Trump crushes Palestinian hopes — again

A Palestinian boy sits on a chair as Israeli authorities demolish a school in the village of Yatta, south of Hebron, in the occupied West Bank, Jul 11, 2018. (photo: Hazem Bader / AFP / Getty Images)
The U.S. Middle East peace plan may be in a coma. But that hasn’t stopped Washington from handing major diplomatic victories to Israel.

By Colum Lynch and Robbie Gramer | Foreign Policy | Nov 18, 2019

‘You now have a complete package of efforts to make a traditional solution . . . to the Israeli-Palestinian problem virtually impossible, at least for the remainder of the Trump administration.’
— Carnegie Endowment for International Peace scholar Aaron David Miller

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared Monday that the United States no longer considers civilian Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands a violation of international law. The move represents a historic decision that reverses decades of U.S. policy and represents the latest in a raft of pro-Israeli moves that could effectively quash hopes for the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The conclusion that we will no longer recognize as per se inconsistent with international law is based on the unique facts, history, and circumstances prevented by the establishment of civilian settlements in the West Bank,” Pompeo told reporters on Monday. He said that the decision does not mean the U.S. government is expressing views on the legal status of any individual settlement or “prejudging the ultimate status of the West Bank.”

Pompeo’s statement rolls back a 1978 State Department opinion that formed the bedrock of U.S. legal opinion on Israeli settlements, asserting that civilian settlements in the occupied territories are “inconsistent with international law.”

The decision marks the latest way in which the Trump administration has undercut Palestinian claims of statehood in favor of its closest historic ally in the Middle East, handing another political victory to embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he struggles to stay afloat after failing to form a coalition government.
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Don’t legalize the illegal

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Israeli settlers clash with Israel Police in West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, Nov 10, 2019. (photo: Hillel Mier / TPS)
International law has determined that the West Bank is governed as a territory captured in war, which makes it defined as a “belligerent occupation.”

By Gershon Baskin | The Jerusalem Post | Nov 20, 2019

The continuation of the settlement enterprise is Israel’s clearest expression that it is not willing to make peace with the Palestinians in any kind of equitable fashion.

I have some news for US President Donald Trump, and he may not like it, but here it is: Donald Trump is not the point of reference regarding international law. No unilateral declaration of the president or secretary of state of the United States of America can legalize the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The Israeli settlements are not only illegal under international law, they have been and will continue to be one of the main obstacles to reaching a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It should be no surprise to anyone, but since at least 1977, when the Likud first came to power, Israeli governments have consistently stated that one of the main purposes of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank, especially those in the heartland of the West Bank along the central mountain ridge, is to prevent the creation of a Palestinian state. From that perspective, the Israeli settlement enterprise has been extraordinarily successful.
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Trump is systematically ending the viability of a future Palestinian state

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An Israeli settlement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. (photo: Hazem Bader / AFP / Getty Images)
The Trump administration’s announcement about Israeli settlements was just the latest draconian measure targeting Palestinians.

By Joshua Leifer | The Guardian | Nov 19, 2019

This kind of refusal to enforce the overwhelming international legal consensus on Israeli settlements has been a hallmark of US policy on Israel-Palestine. Pompeo’s announcement is, without doubt, a step beyond what previous administrations were willing to consider. But the difference between this decision and previous US decisions to disregard international law is a difference of degree, not kind.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement on Monday — that the US will no longer consider Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories a violation of international law — is, in many ways, a near-perfect encapsulation of the Trump administration’s approach to Israel-Palestine.

Couched in grotesque doublespeak, it claims to advance “the cause of peace” while signaling US approval of Israel’s brutal, perpetual military rule over the roughly 3 million Palestinians living in the West Bank. It is part and parcel of the Trump administration’s ongoing, concerted efforts to undermine international legal frameworks for addressing human rights violations (and not just in Israel-Palestine). And it is yet more proof, not that more was needed, that the Trump administration is actively pursuing a post-two-state-solution agenda. Continue reading “Trump is systematically ending the viability of a future Palestinian state”

Palestine is not occupied — it is colonized

Israeli troops screened captured Egyptian troops and Palestinians at the start of the war on Jun 5, 1967, in Rafah in the Gaza Strip. (photo: David Rubinger / Israeli Governement / Getty Images)

Israel’s colonization began when the 19th-Century Zionist movement aspired to build an exclusive homeland for Jews in Palestine.

By Ramzy Baroud | Palestine Chronicle | Jun 6, 2018


The Palestinian Occupied Territories have, long ago, crossed the line from being occupied to being colonized. But there are reasons that we are trapped in old definitions, leading amongst them is American political hegemony over the legal and political discourses pertaining to Palestine.


June 5, 2018, marks the 51st anniversary of the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

But, unlike the massive popular mobilization that preceded the anniversary of the Nakba — the catastrophic destruction of Palestine in 1948 — on 15 May, the anniversary of the occupation is hardly generating equal mobilization.

The unsurprising death of the “peace process” and the inevitable demise of the “two-state solution” has shifted the focus from ending the occupation per se to the larger, and more encompassing, problem of Israel’s colonialism throughout Palestine.

Grassroots mobilization in Gaza and the West Bank, and among Palestinian Bedouin communities in the Naqab Desert, are, once more, widening the Palestinian people’s sense of national aspirations. Thanks to the limited vision of the Palestinian leadership those aspirations have, for decades, been confined to Gaza and the West Bank.

In some sense, the “Israeli occupation” is no longer an occupation as per international standards and definitions. It is merely a phase of the Zionist colonization of historic Palestine, a process that began over a 100 years ago, and carries on to this day. . . .

Continue reading “Palestine is not occupied — it is colonized”

What would you do if soldiers dragged your son out of bed in the middle of the night?

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A screenshot from the B’Tselem video documenting the raid on the Da’na family’s home in Hebron. (photo: B’Tselem)

After more than half a century of occupation, most Israelis can no longer imagine themselves in the place of the Palestinians. But if we cannot imagine what it is like to live under occupation, we must at least confront its brutal reality.

By Orly Noy | +972 Magazine | Jun 8, 2018


Under an apartheid regime, it makes no sense to ask the white what he would do in the place of the black. To imagine the the tables turned has become impossible.


Twenty years ago, in March 1998, the head of the Labor Party Ehud Barak was asked by Haaretz journalist Gideon Levy what he would do were he a young Palestinian living under occupation. “If I were a Palestinian of the right age, I would, at some point, join one of the terrorist groups,” Barak answered.

Today, not only is it difficult to imagine a Jewish Israeli politician making a similar statement; the question itself sounds imaginary. Can we imagine ourselves as Palestinians? What a strange idea. If there is one thing 50 years of brutal military rule over another people has seared into the Israeli consciousness, it is that there is one law for us, and another for Palestinians — that our destinies as human beings were meant to be different.

When you consistently and systematically abuse the Other for decades, this separation of consciousness becomes a kind of survival mechanism. The fact that we cannot imagine ourselves in the place of those living in Gaza — for example, subject to a siege that forces one to live a life of suffering and extreme poverty — allows us to carry on without pangs of guilt.

Continue reading “What would you do if soldiers dragged your son out of bed in the middle of the night?”

What if . . . ?

Construction of a new Israeli settlement is seen through barbed wire in Kiryat Arba near the West Bank city of Hebron, Feb 7, 2017. (photo: EPA Photos)

What if Oregon were subjected to military occupation?

By Catherine Alder | Za’atar | Spring 2018


Oregon: A land without a people for a people without a land.


I was asked to speak about my international work at Ainsworth UCC. This piece is what I shared. I want to share with you in an unusual way. Imagine with me. Step into another’s experience. Let’s play “What if . . . ?”

What if the state of Oregon suddenly was designated by other countries as the place to come for hundreds of thousands of people in trouble in Europe?

The rap from those countries about Oregon is that it is perfect. “A place without a people for a people without a place.” Send them there! BUT HEY, WE ARE HERE! WE are the Oregonians! Well, we think, it will be OK. We are good people. We will welcome these strangers who are in trouble. There is plenty of land for the new people to build. We will share.

But, when the new people come from Europe, they come with guns and run out 100‘s of thousands of Oregonians. Now 750,000 Oregonians live in refugee camps in bordering states. The new people set up a government and say Oregonians who ran away are not allowed to come back home. These people are not like other refugees who have come gently and respectfully to live among us. This is very different.

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New South Carolina law outlaws referring to “occupation” of Palestine

South Carolina State Representative Alan Clemmons delivers an address from the steps of the South Carolina Statehouse in 2011. (photo: Mint Press News)

According to its author, discussing the military occupation of the West Bank, a reality recognized even by israel’s Supreme Court, would be considered anti-Semitic under the new law.

By Whitney Webb | Mint Press News | May 1, 2018


In 2015, South Carolina became the first of at least 22 states to prohibit state agencies or institutions from contracting with any vendor participating in a boycott of Israel.


The state of South Carolina will become the first state in the nation to legislate a definition of anti-Semitism that considers certain criticisms of the Israeli government to be hate speech. The language, which was inserted into the state’s recently passed $8 billion budget, offers a much more vague definition of anti-Semitism that some suggest specifically targets the presence of the global boycott, divestment and sanctions, or BDS, movement on state college campuses. The law requires that all state institutions, including state universities, apply the revised definition when deciding whether an act violates anti-discrimination policies.

Once it is reconciled with an appropriations bill previously passed by the state House, the measure will become law and take effect this July. However, the law will last only until the next budget is passed, meaning that the new legal definition of anti-Semitism must be renewed on a yearly basis unless new legislation making the language permanent is passed in the future.

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I’m not ashamed to be Israeli — but I’m disgusted with having become Pharaoh

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Palestinian paramedics carry a protester injured during clashes with Israeli forces following a tent city gathering at the Israel-Gaza border, Apr 2, 2018. (photo: Said Khatib / AFP)

Living in Israel has turned me into a person who can live with a government that relates to African asylum-seekers and millions of Palestinians as property.

By Bradley Burston | Haaretz | Apr 2, 2018


Living in Israel has hardened my heart. It has made me into a person who cannot believe that Israel will do the right thing. That Israel will make any effort at all to even begin treat the true cancer in our body — the occupation.


The best people I have ever met live in Israel.

They are tireless. They come in all colors and creeds. Their reservoirs of hope, goodness, giving for others, respecting the Other, striving for a better, more human, society — despite everything, despite hatred and graft and incitement and ill-will — are as boundless as they are inexplicable.

Then there is Caroline Glick.

Continue reading “I’m not ashamed to be Israeli — but I’m disgusted with having become Pharaoh”

Take a side — the side of justice

Listen to Anne Baltzer’s inspiring TEDx on having the courage to take a side and take a stand.

By Anne Baltzer | TEDxOcala | Dec 8, 2017


“Equality is about treating everyone the same. Equity is about leveling the playing field.”


“I found a system of segregated roads, with nice roads for Jewish Israeli settlers and separate roads for Palestinians. And all around me I saw inspiring Palestinian popular resistance and its violent suppression by Israel, a military superpower armed by my own country, the United States.

“And I knew that Israel would pay me to move on to that Palestinian land, simply because I’m Jewish. I did not know at the time that Israel’s Jewish majority could only exist through the removal of Palestinians. . . .

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What Gaza really needs is for Israel to recognize the humanity of its occupants

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A boy scavenging bicycle parts in Gaza. (photo: Getty Images)

Israel and its supporters must separate the civilians from Hamas militants and stop the collective punishment.

By Mohammed Shehada | Forward | Mar 13, 2018


Whether you call it a crisis or call it a passing distress, names are irrelevant when you try to describe the impossibility of life in Gaza that no man could endure yet no man can escape.


On March 13, Jared Kushner and Jason D. Greenblatt held a White House summit on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza with leaders from Israel, several Arab nations and Western countries — but there were no leaders from either the Palestinian Authority or Gaza in attendance.

“We all know that none of this will be easy,” Greenblatt reminded those gathered at the summit. “Everything we do must be done in a way that ensures we do not put the security of Israelis and Egyptians at risk — and that we do not inadvertently empower Hamas, which bears responsibility for Gaza’s suffering. But the situation today in Gaza is unacceptable, and spiraling downwards.”

Any plan for Gaza would be better than the status quo. But if the summit is to accomplish anything, it must acknowledge three hard truths: Life in Gaza is unbearable. Unbearable suffering is fueling Hamas’s continued reign of terror. And the only way to free Gazans from their unbearable suffering is to acknowledge Israel’s role in it.

Continue reading “What Gaza really needs is for Israel to recognize the humanity of its occupants”