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Home arrow Blog arrow June 2007 arrow June 20, 2007

June 20, 2007

*UPDATED 3:10 PM EST: A heavy dose of REALITY and Vision by political analyst, Omar Barghouti

The ancient Hebrew prophets usually addressed their listeners with the bad news first and ended with hope.

What former President Jimmy Carter said while in Ireland about United States culpability in the mess in the Holy Land, bummed me out, but it is reality as we now know it,

And it is today's lead story.

HOPE is provided in an OPED by a visionary with inclusive eyes and music in his heart, published by the New York Times and in clean up position:

The Light at the End of the Gaza-Ramallah Tunnel, by Omar Barghouti

"You must give birth to your images. They are the future waiting to be born. FEAR NOT the strangeness you feel. The future must enter you long before it happens."-Rilke

Carter: Stop favoring Fatah over Hamas


By ASSOCIATED PRESS
DUBLIN, Ireland

The United States, Israel and the European Union must end their policy of favoring Fatah over Hamas, or they will doom the Palestinian people to deepening conflict between the rival movements, former US President Jimmy Carter said Tuesday.

Carter, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who was addressing a conference of Irish human rights officials, said the Bush administration's refusal to accept the 2006 election victory of Hamas was "criminal."

Carter said Hamas, besides winning a fair and democratic mandate that should have entitled it to lead the Palestinian government, had proven itself to be far more organized in its political and military showdowns with the Fatah movement of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Hamas fighters routed Fatah in their violent takeover of the Gaza Strip last week. The split prompted Abbas to dissolve the power-sharing government with his rivals in Hamas and set up a Fatah-led administration to govern the West Bank.

Carter said the American-Israeli-European consensus to reopen direct aid to the new government in the West Bank, but to deny the same to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, represented an "effort to divide Palestinians into two peoples."

While seeking to boycott the Hamas leadership because of its refusal to renounce violence and recognize Israel, Europe and the US have continued to send humanitarian aid to Gaza through the United Nations and other organizations.

During his speech to Ireland's eighth annual Forum on Human Rights, the 83-year-old former president said monitors from his Carter Center observed the 2006 election in which Hamas won 42 percent of the popular vote and a majority of parliamentary seats.

Carter said that election was "orderly and fair" and Hamas triumphed, in part, because it was "shrewd in selecting candidates," whereas a divided, corrupt Fatah ran multiple candidates for single seats.

Far from encouraging Hamas's move into parliamentary politics, Carter said the US and Israel, with European Union acquiescence, has sought to subvert the outcome by shunning Hamas and helping Abbas to keep the reins of political and military power.

"That action was criminal," he said in a news conference after his speech.

"The United States and Israel decided to punish all the people in Palestine and did everything they could to deter a compromise between Hamas and Fatah," he said.

Carter said the United States and others supplied the Fatah-controlled security forces in Gaza with vastly superior weaponry in hopes they would "conquer Hamas in Gaza" - but Hamas this month routed Fatah because of its "superior skills and discipline."

He said plans to reopen international aid to the West Bank, but clamp down on aid to Gaza, would imprison 1.4 million Gazans. He called for both territories to be treated equally.

"This effort to divide Palestinians into two peoples now is a step in the wrong direction," he said. "All efforts of the international community should be to reconcile the two, but there's no effort from the outside to bring the two together."

Carter was pessimistic this would happen soon.

"I don't see at this point any possibility that public officials in the United States, or in Israel, or the European Union are going to take action to bring about reconciliation," he said.


New Lyrics for Israel 
By ADAM LeBOR
 


AS Israel prepares to celebrate its 60th birthday next year, it’s time to update its national anthem, “Hatikvah” (“The Hope”). Only a single phrase needs to be changed: “nefesh Yehudi,” which means a Jewish soul, should be replaced with “nefesh Israeli,” an Israeli soul. Why tamper with a beautiful, stirring hymn? To solve what we might call the “Hatikvah” contradiction. 


Israel strives to be both a Jewish state and a democracy, yet about a fifth of its population of 7.1 million people are not Jewish, but Arab Muslims, Christians and Druse. Among the emerging middle class, many Arabs are thriving. There are diplomats and judges, beauty queens and army officers, television anchors and members of the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament. 


Prime Minister Ehud Olmert recently appointed Raleb Majadele as Israel’s first Muslim Arab cabinet minister, in charge of science, culture and sports. But the disconnect between the Jewish state and its Arab minority endures. Mr. Majadele caused outrage among the political right in March when he told the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth that he stands up for “Hatikvah,” but will not sing it. 


Yet why should he? He is Israeli, but he is not Jewish. And he is not alone. A growing number of Israelis of all faiths are calling for an inclusive national anthem. 


They argue that “Hatikvah” symbolizes a wider inequality. Despite the Arab success stories, deep disparities between the Jewish and Arab sectors remain in employment, health, welfare and education. A report published last year by Sikkuy, the Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality in Israel, compared 10 similar Arab and Jewish municipalities. The total 2004 welfare budget for the Jewish municipalities was 220.8 million shekels (about $50 million), but only half that, 107.4 million, for their Arab counterparts. 


Such problems demand strategic solutions; altering one word in “Hatikvah” would not make them magically disappear. And even with the inclusion of “nefesh Israeli,” Israel’s Arabs might still object to other verses about the longing for Zion. 


But both history and current events show that we should never underestimate the totemic power of state pageantry. Even knowing the horrors of Communism, the Red Army choir singing the “Internationale” still can bring on goose bumps and visions of Soviet troops charging Nazi tanks. And South Africa’s new national anthem has set an excellent example in inclusive nation-building. Thirteen years ago, “Die Stem van Suid- Afrika” (“The Call of South Africa”), the apartheid-era hymn, was merged with “Nkosi Sikelel iAfrika” (God Bless Africa), the anthem of the African National Congress. A powerful symbol of the new multiracial country, the anthem is now sung in three African languages — Xhosa, Zulu and Sotho — as well as English and Afrikaans. 


Such a gesture of inclusion is needed in Israel, a recognition that to be an Israeli in 2008 is something very different from what it was in 1948. Updating “Hatikvah” could be the start of a psychic shift among the country’s Arab and Jewish citizens about what it means to be Israeli. It could lead to the evolution of a modern Hebrew (and Arabic) Israeli identity, predicated not on religion but on the more usual criteria of citizenship — shared cultural, linguistic and economic ties and simply living together on the most contested sliver of land in the world. 


Remember also that Israel is home to several hundred thousand non-Jewish Russians and guest workers from Africa, Asia and the Balkans. They, too, deserve to be included in the national community. 


Let’s not over-venerate “Hatikvah.” However stirring its chords and words, it is not an ancient Hebrew song. Its lyrics were written in 1886 by Naftali Herz Imber, a Central European poet. The melody, by Samuel Cohen, was inspired by the Czech composer Bedrich Smetana’s work “The Moldau,” itself based on a folk song. It is as much an expression of 19th-century nationalism as of spiritual yearning for the Holy Land. 


What Israel needs in the 21st century is an anthem that can be sung by all its citizens, of whatever faith. At a time of rising Islamic radicalism it is absolutely in Israel’s long- term interest to bind its Arab minority to the state. At the same time, if Israel is prepared to evolve and adapt, it must demand full civic loyalty from its Arab population. It would no longer be enough for many to regard themselves as semi-disconnected citizens. 


Three years ago in Jaffa, I met a Jewish community activist named Sami Albo. Mr. Albo told me of his dismay that, on Holocaust Memorial Day, when the memorial siren sounded, the muezzin of a nearby mosque recited the Koran, rather than observe the moment in silence, because a Muslim religious leader had died. 


Updating “Hatikvah” to take account of Israel’s religious diversity would rightly demand a reciprocal gesture from its Arab minority to also respectfully commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. 


Many will claim that at a time when Israel faces such existential threats as a potential Iranian nuclear bomb, a resurgent Hezbollah, last week’s triumph of a recalcitrant Hamas and daily rocket barrages from Gaza, altering “Hatikvah” would be a sign of weakness. 


I would argue precisely the opposite. Changing that one word from “Jewish” to “Israeli” soul would show both strength and confidence, because it would send a clear message: here we are, Israelis — Jewish, Christian, Muslim, African, Russian and more — in the heart of the Middle East. And we are here to stay. 


Adam LeBor is the author of “City of Oranges: An Intimate History of Arabs and Jews in Jaffa.” 


http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/18/opinion/18lebor.html


The Light at the End of the Gaza-Ramallah Tunnel

By Omar Barghouti, The Electronic Intifada, 20 June 2007

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article7043.shtml


When I saw some of the images coming out of the infighting in Gaza last week, I suppressed my anguish and steaming anger, recalling the wise, almost prophetic, words of the great Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire, who wrote:

"The central problem is this: How can the oppressed, as divided, unauthentic beings, participate in developing the pedagogy of their liberation? Only as they discover themselves to be 'hosts' of the oppressor can they contribute to the midwifery of their liberating pedagogy. As long as they live in the duality in which to be is to be like, and to be like is to be like the oppressor, this contribution is impossible. The pedagogy of the oppressed is an instrument for their critical discovery that both
they and their oppressors are manifestations of dehumanization."

Apparently, neither of the two warring factions succeeded in transcending the being "like the oppressor" part.

The lightening success of Hamas in forcefully taking over the supposed symbols of Palestinian power in Gaza cannot and ought not obscure the fact that, given the overbearing presence of Israel's military occupation, the bloody clash between the Islamist group and its secular counterpart, Fatah, and irrespective of motives, has descended into a feud between two slaves fighting over the crumbs thrown to them, whenever they behave, by their common colonial master.

There is no doubt that a faction within Fatah -- overtly funded, trained and steered by the US and Israel -- is the primary suspect behind the flare-up of this bloody internecine strife, which many observers view as a thinly veiled attempt to destabilize Hamas's democratically-elected government, coercing it into accepting Israeli dictates that it had so far balked from.


Furthermore, any decent legal expert will readily admit that the so-called "emergency government," declared by the Palestinian Authority chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, in response to Hamas's take-over in Gaza, violates several articles in the Basic Law, the equivalent of the PA's constitution.

While the corruption, lawlessness, profiteering and even betrayal of sections of Fatah have been known and well documented for some time now, the brutal, reckless and in some cases criminal tactics used by armed groups within Hamas were fresh reminders to neutral bystanders who were willing to give the group the benefit of the doubt that it, too, contains a strong, power-hungry faction that is eager to sacrifice principles and human rights to reach its political objectives.

Hamas cannot be exonerated from the accusation that, by participating in the legislative and municipal elections according to laws and parameters set by the Oslo agreements, it has already contributed to legitimizing the products of those agreements and forsaken its claim to being a resistance movement that is primarily dedicated to realizing the main tenets of the Palestinian
national program of liberation and self-determination. On top of that, and unlike the far more sophisticated and responsible Hizballah in Lebanon, Hamas, in the last year and a half of ruling at various levels, has revealed its inherent tendency, like all Islamist movements, to impose its exclusionary ideological and social order, and to dismiss and whenever possible suppress diverse views and cultural outlooks that conflict with that order.

In the short term, the political vacuum that will inevitably result from the growing rift between Ramallah and Gaza and the steady collapse of the PA structures and remaining authority on the ground is most likely to be filled by an all-out Israeli reoccupation of the entire West Bank and Gaza. This would announce the official death of the so-called Oslo peace process, which actually
collapsed long ago under the weight of Israel's incessantly expanding colonies, apartheid wall -- declared illegal by the International Court of Justice -- and intricate apparatus of oppression and humiliation of the Palestinians under its control.

Such a scenario may either lead to threatening the very survival of the Palestinian national movement and the completion of the well-underway disintegration of Palestinian society or trigger a renaissance of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination. For the latter to occur, however, two difficult but realistic conditions must be met: first, Palestinian structural democratization and political reform and resetting Palestinian national priorities; and second, a critical review and revamping of the Palestinian resistance strategy, both from moral and pragmatic perspectives.

Both are urgently called for, to realign the Palestinian struggle with the international social movement and to put the question of Palestine back on the world's agenda as essentially a morally and politically justifiable and viable liberation struggle that can -- again -- capture the imagination and support of progressives and freedom lovers the world over.

In order to counter Israel's dual strategy of, on the one hand, fragmenting, ghettoizing, and dispossessing Palestinians, and, on the other hand, reducing the conflict to a dispute over a partial set of Palestinian rights, the PLO must be resuscitated and remodeled to embody the claims, creative energies, and national frameworks of the three main segments of the Palestinian people: Palestinians in the OPT, Palestinian refugees, and Palestinian citizens of Israel.

The PLO's grassroots organizations need to be rebuilt from the bottom up with mass participation, and they must be ruled by unfettered democracy and proportional representation. This process
must entail a well-planned transfer of power from the withering PA back to a rejuvenated PLO, including the entire spectrum of the Palestinian political movement.

As to resistance strategies, one cannot and should not strictly separate means from ends. If the struggle for freedom in Algeria, Northern Ireland and South Africa taught us anything, it is this fact. Irrespective of the right of Palestinians to resist foreign occupation by all means, as granted in international law, we have a moral duty to avoid tactics that indiscriminately target innocent civilians and inevitably corrupt our own humanity. Concurrently, and with full deference to the first principle, we have a political obligation to select methods that maximize our gains. Given the ongoing nihilistic abuse and utter futility of Palestinian armed resistance, the uniquely harsh geo-political context of the Palestinian resistance movement, and the de facto fragmentation of the Palestinian people and isolation of its resistance core from potential sources of supply and
logistical support, civil resistance that has the potential of engaging and mobilizing the Palestinian
grassroots seems not only morally but also pragmatically preferable.

The young Palestinian campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, modeled after the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, has already shown ample evidence that it has the potential of unifying Palestinians and international solidarity movements in a resistance strategy that is moral, effective and sustainable. In the last few years alone, many mainstream and influential groups and institutions have heeded Palestinian boycott calls and started to consider or apply diverse forms of effective pressure on Israel. These include the British University and College Union (UCU); Aosdana, the Irish state-sponsored academy of artists; the
Church of England; the Presbyterian Church (USA); top British architects led by Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine (APJP); the National Union of Journalists in the UK; the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU); the South African Council of Churches; the Canadian Union of Public Employees in Ontario; and dozens of celebrated authors, artists and intellectuals led by John Berger, among many others.

The intensification of Israel's colonial and racist oppression of the Palestinians, particularly in Gaza, with unprecedented impunity was the main trigger for the spreading boycott. With its wanton destruction of Palestinian infrastructure, willful killing of civilians, particularly children, apartheid wall, Jews-only colonies and roads, incessant confiscation of land and water resources, and horrific denial of freedom of movement to millions under occupation, Israel has shown the international community its total disregard to international law and fundamental human rights.

This latest dose of American -- Israeli-inspired -- "constructive chaos" in the occupied Palestinian territory may well wreak havoc on US-Israeli policy in the region. With the imminent dissipation of the illusion that a national Palestinian sovereignty can be established under the overall colonial hegemony of Israel, many Palestinians are now seriously questioning the wisdom of the two-state
mantra and considering to repose their plight as one for equal humanity and full emancipation, within the framework of a unitary, democratic state solution in historic Palestine.

After almost three decades of "searing into the consciousness" of Palestinians that only a two-state solution can deliver any of their demands, the US and Israel are harvesting what they sowed: the collapse of any semblance of independence and integrity of the PA -- which was all along charged with relieving Israel's colonial burdens vs. the inhabitants of the occupied West Bank and Gaza -- and the mounting Palestinian discontent with, if not yet revolt against, the game of unilateral Palestinian compromise leading only to insatiable Israeli demands for further compromise, with the simultaneous loss of land, resources, freedoms and the bleak -- and real -- prospects of social breakdown.

The demise of the two-state solution should not be mourned. Besides having passed its expiry date, it was never a moral solution to start with. In the best-case scenario, if UN Resolution 242 were meticulously implemented, it would have addressed most of the legitimate rights of less than a third of the Palestinian people over less than a fifth of their ancestral land.


More than two thirds of the Palestinians, refugees plus the Palestinian citizens of Israel, have been maliciously and shortsightedly expunged out of the definition of the Palestinians.

It is now clearer than ever that the two-state solution --other than being only a disguise for continued Israeli occupation and a mechanism to permanently divide the people of Palestine into three disconnected segments --was primarily intended to induce Palestinians to give up
the inalienable right of their refugees to return to their homes and lands from which they were ethnically cleansed by Zionists during the 1948 Nakba (catastrophe).

A secular, democratic state solution is increasingly being perceived by Palestinians and people of conscience around the world as the moral alternative to Israeli apartheid and colonial rule. Such a solution, which promises unequivocal equality in citizenship, as well as individual and communal rights, both to Palestinians (refugees included) and to Israeli Jews, is the most appropriate for ethically reconciling the ostensibly irreconcilable: the inalienable, UN-sanctioned rights of the indigenous people of Palestine to self-determination, repatriation, and equality in accordance with international law and the acquired and internationally recognized rights of Israeli Jews to coexist in the land of Palestine -- as equals, not colonial masters.

Omar Barghouti is an independent Palestinian political analyst.


I admit I have resisted the vision stated above, but the more I read on this position, the more it makes sense...

"You must give birth to your images. They are the future waiting to be born. FEAR NOT the strangeness you feel. The future must enter you long before it happens."-Rilke

   
 
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The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© 1968, 2001 Kent M. Keith

" In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway."-Mother Teresa


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The age of warrior kings and of warrior presidents has passed. The nuclear age calls for a different kind of leadership....a leadership of intellect, judgment, tolerance and rationality, a leadership committed to human values, to world peace, and to the improvement of the human condition. The attributes upon which we must draw are the human attributes of compassion and common sense, of intellect and creative imagination, and of empathy and understanding between cultures."  - William Fulbright



“Any nation that year after year continues to raise the Defense budget while cutting social programs to the neediest is a nation approaching spiritual death.” - Rev. MLK
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"On the day of the termination of the British mandate and on the strength of the United Nations General Assembly declare The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion it will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations." - May 14, 1948. The Declaration of the Establishment of Israel
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