Archive for May, 2008

With commentary by Activist Marcy Winograd:

The following post starts with a message from Activist Marcy Winograd, followed by an article by Saree Makdisi.

Dear Friends,

On the eve of Israel’s 60th birthday, on the eve of Palestine’s Nakba (Catastrophe), I express my hope that one day Israelis and Palestinians will share the land and live in a just peace. Below is a paragraph summarizing my thoughts, followed by a provocative Opinion column by Saree Makdisi — Forget the two-state solution — published in today’s LA Times, and finally a One-State Solution document signed by Israelis and Palestinians, Muslims and Jews, meeting in Madrid last year.

Best wishes,



While it is understandable that fellow Jews might want a homeland, given our history of persecution and genocide, it is not acceptable or even realistic to seek safety and security through ethnic cleansing. We Jews have nothing to celebrate on Israel’s 60th birthday. What we have is a moral imperative to recognize the narrative of the other, the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians driven violently from their land in the Nakba or Catastrophe of 1948.

Let us not celebrate the imprisonment of a million Palestinians in Gaza or the theft of miles of land in the West Bank or the subjugation of Israeli Arabs as second-class citizens. Let us not condone violence, be it state-sponsored terror or individual acts of terrorism. The real answer to Auschwitz, to the pogroms, to discrimination anywhere and everywhere is to fight persecution wherever it manifests and to seek redress in the aftermath.

Now is the time, not to celebrate, but to acknowledge the pain and suffering of each other — to listen and to imagine. Not until Arabs and Jews live as equals in Israel/Palestine will there be something to celebrate. Not until one constitution grants everyone a voice and a vote will there be reason to rejoice.

Marcy Winograd


Forget the two-state solution

Israelis and Palestinians must share the land. Equally.

By Saree Makdisi
May 11, 2008

There is no longer a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Forget the endless arguments about who offered what and who spurned whom and whether the Oslo peace process died when Yasser Arafat walked away from the bargaining table or whether it was Ariel Sharon’s stroll through the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem that did it in.

All that matters are the facts on the ground, of which the most important is that — after four decades of intensive Jewish settlement in the Palestinian territories it occupied during the 1967 war — Israel has irreversibly cemented its grip on the land on which a Palestinian state might have been created.

Sixty years after Israel was created and Palestine was destroyed, then, we are back to where we started: Two populations inhabiting one piece of land. And if the land cannot be divided, it must be shared. Equally.

This is a position, I realize, which may take many Americans by surprise. After years of pursuing a two-state solution, and feeling perhaps that the conflict had nearly been solved, it’s hard to give up the idea as unworkable.

But unworkable it is. A report published last summer by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs found that almost 40% of the West Bank is now taken up by Israeli infrastructure — roads, settlements, military bases and so on — largely off-limits to Palestinians. Israel has methodically broken the remainder of the territory into dozens of enclaves separated from each other and the outside world by zones that it alone controls (including, at last count, 612 checkpoints and roadblocks).

Moreover, according to the report, the Jewish settler population in the occupied territories, already approaching half a million, not only continues to grow but is growing at a rate three times greater than the rate of Israel’s population increase. If the current rate continues, the settler population will double to almost 1 million people in just 12 years. Many are heavily armed and ideologically driven, unlikely to walk away voluntarily from the land they have declared to be their God-given home.

These facts alone render the status of the peace process academic.

At no time since the negotiations began in the early 1990s has Israel significantly suspended the settlement process in the occupied Palestinian territories, in stark violation of international law. It preceded last November’s Annapolis summit by announcing the fresh expropriation of Palestinian property in the West Bank; it followed the summit by announcing the expansion of its Har Homa settlement by an additional 307 housing units; and it has announced plans for hundreds more in other settlements since then.

The Israelis are not settling the occupied territories because they lack space in Israel itself. They are settling the land because of a long-standing belief that Jews are entitled to it simply by virtue of being Jewish. “The land of Israel belongs to the nation of Israel and only to the nation of Israel,” declares Moledet, one of the parties in the National Union bloc, which has a significant presence in the Israeli parliament.

Moledet’s position is not as far removed from that of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as some Israelis claim. Although Olmert says he believes in theory that Israel should give up those parts of the West Bank and Gaza densely inhabited by Palestinians, he also said in 2006 that “every hill in Samaria and every valley in Judea is part of our historic homeland” and that “we firmly stand by the historic right of the people of Israel to the entire land of Israel.”

Judea and Samaria: These ancient biblical terms are still used by Israeli officials to refer to the West Bank. More than 10 years after the initiation of the Oslo peace process, which was supposed to lead to a two-state solution, maps in Israeli textbooks continued to show not the West Bank but Judea and Samaria — and not as occupied territories but as integral parts of Israel.

What room is there for the Palestinians in this vision of Jewish entitlement to the land? None. They are regarded, at best, as a demographic “problem.”

The idea of Palestinians as a “problem” is hardly new. Israel was created as a Jewish state in 1948 only by the premeditated and forcible removal of as much of the indigenous Palestinian population as possible, in what Palestinians call the Nakba, or catastrophe, which they commemorate this week.

A Jewish state, says Israeli historian Benny Morris, “would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. … There was no choice but to expel that population.” For Morris, this was one of those “circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing.”

Thinking of Palestinians as a “problem” to be removed predates 1948. It was there from the moment the Zionist movement set into motion the project to make a Jewish state in a land that, in 1917 — when the British empire officially endorsed Zionism — had an overwhelmingly non-Jewish population. The only Jewish member of the British government at the time, Edwin Montagu, vehemently opposed the Zionist project as unjust. Henry King and Charles Crane, dispatched on a fact-finding mission to Palestine by President Wilson, concurred: Such a project would require enormous violence, they warned: “Decisions, requiring armies to carry out, are sometimes necessary, but they are surely not gratuitously to be taken in the interests of a serious injustice.”

But they were. This is a conflict driven from its origins by Zionism’s exclusive sense of entitlement to the land. Has there been Palestinian violence as well? Yes. Is it always justified? No. But what would you do if someone told you that there was no room for you on your own land, that your very existence is a “problem”? No people in history has ever gone away just because another people wanted them to, and the sentiments of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull live on among Palestinians to this day.

The violence will end, and a just peace will come, only when each side realizes that the other is there to stay. Many Palestinians have accepted this premise, and an increasing number are willing to give up on the idea of an independent Palestinian state and embrace instead the concept of a single democratic, secular and multicultural state, which they would share equally with Israeli Jews.

Most Israelis are not yet reconciled this position. Some, no doubt, are reluctant to give up on the idea of a “Jewish state,” to acknowledge the reality that Israel has never been exclusively Jewish, and that, from the start, the idea of privileging members of one group over all other citizens has been fundamentally undemocratic and unfair.

Yet that is exactly what Israel does. Even among its citizens, Israeli law grants rights to Jews that it denies to non-Jews. By no stretch of the imagination is Israel a genuine democracy: It is an ethno-religiously exclusive state that has tried to defy the multicultural history of the land on which it was founded.

To resolve the conflict with the Palestinians, Israeli Jews will have to relinquish their exclusive privileges and acknowledge the right of return of Palestinians expelled from their homes. What they would get in return is the ability to live securely and to prosper with — rather than continuing to battle against — the Palestinians.

They may not have a choice. As Olmert himself warned recently, more Palestinians are shifting their struggle from one for an independent state to a South African-style struggle that demands equal rights for all citizens, irrespective of religion, in a single state. “That is, of course,” he noted, “a much cleaner struggle, a much more popular struggle — and ultimately a much more powerful one.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Saree Makdisi is a professor of English and comparative literature at UCLA and the author of “Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation,” out this month from W.W. Norton.

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Sonali Kolhatkar serves on the Advisory Board of Cafe Intifada


May 29th, 2008, Thursday 7:30 pm  Golden Eagle Building, 3rd Floor Ballroom At Cal State LA!

Moderated by SONALI KOLHATKAR of KPFK 90.7 FM and “Afghan Women’s Mission” 


Speakers Include:

RAED JARRAR, an Iraqi political analyst and consultant to American Friends Service Committee’s/Iraq Program currently based in Washington, D.C.  After the U.S.-led invasion, Jarrar became the country director for CIVIC Worldwide, the only door-to-door casualty survey group in post-war Iraq.  He then established Emaar, (meaning “reconstruction” in Arabic); a grassroots organization that provided humanitarian and political aid to Iraqi internally displaced persons (IDPs).  Emaar delivered medicine and food as well as helped initiate micro-enterprise projects for IDPs.  Additionally, Emaar engaged in political advocacy on behalf of displaced populations.

COL. ANN WRIGHT, who resigned from the U.S. Foreign Service on March 19, 2003, while serving as Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Mongolia. She resigned due to her disagreement with the Bush administration’s decision to go to war in Iraq without the authorization of the UN Security Council, the lack of effort in resolving the Israel-Palestinian situation, the lack of policy on North Korea and unnecessary curtailment of civil liberties in the United States. Ms. Wright joined the Foreign Service in 1987 and served as Deputy Chief of Mission of US Embassies in Sierra Leone, Micronesia and briefly in Afghanistan. Before entering the Foreign Service, she served in the Army and has a combined regular Army/Army Reserve service time of 29 years. She served primarily in special operations units and attained the rank of Colonel. Ann Wright will also have her book for sale at the event, titled “Dissent: Voices of Conscience” about how government insiders speak out against the Iraq War.


EDGAR CUEVAS, who was stationed in Germany for three years as a Cavalry Scout for the United States Army. Twelve days before his contract was about to expire he was Stop Lossed and forced to serve in Iraq for a year and a half. He served in Iraq from February of 2004 through March of 2005. He was stationed in Tikrit and witnessed innocent people being mishandled and tortured. He is a member of ‘Iraq Veterans Against the War” in Los Angeles.

Sponsored by the Student Friends Service Committee of CSULA. Co-sponsored by the Humanist Association at CSULA. Info: call (310) 795-2235 The California State University at Los Angeles campus is located at the intersection of the 10 and 710 freeways. A campus map and parking instructions can be found at http://www.calstatela.edu/univ/maps/cslamap.htm 


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10:30 – 11:30 am
A Mother’s Day talk by Afghan Women’s Mission Co-Director, Sonali Kolhatkar about “The Lives of Afghan Women.” Kolhatkar will address how US policy has affected Afghan women, before and during the US occupation of Afghanistan. She will also offer solutions on what Americans can do to end the war.
LOCATION: Sepulveda Unitarian Universalist Society or the “Onion” is located at 9550 Haskell Ave., North Hills, CA 91343. Tel: 818-894-9251, Website: http://www.valleyonion.org, Email (for these events only): jungersmith@yahoo.com.

A teach-in by Afghan Women’s Mission Co-Director, Sonali Kolhatkar about the war in Afghanistan and Afghan women’s resistance, followed by special free screening of “Enemies of Happiness.”
Winner of countless awards and recipient of the 2007 “World Cinema Jury Prize for A Documentary Film” at the Sundance Film Festival, “Enemies of Happiness” tells the story of a woman of courage that brought hope and justice to Afghanistan. At 28 years, Malalai Joya became the first female to be elected a seat in the Afghan National Assembly after a rigorous campaign that resulted in multiple death threats. Yet despite such obstacles, she sought liberation and prosperity for her Afghani brothers and sisters, and has since then been a patron of diplomacy and progressivism. More information about the film can be found at http://www.enemiesofhappiness.com.
LOCATION: UCLA Campus – Kerckhoff Art Gallery in Kerckhoff Building Level 2 – Westwood/Los Angeles CA. Parking available on the UCLA Campus in Lot 6&4 (Off of Wilshire & Westwood)

1:00 – 5:00 pm
The Women’s Empowerment Group will host a screening of the acclaimed documentary by Meena Nanji, View From a Grain of Sand to benefit the projects of the Afghan Women’s Mission. View From a Grain of Sand chronicles the political evolution of Afghanistan including foreign invasions and fundamentalism, through the lives of three Afghan women. More information about the film can be found at http://www.viewgrainofsand.com.
LOCATION: Sepulveda Unitarian Universalist Society or the “Onion” is located at 9550 Haskell Ave., North Hills, CA 91343. Tel: 818-894-9251, Website: http://www.valleyonion.org, Email (for these events only): jungersmith@yahoo.com.

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i hope jimmy carter reads this article too, since he insists that the
issue of palestinian human rights only exists in the occupied
territories and not within israel.

the construct described in the article is essential to apartheid, which
was a system based on two designs: native american reservations, and
u.s. jim crow (segregation) laws. the reservations (bantustans) address
the issue of the conquered population within ghettos separate from the
dominant culture, often on land that can not be cultivated, in what are
called, but hardly resemble “sovereign nations.” segregation laws
pertain to the laws and practices for controlling the non dominant
population that lives in proximity to and among the dominant culture.
generally, the bantustan/reservation policy is a policy of genocide. (as
the u.s. experience demonstrates, genocide doesn’t have to be 100
percent to be effective.) essential to that program is the establishment
of “facts on the ground.” — the u.s. is a perfect example of a colonial
state with such immense “facts on the ground” that there is no
possibility of any return of land or life style to the indigenous
populations– reduced to subsistence or a corrupting new economy based
on casino gambling money.

the segregation laws are established so that the dominated culture can
serve the dominant group. in the case of israeli arabs this relationship
has always been tenuous, even more so, with the influx of guest workers,
from third world countries, brought in to work, with even fewer human
and civil rights than palestinians. the transfer movement as described
in the article below is an attempt to force the segregated population
into reservations, or bantustans.

of note: the pine trees mentioned in the article were part of “making
the desert bloom.” a zionist policy and an ideology that negates century
of sustainable and fruitful desert agriculture. i remember growing up,
campaigns to plant trees in israel. i think several trees were planted
in my name by well intentioned relatives and family friends. these trees
are not native, nor are they sustainable, and were for the most part
planted upon the ruins of palestinian towns to cover up the genocide
(there’s nothing clean about removing an ethnic group from its land) and
displacement that was occurring and that continues to occur to this day.
these trees are, in themselves an environmental problem, increasing the
intensity of forest fires, for example.

salam abu sita, in his profound research determined that the right of
return was not only just, but viable, as most israelis don’t live on
palestinian land, that most of the land remains unsettled and
uncultivated, the establishment of the state resulting in the
displacement, both internally and externally of much of the indigenous
palestinian population.

back to the jimmy carter connection. while israelis struggle with how to
disempower, dominate and destroy the indigenous population, neo-liberal
(neo-colonial) u.s. ruling class leaders look for ways to cultivate arab
labor and establish privatized methodologies for extracting labor and
raw materials from the indigenous populations. a two state solution,
addresses more than just the palestinian issue, from the point of view
of u.s empire. it pacifies the wider arab population. a fully democratic
state of arabs and jews would be very destabilizing to these u.s.
interests in that it would serve as a democratic model for the region
which would threaten the neo-colonial relationship that the u.s. enjoys
with the surrounding arab oligarchies, theocracies and monarchies. a
subordinate palestinian state, with little more than nominal autonomy,
and the establishment of a new governing elite dependent on an
oppressive debt structure beneficial to western interests is much more
favorable to these statesmen than promoting a paradigm that addresses
the issues of human rights, social justice and self determination.

emma rosenthal

Sam BAHOUR wrote:

>> Dear Friends,
>> This article from yesterday’s NYT requires many corrections, namely,
>> how one can equate “statehood” from 2000 years ago with today’s notion
>> of a nation state. That said, the article remains powerful in that it
>> looks at Palestinians INSIDE Israel, those that did not flee in 1948,
>> but are rather being squeezed out, “democratically, today!
>> If you are interested: SEND LETTERS TO THE EDITOR to letters@nytimes.com
>> In a region that measures in centuries, 60 years is a drop in the bucket,
>> Sam
>> —————————-
>> “We are prohibited from using our own land,” he said, standing in the
>> former village of Lajoun, now a mix of overgrown scrub and pines
>> surrounded by the fields of Kibbutz Megiddo. “They want to keep it
>> available for Jews. My daughter makes no distinction between Jewish
>> and Arab patients. Why should the state treat me differently?”
>> The New York Times
>> May 7, 2008
>> After 60 Years, Arabs in Israel Are Outsiders

>> http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/07/world/middleeast/07israel.html?_r=3&oref=slogin

photos by Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times


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