“Solidarity saved me from the Nazis; that’s why I fight Israeli apartheid”

“We hear disturbing reports this year from southern Israel. The Israeli government proposes to relocate some 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins from their present homes to government-approved townships. This is called the Prawer Plan, and Israel’s parliament approved it by a three-vote majority in June.

The Prawer Plan would destroy 35 Bedouin villages in the Naqab (Negev) region and extinguish Bedouin claims to land seized from them after the foundation of Israel. The government denies basic services to these villages. Right beside them, in many cases, are new, modern, fully serviced communities for Jewish settlers.

Supporters of the Prawer Plan say that it will compensate the Bedouin for their lost lands and improve their economic status. Unconvinced, the European Parliament has condemned the plan and demanded its withdrawal. So has the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the UN Office for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch.

This plan has not been negotiated with the Bedouins and does not have their agreement. It is to be imposed on them. Many have called it ethnic cleansing.

Ethnic cleansing has been defined by the UN Security Council as the forcible removal by one ethnic or religious group of another such group in a geographic area. When I think of ethnic cleansing, I recall my own experience in France under Nazi occupation during the Second World War.

Six months before I was born, the French government of the time passed laws excluding Jews from the civil service, education, the media and other professions. They repealed the law against anti-Semitism and started a massive anti-Jewish hate campaign. Large numbers of Jews were rounded up and put in concentration camps.

Much of France was then under Nazi occupation, but the Nazis didn’t ask for these measures. The French authorities volunteered and did it on their own. But soon the Nazis got into the act. They had a vast project — to clear 10 million Jews out of all European countries — not to deport but to exterminate them.

Ethnic cleansing on a grand scale.

The French police handed over to the Nazis tens of thousands of Jews and other French people to be sent to Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp in Poland, where they were almost all slaughtered. French authorities tore children from the arms of their mothers, and handed over the mothers to be exterminated.

Then, weeks later, the children were packed into a death train and sent to Auschwitz to also to die there. Among the adult victims was my mother, killed in Auschwitz in 1943.

The Nazis’ goal was to round up, deport and massacre all the Jews in France — as was being done across Europe. The Nazis documented the names, date of birth, country and towns of origin. I know the date and number of the convoy that took my mother to Auschwitz and the day she died there. It was as though they collected human trophies.
Wave of revulsion

But amid this terrible slaughter, an inspiring thing happened. There was a wave of revulsion in France against the treatment of the Jews. Both spontaneously and through organizations, French people made arrangements to protect them.

Altogether, three-quarters of the French Jews escaped the Holocaust. Some 10,000 Jewish children left their families and were hidden. I was among them.

In 1943, a resistance organization took charge of my care and placed me with a peasant family in Auvergne, a farming region in south-central France.

Last month I went back to Auvergne to learn how it was that I had been saved.

I spoke to many people who remembered those years. Auvergne at that time was a land of refuge, a poor region, but one where there was food and much work to be done.

It welcomed refugees from Italy, from Spain, from German-occupied regions. It welcomed French young men, who the government was trying to round up and ship to Germany to do forced labor.

Emma, one of my new friends in Auvergne, told me there were a dozen Muslim refugees from the Soviet Union in her village, conscripted into the Nazi army, and sent to France. They had deserted to join the anti-Nazi resistance.

There were the Roma — the French police rounded up and interned thousands of them. And there were thousands of Jewish refugees in Auvergne, old and young, seeking safety from arrest by French and German authorities.

I met a man who led his community in providing refuge. His name is Robert; he is now 91 years old. When he was 20 years old, he helped hide and protect 130 Jewish persons who had come to seek safety in his little town, Malzieu.

He was ready to lay down his life for them. He showed me an immense wooden wardrobe that he had pushed against a door, behind which there were Jews in hiding.
Spirit of solidarity

“How many of the Jews were denounced to the police?” I asked.

“None,” he said.

“So did everyone in Malzieu want the Jews to be there?”

“Not at all,” he said. “Some were anti-Jewish.”

“Why didn’t they denounce the Jews, then?” I asked.

“They may have had resentful thoughts, but they didn’t act on them. They would not act against the feelings of their community.”

So even the anti-Semites, through their silence, aided the resistance.

Recently, the Israeli government offered Robert the medal of the “righteous,” honoring Christians and others who saved many Jewish people. But Robert refused it. “I did nothing special,” he said, “Just the minimum that was my duty. And what we achieved, we did together, as a community.”

Robert exemplifies the tradition of universalism — a spirit of solidarity with all humanity. This is a proud Jewish tradition — the tradition of my family. In terms of Hitler’s Holocaust, its meaning is “never again” — but not just with regard to Jews. It means “never again for humankind.”

After the war, I was an orphan. I left France while still a child and crossed the ocean. Now I am a Canadian, proud of my new life here.

But Canada is now the world’s number one apologist for the Israeli government and its oppression of the Palestinians. What does the Holocaust tell me about the status of Palestine today — and the Prawer Plan?
Pattern of dispossession

The sinister Prawer Plan to extinguish Bedouin land rights fits into a pattern of Palestinian dispossession over the last century. It is only the latest step in a process of land theft that has been grinding on for seven decades.

When my parents were born, Palestine was a successful, diverse and tolerant society of Muslims, Christians and Jews. Meanwhile, eastern Europe — tsarist Russia in particular — was wracked by violence against Jews. Many fled the region, and some moved to Palestine.

Among them were my father, when he was a young boy, and his family. But guided by the Zionist movement, these refugees came not as immigrants, to enrich Palestinian society, but as colonial settlers, to displace it: a colonial project of ethnic cleansing.

This was not to my father’s liking, and he moved as a young man to France. Both he and my mother, and most of their Jewish generation in Europe, were skeptical of the Palestine settler project, and sought safety for Jews through social progress in Europe itself.

Step by step, the Zionist project took Palestinian lands, evicting and dispossessing the residents. Then Hitler’s war and Holocaust destroyed forever the Jewish homeland in Poland and neighboring countries. The Jewish survivors searched for a new homeland.

The Canadian government, with the support of many well-intentioned people, thought it proper to grant them a state in Palestine. It seemed only fair, given what the Jews had suffered.
Callously brushed aside

As for the Palestinians, they were callously brushed aside. Indeed the lie was spread that they did not even exist — Palestine was called “a land without people.”

Dispossessing and persecuting Palestinians became a way to atone for Hitler’s crimes. And so we had the Nakba, in 1948, when 750,000 indigenous Palestinians were expelled from their homeland, victims of a new and terrible ethnic cleansing.

The process continues even today. Jewish settlements are imposed on the remaining fragments of Palestinian lands on the West Bank.

The Gaza Strip is cruelly blockaded. Palestinians in Israel suffer legal discrimination.

Palestinian refugees continue to endure forced exile. Israel wages repeated aggressive wars.

And the Prawer Plan targets remaining Bedouin lands.

And still, today, Israeli oppression of the Palestinians is often justified as necessary to prevent a “second Holocaust” against the Jews. What a lie! The very idea is a monstrosity.

It is the Palestinians who suffer mistreatment, often reminiscent of what Hitler imposed on the Jews. The real threat to Israel’s Jewish population comes from their own government’s cruelty, its apartheid policies, its land grabs, its theft of resources, its long-term drive for ethnic cleansing.

If we have learned one thing from Hitler’s crimes against the Jews, it is that ethnic cleansing, ethnic slaughter and genocide must be opposed today wherever it occurs — and above all in Palestine. To be true to the memory of the victims of the Jewish Holocaust and of all Hitler’s victims, we must defend the Palestinians.
Make Israel accountable

We are building a united world campaign to get out the truth about Palestine. Palestinians must have the right to speak up. The media, manipulated by the elite who control Canada, pervasively confront us with a wall of silence. We face continual challenges to the rights granted to us by Canada’s Charter of Rights, free speech and assembly.

Defending the right to speak, discuss and voice an opinion is central to our efforts to defend the Palestinians.

During my trip to Auvergne last month, I was struck by the magical power of human solidarity, expressed in a varied and resourceful resistance movement that saved the lives of 10,000 Jewish children, including me. Let that same spirit of solidarity inspire us today in supporting victims of oppression here and worldwide, beginning in Palestine.

As a Jew, I say the Israeli government’s actions are not in my name. As Canadians, we must now tell the government of Stephen Harper that his support for Israeli apartheid is not in our name.

Stand up for the Palestinians. Demand that their right to return to their homelands is upheld; demand that they have equal rights in Israel; demand an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.

Join the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel — BDS. It is a nonviolent and democratic way to unite and make Israel accountable for its crimes against the Palestinians.

Let us call for an end to the Prawer campaign and the dispossession of the Palestinians. Palestine will be free!”

Suzanne Weiss is a Holocaust survivor and a Palestinian solidarity activist based in Toronto. This article is an excerpt from a talk given to a student meeting in London, Ontario, on 20 November.


Hat Tip To Scot



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70 responses to ““Solidarity saved me from the Nazis; that’s why I fight Israeli apartheid”

  1. MDA reject blood of MK of Ethiopian decent

    In additional case of discriminatory practices, Yesh Atid MK Pnina Tamano-Shata barred from donating blood because she has “special kind of Jewish-Ethiopian blood”

    Moran Azulay Published: 12.11.13, 17:42 /

    “Magen David Adom refused to allow MK Pnina Tamano-Shata (Yesh Atid) to donate blood, saying she had “the special kind of Jewish-Ethiopian blood.”

    The staff then told her that she could donate blood, but her donation would be frozen, not used. In the past, the MDA’s refusal to use blood donated from resident of Ethiopian descent has inspired claims of racism, the MDA in response claim they are only trying to minimize risks to blood recipients.

    Tamano-Shata arrived Wednesday afternoon to donate blood in a special donation center opened at the Knesset. After being refused and told she had “the special kind of Jewish-Ethiopian blood,” Tamano-Shato tried to explain that she has been living in Israel since the age of three, and has served in the IDF.

    She was sent to speak with the MDA donation teams’ supervisor. Tamano-Shata told her “you’re the professional, check if I fit the criteria” for Jews of Ethiopian decent which are allowed to donate blood.

    After an additional examination, she was informed that she cannot donate blood. After pushing the matter further, Tamano-Shato was informed she could donate but that her blood would be frozen and not used.

    In response, she told the MDA: “I’m good enough to serve the country in the Knesset, but for some reason, to donate blood, I’m not good enough… this is insulting.”

    The supervisor responded by saying “sweetheart, don’t be insulted, your’re right but these are the Health Ministry’s directives.” A man present at the scene, told Tamano-Shato as she was exiting, “what can you expect, this is a racist country.”

    Aides close to Tamano-Shata said the incident was very insulting and embarrassing for her, as the MDA policy is already a loaded issue for the Knesset member.

    Blood and blood

    In her youth, the young Yesh Atid MK led protests against the MDA practice of disposing of blood donated by Ethiopians.

    Tamano-Shata further said “it is sad that after so many decades the State has failed to stop differentiating between blood and blood. This is a shameful experience that has been haunting me since I was 16 and I can only hope that the Health Minister (Yael German, also from Yesh Atid) will change the situation.”

    Tamano-Shata was 16 when the MDA practice was first reported and later, when it reared it head again in 2006, she led the struggle against the discriminatory practice.

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called MK Tamano-Shata (Yesh Atid) to express his admiration of her work after Ynet exposed the story.

    During the conversation the prime minister said there must be an examination into the directives that prompted the incident.

    Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat (Likud ) chatted with MK Pnina Tamano-Shata to show her support.

    “I hope that some good may come from this horrible offense done to you today. Your private incident will bring about reparations for the injustice done to Ethiopians and to a repeal of these racist and shameful directives,” said Livnat.

    MK Aryeh Deri, Shas chairman, wrote on his Facebook page: “I donated blood today, but a thousand blood donations won’t replace the blood spilled today at the Knesset.”

    He added, “It is not right that, because of one’s lineage – without any screening – a certain ethnicity or nationality will be prevented from donating blood. I call on the health minister to correct the related directives immediately.”


    • Christopher Proudlove

      Reuters, the international news agency, reports that the Speaker of Israel’s parliament ordered a blood-collection crew to leave the premises after it turned down an offer of a blood donation from the Ethiopian-born Knesset member Pnina Tamano-Shata, aged 32.
      Since 1977 Israel’s Health Ministry has barred people born in most African countries from donating because there is an increased risk they may carry the HIV virus.
      Israeli President Shimon Peres expressed disgust at the incident. “There must not be any differentiation between Israeli people’s blood. All Israel’s citizens are equal,” he stated.
      Health Minister Yael German described the incident as “a disgrace” and said she would order a public consultation to change the guidelines. A parliamentary committee is set to discuss the incident next week.
      The World Health Organisation’s website showed the adult rate of AIDs in Ethiopia is estimated at 6.6 percent among a total population of over 90 million people.
      Israel’s community of Ethiopian Jews numbers some 100,000. They moved to Israel after chief rabbis determined in 1973 that the community had biblical roots.
      Since 1996, fewer than 10 Jews of Ethiopian origin have made it into Israel’s parliament.

      • Christopher Proudlove

        According to Health Ministry data, the three main groups among the 6,102 people in Israel infected with HIV in the last 30 years are African immigrants (2,371), homosexuals (1,413) and drug addicts (829). The basis for the ban is the length of time between infection and detectable lab test results — time in which the virus may not be found in blood that is then given to patients, who will only later find out they have been infected.

      • Christopher Proudlove

        According to Arutz Sheva, Rabbi Chaim Navon spoke out in defence of Magen David Adom (MDA) Wednesday night after the group came under heavy criticism for turning down a blood donation from MK Pnina Tamano-Shata (Yesh Atid) because she lived in Ethiopia as a young child.
        Like MDA, the well-known educator and community rabbi in the city of Modiin, questioned MK Tamano-Shata’s motives. “MK Tamano-Shata has been involved in the Health Ministry’s discussion of blood donation policy for some time,” he noted. “Which raises the suspicion that she might not have come innocently (accompanied by a camera) to donate blood, but rather to create a provocation.”
        He slammed the politicians who criticised the MDA in wake of the incident. “How pathetic are the politicians who rushed to condemn… MDA’s policy is well-known and public – why are they making an outcry now?”
        Accusations of racism are not fair, he said. “Anyone who spent a certain amount of time in a country where certain diseases are widespread cannot give blood,” he argued, adding, “If your child needed donor blood, would you want to take the risk?”
        “Israelis of Ethiopian origin are wonderful people,” he continued. “Just like those of British origin. And they don’t take blood donations from the British in Israel, either, because of mad cow disease, which is much less common in England than AIDS is in Africa.”
        “Isn’t there a British MK who’d like to cash in?” he joked.

  2. “If further proof was needed that the courts are an integral part of Israel’s apartheid system, it was in abundance in a Haifa court last month.

    Six Palestinian men have been handed prison sentences of up to two years each over the 2005 killing of an Israeli soldier who opened fire on a bus full of civilians in Shefa Amr, a city in the Galilee region of present-day Israel. A seventh man has been given a suspended sentence of eight months.

    The court case, which concluded last month, demonstrates that Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel are treated differently by the the authorities.

    Considerable effort was made to protect the reputation of Eden Natan Zada, the Israeli soldier who opened fire on the bus, murdering the driver and three passengers. The prosecution refused to label him a “terrorist” because using such a label would “disgrace the deceased,” as the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

    The Palestinians who tackled Zada and prevented him from inflicting an even higher death toll were, on the other hand, depicted as inherently violent. The court refused to accept the obvious that those who confronted Zada were responding to his unprovoked acts against innocent civilians and were trying to defend their community.

    Judge Ilan Schiff claimed that Israel “cannot tolerate acts of retribution,” the Times of Israel reported. His words smacked of hypocrisy; Israel has frequently argued that its attacks on Gaza’s women and children were in retaliation for rockets fired from the Strip. For years it punitively destroyed the homes of family members of Palestinians suspected of armed resistance.

    Despite recognizing that Zada killed his victims “simply because they were Arabs,” Schiff effectively rubber-stamped requests from the Israeli state, which had sought the accused be imprisoned for up to nine years. Schiff only departed from that request by taking account of how the trial had lasted for eight years when deciding how long the men would be locked away.

    Jamil Safuri, one of the convicted, told The Electronic Intifada that “there is no doubt to anyone that this was a political trial based on racist approaches.”

    “We face this discrimination in all aspects in our lives as the Palestinian minority in a Jewish state, whether in education, residency, civil rights or even the right to defend our own lives,” he said.
    “We have no rights”

    Had this been a case of Israelis killing a Palestinian in self-defense, it would more than likely have gone unpunished. We know this from bitter experience.

    No criminal charges were brought against a Jewish Israeli taxi driver who along with police shot a Palestinian who allegedly struck an Israeli police car and a bus with his bulldozer in Jerusalem during 2009. The Palestinian man, a construction worker, died of his wounds.

    This double standard was also the case with the killing of the perpetrator of a deadly attack on a yeshiva in Jerusalem in 2008 — a precedent raised by the Shefa Amr defense attorneys in court. The Palestinian gunman who slay eight was shot in the head by student Yitzhak Danon; Danon along with Israeli soldiers then fired repeatedly into the man’s body for ten minutes. “Five hundred or 600 bullets were fired,” according to one witness. No charges were filed against Danon, who was celebrated in the media as a national hero.

    Morad Haddad, an elected member of the Shefa Amr municipality, told The Electronic Intifada that nobody was surprised by the Haifa District Court verdict.

    “In a way, there is a positive side to this verdict. It shows the true face of the Israeli government towards the Palestinian citizens of its country.

    “It shows that the blue ID [card] we hold is there to serve the agenda of the government. They treat us like citizens when it is convenient for them, and like terrorists in other cases. We, therefore, have no rights in this country.”

    Sawsan Khalife’ is a political activist and journalist from Shefa Amr in the Galilee region of Palestine.

    • Christopher Proudlove

      The situation is even worse in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) and the Gaza Strip.The right to demonstrate for opponents of the PA (Palestinian Authority) regime has become increasingly subject to police control and restriction and is a source of concern for human rights groups, according to Wikipedia.
      Activists say there is a growing crackdown on writers and newspaper reporters who criticise the Palestinian Government.
      A Hamas-run council in the West Bank came under international criticism for barring an open-air music and dance festival on the basis of being “against Islam”. As of 2006, 16 Palestinian journalists have been killed or wounded by PA security forces or armed groups.
      The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade has been blamed for a number of attacks on journalists in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the Arab television station Al-Arabiya’s West Bank offices.
      The Fatah–Hamas conflict has further limited the freedom of the press in the PNA (Palestinian National Authority) territories and the distribution of opposing voices in Hamas-controlled Gaza and the West Bank where Fatah still has more influence.
      In the PNA, selling land to Jews is a crime punishable by death. The PA has stated the reason for this is to prevent the expansion of Israel.
      A year ago the Arab Organisation for Human Rights (AOHR) released a report that accused the PA of “inhumane practices and human rights violations” against Palestinian civilians. The AOHR alleges that from 2007-2011, the PA detained 13,271 Palestinians, and tortured 96% of them, resulting in six deaths. The report claims that PA law enforcement raided universities, hospitals and houses in order to arrest people wanted for protesting against the Israeli occupation. The report also relates that PA officers confiscated equipment and personal cash after arresting the suspects.
      Unlike in Israel, capital punishment is legal in the PA territory. The PA enacted five capital executions in 2005. Amnesty International has published a number of reports documenting the Palestine Authority’s arrest and detention of civilians without charge. In one year at least 400 such detentions were reported, primarily of political dissidents to the Palestine Authority. In that single year Amnesty International found: “Torture [by the Palestine Authority] of detainees remained widespread. Seven detainees died in custody. Unlawful killings, including possible extrajudicial executions, continued to be reported.”
      Human Rights Watch has condemned Palestinian Arab use of human shields in skirmishes with the Israeli Defense Force. It stated: “There is no excuse for calling civilians to the scene of a planned attack…Whether or not the home is a legitimate military target, knowingly asking civilians to stand in harm’s way is unlawful.” The Palestinian Authority has also been accused of commandeering civilian property such as houses as sites for smuggling arms,[ launching sites for rockets, and factories to produce munitions, thereby exposing them to harm from Israeli military operations. Civilian deaths caused by these strikes are widely publicised in the media and create favourable public opinion for the PA and negative public opinion against Israel.
      Hamas parliamentarian Fathi Hammad has spoken of a Palestinian “death-seeking” culture where women, children and the elderly volunteer as human shields against Israeli military attacks. “[The enemies of Allah] do not know that the Palestinian people have developed its [methods] of death and death-seeking,” Hammad told Al-Aqsa television station.
      Hamas has begun enforcing some Islamic standards of dress for women in the PA; women must don headscarves in order to enter government ministry buildings. In July 2010,
      Honour killings are a problem in the PA; the Hamas government has not moved to stop these killings and may have set up infrastructures which participate in them. Cases of women being beaten are common in the Gaza strip. Women murdered for “family honour” are seldom reported. Most women who are murdered are buried by members of their family in secret, and their deaths are not reported to any official body. The Palestinian media also refrain from reporting on this, for the sake of “family honour.”
      Israeli officials say Hamas in the Gaza Strip has established hard-line Islamic courts and created the Hamas Anti-Corruption Group, which is described as a kind of “morality police” operating within Hamas’ organisation. This year the United Nations cancelled its annual marathon in Gaza after Hamas rulers prohibited women from participating in the race

      • Christopher Proudlove

        Israel Hayom newspaper today carried a report on the rise of Palestinian honour killings. It stated:
        One night in late November, Rasha Abu Ara, a 32-year-old mother of five, was beaten to death and strung from a gnarled tree branch as a gruesome badge of “family honour” restored.
        The woman’s alleged sin was adultery, and her killer was either her own brother or husband, security sources told Reuters. Both are behind bars while an investigation continues.
        Her murder brought to 27 the number of women slain in similar circumstances in Palestinian-run areas this year, according to rights groups – more than twice last year’s victims.
        The rise has led Palestinians to question hidebound laws they say are lax on killers, as well as a reluctance to name and shame in the media and society, which may contribute to a feeling of impunity among perpetrators.
        “It feels like something that belongs to another time,” said one young man in Aqqaba who refused to give his name, the first hints of a beard on his chin. “But, it’s standard.”
        A week after the crime, Aqqaba mayor Jamal Abu Ara, who is a member of the victim’s extended family, and his brothers sat in their village home, smoking cigarettes and choosing their words carefully.
        “This act has no religion – it comes from closed, tribal thinking left over from an age of ignorance. People here are walking around in a haze; they want to know who did it and why. Of course, it’s the first time it’s happened here,” he said.
        His brother added: “Islam requires you have four witnesses to prove the act of adultery.
        “It’s not right what happened. Especially since if it were a man, some would just say ‘boys will be boys’,” he said.
        A representative of the slain woman’s family declined to speak to Reuters.
        “Honour killing” is a social menace that occurs throughout the Middle East, though precise figures are often elusive…
        Some activists believe the rise in honour killings indicates social and economic problems are mounting in the territories, where Palestinians exercise limited self-rule but Israel holds ultimate sovereignty, including over commerce.
        But Soraida Hussein, whose rights group Muntada tallied this year’s killings, said the practice also has deep roots.
        “There is no balance in power relations between the genders. There is a patriarchal mentality…as always, the force and pressure in society is transferred from the strong to the weak,” she said.
        Palestinian female participation in the labour force stands at 17 per cent, a figure the World Bank called “abysmally low,” noting that employers appeared to favour men, among whom joblessness was almost a third lower in 2013.
        Hussein said that most of the killings related to “the movement and the freedom of the woman, so (perpetrators) say it’s an ‘honour killing ‘… also, there’s still no clear law to discourage the practice.”
        Many of the cases had economic underpinnings, such as connections to disputes over inheritance, or may have been committed to cover up incest, she added.
        The passing of stricter laws on violence against women is hamstrung by the absence of a Palestinian parliament, which has not met since Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party and the Islamist Hamas group fought a brief, bloody civil war in 2007.
        Abbas has used his executive power to amend or cancel parts of the penal law, but has not yet changed all legislation which applies a separate status to domestic violence and has been used to justify killings and lighten prison sentences.
        Palestinian Authority Minister of Women’s Affairs Rabiha Diab blamed the violence toward women on Israel: “The Israeli occupation is the one practising the utmost violence … it’s the main thing keeping us from advancing.
        “There’s been a deterioration, financial and psychological pressure on our society, poverty. But there are also certain backward cultural legacies that must be combated,” she said.
        Unemployment and poverty both increased in 2013, with both standing at around 25 percent. Growth has slowed from boom rates averaging around 9 percent annually in 2008-2011 to just 1.8 percent in Gaza and the West Bank in the first half of 2013, according to the World Bank.
        Not just laws but lawmakers may be part of the problem.
        Residents of the northern West Bank village of Deir al-Ghusun began muttering about Thamar Zeidan, a 32-year-old mother of two, after an apparently intoxicated man was spied leaving her home one morning, a local source told Reuters.
        Elders, including a Hamas member of parliament, soon gathered and signed an announcement formally banishing her family from the larger tribe. The notice was pasted on the outer walls of homes and on the village mosque.
        Days later in late September, Thamar was choked to death with a metal wire in her sleep.
        Her father confessed to the deed.
        The lawmaker, Abdel Rahman Zeidan, denied charges in the Palestinian media that the petition was tantamount to inciting murder, and said the banishment targeted the father, whom villagers say allowed his children too many freedoms.
        “Taking the law into your own hands is wrong,” he told Reuters. “These acts are unacceptable, and laws must be passed to discourage them.”
        Spreading awareness on the issue can open campaigners and journalists to criticism and even threats, which may partly explain its scant airing in public, however.
        Press bulletins occasionally note the discovery of a woman’s body in what are called “hazy circumstances” – a common euphemism for honour killings. Names are concealed and the news is rarely followed up on.
        “When you touch such stories, you’re up against a social taboo,” said Palestinian journalist Naela Khalil, whose work focuses on women’s issues.
        “Here, the family is stronger than even the security forces. I might criticise Mahmoud Abbas more easily than a father or a brother who killed a woman. Doing this may mean a struggle with a whole family or village,” she said.

  3. Christopher Proudlove

    It would be of help if you could cite the particular section of the San Remo Treaty that you want me to comment on. When this is done, I will comment.
    Anshel Pfeffer, writing in the Jewish Chronicle, comments on the voluble chorus against the Prawer Plan from the left, both within Israel and around the world. He wrote: “This has ranged from the rather predictable cries of ‘ethnic cleansing’ from the anti-Israel lobby in Britain and some Israeli-Arab MKs to more considered claims of ‘forcible removal’ and unconstitutionality from the mainstream Israeli civil-rights community.
    “The plan was originally drawn up by a committee headed by Udi Prawer, a senior official in the Prime Minister’s Office. It is designed to solve the dual problem of the ‘unrecognised’ Bedouin villages in the Negev — which do not receive basic public services — and the dire socio-economic condition of the Negev Bedouin population.
    “Around 210,000 Bedouin live in the Negev, about 40 per cent of them in ‘35 unrecognised villages.’
    “According to the plan, some of the larger villages will be recognised, while the rest, where about 30,000 people live, will be demolished and their residents moved to new neighbourhoods in larger Bedouin towns and villages. Those Bedouin whose claims are recognised will receive 100 per cent compensation for their land, and the government will invest NIS 2.5 billion (£433m) in infrastructure and employment centres for the Bedouin over the next five years.
    “The government claims that recognising all the villages is impossible for legal and logistical reasons and that the majority of the Bedouin are in favour of the plan, while its vocal opponents represent only 20 per cent.
    “Those against the plan — but not instinctively against anything Israel does — claim that it amounts to “forcible removal” of the Bedouin from their ancestral homes, sets unattainable planning standards for the villages that are to be recognised and is another stage in a national planning strategy that has always discriminated against non-Jews.
    “At least 3,000 Bedouin who have historic claims to their land cannot prove ownership in court.
    “Whether the Prawer-Begin Plan presents an historical opportunity for the Negev Bedouin or commits a historic crime, both sides have strong arguments. One fact is inarguable, however. For the past 65 years the Bedouin, including the 60 per cent who do live in ‘recognised’ town and villages, have been the most neglected sector in Israel and their legal standing has remained in limbo. If their situation had not been allowed to fester for so long, Israel may not have been forced to choose such a difficult solution.”
    Also in the JC, Martin Bright, taking a similar line to me, commented: Last week’s “day of rage” against Israeli government plans to move tens of thousands of Bedouin Arabs in the Negev desert to purpose-built settlements was predictable enough.
    Even more predictable was the letter to The Guardian from musicians, artists, fashion designers, activists and, naturally, Jemima Khan opposing the so-called Prawer-Begin plan.
    But let’s take a step back before we dismiss the opposition as just another example of hysterical anti-Zionist prejudice.
    How has a piece of legislation that started out as a genuine attempt to address the issue of Bedouin land ownership become another stick with which to beat Israel?
    At first glance, it all seemed perfectly reasonable — tackling the vast divide between Israel’s Bedouin population and the rest of the country by establishing the legal status of the communities in the Negev and introducing a structured timetable of economic development.
    The Israeli government has claimed that 80 per cent of the Bedouin population backs the plan. Ministers say a relatively small number of people will be affected and, in return, villagers will have running water and electricity for the first time. What could possibly go wrong?
    And yet, the plan has succeeded in forging a bizarre alliance between the international human-rights groupies and the Israeli hard right, who are opposed to the Prawer-Begin proposals because they will legalise the Bedouin ‘takeover’ of the northern Negev. In this sense, we are witnessing a unique historical moment.
    On a more serious note, I worry about what this means for the future of Israel. It is now almost impossible for the government in Jerusalem to make its case in the court of international liberal opinion.
    The plans to address the issue of Bedouin land ownership may have been entirely genuine, but the communication of the message has been insensitive at best and left the government looking bull-headed.
    I have no doubt this is a horribly complicated matter. I am no expert, although I am certain I have more knowledge of the issues involved than most of the signatories of The Guardian letter.
    But Israel’s problem is that ignorance has never restrained anyone from expressing an opinion or taking a moral position on its actions, internally as well as externally.
    I am prepared to recognise that The Guardian letter conflates the issue of Palestinian independence with that of the Bedouin in the Negev and is motivated by a deep hostility to Israel. It saddens me to see artists I respect lining up with people opposed to the very idea of Israel.
    But this does not make the Prawer-Begin plan a good idea. Israel and its Bedouin citizens deserve better

  4. Christopher Proudlove

    The following video link follows the story of the two Bedouin sheikhs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgzrCVRSFUI&feature=youtu.be . The point being: If Israel was really an Apartheid state, why would they even bother about the future of the Bedouins?

    • Christopher Proudlove

      Jon Emont, writing in The Tablet about the Prawer-Begin Plan — now withdrawn by the Israeli government – commented: “Despite the heated rhetoric of politicians and activists on both sides, there is an opportunity for peace. What would it look like? The young activists I spoke to had ideas. Prominent among them was having the Israeli government make a good-faith effort toward consulting with Bedouin elders and youth leaders. Sana Ibn Bari, a young Bedouin woman active with the feminist organisation, suggested that when the Israeli government had to demolish an unrecognized village it could offer the Bedouin family farmland elsewhere in the Negev so that it could continue to live an agricultural way of life, just this time backed by the resources of the state…
      Bimkom, an organisation of Israeli planners, has drafted an alternative plan that some think will accommodate the master plan for the Negev while preserving Bedouin land. Certainly, as long as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues, the relationship between the Israeli state and Arabs within the state will be strained. But this represents a historic opportunity for Israel to prove that it is committed to the rights of its non-Jewish minority—and demonstrate to the world that you don’t have to be Jewish to prosper in the Jewish state.”

  5. Christopher Proudlove

    The National, Abu Dhabi … my word, we know that there’s no hidden agenda, then.

  6. “You want to transfer an entire population,” MK Hanna Swaid (Hadash) said.

    Committee chairwoman MK Miri Regev (Likud) responded, “Yes, as the Americans did to the Indians.”

  7. Christopher Proudlove

    China has shifted huge swathes of people. It has transported countless number of Han Chinese into Tibet. No doubt this is because they want the most populous people in China to swamp the number of native Tibetans.
    I find the comment of MK Regev shocking. Israel must be seen to win consent of the Bedouin and then embark on the plan in stages rather than in one fould swoop.

    • Christopher Proudlove

      Australians Mel and Brenda Braun last month were participants in the Honest Reporting Israel Mission last month which visited the Negev where 200,000 Bedouins live dispersed through smaller and larger recognised and unrecognised settlements. They wrote:
      “The largest Bedouin town is Rahat, with a population of 50 – 60,000 .
      Unrecognised Bedouin settlements are largely without services of water and electricity and sanitation/sewage.
      Women’s issues are particularly pressing. Polygamy is a traditional Bedouin practice (now outlawed but still practised by the Negev Bedouin) and women’s roles have changed significantly. Whilst women have traditionally been low on the ‘totem pole’ with changes in family, women’s status in the last century further difficulties for women have emerged. Shatil has been instrumental in empowering Bedouin women and developing programs for them, starting with literacy and then with programs using traditional crafts such weaving and embroidery & training groups to develop & encourage women to participate in the local area management through councils and similar. Also working to open pre-schools and high schools.
      Recognising that they also need buy in from the men in the community, Shatil organises mixed sex roundtables on issues such as polygamy & domestic violence
      We met a number of people with different perspectives through the morning. Travelling through dun-coloured, almost lunar landscape to see one settlement the coach became stuck and could go no further on the sandy and Rocky Road (not the delicious Chocolate and marshmallow type). We continued on foot to visit to an ‘unrecognised’ settlement where we met with the local sheikh, Ahmed Al-Kamawi.
      Seeing the squalid condition of one unrecognised Bedouin town settlements moved many of us. And through multiple translators, and some contested translations, we heard the story of one tribe and their quest for land through the courts.
      We see that people do engage in agriculture and were surprised to see that this meant largely the keeping of animals and little in the way raising crops (though we heard that they do grow crops for personal use) . What we discovered was a people who In the past had been nomadic, and today are semi-nomadic which means they generally stay in one place.
      The place for this chamula (clan/tribe), the ‘Asazma’ people,is adjacent to the biggest toxic waste treatment plant in Israel. Naomi told us that the level of birth defects and other health issues is disproportionately high among this population.
      On the return trip to Beersheva a young and tertiary-educated Bedouin man told us he believes that the traditional way of living with clan is best . But he has had the benefit of a well-off family (in the construction business) education and would also wish for accommodation in town and the offer of a good job.
      An alternate perspective was put by the field worker for the government who is working to help resettle the Bedouin people. He explained using maps that many of the claims for land unsubstantiated would be rejected and have been rejected by the Israeli courts, yet the Israeli government has offered land and financial concessions.
      Bedouins have one of the highest birth rates in the world (4.4% annually c/f 1.5% rest of Israel). The youth (60% of the Bedouin population are under 20 years of age) are demanding a modern lifestyle- internet and suchlike- yet the elders want to maintain a traditional way of life. As he described it fathers are saying ‘no’ & sons are saying ‘yes’ to the Israeli government offers.
      Space in central Israel is running out and the Negev is a key destination to grow the country. Many militarily bases around Tel Aviv are being relocated to the Negev .
      Our visit to the Negev and the alternate viewpoints we heard show that there are certainly no easy answers.”

      • Christopher Proudlove

        On December 10, the Henry Jackson Society held an event in the House of Commons on the topic of ‘Israel and Its Bedouin Community: Background, Challenges and Prospects’. At the event, which was chaired by the Conservative Member of Parliament Matthew Offord, Ishamel Khaldi, the Counsellor for Civil Society Affairs at the Israeli Embassy in London and Lirit Serphos, the Head of Policy Planning on the Development and Growth of the Bedouin Community at the Office of the Prime Minister of Israel discussed the Israeli government’s efforts to further the quality of life for Israel’s Bedouin communities.
        Ishamel Khaldi, speaking from his personal experience, emphasised the importance of both the state and the Bedouin communities adopting a joint responsibility in order to attain better standards of living for the Bedouin communities. He enlightened the audience by providing a background of the history of Bedouins in Israel, their close connection to the Israeli state and he challenged the negative press with which the Bedouin issue is being covered in the media.
        Lirit Sephos, who has been working on the Bedouin issue for many years, provided an insight into the goals and policy of Israel in tackling the plight the Bedouin communities face. She emphasised the fact that many Bedouins do not have access to electricity, education and security, and explained the process with which the state of Israel seeks to improve the quality of life for the Bedouin peoples.
        The event was attended by Parliamentary staff, representatives from think tanks, academia and the non-profit sector, and members of the Henry Jackson Society and the general public.

  8. Christopher Proudlove

    Suzanne Weiss states: “And so we had the Nakba, in 1948, when 750,000 indigenous Palestinians were expelled from their homeland, victims of a new and terrible ethnic cleansing.”
    Yoram Ettinger, a former Israeli envoy and a statistics expert relevant to the Jewish state, has an article in today’s Israel Hayom newspaper headlined ‘The Palestinian refugees … a reality check. It reads:

    Western policymakers and media have misconstrued/misrepresented the Palestinian refugee issue, ignoring its global context and core data. Moreover, the Palestinian claim of dispossession — which impacts the U.S. financial aid to UNRWA, and is defined as a key issue in the peace process — fails the reality test.
    The global context
    At the end of 2012, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees documented 15.4 million refugees worldwide — excluding Palestinian refugees who are administered by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency — and 28.8 million internally displaced persons. Four million of the refugees are from Afghanistan. One of the results of the civil war in Sudan was 5.5 million refugees. Fifteen million refugees (Hindu, Muslim and Sikh) were created by the 1947 partition of India, which created Pakistan. The Greco-Turkish war of 1919-1922 involved a forced population exchange of two million people.
    From 1990 to 1991, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait expelled 800,000 Yemenites and almost 300,000 Palestinians for collaborating with Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. Some 300,000 Palestinians — who were allies of Saddam Hussein — fled Iraq following the first and second Gulf Wars. Since 1945, there have been some 100 million refugees worldwide, most of them resettled. On the other hand, Palestinian refugee camps in Arab territories have remained intact since 1950, while Palestinian leadership conducts a lavish life-style, including bank accounts stashed throughout the world.
    Core data
    According to an August 1971 Ford Foundation report, by 1950 the majority of the Palestinian refugees began evacuating the camps and non-refugees moved in to benefit from UNRWA’s services. For example, half of the population in the Jalazone refugee camp, near Ramallah, settled there after 1950.
    A November 17, 2003 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office documented that less than 33% of registered Palestinian refugees live in refugee camps.
    The actual number of Palestinian refugees is determined by the following: Before the 1948-1949 War of Independence, 800,000 Arabs (per inflated numbers) resided within the boundaries of “pre-1967 Israel.” At the end of that war, 170,000 Arabs stayed in Israel. Of the remaining 630,000 Arabs, 100,000 were absorbed by Israel’s family reunification gesture; 100,000 middle and upper class Arabs left before the beginning of the 1948-1949 war and were absorbed by neighbouring Arab states; 50,000 migrant labourers returned to their Arab countries of origin; 50,000 Bedouins joined their brethren-tribes in Jordan and Sinai; and 10,000 were war fatalities. Thus, the actual total number of Palestinian refugees was 320,000. Most of the refugees followed their political, economic and social leadership, which left before the eruption of the war. Many were enticed to depart by Arab leaders, who promised a quick devastation of the Jewish state that would provide the evacuees with Jewish property. British authorities influenced others, pressuring the minority in mixed Jewish-Arab towns to evacuate: Arabs evacuated but Jews did not.
    The claim of dispossession examined
    According to Dr. Yuval Arnon-Ohanna of Ariel University and former head of the Mossad’s Palestinian research division (“Line of Furrow and Fire: The Conflict for the Land of Israel, 1860-2010,” 2013, pp. 397-415): “The birth of the Palestinian refugee phenomenon — in the form of a massive Arab flight — occurred during the Arab riots of 1936-39, not during the 1947-49 war. … The flight was confirmed by the British consul general to Beirut, G.W. Furlonge, in an October 27, 1938 report to the British High Commissioner in Jerusalem … and by the Lebanese daily, Al Akhbar, in a December 1938 article. … A documentation of 40,000 Arab refugees, during 1936-39, was included in Dr. Rony Gabbay’s 1959 Ph.D. thesis, which was submitted to Geneva University. …
    “The flight was caused by an Arab wave of terrorism, which was aimed initially at British personnel and Jewish communities, but was rapidly diverted at Arab targets. It perpetrated a violent anarchy among Arabs, totally devoid of Jewish involvement. Just like the 1947-49 flight, the 1936-39 flight triggered a departure by upper class Arabs, followed by lower and middle class Arabs, who felt increasingly insecure. Many returned to their countries of origin. …
    “The 1947-49 flight was limited, mostly, to Arabs from the coastal plain and valleys of Israel, while most mountain Arabs from the Galilee (which was taken over by Israel, but produced very few refugees), Samaria and Judea remained intact. … Therefore, the Palestinian “claim of return” always highlights the coastal plain [pre-1967 Israel]. …
    “The coastal plain was devastated by the Muslims, following their victory over the Crusaders. … Consequently, in the 19th century, Jaffa was reduced to a small village, Haifa had less than 1,000 residents and the valleys (Jordan, Beit Shean, Jezrael, Hula, etc.) were desolated, as documented by the 1881-83 surveys of the Palestine Exploration Fund. …
    “[Since 1882,] Jewish [immigration] concentrated in the coastal plain, producing economic growth, which attracted massive Arab immigration from neighbouring countries, mostly Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and North Africa. It was that coastal population, and its descendants — possessing limited roots in the Land of Israel — which fled in 1947, before the eruption of the war. The flight was accelerated during the 1948-49 war.”
    Western policymakers and media who ignore reality, and embrace the claim of Palestinian dispossession, undermine the peace process and squander the Western taxpayers’ resources.

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