Palestine

LEGACY OF ARIEL SHARON - unpublished letter to Irish Times 160114

Sir,

Denis Staunton (Politics, 13 January 2014) manages to chart some of Ariel Sharon’s war crimes yet still retrieve him as a courageous statesman.  

He claims for example, that Sharon’s “unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, which involved the evacuation of all Israeli settlers from the strip, demonstrated that the colonisation of Palestinian territory by settlements must not be irreversible.” In fact, the reverse is true. This absurd theatrical public relations exercise by Israel, orchestrated primarily to show the world the difficulty of removing settlers in any future peace deal, was merely a ruse by Israel to camouflage the illegal settlement expansion within the West Bank. In any case Israel still terrorises Gaza by land, sea and air on a daily basis, in what is the largest open air prison in the world.

Sharon’s main legacy, apart from the awful memories of his obvious war crimes, is the permanent state of separation, lockdown and war against the people of Palestine that has attracted the worst forms of xenophobia, racism and hatred within Israel. His twin track approach of demolition and settlement, an open policy of ethnic cleansing of Palestinian territories as part of his vision of a greater Israel, is now normalised and an everyday experience for Palestinians, and seems to be accepted by almost all western political leaders. For example, on 10th December last, 30 Palestinian homes were demolished in the Jordan valley resulting in the displacement of 41 people, including 24 children.  Illegal settlements continue apace during the farcical peace talks. Where is the outcry? Instead we have the appalling sycophantic scenes of western leaders praising Sharon.

“We don’t have the luxury to wait” for Israel to change on its own, says Ilan Pappe

“We don’t have the luxury to wait” for Israel to change on its own, says Ilan Pappe

8 December 2013

 

Few, if any, historians have done more to unearth the truth about Israel than Ilan Pappe.

His 2006 book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine documents how the uprooting of more than 750,000 Palestinians was the direct consequence of a plan drawn up by Zionist leaders in 1947. It arguably remains the most serious study published yet of the Nakba (catastrophe), the violent expulsion of Palestinians leading to Israel’s formation the following year.

Pappe’s outspoken criticisms of Israel have resulted in him being isolated by many of his Israeli peers. When he supported a Palestinian-led campaign for an academic boycott of Israel in 2005, the president of Haifa University called on Pappe to resign his teaching post at that college. Since moving to the UK, Pappe has remained a prolific writer on both Israel’s past and present.

Unpublished letter to Irish Times re Nelson Mandela and Palestine

Sir,

Nelson Mandela’s inspiring words on his release from prison in February 1990 - “apartheid has no future” and “now is the time to intensify the struggle” resonate today in relation to the struggle for justice by the Palestinian people, a cause which was dear to his heart and on which he made many public statements drawing comparisons between Israel’s suppression of Palestinians and that of the suppression of Black South Africans under apartheid.

The best way that world political leaders could honour Nelson Mandela’s legacy is by acting now to delegitimize the rogue apartheid state of Israel and to support the legitimate rights of the Palestinians to freedom and justice.

Yours etc.

JIM ROCHE,
PRO Irish Anti War Movement,
PO Box 9260,
Dublin 1.

IRANIAN NUCLEAR AGREEMENT - unpublished letter to Irish Times 031213

Sir,

Clive Hyman (Letters 29 November) fails to admit that some of Israel’s senior politicians have alas used the cancer analogy when referring to Palestinians.

In his book, Cities, War and Terrorism – towards an urban geopolitics, 2004, Prof. Stephen Graham quotes Efraim Eitam, a Minister without portfolio in the Israeli Government of 2002, who refers to the natural urbanisation of Palestinian cities as “a cancer that undermines the ordered nature of the organic host body of Israel” and to the construction of Palestinian homes as “a jihad of buildings”.

Such racist language by an Israeli minister shows the contempt in which Israel regards Palestinians – a contempt we now see exercised by the so called Prawer Plan, which threatens to wipe out thirty five "unrecognised" villages and expel over 40,000 Bedouin Arabs from their homes and way of life in the Negev Desert. This threatened ethnic cleansing is within the 1948 borders of Israel, not to mention the almost daily house demolitions and settlement construction in the West Bank and the continuous siege of Gaza which now looms as a serious humanitarian crisis.

Israel is the only state in the region wiping anyone off the map which is why boycott, divestment and sanctions are the only way to treat such an apartheid state.

Yours etc.

JIM ROCHE,
PRO Irish Anti War Movement,
PO Box 9260,
Dublin 1.

 



mini-Arks:Gaza's kids were heard

Saturday November 30th was a wonderful day in Gaza.

Over 200 children, aged from 4 to 15 years, including 25 orphans, assembled at the Gaza Port. They came from several children’s associations, along with 60 adult volunteers, as well as high school and university students aged 15- 22.

They were there to launch around 200 mini arks into the sea, to symbolically challenge the illegal and immoral Israeli blockade of Gaza. These mini-Arks, 40cm-long model-boats sponsored by people across the world, were taken out on the water a short distance by the children in small fishing boats, to be carefully lowered into the sea. Like messages in a bottle, the boats were tasked with the awesome responsibility of carrying the children’s cry for help to the outside world. Trapped in a small stretch of land that is the Gaza Strip, children there want their freedom, just like all the adults do. They want the brutal siege of their land to end. The younger children all had paper mini arks and Palestinian flags to carry.

Palestinians and Internationals worked together to make the event a huge success. The weather cooperated too, with sunshine streaming down onto the many smiling faces of the children. After all they have been through, the opportunity for a moments escape from their daily realities was much deserved and needed. Most of these children remember the Israeli attacks of Dec. 2008 - Jan. 2009 and November 2012, that left so many traumatized, so it was wonderful to see the excitement and sheer joy on their faces that such a simple act of solidarity created!

Palestinian Nakba- 370,000 'internally displaced persons' (IDPs) within the Israeli state.

Inevitably, the 65th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba - Catastrophe - was overshadowed by calls to exercise refugees' right of return. Although the vast majority of Palestinians live in forced exile and the focus tends to dwell on their plight, there is now an estimated 370,000 'internally displaced persons' (IDPs) within the Israeli state. They are also denied the right to return to their homes and villages. No Nakba anniversary can pass without remembering them.

Unlike their compatriots in the wider Diaspora, the displaced Palestinians in Israel enjoy little international assistance and far less protection. Ever since the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) stopped providing services for them in 1952, they have remained refugees in their own land and second-class citizens in the state established around them.

From the very first, Israel never intended to accord equal rights to the 150,000 Palestinians who remained on their land as 750,000 of their compatriots were being driven into exile, despite an undertaking given in its 'declaration of independence' to 'uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens, without distinction of religion, race or sex'. The Palestinians have always been regarded as a 'fifth column' and a threat to the security of the state. As such, they were subjected to military rule from 1948 until 1966.

Under Israeli law, the IDPs are present in so far as they are obliged to pay taxes but absent in terms of their rights to employment, health care, water and education. They were assigned the absurd legal designation, unique to Israel, of 'present-absentees'.

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