The crisis in Gaza

Since the beginning of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge that started on July 8, Israeli airstrikes have more than killed 1800 Palestinian civilians and injured over 7000, despite having some of the most sophisticated and advanced military equipment. A number of UN humanitarian shelters and schools have been targeted, mosques and cathedrals destroyed, schools and hospitals bombed, doctors and medical staff injured. If this isn’t a public massacre, I don’t know what is.                         

While many of Israel’s allies condone Hamas for firing rockets into Israel, I do not. Condemning Hamas would be like condemning the residents of the Warsaw ghetto for resisting their Nazi oppressors. The Palestinians will resist any way they can, as is their prerogative.

Israel has imposed a near-total embargo on Gaza and has illegally occupied Palestinian land for over 65 years. The people of Gaza live in an open-air prison with limited access to food, water, humanitarian aid, gas and electricity for over half a decade. What you see happening now is only one of many ruthless massacres committed by the Zionist regime since the beginning of the illegal occupation in 1947. Israel spreads terror among Palestinian civilians and uses the notion of “self-defence” to justify its actions. No Israel, you do not have the right to defend yourself when you are illegally occupying another country.

So what can we do to help as supporters of the Palestinian cause?

Firstly we should all be supporting the BDS campaign. Boycotting Israeli products is the simplest and most effective means of resistance against aggression. The Israeli industry is perennial to its survival as a state and it is vital a clear message is sent to Israeli businessmen and exporters that their own government is responsible for their losses and the adverse consequences to their businesses.

Since Israel began their onslaught on Gaza three weeks ago, findings show that 1 in 5 Israeli exporters are finding it difficult to sell abroad because of anti-Israel boycotting and a lot of these boycotts are coming from the UK and Scandinavian countries. The Israel Export Institute has reported 66% of Israeli businesses have cut prices desperately trying to get people to buy their products. They have received more and more order cancellations and are now calling for government intervention to protect Israeli businesses from boycotts.

It may not seem like a lot but on a large scale, with a mass movement of international boycotts, Israel will feel the pressure. And it will hurt.

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There is a new app called ‘Buycott’ which allows you to join different campaigns. I am part of ‘Long Live Palestine Boycott Israel’ and ‘Avoid Israeli Settlement Products’. The app allows you to scan barcodes from your Smartphone and it will tell you where the product has come from. It couldn’t be simpler to use and I would definitely recommend it.

We should also continue to report on social media. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are great tools to enlighten others and reach the conscience of the world as to what is happening without the filtering and bias of news reporters. It is also a really good way of pressuring news outlets to meet objective standards and report the truth.

This is a real test of the strength of the international community and the power of non-violent resistance against Israeli aggression. Never underestimate your role in this. Each and every one of us has a moral obligation to speak up. We cannot tolerate Israel’s utter disregard for international humanitarian law and the ongoing slaughter of men, women and children.

Let us continue to educate, boycott and resist.

In the face of injustice, there is only side to choose.

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Thinking of visiting Palestine and Israel?

Are you thinking of going away? Here are just a few reasons why your next trip should be to Palestine/Israel. Although far from an exhaustive list, these ideas will get you started.

1. Discover the beauty of the land

Though it remains a secret, The Middle East is spectacular. You get a little bit of everything, from desert lands to olive farms. Located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, it truly is a breathtaking landscape.

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2. Visit the holy land for Christians, Jews, Muslims and Bahais

These religious sites are a part of human history and the lands are a mosaic of them all. Take a tour of Jericho, Hebron, Jerusalem and Bethlehem just to name a few.

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3. Discover quite possibly the richest culture known to man

The Arabic culture is one that dates back thousands of years. It is distinct in all its facets from traditional foods like Musakhan to folklore dances like the Debkah! Immerse yourself in the culture and discover its beauty.

4. Get invited to drink tea 3 times a day by 3 different people

Arabs are known for their hospitality so naturally you will find yourself being invited for tea several times a day! This is just something you will have to get used to.

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5. Swim in the Dead Sea (or more like float)

Due to the high concentration of sodium chloride in the water, you will find yourself floating in the Dead Sea rather than swimming.  It is the lowest point on Earth and a site famous for its unique geological landform.

Make sure you rub the mud from the seabed on your body as the minerals heal wounds, wash away impurities, moisturise and cleanse the skin. Just be wary of any open cuts and don’t shave the same day!

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6. Visit the birth place of Jesus

The village of Bethlehem is over 2000 years old and is the sacred city where Jesus was born. In the heart of the city sits the beautiful Church of Nativity where you can see the actual spot where the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus.

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7. Discover a souq

Experience the bliss of simple living and walk through a souq where you will see village style entrepreneurship. Local vendors selling beautifully embroidered items from hand painted pottery to woven baskets. You can also find a wide variety of spices, fruits, sweets and other cooking essentials!

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8. Try the best shawarma

We would recommend Abu el Abed in Ramallah. The shawarma sandwich is to die for, but be sure to eat with pickled chili for the full experience!

9. Discover Herodyon Palace 

King Herod built his fortress inside the tallest hill in the land. He used the site for hiding and protection during the expansion of the Roman empire. Its remains are still animate.

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10. Visit the Cave of Patriarchs

Also known as the “Cave of the Double Tombs” or the “Sanctuary of Abraham.” The famous mosque in Hebron is the burial site of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah; the renowned Patriarchs and Matriarchs of Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

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11. Ride a camel

Riding a camel is extremely fun and will most definitely be memorable if you’ve never done it before. Just wait until the camel decides to stand up!

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12. Try the first Palestinian beer

Just outside Ramallah you can visit the Taybeh brewery and take a tour of the factory. They brew both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beer and they really give the Germans a run for their money!

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13. Walk on ancient ruins 

Some of the most prominent ruins of the Roman Empire are in the lands of Israel and Palestine. A walk through the cities of Sebastia and Jericho take you back to almost 25 BCE. The 500-year-old Roman structures are an exquisite painting of the past.

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14. Visit the old ports of Akka 

Akka is a coastal city and its ancient port was once used for defence by the British Empire. The fortress, tunnels and cannons remain in excellent condition and are still standing today. Akka is also famous for it’s mouth-watering seafood straight from the Mediterranean Sea.

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Start booking and prepare yourself for the trip of your life.

How much help should we accept?

Should we be accepting support from Israelis who live in illegal settlements in the West Bank?

Believe it or not but many Israeli Jews living in settlements in the West Bank and in Israel condemn the actions of their government and put their lives at risk to support the Palestinian struggle for freedom, equality and justice. I have met on more than one occasion Israelis who work for organisations like B’Tselem, which document human rights abuses.

For the longest time though, I felt this to be a massive contradiction. So you want to help our struggle but yet you are also living in a settlement? You are living in the homes of our parents and grandparents but yet somehow advocate for the rights of the Palestinian people? How can that be right? So I began to question things. Was I just being unfair on people who are choosing to extend their hands to us and want to help?

This took me back to 1947-48 when everything really went wrong for the Palestinians. In 1948 when the state of Israel was established and following the aftermath of the Holocaust, many Jewish families were paid to come and live in Israel. The reason behind this was to encourage mass immigration to the region – a very smart strategy if you ask me. Jewish families from all over the world began to immigrate to Israel being lured in by the prospect of a better life, financial support and benefits.

This was combined with a lot of hostility towards Jews from the MENA region as a reaction to the establishment of the state of Israel. (Whether this was a fair or reasonable reaction is a debate we will leave for another time.) Nevertheless there was uncertainty about their fate in the Middle East. Don’t forget it had also only been a few years since the end of the Holocaust and so most Jews still felt insecure about their future.

Now putting yourself in their shoes in the context of what had just happened and the reaction of the Arab countries, would you have said no to an offer of a better and more secure life in Israel? Really the question comes down to this: should we be standing against the Jews who chose to immigrate to Israel and become Israeli citizens or should we be accepting help from them as Palestinians because ultimately we all would have made the same decision?

I decided to investigate this question a little further as I wasn’t sure what to think. One part of me understood how simple the decision must have been for them but then the other part of me thought how cruel these people must have been to be able to live in homes that did not belong to them. These were our homes, our land, our trees. How could a person make such a selfish decision and live in the home of another family, knowing full well it was not their own and yet not say anything?

One man in particular really made an impact on me and helped me come to terms with the reality of what happened in 1948 and I want to tell you his story. Let us call him X.

X is an Israeli, originally a Moroccan Jew whose family has lived in Israel since the 1950s. I was curious as to how he could live with himself knowing he took over another family’s home (of course I didn’t say this to him but that’s exactly what I was thinking) so I began to question him about things and I was completely taken aback by his response.

X was a young boy – no more than about 8 or 9 years old – when his family emigrated to Israel. They were previously living a comfortable life in Morocco until the late 1940s when riots broke out against Jews all over the Middle East in response to the establishment of Israel. More than 18,000 Jews fled their homes in Morocco in 1948 and 1949 alone seeking a better life.

X’s family were offered money by the Israeli government to come and live in Israel – a life they could not even have dreamt of in Morocco or anywhere else in the Middle East at the time. Of course, his parents did not hesitate and they packed up their things ready for a new life in Israel.

On arrival, he described to me how he walked into the new house given to him by the military and he could feel the presence of another family. The house almost felt ghostly with the carpets, antiques and belongings of another family. They had obviously belonged to the Palestinian family that had lived there before them.

I then asked him whether his parents had said something, asked who the family were, demanded to be moved to another house and his response was this:

“No one spoke about it. We just didn’t ask. We knew, but we didn’t ask.”

For them it was very straightforward, they were told this was their new home and that was that. They made it their own. Until this day, they still do not know the Palestinian family who used to live there.

After hearing his story, it made me question how I would have reacted in the same situation. When I put myself in their shoes – would I really have said no if someone had offered me a life in Israel in the context of 1948, only several years after Hitler’s killing spree of the Jews? Would I have made that choice, as most Jewish families did, of a better quality life for my family and just turned a blind eye to everything else?

They didn’t physically remove us, heck most of them didn’t even see us thrown out at the time. They were invited into empty homes and many of them chose to simply not ask questions. Would you have asked had you been in their position?

Of course, hundreds of years of suffering is not an excuse to justify what happened and what continues to happen to the Palestinian people. Palestine was not an empty land when the Jews began to immigrate in and as each year passes, we watch as the land we once called Palestine is slowly engulfed by Israeli settlements and the 400 mile long wall.

I do however accept that at the time the state of Israel was established, the Jewish people needed to identify themselves with a land and they needed a place to call home. This is a point of fact not an opinion. And unfortunately for us, this was at our expense. Being Palestinians though, we must understand their struggle and their need for a homeland. After all, we are now a people without a land.

I remember reading a book about Judaism and something really stuck in my head: “What is hateful to yourself do not do to your fellow-man.”

Religion advocates justice, peace, righteousness, kindness, compassion and forgiveness. I believe in both our rights to live in the land and I believe we have the potential to live together; if we could do it before we can do it again. Don’t kid yourself into thinking it isn’t possible. Wounds can heal, painful memories fade and hate can be overcome.

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[The wall in Bethlehem, West Bank]

Let’s create a community where we accept each other’s existence and focus on what both people have in common rather than dwelling on our differences. Let’s bring together the new generation of Palestinians and Israelis and recognise both peoples’ struggle and right to self-determination.

The power of change is in our hands. It is us – the new, young generation of educated Palestinians and Israelis – who can prevent more suffering. Let’s make sure we all have a good future and our children and grandchildren do not suffer as our ancestors did.

We need as much help as we can get from inside and outside, from Palestinians and Israelis, from Arabs and non-Arabs, from Jews and non-Jews. Do not shut out people who extend their hand to you.

Let’s create a democratic state and home for us all.

Made in Palestine

It has been quite a while since I last contributed to Palestine 101 and I’ve only just realized why. I arrived back in the States a month ago and since then I’ve been seeing friends, family and living the comfortable life I have always lived.

If I am going to be honest with myself, I really just forgot. I left Palestine, I left the Middle East and I forgot. I forgot about everything; the occupation, the poverty, the poor living conditions, the weapons and the struggle of the Palestinians. It’s amazing how quickly I reverted back to my luxurious Western lifestyle and without even realizing, lost the inspiration and drive I felt to help the Palestinian struggle.

In all fairness, I guess you could say how could I be expected not to forget? When you have the gift of freedom and are able to live peacefully in a country where your rights as a citizen are safeguarded, how can you still remember the Palestinians?

For those that haven’t read my previous article on Palestine 101 ‘Palestinian or non-Palestinian’, I thought I’d give you a little background on me. My dad is American and my mom is Iraqi, but I was born and raised in New York.

Anyway a few days ago, I went out with my mom to buy some groceries. She always likes to shop in KNS Glatt Farm Inc, which is in Lawrence, New York. You can find pitta bread, vine leaves and chickpeas in the market – absolute essentials for Arab-style cooking!

I should probably mention this suburb of Long Island is also home to many Orthodox Jews. To think an Arab would travel from their own hometown to a Jewish market in order to buy food used in traditional Arabic dishes — a little ironic, huh? (Let’s leave that discussion for its own article).

So while I was at the grocers, I picked up a jar of olives to see how they had been made and I saw plastered in big, black letters:

PRODUCT OF ISRAEL

It didn’t take more than a second for all the memories to flood back and I was reminded of my experiences in Palestine and the injustice of it all. Now some of you might be thinking, ‘but this is just a simple package stamp? Who really cares?

For me, it was much more than that. This ordinary stamp is just another attempt at erasing the identity of the Palestinians. Israel has robbed them of their land and robbed them of their homes and now they’re trying to rob them of their cultural food, too? Since when did Israel start growing olives?

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This is a strategy used all over America to deny the Palestinians of their rights. It is a strategy used to lie to American generations about the history of the Palestinians. It is a way of covering up the truth and creating a false sense of connection with Israelis, who have kindly provided us with olives from their land. Wow have they thought this one through.

I for one refuse to be lied to.

Did you know buying a made in Israel product not only directly finances the occupation but also funds the racist, Zionist movement that wants to get rid of all the non-Jews from the region? I decided to do a little more research on the whole situation and ask around how much people knew and you would not believe what I found out.

Did you know all goods exported out of Palestine with a made in Palestine label are denied export by the Israeli forces? That’s why we don’t ever see them. These goods are only sold within the Palestinian borders and can’t be exported out.

It’s the exact same tactic used to cover up the realities of the occupation. The unlawful treatment of Palestinians is not broadcasted internationally because that kind of information would be detrimental to Israel’s public image (and subsequently its biggest supporter – the US). They have done the same thing by denying anything made in Palestine from being shipped. They just don’t want people to know.

So the next time you see a made in Israel label, take a step back and remind yourself of what it really means; it is a small but very significant example of the systematic and ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people.

It is so much more than just a label.

(Contributor 714)

The Arab Threat to Israel

Have you ever heard people talk about Israel being under threat from the Arabs? (Thinking about it, maybe I should have titled this the non-existent Arab threat as it’s a bit misleading).

My usual response to these conversations is, “sorry, what threat exactly?”

From what I can see, there is no military threat from the Arab world (at least what we would normally think of as the conventional, military threat). With the Iraqi army gone and the falling apart of both the Egyptian and Syrian army, I wonder why people are still hung up about the Arab military threat posed to Israel.

The Arab world is so caught up in internal conflict that any sort of coordinated revolution against Israel has become virtually impossible. There is just no way it is going to happen. With the disenfranchised, political elites and the growth of religious sectarianism in the Arab world, it comes as little surprise that we lack a common purpose or belief to collectively guide us.

We are no longer Arabs. We are Muslim, Christian or Jewish. We are Palestinian, Lebanese or Jordanian; Iraqi, Syrian or Saudi Arabian; Egyptian, Kuwaiti or Libyan. Is anyone identified purely as an Arab anymore?

The conventional military threat against Israel is gone.

Really take a moment to let that sink in.

The conventional military threat against Israel is gone.

The Arabs are busy killing each other while Israel is winning. What does this really mean?

Simply put, the potential of the new Israeli generation is vast. Israel has room to progress and develop economically, to foster innovation and creativity, to build infrastructure and improve education. There are more opportunities than ever before. But with all these new opportunities in mind, Israel could still be doing better.

What are they missing, you ask?

Compromise.

In order to realise the regions’ real potential, Israel is going to have to compromise.

Ever thought about the potential benefits if Israel were to free up its labour market and immigration policies? What would happen to the quality of life of the Palestinians and Israelis? How about free trade with its Arab neighbours – Jordan and Palestine?

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[View of Palestine and Israel from the Jordan Valley, 2014]

Only when Israel has chosen to compromise will they really be able to maximise their economic growth potential and this will only happen through partnership and trade with neighbouring countries, compromise and replacing its government officials with realists and technocrats. If Israel refuses to compromise, it will eventually be forced to by international pressure.

An Israeli journalist recently made the following statement in Haaretz:

“The signs of a boycott against Israel are worrisome. This is a civic boycott that originates from the grass roots and is harming the standard of living of all of us. Consumer organisations are imposing a boycott on the purchase of Israeli consumer goods, port workers are refusing to unload Israeli ships, academic organisations are imposing boycotts and European firms don’t want to do business with Israeli firms, because the occupation contradicts their ethics.

The direction is clear: Israel is slowly but surely becoming illegitimate. The international isolation surrounding it is intensifying, and this situation will deteriorate if the negotiations with the Palestinians reach a dead end. See what United States Secretary of State John Kerry said in Davos. This is a slow and creeping process, but it is liable to erupt all at once, when a large international bank or a multinational corporation announces a severance of business ties with Israel. Much of Europe already considers us an apartheid state, and when that becomes the prevailing public opinion, the boycotts and sanctions will go from sporadic and civil to official government policy — just as happened with white rule in South Africa.”

Sorry Israel but your ethnocratic government really doesn’t know how to realise your true potential.

A letter to Mr Johnson

Anyone get the chance to see the wall put up just off Piccadilly Circus in London? It was up for 10 days just after Christmas Day in front of St James Church organized by the group, Bethlehem Unwrapped.

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[The wall in Piccadilly, London]

The wall is a replica of the 8-metre wall ring-fencing the citizens of Bethlehem. Bethlehem was the first city Israel targeted with the construction of settlements shortly after 1967 because of its water resources, religious significance and proximity to Jerusalem. There are currently 20 fully developed settlements in Bethlehem and many more are in the process of construction.

To put things in perspective, the wall imprisons the Palestinian communities in Bethlehem and in some areas, stretches as far as 20km into Palestinian territory. Most of the land confiscated for the purpose of constructing the wall was taken from its owners, the majority of which represented the Christian community in Palestine.

The aim of the replica wall put up in London was to bring to light the struggles of the Palestinians in Bethlehem who are systematically prevented from visiting the holy land of Jerusalem for Christmas. With the wall and checkpoints in place, the people of Bethlehem are unable to visit Jerusalem without a permit from Israel (which by the way is most often refused) and even then, a journey that would normally have taken 10 minutes, now takes more than an hour.

I commend Bethlehem Unwrapped for the steps they have taken to raise awareness of what happens on the ground in Palestine. Reading and seeing pictures of the 8-metre high wall is nowhere near as powerful as when you see it in real life. The gravity of the situation and the injustice of it all really hit you when you see it with your own eyes.

So each night Bethlehem Unwrapped organized a different event and the one I attended that night was a panel talk called: “Both sides of the barrier: separation or security?”

Unsurprisingly, before stepping into the church, we were confronted by a backlash of Zionists waving the Israeli flag in our faces and chanting the Israeli national anthem. It is always a pleasure dealing with irrational and aggressive Zionists.

I heard some absurd claims made by one of the panelists Alan Johnson, Senior Research Fellow at the British Israel Communications and Research Centre and so I would like to take the time to respond to some of these claims.

So Mr Johnson, in your 20-minute speech you spent two minutes telling us a story of a 17-year-old Israeli girl who was killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber. This girl should not have died and I am truly sorry for this loss of life, like any other.

Seeing as you mentioned the loss of life, I assume you are against the killing of innocent civilians? On this basis, is there a reason you failed to mention the hundreds and thousands of Palestinian civilians who have been killed over the past 65 years? You spoke about how you could sit all day naming the Israeli children who have died, but then how long would it take me to name the dead Palestinian children?

You talked about having a ‘moral calculus’ and that one must incorporate this into one’s opinion of the wall. I totally agree with you. Yet when there is an imbalance of power with an oppressor like Israel terrorizing Palestinians, ghettoizing them, killing men, women and children, stripping them of their sense of being, their homes and any hope of ever having a future, shouldn’t this be part of the moral calculus too?

Sir, have you forgotten about the 28,000 Palestinian homes that have been demolished since 1967? Have you forgotten about the war crimes of your government – the men women and children who had their limbs blown off and insides burnt from the white phosphorus and drones that were used? You call the Palestinian suicide bombers ‘terrorists’, but then what do you call the actions of the Israeli government?

Sir, have you somehow forgotten about the open-air prison Israel has created in Gaza? Have you forgotten about the hundreds of Palestinian children who until today are kidnapped in the middle of the night and thrown into prison for throwing stones? What about the children who die of starvation and freeze to death in refugee camps because they were forcefully exiled from their homes? What about the orphans who are forced to grow up without parents because of the violence and out-of-proportion reactions of the Israeli military?

I can keep going if you’d like?

Sir, with all due respect you cannot talk about decontextualizing when your whole speech was filled with “half sentences disconnected from the entire event” (those were your words if you remember). As panelist Jeff Halper nicely pointed out, the word ‘terrorism’ was mentioned 21 times in your speech, and somehow you did not once mention the word ‘occupation’ or ‘state terrorism’ when discussing the wall.

It is certainly a very complex situation and there is no way we can disagree on that fact. When we look at statistics, the wall has been effective in reducing the number of suicide bombers and facts are not something one can dispute, that is true. A government must be reactive to external events and protect its citizens, which makes sense.

But this wall is by no means bringing us any closer to a long-term solution for both sides. The sooner it goes down, the sooner a solution can be found.

Regardless of my own opinion on a two-state solution, the wall has shattered all hope of this ever happening anyway. Had the wall been built on the internationally recognized 1967 borders and not cut so deep into the West Bank, then perhaps we would still have something to talk about.

Mr Johnson, if the Israelis do truly want peace perhaps it is about time an Israeli official addressed the Palestinian people and took responsibility for their wrongdoing.

When the Israeli state denies the Palestinians their right to existence and their right to self-determination, this certainly does not bring us closer to a solution. When the hardship and suffering inflicted on the Palestinian people is not recognized by the state nor by spokespeople like yourself, you immediately shut off the possibility of ever achieving peace.

When that happens Sir, maybe then we can talk.

The Israeli-Palestinian compromise

We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.” [Nelson Mandela, 1997]

When people talk about peace negotiations, you will often hear them talk about compromise. ‘Both the Palestinians and the Israelis need to compromise.’ Today I would like to explore this option.

To-date, the Human Rights Council has adopted more resolutions condemning Israel alone, than it has all the other states combined. Since 1948, Israel has violated over 75 UN resolutions as well as the Fourth Geneva Convention that is a cornerstone of international humanitarian law. The US vetoes all major resolutions against Israel and so they either do not get passed or are not even brought to vote. Because of this, Israel acts as it pleases and remains unaccountable for its actions.

For more than a decade now, Israel has been running an iron fist policy to clamp down on the Palestinians, it has been actively cleansing the indigenous people of their land by illegally demolishing their homes, colonizing their land and raiding their villages; not to mention the curfews, collective punishment and ghettoization all at the expense of establishing the newly founded state of Israel for the Jews.

Israel starves the Palestinian economy dry by restricting land and water usage, access to international markets, liquidity of money supply and natural resources. It deprives the Palestinians of their legal right to any potential revenue sources. The Palestinian Ministry of National Economy recently published a report assessing the costs of the occupation on the Palestinian economy. And I quote,

The total costs imposed by the Israeli occupation on the Palestinian economy which we have been able to measure was USD 6.897 billion. In other words, had the Palestinians not been subject to the Israeli occupation, their economy would have been almost double in size than it is today.”

If we delve deeper into the water issue alone, the World Bank published a report in 2009 stating there is 2.4 billion cubic meters of pure water available yearly in the region, of which Israel utilizes 90%. Israeli settlers consume seven times more water than Palestinians and yet pay one fifth of the price the Palestinians pay.

I have only just brushed the surface by the way, and that’s without even mentioning the Palestinians in Gaza. For anyone who is not too clued up on the situation, naturally you would think both sides need to compromise to come up with an agreement right?

Unfortunately, this is no longer the reality of the situation. Israel has squeezed the Palestinians of anything they initially had to compromise with. Actually, the only thing the Palestinians have left is the right of return of the millions of refugees, which although technically and physically is becoming impossible, it remains an understandable symbolic lynch point on the political and diplomatic front.

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[Keys representing the lost homes of millions of Palestinians]

There is no compromise that can be done by the Palestinians. What we are witnessing day in day out is the measures Israel is putting in place to engulf the whole of the West Bank and Washington is allowing them to do so. Even the UN resolutions that do eventually get passed are often watered down for fear of being vetoed by the US.

Unfortunately we still speak of Israel’s violent crack down on any type of organised political or social action. It maintains its grip on the Palestinian people by silencing them and undermines anyone in the international community who questions Israel as a Jewish state. It maintains its iron fist policy and the commoditisation of fear as its main defence against another uprising from Palestinians from within and without.

Perhaps the best hope for the Palestinian people exists in the young Arab and Jewish Israelis; the new generations who can build the foundations to a future solution. Without major initiatives within Israel and the West Bank, no sustainable long-term solution will ever be achieved.

I wanted to finish today’s post with a quote I read recently that I could relate to.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”