperial viceroy more than a century ago. As the Trump family rubbed shoulders with the Windsors during their recent visit to London, there was no mistaking the difference between the real aristocracy and the trumped-up one. However, Jared Kushner, presidential son-in-law and senior adviser responsible for crafting a Middle East peace plan, does have something in common with Lord Curzon and his colonial ilk.

In an interview with Axios shown on HBO on June 2, shortly before he arrived in the UK, Kushner cast doubt on the feasibility of independent Palestinian self-rule, declaring, “we’ll have to see,” adding, “the hope is that they over time can become capable of governing.” When asked if Palestinians should ever be able to enjoy freedom from “Israeli government or military interference,” he said only that this was “a high bar.” After suggesting that Kushner had consulted few if any Palestinians over the two years during which his peace plan was in the works, his interviewer asked if he understood why the Palestinians did not trust him. Kushner responded curtly, “I’m not here to be trusted.”

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“Conquer and Divide” — B’Tselem launches interactive map to mark 52 years since the Israeli occupation began

Conquer and Divide, screenshot from project
Conquer and Divide Screenshot from Project. (photo: B’Tselem)
This interactive map follows a timeline illustrating the implementation of the various measures Israel has implemented to achieve this reality.

By B’Tselem | Jun 5, 2019

‘Israel has doggedly chipped away at Palestinian space, breaking it up into conveniently exploitable pieces, the easier to control and oppress.’
— B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad

Today — 52 years to the day since Israel began occupying the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, and against the backdrop of measures undertaken by the Trump administration to promote its “deal of the century” — B’Tselem launched a new interactive project illustrating Israel’s encroachment upon Palestinian space over the decades, shattering the land into small, isolated units, and keeping Palestinians apart from one another and from Israelis.

A collaboration with independent research agency Forensic Architecture, the Conquer and Divide project traces how government resolutions, military orders and state planning have created ever-expanding Israeli settlements and infrastructure, promoting Israeli interests at the expense of Palestinians’ rights. The map throws into stark relief the current situation of Palestinian communities, which have been intentionally cut off from one another and exist as islands in a vast sea of Israeli control.

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Inside Israel’s million dollar troll army

People in a room sit at computers with an Israeli flag on the wall
Act.IL’s Israeli headquaters in Herzliya. (photo: Act.IL/Facebook)
A leaked report raises questions about social media campaign for Israel.

By Asa Winstanley | The Electronic Intifada | June 12, 2019

Much of the last several years of the establishment media’s time has been wasted raising hell about supposed Russian interference in US elections, despite a lack of real evidence. Israel’s interference in western democracies, however, is now very well documented, and is often quite open.

A global influence campaign funded by the Israeli government had a $1.1 million budget last year, a document obtained by The Electronic Intifada shows.

Act.IL says it has offices in three countries and an online army of more than 15,000.

In its annual report, from January, Act.IL says its goal is to “influence foreign publics” and “battle” BDS – the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement for Palestinian rights.

Through its app, Act.IL issues “missions” to this troll army in exchange for “cool prizes” and scholarships.

The app directs comments towards news websites in support of Israeli wars and racism, while attacking Palestinians and solidarity campaigners.

The leaked report claims Act.IL’s app completes 1,580 such missions every week.

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The treacherous falsification of Palestine-Israel history

"Mirages" of the Israeli army fly over the Sinai at the Israeli-Egyptian border on June 5, 1967, on the first day of the Six-Day War between Israel and Egypt. On June 5, Israel launched preemptive attacks against Egypt and Syria.
Mirages of the Israeli army fly over the Sinai at the Israeli-Egyptian border on June 5, 1967, on the first day of the Six-Day War between Israel and Egypt.  (photo: AFP / Getty Images)
A call for censure and the topic of academic freedom and the First Amendment.

By Ariän Taher | Truthout | June 9, 2019

Hill peddles the myth that the Six-Day War — whose first attack was carried out by Israel — was ‘defensive’.

Supporters of international humanitarian law must condemn the views espoused by DePaul University’s Jason Hill, a tenured philosophy professor, regarding his statements on Palestine-Israel, both in the past and in his recent article in The Federalist.

Hill’s opinions on Palestine-Israel must be examined carefully as a microcosm of the myths broadly perpetuated by the right wing to justify Israel’s military occupations, operations and land seizures in Palestine.

Hill’s article fails to present any primary-source and peer-reviewed material to justify his argumentation, instead providing only neophyte analyses, historical falsification and historical negationism.

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An Israeli shot me — an Israeli healed me

Palestinian boys watch from their home as Israeli army soldiers conduct an operation in 2005. (photo: Ruth Fremson / The New York Times)
A young Palestinian’s story shows peace is still possible.

By Yousef Bashir | The New York Times | Apr 26, 2019

I wish we could talk. I would tell him that I want to do my part to make peace between our peoples more possible, the way my father taught me. I would tell him that I have forgiven him.

I was born and raised in the Gaza Strip. For years, my “neighbors” were Israeli soldiers based in the Kfar Darom settlement across the road from my house. Although the settlement was illegally established, my father taught me never to feel hostility toward the soldiers. They were the children of Abraham, as were we Palestinians.

But in September 2000, when I was 11 years old, all that changed. One night after dinner, the soldiers started shooting at our kitchen windows. As we crawled to the center of the house, I could see the bullets ricocheting around me.

Soon after, the soldiers told my father that it was time for him to leave. They wanted to use our house as a command center. My father politely but firmly refused: “I am a peaceful man. I am not your enemy. There is no need for me to leave. If it is not safe for us in our own home, then it will not be safe for us anywhere.”

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The case for a democratic one-state solution

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with US President Donald Trump on May 23, 2017 in Jerusalem, Israel. (photo: Kobi Gideon / GPO / Getty Images)
The two-state solution is dead.

By George Bisharat | Los Angeles Times | May 23, 2019

Hope is a powerful motivator, and the prospect of building a just and genuinely free and democratic society — a true beacon of progress for the region if not the world — can inspire heroism in both Israelis and Palestinians.

President Donald Trump has promised he will soon unveil his “Deal of the Century” for Palestinians and Israelis. But it is unlikely to do much more than consecrate a reality that has prevailed for decades: Israelis living within the borders of historic Palestine will enjoy full freedoms and political rights, while a majority of Palestinians living within the same space will remain largely disenfranchised and voiceless.

One thing the deal will make apparent, however, is that the two-state solution is dead, laid low by a thousand cuts — or, more precisely, by the hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, whose immovable presence ensures that no genuinely sovereign Palestinian state will ever emerge there. Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have both played a role in delivering the final blows: Trump with his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and Netanyahu by promising voters prior to his recent reelection to begin annexation of the West Bank.

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On equating BDS with anti-Semitism

(photo: Takver / CC BY-SA 2.0)
A letter to the members of the German government.

By Sara Roy | Counterpunch | Jun 4, 2019

By endorsing the motion that alleges that BDS is anti-Semitic — regardless of one’s position on BDS — you are criminalizing the right to free speech and dissent and those who choose to exercise it, which is exactly how fascism takes root.

To the Members of the German Government:

I write to you regarding the motion recently passed by the Bundestag that equated BDS with anti-Semitism. I also write to you as Jew, a child of Holocaust survivors and as a scholar of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

My mother, Taube, and father, Abraham, survived Auschwitz among other horrors. My father was the only survivor in his family of six children and my mother survived with only one sister in a family that was larger than my father’s. I know, without question, that if they were alive today, the motion you are being asked to endorse would terrify them given the repression of tolerance and witness that it clearly embraces. I shall not restate what others have already written protesting your action, but I do have some thoughts I would like to share.

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Pompeo admits Kushner peace plan likely unworkable as Trump’s son-in-law openly dehumanizes Palestinian people

Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser speaking in an interview that aired Sunday on
Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, speaking in an interview that aired Sunday on “Axios on HBO.” (photo: Screengrab)
Kushner’s comments expose the multiple reasons this peace plan has little chance of success.

By Andrea Germanos | Common Dreams | June 3, 2019

‘I get why people think this is going to be a deal that only the Israelis could love.’
— Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo admitted that the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan could be seen as “unexecutable” while Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, suggested that Palestinians aren’t capable of governing themselves.

Kushner, who’s in charge of the administration’s supposed peace plan, made the comments in an interview that aired Sunday on “Axios on HBO.” He told interviewer Jonathan Swan that there is a “high bar” for Palestinians to be rid of Israeli interference.

Kushner said that before Palestinians can be seen worthy of investors’ money, they “need to have a fair judicial system … freedom of press, freedom of expression, tolerance for all religions.”

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Save the Date: Seattle Arab Festival

Please join our brothers and sisters for the largest gathering of Arabs in the Pacific Northwest.
Date: August 10-11, 2019
Time: TBD
Location: Seattle Center Fisher Pavilion
Information: Event information here →
Tickets: Free
Event Details

The Seattle Arab Festival offers Arab music, art, poetry, storytelling, theater, singing and foods for all attendees set in a big tent “souk”.  Also featured are exhibits from many Arab countries, and booths by individuals and various groups.  Enjoy the many activities created for the children such as henna fingers and painted faces.  Join hands at the Hafleh and dance the night away.

More information here →