One can be a Zionist and believe that the Jews constitute a people with the right to self-determination without believing that such self-determination must be implemented in an exclusivist religio-ethnic state like the one founded hastily by Russian Jewish Zionists in 1948. One can believe that the Jewish people’s right to self-determination cannot be implemented in Palestine at the expense of a Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and to live as a free people in their native land. And, of course, one can believe, as do many anti-Zionists, that Jews do not constitute a people with any right to national self-determination, but are rather a religio-ethnic community. All of these viewpoints are kosher. It is preposterous to label them “anti-Semitic.”
In a Middle East overwhelmed by war, politics, destruction, and conflict, it is easy to forget that it is, like any other, just a place where life goes on; people live, people grow, people die. Communities flourish and decline. People come and people go. Mired in the hellfire of media and politics, it is easy to overlook the simple truths about life in the Middle East.
Israel is constantly in a bizarre state of one-sided war which it wages on anyone it can find, pummeling them with its superior American-made bullets and drones and gas canisters and grenades. It drops white phosphorous over Gaza and shoots live bullets at unarmed demonstrators. It takes as prisoners anyone it so desires and holds them in endless confinement. The only thing is, in this war, you’re not allowed to fight back. We can imprison them, you see, but they can’t imprison us.
Overcast and chilly, it was a real New England fall day. The crowd was small but dedicated, and more than willing to talk. We talked about Obama and Ron Paul, about minarchism and anarchism and socialism and capitalism. It was the most intimate Occupation I’ve attended, and though not particularly inspiring as far as the scale of participation it was meaningful to see familiar faces.
I got off the subway at Park Place, thinking the walk down Broadway to “Liberty Square” (née Zuccotti Park) would be overflowing with protestors, finance men, police, and all the makings of some festive protesting. I had a fantasy in my head involving the entirety of the financial district being overcome by guerilla fighters and urban warfare.
I came to New York this week to visit friends, not unaware that my timing was particularly fortuitous to observe (or join) an #occupywallstreet protest just as the going was getting good.
Generally speaking, it is an action, and a movement, that I can get behind. I think the dependence on corporations, the reliance on corporations, and the power of corporations that we have created in this country out of what I think is fundamentally our own greed and expansionism is despicable. I think these big banks are, in a large part, responsible not just for the real crises we are facing, especially us jobless millenials, but also for the absurd wealth gap in our country, the amount of imaginary money we have been coerced into spending, and the amount of real money we owe.
There is no question in any warm-blooded human mind that refugee camps are terrible, terrible places. Captain Jack Sparrow warns “the deepest circle of hell is reserved for betrayers and mutineers”; then the one deeper must be reserved for those displaced by war, flood, and famine.
The stories of refugee camps are unfathomable. Generation after generation are born into circumstances so hopeless the word “hopeless” itself provides far too much hope. There is no education, no adequate nutrition, and less than no way out. For the small percentage of the nearly 750,000 Somali refugees who are able to leave Dadaab and other massive camps in Africa, they find new homes and new kinds of assistance in their new states. But the vast majority are left to fester.
My trip to Cairo last week confirmed that my idealistic optimism during the Egyptian Revolution was slightly premature. Rather than a shining beacon o
f freedom and democracy, I found Egypt not much altered from the country I had seen in January, pre-Revolution. Continue reading
If this is what happens to photographers who “misrepresent Israeli soldiers,” here is my rebuttal:
In the last eight or nine months, Nabi Saleh has become more and more the epicenter of military violence against non-violent protesters in the West Bank. In a situation where protesting is not just against the wall but against the very nature of the occupation, the soldiers have become more and more brazen in their aggression against the villagers and the protesters.
Can you explain to me how the situation of the Bedouin construction in Negev evolved? I’m confused about Israel’s justification for the demolitions…what is the historical timeline?
The easy answer is ask Ariel, our resident al-Araqib and all things Negev Bedouin expert.
My rough answer, and please feel free to correct, was the following:
So the Bedouin in the Negev thing is complicated and the story is a little different depending who you ask…
…as I understand it, they were issued titles to their land under the Ottomans. The British recognized them sort of in passing (though they were never transferred over as official British documents), and then when Israel was formed they basically ignored the Negev, focused more on the cities and the populous areas. Now that Israel is trying to expand into the less-populated regions with all its Lands Administration laws benefiting former soldiers, etc. (e.g. Settlements in the WB and Gaza, the Negev, the Galilee), they have decided they want the traditionally Bedouin lands in the Negev. They do this under the premise that it is state-owned land, and as they don’t recognize the Ottoman titles to the land (though they do occasionally recognize British-issued legal documents, but not always, I think) the Bedouin are essentially squatters.
Thus the legal premise for the destruction.
It’s also being claimed by the JNF which, despite being an American organization is also an Israeli government organization, and they think they are going to plant trees, or something, and if you google GODTV you’ll see the fun Christian Evangelical Zionist types who are financially and politically backing the GOI and the JNF in their attempts to oust the Bedouin from their villages.
I remember reading something about a bill stipulating these charges a while ago, possibly a Knesset or executive proposal or something, but I don’t exactly remember.
The land politics in Israel are a funny thing; on some level, it all comes down to land ownership.
I’m looking forward to explanatory comments below, and perhaps a post from Ariel on the topic?