Thursday, 20 December 2007

Bethlehem checkpoint, 4 a.m.

Please spare a few minutes to watch this short film and forward the link to your relatives, your friends, your Member of Parliament, your Member of the European Parliament, your congressman and your local clergy.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Disastrous humanitarian situation in Gaza

In view of the fact that five months passed since the start of the harsh siege imposed on Gaza strip, all life aspects are being exposed to humanitarian crisis. This siege affects the lives of tens of thousands of innocent civilians. It also destroyed the fragile economy of Gaza and afflicted humanitarian, environmental and health facets for more than 1.5 million peoples in Gaza Strip.

The disastrous outcomes of this siege are obvious violations of international charters, human rights conventions, the Fourth Geneva protocols and the international declaration of human rights. Additionally, its flagrant actions of human being freedom that adopted by the free civilized world!

Believing in your crucial role, we appeal to you to end this deadly siege. We call upon you to alleviate burdens and sufferings of innocent Gaza civilians. Certainly, the siege ramifications and sufferings of people affect the possibility of spreading peace and security in the region

We urge you due to your crucial position in the world to intervene to end the siege and to give the population in the Gaza Strip, hope of dignified life like the rest of the people around the world, through responding to the following humanitarian needs :

1- Now, in Gaza more than 1.5 thousand of seriously sick people exposed to the risk of death, because of inability to leave. More than 40 ill cases died by cold blood due to closure! Patients are in urgent need of immediate treatment outside the Gaza Strip. Yet, they are not allowed to leave Gaza, thus they are facing a slow death sentence! What's needed is, to allow them to travel for treatment and conveying medicine to Gazans!

2- Gaza Strip is suffering from severe shortages of medicines and supplies needed in the hospitals, as well as a shortage of food and basic materials, what is required is to allow the entrance of medical supplies and life basic requirements to relief people!

3- In Gaza Strip, thousands of students enrolled in universities abroad, thousands of humanitarian cases and workers prevented from leaving Gaza strip. What's needed, is to allow them leave to attend universities, colleges, works and join their families .

4- The siege halted housing projects for displaced families and water projects, being carried out by UNRWA and other international institutions of value of (250) million, which resulted in the suspension of more than (100000) labors from work, and caused serious humanitarian tragedies. What is strongly required, is to allow the entrance of construction roe materials needed for the resumption of these projects

5- Reduction of fuel amount has severe impact on all life aspects, and this impact will increase by the start of winter season. What is required is to allow the access of fuel to prevent further calamities.

6- A full breakdown hit the agricultural sector due to the inability of farmers to export their products and import seeds and necessary fertilizers. What is badly needed, is to save this sector by allowing to export agricultural products and access of requirements needed to save the agricultural sector.

7-All factories, workshops and laboratories amounted of 3500 utility stopped working. This obligatory stoppage is due to unavailability of roe materials. Consequently, 65.000 daily labors lost their jobs. What is just needed, is to save this vital sector and labors!

8- Palestinian goods trapped in Israeli seaports amounted of 100 million dollars. The goods and commodities are very important and basic needs required for the daily life. What is needed is to quickly secure an access!

The previously mentioned calamities caused by Israeli occupation and they are obvious violations of human law. Depriving people from food, medicines, freedom of movement and basic life requirements. We are fully hope that you intervene to alleviate sufferings of besieged people in Gaza Strip. We are no asking you to fight Israeli, yet oblige it to abide by all international charts! We aspire with you to end the comprehensive siege imposed in Gaza Strip.

With all respect,
Popular Committee Against Siege Chairman,
Independent Parliamentarian in Gaza Strip,
Jamal N. El Khoudary

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Hundreds of Palestinian patients at risk because of Israeli siege


Basen Naim writes from Gaza behalf of the Palestinian Ministry of Health

Israel’s tight siege imposed on Gaza, the closure of its borders, the prevention of patients from crossing the border passages to receive medical treatment abroad, the prevention of entry of medicines and medical disposables into Gaza all put at risk the lives of hundreds of Palestinian patients. The health sector in Gaza is at its worst.

This being the tragic situation in Gaza the Ministry of Health would appeal to the International Community to take an immediate action to put an end to this catastrophe which threatens the health sector to collapse. Yesterday a 12- year-old child: Tamer El Yazji died because the Israeli occupation prevented him from leaving the Strip to get medical treatment after developing acute complications of encephalitis. Two days earlier Nael Al Kurdi, a Cancer patient died among his family after he had cried loud urging the world to do something to allow him to get medical treatment he needs abroad, but his cries went in vain!.

The total number of people who died as a result of the borders closure since last June 2007 has risen to 44. Prevention of patients from traveling and prevention of entry of food, milk formula, and fuel is an organized crime committed by the Israeli occupation to exhaust and destroy the health sector, as part of the Israeli policy to kill and humiliate our people.

These practices are real war crimes. The International community should be held responsible for this tragic situation in Gaza and must put pressure on Israel to lift its siege and save the lives of patients who will inevitably die as a result of a barbarian inhuman policy that violates the basic right of patients to medical treatment, as laid down in all human laws and conventions.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health calls on all international community organizations, Human Rights Associations, the ICRC and the WHO to have a coordinated stance in this respect, and to stand to their commitments to stop Israel’s crimes against our patients. The Arab World and the Islamic World should meet their obligations and help the Palestinian people in their current crisis. The Israeli siege is the prime obstacle against delivering health care services to our patients in Gaza.

We would also call on all free and honest media means to report and reveal such Israeli cruel practices against the Gaza patients and expose the ugly face of Israel which it tries to hide behind lies and false allegations.

The Current Situation in the MOH as a result of the Siege imposed on Gaza.


  • 85 items of essential drugs are at 0 stocks
  • 138 items of essential drugs are at (1 month – 3 months stock)
  • 12 items of essential psychiatric drugs are at 0 stocks (This worsens the patients’ health status, increases prospects of committing suicide, and flurs family problems.)


  • Almost at 0 stock: example: medical files, examination forms, (the forms are being used several times for more that one case, thereby preventing accurate documentation of case information).
  • X-ray bags and sterilization bags are at 0 sticks


0 stock

Medical gases

The occupation delays and prevents their entry especially the Nitrose Gas used in Anesthesia for surgery. The available quantities suffice for 2 weeks only. Afterwards the theatres will be totally closed down.

Cloth and dressings

There is a severe shortage in this item The available quantity hardly suffices for the dead cover sheets and hospital bed covers.

Maintenance dept

Suffers from severe shortage in : spare parts for medical equipment (Israel prevents their entry on the pretext that they are not humanitarian items), periodic maintenance is completely on hold for lifts , electrical generators , washing machines, water pumps, and refrigerators, etc. Non-functioning medical equipment especially hemodialysis machines and cardiac equipment in ICU puts at risk the lives of patients.

Foods for patients

Oils, and died beans are at 0 stock and some items will suffice for weeks only. Fruits and vegetables are at 0 stock in all hospitals and in the event Map UK aid arrives the items will suffice for 2 weeks.

Cleaning detergents

The stock suffices for 2 weeks only and there is no budget to provide the needs nor to pay the cleaning companies’ contracts. This will impact negatively on the cleanliness and sanitation status of hospitals.

Diesel and natural gas

The stock of these items is about 20% and will run for less than 15 days, while in the normal conditions the MOH needs 80.000 liters of fuel each month when there is a smooth flow of electrical power supply. However, if the power supply is cut off for 3-4 days the need will rise to 200.000 liters of fuel.

Cutting off of electricity will lead to a disastrous catastrophe and will kill a lot of patients, the ICU rooms; the neonatology, burns units, the ICU, children’s vaccines, foods, and public health will be severely devastated. Patients on ventilators (3-4% of all patients of Gaza) and children with cerebral palsy who are in need of special machines to drain the secretions all day long are at severe risk. lab and blood bank needs, Oxygen concentrators, and the capacity of drainage depts. and X -Ray departments will stop by 50% . Further, a number of surgical operations will be stopped completely, hemodialysyis machines will be stopped and hundreds of patients will be in real danger of death.

Medical disposables

Severe shortage

Lab materials and blood bank materials

In October the stocks level was 60 items of solutions for hormones and drug level in blood test and liver enzymes test.

Statistics on patients and patients who died at checkpoints as a results of preventing them from leaving the Gaza Strip

During November
  • 13 dead on checkpoints
  • 44 dead as a result of siege from June till to date
  • 600-700 patients need to travel to get medical treatment on a monthly basis
  • 250-300 patients need urgent medical treatment and any delay jeopardizes their lives
  • In addition there are 900 Cancer and Renal Failure patients
During October 2007
  • 253 patients were prevented from traveling outside Gaza
  • 190 patients are under consideration by Israel and are in the “Rejected” Category”
  • 45% is the percentage of rejected patients suffering from ophthalmic diseases, orthopedic, vertebral column, Cancer, and hematology diseases.
  • From 1/11/07 till 7/11/2007 the number of rejected patients was 19 and the number of patients who received no replies from the Israeli side was 39.
  • 34 cases were allowed to cross Eretz from Thursday to Monday: 5-6 cases daily
  • 39 patients are under consideration by the Israeli side.
  • 11 patients received no replies.
Cancer patients
Four hundred and fifty patients in Gaza Strip 35% of them are children and 25% are women.
These are forbidden to leave Gaza to get medical treatment, to continue treatment, or to undergo surgery. A large part of Cancer patients have no access to their medications because the Cancer Drugs have been prevented to enter.

Renal failure patients
Four hundred patients are undergoing renal dialysis three times a week. Due to the siege and the breaking down of some machines because the Israeli occupation does not allow entry of spare part, the number of renal dialysis sessions have been reduced to 2 sessions a week .This has had bad effects on their general health.

Cardiac patients
Some 400-450 patients suffer from severe shortage in cardiology drugs. The breaking down of some therapeutic and diagnostic equipment in cardiology departments has worsened the situation.

Hemodialysis machines
The MOH has 69 machines distributed to 4 hospitals. 20 machine are currently out of order, because Israel prevents entry of spare parts . 3 equipment have exceeded its provisional life time (expiry date) and is likely to break down at any time.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

An olive tree for solidarity

Manchester students reaffirm commitment to Palestinian right to education

On 14 November 2007 the University of Manchester Student Union (UMSU) held a General Meeting with attendance of over 1000 students and strengthened their commitment to the Palestinians' right to education and their twinning with Al-Najah University with almost a two-thirds majority.

A motion called "Peace through Education" had been proposed which aimed at undermining the twinning of UMSU with Al-Najah. It gave the Palestinian university the ultimatum of signing a statement condemning terrorism within two months or the twinning would be abandoned.

It was a racist motion that caused vast indignation amongst the student population by stereotyping Palestinians as terrorists and accusing Al-Najah University of actively supporting terrorism. The writers of the motion cited an unreliable website as a resource which included many inaccuracies and racist quotes.

The movement against the motion involved a very wide layer of groups and societies from different backgrounds and interests, who were unified by the will to defeat the racist motion and support UMSU's stance on solidarity with Palestinian students under occupation. One student who attended the meeting said: "The motion shows that the racism against the Palestinians is one of the last forms of acceptable racism. If we had been twinned with a black university during apartheid in South Africa and they had been given them the ultimatum asking them to condemn gun crime there would have been international outrage, and rightly so."

With over 16500 students enrolled in its 19 faculties and two colleges, Al-Najah is one of the largest universities in Palestine. It is located in the city of Nablus, part of the territories that, according to the United Nations, the state of Israel has been illegally occupying since 1967. On 11 November, members of the Right to Education Campaign at Al-Najah University published a response to the motion in question - through it, they stated: "Neither the university nor its Student Council is a terrorist organization, and the implication that they are is insulting" and, further, "The motion 'Peace Through Education' is defamatory because it repeatedly implies that ANU and it's Student Council promotes, facilitates or has links with terrorism".

It is a fact that the Israeli occupation and the apartheid policing tactics that they uphold cause great suffering to the Palestinian people. Moreover, the Palestinian youth's basic human right to education has been systematically denied by the state of Israel: Universities have been shelled, broken into and forced to close for large periods of time - not to mention the very practical difficulties students must face when trying to pursue their degrees against the backdrop of a military occupation.

The motivation for our Union's twinning with Al-Najah University was based around the ideal of showing solidarity with fellow students enduring acute hardship in Palestine and helping to break the isolation imposed on the Palestinian people. Also it highlights the importance of a right to education globally, and how it should be fought for. These beliefs are something that is part UMSU's long history of internationalism and it's excellent commitment to supporting just causes all across the world.

The motion resolved to accept the invitation made by Al-Najah University for an olive tree from the university to be planted on campus at Manchester as a gesture of peace and as a symbol of life, and allow for a fortnightly article from Al-Najah University students to be printed in Student Direct, the students' official news paper.

The reaction from Al-Najah after the new amended motion was passed was very positive. A statement from them included, "we are very pleased that the amended motion was passed. The solidarity from Manchester Students Union is something we are glad to have. We hope that this will help us to get more attention to our right to an education".

The strengthening of the twinning in Manchester is part of a nationwide movement for solidarity with Palestinians students. Many universities in the UK are now twinned with Palestinian Universities and many others are in the process of finding a twin. A student from Leeds University who was involved with the campaign to get Leeds University twinned with Berzeit University said, "This is an exceptionally significant victory, and can only help other forms of solidarity with Palestinian."

Action Palestine

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Saying NO to the hunters of Atzmon

Note from the Editor of Redress Information & Analysis
We are publishing the article below in solidarity with our friends at Indymedia UK, who have been subjected to a vicious campaign of harassment by a narcissistic group of dysfunctional Judaeo-centric paranoids for refusing to censor the musician, writer and anti-racism campaigner Gilad Atzmon. The article was written by the Administrator of Indymedia UK and is also published here.


There has been a long running war of attrition by a group who operate under the banner of Jews against Zionism against Gilad Atzmon, who describes himself as “an Israeli born, ex Israeli, Ex Jew, Hebrew speaking Palestinian”.The war began after Gilad wrote an article, provocatively entitled The Protocols of the Elders Of London, which railed against the way some JAZ members had treated Israel Shamir.

In the essay, Atzmon outlined the behaviours that some members the group had employed against Shamir, and identified some of the leading protagonists. Since then the protagonists appear to have been out to get Atzmon, and those that they associate with him. They are using exactly the same tactics that Atzmon described:

They demand the cleansing of Shamir. They insist upon ruining his intellectual career or at the very least, his reputation. They would use any possible manipulative strategy to have him thrown out of DYR, which is the first step towards sending him beyond the pale.

In October 2007, I found myself inadvertantly involved in the conflict, as a fairly long term admin of Indymedia uk, a site which is part of the global Indymedia network, and is closely aligned to the anarchist and anti-capitalism movements in the UK.

I spent about 6 months in Nablus, as an ISMer during 2002/3, and since my return to London have had involvement with a number of groups who form part of the spectrum that makes up the Palestinian solidarity movement in the UK. I have met some of the protagonists, and have heard others speak at public meetings. I have been involved in campaigns with some. I have also tried to keep update with developments in Palestine, and to read progressive articles on the situation. In doing so, I became aware of the campaign being waged against Atzmon by the protagonists, and following on from that began reading articles by him.

I have never met Gilad, and it was only after the campaign came to Indymedia uk that I have had an exchange of emails with him. I guess that I didn’t really understand the full implications of the protagonists’ campaign until Tony Greenstein contacted Indymedia to demand that an article by Atzmon, which had been sitting on the Indymedia uk site without any comments or complaints for about 2 months. Prior to this he had left comments under the article itself.

This contact turned out to be the first shots in a new battle in the war of attrition that Tony Greenstein and his JAZ friends have been conducting against Atzmon. I intend to use the blog to archive as much relevant documentaion of this particular battle, so that it is easily accessible. I have a feeling that it might be useful to the next group or organisation that gets dragged into this war, and when that happens I hope they find this, and make use of it. It also gives me an opportunity to explain where I stand on matters, and to give my side of the story. I believe that there is every likelihood that Greenstein and his friends will seek to drag my name through the mud, will label me an anti-semite, will suggest that I am a holocaust denier, and many other horrible things.

At the end of the day, Tony Greenstein, like myself, Atzmon, and the rest of the cast of characters that you will meet as you refight the battle scene by scene, are all human, are all fallible, and all make mistakes. Some of us are aware that we have shortcomings, and try to reflect on our behaviour and to change it when we realise that we are doing destructive and hurtful things. That’s how I try to live to my life, and I think Gilad attempts to do so to. We don’t always get it right. I’ve yet to see any signs that Tony Greenstein does anything except rampage destructively and blindly through life, attacking anything and everything that he does not agree with. I think it sad that he does not realise how horrible the archive of efforts make him look.

So, let me be clear. I am against fascism and Nazism. I am against all forms of racism and discrimination. This includes any form of Judeaphobia, which I prefer to the term anti-semitism, because it seems to me that the charge of anti-semitism has been so abused that it is no longer a useful term. Essentially it has become a term that is used to attack opponents of “Zionism in practice,” the implementation of an ideology from a long ago era, which has resulted in the dispossession, incarceration and deaths of many Palestinians. Many Jewish people have died as a result of it as well.

In fact Greenstein himself noted in his first email:

On most occasions accusations of anti-Semitism, especially by Zionists against those supporting the Palestinians are a form of defamation. In this case they are unfortunately true.

I think the way in which Mr. Greenstein has conducted himself throughout his war of attrition makes it impossible to accept him as a neutral arbiter, and therefore I don’t think his judgement can be trusted. I think it is necessary for each individual who wishes to pronounce on the alleged antisemitism of Gilad Atzmon to read his arguments in their entirety and to make up their own minds.

I am aware that Atzmon is extremely provocative at times, and is quite capable of being offensive. I suspect he has regrets about the way that he has worded things, and I know of at leat one ocassion where he has edited his text, when he realises that it might be misread. He has also touched on some very sensitive subjects and not always in the most sensitive way.

He has discussed the issue of the pro-Israel lobby in terms that have caused some to accuse him of repetition of one of the canards of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It is an issue that is impossible to discuss without having that accusation thrown at you, as the rather conservative academics Walt and Mearsheimer have come to discover. However, W+Ms work has forced the issue into the open, and as I have said in one of the emails relating to this discussion, I think that it has to be possible to reflect on the power of the pro-Israel lobby. It makes no sense to me to say that because some forgery from 1903 claimed that Jews were involved in a conspiracy to run the world (I have to admit I’ve never read the damn thing), that there can never be any study of the power structures of Zionism, which include organisations like AIPAC, the ADL and the AJC.

However, here Atzmon can be seen as extremely provocative and offensive:

Let’s review some current typical Zionist arguments:

The ‘Elders of Zion’ syndrome: Zionists complain that Jews continue to be associated with a conspiracy to rule the world via political lobbies, media and money.

Is the suggestion of conspiracy really an empty accusation? The following list is presented with pride in several Jewish American websites.

Jews in Bush’s Administration:

Ari Fleischer
White House Press Secretary
Josh Bolten
Deputy Chief of Staff
Ken Melman
White House Political Director
David Frum
Brad Blakeman
White House Director of Scheduling
Dov Zakheim
Undersecretary of Defense (Controller)
Paul Wolfowitz
Deputy Secretary of Defense
I. Lewis Libby
Chief of Staff to the Vice President
Adam Goldman
White House Liaison to the Jewish Community
Chris Gersten
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and
Families at HHS
Elliott Abrams
Director of the National Security Council’s Office for Democracy, Human
Rights and International Operations
Mark D. Weinberg
Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development for Public Affairs
Douglas Feith
Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
Michael Chertoff
Head of the Justice Department’s criminal division
Daniel Kurtzer
Ambassador to Israel
Cliff Sobel
Ambassador to the Netherlands
Stuart Bernstein
Ambassador to Denmark
Nancy Brinker
Ambassador to Hungary
Frank Lavin
Ambassador to Singapore
Ron Weiser
Ambassador to Slovakia
Mel Sembler
Ambassador to Italy
Martin Silverstein
Ambassador to Uruguay
Jay Lefkowitz
Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy

Let me assure you, in Clinton’s administration the situation was even worse. Even though the Jews only make up 1.9 per cent of the country’s population, an astounding 56 per cent of Clinton’s appointees were Jews. A coincidence? I don’t think so.

We have to ask ourselves what motivates American Jews to gain such political power. Is it a genuine care for American interests? Soon, following the growing number of American casualties in Iraq, American people will start to ask themselves this very question. Since America currently enjoys the status of the world’s only super power and since all the Jews listed above declare themselves as devoted Zionists, we must begin to take the accusation that Zionists are trying to control the world very seriously. It is beyond doubt that Zionists, the most radical, racist and nationalistic Jews around, have already managed to turn America into an Israeli mission force. The world’s number one super power is there to support the Jewish state’s wealth and security matters. The one-sided pro-Zionist take on the IsraeliPalestinian conflict, the American veto against every ‘anti-Israeli’ UN resolution, the war against Iraq and now the militant intentions against Syria, all prove beyond doubt that it is Zionist interests that America is serving. American Jewry makes any debate on whether the ‘Protocols of the elder of Zion’ are an authentic document or rather a forgery irrelevant. American Jews (in fact Zionists) do control the world. So far they are doing pretty well for themselves at least. Whether the Americans enjoy the deterioration of their state’s affairs will no doubt be revealed soon.

The bit that I have quoted in bold is the bit that is usually quoted. Because that is one of the things that the protagonists do, they quote partially and out of context, and then the thing looks pretty damn rancid. In the context of the full article, I do not think it is intentional anti-semitism - and this is what I find when I trace back the more outrageous snippets that are constantly lumped together by his attackers. The fact that the out of context snippet could then be abused out of context by genuine anti-semites does not, in my view, invalidate the article. I find that when I try to understand the whole context the statements make some sort of sense. Sometimes the articles require several readings before I feel I’ve come to understand them - maybe I’m just really obtuse - and I haven’t found a way of judging Atzmon’s writings without some effort.

Now, to be honest with you, I do not know enough about the realities of American Lobbying (presumably only a very few lobbyists and politicians know the real truth of their own actions), so I cannot say that I agree with Atzmon’s thesis that the pro-Israel lobby is running the world by virtue of the power that they exert through powerful organisations such as AIPAC, the AJC and the ADL exert in Washington. I do know that the AJC ran an ad in the Financial Times:

The advert AJC posted in the FT showed a map of Europe, Africa and Asia centered on a blacked-out Iran and indicated the current and projected range of Iran’s missile capacity. It asked the question: “Suppose Iran one day gives nuclear devices to terrorists. Can anyone within range of Iran’s missiles feel safe?”

I can understand why Atzmon believes the Israel-Lobby is controlling the USA, but I don’t know if he is right or wrong. Perhaps now there will be a fuller public debate of the issue, so that it is possible to start deciding for oneself if Atzmon is close to correct, or way off beam on this one. It also seems to me that the Lobby is starting to target Europe for its activities, so we may discover more along the way.

I think that Atzmon should have the right to express his views on the matter, and that those views should be judged within the full context in which they are made.

In order to prevent this post becoming impossibly long, I’m not going to go through any of Mr. Greenstein’s long lists. Some of the other allegations are discussed in emails to follow.

Many of the emails I post are from the Indymedia UK features list, which is a publicly archived list where moderation decisions are made. Some are emails between myself and Mr. Greenstein and his fellow attackers. I actually don’t care whether they want them published or not. They weren’t private except for one sent to me by the editor of Jews sans frontieres and it is my view that it is indicative of the tactics this group is willing to employ, and brings into question Tony Greenstein’s claim that his war of attrition is political and not personal, and that “personal abuse is entirely Atzmon’s forte.”:

Its one thesis of his that is patently untrue.

Here is the email from Mark Elf - sent to me (Sat, 10 Nov 2007 00:45:17 +0000 (GMT) ):

You “presume from the cc’s on Tony’s email that you are working
together as a group on this one.” Are you fucking mad? When you are cc’d into an email promoting viagra or penis enlargement, do you presume that you are working as a group with the sender?

You useless piece of shit. And you complain of bullying tactics whilst betraying a woeful ignorance of racism.

What a wanker you are, whoever you are, ftp.

FTP is a loyalist slogan by the way. It stands for Fuck the Provos. Since you host sectarianism (at best) you might think it a happy coincidence.

You useless wanker, honestly. I can’t believe what you claim to believe. I was going to copy all the other cc’s on this list but, since there are some on the list I don’t know, it wouldn’t be right. It would look like bullying, you wanker! Sorry to be repetitive but there’s nothing worse than an idiot who thinks they’re clever.

What a fuckwit. I’m trying to get my head around this. I blog but I don’t do much surfing. You run or speak for a site that claims to want to “free the people.” I take that to mean all people. You host an article by Gilad Atzmon that states that Israel should have learned from what it was that made Jews unpopular enough to get millions of Jews killed by the nazis. Atzmon’s beef used to be that non-religious people who identify as Jews are zionists since they are asserting, not an identity but, supremacy. But now apparently whatever it was that Israelis have to learn was what it was that made Jews unpopular enough for even those Jews who had converted to Christianity or other religions or who never claimed that they were Jewish, to be killed. So there you have a Christian sitting in church with his or her yellow star. Suddenly they are yanked out of the church by the gestapo and marched off to a concentration camp. They did something to make themselves unpopular?
And the colonial settler State of Israel should learn something from that?

Maybe the last of the colonial settler states has learned that it’s a jolly good idea to have people like Atzmon compare it to the Jews who perished in the holocaust no matter what they did, no matter how they behaved, no matter what they claimed to be, because then they can say that anti-zionism is antisemitism.

But then all that (not so) subtlety is going to be lost on a wanker who believes that people cc’d into an email must be working as a group with the sender.

There are two more specifics in your email that I would like to address since you have written to me out of the blue to complain of my bullying tactics.

You have pasted a copy of an email from a Steve Cohen. Cohen, you might know, is a Jewish surname. Not all people with that surname are Jews but it’s a safe bet usually that someone with that name is Jewish. That does not mean that other Jews are responsible for the email he sent nor are people who are cc’d by someone that also has a Jewish surname.

You quote Deborah Maccoby too. Another Jewish surname. You suggest that Tony Greenstein and all of those he cc’d are responsible for her email and are responsible for any hypocritical departure from what she said regarding “silencing” or not. Individuals who are Jews can still write as individuals.

I have to say that you are not only defending this “free the people” site’s duty to post antisemitic (arguably, you say) articles but you have given vent to it on your own account, at least twice in yoru ludicrous email.

I’m not seeking a reply from a useless piece of shit but just in case you do reply, keep it “off list” you big bully.

And I say that this is unacceptable behaviour. I’m not prepared to keep quite about Mark Elf’s abuse, I don’t respect it as a form of political action, and I have already informed him it will be published. Since I made it clear to them that I would publish what I like, when I like, the emails have stopped rolling in, so presumably they realise that this kind of action isn’t actually acceptable.

I say that it is time Moshe Machover, Tony Greenstein, Deborah Maccoby, Mark Elf and friends take a time for reflection, that they think long and hard about whether their war of attrition is serving any useful purpose, about whether it is in the best interests of the Palestinian solidarity movement that they act in this manner, and that they try and understand how it appears that the ideological mindset they seem to have adopted, seems to allow them to justify using using the exact same methods of intimidation that the zionist lobby uses to attack those that do not agree with the implementation of ‘Zionism in practice’ and the horrors that entails for Palestinians.

I also say that anyone who is, like I was, dragged into the war of attrition, should be aware that the group has used the same tactics as are commonly used by the zionist lobby in the past, and should be on the look-out for them happening again.

If the group cannot find a more reasonable way of dealing with groups that they say they are supportive of, if they do not stop hounding and attempting to banish and silence their political adversaries, then I say they can FUCK OFF! I want nothing to do with them. Hopefully others will take the same line.

Read on through the documents and make your own mind up about what is going on here.

To comment you have to register. This is to prevent anonymous trolls and to encourage everyone to take responsibility for what they say, and how they say it.

This post has gone on long enough. I’m aware that there is loads more I need to clarify, and once all the stuff is posted, I will write more.

Entry Filed under: Uncategorized. .


• jblankfort | November 12, 2007 at 7:03 am

Those seeking to censor Gilad Atzmon are, as you suggest, no better than Abe Foxman because even though they claim to be “anti-zionists,” a claim I will accept, they are, like Foxman, Jewish tribalists at heart as Atzmon has previously identified them and that is why their collective and individual response to him for not accepting the official Zionist line on the Nazi’s Juedocide is identical to the vicious, spitting image of their brother tribalists who happen to be Zionists.

As for Gilad’s claim that the Jews are out to control the world, it should be clear to every thinking person –excluding your traditional Jewish Trotskyists–that the Zionist lobby AKA the American Jewish Political Establishment has clearly and long ago hijacked what is left of the American democratic political process and were, in fact, the big winners in the 2006 elections which, ironically, were against the war in Iraq that was orchestrated by Jewish neocons and the lobby on Israel’s behalf.

As a result of the vote, pro-Israel zealot, Nancy Pelosi appointed a Jewish pro-Israel hawk to the chair of every committee and subscommittee in the House that has anything to deal with Israel, the Middle East, or Foreign Aid, giving the lobby more power than it ever had before.
And who or what have been fiercely lobbying for an attack on Iran for more than a few years but the same cast that got the US into Iraq but because what passes for the Left is the US is so besotted with Trotskyists like Brenner and Ralph Schoenman as well as soft core Zionists, you have to read academics like Mearsheimer and Walt, or true radicals like James Petras to know it.

Funny thing, it was Lenni Brenner who first taught be about the Democratic Party and how it was controlled by the Zionists but I guess as he has grown old his tribal feelings have intruded on what once appeared to be a fine intelligence. Now, he is merely pathetic.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Turkish university to honour Israeli war crimes suspect

Do not honour the dishonourable!

Open letter to Professor Ali Dogramaci, Rector of Bilkent University, Ankara

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) views with grave concern your university's intention to honour Shimon Peres with an Honorary Doctorate. We feel certain that you do so without the knowledge of his personal history and his history as president of a state that practices the most pernicious form of colonialism and apartheid. Bear with us as we recount the most salient points of his career and life which directly point to a record of war crimes which will immeasurably tarnish the image of Bilkent University, should you confer an Honorary Degree upon him. Those who have received this prestigious degree from your university will be tainted by being in the company of such a notorious personality. On18 April 1996, when Israel still occupied southern Lebanon, Shimon Peres was prime minister. He was in the midst of an election campaign, so he took a decision to do something to change his "dovish" image because doves are not respected in Israel. He launched "Operation Grapes of Wrath", causing 400,000 Lebanese to flee their homes, with almost 800 of them fleeing to a UN base in Qana, South Lebanon.

On 18 April the Israeli army shelled the UN shelter in Qana, killing 102 civilians, mainly women, children and the elderly. Many more were injured. Human Rights Watch, the UN and Amnesty International subsequently disproved the myth that the Israeli army did not deliberately intend to shell the UN base. Shimon Peres said at the time, "In my opinion, everything was done according to clear logic and in a responsible way. I am at peace."

The Qana massacre led to Shimon Peres being denied the job he coveted at the time: that of UN secretary-general. He should have been denied it anyway for being the architect of Israel's nuclear programme – one which remains outside the scrutiny of the world even as Israel bays for the cessation of Iran's pursuit of nuclear energy for civilian purposes.

Peres is on record for being responsible for other war crimes, from building colonies on occupied Arab land to endorsing a policy of extra-judicial killings, which murders Palestinians and other Arabs without the benefit of a trial or, in fact, any proof other than that provided by Israeli intelligence, the Shin Bet. He also supports the siege on Gaza, the destruction of the airport and the elaborate system of checkpoints all across the West Bank. He defends the demolition of Palestinian homes, and he justified the atrocities committed by the Israeli army in its recent war on Lebanon in 2006.

Peres is also on record for defending land gained during war, claiming that Israel has the right to the Golan Heights because it was gained during war. All this makes him wholly unsuitable for consideration for any Honorary Degree – let alone actually being awarded one!

We, like all other Palestinians and international supporters of human rights and international law, expect from Bilkent University to uphold the highest standard of respect for the human rights of the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip, which has been under a hermetic siege imposed by Israel for almost two years. Difficult and brave decisions need to be taken in support of Palestinians exactly like South Africa was supported long before it became fashionable to do so. Israeli war criminals should be boycotted, not rewarded.

Turkish people have always shown strong support for the struggle of the victims of both Apartheid and Zionism, and they will continue to do so. We hope that your university will remain within the Turkish consensus and refrain from honouring a dishonourable man.

Ramallah, Palestine

Monday, 29 October 2007

Corporate murder in Brazil

Landless rural worker shot by security company hired by multinational Syngenta

By Isabella Kenfield* and Roger Burbach**

In the Brazilian state of Paraná, Valmir Mota de Oliveira of Via Campesina, an international peasant organization, was shot twice in the chest at point blank range by armed gunmen on an experimental farm of Syngenta Seeds, a multinational agribusiness corporation. The cold blooded murder took place on Sunday 21 October after Via Campesina had occupied the site because of Syngenta’s illegal development of genetically modified (GM) seeds. Via Campesina and the Movement of the Landless Rural Workers (MST), the main Brazilian organization involved in Via Campesina’s actions, are calling the murder an execution, declaring, “Syngenta used the services of an armed militia.”

Syngenta is the world’s largest producer of agrochemicals and the third largest commercial seed producer. Between 2001 and 2004, Syngenta was responsible for the largest case of genetic contamination on the planet when its GM Bt-10 corn, approved for only animal feeds, was mixed with US grain meant for human consumption. Via Campesina first occupied Syngenta’s site in March 2006, after it discovered that Syngenta was illegally cultivating GM soybeans and corn. The occupation drew strong international support, and in November state governor Roberto Requião signed a decree of intent to expropriate the Syngenta farm and turn it into an agroecological research centre that would benefit poor rural families. The decree was a huge political victory for the rural and environmental movements, challenging the power of agribusiness in Brazil.

When MST organized a march on the Syngenta site in late November last year, its buses were halted by a blockade of tractors formed by about a hundred members of the Rural Society of the West, a group representing large landowners and commercial agricultural producers in western Paraná. It is part of a larger network known as ruralistas, which represents reactionary landed and agribusiness interests at the regional, state and national levels. Some Society members were on horseback and armed with guns. As the marchers began to cross the barricade, Society members fired shots into the air, and beat the marchers with sticks and clubs, resulting in the injury of nine people.

When asked why the organization had confronted MST, Alessandro Meneghel, President of the Rural Society, responded: "To show that the rural producers do not peacefully accept land invasions and political provocations... Attitudes such as these, of legally questionable [land] expropriations, send a bad message to investors, chasing them away and provoking ‘Brazil risk.’” Meneghel threatened “for every invasion of land that occurs in the region, there will be a similar action by the Society. We are not going to permit the rural producers … to be insulted by ideological political movements of any kind.”

Through its alliances with the Rural Society and other large landed interests, Syngenta succeeded in overturning Governor Requião’s decree. In July 2007, the Via Campesina was evicted from the site, relocating to MST’s Olga Benário settlement, located next to Syngenta. The de-occupation occurred in conjunction with a peaceful march by the movements, after Requião ordered the police to stop the Rural Society from confronting the marchers. Control of the property was returned to Syngenta, and it was then that the corporation hired the private NF Security company to guard the site.

A statement on Syngenta’s website claims the corporation “specifically agreed in the contract with [NF] security company not to use any force or carry weapons”. Yet, in late July families at Olga Benário were threatened by armed NF security guards, who entered the settlement and remained there for about 40 minutes. At night, the guards would fire shots in the air. These events were reported to the authorities.

As a result, in October the federal police raided NF Security’s headquarters, where it confiscated illegal arms and ammunition. The police report concludes that the NF Security company contracts individuals, many with criminal records, to form armed militias that carry out forced land evictions, and that the Rural Society numbers among its clients.

At dawn on 21 October, about 150 members of Via Campesina reoccupied Syngenta’s site, where they encountered four armed security guards, who were disarmed and left the site. At about 1 in the afternoon, Via Campesina reports, “a bus stopped in front of the entry gate and about forty armed gunmen got out, firing machine guns at the people that they saw in the encampment. They broke down the gate, then shot [Mota]. The militia attacked the encampment to assassinate the leaders and recover the illegal arms of the NF Security company.”

Five MST/Via Campesina members were wounded and remain hospitalized. Security guard Fábio Ferreira, who apparently returned to the site, was also killed. The reason for his death is unclear, although one MST member believes Ferreira was murdered because he had incriminating information he might have divulged. MST members Célia Lourenço and Celso Barbosa were chased and shot at, but managed to escape. It appears the two were targeted to die like Mota. Earlier this year, Meneghel of the Rural Society verbally threatened Lourenço at a public forum, and MST reports that on March 27th, its office in Cascavel, Paraná received an anonymous phone call advising Mota, Lourenço and Barbosa to be careful because “a trap was being prepared for them.” Mota himself registered the death threats with the local authorities. On August 28, Terra de Direitos, a human rights organization, registered the threats with the National Program of Human Rights Defenders, and requested protection for the three.

The owner of NF Security, Nerci Freitas, has admitted he gave the order for the attack on Syngenta. He has been arrested and charged with homicide and formation of gangs. No one has claimed that the Via Campesina/MST occupants were armed. The organizations are calling for the immediate arrest of Meneghel, and are demanding that Syngenta leave Brazil immediately, declaring, “Syngenta Seeds should be held responsible for what occurred.”

Mota’s murder exhibits an unsettling arrogance and dismissal of the law and the government by the Rural Society, NF Security and Syngenta, not unlike that being played out on a grander scale by the Blackwater security company and US corporate interests in Iraq. It also highlights the increasing number of conflicts between agribusiness and rural civil society sweeping Latin America, as the alliance between national and international agribusiness deepens from country to country. Mota’s death could well signal a new era of continental violence and bloodshed as the powerful agribusiness interests come up against the progressive social movements that are shaking the Americas.


*Isabella Kenfield is an associate of the Center for the Study of the America (CENSA) who has just returned from living in Brazil. She writes on agribusiness, agrarian conflicts and social movements.

**Roger Burbach is director of CENSA who has written extensively on Latin America and US policy. He is currently at work on “The New Fire in the Americas.”

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Thirty-fourth anniversary of October 1973 War

Lest we forget

In memory of the Egyptian and Syrian servicemen who gave their lives to liberate their lands from the Zionist occupiers and their American patrons.

In memory of the Moroccan servicemen and the Palestinian fighters who fought in the war of liberation on the eastern front.

In memory of the Iraqi and Jordanian servicemen who came to the aid of their Syrian brothers.

What is taken by force can be recovered only by force.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

REFUGE - a new album by the Orient House Ensemble

Our new Album REFUGE is out (in the UK)

1 October 2007

We believe that this is the Orient House Ensemble's finest album (so far)


To listen to some audio samples

To watch us live (Sky TV Special)

To buy online:



When I founded the Orient House Ensemble in 2000, I had just a few tunes in mind, but I also had a great belief. I was sure that music was capable of bringing people together. I was totally convinced that music could heal the wounds of the past. I was sure that music was a message of peace. I was confident that, if rivals could make it into a song, they can easily learn to live together.

Eight years later, I must admit that I may have got it wrong. This is our fifth album. We have performed hundreds of concerts around the world and somehow peace is nowhere near. Every other day a new conflict comes to life. Once a week, a newly born fear is shaped into a sinister agenda wrapped in an image of Western goodness. As far as my homeland is concerned, peace has never looked so far away. The world is indeed becoming more and more hostile.

Yet, we, the Orient House Ensemble, have done something, a thing that has very little cosmic significance. We have learned to sing together. We didn't plan to learn, we didn't educate ourselves. It just grew on us. Over the years our personal fears faded away. Our insecurities melted down. Without realising it, our music made it into a language with some very personal shapes and colours. Music has become our refuge.

I was wrong regarding music as messenger. I was wrong referring to music as an idea or ideology. Music is not a messenger, it is actually the message. Music doesn't belong to man. It is the other way around, man belongs to music. Music speaks itself through man. Music comes into play when thoughts pass away, consciousness disintegrates and ideologies implode. Music is the true Being in Time. Just give it time and let it be.

Enjoy Yourself.

Gilad Atzmon




"...this is his bands finest album to date and one that best captures the spirit and vitality of their live shows."
**** Jazzwise Magazine, October 2007

"...The individuality of the music is extraordinary."
**** Alan Brownlee, Manchester Evening News, August 07

".the OHE is one of the most uncontrivedly versatile and unequivocally entertaining jazz units currently operating in the UK"
Chris Parker, The Vortex, September 07

".Gilad Atzmon has earned a reputation as an original and creative musician and composer, and that is apparent again in the eight new compositions here."
***The Scotsman, September 07

".each track on Refuge makes a statement."
**** John L Walters, The Guardian, September 2007

"...See Him Live and Buy His Albums."
****Alan Cross, Amazon, September 2007

".The new album is as passion-filled as ever."
Peter Bacon, Birmingham Post, September 2007

".Atzmon has always been one of the most distinctive saxophonists on the British circuit."
Clive Davis, The Sunday Times, September 07

".a brilliantly navigated combination of gentle, sensitive lyricism and precisely focused passion."
Chris May, All About Jazz, September 07

".the album feels tranquil and meditative.."
Phil Harrison, Time Out, September 07

".Atzmon is an astonishing musician."
John Lewis, Metro, September 07

"Exciting stuff."
Roger Trapp, The Independent September 07


".More sophisticated, subtle and varied than anything else I've heard them do and . absolutely overwhelming.If you can possibly see them live, do."
Aaron Broadhurst Blog, St Ives gig Review,September 2007

".He makes a lovely liquid sound and produces beautifully formed rapid roulades with every note clean as a whistle."
Ivan Hewett reviews Gilad Altzmon at Brentwood Theatre, September 07

".his phenomenal musical talent has gained him a sizeable and discerning following.The quality of the music was extraordinary.this was still a memorable and thrilling showcase for the talents of a passionate, intensely focused musician - and one which is unlikely to be forgotten in a hurry by those who attended."
Graham Williams, Live Review, Taliesin Arts Centre, South Wales Evening Post, September 07

For more information about live gigs click here.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Free Burhan Abu Zaid of Shefaamer - IDF military resister!

Dear Friends,

Israeli military courts continue to take a hard line against Palestinian Druze citizens of Israel who refuse military service on conscientious grounds. The most recent is Burhan Abu Zaid, of Shefaamer in the Galilee, who has been held for nearly 2 months after refusing to participate in the IDF induction process. His father said: “My son decided to refuse to serve in an army that occupies Palestinian lands, the army of a state that refuses to recognize the right of return.”

Among the many causes for complaint of the Druze Palestinian citizens of Israel, it is significant that these military resisters highlight recognition of the right of return.
See, in Hebrew:

Recognize the right to, on grounds of conscience, refuse military service and to disobey military orders! Release all military resisters!


Henry Lowi

Monday, 17 September 2007

Fortieth anniversary of the Israeli occupation

Building on action taken by civil society and moving forward

Connecting with worldwide peace and social movements

Paper delivered at UN conference at the EU parliament in Brussels, 30 August 2007

By Angela Godfrey-Goldstein

This year and next are landmarks for Israelis, Palestinians and internationals campaigning against Occupation, advocating for a viable, sovereign Palestinian state, at peace with Israel, or other options if a viable 2-state option (as opposed to the Bantustan version currently on offer) is seen to be no longer attainable. 40 Years of Occupation was marked around the world in June with non-violent events which will continue by marking 60 years since the establishment of the state and the Nakba. Within ICAHD, my organisation, we launched a one and a half million dollar campaign to rebuild 300 homes demolished by Israel, including full page adverts in The New York Times and the Guardian, to mark our 40-60 Campaign, (funded by Americans, including holocaust survivors and Orthodox Jews) to expose Israeli policies of discrimination, whilst working to end the Occupation.

The 40 Years of Occupation was marked around the world in June with a multitude of events, gleaning much media attention. Next year’s worldwide campaigns will continue the Bilbao Declaration which invokes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and UN resolutions and calls for the establishment of civil society networks. Similarly, the Florence Declaration underlines the role of civil society, and seeks to reinforce the Arab League Peace Plan. There is also the internet lobby, a spin-off of MoveOn and in UK War on Want, ICAHD UK and many others in the Enough! coalition are blazing the way for civil society, too. In Israel, as many as a million Israeli civilians have voted with their feet and left the country, while some say the real refusal rate of youth to serve in the IDF may be as high as 50%. Grey refusal in the Air Force is also very high, said to be 30%.

John Pilger wrote recently:

“The ethnic cleansing of Palestine is as much America's crusade as Israel's. On 16th August, the Bush administration announced an unprecedented $30bn military "aid package" for Israel, the world's fourth biggest military power, an air power greater than Britain, a nuclear power greater than France. No other country on earth enjoys such immunity, allowing it to act without sanction, as Israel. No other country has such a record of lawlessness: not one of the world's tyrannies comes close. International treaties, such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, ratified by Iran, are ignored by Israel. There is nothing like it in UN history.” I’d add that Israel has ignored over 60 UNSC resolutions, in direct negation of United Nations’ recognition of Israeli statehood.

“But [says Pilger] something is changing. Perhaps last summer's panoramic horror beamed from Lebanon on to the world's TV screens provided the catalyst. Or perhaps cynicism of Bush and Blair and the incessant use of the inanity, "terror", together with the day-by-day dissemination of a fabricated insecurity in all our lives, has finally brought the attention of the international community outside the rogue states, Britain and the US, back to one of its principal sources, Israel.”

“The swell of a boycott is growing inexorably, as if an important marker has been passed, reminiscent of the boycotts that led to sanctions against apartheid South Africa. Both Mandela and Desmond Tutu have drawn this parallel; so has South African cabinet minister Ronnie Kasrils and other illustrious Jewish members of the liberation struggle.” [end quote]

Ronnie Kasrils said, in fact, on visiting Palestine this year, that it is 100 times worse there than apartheid South Africa. And UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, has said that human rights conditions in the EU trade agreement should be invoked and Israel's trading preferences suspended. This was echoed by Clare Short, with us today, in a June 26th debate in the British Parliament.

Also in early July, the Dutch government warned a Rotterdam-based company to stop work on the construction of the 700 kilometre-long "separation barrier" or “apartheid wall”, as its construction was ruled illegal by the ICJ in 2004. In America major churches such as the Presbyterians have ongoing processes of Mission Responsibility Through Investment: MRTI in place, which lead to divestment.

I would say that those who read the facts on the ground, the infrastructure, and the money trail, and the political declarations or meaningful silences or constructive ambiguity (or even warnings of the next intifada brewing if November produces yet another slap in the face to the Palestinians) – are less than optimistic.

International civil society, as represented at this meeting and at Social Forum meetings, consisting of peace and human rights groups, faith-based groups, trade unions, universities and intellectuals, and all those ordinary people of the world in solidarity with the Palestinian people and the Israeli peace camp, is the key to liberation. When even the Peace NGOs Forum run by the Peres Centre for Peace holds a conference in Florence to engage with international civil society because it sees it as the only effective counterweight, one sees a growing realisation that only civil society can bear this singular burden of democracy, not least to empower politicians at forums such as this – the United Nations and the European Parliament.

I see, after five years of working with diplomats, politicians and aid workers in Israel and Palestine, that on an individual basis there’s enormous personal support and empathy for the Palestinian cause. Because they see it. They “get” it. But actually diplomats have no power. They are the ‘hollow men’ and their own governments are unable and unwilling, often for economic or domestic reasons, to translate diplomatic empathy into policy. Thus the gulf between realpolitik and policies of peace or real democracy. Between the peoples of the world and the power bases. Between those millions who took to the streets against the Occupation of Iraq or those who went to war, willy-nilly defying warnings.

I recall Ophir Pines-Paz, when Minister of Internal Affairs, insisting at a conference in Jerusalem about the city’s future (attended by the “left”): “Give me a hard time. I need to hear from you so I can offset pressure I get from other lobbies.” Similarly, in Florence, in June this year, Romano Prodi told the Peace NGOs that he can’t pressure George Bush or interfere in Israeli domestic policy, but said “Italian civil society can help you a lot with this.” In other words, only if we build a successful grassroots, civil society struggle, similar to that of the Anti-Apartheid Movement in the 80s or Civil Rights in the 60s, will the diplomats and politicians become sufficiently compelled to change policy.

So much happens so fast on a daily basis (home demolitions, arrests, settler violence, Wall infrastructure, tree uprootings, detentions, military raids, 50% of Palestinian farmers now on food aid in model farming communities, and a general breakdown of Palestinian civil society, to name but a few), and Israeli and Palestinian society are so dysfunctional that outside help is vital. We need to build on action taken, connect with worldwide peace and social movements and develop them together. The real international peace movement, which mobilizes against wars and occupation, in Iraq, Lebanon or the OPT, is the only alternative. But campaigners must know the facts on the ground and subtleties, or else become unfocused, simplistic or simply hate-filled. And they must be able to counter the rhetoric of the right wing, which doesn’t recognise the Palestinians, and never has – whilst demanding of Hamas full recognition of borderless Israel as a Jewish state (invoking, with chutzpah, United Nations benchmarks!).

I see the Israeli extreme Right as a more dangerous enemy of peace than the Palestinians, most of whom want peace. Recently the IDF escorted us into Hebron for a demonstration through the Palestinian part of Hebron, rather than through militant strongholds of Kiryat Arba and settlements ruthlessly judaising Hebron’s Old City, which they considered far more dangerous to our safety. Indeed it was Hebron American Israeli Kach-supporter settler Dr. Baruch Goldstein’s massacre of 29 Palestinians in the Cave of the Patriarchs, the Ibrahimi Mosque, which persuaded Hamas to turn its armed struggle against civilians, and start the wave of bus and café suicide bombings which so traumatised Israelis, preventing them from feeling responsibility for Palestinian suffering. Hamas is threatening now to end its ceasefire. Let us see then if the Wall can really work or if – as Jamal has shown – it isn’t really just a huge land and water grab, a tool for massive population transfer. The Right has no peace plan. At a recent 3-day Conference in Jerusalem to discuss the future of the Jewish people, peace was not even on the Agenda. So much for their Jewish values.

We need now to co-ordinate a global campaign aimed to put pressure on Israel to end its politics of occupation and colonization and divide-and-rule tactics by sanctioning its systematic violations of international law and United Nations resolutions. We must save Israel from itself, for the sake of the majority of average peaceful Israelis and Palestinians.

As one who lived for five years in South Africa under apartheid, I heard the anti-boycott choruses from apartheid supporters, so I take such words with a large pinch of cynical salt. Boycott is a fundamentally useful way of encouraging public awareness, putting pressure and expressing disapproval. No, it is not okay. No, the world has benchmarks of human rights and international law. Occupation, colonialism and apartheid are unacceptable in the 21st century. Some say boycotts “will not change positions in a day, but they will send a clear message to the Israeli public that these positions are racist and unacceptable … They would have to choose.”

In my organisation we have gone unsuccessfully to the Supreme Court to fight a demolition order on our peace centre, Beit Arabiya, located in a Palestinian home demolished by Israel four times. So we’re now examining with the Chilean judge who brought Pinochet to trial, the possibility of using universal jurisdiction to sue those we say are committing war crimes by demolishing people’s homes (for nothing to do with security). Similarly, the UN has been served with an Urgent Action Appeal on behalf of 3,000 Jahalin Bedouin – refugees being moved off land they’ve lived on since being forced off their own lands in the early ’50s; a population transfer being enforced by military order simply because they live in the path of the Wall being built illegally around the settlement city of Maale Adumim, whose infrastructure is designed to prevent a viable Palestine from ever arising. Another Urgent Action Appeal has just been delivered as to the North Jordan Valley for more population transfer there.

I believe there are a number of actions that can be taken:

1. Present the issue of settlements to the ICJ for its ruling under international law.

2. Ensure the recommendations of the ICJ are implemented regarding the Wall, by calling the international community to boycott the Occupation, sanction Israel and divest;

3. Work on a comprehensive registry of Palestinian damages, in the knowledge that transitional justice will one day kick in as it always does;

4. If Israel doesn’t take serious steps towards real peace, Eurovision, the European Cup, the Olympic Games and other high profile events must be targeted, and the academic boycott increasingly kick in.

5. When even Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni uses the words “viable Palestine” we have to agree what real viability entails

6. Never forget the centrality of the Right of Return and Israel’s responsibility for the refugees (which must also be acknowledged for the sake of Israeli closure, psychological health and reconciliation).

Because the crimes against humanity which UN Special Rapporteur John Dugard says are being committed --– the Occupation has elements of colonialism and apartheid in it, according to him -- are unacceptable, even if governments turn a blind eye or lack the political will to take principled stands. The emperor is naked and only international civil society is free to say so. Which emperor? All the emperors. (If Madeleine Albright could put her foot down and freeze settlements, why doesn’t Ms. Rice?) Indeed, civil society has a duty to exercise and underwrite freedom and democracy or risk losing them, in the face of neo-conservative values and the neocons’ predilection for imperialistic wars – fought by Israel as their proxy in the Middle East.

Pressure works. So, sadly, we have to ratchet up the pressure, so that Israel’s government won’t continue down the suicidal road on which it’s embarked. This means lobbying those in power. Insisting that they visit Palestine with critical guides (not just the IDF or Jewish lobby) to see what is contentious. We need to ensure they visit the living conditions of Bedouin citizens living in the Negev without water, electricity, roads, health services or any conditions provided to other citizens living next door. It means writing Op-Eds or letters and getting them placed, even in local newspapers. Phoning-in to local or national radio to report on visits and actions and activisms and campaigns. Boycotting Israeli products. Insisting on the benchmarks of international law and human rights. Promoting photographic exhibitions particularly amongst students so they can see what the hell is going on.

And it demands of us to strategise and to prioritise. Are we now embarked on an anti-apartheid campaign? Are we still going for the 2-state solution or can we discuss alternatives? If the 2-state solution is already dead and buried and irrelevant because of those facts on the ground, what are the alternatives? How do we fight the so-called security infrastructure being built on E-1 -- the nail in the coffin of the 2-state solution – already two huge police stations dominate it. Can we strategise effectively? Where do we stand on Gaza and its prison-like sub-human conditions, the blockade it suffers, the poisonous water supply, the naval patrols preventing fishing, while Israeli officials talk of it being free? We must surely fund the Free Gaza campaign.

The Israeli government and the Bush Administration will not move forwards for real peace. Time and serious commitment are of the essence, as are truth, and true hearts. Peace – real peace - is long overdue. This is no time to cling for security to the line of least resistance, for feeling comfortable. We are in a state of psychological warfare, fighting for peace. A spiritual battle that we shall, insha’allah, eventually win. Together.

[Thank you.]

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Canadian Labour for Palestine responds to US anti-boycott statement

From Henry Lowi, Toronto, Canada:

Below is a “Labour for Palestine” statement issued in response to the pro-Israel statement of some US labor leaders.

Please send a note of encouragement to


Henry Lowi


Labour for Palestine Responds to US Anti-Boycott Statement

27 August 2007

In July 2007, a group of labour leaders from the US issued a statement opposing the growing international campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. The statement was signed by a number of presidents from unions including the American Federation of Teachers, the American Postal Workers Union, the Communication Workers of America, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and the AFL-CIO(1). It was widely discussed in the Israeli media, where it was presented as a response to this summer’s important set of boycott resolutions from unions in the UK. While the US statement can in no way be seen as representative of grassroots sentiment within the North American trade union movement, as labour activists involved in a variety of Canadian unions we feel it is important to respond to the array of mistruths and distortions it contains.

Singling out Israel or international solidarity

The US statement begins by endorsing a sentiment that is repeated ad nauseum by pro-Israel activists:

“with the diverse range of oppressive regimes around the world about which there is almost universal silence, we have to question the motives of these resolutions that single out one country in one conflict.”

The first thing to note about this argument is that it contains a remarkable omission. Nowhere in the entire US statement is there mention of the fact that the global campaign of BDS against Israel is a direct response to an urgent appeal signed in July 2005 by over 170 Palestinian worker, student, farmer, women, professional and refugee associations (2).

This appeal was endorsed by every Palestinian trade union federation and is the broadest and most representative call for international solidarity ever made by Palestinian society.

This point bears repeating. To portray the call for boycott as a “simplistic and non-constructive approach” originating from outside the region deliberately obfuscates the central point of the BDS campaign. The global trade union support for boycott resolutions is a direct response to an urgent appeal from Palestinian workers and their representatives.

Palestinian workers and their representatives have set up a picket line and asked us not to cross. As North American trade unionists we have an extra responsibility to workers and their families struggling against unjust and oppressive regimes – particularly when those regimes are fully supported by the US and Canadian governments.

It is worth emphasizing that attempts to characterize the international trade union movement as ‘singling out’ Israel appear ridiculous to anyone with more than a passing acquaintance with the labour politics. If there is one issue – particularly in North America - that the labour movement has simply been silent on for too many decades it is the injustice committed against the Palestinian people. The courageous resolutions coming from the UK, Canada and countries in Europe are a long overdue response to a shameful blight on the history of the international trade union movement. Our fellow trade unionists in the US should take up this campaign with even more vigour, given the fact that the crimes committed against the Palestinian people by the Israeli government would simply not be possible without US diplomatic, financial and military support.

The 'why-pick-on-Israel' response to the boycott campaign is even more shocking to hear from the leaders of the largest and most influential union organizations in the US. What kind of trade unionists ever make the argument that we shouldn't support a labour struggle in one city because there are other workers also being oppressed in another? Or that a victory in one sector won't aid our struggles as workers in another? This is an essential ABC of international solidarity. It is an unfortunate truth that too many in the labour movement in the US - and Canada - have largely forgotten or deliberately buried the principle of 'an injury to one is an injury to all'. Nevertheless, we must constantly uphold and stress this principle as essential to rebuilding our respective labour movements around a platform of militant, progressive solidarity and anti-imperialism. It is indeed striking that the US statement avoids all mention of even the word 'solidarity'.

We are absolutely certain that the trade unionists in the US that are active around solidarity with Palestine are the same ones promoting other solidarity issues in the labour movement: the wars against the Iraqi and Afghan peoples, solidarity with workers in Mexico, Colombia, Egypt, the Philippines, and many others. These activists are also on the forefront of picket lines, organizing the unorganized, building support for undocumented workers, and leading ‘unauthorized’ strikes for social justice. The portrayal of BDS resolutions as narrowing the work of trade union activists is simply dishonest. A victory on one of these issues will inspire and mobilize activists across a broad range of social justice issues. This is our experience in Canada. It is certain to be the case elsewhere.

The ‘both sides’ argument

The US labour leaders’ statement also invokes the equally oft-repeated argument that we need to be ‘balanced’, look at ‘all sides’, avoid talking about the ‘victims and victimizer’, and so forth. The statement claims:

“We note with increasing concern that virtually all of these [BDS] resolutions focus solely on objections to actions or policies of the Israeli government, and never on actions or policies of Palestinian or other Arab governments, parties or movements. We notice with increasing concern that characterization of the Palestinians as victims and Israel as victimizer is a staple of such resolutions. That there are victims and victimizers on all sides, and that many if not most of the victims of violence and repression on all sides are civilians, are essential items often not mentioned in these resolutions.”

This argument of balance is willfully blind and deliberately obfuscating of the central political issues at hand. There is an underlying cause to the ongoing misery and suffering that affects peoples in the area – and it affects some people more than others: The destruction of the Palestinian homeland in 1948; the creation of an exclusivist state that closely resembles the apartheid state of South Africa; the continued occupation, since 1967, of Palestinian lands in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in violation of UN resolutions; and the current encirclement, siege and economic strangulation of Gaza; these are the root problems of the conflict. Israel (with U.S. and British support) is the key perpetrator of these violations and it is morally disingenuous to deploy arguments of ‘all sides equally guilty’. These violations of the Palestinian peoples and nation must be addressed if a genuine and just peace is to be achieved in the region. Avoiding these issues – and repeating vacuous calls that serve to equate the oppressed and their oppressors – really means standing on the side of those in power.

Of course civilians on all sides suffer from the ongoing state of war. But if you want to do something about that, then the fundamental causes of the problem need to be addressed. The global BDS movement attempts to do just that: by denying legitimacy to those who make a living justifying the current state of affairs; by refusing to work with organizations that support the oppression of an entire people; and by opposing investments that strengthen the occupation and domination of the Palestinian people. Peace can only be brought to the region by supporting peoples struggling for their freedom and social justice.

The negotiations myth

The US labour leaders’ statement goes on to argue that peace requires the coming together of the parties. The calls for boycotts stand in the way of the necessary interaction between the warring communities. Such an argument is again similar to those used against workers engaged in struggle in their workplaces. How often have we been told that a strike ‘hurts everyone’, and if we sit down and negotiate then ‘all sides will win’?

The reality is that over the last few decades the so-called ‘peace’ negotiations have simply served to cement Israel’s stranglehold over the Palestinian people. Following the 1993 Oslo Accords, Israel’s settlement construction in the West Bank doubled. Its system of military orders governing every aspect of Palestinian life was expanded to include an invidious control of Palestinian movement based on the notorious South African pass card system. Israel guaranteed the complete dependence of the Palestinian economy through control of all exports and imports, the construction of industrial zones to exploit cheap Palestinian labour, and the ultimate supply of all water, electricity, and fuel entering the Palestinian areas. The disconnected islands of territories that Palestinians have been made captive within have been rightly described as Bantustans. These Bantustans are now encircled by the Apartheid Wall and its associated network of military checkpoints, barbed wire fences and explosive mines.

To claim that ‘direct talks’ are a panacea for these fundamental problems overlooks the basic fact that negotiations are not neutral. The Israeli government wields tremendous military, economic and political superiority over the Palestinian people. It is supported by the most powerful states on the planet. The Palestinian people are living under Israeli occupation. In such a situation can it be anything more than self-evident that negotiations will favour the more powerful? These realities of power in the region – and its implications for the achievement of rights of self-determination and justice for Palestinians – must be acknowledged to truly demonstrate international solidarity. It means taking sides. As unionists we know that this means always being in the front ranks supporting those suffering against exploitation and oppression.

There are groups of people in Israel that respect the rights of Palestinians, maintain relations of solidarity and support for their struggle, and also support the BDS movement against Israeli apartheid. Much like the relations between the white South African supporters of the ANC and the liberation movement, the former fully supported the struggle and renounced the privileges and the superior status given to them by the racist regime. We are absolutely confident that the numbers and public profile of those courageous Israelis who stand with the Palestinian people will continue to increase alongside the growing strength of the global boycott movement.

Israeli and Palestinian unions

What about the Palestinian and Israeli trade unions? Once again, the silence of the US labour leaders’ statement towards the call issued by all Palestinian trade union federations in February 2007 to boycott the existing Israeli union movement – the Histadrut – needs to be underlined (3). The Histadrut represents a colonial-type union formation that supports the ongoing domination of the Palestinian people. It has worked hand-in-hand with the military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip for decades, and is thus an integral part of the exploitation of Palestinian labour. The former Histadrut leader, Amir Peretz, moved straight on to Israeli Defence Minister and in that position presided over the horrendous bombardment of Lebanon in 2006. As part of Olmert’s government, he participated in the further extension of settlements in the West Bank and the building of the Apartheid Wall. The relationships that exist between the Histadrut and Palestinian labour institutions can in no honest way be described as constituting “co-operative and mutually supportive activities”.

Why BDS?

The purpose of boycott and divestment resolutions is to force the Israeli government to fulfill basic principles of human rights. Governments around the world have clearly failed to do so – and, in contrast, are instrumental to supporting Israel’s system of oppression. The BDS campaign message is direct: it simply says that we should have no part in supporting those who stand with and maintain Israeli apartheid; we refuse to participate with and strengthen those structures and demand that basic human rights are achieved for the Palestinian people.

The boycott campaign is working. What other international initiative over the last few decades has so publicly expressed global dissatisfaction with Israeli policies against the Palestinian people and been so effective in forcing the Israeli government to respond? We know that we are having an impact when the Israeli government decides to set up a special government committee to combat the global boycott movement (4). We know that our voices are being heard when the British government must publicly come out against the UK trade union movement because of its position on Israeli human rights violations (5). When was the last time a western government has paid attention to a trade union resolution?

The BDS movement is also a powerful consciousness raising tool. By raising the arguments and debates we help to educate workers around an issue that it is simply impossible to understand on a diet of the mainstream, corporate media. In Canada, for example, union activists in the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE Ontario) have been conducting a year-long education campaign throughout dozens of union locals based on material produced by the union on BDS. Hundreds of workers have gone through these educational sessions. Discussions and groups supportive of Palestinian solidarity have formed in other unions. This would simply not have been possible without a resolution passed by CUPE in March 2006.

Over the past fifty years much of the trade union movement in the US (and many in Canada as well) have an inglorious record in supporting the foreign policy efforts of successive pro-business governments. Nevertheless, today a growing number of trade unionists are rejecting that tradition and are instead looking to rebuild a truly internationalist worker's movement. The BDS campaign is a powerful component of this movement for progressive union solidarity.

As Canadian trade unionists, we are convinced that the global BDS campaign represents a re-awakening of the true principles of the labour movement. The boycott movement was an important part of solidarity with black South Africans struggling against apartheid. We are certain that it will be an instrumental part of achieving justice and peace in the Middle East. We are proud to be active in this campaign in Canada. A great many rank-and-file labour activists in the US support this work. Their voices and solidarity will not be silenced.



(1) See
for a copy of this statement.

(2) See

(3) See

(4) See “Government to Form Joint Task Force to counter U.K. Boycotts”,
Haaretz, 8 June 2007

(5) See British Embassy Tel Aviv, “Howells Comments on Boycott of Israeli


About Labour for Palestine

Labour for Palestine is a network of activists involved in promoting and strengthening the BDS campaign across a variety of different Canadian unions as a sub-committee of the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA).

In March 2006, Labour for Palestine launched a 106-page reader exploring themes such as the history of the Palestinian struggle, Zionism and the Israeli labour movement, Canadian ties to Israeli apartheid, the global campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions, and commentary around the CUPE Ontario resolution in support of BDS. The reader can be purchased online from the Toronto Women’s Bookstore for Cd$13.00 by visiting

For more information on Labour for Palestine, please contact

Saturday, 1 September 2007

There's no correct way to be pro-Israel

By Jeff Halper*

Published in the Jerusalem Post, 28 August 2007

A funny thing happened to me on my way from Tel Aviv to New York a couple months ago. I was sitting in my aisle seat reading a book, when all of a sudden I became aware of the tall figure of a man looming over me.

I looked up and saw a guy with a mustache and kippa whom I had never met before.

"I am Gerald Steinberg," he trumpeted. "I am the person who will put you out of business."

Then he abruptly lurched off. But he apparently had one more thought he wanted to share with me. Suddenly he turned around, pointed at me and bellowed: "You are a Jewish anti-Semite!"

Now accosting me in the street is one thing, but accusing me of anti-Semitism in a voice everyone could hear on a planeload of Jewish passengers was virtual incitement to a lynching. Fortunately, my fellow passengers had their seat-belts on, and the incident passed peacefully.

Later, in the passport line at Kennedy, we passed each other. "Why don't we get a cup ofcoffee sometime and talk?" I offered.

"You're not important enough," he snapped back as he disappeared into the Goldene Medine.

THE ACCOSTING has now moved to the pages of The Jerusalem Post ("Europe to host NGO attack on Israel," August 23) where, not for the first time, Steinberg refers to me as, in general, anti-Israel - although here I only "appear" with anti-Semites.

All this is silly stuff, of course. But the kind of rhetoric Steinberg employs is significant because it is often used by self-proclaimed "pro-Israel" advocates to obfuscate the very important debate that must take place if we are to overcome conflict and usher Israel into the state of peace, security and reconciliation most Israelis seem to desire.

In his article, Steinberg employs epithets, simplistic and accusatory terms as if they were"objective," the very technique of "radical propaganda" of which he accuses me and others.

In the Brussels meetings - to which I wasn't invited, despite Steinberg's insinuation that I was - he refers to "radical" Palestinian NGOs (whatever that means); "anti-Israel" NGOs (including a number of Israeli ones), "radicals" in general (although as an old '60s person that doesn't sound bad to me), "liberation theology" (apparently a bad thing in Steinberg's world), "anti-Semitic themes," and so on.

THE UNSPOKEN and misleading assumption underlying all this is that there exists a normal, acceptable, correct "pro-Israel" position from which no one should be permitted to deviate. And I'll bet that position conforms precisely to Steinberg's.

There is no such position, of course. Twenty years ago, to support a two-state solution - which Steinberg today touts as the epitome of being "pro-Israel" - would have gotten you thrown out of town. Things change, but they cannot change for the better if open, honest and occasionally heated debate is not allowed.

Steinberg urges that the UN/European Parliament meeting in support of Israeli-Palestinian peace be cancelled. This seems to contradict the motto on the banner of his own NGO Monitor: "Promoting critical debate" on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Promoting civil debate would be enough.


*Jeff Halper is the coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). He was a nominee for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.

Israel builds new apartheid road

New Israeli highway separates Palestinians

By Steven Erlanger

JERUSALEM: Israel is constructing a road through the West Bank, east of Jerusalem, that will allow both Israelis and Palestinians to travel along it - separately.

There are two pairs of lanes, one for each tribe, separated by a tall wall of concrete patterned to look like Jerusalem stone, an effort at beautification, indicating that the road is meant to be permanent. The Israeli side has various exits. The Palestinian side has few.

The point of the road, according to those who planned it under the previous prime minister, Ariel Sharon, is to permit Israel to build more settlements around east Jerusalem, cutting the city off from the West Bank but allowing Palestinians to travel unimpeded north and south through Israeli-held land.

"The Americans demanded from Sharon contiguity for a Palestinian state," said Shaul Arieli, a reserve colonel in the Israeli Army who participated in the 2000 Camp David negotiations and specializes in maps.

"This road was Sharon's answer, to build a road for Palestinians between Ramallah and Bethlehem but not to Jerusalem," Arieli said. "This was how to connect the West Bank while keeping Jerusalem united and not giving Palestinians any blanket permission to enter east Jerusalem."

Sharon talked of "transportational contiguity" for Palestinians in a future Palestinian state, meaning that although Israeli settlements would jut into the area, Palestinian cars on the road would pass unimpeded through Israeli-controlled territory and even cross through areas enclosed by the Israeli separation barrier.

The vast majority of Palestinians, unlike Israeli settlers, will not be able to exit in areas surrounded by the barrier or enter Jerusalem, even the eastern part, which Israel seized in 1967.

The road bars such stops by having Palestinian traffic continue through underpasses and over bridges, while Israeli traffic will have interchanges allowing turns onto access roads. Palestinians with Israeli identity cards or special permits for Jerusalem will be able to use the Israeli side of the road.

The government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has recently made conciliatory gestures to the Palestinians and says it wants to facilitate the creation of a Palestinian state. But Olmert, like Sharon, has said that Israel intends to keep the land east of Jerusalem.

To Daniel Seidemann, a lawyer who advises Ir Amim, an Israeli advocacy group that works for Israeli-Palestinian cooperation in Jerusalem, the road suggests an ominous map of the future, in which Israel keeps nearly all of east Jerusalem and a ring of Israeli settlements surrounding it, between largely Arab east Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, which would become part of a future Palestinian state.

In a final settlement, Israel is expected to offer the Palestinians land swaps elsewhere to compensate.

The road will allow Israeli settlers living in the northern West Bank, near Ramallah, to move quickly into Jerusalem, protected from the Palestinians who surround them. It also helps ensure that Maale Adumim, a suburban settlement of 32,000 east of Jerusalem, where most of its residents work, will remain under Israeli control, along with an empty area designated E1, between Maale Adumim and Jerusalem, that Israel also intends to keep.

For the Palestinians, the road will connect the northern and southern parts of the West Bank. In a future that may have fewer checkpoints, they could travel directly from Ramallah north of Jerusalem to Bethlehem south of it, while being forced to bypass Maale Adumim and Jerusalem.

"To me, this road is a move to create borders, to change final status," Seidemann said. "It's to allow Maale Adumim and E1 into Jerusalem but be able to say, 'See, we're treating the Palestinians well - there's geographical contiguity.' "

Measure it yourself, he said. "The Palestinian road is 16 meters wide. The Israeli theory of a contiguous Palestinian state is 16 meters wide."

Khalil Tufakji, a top Palestinian geographer, said the road "is part of Sharon's plan: two states in one state, so the Israelis and the Palestinians each have their own roads." The Palestinians, Tufakji said, "will have no connection with the Israelis, but travel through tunnels and over bridges, while the Israelis will travel through Palestinian land without seeing an Arab."

In the end, he said, "there is no Palestinian state, even though the Israelis speak of one." Instead, he said, "there will be a settler state and a Palestinian built-up area, divided into three sectors, cut by fingers of Israeli settlement and connected only by narrow roads."

Asked for comment, David Baker, an Israeli government spokesman, said: "The security arrangements on these roads are in place to protect the citizens of Israel. And they are not connected to any other matter."

Micaela Schweitzer-Bluhm, spokeswoman for the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, cited the Bush administration's policy that Palestinians should be allowed to travel more easily through the West Bank "consistent with the need to maintain security."

Asked if this road predetermines final status, she said: "The U.S. government has encouraged the parties to avoid any actions that would predetermine permanent status," but said she was not authorized to comment more specifically.

Tufakji says he has become cynical about the way Israel builds for the future it defines, no matter what it promises Washington. He sees a West Bank divided into three parts by Israeli settlement blocs, the most important of which is Maale Adumim and E1, around the capital that both peoples claim.

"Israel is building the infrastructure to keep E1, to surround Jerusalem," he said. "They are working to have an area of minimum Palestinians and maximum Israelis."

Source: International Herald Tribune