On-the-ground realities for Biden in The Middle East

Israeli soldiers and members of the Humsa Al Baqai’a Bedouin community, east of the occupied West Bank village of Tubas in the Jordan Valley, on Nov. 6, 2020, two days after Israel’s army razed the village, including tents, sheds, portable toilets and solar panels, leaving dozens of people homeless. (photo:  Jaafar Ashtiyeh / AFP / Getty Images)  
Read all three perspectives with insight for President Biden.

By Rev Alex Awad, Rami G Khouri, Matthew Hoh  |  Washington Report on Middle East Affairs |  January/February 2021

Mr. Biden, please avoid the temptation of designing yet another peace plan that merely pays lip service to peace while ignoring the realities that are creating conflict and violence.
— Alex Awad

Some Advice on How to Succeed Where Others Have Failed
By Rev. Alex Awad

ADDING TO THE CHORUS of millions of peace and justice-loving people in the U.S. and around the world, I sincerely offer my heartfelt congratulations to you, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President- elect Kamala Harris. You passed through the election fray graciously, and you won.

It will soon be time for the passing of the leadership “baton.” And it will be your cabinet’s turn, Mr. President-elect, to tackle tremendous tasks such as the pandemic, the economy, racism and global warming among many others. Most likely, sooner rather than later after you move to the White House, like all U.S. presidents for the past half century, you will be called upon to address the challenge of the Israel-Palestine conflict. I imagine you will have many advisers ready to help you develop your policy toward what seems to be an intractable conflict.

Continue reading “On-the-ground realities for Biden in The Middle East”

Israel detains, interrogates four Palestinian children, ages 9-10

Cruel and usual: two elementary-aged Palestinian children are detained in Hebron, March 2013, as reported by Christian Peacemaker Teams-Palestine.
By Palestinian children are frequent targets of the Israeli military and court systems – contrary to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Israel is a signatory. Since 2000, over 12,000 Palestinian children have experienced detention.

Kathryn Shihadah   | Israel-Palestine News  | Jan 28, 2021

Although a signatory to the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC), Israel has declared that the Convention “does not apply in the [Palestinian] West Bank.”

The International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) posted a brief article on Monday, but it is part of a much larger and very disturbing story.

IMEMC reported that on Sunday night, 4 Palestinian children in a village near Jerusalem were detained and interrogated by Israeli forces. The children were ages 9-10. They endured “several hours” of questioning before being released later that night.

On average, Israel arrests and prosecutes 500-700 Palestinian children ages 12-17 every year; sometimes, as in this case, children even younger are taken. The youths are prosecuted in a military court system that “lacks basic and fundamental guarantees of due process in violation of international standards.”

Continue reading “Israel detains, interrogates four Palestinian children, ages 9-10”

Meet the Arab Americans in the Biden-Harris Administration

Hady Amr
Hady Amr (photo: Brookings)
A look at how Biden’s pledge for diversity is being shaped within the first days of his administration.

By Theo Stamatis |  Arab America  |  Jan 27, 2021

So far, there have been seven Arab Americans chosen to be in the Biden Administration and there are more to follow.

As the new administration steps into its first 100 days, President Joe Biden has promised the American people that his administration will reflect America’s diversity. Throughout his campaign and once elected president, Biden has been a vocal advocate of every ethnicity and background being represented: African American, Hispanics, Asians, and finally at the table – Arab Americans. Biden’s victory recognizes the overwhelming advocacy from the Arab American communities across the country. Roughly 59% of Arab Americans supported him last November compared to 35% for Trump. So far, there have been seven Arab Americans chosen to be in the Biden Administration and there are more to follow. Meet some of the new Biden officials.

Read the full article here →

Mr. Blinken, we share similar family stories

Palestinian Refugees during the Nakba. (photo: Wikimedia)
Mona AlMsaddar tells incoming Secretary of State Antony Blinken that his family’s story of surviving World War II resonates with her own family’s history of the Nakba.

By Mona AlMsaddar |  Mondoweiss  | Jan 22, 2021

…reading about your stepfather’s forced exile brings to mind my maternal grandparents and their forced displacement by the creation of Israel in 1948. We call it the Nakba (catastrophe).

The following open letter to Antony Blinken was first published by We Are Not Numbers. Blinken is expected to soon be confirmed as U.S. President Joe Biden’s secretary of state. When accepting his nomination, Blinken recalled his stepfather Samuel Pisar, who was one of 900 children in his school in Bialystok, Poland, but the only one to survive the Holocaust after four years in concentration camps. He went on to recall Pisar’s escape from a death march in Nazi-controlled Germany, after which the boy was rescued by a Black U.S. soldier. Just before being lifted onto a tank, Pisar “fell to his knees, and said the only three words he knew in English that his mother had taught him before the war: “God bless America.”​ Later in his confirmation hearing Blinken also said the U.S.-Israel relationship was “sacrosanct” and the U.S. would keep its embassy in Jerusalem, which he called the capital of Israel.

Continue reading “Mr. Blinken, we share similar family stories”

Gantz, Netanyahu, Bennett and Israeli politics in a stalemate

Workers hang a Blue and White Party billboard showing its leader Benny Gantz and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, as part of the party’s campaign on February 17, 2020 in Tel Aviv, Israel. (photo: Amir Levy, Getty Images)
Israelis live in the illusion that another hero will show up, another general with the dust of a recent war still in his hair, and who will see the folly of war and the wisdom of making peace.

By Miko Peled | Politics Today | Jan 25, 2021

…the most liberal Zionist will never concede on the issue of land and will always blame the Palestinians for any failure to reach an agreement.

he upcoming Israeli elections – the fourth in two years – bring little promise of change. These elections bring to mind the famous saying that trying to do something over and over again while expecting different results is a sign of madness. Anyone who expects that the existing Zionist political spectrum will give rise to a progressive or even a slightly liberal coalition lives in a fantasy world. Even Israelis realize that the possibility of change does not exist. The only purpose for calling for elections at this point is to allow Benyamin Netanyahu to remain in office.

When Netanyahu signed the current coalition agreement, which allowed him to remain prime minister, it was obvious that he had no intentions of keeping his word and that at the first opportunity he would break the coalition agreements and dissolve the coalition. New elections mean his coalition partner, former Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Chief General Benny Gatnz, will never take his place as prime minister.

Continue reading “Gantz, Netanyahu, Bennett and Israeli politics in a stalemate”

On apartheid, white supremacy and ongoing police violence: Whose words really matter?

A new section of the Israeli Apartheid wall around Qalqiliya, in the occupied West Bank. (photo: via ActiveStills.org)
For Palestinians the information in the B’Tselem human rights report is what they have been reporting for years.

By Benay Blend  |  The Palestine Chronicle  |  Jan 19, 2021

“Everything is framed in terms of the occupier, its interests, its desires, its wants and dislikes. It’s never about the people who *face* apartheid, occupation, and Israeli settler colonialism.”
— Remi Kanazi, Palestinian poet and activist

“Everyone’s reporting on the B’Tselem report like it’s the first they’ve ever heard anyone say that Israel’s an apartheid state,” commented Susan Abulhawa, Palestinian author and activist. “It’s like nothing about Palestinian lives, realities, and experiences is true or real until Israelis proclaim it.”

Abulhawa’s commentary refers to the Israeli human rights group’s position paper (January 12) that declared “the entire area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River is organized under a single principle: advancing and cementing the supremacy of one group—Jews—over another—Palestinians.” Moreover, it labeled that system an apartheid regime.

On the one hand, B’tselem’s report got a lot of traction partly because it makes Israeli denial all that much more difficult to support, either by its own people or by journalists who are afraid of being labeled anti-Semitic.

On the other hand, Palestinian poet and activist Remi Kanazi captured the irony of this moment in a tweet:

“Palestinians are always spoken about, but rarely ever spoken to or allowed to speak. Everything is framed in terms of the occupier, its interests, its desires, its wants and dislikes. It’s never about the people who *face* apartheid, occupation, and Israeli settler colonialism.”

Read the full article here →

Online Book Launch: Decolonizing Israel, Liberating Palestine by Jeff Halper


Please join Jeff Halper and chair Yasmin Alibhai Brown for the launch event of his latest book Decolonizing Israel, Liberating Palestine: Zionism, Settler Colonialism, and the Case for One Democratic State, published by Pluto Press and co-hosted by The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD).
Wednesday, Jan 27, 2021
7:00 pm UK time / 11:00 am PST
Webinar Online
Event information here →
Must register, Sliding Fee 
Event Details

For decades we have spoken of the ‘Israel-Palestine conflict’, but what if our understanding of the issue has been wrong all along? This book explores how the concept of settler colonialism provides a clearer understanding of the Zionist movement’s project to establish a Jewish state in Palestine, displacing the Palestinian Arab population and marginalizing its cultural presence.

Jeff Halper argues that the only way out of a colonial situation is decolonization: the dismantling of Zionist structures of domination and control and their replacement by a single democratic state, in which Palestinians and Israeli Jews forge a new civil society and a shared political community.

To show how this can be done, Halper uses the 10-point program of the One Democratic State Campaign as a guide for thinking through the process of decolonization to its post-colonial conclusion. Halper’s unflinching reframing will empower activists fighting for the rights of the Palestinians and democracy for all.

Jeff Halper is the head of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) and a founding member of the One Democratic State Campaign. He is the author of War Against the People: Israel, the Palestinians and Global Pacification (Pluto, 2015), An Israeli in Palestine (Pluto, 2010), Obstacles to Peace (ICAHD, 2003 and subsequent editions) and Redemption and Revival: The Jewish Yishuv in Jerusalem in the Nineteenth Century (Westview, 1991).

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is a prominent political and social commentator, a journalist, an author and an Orwell Prize and National Press Awards winner. A regular columnist for the i and feature writer for the Sunday Times Magazine, she is the editor of Biteback’s Provocations series, for which she wrote Refusing the Veil in 2014 and In Defence of Political Correctness in 2018. Her other works include Exotic England, which tells the story of a nation that has always been diverse and hybrid

Register through Eventbrite to receive a link to the stream before the event. It will start at 19:00 GMT. You can also find the event on Pluto Press’ YouTube channel. The event will be recorded and uploaded to the channel after the event too.

Signed book plates are available for attendees based in the UK, just choose the relevant ticket type. Once your signed book plate ticket has been purchased, please email kierano@plutobooks.com with your address and we will post a paperback copy of Jeff’s latest book along with the book plate. These will be posted after the event and may take a couple of weeks to arrive.

The book is also available to order worldwide from our website. Attendees of this event can get £5 (or USD equivalent) off the paperback, using the coupon code HALPER5 at the checkout.

Order your copy of the book here

More information here →

‘Stripped to the bone’: Israel advances plan to cut off Palestinian suburb from Jerusalem

Issam Faroun pointing a 1930s panoramic photo of Aizarya. (photo: MEE/Qassam Muaddi)
For centuries, Aizarya has been a satellite of the holy city. Now Israel wants to close off its access with a wall in a scheme denounced as de facto annexation.

By Qassam Muaddi |   Middle East Eye  | Jan 20, 2021

“It wouldn’t change much for me, as a minibus driver. I’d still have to drive through this crowded cage to the new way out. But it would cut the town off completely from Jerusalem,”
— Islam Rabea, minibus driver

Vehicles move slowly a few metres down the crowded main street of Aizarya, a Palestinian suburb east of Jerusalem, before stopping again.

Islam Rabea, a 23-year-old minibus driver, pulls on the handbrake and begins musing again.

“This town is more crowded than a can of tuna fish,” he says. “There’s one entrance, which is also the only exit, and I drive people to it back and forth all day.”

Aizarya’s only route to the outside world is to the east via an Israeli-built road, facing the entrance of Maale Adumim, the largest illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank, built almost entirely on lands belonging to the Palestinian town.

Continue reading “‘Stripped to the bone’: Israel advances plan to cut off Palestinian suburb from Jerusalem”

Nathan Thrall calls out J St and other liberal Zionists for enabling apartheid

Nathan Thrall, at the Jerusalem Hotel, May 24, 2017. (photo: Phil Weiss)
A critique of the damage caused by the claim that the two “regimes” can be separated.

By Philip Weiss  | Mondoweiss |  Jan 19, 2021

Thrall’s thrust is that liberal Zionists have bolstered the persistence of apartheid by insisting that that’s not happening in Israel, it’s only the West Bank.

We all understand that this is a time of tremendous potential shift in the discourse of Palestine in the U.S. When Joe Biden comes in, liberal Zionists, who can take some credit for electing him, will make up the central branch of the Israel lobby inside the Democratic Party. Secretary of State Tony Blinken is their friend. So is his deputy Wendy Sherman. So liberal Zionists will own our Israel policy.

And Biden along with liberal Zionists will be coming under huge pressure from the Democratic left, the Sandersite progressives who have been fighting for Palestinian rights in the halls of Congress, to actually do something at last for Palestinian freedom.

The latest sign of this pressure are the official reports saying Israel is enforcing apartheid, notably Yesh Din last July and B’Tselem last week. These follow a similar declaration years ago by the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, among others. And when Israel is declared apartheid state, there’s one plain outcome: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.

Continue reading “Nathan Thrall calls out J St and other liberal Zionists for enabling apartheid”

A rudimentary weapon of desperation

Young men prepare incendiary balloons before launching them in 2018. (photo: Osama Baba / APA images)
The use of incendiary balloons and kites from Gaza are used as a response to Israel’s use of massive and deadly force against unarmed protesters.

By Hamza Abu Eltarabesh |  The Electronic Intifada |  Jan 15, 2021

Militarily at an enormous disadvantage, people – unaffiliated individuals or members of the main resistance groups operating in Gaza, Hamas and Islamic Jihad – have thus turned to other means to show their anger, to inflict some damage back or simply to call attention to their plight.

It was a quiet night in early August.

At a signal, five men emerged silently from the cover of some trees to an agreed meeting point.

I was there, all dry mouth and notebook, observing. I’d been specially invited. Above us, only the sound of Israeli drones could be heard, patrolling the skies, electronic eyes on the ground, watching for prey.

Prey like us.

Focused and silent the men worked for an hour under the instructions of Abu Karam, the leader of this small group who is identified only by his nom de guerre. Filling condoms with helium gas, they took until just after five in the morning before they were ready.

Continue reading “A rudimentary weapon of desperation”