'A story of survival and rebirth' The Palestinians Who Didn't Flee During the Nakba

Historian Adel Manna tells the story of the 120,000 Palestinians who remained in Israel in 1948 while 750,000 were driven out
By Dalia Karpel Sep 19, 2017

When he was in the fourth grade in elementary school in the Arab town of Majd al-Krum in Upper Galilee, Adel Manna took part in the preparations to celebrate Israel’s 10th Independence Day. At home, he told his father, Hussein, about how thrilled he was to be in a play about the achievements of the Zionist movement and the young state. His father’s face clouded over. Sitting Adel, his firstborn child, by his side, he explained with much forbearance why the event was not a cause for celebration for the Arabs, rather a day of grief and trauma. “It is not a day of istiqlal [independence] but of istakhlal [conquest, occupation],” he said.

“My father told me about the murders that Israel Defense Forces soldiers committed in Majd al-Krum in November 1948, and that months after the end of the war, hundreds of residents were expelled, including our family,” Manna tells me during an interview in Jerusalem. In January 1949, his family crossed into Jordan and afterward went on to Ein al-Hilweh refugee camp in southern Lebanon.
Sixty years have passed since Manna grasped the difference between those two Arabic words. The circumstances of his family’s exile and subsequent return to the ancestral home have haunted him all his life. Now, following a difficult gestation, those experiences have produced a groundbreaking historical study, “Nakba and Survival: The Story of the Palestinians Who Remained in Haifa and the Galilee, 1948-1956,” which first came out in Arabic and has recently been published in Hebrew. The term Nakba, or “catastrophe,” is used to describe Israel’s War of Independence, when hundreds of thousands of Arabs fled or were expelled from their homes. In the Hebrew version of his book Manna uses the Hebrew word sordim for survivors, i.e., those who remained (as opposed to the term nitzolim, connoting Holocaust survivors, which he says has in essence been appropriated by the Jews)
I begin our conversation by asking Manna when he arrived at the decision that the book’s protagonists would be those who survived/remained after the events of 1948-49.
“Survival is strength,” he replies. “It is the ability to confront a disaster, such as an earthquake, and to hold on and rescue your family and property. That is what happened to the Arabs in Israel, and that disaster did not end in 1948 but went on at least until 1956. The Palestinians became a minority ruled by the Jews, with whose language and laws they were not familiar. Formally they were citizens, but effectively they were under occupation. Their rights were trampled, their property was expropriated and plundered, they could not leave their village without a permit, and so on. One needs strength, and above all strategies, to survive. I call it the strength of the defeated: not to yield to despair, and to ensure that your family remains alive. [Israeli] historian Benny Morris and others like him hate my book, because I am taking the story from them and brazenly also claiming that the Palestinians survived, even though after World War II and the Holocaust, the Jews have a monopoly on the word ‘survival.’”
Aren’t you actually replacing the [Arabic] term summud – steadfastness – with [the Hebrew] hisardut, or survival?
“In the Arabic version of the book, I use the word bakaa, which means remaining alive. The Palestinians did not face extinction in the 1948 Nakba, as I emphasize in the book. Not everyone managed to come through and rehabilitate his life; some despaired and left. Families split apart and did not see one another for years. Some Palestinians preferred to remain in the homeland under military rule and to bend in order to survive, despite their private tragedy, which was also a national and political tragedy.
“This is also a story of rebirth. The term summud is from the 1980s, and connotes a political and ideological approach: namely, I must hold fast to the land. After the West Bank Palestinians despaired of the possibility of liberating Palestine, they spoke of a commitment to cling steadfastly to the territories that were occupied in 1967.”
When did the Palestinians in Israel grasp that it was incumbent on them to survive?
“At the start of the war in 1948, many fled for their lives, believing they would soon return. But in short order they understood that central Galilee and western Galilee, which in the United Nations partition plan were supposed to be part of the Arab state, would be lost. When you realize that those who left will not be able to return, and hear that the conditions in the refugee camps in Lebanon are dire, you realize that abandonment is not an option.
“The residents of the Arab city of Nazareth and its 20 surrounding villages were not expelled in Operation Hiram [in October 1948, aimed at taking control of the Upper Galilee from the Arab Liberation Army]. When the Israel Defense Forces reached locales such as Bana, Deir al-Assad, Nahaf and others” as part of the operation, Manna continues, “the soldiers entered the villages, put the men in groups, shot a few and ordered everyone: ‘Yallah, to Lebanon!’ The villagers ostensibly left and started to walk northward. The soldiers did not go with them. Often, after going five or 10 kilometers, and without a soldier in sight, they returned and found people to liaise with the Israeli commanders. People started to develop survival skills.”
The book, then, focuses on the Palestinians who were not expelled, and Manna focuses on groups such as the Druze, who joined the IDF as early as June 1948, and others such as the Circassians and some of the Bedouin villages in Galilee. In the main, Manna deals with Nazareth and many of its surrounding villages, which emerged almost unscathed from the Nakba in the wake of an Israeli decision of July 1948. The author analyzes the circumstances that allowed about 100,000 Palestinians to remain in Galilee and Haifa, whereas another 750,000 were dislocated and fled.
“In 1948,” he says, “the high-ranking political decision makers issued explicit directives to IDF officers not to harm or expel the residents of Nazareth and many villages around it. Israel’s policy in regard to the Christians was more moderate than toward Muslims. There is the well-known case of the Christian village of Ilabun, where a massacre was perpetrated and the villagers were expelled to southern Lebanon – but, in a unique instance, those refugees were allowed to return to their homes and their land. In contrast, the Muslims in Galilee were victims of ethnic cleansing.”
On what basis do you maintain that most of the deportees were Muslims?
“If we focus on Galilee, the fact is that many Christians from Acre and Haifa were also expelled. This contradicts the account of Israeli historians to the effect that Haifa mayor Shabtai Levy drew up an emotional leaflet, urging the Arab residents not to leave the city where they had lived for so many years. I interviewed Haifa residents – members of the Communist Party who are not nationalists and certainly do not hate Israel. Not one of them ever heard of that leaflet, and on the day it was supposedly distributed, the Haganah [pre-IDF paramilitary organization] shelled the Arab neighborhoods from Mount Carmel. In Haifa there was no expulsion in the sense of people being forced onto trucks at gunpoint. But when entire neighborhoods were shelled, people rushed to the port. The same pattern was repeated in Acre and Jaffa.”
Did Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion pursue a policy or issue an order aimed at getting rid of the Muslims?
“I am not looking for a directive or a document bearing Ben-Gurion’s signature. He addressed the subject often, and I quote his statements in the book. For example, on September 26, 1948, he declared, ‘Only one task remains for the Arabs in the Land of Israel: to flee.’ The Israeli leadership understood and also concurred that, for the Jewish state, the fewer Arabs the better. The subject was mooted already in the late 1930s. Yosef Weitz, a senior official of the Jewish National Fund, supported extensive expulsion of Arabs and advocated a population transfer. The IDF commanders at different levels knew what the leadership wanted and acted accordingly. Massacres were not perpetrated everywhere. When you shell a village or a city neighborhood, the residents flee. In the first half of 1948, at least, they believed they would be able to return. When the fighting in Haifa ended, many residents tried to return from Acre in boats, but the Haganah blocked them.”
Does your study confirm, or prove, that ethnic cleansing took place?
“The book’s goal is not to prove whether ethnic cleansing occurred. My disagreement with [the review of my book in Haaretz by] Benny Morris did not revolve around the question of ‘whether ethnic cleansing took place or not,’ but deals with the question of whether the leadership did or did not make a decision in a particular meeting to implement a policy of ethnic cleansing.” In this connection, Manna quotes Daniel Blatman’s response (Haaretz, Aug. 4) to a review of his book by Morris (Haaretz, July 29). One might think from Morris’ book, Blatman noted, that “when Ratko Mladic decided to slaughter over 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995, he made his orders public.”
Indeed, Manna points out, “The first historian who uncovered the fact that ethnic cleansing occurred and that there were also cases of massacre, rape and expulsion was Benny Morris. He reached the conclusion that there was no [official] policy, in light of the fact that no authoritative archival documentation exists. In one village, they decided a certain way and in another, differently. Still, there is a pattern: The soldiers perpetrated another massacre and carried out another expulsion, and another massacre and another expulsion, and no one was brought to trial. If there was no policy, why weren’t these war criminals tried?”
A case in point: the atrocities that were carried out in the village of Safsaf, northwest of Safed, on October 30, 1948, which included murder, expulsion and rape. Manna writes that a member of his wife’s family was raped and murdered in cold blood by IDF soldiers: His wife, Aziza, is named for the rape victim. He heard the account nine years ago from a woman named Maryam Halihal, now 80, who was 10 at the time of the events.
Rape is considered a dishonoring of the family in Arab society. Did you have qualms about publishing the story and the identity of the victims?
“Rape generates deep shame in the victim’s family. Aziza Sharaida is no longer alive – why make her harsh story public and shame her family? When I met the woman who would become my wife, she told me that she was named for a cousin, Aziza Sharaida, without elaborating. As part of my research, I interviewed members of my wife’s family, and Maryam Halihal decided to talk about the incident, over her husband’s angry objections.
“The soldiers entered the family’s house and tried to rape Aziza Sharaida in front of her husband and children. She resisted. The soldiers threatened to kill her 17-year-old, firstborn son if she went on resisting. She resisted with force and they shot her son. The soldiers threatened to shoot her husband, too, but she refused to give in, and they shot and killed him. The two younger sons, who witnessed the atrocity, went into exile in Lebanon. My wife’s mother, a relative of the murdered woman, decided 63 years ago to name her daughter Aziza. As I write in the book, even though Haim Laskov [later a chief of staff] was put in charge of the interrogation of the perpetrators of the horrors in Safsaf, none of them paid the price for war crimes, which included shooting prisoners and acts of abuse and rape.”
Manna began his research in 1984. Over the years, he interviewed 120 men and women and compiled documents, diaries and letters from the period, which in some cases had been stashed away in drawers. He also drew on written Palestinian sources, which helped him confirm oral testimonies. Memoirs published in Arabic and newspaper articles form the period, in Arabic and Hebrew, contributed to the research. Manna also made use of many studies by Jewish Israeli historians. However, he says, he did not resort to the sweeping preference for Israeli archives that characterizes such historians as Benny Morris. “The blatant manner in which oral testimonies are disdained and ignored by researchers in Israel reflects a domineering attitude,” he writes in the book’s introduction.
He will not deposit the material he’s collected over the years in an Israeli archive. It will go either to Bir Zeit University, near Ramallah, or to the Beirut-based Institute for Palestine Studies. “Palestinian students can’t get to the Hebrew University [of Jerusalem],” he says.
Palestinian ‘illegals’
As a Muslim born in 1947 in Majd al-Krum and as a historian who researched the special story of his village in the 1948 war, Adel Manna decided that it was his obligation to write the history of the 120,000 Arabs who remained in Israel – the generation of his parents, Hussein and Kawthar.
“They survived the policy of a military government under which their rights were trampled, and despite that were able to raise nine children and instill in us the message that no one is entitled to treat us as inferior people,” he says.
Turning to his parents’ ordeal in the 1948 war, Manna relates, “The first person in Majd al-Krum who was blindfolded and made to stand against a wall in the village square – before being shot to death by a squad of six soldiers – was the husband of my grandmother, Zahra,” he explains. Subsequently, “In January 1949, 536 residents were expelled, including members of her family and her children, and became refugees in Lebanon. Her brother was murdered by a resident of [the Jewish community of] Pardes Hannah; her son, Samih, was killed when he stepped on a land mine. After the war, she worked as a maid in Haifa with her daughter. For two years, my father ‘infiltrated’ into Israel to visit them and take back a little money that grandmother had saved up for him and for his brother in Lebanon.”
Manna was a year old when he and his parents were among the many from Majd al-Krum who were herded onto IDF trucks that took them west to the village of Al-Birwa (today, the location of Moshav Ahihud), then south toward the Jezreel Valley and Wadi Ara.
“The trucks stopped there,” he relates. “The people were ordered to get off amid shouts of ‘Yallah, go to King Abdullah’ [in Jordan]. My parents spent one night in a mosque in Kafr Ara and from there walked to Nablus [then part of Jordan]. We spent the hard winter of 1949 there. People were crowded into tents under grim hygienic conditions. In April, the Jordanians encouraged the refugees to leave. My parents decided to go north and reached Ein al-Hilweh [in Lebanon]. I almost died in the refugee camp, like other infants.”
Due to an intestinal ailment, Manna did not stand or walk until he was 2 and a half. “A woman in the camp deduced that this was why I couldn’t stand and made me a potion from herbs and castor oil. It eradicated the parasites, and within a day or two I was walking. We returned to Israel in 1951 in a fishing boat that set out from the port of Tyre in Lebanon and brought us, the Palestinian ‘illegals,’ to the beach of Shavei Tzion [returners to Zion], north of Acre. How symbolic,” Manna says with a smile.
How did you manage to get back?
“Like many Galilee Palestinians, my father had repeatedly ‘infiltrated’ into Israel. On one such occasion he learned that a lawyer, Hana Naqara, had petitioned the High Court of Justice on behalf of 43 Majd al-Krum residents, each of whom had returned to the village more than once but had been expelled back to Lebanon each time. Naqara argued that these people had [Israeli] ID numbers – a population census had been conducted in Majd al-Krum in December 1948, the month before they were originally deported. [Those who received an official ID number were considered citizens.] Like them, my parents also had ID numbers. Back in Lebanon, my father told my mother: ‘Prepare what’s needed – tonight we’re going back to the village.’
“My mother was seven months pregnant, how was she going to walk 40 kilometers? Father told her that a Palestinian fisherman from the village of Az-Zeeb [Hebrew name: Achziv] had discovered that transporting refugees by boat was more profitable than fishing. As a child I believed that my father was a great hero, who had thought up the idea of our return by boat. While researching the book I learned that many Galileans had returned to Israel via the sea – a subject that awaits historical research.”
‘Don’t be a donkey’
“Nakba and Survival” is dedicated to the memory of Manna’s father. His mother, Kawthar (“pure water”), 89, lives in the family home in the village, and contributed considerably to the book.
Manna recalls that the first Jews he met as a boy were women. At the time, he traveled to the Haifa suburbs of Kiryat Motzkin and Kiryat Bialik to sell figs from the family grove. There he discovered not only that the Jews lived in apartment buildings and that shade trees had been planted along the road, but also that Jewish women were very affable. One of them, Mrs. Miller by name, treated him warmly, and when police officers showed up to confiscate wares of Arab peddlers, she hid his baskets of figs in her home.
Adel remembers his father telling him, “Don’t be a donkey like me, who works as a manual laborer all his life from morning to evening and has a hard time providing for his nine children. Get an education, so you can get a job with a good salary.”
Manna obtained a B.A. in history from the University of Haifa, then his master’s and doctorate from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, writing his dissertation on the history of the Jerusalem district in the Ottoman period. His adviser, Gabriel Baer, advised him to steer clear of issues such as the Nakba and the conflict, he recalls: “Prof. Baer intimated that the topics I had in mind would not help a student like me forge an academic career. In retrospect, I appreciated his advice.”
Manna’s political awareness was honed in the 1970s, when he was a student in Haifa, living in the dorms. He was elected secretary of the Arab Students Union, whose activity included organization of cultural and political events. His political activity exacted a price, he says: “I came under pressure from Shin Bet [security service] agents, who tried to recruit me as a collaborator and promised that in return I would be allowed to become a teacher. ‘What are you going to do with a B.A. in history?’ a Shin Bet agent named Carmi said to me. Instead of giving in or being afraid, I told Gideon Spiro, the editor of the student newspaper, about it.
“The newspaper published a report headlined ‘Shin Bet harassing Arab student,’ on February 2, 1972, a week before I received my degree. The article stirred a furor in the university and in the Hebrew press. In its wake, the weekly magazine Haolam Hazeh ran a follow-up article. I didn’t panic. I began M.A. studies at the Hebrew University and was elected to the Arab Students Union there, which led the resistance to the forced ‘protection’ of Arab students in 1974-1975.
Three members of the Haganah escort three Palestinian Arabs expelled from Haifa on 12 May 1948, after the Jewish forces took over the harbor 22 April 1948. AFP
“All along I was haunted by the story I’d heard from my father and from others in the village. When I told [Jewish] students about it, I always got the same response: ‘We didn’t expel anyone and the only massacre was in Deir Yassin [outside Jerusalem, in 1948]. The Palestinians simply fled.’ The silencing and denial of the Nakba prompted me to write an article titled ‘Letter to an Israeli Friend,’ which was published in Haaretz in June 1984.”
The article began with a concise description of the events in his village in 1948, his philo-Zionist schooling and the shock Manna endured when he learned, while taking part in demonstrations against Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, that two of his cousins from Ein al-Hilweh were incarcerated in the IDF detention facility at Ansar in southern Lebanon. Shattered by the news, he decided to abandon his doctoral studies and devote himself to writing a book about the Nakba.
“My wife was shocked,” he recalls. “‘Are you out of your mind? What will you do with a book like that? You have to finish your doctorate,’ she insisted. It was a rough year, 1984. There was a stormy campaign for the Knesset elections, the members of the Jewish underground who perpetrated terrorist acts in the territories were arrested – all of which diverted my attention from [the thesis topic of] the administration and society in the Jerusalem district between two invasions: Napoleon in 1799 and Muhammad Ali in 1831.”
Nevertheless, Manna received a Ph.D. degree cum laude, and subsequently did postdoctoral research at Princeton, where his daughter, Jumana, was born, in 1987. He and Aziza then spent another year abroad, at Oxford, before returning to Israel in 1989. At this point he realized that an academic career was not in the offing: “The Hebrew University offered me a one-year untenured lectureship in the Middle East Studies Department, and I would write a research paper on 19th-century Egypt, and then ‘we’ll see.’ I decided to concentrate on my research of the 1948 war.”
The Mannas’ first priority was their children’s education. They both worked, and one salary went to pay the high tuition for their three children at the Anglican International School in West Jerusalem, where the lingua franca is English. Manna notes that he and his wife aimed to provide their children with more languages and intellectual tools than Arab children in Israel generally receive. Possibly they had an inkling already then of what the future held for the three.
Manna frequently mentions the support he has received from Aziza. They met in 1974, at the Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus campus, where she was taking Islamic studies. After her marriage she studied early-childhood education and worked a coordinator and instructor in that sphere in the Arab community under Hebrew University aegis. Adel, currently a senior research fellow at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, was initially involved in the administration and management of the Center for the Study of Language, Society and Arabic Culture at Beit Berl College in Kfar Sava. Afterward, he headed the Center for the Study of Arab Society in Israel at Van Leer until 2007. From 2009 until 2012 he was the director of the Academic Institute for Arab Teacher Training at Beit Berl.
“From my perspective,” he says, “that was the closing of a circle with regard to the Shin Bet, whose agent in Haifa assured me in 1972 that I would never be a teacher in Israel because of my political activity.”
He and his wife live in Shoafat, a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem. Ironically, their children have not remained here: All three left the country. The eldest, Fadi, 41, a lawyer who has three children, lives in the United States, where he is vice president and associate general counsel at HP. Shadi, 37, is a software engineer; he and his wife live in Barcelona. Jumana Manna, an artist and film director, divides her time between Berlin and Jerusalem. Her 2015 documentary film, “A Magical Substance Flows into Me,” is a look at musical traditions of ethnic communities in Jerusalem in the 1930s, as compiled at that time by Jewish-German ethnomusicologist Robert Lachmann.
“We’ve remained alone,” Manna says. “It’s part of the harsh reality here. My son Fadi advanced to a professional level that an Arab in Israel cannot attain. Shadi worked in Israel for a time, but felt that he was constantly being reminded of the ‘privilege’ that had befallen him as an Arab to be employed in software engineering. Finally he got fed up and told me, ‘I don’t want to be the Jews’ Arab.’ He went to the U.S., earned an MBA and got a job with an American company.”
Do your children think that you’ve stayed in Israel at the price of being “the Jews’ Arab”?
“Our children understood that few options were available to us. As a member of the old generation, I am one of those who remained. In their perception, I somehow got used to the Jews and to their treatment of Arabs. They think that despite my origins in my father’s house, as the son of a construction worker who raised nine children, and even though I worked very hard and received a doctoral degree cum laude, perhaps I didn’t get tenure because I’m a Muslim. I don’t know. The children did not want to go through a similar experience or feel inferior to the Jews.”

Dalia Karpel

Haaretz Contributor

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.813251

A story of survival and rebirth

Another War in Gaza Only Helps Israel

It is irresponsible for some Palestinians to hallucinate about a successful struggle with inferior weapons, divided leadership and no plan against a military juggernaut

Some men are screaming from the screens and threatening us, the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades on one side and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Gen. Yoav Mordechai, on the other. Who should we fear more? You don’t even need a second to answer – of course, Mordechai and the well-oiled military machine he represents. That being the case, is it right to implore the weak Palestinians not to be tempted by provocation? It is not right, but it is necessary.

“The enemy must know that he will pay a price for breaking the rules of confrontation with the resistance (forces) in Gaza,” read a pamphlet of the military wing of Hamas, which is also grumbling that Israel interprets its restraint as weakness. Meanwhile, the COGAT’s Facebook page states: “Gaza residents, do you not understand that irresponsible terrorists drag you into escalation before the winter, when the distress in Gaza increases?... Continued rocket fire will lead to a tough and painful response by the Israel Defense Forces, and Gaza residents will be forced to pay the price. Do not try to test our strength.” Despite the military apparatus knowing well that Hamas is not the one that fired rockets at Sderot, Mordechai explains precisely why the IDF attacked it: “Hamas bears responsibility for Gaza. Wake up because time works against you.”

It is not clear if the IDF, which enjoys vaulting military superiority, wants genuinely to warn or rather hopes to annoy and provoke the Palestinians. What will Hamas achieve in particular and the Palestinians in general if they fall in the trap and get provoked? As Mordechai’s “prophecy” hints – another attack, another war, another broad military operation.

We are situated on the thin dividing line between continuing the popular demonstrations, which do not draw the masses, and having them peter out. However, it is also the thin border whose crossing means slipping into scattered individual shootings. Frustration about the small number of demonstrators and the failure of the diplomatic option, indignation over routine Israeli violence and personal fury about socioeconomic gaps easily drive some youths to get mixed up with a Kalashnikov or a rocket or a knife (as happened over the weekend and on Sunday). “It’s our right,” you could hear them repeating the well-known mantra, which silences any skeptic who hears it.

Hamas invested a lot of effort, ingenuity and thought, manpower and money in arming itself and in digging tunnels for economic and military purposes. It also invested a lot in fostering popular illusions about its ability to weaken if not defeat Israel by force of arms and the tunnels. The uncovering of another tunnel on the Gaza-Israel border is testimony that the military and technological ingenuity of Hamas will always trail that of Israel. Perhaps it will cause some of the dreamers to regain their composure.

War can only serve Israeli politicians and generals as well as the Israeli arms industry. It does not benefit the Palestinians and their homeland. Mordechai’s boss, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, explicitly threatens the Palestinian citizens of Israel. Wars are always good for large- or small-scale population transfers. Netanyahu has problems that the war can bury. A broad operation in Gaza or cutting off the West Bank enclaves from one another would be a great help to the settlers and Habayit Hayehudi.

Palestinian restraint is not weakness but rather wisdom. True, the diplomatic path of Abbas and his predecessor Arafat failed, lacking an Israeli partner. The military path that some Palestinians chose in different periods since 1994 only helped Israel fulfill its plans to bisect Palestinian territory. It is national irresponsibility to hallucinate about a successful struggle using inferior weapons, without a united leadership and without one political plan, against an organized military juggernaut. They must not give the Israeli right-wing coalition the pleasure of another war.

Amira Hass

Haaretz Correspondent

Another War in Gaza Only Helps Israel

Arab World Fumes at Trump Over Jerusalem, but They Still Need U.S.

Arab countries were quick to launch a war of words on the American president's Jerusalem declaration, but there's very little room for them to maneuver diplomatically

U.S. President Donald Trump’s dramatic performance, in which he announced he would move the American embassy to Jerusalem, set off a wave of denunciations, warnings and threats from one end of the Middle East to the other this week.

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to cut off Turkey’s ties with Israel. The recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “will open the gates of hell on the West,” warned Sheikh al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayeb. “The United States can no longer be an honest broker in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” said Saeb Erekat, stating that from now on the struggle will focus on establishing a one-nation state.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has called an emergency meeting next week of all the Islamic states to examine ways to act against the decision, even though it changed nothing regarding the peace process, which has been comatose since long before Trump’s statement. Words appear to be the only ammunition the Arab and Muslim leaders have at the moment to display the little solidarity they still have with one another.

From the Arab states’ perspective, Trump’s announcement hasn’t changed anything in Jerusalem’s status. “Egypt regrets Trump’s decision,” President Sissi said.

“Although the decision doesn’t change anything and doesn’t infringe on the basic, protected rights of the Palestinian people in Jerusalem and the occupied territories it represents a major retreat in the efforts to advance peace,” the Saudi Royal Palace stated. The decision won’t change anything in the terms of the Arab peace initiative, which is an integral basis to any negotiation. If a religious war breaks out it won’t be because of Trump’s announcement but because of another showy visit of Israeli politicians on the Temple Mount.

The extreme scenario that Egypt and Jordan cut off diplomatic relations with Israel is not realistic. Israel and Egypt’s relations are based on military and intelligence interests that are not related to the Palestinian issue or Jerusalem’s status. Sisi’s response that “recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital will complicate the peace process” is at most lip service to the Arab zeitgeist. Sisi cares more about the Palestinian reconciliation than the peace process. The reconciliation among the Palestinians can ensure quiet on the Gaza-Sinai border and rid Egypt of the disgrace of the siege on Gaza. Sisi isn’t so naive as to think that Jerusalem’s status alone could revive or kill the peace process.

A few noisy demonstrations might take place in Jordan and voices have already been heard in the parliament to cut off relations with Israel. But King Abdullah has good reasons to continue military cooperation with Israel, which sees eye-to-eye with him on the Iranian threat on the monarchy’s Syrian border. Both Egypt and Jordan understand that punishing Trump by severing ties with Israel could act as a boomerang.

Erdogan’s actions are harder to predict. Turkey’s president has become a major opponent to anything Trump does. Like one caught in the tentacles of a scuttlefish, Erdogan is wriggling between his demand that the United States extradite Fethullah Gulen, the leader of the rival religious movement whom he accuses of initiating the abortive coup against him in July 2016, and the trial in New York of Iranian-Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab.

Zarrab has already incriminated the former Turkish economy minister and senior Turkish bank officials of money laundering and bypassing the sanctions on Iran. His testimony could be destructive to Erdogan if he submits documents tying the president’s family to defrauding the United States.

Also, Erdogan is waging an all-out war against American assistance to the Syrian Kurds, who are fighting successfully against the Islamic State. Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is therefore an excellent opportunity for Erdogan to conduct his war against Trump under cover of a Muslim consensus. Whether he cuts off ties with Israel depends on the messages he receives from Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Trump was very careful not to anger the Muslims in his announcement, emphasizing that the Temple Mount’s status would remain the same. But the Arab and Muslim response stems from the spirit of the statement and the very recognition of Jerusalem, which runs counter to the international convention of the past 70 years. So the next arena could move to the UN General Assembly and Security Council. The question is whether there will be enough states to isolate the United States and render Trump’s decision void.

Arab leaders and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are trying to persuade states around the world to stick to the international position, not to recognize Jerusalem and not to move their embassies to it. This is an uphill struggle because the United States can veto any Security Council resolution, while the General Assembly resolutions don’t have teeth.

The Arab states can try to persuade states like Britain, France, Germany and Russia as well as Scandinavian and South American countries to oppose Trump’s decision. Most of these nations have already expressed their objection. Israel will have a problem if only marginal states like Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, its new “friends,” and the Philippines, whose murderous president has already announced he would move the embassy to Jerusalem, will wave Israel’s flag in the capital.

The Arabs’ helplessness in view of Trump’s announcement arises from the circumstances that developed in the Middle East since the Arab Spring. New coalitions have been formed between Arab states and the powerful nations; Arab states fight against other Arab states or boycott them. Iran poses a new threat to them, greater even than the terror organizations. States that once led diplomatic battles like Egypt, Iraq and Syria can no longer dictate moves, while the new leader, Saudi Arabia, suffered one failure after another every time it tried to dictate strategic moves to sister states.

Russia has pushed the United States into a corner, European states are happy to observe from the sidelines, making comments as though they were fans and the United States is blatantly ignoring demands of important leaders like the Saudi king, the Egyptian president and the Jordanian king, all of whom are close allies of Washington. Iran naturally denounced Trump’s statement, and can now look gleefully at the American contempt for Iran’s Arab rivals, first and foremost Saudi Arabia.

The irony is that despite the anger with Trump, the Arab states and most Muslim states will continue to see the United States as a vital ally to preserve their interests, while the Israeli Palestinian conflict will remain a subject for dinner party talks and go on feeding the usual narratives.

Zvi Bar'el

Haaretz Correspondent

read more: https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/.premium-1.827694

Arab World Fumes at Trump Over Jerusalem but They Still Need US

At Native American prayer camp, Palestinian refugees share stories and build connections

Palestinian refugees from the refugee camps of Lebanon met with members of the Ramapough Lenape tribe on Friday, September 15 for a communal dialogue about joint indigenous struggle, tactics, and future collaboration. The stop was at the inaugural event of the 2017 North America Nakba Tour, which brings Palestinian refugees Khawla Hammad and Amena El-Ashkar to visit communities in North America.

Khawla is a survivor of the Nakba, where Israel expelled around 800,000 Palestinians in 1948 during the creation of the state. Khawla ended up in a refugee camp in Lebanon.  Amena and Khawla traveled to New Jersey

Attorney General Paves Way to Legalization for 13 West Bank Outposts

Mendelblit's precedent-setting opinion states that land owned by individual Palestinians can be expropriated to create an access road to an outpost even if the road is to be used only by Jewish settlers

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit’s legal opinion on the expropriation of private Palestinian land may have discussed the outpost of Harsha, but the Civil Administration’s maps in the West Bank show that even the narrowest interpretation of Mendelblit’s opinion could lead to the legalization of at least 13 West Bank outposts.
The maps were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by Kerem Navot, an Israeli group that opposes the expropriation of Palestinian land.
At the core of Mendelblit’s opinion issued Wednesday is the finding that land owned by individual Palestinians can be expropriated to create an access road to an outpost even if the road is to be used only by Jewish settlers. It’s a precedent-setting decision at variance with how Israel has treated private Palestinian land in the West Bank.
When Mendelblit considered the issue of the Harsha road in February, he said private Palestinian land could not be expropriated for a road that would not serve Palestinians as well. He changed his position, however, following a ruling by Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran on abandoned land in the outpost of Amona.
Joubran wrote that settlers had to be considered part of the West Bank’s civilian population; their needs also needed to be looked after, even if private Palestinian land were expropriated.
On Wednesday, Mendelblit only addressed the road leading to Harsha. The homes at the outpost are on state-owned land, but they were built without permission.
The government seeks to legalize them, but the land there is an enclave of state-owned land in a sea of private Palestinian land, without an access road entirely on state land. Now that the attorney general has found that private Palestinian land can be expropriated for an access road, he has opened the door to legalization of the outpost itself.
Dror Etkes of Kerem Navot said that if expropriation of land for roads is legalized, the state will claim that illegal buildings on Palestinian land can also be legalized. Referring to efforts to expropriate Palestinian land, he said “official Israel has stopped being embarrassed by this and is gradually adopting it as official policy.”
In his legal opinion, Mendelblit did caution that the wider implications – such as planning regulations – beyond the matter he addressed had to be considered before one could decide that private land could be expropriated at Harsha. But in practice he gave the go-ahead to legalize a number of other unauthorized West Bank outposts.
Figures from Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank show that there are at least 13 such outposts in a similar situation as Harsha. Such is the case, for example, at Mitzpeh Danny near Ma’aleh Michmash in the northern West Bank. The outpost consists of several dozen buildings all of which are subject to demolition orders.
About half of them are on state land, but a considerable stretch of the access road was built on privately owned Palestinian land. If that land can now be expropriated, it could also lead to the legalization of the buildings – at least – in the outpost that sit on state land.
The outpost of Magen Dan, next to the West Bank settlement of Elkana northeast of Tel Aviv, is in a similar situation. With the exception of five buildings, all the outpost’s structures are on state land but the access road is on privately owned Palestinian fields.
The outpost of Hagit, east of Jerusalem in the area of Mishor Adumim, sits in three enclaves of state land while the roads connecting them and a small portion of the buildings are on land that has not been declared state land. Mendelblit’s ruling could lead – at the least – to the roads being legalized retroactively.
Similar situations exist at a number of other outposts, even according to a narrow interpretation of Mendelblit’s opinion, whose implications might extend to other sites.

Yotam Berger

Haaretz Correspondent

read more: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.823551

Attorney General Paves Way to Legalization for 13 West Bank Outposts

Balfour Set a Pattern for the West’s Ignorant Interventions in the Middle East

Palestine can't 'belong to one nation’: That's what my grandfather would have told his friend Lord Balfour. But George Adam Smith's expert opinion wasn't sought - a harbinger of the under-informed Western policy-makers of our own day

What did a scholar with deep knowledge of the Holy Land and its peoples make of the Balfour Declaration at the time? 
George Adam Smith (1846–1942), my grandfather, was a Scottish Presbyterian biblical scholar. He made many visits to Egypt and Palestine. He is most famed for his magnum opus on The Historical Geography of the Holy Land, published in 1894 and running into 26 editions. It was put to practical use by General Edmund Allenby in his Palestine campaign against the Ottoman Turkish forces in 1917.
Smith had a lively and tragic awareness of diplomacy and also war.
In 1878 he went to the Congress of Berlin – the one on Balkan frontiers – as a correspondent for Vanity Fair, picking up tit-bits by purporting to be a member of staff at the hotel where Disraeli, Lord Salisbury and other British statesmen were staying.
In 1915 and 1917 his two elder sons (my mother’s elder brothers) were killed in the war, one serving in France, the other in East Africa.
In early 1918, commissioned by the British Foreign Office and the American National Committee on the Moral Aims of the Allies, he addressed 127 meetings in the U.S. in support of the Allied cause in the war.

George Adam Smith in 1892Adam Roberts
I was provoked to seek out his view on the Balfour Declaration when I came across a book by Israel’s current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, A Place among the Nations: Israel and the World. It was published in 1993, the year he became the leader of Likud. In the course of a detailed exposition of Jewish historical rights to Israel, Netanyahu wrote:
"These obvious facts moved Sir George Adam Smith, author of The Historical Geography of the Holy Land, to write in 1891, “Nor is there any indigenous civilization in Palestine that could take the place of the Turkish except that of the Jews who have given to Palestine anything it ever had of value to the world."
Some have believed the attribution to Smith of these words. They struck me as unlike Smith, but how can one prove a negative – that Smith never, in 1891 or at any other time in his long and active career, uttered these words?
There was a clue in Netanyahu’s careless footnoting: he did not quote directly from Smith, but rather from a polemical book, by Samuel Katz, Battleground: Fact and Fantasy in Palestine, published in New York in 1973.
This in turn cited another book by Herbert Sidebotham, England and Palestine: Essays Towards the Restoration of the Jewish State, published in 1918, which did have the offending words about the lack of "any indigenous civilization in Palestine" but did not attribute them to Smith.
In fact what George Adam Smith wrote on this topic in his 1894 The Historical Geography was this grandiose concluding sentence of a chapter on "The Form of the Land":
"Palestine, formed as it is, and surrounded as it is, is emphatically a land of tribes. The idea that it can ever belong to one nation, even though this were the Jews, is contrary both to Nature and to Scripture."
The conclusions from all this are that Netanyahu should have checked his sources, and also that fake news is not exactly a new problem.
The question that arises is: what did Smith himself think of the Balfour Declaration?
Smith and Balfour, both Scots, both interested in reconciling science and religion, both Fellows of the British Academy, knew each other. However, I know of no evidence that Smith was consulted in the preparation of the Balfour Declaration. There is no mention of him in several key works on it.
Smith did comment on the Declaration in his short book, entitled Syria and the Holy Land, completed within less than two months of the Declaration and published in 1918.
Smith saw it as "the most momentous factor in the Zionist movement", and he warmly praised the way the movement had progressed. He welcomed the settlement of Jews in increased numbers in Palestine, but he warned:
"Beyond this and the firm conditions happily laid down by the British Government, nothing is yet definite. However deserving of our sympathy, the Jewish claims have not been so thought out in face of the present facts of Palestine as to command our unqualified support."
He noted the many different viewpoints in the Zionist movement, and among Jews more generally, about what system of government might have a chance of working in Palestine.
He wrote, perhaps a little optimistically: "Were Jewish influence, social and political, to become predominant in Palestine - if only through sheer force of numbers – I do not think it would prove intolerant to other creeds."
But he warned that the particular question of the holy places is more dangerous, and he asked pertinently whether, when Jewish writers claim the whole country, they had "realised the economic and social disturbances which the execution of this claim would involve." He asked: "While Jewish hopes are high and legitimately high, it is right to point our what difficulties lie in the way of their equitable fulfilment."
One of the key difficulties concerned the borders – Smith pointing out that since Roman times the term "Palestine" had never had exact borders. Responding to certain extreme maximalist Zionist claims, Smith wrote"
"It is not true that 'Palestine is the national home of the Jewish people and of no other people'...It is not correct to call its non-Jewish inhabitants 'Arabs', or to say that left no image or their spirit and made no history–except in the Great Mosque [the Al Aqsa compound]."
Smith was not infallible. Perhaps, even by the standards of his time, he too easily accepted British colonial thinking about Palestine’s non-Jewish inhabitants. And he was sometimes over-optimistic about the British role.
On the British liberation of Jerusalem in December 1917, using the millenarian language of Christian redemption, he expressed the hope that "this wonderful beginning" would be “the earnest of the creation, for the first time on earth, of a government devoted wholly to Peace, with no temptation to war in itself and no provocation to other States, because founded by the agreement and solid guarantees of all peoples to whom the land is dear and holy."
That was not to be.
Still, I regret that the scholar in Britain who was most knowledgeable about the lands and peoples of Palestine was not consulted by the government in drawing up plans for the area. Most of those involved did not have direct knowledge of the area.
The lack of respect for regional expertise and languages is a problem with which we have become familiar since the Western military interventions in Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011. In this matter, as in others, the Balfour Declaration was a harbinger of things to come.
Adam Roberts is Senior Research Fellow in International Relations, Oxford University. He was President of the British Academy, 2009–13. He is the author and editor of numerous articles and books. His latest book (jointly edited) is Civil Resistance in the Arab Spring: Triumphs and Disasters (Oxford University Press, 2016)

Adam Roberts

Balfour Set a Pattern for the West s Ignorant Interventions in the Middle East

Balfour’s Original Sin

British colonialism prepared the way for Israeli colonialism, even if it didn’t intend for it to continue for a 100 years and more

There was never anything like it: an empire promising a land that it had not yet conquered to a people not living there, without asking the inhabitants. There’s no other way to describe the unbelievable colonialist temerity that cries out from every letter in the Balfour Declaration, now marking its centenary.

The prime ministers of Israel and Britain will celebrate a huge Zionist achievement this week. Now the time has come for some soul-searching as well. The celebration is over. One hundred years of colonialism, first British and then, inspired by it, Israeli, has come at the expense of another people, and that is its endless disaster.

The Balfour Declaration could have been a just document if it had pledged equal treatment of both the people who dreamed of the land and the people dwelling there. But Britain preferred the dreamers, hardly any of whom lived in the country, over its inhabitants who had lived there for hundreds of years and were its absolute majority, and preferred to give them no national rights.

Imagine a power promising to turn Israel into the national home of the Israeli Arabs and calling for the Jewish majority to suffice with “civil and religious rights.” That’s what happened then, but in an even more discriminatory way: The Jews were an even smaller minority (less than a tenth) than Israeli Arabs are today.

Thus Britain sowed the seeds of the calamity whose poisonous fruits both peoples are eating to this day. This isn’t a cause for celebration; rather, on the 100th anniversary of the declaration, it's a call for repairing the injustice that was never even recognized, not by Britain and of course not by Israel.

Not only was the State of Israel born as a result of the declaration, so was the policy toward “the non-Jewish communities” as stated in the letter by Lord Arthur James Balfour to Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild. The discrimination against the Arabs of Israel and the occupation of the Palestinians are the direct continuation of the letter. British colonialism prepared the way for Israeli colonialism, even if it didn’t intend for it to continue for a 100 years and more.

Israel 2017 also pledges to grant “civil and religious rights” to the Palestinians. But they don’t have a national home. Balfour was the first to promise it.

Sure, Britain spread these promises around in those years, the years of World War I, contradictory promises including to the Arabs, but it fulfilled them only to the Jews. As Shlomo Avineri wrote in Haaretz’s Hebrew edition on Friday regarding the context and implications of the Balfour Declaration, its main purpose was to minimize American-Jewish opposition to U.S. participation in the war.

Whatever the motive was, following the Balfour Declaration, more Jews immigrated to this country. Immediately on their arrival they acted like overlords, and they haven’t changed their attitude toward the non-Jewish inhabitants to this day. Balfour let them do this. Not by chance did a small group of Sephardi Jews living in Palestine oppose Balfour and seek equality with the Arabs, as Ofer Aderet wrote in Haaretz on Friday. And not by chance were they silenced.

Balfour let the Jewish minority take over the country, callously ignoring the national rights of another people that had lived in the land for generations. Exactly 50 years after the Balfour Declaration, Israel conquered the West Bank and Gaza. It invaded them with the same colonialist feet and it continues its occupation and its ignoring of the rights of the inhabitants.

If Balfour were alive today, he would feel comfortable in the Habayit Hayehudi party. Like MK Bezalel Smotrich, Balfour also thought the Jews have rights in this country and the Palestinians don’t and never will. Like his successors on the Israeli right, Balfour never concealed this. In his speech to the British Parliament in 1922, he came right out and said it.

On the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, the nationalist right should bow its head in thanksgiving to the person who originated Jewish superiority in this country, Lord Balfour. Palestinians and the Jews who seek justice should mourn. If he hadn’t formulated his declaration the way he did, maybe this country would be different and more just.

Gideon Levy

Haaretz Correspondent

read more: https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.819539

Balfour s Original Sin

Birthright's Arab Ban Unmasks Its Real Agenda: To Erase the Narrative of Palestinians Like Me

As a Palestinian raised in East Jerusalem, I provided the 'the other side' for scores of Birthright groups. Now the organization has decided it shouldn't expose participants to critical Arab voices, and I'm part of what they're trying to hide

The first time I was invited to speak in front of a group of Taglit - Birthright, almost 12 years ago, I was 18 and didn’t even know what the Birthright program was.
My brother was married back then to an Argentinian Jewish woman who made aliyah a few years earlier, and a friend of hers was guiding a Argentinian Birthright group of young adults. I was asked to meet with the group for a couple of hours and speak about my experience as a Palestinian from East Jerusalem living in Israel, so they could hear another point of view. As I am also a native Spanish speaker, I was well-suited for the job.
I agreed to meet with the group, even though I didn’t know what I was signing up for. I spoke for an hour-and-a-half about my personal experience and about the Palestinian cause in general.
The Argentinian teenagers had a lot of questions, most of them ignorant, but they tried to be polite. In the end they told me they were very satisfied, and thanked me for meeting with them. As we parted, I realized I still didn’t really know what this Birthright thing is all about. During that summer, I met with another half-a-dozen Spanish-speaking Birthright groups.
Fast forward 10 years, and I’m much older and mature, and more importantly, I'm much more politically aware and active. Being a social activist and trying to raise awareness for the causes that are important to me (the Palestinian cause and LGBT rights) became a big part of my life. Being an outspoken, gay Palestinian who lives under the occupation has led me to being invited to many panels, conferences and media interviews and to writing op-eds for Israeli newspapers.
My political stance was and is very clear. I speak about the Israeli oppression against the Palestinian people, about the occupation and the Nakba, and also about the oppression of the LGBT community in Israel and in my society as well. I’ve never shied away from saying it all - including the ugly things.
I know now what Birthright is and what it represents, and it represents almost everything I’m against. Every time I even read the word 'birthright', I get nauseous. Who are these privileged kids who get to have an all-expenses paid vacation here? People who get to visit here so easily, even if they don’t have any apparent affinity with this land, while hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are denied the right to visit their homeland?
Even my brother, who was born here in Jerusalem, who studied and worked in Israel, cannot come to visit his own family anymore. My brother used to be a citizen of East Jerusalem, but since he left the country for more than three consecutive years he lost the few rights he had in this country – because he’s an Arab, because he is not Jewish. Arab residents of East Jerusalem who leave the country for too long are deprived even the right to come visit their family in Israel.
That’s why I was very surprised when, recently, someone from Birthright contacted me over Facebook. This time, they asked me if I could meet with English-speaking groups, much bigger groups.
I wondered if they knew what my political stands are, but they said they wanted me because of my views, and not in spite of them. They were looking for "someone from the other side", someone who doesn’t shy about showing the ugly face of the conflict. They’ve been following my posts online and appreciated my narrative and point of view. They promised I would be able to conduct an open discussion with the group that wouldn’t be censored in any way.
That’s what exactly happened, and many more times since. In the past two years, I have spoken with hundreds of American, Canadian, British, South African and Australian Jewish teenagers. This round I was more experienced, more politically inclined, but I always used my life and personal experience as examples to help them relate to the Palestinian narrative. I would lie if I said that I didn’t enjoy seeing those poor faces drop as I burst their bubbles.
Ultimately, it doesn’t surprise me that Birthright decided to cancel all meetings with Arabs. We are living in the era of Trump and Netanyahu, where extremism and anti-political correctness are praised and idolized. It also makes me sad, because those meetings were literally the only good thing I could say about Birthright as an organization. Those meetings showed an effort to expose those kids to other points of view, and to teach them to be more open towards self-criticism.
Even today I still don’t know why I was repeatedly invited to meet with Birthright groups. I represent everything they’re against and everything they’re trying to hide. Erasing the Palestinian narrative is the whole point of the organization. Now Birthright is going to be exactly what it’s always been expected to be, a sterile utopia that reflects the reality in Israel-Palestine even less than it used to. 
Zizo (Ziyad) Abul Hawa is a Palestinian journalist and LGBT rights activist. Born in Barcelona to Palestinian/Syrian parents, and raised in East Jerusalem, he currently living and working in Tel Aviv - Jaffa

Zizo (Ziyad) Abul Hawa

read more: https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/1.821107

Birthright s Arab Ban Unmasks Its Real Agenda To Erase the Narrative of Palestinians Like Me

Britain's Broken Its Promises to the Palestinians From Balfour Onwards. Now It Must Make Amends

Now, as Balfour's centenary is marked, is the time for Britain to take responsibility, belatedly, for abandoning Mandate Palestine’s non-Jewish inhabitants

Mahmoud al-Bahtiti, who has been fixing car and truck engines in Gaza City for the past 50 years didn’t vote in the 2006 Palestinian elections because he trusted neither Fatah nor Hamas.
But on Britain, he has definite opinions – or at least, about Britain circa 1917. He doesn't need a centenary commemoration to bring up the Balfour Declaration with a British visitor. 
Last year, his business struggling for lack of customers, he asked me a question. Given that "We [Palestinians] are still suffering as a result" of the Declaration, wouldn’t an apology from the British government be in order?

Congratulations, Another Arab Ghetto in Israel Is Born

After 70 years, the state is building its first Arab city, whose population density will be 1.5 times that of claustrophobic Tel Aviv

The late political leader Nimr Murkus one told about fellahin, tenant farmers, from one of the villages in the north who came years ago to congratulate a friend on the birth of his son. The friend said: Go and congratulate the overlords – another servant has been born to them. That’s the way of the world. The poor beget the poor and the rich beget the rich.
That’s also the case for towns. The well-heeled town of Savyon will bring into the world another, better-heeled Caesarea, and an Arab village will bring forth another ghetto. Well, congratulations. After 70 years of labor, the state will establish another Arab city, which will be stiflingly crowded, as Prof. Yusuf Jabareen told TheMarker economic conference in Nazareth last week – 19,000 housing units in an area of 2,700 dunams (675 acres). As Arabs say, a man fasted all day and in the evening he broke his fast with an onion.
According to Jabareen, the city will be one-and-a-half times more densely populated than badly crowded Tel Aviv. The height of absurdity is this: There are currently 40,000 people in largely Jewish Upper Nazareth living in an area of 33,000 dunams, and in Arab Nazareth, which is thousands of years old, there are 76,000 people living in an area of 14,000 dunams.
Unfortunately, I only sat in on the last part of the first session of the conference. On stage, Deputy Attorney General Erez Kaminitz was speaking. I asked whether he was the man after whom the plan was named that will lead to the demolition of an estimated 50,000 houses. When the answer was affirmative, I was struck with disappointment. I thought that a man like him, over whom thousands of Arab children and their families are losing sleep, would look different, tougher. And much to my disappointment, he looked like a nice fellow.
Amazingly, as I listened to some of what Kaminitz was saying, about the need to organize things in the Arab sector, I could only agree with him. After all, it’s only about a little organizing: instead of the one box containing a dozen human sardines, it will contain 20, through the state’s intervention.
Prof. Jabareen believes that the government’s generosity in granting building permits is meant to keep Arabs from living in Jewish towns. That’s good, and the Arabs can be happy about their achievement, even if it comes from the fear of Jewish towns being damaged by Arabs. But the racist mind (not the Jewish one, perish the thought) takes the necessary step with a terrible irony: Europe enclosed the Jews in ghettos and today, the Jews enclose the Arabs in ghettos.
On the other hand, on that same land, ghettos of another type are being built. They are spacious, but they are like ghettos when they are intended for Jews only. And not just any Jews, but Jews seeking quality of life, regardless of whether their homes cause misery to the surrounding inhabitants, who are strangled for want of the land that was stolen from them.
Among the inhabitants of the Jewish ghettos are good people who coexist with Arabs who are close to their hearts. From time to time, they host Arabs in their spacious ghetto and the Arabs for their part host them in their teeming ghetto. There, they hold a heartrending round of weeping and wailing. One weeps and the other wipes away their tears. And afterward everyone returns to their own ghetto, one to the spacious kind and the other to the thronging kind.
In my humble opinion, the tears of the Arabs have already dried, and the tissues of the good Jews have already run out.
The time has come to change the ritual. The good people living in both ghettos must cry out for the spacious ghetto to stop being a ghetto. First of all for the mental health of its inhabitants.
As a first step, they must invite Arabs to live in their ghetto. And if there is opposition to this, a struggle should ensue over the image of the community: a racist community, or a human one.

Odeh Bisharat

Haaretz Contributor

read more: https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.823741

Congratulations Another Arab Ghetto in Israel Is Born

Hamas and Fatah Agree to Hold Palestinian General Elections by End of 2018

Following talks in Cairo on Palestinian reconciliation, Hamas and Fatah defer choice of final date for elections to Abbas

Palestinian factions have agreed to hold general elections by the end of 2018 after talks in Cairo spearheaded by rivals Hamas and Fatah, a joint statement by all the groups which took part said on Wednesday. 
According to the statement, the factions deferred the choice of a final date for the elections to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
A senior Fatah official told Haaretz on the eve of the talks that despite Hamas' declarations regarding reconciliation talks, it remains in control of security in the Gaza Strip. In addition, Hamas appointed a number of its own officials to government positions since it considers itself in charge of Gaza.
At the same time, Hamas has accused the Palestinian Authority of avoiding its commitments to reconciliation. They claim PA representatives insist on discussing PA control of Gaza, but avoid discussing cooperation between the PA and Hamas, as Egypt intends. According to Hamas, cooperation is supposed to include Hamas' integration into all PLO institutions, the formation of a unity government and the lifting of sanctions imposed by the PA on the Gaza Strip.
Leaders of the Palestinian factions that met in Cairo in recent days announced that they had reached agreements on all the issues on the table, including allowing full government functioning in the Gaza Strip and holding both parliamentary and presidential elections by the end of 2018.
The statement was announced after 11 hours of consecutive talks held at Egyptian intelligence headquarters, which began on Tuesday. Egypt prevented any leaks about the talks' content, though the two factions did not originally express much optimism. But due to Egyptian pressure on both sides and fear of public reaction to their failure, the factions' representatives announced that they had reached agreements on all issues.
In previous agreements, such as the Cairo agreement of 2011, the Palestinian factions similarly came to an agreement on all the issues, though progress stalled when it came to implementing the agreement.
A senior Palestinian official who participated in the recent talks told Haaretz that there is consensus on all the issues but the real test will be in whether leaders respect the agreement and fully implement it.
The statement notably made no mention of whether Hamas will be allowed to continue to be armed; the issue was not placed on the negotiating table. In the text, representatives emphasized the importance of implementing the understandings, but did not give any details of such processes to come.
A different Palestinian official who participated in the talks told Haaretz that the real test of the moment will be the extent of the government's full functioning in Gaza and overcoming the ongoing security dispute. "The next few days will tell whether this is really being carried out in a well-ordered manner."

Jack Khoury

Haaretz Correspondent

read more: https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-n…/palestinians/1.824480

Hamas and Fatah Agree to Hold Palestinian General Elections by End of 2018

How Avi Shlaim moved from two-state solution to one-state solution

Jadaliyya has posted an excellent interview with the British-Israeli historian Avi Shlaim, in which Shlaim states that he is an “Arab Jew” because he was born in Iraq and describes the long history of Jewish-Muslim coexistence in the Arab world before the rise of Zionism in the 20th century.

Palestinians, Shlaim says, were not the only victims of Zionism.

There are other victims of Zionism—the Jews of the Arab lands. There was a Jewish community in Iraq which had been there for two and a half millennia, and had no wish to leave.

How EU encourages Israel to destroy Palestinian homes

European Union diplomats are once again wringing their hands about Israel’s large-scale expulsions of Palestinians and the demolitions of their homes and schools in the occupied West Bank.

But their professed concern is totally undermined by the EU’s policy of lavishing incentives on Israel to continue these crimes.

On Friday, the EU mission in Jerusalem issued a statement to “deplore the continuing threat of demolitions and seizures of Palestinian structures” in the communities of Ein al-Hilweh, Umm Jamal and Jabal al-Baba, which would leave 400 people homeless.

The EU notes that last month “four other herding communities covering 170 people in the Northern Jordan Valley lost their case at the Israeli high court and two European donor-funded schools in Wadi al-Seeq and al-Muntar are presently under threat of destruction and seizure.”

The EU also claims to be “deeply concerned” about Israeli plans to demolish about a fifth of the housing and infrastructure in Susiya in the South Hebron Hills in coming weeks.

“As winter arrives, an imminent demolition will leave up to 100 people, half of them children, without shelter,” the EU states.

All these actions, the EU affirms “threaten the two-state solution” and violate Israel’s “obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law.”

Earlier this month, the UN also warned about the imminent demolitions, noting that they are an element of systematic Israeli policies to bring about the “forcible transfer” of Palestinians from Area C – roughly 60 percent of the West Bank fully controlled by Israel that Israeli politicians want to annex.

Déja vu
We’ve been here before: in August, occupation forces destroyed the European-funded school in Jubbet al-Dib the day before children were about to start classes, and as usual, the EU did nothing to hold Israel accountable for that or a spate of other demolitions and confiscations.

Also in August, the EU issued a statement gently urging Israel to “reconsider” its planned eviction of the Shamasneh family from their home in occupied East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

Weeks later, Israel evicted the family anyway.

So far in 2017, according to the UN, Israel has demolished almost 400 structures in the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem, displacing more than 600 Palestinians.

Most of this destruction is on the pretext that Palestinians are building without permits that occupation authorities almost never grant.

Although the numbers are down compared to 2016 – a record year of Israeli destruction – Israel’s actions are part of a calculated colonization effort that is devastating to the lives of each and every targeted family.

Toothless discussions
On Monday, I called up the EU office in Jerusalem to ask them if anything would be different this time around. Given that Israel has treated earlier EU statements with contempt, what would the EU be doing to deter Israel from these planned demolitions?

Would the EU consider sanctions? The diplomatic answer the EU’s spokesperson in Jerusalem gave me can be summed up in one word: no.

I got the usual line, that in addition to public statements, the EU brings up its concerns in private discussions with Israeli officials.

In fact, there’s evidence that senior EU officials have been told not to raise concerns about human rights abuses in high-level discussions with Israeli counterparts.

But even if the EU is raising these matters privately, it is absurd to expect Israel would pay any heed when the consistent message from Brussels to Tel Aviv is: do whatever you like and we will continue to give you unconditional support.

This encompasses hundreds of millions of dollars in “research” funding, including millions for Israeli arms makers and torturers.

Bowing to Israel
The material support for Israel’s occupation, apartheid and settler-colonialism is backed up with a political commitment that includes EU refusal to condemn Israeli politicians when they advocate ethnic cleansing and even genocide against Palestinians, and EU assistance to smear and silence European citizens who advocate for Palestinian rights.

Earlier this month the EU and France bowed meekly to Israel’s decision to bar French elected officials from visiting the occupied West Bank. They had planned to go there to show solidarity with Palestinians living under the very military occupation the EU allegedly opposes.

Meanwhile, there is the ongoing parade of European officials heading to Israel to reward it with more “cooperation”:

European policy then cannot be described as mere inaction or indifference towards Israel’s crimes. It is in reality a policy to encourage Israel to steal more Palestinian land and destroy more homes and lives.

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How EU encourages Israel to destroy Palestinian homes

How India's Muslim Backlash, Led by Jinnah, Thwarted the Balfour Declaration

The Balfour Declaration was intended as Britain's answer to the 'Jewish Question', an attempt to divert Jewish immigration away from its own shores. But Britain ruled over more Muslims than any other European power - and their protests threatened the Empire

James Renton’s recent Haaretz article (The Balfour Declaration's Deep anti-Semitism and Racism - and Why It Still Matters) accurately exposes the anti-Semitic undertones of the authors of Balfour Declaration, a product of European race thinking in the early twentieth century.
His account of the Balfour-era racism of the British establishment is, however, only one side of the story, for these ideas were being increasingly challenged from the peripheries of the empire in the interwar years.
The Balfour Declaration has an older history than that outlined by Renton. While the immediate needs of the First World War shaped the declaration, we can only really understand its genesis by looking back to the debates on the ‘Jewish Question’ and the attempts Britain made to divert away from its own shores the ongoing large-scale Jewish emigration out of Eastern Europe (where Jews faced persecution).
In 1902, when Arthur Balfour was prime minister, Theodor Herzl travelled to London to testify before the Royal Commission on Alien Immigration. This is when the Uganda Plan was born. The task for drawing up a potential Jewish colony in East Africa was given to a young lawyer called David Lloyd George.
Three years later the British Government passed the Aliens Act, in large part intended to limit the significant numbers of Eastern European Jews entering the country. When the Balfour Declaration was written in 1917, on the eve of Allenby’s Palestine campaign, Lloyd George was Britain’s Prime Minister, and Balfour was his Foreign Minister. 
In many ways, the Balfour Declaration reflected these earlier conversations between Balfour and Lloyd George over Jewish immigration. They were also influenced by the Victorian class system. As honorary vice president of the British Eugenics Education Society, Balfour believed that aristocracy provided the dynamic element in society, and that the Arabs would benefit from the immigration of Jews in his ‘great experiment’ in Palestine.
After the war, Parliament extended the franchise in Britain by abolishing property qualifications for men and introduced limited female suffrage. But in Palestine, Britain did not even consult the inhabitants about the Balfour Declaration. No wonder the Balfour Declaration was attacked as reactionary by the Communists who seized power in Moscow for running counter to the doctrine of self-determination espoused by Lenin.
Palestinians themselves protested the Balfour Declaration from afar as Santiago de Chile, Mexico, and Bolivia and demanded freedom in petitions to British embassies. There were riots in Jerusalem and Jaffa. 
Given the size of Palestine’s Arab majority, Lord Curzon, formerly Viceroy of British India, who had more experience in colonial affairs than the cerebral Balfour, expressed his view that the Balfour Declaration was likely to face significant opposition from the Arabs who would not be content to be 'hewers of wood and drawers of water'.
Lord Montagu, Secretary of State for India, was astonished that the government was promising Palestine as a national home for the Jewish people, when the Bolsheviks had just abolished the restrictions imposed on Jews in Russia. He was concerned that the Balfour Declaration would prejudice his status as an English gentleman since anti-Semites could now complain that Palestine was his ‘National Home’.
Just when Britain had published a declaration announcing its intention to encourage Jewish immigrants to people a new colony, four empires (the German, Austro-Hungarian, Russian and Ottoman) collapsed. Colonialism was becoming an anachronism.
The League of Nations established Mandates over the colonies of these powers where self-government was the declared goal after a period of tutelage by ‘advanced nations’.
Britain soon realised that it was going to have great difficulty administering the Mandate, given its conflicting obligations to the Arabs and to the Jews, and consideration was given to abandoning the entire enterprise in a secret meeting of the cabinet in 1923.
A riot in Jaffa during the Arab Revolt, 1936.AP
Instead of giving up the Mandate to another European power, however, Whitehall chose to ‘water down’ its commitments to the Zionists in a series of White Papers.
The first of these papers made it clear that Britain never contemplated the disappearance or the subordination of the Arab population, Arabic language or culture in Palestine when it issued the Balfour Declaration. Nor did the declaration contemplate "that Palestine as a whole should be converted into a Jewish National Home", but that such a Home should be founded "in Palestine."
Britain’s attempts at linguistic gymnastics failed to appease the Arabs, who continued to express concern over the Balfour Declaration throughout the 1920s and 1930s.
The Arab Revolt (1936-1939) in Mandate Palestine that Britain cruelly repressed, antagonized not just the Arabs but Muslims all over the world, from as far away as India where the All-India Muslim League adopted several resolutions denouncing Britain’s Palestine policy which, it claimed, was threatening the sanctity of the Holy Places.
This sudden interest in Palestine caused the governors of the empire serious concern, given that Britain was responsible for ruling over more Muslims than any other European power.
Whitehall took the criticisms expressed by the All-India Muslim League seriously, especially as they knew they would have to rely on its support for the Second World War, given the opposition to that war from the All-India Congress.
A riot in Jaffa during the Arab Revolt, 1936.AP
Instead of giving up the Mandate to another European power, however, Whitehall chose to ‘water down’ its commitments to the Zionists in a series of White Papers.
The first of these papers made it clear that Britain never contemplated the disappearance or the subordination of the Arab population, Arabic language or culture in Palestine when it issued the Balfour Declaration. Nor did the declaration contemplate "that Palestine as a whole should be converted into a Jewish National Home", but that such a Home should be founded "in Palestine."
Britain’s attempts at linguistic gymnastics failed to appease the Arabs, who continued to express concern over the Balfour Declaration throughout the 1920s and 1930s.
The Arab Revolt (1936-1939) in Mandate Palestine that Britain cruelly repressed, antagonized not just the Arabs but Muslims all over the world, from as far away as India where the All-India Muslim League adopted several resolutions denouncing Britain’s Palestine policy which, it claimed, was threatening the sanctity of the Holy Places.
This sudden interest in Palestine caused the governors of the empire serious concern, given that Britain was responsible for ruling over more Muslims than any other European power.
Whitehall took the criticisms expressed by the All-India Muslim League seriously, especially as they knew they would have to rely on its support for the Second World War, given the opposition to that war from the All-India Congress.

Britain’s decision to invite the Aga Khan to the Roundtable Conference on Palestine in 1939 - in order to co-opt at least part of the Muslim community - upset Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who saw himself as the sole spokesman of India’s Muslims. Jinnah was also under pressure from his own right-flank, in particular from his opponents in the Ahrars and the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-i-Hind.
Jinnah demanded a seat at the table, and also demanded that Britain include the Mufti of Jerusalem in the discussions, and when rebuffed, he sent a delegation to London to advise the Arab delegation from behind the scenes.
Jinnah’s representatives in London even sent a letter to British parliamentarians in February 1939, reminding them that one third of the troops that had served in Allenby’s Palestine campaign were Muslim. The not-so-subtle point being made was that Britain would have to rely on the loyalty of these troops again in the coming war with Germany.
The looming war, the persecution of Jews in Germany, the sharp increase in Jewish immigration to Palestine, the Arab Revolt, and pressure from British India, convinced Britain that it had to abandon the policy in the Balfour Declaration if it was to maintain quiet in imperial India and Mandate Palestine.
In its 1939 White Paper, the British Government set aside its support for a Jewish National Home and its endorsement of Zionism when it proclaimed that it desired to see the establishment of "an independent Palestine State" in which "the two peoples in Palestine, Arabs and Jews, share authority in government."
The 'one state solution' in Palestine envisaged in the White Paper was never established. The Second World War changed everything.
Instead, Britain relinquished the Mandate on 15 May 1948 without international agreement, after it prevented the United Nations from implementing the Partition Plan and after it had thwarted a UN Trusteeship proposal for Palestine. Britain encouraged the Arab Legion of Transjordan (then under British command) to enter the Mandate and annex the territory allotted by the United Nations to the Arab state.
Britain’s decision to abandon the Mandate was a flagrant violation of its obligations as the Mandatory Power and was condemned by the UN as a "catastrophic conclusion to an era of international concern for the territory." Israelis and Palestinians have been in conflict ever since.
It's an abiding irony of Britain's Mandate and its aftermath that Britain envisaged establishing that 'independent Palestine state' back in 1939. Consequently, India, Pakistan, and Israel indeed became independent states, but an independent Palestine is yet to be marked on a map of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza.
Victor Kattan is Senior Research Fellow at the Middle East Institute of the National University of Singapore and an Associate Fellow at the Faculty of Law. He is the author of From Coexistence to Conquest: International Law and the Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict (Pluto Press 2009) and will be speaking on the Balfour Declaration and British policy at the British Academy in London on 2 November. Twitter: @VictorKattan

Victor Kattan

read more: https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/1.819635

How India s Muslim Backlash Led by Jinnah Thwarted the Balfour Declaration

How Israel Is Trying to Break Breaking the Silence – and How It Could Backfire

What happened after a former Israeli soldier confessed he assaulted an unarmed Palestinian


Following a relatively swift investigation, a former Israeli combat soldier was cleared of allegations that he assaulted an unarmed Palestinian during a tour of duty in Hebron.
It might have been cause for celebration, had the soldier not been the one to bring the allegations against himself.
So last week, when the State Prosecutor’s Office alleged that Dean Issacharoff, spokesman of the soldiers’ anti-occupation group Breaking the Silence, had lied about his actions, Israeli right-wing leaders naturally rejoiced.
The findings, they claimed, were further evidence of what they have been saying for years – that Breaking the Silence is an organization of liars and traitors bent on defaming the State of Israel and the Israeli army.
As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared in a Facebook post: “Breaking the Silence lies and slanders our soldiers around the world. Today this fact received further proof, if anyone had a doubt. The truth wins out.”
But in the latest twist in a case that has gripped the nation in recent days, Netanyahu’s declaration of victory appears to be premature.
According to brand new evidence, the state prosecutors who pronounced Issacharoff a liar may have been investigating the wrong incident and questioning the wrong victim.
Newly unearthed footage, broadcast on two of Israel’s most popular evening news programs Monday, suggests that the Palestinian whom Issacharoff claims to have assaulted was not the same Palestinian questioned by state investigators.
It also appears that the Palestinian questioned by state investigators, the one who testified that Issacharoff had not assaulted him, had been referring to a completely different incident.
In the clip, filmed three-and-a-half years ago by a Hebron resident employed by another Israeli human rights organization, Issacharoff is seen escorting a handcuffed Palestinian who appears to have bruises on his face. How he received the bruises and the circumstances of his arrest are not clear from the footage.
An account published Tuesday morning in Haaretz by Amira Hass raises further questions about the credibility of the state prosecutors’ findings. In his first interview since the findings were published, Hassan Joulani, the Palestinian questioned by investigators about the incident, said that contrary to what state prosecutors reported, he had indeed been assaulted during his arrest – although by Border Police and not by Issacharoff.
The blows, he said, were received during a separate incident – not the one cited by Issacharoff in the videotaped account that prompted the investigation.
Joulani was arrested and beaten, according to this interview with him, in February 2014, during a demonstration marking the 20th anniversary of the mass murder of Palestinians at Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs by settler Baruch Goldstein.
The assault reported by Issacharoff, however, took place after a routine round of stone-throwing.
On one level, it boils down to the simple question of whether or not a former Israeli soldier lied.
On a whole other level, however, the case of Issacharoff raises more fundamental questions about Israel’s 50-year-old occupation and its corrosive effects on society, among them: Who is to blame when soldiers serving among a hostile population in occupied territory act badly – the soldiers or the state that sent them there? Should Israeli soldiers speak out about the atrocities they witness during their service at the risk of tarnishing the image of the state? Can an investigation launched by a right-wing politician who harbors hostility toward anti-occupation organizations – in this case, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked – really be undertaken with neutrality?
The investigation was launched after a video surfaced several months ago of Issacharoff talking about his experiences as a soldier in Hebron.
During his service as an officer in the Nahal Brigade, Issacharoff revealed, he had brutally beaten up an unarmed Palestinian who was resisting arrest. Jumping on the opportunity to disgrace Breaking the Silence, several right-wing organizations approached the Justice Ministry demanding a probe. If the spokesman of Breaking the Silence had acted in violation of military law, they said, then he should the pay the price.
About a month later, Reservists on Duty, an organization bent on discrediting Breaking the Silence, published a video aimed at undermining Issacharoff’s credibility. In the video, his former commander and members of his platoon call him a liar.
But neither that video, nor the investigation conducted by the State Prosecutor’s Office, included testimony from a key witness.
Disturbed by accusations leveled at his former comrade, Ruben Silverstone, an eyewitness to the event Issacharoff had testified about, published a video on Thursday corroborating the Breaking the Silence spokesman’s account.
“On that day we were part of a security force dealing with the riots,” he said on the video. “We did arrest an individual, and Dean did knee that individual in order to arrest him. Those are facts. This is not a lie, and I just wanted to set that straight.”
Frequent target of smear campaigns
Established in 2004, during the second Palestinian uprising, Breaking the Silence collects testimonies from soldiers about alleged human rights violations witnessed while serving in the occupied territories.
Most of the soldiers who provide such first-hand accounts request anonymity. The organization asserts, however, that it meets with each and every one of them and corroborates all the accounts it receives before publishing them.
Breaking the Silence has been targeted in numerous right-wing smear campaigns, and the current government has gone so far as to introduce legislation that would deny it funding.
The organization receives a large share of its funding from European governments and donors. According to its 2016 financial reports, its single largest donor is the New Israel Fund (New York), but other major donors include the International Human Rights and Law Secretariat (Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland and Netherlands), Misereor (Germany), Delegation of the European Union to Israel, Sigrid Rausing Trust (United Kingdom), Foundation for Pro-Victimus (Switzerland), the Swiss Foreign Ministry, Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), the Spanish Agency for International Development Coordination, and the Rockerfeller Brothers Fund (New York).
Common complaints heard about the organization are that it publishes anonymous testimonies and badmouths the army abroad.
In their defense, Breaking the Silence representatives maintain they have nothing against the Israeli army, but only against the occupation, and that in the digital era, it is impossible to prevent foreign individuals and organizations from accessing the sort of testimonies they collect.
Last April, Netanyahu canceled a meeting with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel after the latter held a meeting with representatives of Breaking the Silence while on a trip to Israel.
The German angle to the story doesn’t end there. Jeremy Issacharoff, father of the former combat soldier at the center of the storm, is Israel’s newly appointed ambassador to Berlin. In recent days, Israeli right-wingers have been waging a campaign on social media to get him ousted. His crime: guilt by association.
In a letter dispatched Monday, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (who, in the current absence of a foreign minister, is the ministry’s senior political figure) urged all Israeli diplomats in Europe, Issacharoff senior included, to speak out against Breaking the Silence and pressure government officials in the countries where they are stationed to stop funding the organization because of the lies, she says, it spreads.
On Tuesday morning, however, Hotovely clarified in a tweet that she rejects the calls to oust the ambassador just because of his son’s involvement in Breaking the Silence. “Jeremy is an excellent ambassador,” she wrote. “I am personally acquainted with his major contribution to the Israeli Foreign Service, and the struggle against Breaking the Silence will continue.”
The army and Justice Ministry have tried to go after Breaking the Silence activists in the past, but this is the first time a representative of the organization has been singled out in such a way.
Following the latest TV disclosures, six Israeli lawmakers, all representing parties on the left, issued a call on Tuesday to investigate how the state prosecutors reached their conclusions.
“The decision to launch an investigation (against Issacharoff), after hundreds of testimonies about violence perpetrated by other soldiers have never been probed, raises suspicions that this was a political act,” they wrote in their request, “and that the State Prosecutor’s Office operated on the basis of ulterior motives.”
The State Prosecutor’s Office issued the following response: “We are not familiar with the videos broadcast this evening. If someone believes that an act of violence took place at another time, that person can submit his claims to the relevant authorities.”
Its response did not address the new claims made by Joulani in his interview with Haaretz.
Avner Gvaryahu, executive director of Breaking the Silence, said, “Our first and most important mission now is to prove that the whole process was politicized.”
“Once the entire picture is clear,” he added, “it will be clear as daylight that what happened here, in the best-case scenario, was pure negligence and an attempt to please a senior politician, and in the worst-case scenario, a bid to persecute soldiers who oppose the occupation.”
If Gvaryahu is ultimately proven right, the latest attempt to break Breaking the Silence could backfire, big time.

Judy Maltz

Haaretz Correspondent

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How Israel Is Trying to Break Breaking the Silence

Israel Authorizes Right-wing Settler Group to Run Western Wall Archaeology Site

Elad will not have authority over the egalitarian prayer site in the area, which is used by non-Orthodox worshippers

The right-wing Elad organization will be permitted to run the Davidson Center archaeological park adjacent to the Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem, according to a court settlement.
The arrangement is provided in an agreement between the state and Elad that was submitted about two weeks ago to the Supreme Court and that is to take effect in eight months.
The Davidson Center archaeological park, which is south of the Western Wall plaza, includes the egalitarian site for use for non-Orthodox prayer. Major archaeological excavations were carried out in the area about 40 years ago. Although the agreement formally provides that the Davidson Center will be run by the government-owned Jewish Quarter Reconstruction and Development Company, in practice, Elad is to run it. Elad, also known as the Ir David (or City of David) Foundation, will not have authority over the egalitarian prayer site.
In addition to running tourist and archaeological sites in the City of David, located south of the Old City walls, Elad has been active in settling Jews in the largely Arab Silwan neighborhood in the same general area. “The Ir David Foundation is committed to continuing King David’s legacy as well as revealing and connecting people to Ancient Jerusalem’s glorious past through four key initiatives: archaeological excavation, tourism development, educational programming and residential revitalization,” its website states.
About three years ago, responsibility for the Davidson Center was transferred from the government’s East Jerusalem Development firm to the Jewish Quarter Reconstruction and Development Company, which in turn gave responsibility for the site to Elad. The government objected to Elad running the center and sought an order from the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court to prevent the group from operating the site. Yehuda Weinstein, who was attorney general at the time, said the site was one of major geopolitical, religious and cultural sensitivity and should not be transferred to the control of a private non-profit organization.
The court voided the agreement but Elad appealed the case to the Jerusalem District Court, where it prevailed. The state then appealed the issue to the Supreme Court, where the justices urged the parties to come to a settlement. In February, Attorney General Weinstein’s successor, Avichai Mendelblit, agreed that the state would drop its objections to the site being run by Elad.
A source close to the case said Elad’s interest in running the Davidson Center lies in part due to a tunnel running from the site to the City of David. The passageway is a narrow drainage tunnel from the Second Temple period (which ended in the year 70 C.E.), which visitors can follow from the City of David directly to the Davidson Center. The source said Elad may now seek to reverse the flow of visitors and direct people from the Western Wall to the City of David itself.
For its part, Elad issued a statement saying: “The update filed with the court speaks for itself.”

Nir Hasson

Haaretz Correspondent

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Israel Authorizes Right wing Settler Group to Run Western Wall Archaeology Site

Israel bars Palestinian grandmother from visiting slain father’s grave for 70 years

Salwa Salem-Copty hopes to someday return to live in her family’s village in the north of Israel, but at 70 years old, she thinks it is unlikely. Instead she has one request — she would like to be allowed to visit the grave of her father, who was killed when a bus full of

Israel bars Palestinian grandmother from visiting slain father s grave for 70 yearsworkers traveling to Haifa was attacked in April 1948.

Salwa’s mother was pregnant with her at the time, living as an internally displaced person in nearby Nazareth with three young children. She had prepared Easter dinner for her family, as they waited on her husband to return. Instead Salwa’s uncle showed up with the news — Salwa’s father was not coming home.

While the residents of Ma’alul had been kicked out of their village several months previously, when Israeli forces took over the area, demolishing every Palestinian home in the village, residents were still able to bury their dead in the village’s cemeteries.

A year later, in 1949, even that changed. Israel built a military base in the empty village, fencing off a good chunk of the land, and while the Muslim cemetery is still accessible to visitors, the Christian cemetery lies within the fenced-off military base.

Salwa was never able to visit her father’s grave. Today, now a grandmother, she is still fighting for that right.

“I have tried everything I possible could,” Salwa told Mondoweiss. “I even went to the Knesset, I met with both Mohammed Barakeh and Ayman Odeh from the Arab Joint List and begged them to help me visit my father’s grave — It’s the only thing in the world I want.”

Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, got involved in the issue, sending a letter in September to senior Israeli political and military officials demanding that Salwa and other internally-displaced Palestinian residents and their descendants be allowed to visit the graves of family members in Ma’alul.

“Preventing Ms. Salem-Copty and other displaced residents from maintaining the cemetery and from visiting the graves of relatives – including those of grandfathers and grandmothers, parents, uncles, aunts – constitutes a gross violation of the right to dignity of the deceased,” Adalah Attorney Muna Haddad wrote in the letter.

Salwa told Mondoweiss that it is her dream to visit her father’s grave site, where she feels she will for the first time in her life have a connection to the man she never got to meet.

“I understood at a very young age that something wasn’t right, I understood that I had a father but he was taken from me. Life was very hard for my family and for my mother after my father was killed,” Salwa said.

She explained that as a widow who had left her village with nothing but the clothes on her back, and no relatives who were stable enough to help support her, Salwa’s mother had to give her oldest three children to an orphanage, where they were only able to visit during holidays.

Salwa grew up with her mother, but her childhood was hard and they were very poor. She dreamed of moving up in life and helping children living in situations like her own, so she became a social worker.

Throughout the years, she never forgot about Ma’alul, and never gave up the hope that one day she could return to live there and visit her father’s grave at her leisure.

A church in Ma’alul (Photo: Noga Kadman/ Palestine Remembered)

“Eight years ago things got a little better. We won the right to pray at our churches during holidays,” she explained. “Before, the two churches that are still standing were not taken care of or protected, sheep and cows were going inside the church and living there, but now we are able to take care of the churches and pray there — there are no houses, they were all destroyed — but at least we have our churches.”

Salwa said now the churches are meeting places for both Christians and Muslims who had lived, or are the descendants of those who lived in Ma’alul. The mosque in the village is too damaged for Muslim residents to enter, but Muslim villagers still come during the Christian celebrations to meet up and exchange stories with their family neighbors.

“We get together and celebrate together and I am filled with joy because the people at those celebrations knew my father,” she said. “He was 25 or 26 when he was killed and the people from Ma’alul tell me about who he was and what they remember of him and of our home and I cannot explain what a feeling that is.”

Arabic and Hebrew sign posted in site of former village reads : “Ma’alul – Christian cemetery is behind fence. Access is forbidden” (Photo: Adalah)

Salwa visits the village several times a year, always bringing followers. She has never been able to lay the flowers on her father’s grave, instead she throws them over the military fence, in the general direction of where family members said her father was buried, and calls out to him.

“I tell him I miss him and I know him and I have never forgotten him. I hope my message and my fight reaches out to him in Heaven,” she said.

There is not much left of what the village of Ma’alul once was, but Salwa can picture it all in her head.

“My grandfather and grandmother told me everything,” Salwa said, emotion layering her voice. “I know every centimeter of Ma’alul, I know who each plot of land belongs to, I know where the houses once were. They taught me so that I would never forget. I have never forgiven Israel for what they did to our village and our people and our families. They widowed my mother and destroyed our family.”

If Salwa does not get the chance to visit her father in her lifetime, she has one final request.

“I have had a hard life. I am 70 years old, I’m an old woman, and I still have never been able to visit my father’s grave or return to live in my village,” she said. “Ma’alul is my love, it’s my heart, my life, it is everything. At the very very least, I hope I can be buried in Ma’alul next to my father after I die. In the end, that is all I ask.”


Israel Fences in Arab Towns, Then Complains of Illegal Construction

The Jewish nation-state bill, which includes a clause allowing for Jewish-only communities, worsens Arab 'ghettoization' and Arab lack of trust in the Israeli government, rather than working to solve the housing crisis

The special committee to advance the Jewish nation-state bill in the Knesset discussed for the first time on Tuesday a controversial clause that would enable the creation of Jewish-only communities. This clause, which reeks of racism, hasn’t horribly shaken Jewish Israelis, or Arab Israelis either, for that matter. As far as the latter are concerned, that’s the way things are already.
A study by Prof. Yousef Jabareen of the Technion’s Architecture and Town Planning Department found that Israel already has 940 communities that are entitled to reject prospective Arab residents