January 29, 2008

Another Political Post (and Yay Salon.com!)

Read this if you're interested in a respected news and analysis source telling the truth.

Side note:

I've been doing enough political posts lately that Sean and I have been mulling over starting a spin-off blog called "The Pregnant Pundit." But our readership isn't even enough to sustain this blog much less another one. (By the way, thanks to family and friends who occasionally stop by.)

January 24, 2008

What They're Up Against

The generally left-leaning Ha'aretz newspaper (the same one that Amira Hass works for), published this today:

In the war of versions between us and them - regarding the truth about the situation in the Gaza Strip - the balance is tipped this time in favor of the Israeli version. It is simply more reasonable and logical, so it should be adopted unless proven otherwise.

After all, Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular are by nature experts at displays of suffering; the only thing they do all their lives is demonstrate their distress. This time, in the past week, they outdid themselves. The production was truly perfect and succeeded in deceiving the entire world: the way they turned out the lights at one precise moment and sent the children to cry bitterly in front of the cameras, the way they organized long lines for bread and water - miraculous timing and orchestration.
Yossi Sarid actually claims that the suffering induced among Palestinians by the Israeli blockade in Gaza is a charade? It is not only an insult that someone could think such a thing, but even more that it was printed in a respectable Israeli publication.

The military forces are refusing to permit anything -- anything! -- from getting in. This includes fuel of all sorts -- the kind that keeps hospital generators running, the kind allows ambulances to ambulate, the kind that keeps electricity in schools running, and the kind that heats homes. (FYI, it gets down into the 40s, and sometimes colder, at night in Gaza). It also includes bread (and its ingredients), oil, eggs, milk, medical supplies, and all other basic necessities for survival. The UN has already said that without the humanitarian supplies stopped at the border, they cannot continue to support the nearly 1.4 million Gazans that rely on them for food aid. The UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) will run out of plastic bags (for rations) and fuel today, as it has been sharing their supply with hospitals. and the World Food Programme said that its supplies will run out by the end of the week. The medical consequences are staggering: many patients, including premature babies, are completely reliant on machines run by electricity to preserve their lives; but electricity has been cut, and generator fuel is almost gone.

The Egyptians recognized the humanitarian crisis, allowing tens of thousands of Palestinians to cross freely through its border with Gaza, blown open with explosives, to obtain necessities. And they said the border won't close until the Palestinians have completed their emergency shopping, despite Israeli pressure on Cairo to close the border.

It is difficult to imagine all of this being staged. Rather, what is "logical," is that a humanitarian crisis -- complete with crying children and long lines for bread -- will result when a blockade is imposed, preventing any and all goods from crossing into a territory that cannot possibly sustain itself.

January 6, 2008

Amira Hass

For those of you who don't know, Amira Hass is a descendant of Holocaust survivors who works as a journalist of the Israeli daily Ha'aretz (published in both English and Hebrew). She lives in Ramallah, my former "home town" in the West Bank, and writes extensively about Palestinians' lives under occupation. In this piece she goes for the root of the problems that exist in Israel/Palestine: The Occupation. Well worth the read!

Our violent presence

By Amira Hass
Ha'aretz -- Thursday - January 3, 2008

There is no Israeli whose presence in the West Bank is neutral. Civilian or armed, soldier or woman settler, resident of a quality-of-life settlement or a nearby outpost, MahsomWatch activist or guest at a settlement, Bezek worker or client at a Palestinian garage. All of them, all of us, are in this Palestinian territory, in the West Bank, because our state occupied it in 1967.

The presence of every Israeli in the West Bank is based on a regime of privilege that developed out of that primary act of occupation. We have the privilege of hiking in Palestinian areas to our heart's content, of buying subsidized housing for Jews only on the lands of Bethlehem, of raising cherries and grapes in the wadis of Hebron, of quarrying on the mountain slopes, of driving on roads whose land was expropriated from the indigenous inhabitants for public use.

The Palestinians, in contrast to us, not only are not allowed to move from Hebron to Tel Aviv, because they like the sea, for example; they are not even allowed to visit the lands and homes their family owned before 1948, nor are they allowed to tour Galilee and visit relatives. The regime of travel permits that has been in place since 1991 deprives all Palestinians of the right to freedom of movement in Israel while the system of roadblocks limits their movement in their own territories.

The right to travel the land is a basic human right, and like any right, when it is not universal, it is a mutilated right, that is, it becomes a privilege. That is a fact, even if most Israelis repress or ignore it. Our presence in the Palestinian territories, which is based on military and political superiority, is therefore violent and arrogant by its very nature, even when it is expressed in pleasant ways, like cultivating gardens in settlements or taking a pre-Shabbat hike.

How do the Palestinians deal with this violence and arrogance? Some take up arms and hope to kill Israelis. However, most choose other ways, civilian and not military, to deal with our non-neutral presence, with the daily violence that is at the basis of every occupying regime. But let us not fool ourselves: most understand those who take up arms.

Therefore when the prime minister of the Ramallah government, Salam Fayyad, expressed his sorrow over the killing of two young armed hikers from Kiryat Arba last Friday, he managed to anger his public. "Any death is unnecessary" he was quoted in Haaretz as saying. These are wise and humane words. If those who are angry at him listened carefully, they would have heard him teaching the Israelis that the death of every Palestinian is also unnecessary. It is not his responsibility that Prime Minster Ehud Olmert did not express sorrow that Israeli soldiers killed Khaldiya Hamdan, a 51-year-old Gaza woman returning from Mecca via the Erez crossing.

But Fayyad did not make do with an expression of regret. According to the Palestinian daily Al Quds he said, "the military action was carried out on Palestinian land" and that the authority must "meet its security obligations." Haaretz reported that Fayyad said the authority had already arrested suspects and was cooperating with the Israeli security forces. Now the Shin Bet claims that the two individuals in custody (who gave themselves up) are connected to the Palestinian security services (which the Palestinians deny).

Fayyad suited his response to Israeli and American expectations from the Palestinian Authority. Despite the fact that the Israel Defense Forces is the sole sovereign over the West Bank, the PA is expected to protect Israeli citizens; that is, to act as a sub-contractor for the IDF and the Shin Bet. But Fayyad cannot meet these expectations, because they completely contradict the harshness of the basic experience of every Palestinian he is said to represent - which is the violence of our presence.