Saturday, November 22, 2014


By Eric Margolis

Sir John Baggot Glubb, better known as Glubb Pasha, was one of the modern Mideast’s most colorful and romantic figures. He and ‘Chinese’ Gordon of Khartoum were the last of the great British imperial officers.
Seconded by Britain to its protectorate, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Glubb built up its small Bedouin army, the Arab Legion, into the Arab world’s finest military force.
Glubb’s Arab Legion would likely have defeated Israel’s forces in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War had Britain and Jordan’s double-dealing king Abdullah not blocked the Legion’s advance, as Glubb Pasha bitterly recalled in his memoires.
When asked which of his many medals and honors he valued most, Glubb surprisingly replied , “Defender of the Shepherds of Iraq, ” This obscure award was conferred upon Glubb by the King of Iraq when Sir John commanded the Iraq Border Constabulary during the 1930’s.
Glubb Pasha and his men had waged a long campaign against the Ikhwan of Saudi Arabia. The Ikhwan (Brotherhood) was a collection of fanatical Saudi tribesmen imbued with the puritan desert creed of Wahabism. They saw all non-Wahabi Muslims as infidels (kufr), fair game to be robbed or killed. Even the king of Saudi Arabia failed to control the marauding Ikhwan.
Eight decades later, the Ikhwan is back, this time with heavy weapons. Instead of camels and horses, its men are riding Toyota Land Cruisers and American Humvees captured from Iraq’s puppet army. The Ikhwan in Syria and Iraq now calls itself, the Islamic State.
There is nothing Islamic about the Islamic State, or ISIS. It is not a state. What we are seeing is the recrudescence of the fanatical Wahabi movement from Saudi Arabia combined with a bizarre modern form of violent Arab anarchism and nihilism embraced by bitter, marginalized young men from the Mideast and Europe who have too much testosterone, too little sense, and deep anger from being discriminated against in Europe. They are Europe’s forgotten underclass among whom unemployment is over 60% and drug dealing endemic.
ISIS is also pure blowback from western imperial bungling in the Mideast. The fanatical group was formed and armed in Jordan by CIA, British, French and Turkish intelligence, and funded by Saudi Arabia.
ISIS, in Washington’s thinking, was supposed to be composed of “moderates,” a short-lived, easily controlled force used to overthrow Syria’s government, which had been marked for death by the western powers for refusing to turn against ally Iran.
As often in the past, the Saudis sought to use militants, in this latest case ISIS, as a tool to vent revolution away from their borders. The Saudis contribution to ISIS was arms, cash and Wahabi fanaticism. Ironically, while the world recoiled in horror at ISIS beheadings, its Saudi patrons cut off the heads of 27 prisoners at the same time – without hardly any notice from the western media.
But the ISIS Frankenstein quickly ran out of control and turned on its creators.
The next step in this disaster was to further widen the chasm between Sunni and Shia. Soon after invading Iraq in 2003, the US, in the best imperial divide and conquer policy, made an alliance with the Shia majority against the nation’s Sunni minority. The strategy of using Shia against Sunni was highly successful in keeping US control of Iraq. Washington even quietly aligned itself with Tehran over Iraq.
Shia death squads were unleashed against Sunni regions; Shia torturers used electrical drills and acid to make Sunni prisoners talk and break the anti-US resistance. The US funded and abetted this dirty war, using technique perfected in Central America’s civil wars. Israel provided much useful advice.
Turning Shia against Sunnis “stabilized” Iraq, but it intensified dangerous tensions across the Muslim world all the way east to Pakistan. The long proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iranian intensified.
As religious hatred was being fanned, out of the bowels of the Mideast came the ferocious ISIS claiming to be waging jihad against Shia “unbelievers” and “apostates,” among them the Assad Alawite regime in Syria. ISIS became Saudi Arabia’s weapon of choice. But then ISIS turned on the US-installed regime in Iraq and routed its toy soldiers.
Throw into this witch’s brew the hatred and fury of the Arab world that has been invaded, bombed and exploited by the western colonial powers for a century. The US has committed acts of war against at least ten Muslim nations in our era, killing untold numbers of people and imposing ruthless tyrants as overseers, all under the banner of fighting “terrorism.”
Can there be any doubt that the thirst for revenge is intense? These are the sons of the aborted “Arab Spring” that has withered and died under western and Saudi counter-revolution. They are the cousins of the 9/11 hijackers – who were mostly from Saudi Arabia.
ISIS uses the idiom of Islam, but it’s a bloodthirsty mob of enraged young men who understand little about Islam. Their stupid brutality is stirring up intense Islamophobia everywhere.
Interestingly, there is an ancient Muslim saying (hadith) that warns of the coming of dangerous men with black flags, phony geographical names and long hair.
They appear to have finally arrived. Now it’s up to the Muslim world, not outsiders, to eradicate this lethal plague of 20-something crusaders.

US policy toward Syria has always been clear

By: Salameh Kileh

The US has disappointed many with its Syria policy over the last four years. No one should expect more in the latest round of Islamic State-driven US diplomacy.
The US policy toward Syria over the last few years has seemed not only confused but also contradictory. While it once considered the removal of President Bashar al-Assad from power a necessity, it now speaks of a role for the Syrian leader in a political process. 

Meanwhile, Washington has assembled a multi-national coalition to defeat the Islamic State group (formerly known as ISIS). US officials may still speak of the struggle against Assad, but the war against the IS is now the priority. 

The question is whether US President Barack Obama has
    US statements merely reflect the Machiavellian game of power politics the US is playing in the region
modified his policy toward the Syrian regime and if he wants to bring it down, or if this option is still far from American thinking. Opposition groups have been consumed by this issue since the start of the revolution in 2011. They have been waiting long, hoping that the US will prioritize ousting the regime over anything else.
And yet, despite all talk about conflicting messages from the US - whether attributed to Obama, John Kerry, to his secretary of state, or remarks by former American officials, one has to say that the media has contributed greatly toward this confusion.
Since day one, US policy toward Syria has been clear. The US administration announced early that Syria was not a US concern. Back in 2010, Washington had moved toward a new global strategy, giving precedence to Asia and the Pacific region and identifying China as the main threat to US interests. 

For this reason, Washington's position on events in Syria after 15 March 2011 was weak compared to its stand on Tunisia and Egypt. Then Washington sold out Syria to Russia within the framework of their mutual dialogue and compromises.

A balancing game

The US has never really supported the opposition. Washington even discouraged its allies who wanted a more active policy to bring down the Syrian regime, in particular Turkey, Qatar and France. In any case, US policy openly rules out a military solution and calls for a political solution based on negotiations. While this solution rules out the continued rule of Assad, the principles of the Geneva I Conference also calls for a transitional period.

When Barack Obama links the war on the IS group to Assad stepping down, he is not implying that military action will be deployed to this end, either directly or by supporting the armed opposition. Talk about training the opposition has become a joke in Syria, a country that has been mired in devastating warfare for two years now. 

Rather, Obama means that efforts toward a political solution should perhaps accompany the war on the IS, to arrange for the participation of the opposition and the government, from which Assad should eventually step down.

This war is not a real war in the truest sense of the word; it is rather a political maneuvre aimed at imposing the agendas of regional powers, especially Iran with which the Obama administration wants better alignment. But any coorporation will also necessitate Tehran curbing its expansionist ambitions in the region.
    Talk about training the opposition has become a joke in Syria
This is happening in Iraq, where the United States is now imposing what it wanted to impose in 2011, before it decided to pull out its forces from this country. For instance, Washington will press for a law that protects its soldiers from being held to account for anything they do in Iraq to secure the presence of the soon to be 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers.

These conditions are perhaps what Obama refers to when he speaks about the necessity of Assad stepping down. An agreement with Iran is being negotiated to remove Assad from power and arrange a transition on the basis of Geneva I Conference, with Russian participation.

These American statements have raised the expectations of some and confused others. In fact, they
merely reflect the Machiavellian game of power politics the US is playing in the region, trying to balance its many priorities and interests.

Expectations of what Washington can do and what it is willing to do should therefore be realistic.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic website.

Israel: Stop Punitive Home Demolitions

Policy Amounts to Collective Punishment, Potential War Crime

(Jerusalem) – Israel should impose an immediate moratorium on its policy of demolishing the family homes of Palestinians suspected of carrying out attacks on Israelis. The policy, which Israeli officials claim is a deterrent, deliberately and unlawfully punishes people not accused of any wrongdoing. When carried out in occupied territory, including East Jerusalem, it amounts to collective punishment, a war crime.

In at least five instances in 2014, Israeli authorities have demolished or sealed the family homes of Palestinians suspected of killing Israelis, leaving dozens of people homeless. On November 19, 2014, Israeli forces used explosives to destroy the family home of an East Jerusalem man who ran down and killed a baby girl and fatally wounded a woman on October 22. Israeli authorities have said they will demolish seven more family homes of Palestinians suspected of killing Israelis, including five homes in East Jerusalem.

Punitive home demolitions are blatantly unlawful,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “Israel should prosecute, convict, and punish criminals, not carry out vengeful destruction that harms entire families.”

The Israeli military ended an earlier policy of punitive home demolitions in 1998, but reinstituted it after the start of the second Palestinian intifada in 2000. From 2000 to 2005 Israeli forces punitively destroyed more than 650 Palestinian homes, displacing more than 4,000 people, according to data collected by B’Tselem, an Israeli rights organization. In 2009, Israeli forces punitively demolished and sealed off the family homes of Palestinians who killed Israelis.

Following the most recent attack on Israelis, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stated on November 18 that he had “ordered the demolition of the homes” of two men he called “human animals” who killed five civilians during an attack on a synagogue that day: Rabbis Aryeh Kupinsky, Kalman Levine, Moshe Twersky, and Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, and police officer Zidan Saif. Israeli forces responding to the attack killed the assailants, Uday and Ghassan Abu Jamal, cousins from East Jerusalem. Human Rights Watch condemned the attack, for which a Palestinian armed group claimed responsibility.

Israeli forces arrested 10 of the men’s relatives on November 18 and released 8 of them the following day, staff at a Palestinian prisoners’ rights group, Addameer, told Human Rights Watch.

Israeli spokespeople contend that under Israeli law, Palestinian families can object to punitive demolition orders within 48 hours and then appeal to Israel’s high court. However, Israel’s High Court of Justice has refused to apply the absolute prohibition in customary international law against the collective punishment of civilians in occupied territory when ruling on petitions against punitive home demolitions in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, instead claiming the demolitions could be justified as “proportionate” if balanced against the need to deter other Palestinians from carrying out attacks. The military suspended punitive demolitions in 2005 on the recommendation of a study by a military committee that found the policy did nothing to deter Palestinian attacks on Israelis.

On August 7, the court rejected an appeal by HaMoked, an Israeli rights group that cited the international law prohibition against a planned punitive demolition. The court ruled that such demolitions were a lawful form of “deterrence” under the British Defense (Emergency) Regulations of 1945, which Israel incorporated into its law. The petitioners also argued that Israel’s application of the regulations is discriminatory, since Israeli forces have not destroyed the family homes of Israelis who killed Palestinians. The verdict stated that the latter phenomenon was “extremely exceptional” and ruled that the petitioners had not proven that the military had discriminated in its determination of which homes should be demolished, which “is situated at the heart of [its] discretion.”

On June 30, in the West Bank city of Hebron, the Israeli military detonated explosives in the family homes of two men suspected of kidnapping and killing three Israeli teenagers on June 11.

Military forces completely destroyed the two homes, and sealed that of a third suspect, leaving it uninhabitable, on August 18. On July 2, the military used explosives to destroy the West Bank home of a Palestinian man accused of killing an Israeli security officer in 2013. In total, the military actions displaced 29 residents of the four homes, according to UN data.

An Israeli spokesperson, Mark Regev, told The New York Times on November 19 that demolitions of the family homes of Palestinians who attacked Israelis were necessary to offset “a culture of support within Palestinian society” for such attacks, including financial support to the attackers’ families. However, the international law prohibition of collective punishment, including deliberately harming the relatives of criminals, is absolute. Moreover, the 2005 Israeli military report noted that punitive home demolitions increased hostility toward Israel. Justifying punishment of people who are not responsible for a criminal act just because they might “support” it would set a dangerous precedent which could come back to haunt Israelis.

International law applicable to occupied territory has prohibited collective punishment since at least the Hague Regulations of 1899. Courts around the world have treated the imposition of collective punishments as a war crime.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu should reject a policy of punitive home demolitions,” Stork said. “It is a basic principle of law that one person should not be punished for another’s crime.

THE PALESTINIAN ASSHOLE BACKS OFF, AGAIN: السلطة تقرر تجميد التوجه لمجلس الأمن

(صورة من الأرشيف)
كشف  مسئول فلسطيني بارز عن توجه داخل قيادة السلطة لتجميد التوجه نحو مجلس الأمن الدولي لتقديم وثيقة "إنهاء الاحتلال".
وأوضح المسئول في تصريح خاص لـ " الرسالة نت "  أن  دولا عربية –ذات وزن كبير-   تمارس ضغوطاً كبيرة على رئيس السلطة لتجميد تقديم الوثيقة لمجلس الأمن، وتأجيل الخطوة لأسابيع إضافية.
ولفت المسئول، إلى أن عباس كان مُصراً على تقديم خطته لإنهاء الاحتلال خلال الأسبوع الجاري، إلا أن أي تحرك سياسي أو دبلوماسي على هذا الصعيد لم يبدأ بعد، ولم يعطي أي أوامر مباشرة للوفد الدبلوماسي في واشنطن بالتحرك نحو مجلس الأمن الدولي.
وذكر أن عباس هدد في السابق بخطوته الدولية، إلا أنه قد يتراجع عنها بناءً على وعود وضغوط عربية وأوروبية، لافتاً إلى أن الجانب الفلسطيني حتى اللحظة لم يضمن الأصوات الـ9 لإنجاح خطة عباس في إنهاء الاحتلال والتصويت عليها بـ"نعم".
وكان قيس عبد الكريم "أبو ليلى" القيادي في الجبهة الديمقراطية، كشف في تصريح سابق لـ"الرسالة نت"، عن ضغوطات أمريكية كبيرة تُمارس على قيادة السلطة الفلسطينية، من أجل تأجيل أو تعطيل الخطوة الدولية في التوجه لمجلس الأمن والانضمام للمؤسسات الدولية والحقوقية.
وقال :" الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية، إضافة لبعض الدول الأوروبية الكبرى تطالب قيادة السلطة لتعطيل خطوة عرض الخطة الفلسطينية لمجلس الأمن الدولي للتصويت عليها، وتأجيل الانضمام للمؤسسات الدولية".
وكانت فلسطين وزعت الشهر الماضي  مسودة مشروع قرار على أعضاء مجلس الأمن الدولي، تمهيداً لتقديمه رسمياً إلى المجلس، وينص على إنهاء الاحتلال "الإسرائيلي" للأراضي الفلسطينية بحلول تشرين ثاني(نوفمبر) 2016، وإقامة دولة فلسطينية على حدود 1967، وعاصمتها القدس الشرقية.

Powerful U.S. pro-Israel lobby holds fire as Iran deadline looms

(Reuters) - As the United States and other powers negotiate down to the wire on a nuclear deal with Iran, one voice has been unusually quiet - the main pro-Israel lobby in Washington.
Israel deeply distrusts the attempt to reach a deal at talks in Vienna that would lift harsh international sanctions on Iran in return for limits to its nuclear program, aimed at preventing it from developing an atomic bomb.
But its staunchest U.S. supporters, represented by the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, lobbying group, have been holding back. They failed earlier this year in a full-scale push for further sanctions that the White House said would have derailed the talks.
With growing signs that Monday's deadline for an Iran deal may be extended, AIPAC is looking past these talks and weighing how to respond to the outcome amid a changing political environment in Washington.
"There’s nothing to lobby for ... until we see what's addressed in Vienna," said a source close to AIPAC. "But after that, the question is whether you'll see an intense push to engage with Congress. It could be the lull before the storm."
A Republican sweep in this month's U.S. congressional elections has already spurred new threats from hawkish lawmakers to seek further sanctions against Iran.
AIPAC is likely to find the Republican-led Congress that takes office in January more receptive to tougher measures against Tehran and President Barack Obama less likely to have the votes to sustain a veto against fresh sanctions.
In February, Obama was able to block a campaign backed by AIPAC to get Congress to impose new sanctions, marking the group's biggest political defeat in years.
AIPAC, which has about 100,000 members, is widely credited with helping to ensure that Israel remains a top recipient of U.S. foreign aid and is accustomed to seeing most congressional measures it favors pass almost unopposed.
This summer it helped engineer a $225 million funding increase for Israel's Iron Dome defense system to protect against Hamas cross-border rocket fire in the Gaza war.
But the group has kept its army of lobbyists largely on the sidelines during the current Iran talks, a dramatic shift from other times, when it blanketed Congress.
At the same time, the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has toned down once-vociferous criticism of Obama’s handling of Iran diplomacy, though it remains bitterly opposed to any concessions that would not strip Tehran of all uranium enrichment capability.
The low-key approach may reflect a desire to avoid further antagonizing the U.S. government, Israel's most important ally, at a time of strained relations.
AIPAC is also struggling with internal divisions over what some critics see as a tilt toward the Republican party by the group, which could jeopardize its bipartisan principles.
An AIPAC source dismissed this concern, saying: "Everything we do, we approach in a bipartisan fashion."
If Washington agrees to another extension with Iran, AIPAC and Israel's friends in Congress will face a decision whether to give diplomacy more time or seek new sanctions. Obama has previously insisted that more sanctions would antagonize Iran and collapse the negotiations.
When the talks were extended in July, AIPAC said the United States should "make clear that Iran can expect no further extension." But officials close to the talks said a new deadline could be set, perhaps in March.
AIPAC has not said how it would respond, but a pro-Israel source said the group's earlier concerns, principally that Iran is trying to buy time for its nuclear advances, "would still apply, even more so."
Even as it has held fire, AIPAC has maintained lines of communication with lawmakers and the administration on the negotiations.
The West and Israel accuse Tehran of seeking to develop a nuclear weapon, which it denies. Israel, which sees development of an Iranian bomb as an existential threat, is believed to be the Middle East’s only nuclear-armed state.
Like AIPAC, Israeli officials have kept a lower-than-usual profile in Washington during the recent talks, possibly seeking to avoid the impression of meddling in U.S. affairs.

"We are not doing any lobbying at this time," Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz told Reuters in Jerusalem.

The Battle for Jerusalem

By David Hearst

To be a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem is to suffer from a  special form of statelessness. They are citizens neither of Israel nor of Palestine. They cannot vote. They have no official passports and cannot freely cross borders.
They have the right to residency in Jerusalem, but it is a daily battle to keep it. Under the Israeli Ministry of Interior's "center of life" policy, they have to continuously disprove a negative, that their real family life is not elsewhere. This means endlessly collecting receipts as proof of their life in Jerusalem like medical prescriptions and school registrations. Inspectors go as far as counting the clothes in a wardrobe or the food in the fridge, as evidence of the claimed number of children living in the family home.
Obtaining citizenship of any country or spending too long abroad are both reasons for the revocation of the residency status, which cannot be handed down to children. They cannot build onto their houses, and if they do, they have to pay to have the extension knocked down, or knock it down themselves. This is the community from which the two men who shot and hacked worshippers in early morning prayers in a synagogue in West Jerusalem on Tuesday came from.
There is another element peculiar to this attack on a Jewish religious target. Ghassan Abu Jamal, 23, and Odai Abu Jamal, 30, were not members of a religious Palestinian group. They came from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) -- a secular, revolutionary, leftist organisation founded by George Habash, a Palestinian Christian, responsible in the 1960s for a series of aircraft hijackings.
This brings us to the third new element in this attack: The PFLP did not, on the available evidence, order or plan this attack. A statement posted on the group'sFacebook page supported the attack and identified the attackers as members of the PFLP, but a press release emailed on behalf of the group omitted any affiliation the men had to the group. The PFLP in Gaza wanted to claim responsibility for the attack, the West Bank did not. This is similar to the abduction and murder of three settler youths by members of Hamas, which Hamas itself did not know anything about.
Ofer Zalzberg, senior Middle East analyst at the International Crisis Group (ICG) put his finger on what is happening here.
"There is no leader to go to that can represent the needs and demands of East Jerusalemites or Palestinians in general. For Palestinians, Abbas does not seem to act, Jordan's actions are limited, while most of the Arab or Islamic world doesn't seem to be mobilising...No one is acting in the face of perceived threats among Palestinians in East Jerusalem and therefore in the absence of leaders, individuals react."
While Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that Mahmoud Abbas' "incitement" was responsible for the synagogue attack, a young woman in Ramallah put a video uplambasting the Palestinian president for condemning it. Kristina Yousef said:
"Mr. President! Where were you a month ago? Where were you when child Turin was killed? Where were you yesterday when Yousef al-Ramouni was strangled to death while on the job? Did you watch the video of his wife when she was weeping and crying? Where are you? Do you watch the news? Where are you?We are not in a state of war. We are in the middle of a massacre. We have lost all hope. These are the ones who lift our heads high while you come out to condemn (them)? Where are the violations of Al-Aqsa? Here is Al-Aqsa. It has only a few years to go. They have been demolishing it. They are digging underneath it. Every day, the women at Al-Aqsa get beaten. Why are you not coming out to denounce this? If you do not want to stand by us, then sit on the side. Believe me, we can do the job instead of you. We can defend our country; we do not need you."
Like it or not, this is an authentic Palestinian voice. Her video went viral. The issue, then, is not the degree to which Abbas condemns or dissociates himself with the Palestinians who carry out these attacks. On this point, the Shin Bet service chief Yoram Cohen bluntly contradicted his prime minister. The issue is the extent to which Abbas, the Palestinian Authority, and indeed all Palestinian factions have lost control of events taking place on the ground. The Palestinians of East Jerusalem are not only stateless, but leaderless too.
Yousef's voice should not come as a surprise. Hers is the product of the generation that has grown up under a policy that has been consistently applied and internationally supported. It is to suppress all political opposition in the West Bank, isolating Jerusalem, to allow Abbas to speak. Abbas' voice comes at the expense of silencing all others.
The policy has been undermined in two ways. Israel collectively has stopped listening to Abbas. And the Palestinian president has stopped being listened to by Palestinians themselves.
The red line in this battle is al-Aqsa in particular and Jerusalem in general. There is no question in the minds of the Palestinians of East Jerusalem but that Israel has already crossed this line. Attacking places of worship has alas become commonplace. Since June 2011, 10 mosques in Israel and the West Bank have been set on fire by presumed right-wing Jewish extremists. No charges have been filed. Over 63 mosques were destroyed and 153 partially damaged in Israel's attack on Gaza.
Ever since the occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, there were Jews who aspired to remove the mosque of al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock and replace it with the Third Temple. There was always a brisk trade in pictures of the Holy City with al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock photoshopped out. But this sort of wish fulfilment remained on the fringe of Israeli political discourse. Now it has entered the mainstream.
Movements for the rebuilding of the Third Temple have gained ground and the religious veto against praying on the Temple Mount has waned. Thirty years ago, Yehuda Etzion, one the movement's leaders, was convicted of planning to blow up the Dome of the Rock. Today, he enjoys right-wing backing. "The Temple will rise on the expense of the mosques, there is no doubt about it," said Etzion.
Just a few hundred meters away from al-Aqsa, the crowded and poor Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan is in the first stages of Judaisation. It is now referred to as the City of David. Just after settlers took over 23 more apartments in Silwan at the end of September, and violent clashes ensued, an advert appeared congratulating the settlers on their Zionist endeavour. "The strengthening of Jewish presence in Jerusalem is our common challenge," went the ad. "With your settlement act, you make us proud."
Who put their names on the front page ad? Nobel Laureate Eli Wiesel; Shlomo Aharonishky, ex-chief of staff of the Israeli Police; and retired general Amos Yadlin, former head of intelligence in the Israeli Defense Forces and a possible contender for the leadership of the Labor Party. As MEE contributor Meron Rapoport noted: "In short, not a bunch of right-wing lunatics, but the flesh and bone of the Israeli establishment."
The settlers of the "City of David" are just the visible part of a broader act of dispossession. Declaring the area a Jewish National Heritage site, despite the fact that no reliable archeological evidence has been found linking King David to the stones uncovered during the excavations, has legitimised the acts of the settlers.
The takeover of Silwan is not a fringe activity. Israel's housing minister Uri Ariel, a senior minister from the Jewish Home party, has looked into renting an apartment there.
Sami Abu Atrash, a colleague of Yusef al-Ramouni, found hanging from a steel bar in the Egged bus he drove summed up the atmosphere in East Jerusalem on Tuesday. He told the Middle East Eye:
"They're against us. They don't want any Palestinians to live on this earth. They want to transfer all the people ...We work for the Jewish people, and help them, all the time, day and night. But the Israelis - and it's not just the settlers - it's the government - they are pushing them to kill us, and destroy our houses. It's the system of the government against the Palestinian people."
What's going in East Jerusalem has forced even the most West-leaning and compliant of Arab leaders, King Abdullah of Jordan to withdraw his ambassador. The king is acting out of pragmatism. He is mindful of the presence of Islamic State supporters in Jordan, to say nothing of the Palestinian majority in the Hashemite kingdom. Abdullah knows that nothing can unify Arabs as quickly as Jerusalem.
Which brings us to the last and perhaps most significant difference between this Palestinian uprising, if such it proves to be, and the last two. If it does materialize, it will be fought by Palestinians inside the walls that Israel has constructed around itself, by the East Jerusalemites and the Palestinians of 1948, who are Israeli citizens. Unlike the previous two intifadas, this conflict will not be contained inside secure borders, such as were guaranteed by strong states, friendly and hostile alike. Egypt's Mubarak has disappeared, and a very large jihadi insurgency is battling for control of the Sinai Peninsula. Bashar Assad's forces no longer control Israel's northern border on the Golan Heights. To make Jerusalem a battle zone, in the circumstances of chaos in the wider Arab world, where four states have failed, is to invite every Arab fighter in.
And Jerusalem will surely become a battle zone, if the public security minister eases controls on gun licenses to Israel's Jewish citizens, East Jerusalem becomes locked down by roadblocks and police patrols, or the response of the government is to demolish Palestinian houses while announcing 78 new settlements.
So Netanyahu, for once, is right. This is a battle for Jerusalem. It will either be the last battle Palestinians will fight before Israeli Jews take East Jerusalem over. Or it is the first battle of a larger struggle -- in which Jerusalem serves as a magnet for militants from wherever they hail -- Sunni or Shia, secular and Islamist, takfiris, jihadis, or nationalists. Netanyahu has picked the one battleground capable of drawing them all in.

Like Israeli apartheid, Palestinian resistance crosses Green Line

Binyamin Netanyahu's policies target Palestinian citizens of Israel as well as those in the occupied territories. The Green Line has become an irrelevance, and Palestinians on both sides are uniting in resistance.
By Ben White

In 2003, Israel's then-finance minister, Binyamin Netanyahu described Palestinian citizens of Israel as the real "demographic problem".

Seven years later as prime minister, Netanyahu told his cabinet that "without a Jewish majority", the Negev posed "a palpable threat".

Did someone say "incitement"?

This is the man currently leading Israel into a diplomatic and security cul-de-sac; a man who, thanks to his ideology and obsession with political power, is cementing the de facto one-state reality with the support of his eager accomplices in the Israeli parliament.

There should be no surprise that Netanyahu has expanded settlements, overseen atrocities in Gaza, proclaimed the return of punitive house demolitions and threatened Palestinian citizens of Israel with expulsion for advocating the "destruction of the state".

For Netanyahu, the "Green Line" - the division between territory held by Israel before and after 1967 - is meaningless.

Apartheid nation
None of this sets him apart from previous Israeli leaders and governments. From Sharon to Rabin, the colonial consensus has always trumped international law.

But in recent years, the erasure of the Green Line has become more pronounced. Israeli bulldozers are tearing down Palestinian homes in the south Hebron hills, and destroying what Israel says are "illegal" homes in the Negev.

In Silwan, Jewish settlers move into Palestinian homes using legal mechanisms and brute force, the continuation of bureaucratic and physical violence that stretches back to the 1948 Nakba.
    The status quo is unravelling, despite - or perhaps because of - the best efforts of different parties to maintain it.

Over the summer, as Gaza burned, Israeli forces were also cutting down Palestinian protesters in the West Bank, confronting demonstrators in occupied East Jerusalem, and arresting and harassing Palestinians in the villages of the Galilee Triangle.

Palestinian solidarity
And just as Israeli apartheid has crossed the Green Line, so has Palestinian resistance. Palestinians, especially the politically engaged youth, are reaching out across the divisions created by Zionist colonisation to create links of solidarity.
These connections emerge out of an understanding that they are facing the same enemy: a state determined to expel, corral and silence the indigenous population in the name of ethno-religious supremacy.

Examples include the 2011 solidarity hunger strikes in Haifa in support of Palestinian prisoners, similar coordinated activity during Khader Adnan's hunger strike, and the days of rage and protest against the so-called "Prawer Plan" to ethnically cleanse Bedouin Palestinians from the Negev.

The tools provided by social media platforms are part of the story, but it is also about a generation which rejects the fragmentation of the past.

It is a reflection of a political consciousness that is both old and new: it harks back to before the time when the Palestinian issue was reduced to that of "statehood", and is shaped by the realities and priorities of the present.

State of mind
The fact that Israel's policies of segregation and discrimination bridge the Green Line brings us to a conversation less about "states" (and even less about the "two-state solution"), and more about decolonisation.

Even a single, democratic state, as Noura Erakat wrote in The Nation in March 2013, is not sufficient without a commitment to dismantling "those institutions that confer privilege to any particular ethnic, religious or national group".

And those are the sorts of questions and issues that are slowly coming to the fore, as Israel upholds a politics of racial privilege and policies of exclusion as it maintains a grip over all the territory from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean.

The status quo is unravelling, despite - or perhaps because of - the best efforts of different parties to maintain it. The emergence of a de facto "one state" thus contains dangers and opportunities.

Israel's leaders will do their best to solidify and refine the apparatus of apartheid. Meanwhile, the Palestinian political leadership, by and large, is not reflecting the changes that have already taken place.

Events this year have brought home the irrelevancy of the Green Line: Israeli apartheid crosses it, and so does Palestinian resistance. The battle for justice in Palestine, to borrow from the title of Ali Abunimah's most recent book, will play out in Shuafat and Gaza, Hebron and Kafr Kanna.

Friday, November 21, 2014

تونس: الربيع قد يولد مرتين


وائل قنديل
تونس: الربيع قد يولد مرتين
ولد الربيع العربي في تونس، واغتيل في مصر، واشتعلت به النار في اليمن وليبيا، وتعرّض للإبادة في سورية، والآن جاءت اللحظة التونسية الأهم: إما أن يقوم الربيع من تحت الردم ويقف على قدميه، أو يوارى الثرى، ويشيّع إلى مثواه الأخير مع التصويت في الانتخابات الرئاسية غداً. 
كانت تونس مهبط وحي الثورات، ومنها انبعثت شرارة الحلم بالتغيير، وانتقلت شرقاً إلى مصر، ثم استدارت ولمعت في ليبيا، لتعبر مجدداً إلى أقصى الشرق في سورية، وفيما انفردت تونس بمسار ثوري واضح ومستقيم، تعثّرت خطى الثورات في باقي دول الربيع، بعضها ضاع تحت سنابك خيول الانقلابات، وأخرى تعرّضت للوأد في المهد ولا تزال، كما هو الحال في سورية.
الهالات السوداء التي كست وجه ثورات الربيع، في كل الدول العربية، جعلت قلوب الجميع معلّقة وأبصارهم موجهة إلى تونس، في ظل ارتفاع أمواج تنظيم الثورات المضادة الذي يهاجم شواطئ الربيع في كل العواصم العربية، وكانت الانتخابات البرلمانية التي اكتملت، الشهر الماضي، الاختبار الأكبر لمدى جدارة العرب بالربيع، وملاءمة الربيع للعرب، وحين أسفرت النتائج عن تقدم معسكر الدولة العميقة، ظهرت علامات الإحباط واليأس على جمهور الربيع، غير أن الأهم في ما جرى أن تونس قدمت أنموذجاً في القابلية لممارسة الصراع السياسي بشكل متحضّر وآدمي، يبشّر بأن زمناً عربياً ديمقراطياً جديداً يطلّ من كوّة صغيرة تشرف على ساحة الاستبداد الممتدة باتساع الخارطة العربية.
تقدمت الدولة العميقة، غير أن القوة الممثلة للربيع لم تسلم الراية، وأبقت على حصة معقولة لها، أو بالأحرى حصة جيدة لأحلامنا في التغيير والديمقراطية والانعتاق من الماضي.
وتأتي الانتخابات الرئاسية غداً لتضع تونس أمام السؤال الوجودي الكبير: هل يمكن أن نشيّع الديمقراطية إلى قبر لها؟ هل من الوارد أن ينتحر الربيع، وتموت الثورة في الأرض التي نبتت بها في تونس، وتقود الانتخابات الرئاسية إلى إسدال الستار على أول محاولة عربية للهبوط على سطح الحضارة والإنارة والجدارة بأن نحيا في مجتمعات إنسانية؟
إن مقاولي الانتخابات، والوكلاء الحصريين لتجارة الثورات المضادة، وكارهي الربيع العربي نزلوا بكل ثقلهم لساحة الانتخابات الرئاسية التونسية، ينفقون ببذخ، ويدعمون بلا حدود ويقاتلون من أجل الحيلولة دون وصول وجه معبّر عن زمن الربيع العربي إلى قصر قرطاج، ووصل الأمر بهم إلى رفع البراقع عن الوجوه، وبعد أن كانوا يكتفون بالتحريك والتمويل عن بُعد، ذهبوا إلى أرض الملعب التونسي، لتتحوّل الانتخابات الرئاسية، مثلما كانت البرلمانية، إلى شأن يخص كل العرب، ولا ينحصر في الدائرة التونسية فقط.
أعلم أن الإغراءات شديدة، وتمويل مشروع إسقاط الثورة التونسية اخترق كل أسقف الخيال، بالطريقة ذاتها والسخاء ذاته الذي عرفته عملية تصنيع الانقلاب على الديمقراطية في مصر، لكني أعلم، أيضاً، أن الشعب التونسي لن يسمح للتاريخ بأن يكتب عنه أنه الشعب الذي ألهم الجميع بالتغيير والحرية والعدل والديمقراطية، ثم قرر أن يشعل النار في كل ما بشّر به وباهى به الأمم.
إن التونسيين لم يفجروا ربيع العرب، بحثاً عن أوضاع مادية أفضل، بل كان ذلك انتصاراً لكرامة الإنسان، وانتزاعاً لحريته، وكما قلت، من قبل، إن نظام زين العابدين بن علي، وهو الأكثر بطشاً بالمعارضين، وعصفاً بالحريات، وفساداً على مستوى العائلة الحاكمة، استطاع، فى الوقت ذاته، أن يحدث تنمية وضعت تونس فى مرتبة تالية للدول النفطية. ومن ثم، فإن البوعزيزي لم يحرق نفسه مدفوعاً بشح المال، بل دفعاً لإهانة إنسانيته. وعلى ذلك، أثق أن التونسيين لن يبيعوا ما تبقى من ربيعنا لقاء أموال تجار الانقلابات ومستثمري الثورات المضادة.
وكما علّمتنا تونس الدرس الأول في الثورة، ننتظر منها الدرس الأول في التصدي لجيوش الردّة على الثورة. 

Last Tango in Vienna

صلاح:جهات عربية تطالبنا بالسكوت عن الأقصى

الرسالة نت- (متابعة خاصة)
رئيس الحركة الإسلامية في الداخل الفلسطيني المحتل الشيخ رائد صلاح
قال رئيس الحركة الإسلامية في الداخل الفلسطيني المحتل الشيخ رائد صلاح إن هناك جهات عربية ضغطت علينا للسكوت عن ما يحدث في المسجد الأقصى من اقتحامات متكررة للمستوطنين.
وأضاف صلاح في تصريح متلفز، ظهر الجمعة "هناك بعض ممثلين عن الدول العربية، "قالوا لنا غضوا الطرف عن الاقتحامات التي يقوم بها الاحتلال للأقصى، ونحنن رفضنا ذلك".
وأكد أنه لا مكان ولا زمان للاحتلال في القدس والأقصى، متابعًا "موقفنا واضح أننا لا نعطي شرعية للاحتلال في دخول الأقصى، وسيبقى موقفنا مستمر".
وأشار صلاح إلى أن هذه الأطراف العربية ترتبط بتنسيق أمني مع الاحتلال، لافتًا إلى أن الاحتلال يحاول أن يدعي للعالم بتهدئة الأوضاع في القدس، لكنه يخاطب شعبه أن له الحق الكامل في الأقصى.
وتابع "الاحتلال يحاول أن يصنع محور إسرائيلي أمريكي عربي قد اتفق على كل ما هو مطلوب في الأقصى، ولم يكن أحد معارض عليه إلا أهل القدس، مؤكدًا على ضرورة الوقوف في وجه هذا المحور.