CHIROT ZERO ZINE--ANNOUNCING NEW BLOG

Dear Followers, Friends, fellow Workers:

I have just begun a new blog/zine called
Chirot Zero Zine A Heap of Rubble--
Anarkeyology of hand eye ear notations
---
http://chirotzerozine.blogspot.com
the blog is more exusively concerned than this one with presenting essays, reviews (inc. "bad reviews") , Visual Poetry, Sound Poetry, Event Scores, Manifestos, Manifotofestos, rantin' & raving, rock'roll, music all sorts--by myself and others--if you are interested in being a contributor, please feel free to contact me at david.chirot@gmail.com
as with this blog, the arts are investigated as a part of rather than apart from the historical, economic, political actualities of yesterday, today, & tomorrow
as with al my blogs--
contributions in any language are welcome

Free Leonard Peltier

Free Leonard Peltier
The government under pretext of security and progress, liberated us from our land, resources, culture, dignity and future. They violated every treaty they ever made with us. I use the word “liberated” loosely and sarcastically, in the same vein that I view the use of the words “collateral damage” when they kill innocent men, women and children. They describe people defending their homelands as terrorists, savages and hostiles . . . My words reach out to the non-Indian: Look now before it is too late—see what is being done to others in your name and see what destruction you sanction when you say nothing. --Leonard Peltier, Annual Message January 2004 (Leonard Peltier is now serving 31st year as an internationally recognized Political Prisoner of the United States Government)

Injustice Continues: Leonard Peltier Again Denied Parole

# Injustice continues: Leonard Peltier denied parole‎ - By Mahtowin A wave of outrage swept the progressive community worldwide at the news that Native political prisoner Leonard Peltier was denied parole on Aug. ... Workers World - 2 related articles » US denies parole to American Indian activist Leonard Peltier‎ - AFP - 312 related articles » # Free Leonard Peltier 2009 PRISON WRITINGS...My Life Is My Sun Dance Leonard Peltier © 1999. # Prison Writings: My Life Is My Sun Dance - by Leonard Peltier, Harvey Arden - 2000 - Biography & Autobiography - 272 pages Edited by Harvey Arden, with an Introduction by Chief Arvol Looking Horse, and a Preface by former Attorney General Ramsey Clark. In 1977, Leonard Peltier... books.google.com/books?isbn=0312263805... - # Leonard Peltier, American Indian Activist, Denied Parole And Won't ... Aug 21, 2009 ... BISMARCK, ND — American Indian activist Leonard Peltier, imprisoned since 1977 for the deaths of two FBI agents, has been denied parole ... www.huffingtonpost.com/.../leonard-peltier-american_n_265764.html - Cached - Similar - #

Gaza--War Crime: Collective Punishment of 1.5 Million Persons--Recognized as "The World's Largest Concentration Camp"

Number of Iraquis Killed Since USA 2003 Invasion began

Just Foreign Policy Iraqi Death Estimator

US & International Personnel losses in Iraq &Afghanistan; Costs of the 2 Wars to US


Number of U.S. Military Personnel Sacrificed (Officially acknowledged) In America's War On Iraq: 4,667
icasualties.org/oif/

Number Of International Occupation Force Troops Slaughtered In Afghanistan : 1,453
http://icasualties.org/oef/


=

Cost of War in Iraq

$691,188,637,164

Cost of War in Afghanistan
$229,137,844,021

The cost in your community

www.nationalpriorities.org/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=182

flickr: DEATH FROM THIS WINDOW/DOORS OF GUANTANAMO--Essays, Links, Video-- US use of Torture

VISUAL POETRY/MAIL ART CALL Cracking World’s Walls & Codes Concrete & Virtual

Cracking World’s Walls & Codes Concrete & Virtual


VISUAL POETRY/MAIL ART CALL
No Sieges, Tortures, Starvation & Surveillance
GAZA-GUANTANAMO-ABU GHRAIB—THE GLOBE
Deadline/Fecha Limite: SinsLimite/ongoing
Size: No limit/Sin Limite
No Limit on Number of Works sent
No Limit on Number of Times New Works Are Sent
Documentation: on my blog
http://davidbaptistechirot.blogspot.com
Addresses: david.chirot@gmail.com
David Baptiste Chirot
740 N 29 #108
Milwaukee, WI 53208
USA

Miss Universe Visits Guantanamo: 'A Loooot Of Fun!'



Miss Universe Visits Guantanamo: 'A Loooot Of Fun!'


The current 'Miss Universe' Dayana Mendoza (formerly Miss Venezuela) and 'Miss America' Crystal Stewart visited US troops stationed in Guantanamo Bay on March 20th, the New York Times reports. Here's Mendoza's account of the visit from her pageant blog last Friday. She says the trip "was a loooot of fun!"

This week, Guantánamo!!! It was an incredible experience...All the guys from the Army were amazing with us. We visited the Detainees camps and we saw the jails, where they shower, how the recreate themselves with movies, classes of art, books. It was very interesting. We took a ride with the Marines around the land to see the division of Gitmo and Cuba while they were informed us with a little bit of history.


The water in Guantánamo Bay is soooo beautiful! It was unbelievable, we were able to enjoy it for at least an hour. We went to the glass beach, and realized the name of it comes from the little pieces of broken glass from hundred of years ago. It is pretty to see all the colors shining with the sun. That day we met a beautiful lady named Rebeca who does wonders with the glasses from the beach. She creates jewelry with it and of course I bought a necklace from her that will remind me of Guantánamo Bay :)

I didn't want to leave, it was such a relaxing place, so calm and beautiful.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

unrelated segments - Where You Gonna Go

great Detroit garage punk band

Fwd: Issue twelve of Otoliths has just gone live



---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Otoliths Editor <otolitheditor@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, Jan 31, 2009 at 6:01 AM
Subject: Issue twelve of Otoliths has just gone live
To:


February may be the shortest month, but that doesn't mean that Otoliths has to follow suit. Issue twelve, the southern summer issue, has just gone live, & it's as large as ever, with its usual wide-ranging selection of prose, poetry & things visual.

 

Included in this issue are David-Baptiste Chirot, Denise Duhamel, Raymond Farr, J. S. Murnet, Tom Taylor, James Sanders, Martin Edmond, Kane X. Faucher, Andrew Taylor, Christopher Major, Forrest Roth, Cath Vidler, Angela Genusa, C.E. Chaffin, John Lowther, Mary Ellen Derwis, Joe Balaz, Mary Ellen Derwis & Joe Balaz, Maria Garcia Teutsch, Felino Soriano, Bobbi Lurie, Bill Drennan, Jeff Harrison, Sheila E. Murphy & John M. Bennett, Jukka-Pekka Kervinen & John M. Bennett, John M. Bennett & various collaborators, John M Bennett, Adam Robinson, Anny Ballardini, Michael Rothenberg, Jared Schickling & John Bloomberg-Rissman, Tom Beckett interviewing John Bloomberg-Rissman, John C. Goodman, Marcia Arrieta, Donald Dunbar, Eric Burke, Joseph Wood, Gregory Bem, George Moore, Brandon Shimoda, J. A. Tyler, sarah k bell, Ed Baker, Arpine Konyalian Grenier, Jill Jones, Geri Gale, Geof Huth, sean burn, Tim Gaze, Nicolette Westfall & Jeff Crouch, Paul Siegell, Daniel f Bradley, Stu Hatton, Dan Ruhrmanty, Philip Byron Oakes, Kristina Marie Darling, Katrinka Moore, Mary Kasimor, Charles Freeland, D.C.Porder, Jeremy P. Bushnell, Alana Madison, Michael Filimowicz, & Spencer Selby. The cover is by Alexander Jorgensen.

 

Enjoy!
Mark Young
 
 
 

-Obama Continues Bush Policy of Deadly Air Strikes in Pakistan Killing 22 Including 3 Children--Democracy Now--Videos & Transcript



--


http://www.democrac ynow.org/ 2009/1/30/ obama_continues_ bush_policy_ of_deadly

January 30, 2009

Obama Continues Bush Policy of Deadly Air Strikes in Pakistan

Fatamapweb

In Pakistan, outrage continues to mount over a US military attack approved by President Obama. Last Friday, unmanned US Predator drones fired missiles at houses in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or FATA, killing as many as twenty-two people, including at least three children. We speak to Pakistani scholar Sahar Shafqat. [includes rush transcript]

Guest:

Sahar Shafqat, Pakistani activist and scholar specializing in comparative politics, associate professor of political science at St. Mary's College of Maryland.

Rush Transcript

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to Pakistan, where outrage continues to mount over the US military's first act of war approved by President Obama. Last Friday, unmanned US Predator drones fired missiles at houses in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or FATA, killing as many as twenty-two people, including at least three children.

The United States has carried out thirty such drone attacks on alleged al-Qaeda targets inside Pakistani territory since last summer, killing some 250 people, according to a tally by Reuters.

The Pakistani prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani told an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday that US drone attacks were "counterproductive" and ended up uniting local communities with militants. But Defense Secretary Robert Gates indicated Tuesday at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that such strikes will continue and that Pakistani officials are aware of US policy on this matter.

    ROBERT GATES: Both President Bush and President Obama have made clear that we will go after al-Qaeda wherever al-Qaeda is, and we will continue to pursue them.

    SEN. CARL LEVIN: Has that decision been transmitted to the Pakistan government?

    ROBERT GATES: Yes, sir.


AMY GOODMAN: Pakistani officials, however, deny there's any agreement with the United States to secretly allow drone attacks inside Pakistan. Defense Secretary Gates's comments on the missile attacks were the first to publicly acknowledge the strikes since last Friday. This is an excerpt of last Friday's White House press briefing with, well, the new press secretary, Robert Gibbs.

    REPORTER: And other US officials have confirmed these Predator drone air strikes, Pakistan. What is it about cannot confirming whether the President was consulted—

    ROBERT GIBBS: I'm not going to get into these matters.

    REPORTER: How does that compromise operational security?

    ROBERT GIBBS: I'm not going to get into these matters.

    REPORTER: Don't you think it's justifiable curiosity, Robert, about the President's first military action—

    ROBERT GIBBS: I think there are many things that you should be justifiably curious about, but I'm not going to get into talking about—

    REPORTER: If other members of the US government are confirming this, why is it that you can't comment?

    ROBERT GIBBS: I'm not going to get into these matters.


AMY GOODMAN: Vice President Joseph Biden also refused to comment Sunday as to whether the United States would notify Pakistan before sending forces into their territory. He was on CBS's Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer.

    BOB SCHIEFFER: Last week, an American drone apparently attacked an al-Qaeda force, or what they thought was an al-Qaeda force, in the territorial part of Pakistan, a cross-border operation. It's my understanding that the President, the previous president, gave our US forces and the CIA permission to go across that border, to go after al-Qaeda if it became necessary on the ground. Does President Obama—will he continue that policy?

    VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH BIDEN: Bob, as you know, I can't speak to any particular attack. I can't speak to any particular action. It's not appropriate for me to do that.

    But I can say that the President of the United States said during his campaign and in the debates that if there is an actionable target of a high-level al-Qaeda personnel, that he would not hesitate to use action to deal with that.

    But here's the good news. The good news is that in my last trip—and I've been to Pakistan many times and that region many times—there is a great deal more cooperation going on now between the Pakistan military in an area called the FATA, the Federally Administered Territory—Waziristan , North Waziristan—all that area we hear about, that is really sort of ungovernable— not sort of, it's been ungovernable for the Pakistani government. That's where the bad guys are hiding. That's where the al-Qaeda folks are, and some other malcontents.

    And so, what we're doing is we're in the process of working with the Pakistanis to help train up their counterinsurgency capability of their military, and we're getting new agreements with them about how to deal with cross-border movements of these folks. So we're making progress.

    BOB SCHIEFFER: Would you have notified them before any of these cross-border movements, because, as you well know, there is a fear that there would be leaks on something like that, and there might be a temptation not to? Exactly what is our policy on that?

    VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH BIDEN: I always try to be completely candid with you, but I can't respond to that question. I'm not going to respond to that question.

    BOB SCHIEFFER: You're not going to respond to that question.


AMY GOODMAN: Vice President Biden, being interviewed by Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow. org, the War and Peace Report. When we come back from break, we'll speak with a Pakistani activist and scholar about the first military attack in the Obama administration, the unmanned drone attack in Pakistan. Stay with us.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: As US special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, prepares to head to the region next week, I'm joined now here in the firehouse studio by Pakistani political scientist Sahar Shafqat.
Welcome to Democracy Now!

SAHAR SHAFQAT: Thank you, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: It's very good to have you with us. What about this unmanned drone attack? Where did it happen? What about the denials, on both sides, of US-Pakistani cooperation?

SAHAR SHAFQAT: The attacks happened in FATA, which is the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. It's this no man's land, literally, between Afghanistan and Pakistan, colonial-era sort of administrative region.

The denials, I think, are part of this drama that is sort of in mutually agreed-upon play that both the US and Pakistan are engaged in, which is the US is going to engage—carry out these drone attacks; the Pakistani government will deny that they had any knowledge and will express outrage for domestic consumption.

But they're very deeply unpopular, and I should add that they have caused a humanitarian crisis within Pakistan. In Bajaur, for example, it's estimated that about 300,000 people have fled the region, which is about half the population there. And it's—

AMY GOODMAN: Explain where that region is.

SAHAR SHAFQAT: That is in part of FATA, which is the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Bajaur is one of the agencies within that.

AMY GOODMAN: Right next to Afghanistan.

SAHAR SHAFQAT: Right next to Afghanistan, yes. It's a series of about ten or eleven different agencies within this—what Vice President Biden called the no man's land, this ungovernable land. It's supposed to have autonomy. And this has been, as I said, a colonial-era legacy, which successive Pakistani governments have more or less respected. This, of course, changed dramatically after 9/11, when the Pakistani government was forced to intervene, because Taliban and al-Qaeda had fled there from Afghanistan, so—which was a radical change in policy.

AMY GOODMAN: So, right now, this latest attack, what do you know about it? We have learned so far that something like twenty-two people were killed, three of them children.

SAHAR SHAFQAT: I don't know much more than that, much more than what you know. But I will also add that it's disappointing, from my perspective, and I think from Pakistanis' perspective, that the new administration, which clearly has recognized that there were terrible mistakes made in the Bush era that have to be now sort of corrected with policy changes, has refused to acknowledge that there were serious mistakes that have been made in the US policy towards Pakistan and has in fact made clearly a decision to continue US policy towards Pakistan.

AMY GOODMAN: What is your assessment of Richard Holbrooke, who's headed to the region now?

SAHAR SHAFQAT: Richard Holbrooke, I think—I mean, there are many sort of reasons to object to his involvement, which, you know, sort of pertain to his past, but I do want to point out one additional thing, which is that he has been named the special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Originally, he was supposed to be named envoy to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. The Indian government lobbied very fiercely to have that designation removed, because they did not want to be lumped in with Afghanistan and Pakistan. And that, from my view, is unfortunate, because, you know, throughout, for example, Obama's campaign, he noted that the solution to the problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan must involve some kind of solution between India and Pakistan, as well, that India is part of this equation. And I agree with that. And so, it's disappointing that the sort of official designation for Richard Holbrooke is not going to include India at all in this equation.

AMY GOODMAN: The level of support for President Obama before he became president and now?

SAHAR SHAFQAT: In Pakistan? He was definitely more popular before the attacks on Friday, a week ago. And, in fact, the prime minister of Pakistan had more or less guaranteed to the Pakistani public that when President Obama comes into office, these drone attacks are going to stop. So he has, of course, been extremely embarrassed by this action, and there have already been mass protests against US bombing. And I think a lot of disillusionment has set in, because there were hopes that there would be some kind of policy correction, policy change, and that appears to not be the case at all.

AMY GOODMAN: Sahar Shafqat, what about the attacks on Mumbai and the links to Pakistan?

SAHAR SHAFQAT: Well, you know, again, none of that investigation has been made public, so I can only speculate on who exactly was involved. But to the best of our knowledge, we—I think it's safe to say that, somehow or the other, the Pakistani security establishment was involved, either indirectly or directly or even through sort of—in a way of having knowledge of it and letting it happen. And again, this—

AMY GOODMAN: What makes you say that?

SAHAR SHAFQAT: You know, the groups that have been alleged to be involved are creations of ISI, the Lashkar-e-Taiba and its affiliated social group, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa. And just as an example of how the security establishment tends to patronize and help out these groups, when the Jamaat-ud-Dawa was declared by the United Nations as a terrorist organization, the government took a few days to sort of act, and when they eventually seized the assets of this group, they discovered, lo and behold, that all the money had been taken out of the accounts. I don't think this was an accident. I think this was an opportunity given to this group to sort of, you know, clear out its money and regroup eventually. Unfortunately, the ISI and other security, you know, agencies in Pakistan have always worked against the interests of the people of Pakistan, and I think this is another instance in which they, again, either directly or indirectly have done that.

AMY GOODMAN: And finally, the lawyers' movement in Pakistan, where it is now under Zardari, the husband of the assassinated Benazir Bhutto?

SAHAR SHAFQAT: The lawyers' movement is the most hopeful development in Pakistan in the last, I would say, probably couple of decades. Unfortunately, the movement has been weakened since the civilian government took office almost a year ago. And I should note that the United States has remained sort of steadfastly against the restoration of the judiciary and especially of the chief justice. My hope is that now that we have a former constitutional expert as the new US president, that he will see the importance of maintaining the rule of law and of restoring the judiciary.

The latest announcement by the lawyers' movement leadership is that there will be a long march on March 9th and that there will be a sit-in until the judiciary is restored, until the chief justice is restored. And most recently, one of the major opposition party leaders, Nawaz Sharif, announced that he is going to participate and support this long march fully.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you very much for being with us, Sahar Shafqat, Pakistani activist and scholar. She specializes in comparative politics, an associate professor of political science at St. Mary's College of Maryland.

__._,_.___
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SECRET ISRAELI DATABASE REVEALS EXTENT OF ILLEGAL SETTLEMENTS




evidence that Israel continues to steal Palestinian land ....

http://www.haaretz. com/hasen/ spages/1060043. html


Secret Israeli database reveals full extent of illegal settlement

By Uri Blau


Just four years ago, the defense establishment decided to carry out a seemingly elementary task: establish a comprehensive database on the settlements. Brigadier General (res.) Baruch Spiegel, aide to then defense minister Shaul Mofaz, was put in charge of the project. For over two years, Spiegel and his staff, who all signed a special confidentiality agreement, went about systematically collecting data, primarily from the Civil Administration.

One of the main reasons for this effort was the need to have credible and accessible information at the ready to contend with legal actions brought by Palestinian residents, human rights organizations and leftist movements challenging the legality of construction in the settlements and the use of private lands to establish or expand them. The painstakingly amassed data was labeled political dynamite.

The defense establishment, led by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, steadfastly refused to publicize the figures, arguing, for one thing, that publication could endanger state security or harm Israel's foreign relations. Someone who is liable to be particularly interested in the data collected by Spiegel is George Mitchell, President Barack Obama's special envoy to the Middle East, who came to Israel this week for his first visit since his appointment. It was Mitchell who authored the 2001 report that led to the formulation of the road map, which established a parallel between halting terror and halting construction in the settlements.
The official database, the most comprehensive one of its kind ever compiled in Israel about the territories, was recently obtained by Haaretz. Here, for the first time, information the state has been hiding for years is revealed. An analysis of the data reveals that, in the vast majority of the settlements - about 75 percent - construction, sometimes on a large scale, has been carried out without the appropriate permits or contrary to the permits that were issued. The database also shows that, in more than 30 settlements, extensive construction of buildings and infrastructure (roads, schools, synagogues, yeshivas and even police
stations) has been carried out on private lands belonging to Palestinian West Bank residents.

Click here to view the secret Defense Ministry database on illegal construction in the territories. It should be noted that the information is given in Hebrew

The data, it should be stressed, do not refer only to the illegal outposts (information about which was included in the well-known report authored by attorney Talia Sasson and published in March 2005), but to the very heart of the settlement enterprise. Among them are veteran ideological settlements like Alon Shvut (established in 1970 and currently home to 3,291 residents, including Rabbi Yoel Bin Nun); Ofra (established in 1975, home to 2,708 residents, including
former Yesha Council spokesman Yehoshua Mor Yosef and media personalities Uri Elitzur and Hagai Segal); and Beit El (established in 1977, population 5,308, including Hagai Ben-Artzi, brother of Sara Netanyahu). Also included are large settlements founded primarily for economic motives, such as the city of Modi'in Illit (established in 1990 and now home to 36,282 people), or Givat Ze'ev outside Jerusalem (founded in 1983, population 11,139), and smaller settlements such as Nokdim near Herodion (established in 1982, population 851, including MK Avigdor Lieberman).

The information contained in the database does not conform to the state's official position, as presented, for instance, on the Foreign Ministry Web site, which states: "Israel's actions relating to the use and allocation of land under its administration are all taken with strict regard to the rules and norms of international law - Israel does not requisition private land for the establishment of settlements. " Since in many of the settlements, it was the government itself, primarily through the Ministry of Construction and Housing, that was responsible for construction, and since many of the building violations involve infrastructure, roads, public buildings and so on, the official data also demonstrate government responsibility for the unrestrained planning and lack of enforcement of regulations in the territories. The extent of building violations also attests to the poor functioning of
the Civil Administration, the body in charge of permits and supervision of construction in the territories.

According to the 2008 data from the Central Bureau of Statistics, approximately 290,000 Jews live in the 120 official settlements and dozens of outposts established throughout the West Bank over the past 41 years.

"Nothing was done in hiding," says Pinchas Wallerstein, director-general of the Yesha Council of settlements and a leading figure in the settlement project. "I'm not familiar with any [building] plans that were not the initiative of the Israeli government." He says that if the owners of private land upon which settlements are built were to complain and the court were to accept their complaint, then the structures would have to be moved somewhere else. "This has been the Yesha
Council's position for the past years," he says.

You'd never know it from touring several of the settlements in which massive construction has taken place on private Palestinian lands. Entire neighborhoods built without permits or on private lands are inseparable parts of the settlements. The sense of dissonance only intensifies when you find that municipal offices, police and fire stations were also built upon and currently operate on lands that belong to Palestinians.

On Misheknot Haro'im Street in the Kochav Yaakov settlement, a young mother is carrying her two children home. "I've lived here for six years," she says, sounding surprised when told that her entire neighborhood was built upon private Palestinian land. "I know that there's some small area in the community that is in dispute, but I never heard that this is private land." Would she have built her home on this land had she known this from the start? "No," she answers. "I wouldn't have kicked anyone out of his home."

Not far away, at the settlement's large and unkempt trailer site, which is also built on private land, a young newlywed couple is walking to the bus stop: 21-year-old Aharon and his 19-year-old wife, Elisheva. They speak nearly perfect Hebrew despite having grown up in the United States and having settled permanently in Israel just a few months ago, after Aharon completed his army service in the ultra-Orthodox Nahal unit. Now he is studying computers at Machon Lev in Jerusalem. Asked why they chose to live here of all places, they list three reasons: It's close to Jerusalem, it's cheap and it's in the territories. In that order.

The couple pay their rent, NIS 550 a month, to the settlement secretariat. As new immigrants, they are still exempt from having to pay the arnona municipal tax. Aharon doesn't look upset when he hears that his trailer sits on private land. It doesn't really interest him. "I don't care what the state says, the Torah says that the entire Land of Israel is ours." And what will happen if they're told to move to non-private land? "We'll move," he says without hesitation.

A complicated problem
Even today, more than two years after concluding his official role, Baruch Spiegel remains loyal to the establishment. In a conversation, he notes several times that he signed a confidentiality agreement and so is not willing to go into the details of the work for which he was responsible. He was appointed by Shaul Mofaz to handle several issues about which Israel had given a commitment to the United States, including improving conditions for Palestinians whose lives were adversely affected by the separation fence, and supervision of IDF soldiers at the checkpoints.

Two years ago, Haaretz reporter Amos Harel revealed that the main task given Spiegel was to establish and maintain an up-to-date database on the settlement enterprise. This was after it became apparent that the United States, as well as Peace Now's settlement monitoring team, was in possession of much more precise information about settlement construction than was the defense establishment, which up to then had relied mostly on information collected by Civil Administration inspectors. The old database had many gaps in it, which was largely a consequence of the establishment preferring not to know exactly what was going on in this area.

Spiegel's database contains written information backed up by aerial photos and layers of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) data that includes information on the status of the land and the official boundaries of each settlement. "The work took two and a half years," says Spiegel. "It was done in order to check the status of the settlements and the outposts and to achieve the greatest possible accuracy in terms of the database: the land status, the legal status, the sector boundaries, the city building plan, government decisions, lands whose ownership is unclear. It was full-time, professional work done with a professional team of legal experts, planning people, GIS experts. And I hope that this work continues, because it
is very vital. One has to know what's going on there and make decisions accordingly. "

Who is keeping track of all of this now?

"I suppose it's the Civil Administration. "

Why was there no database like this before your appointment?

"I don't know how much of a focus there was on doing it."

Why do you think the state is not publicizing the data?

"It's a sensitive and complex subject and there are all kinds of considerations, political and security-related. There were questions about the public's right to know, the freedom of information law. You should ask the officials in charge."

What are the sensitive matters?

"It's no secret that there are violations, that there are problems having to do with land. It's a complicated problem."

Is there also a problem for the country's image?

"I didn't concern myself with image. I was engaged in Sisyphean work to ensure that, first of all, they'll know what exists and what's legal and what's not legal and what the degree of illegality is, whether it involves the takeover of private Palestinian land or something in the process of obtaining proper building permits. Our job was to do the meticulous work of going over all the settlements and outposts that existed then - We found what we found and passed it on."

Do you think that this information should be published?

"I think they've already decided to publish the simpler part, concerning areas of jurisdiction. There are things that are more sensitive. It's no secret that there are problems, and it's impossible to do something illegal and say that it's legal. I can't elaborate, because I'm still bound to maintain confidentiality. "

Dror Etkes, formerly the coordinator of Peace Now's settlement monitoring project and currently director of the Land Advocacy Project for the Yesh Din organization, says, "The government's ongoing refusal to reveal this material on the pretext of security reasons is yet another striking example of the way in which the state exploits its authority to reduce the information at the citizens' disposal, when they wish to formulate intelligent positions based on facts rather than lies and half-truths. "

Following the initial exposure of the material, the Movement for Freedom of Information and Peace Now requested that the Defense Ministry publish the database, in accordance with the Freedom of Information law. The Defense Ministry refused. "This is a computerized database that includes detailed information, in different cross-sections, regarding the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria," the Defense Ministry said in response. "The material was collected by the defense establishment for its purposes and includes sensitive information. The ministry was asked to allow a review of the material in accordance with the Freedom of Information law, and after consideration of the request, decided not to hand over the material. The matter is pending and is the subject of a petition before the Administrative Affairs Court in Tel Aviv."

Ofra, Elon Moreh, Beit El

The database surveys settlement after settlement alphabetically. For each entry, it notes the source of the settlement's name and the form of settlement there (urban community, local council, moshav, kibbutz, etc.); its organizational affiliation (Herut, Amana, Takam, etc.), the number of inhabitants, pertinent government decisions, the official bodies to which the land was given, the status of the land upon which the settlement was built (state land, private Palestinian or Jewish land, etc.), a survey of the illegal outposts built in proximity to the settlement and to what extent the valid building plans have been executed. Beneath each entry, highlighted in red, is information on the extent of construction that has been carried out without permission and its exact location in the settlement.

Among all the revelations in the official data, it's quite fascinating to see what was written about Ofra, a veteran Gush Emunim settlement. According to a recent B'tselem report, most of the settlement's developed area sits on private Palestinian land and therefore falls into the category of an illegal outpost that is supposed to be evacuated. The Yesha Council responded to the B'tselem report, saying that the "facts" in it are "completely baseless and designed to present a false picture. The inhabitants of Ofra are careful to respect the rights of the Arab landowners, with whom they reached an agreement regarding the construction of the neighborhoods as well as an agreement that enables the private landowners to continue to work their lands."

But the information in the database about Ofra leaves no room for doubt: "The settlement does not conform to valid building plans. A majority of the construction in the community is on registered private lands without any legal basis whatsoever and no possibility of [converting the land to non-private use]." The database also gives a detailed description of where construction was carried out in Ofra without permits: "The original part of the settlement: [this includes] more than 200 permanent residential structures, agricultural structures, public structures, lots, roads and orchards in the old section of the settlement (in regard to which Plan 221 was submitted, but not advanced due to a problem of ownership)." After mentioning 75 trailers and temporary shelters in two groups within the old settlement, the database mentions the Ramat Zvi neighborhood, south of the original settlement: "There are about 200 permanent structures as well as lots being developed for additional permanent construction, all trespassing on private lands." Yesha Council chairman Danny Dayan responds: "I am not familiar with that data."

Another place where the data reveals illegal construction is Elon Moreh, one of the most famous settlements in the territories. In June 1979, several residents of the village of Rujib, southeast of Nablus, petitioned the High Court, asking it to annul the appropriation order for 5,000 dunams of land in their possession, that had been designated for the construction of the settlement. In court, the government argued, as it did regularly at the time, that the construction of the settlement was required for military needs, and therefore the appropriation orders were legal. But in a statement on behalf of the petitioners, former chief of staff Haim Bar-Lev asserted that, "In my best professional judgment, Elon Moreh does not contribute to Israel's security."

The High Court, relying on this statement and the statements of the original core group of settlers of Elon Moreh, who also argued that this was not a temporary settlement established for security purposes, but a permanent settlement, instructed the IDF to evacuate the settlement and return the lands to their owners. The immediate consequence of the ruling was to find an alternative site for construction of the settlement, on lands previously defined as "state lands." Following this ruling, Israel stopped officially using military injunctions in the territories for the purpose of establishing new settlements.

The lands that were originally taken for the purpose of building Elon Moreh were returned to their Palestinian owners, but according to the database, also in the new site where the settlement was built, called Har Kabir, "most of the construction was done without approved, detailed plans, and some of the construction involved trespassing on private lands. As for the state lands in the settlement, a detailed plan, no. 107/1, was prepared and published on 16/7/99, but has yet to go into effect."

The Shomron regional council, which includes Elon Moreh, said in response: "All the neighborhoods in the settlement were planned, and some were also built, by the State of Israel through the Housing Ministry. The residents of Elon Moreh did not trespass at all and any allegation of this kind is also false. The State of Israel is tasked with promoting and approving the building plans in the settlement, as everywhere else in the country, and as for the plans that supposedly have yet to receive final validity, just like many other communities throughout Israel, where the processes continue for decades, this does not delay the plans, even if the planning is not complete or being done in tandem."

Beit El, another veteran settlement, was also, according to the database, established "on private lands seized for military purposes (In fact, the settlement was expanded on private lands, by means of trespassing in the northern section of the settlement) and on state lands that were appropriated during the Jordanian period (the Maoz Tzur neighborhood in the south of the settlement). "

According to the official data, construction in Beit El in the absence of approved plans includes the council office buildings and the "northern neighborhood (Beit El Bet) that was built for the most part on private lands. The neighborhood comprises widespread construction, public buildings and new ring roads (about 80 permanent buildings and trailers); the northeastern neighborhood (between Jabal Artis and the old part of the settlement) includes about 20 permanent residential buildings, public buildings (including a school building), 40 trailers and an industrial zone (10 industrial buildings). The entire compound is located on private land and has no plan attached."

Moshe Rosenbaum, head of the Beit El local council, responds: "Unfortunately, you are cooperating with the worst of Israel's enemies and causing tremendous damage to the whole country."

'One giant bluff'

Ron Nahman, mayor of Ariel, was re-elected to a sixth term in the last elections. Nahman is a long-time resident of the territories and runs a fascinating heterogeneous city. Between a visit to the trailer site where evacuees from Netzarim are housed and a stop at a shop that sells pork and other non-kosher products, mostly to the city's large Russian population, Nahman complains about the halting of construction in his city and about his battles with the Civil
Administration over every building permit.

Ariel College, Nahman's pride and joy, is also mentioned in the database: "The area upon which Ariel College was built was not regulated in terms of planning." It further explains that the institution sits on two separate plots and the new plan has not yet been discussed. Nahman confirms this, but says the planning issue was recently resolved.

When told that dozens of settlements include construction on private lands, he is not surprised. "That's possible," he says. The fact that in three-quarters of the settlements, there has been construction that deviates from the approved plans doesn't surprise him either. "All the complaints should be directed at the government, not at us," he says. "As for the small and communal settlements, they were planned by the Housing Ministry's Rural Building Administration. The larger communities are planned by the ministry's district offices. It's all the government. Sometimes the Housing Ministry is responsible for budgetary construction, which is construction out of the state budget. In the Build Your Own Home program, the state pays a share of the development costs and the rest is paid for by the individual. All of these things are one giant bluff. Am I the one who planned the settlements? It was Sharon, Peres, Rabin, Golda, Dayan."

The database provides information attesting to a failure to adhere to planning guidelines in the territories. For example, an attempt to determine the status of the land of the Argaman settlement in the Jordan Rift Valley found that "the community was apparently established on the basis of an appropriation order from 1968 that was not located." About Mevo Horon, the database says: "The settlement was built without a government decision on lands that are mostly private within a closed area in the Latrun enclave (Area Yod). There was an allocation
for the area to the WZO from 1995, which was issued as in a deviation from authority, apparently on the basis of a political directive." In the Tekoa settlement, trailers were leased to the IDF "and installed contrary to the area's designation according to a detailed plan? and some also deviate from the boundaries of the plan."

Most of the territories of the West Bank have not been annexed to Israel, and therefore regulations for the establishment and construction of communities there differ from those that apply within Israel proper. The Sasson report, which dealt with the illegal outposts, was based in part on data collected by Spiegel, and listed the criteria necessary for the establishment of a new settlement in the territories:
1. The Israeli government issued a decision to establish the settlement
2. The settlement has a defined jurisdictional area
3. The settlement has a detailed, approved outline plan
4. The settlement lies on state land or on land that was purchased by Israelis and registered under their name in the Land Registry.

According to the database, the state gave the World Zionist Organization (WZO) and/or the Construction and Housing Ministry authorization to plan and build on most of the territories upon which the settlements were constructed. These bodies allocated the land to those who eventually carried out the actual construction of the settlement: Sometimes it was the Settlement Division of the WZO and other times it was the Construction and Housing Ministry itself, sometimes through the Rural Building Administration. In several cases, settlements were built by Amana, the Gush Emunim settlement arm. Another body cited in the database as having received allocations and being responsible for construction in some of the settlements is Gush Emunim's Settler National Fund.

Talmud Torah
@Text: Regular schools and religious schools (Talmudei Torah) have also been built on Palestinian lands. According to the database, in the southern part of the Ateret settlement, "15 structures were built outside of state lands, which are used for the Kinor David yeshiva. There are also new ring roads and a special security area that is illegal." Kinor David is the name of a "yeshiva high school with a musical framework." The sign at the entrance says the yeshiva was built by the Amana settlement movement, the Mateh Binyamin local council and the
WZO settlement division.

The data regarding Michmash also make it very clear that part of the settlement was built on "private lands via trespassing. " For example, "In the center of the settlement (near the main entrance) is a trailer neighborhood that serves as a Talmud Torah and other buildings (30 trailers) on private land."

On a winter's afternoon, a bunch of young children were playing there, one of them wearing a shirt printed with the words "We won't forget and we won't
forgive." There were no teachers in sight. A young woman in slacks, taking her baby to the doctor, stopped for a moment to chat. She moved here from Ashkelon because her husband's parents are among the settlement's founders. When her son is old enough for preschool, she won't send him to the Talmud Torah. Not because it sits on private land, but just because that's not the type of education she wants for him. "I don't think there's been construction on private land here," she said. "I don't think there ought to be, either."

In the Psagot settlement, where there has also been a lot of construction on private land, it's easy to discern the terracing style typical of Palestinian agriculture in the region. According to the database, in Psagot there are "agricultural structures (a winery and storehouses) to the east of the settlement, close to the grapevines cultivated by the settlement by trespassing. " During a visit here, the winery was abandoned. Its owner, Yaakov Berg, acquired land from the Israel Lands Administration near the Migron outpost and a new winery and regional visitors' center is currently under construction there.

"The vineyards are located in Psagot," says Berg, who is busy with the preparations for the new site. From the unfinished observation deck one can see an enormous quarry in the mountains across the way. "If I built a bathroom here without permission from the Civil Administration, within 15 minutes, a helicopter would be here and I'd be told that it was prohibited," Berg complains. "And right here there's an illegal Palestinian quarry that continues to operate."

The politicians did it

Kobi Bleich, spokesperson for the Ministry of Construction and Housing: "The ministry participates in subsidizing the development costs of settlements in Priority Area A, in accordance with decisions of the Israeli government. Development works are carried out by the regional councils, and only after the ministry has ascertained that the new neighborhood is located within an approved city plan. This applies throughout Israel as well as in the areas over the Green Line. Let me emphasize that the ministry's employees are charged with implementing the policies of the Israeli government. All of the actions in the past were
done solely in keeping with the decisions of the political echelon."

Danny Poleg, spokesperson for the Judea and Samaria district of the Israel Police: "The issue of the construction of police facilities is the responsibility of the Ministry of Internal Security, so any questions should be addressed to them."

The Internal Security Ministry spokesman responds: "And for construction by the police is allocated by the Israel Lands Administration in coordination with the Internal Security Ministry. There is no police station in Modi'in Ilit, but a rapid response post for the local residents on land allocated by the local authority. The land in Givat Ze'ev was allocated by the local council and the police station is located within the municipality. The road to the police headquarters was built by the Housing and Construction ministry and is maintained by the local council."

Avi Roeh, head of the Mateh Binyamin regional council (whose jurisdiction includes the settlements of Ofra, Kochav Yaakov, Ateret, Ma'aleh Michmash and Psagot): "The Mateh Binyamin regional council, like the neighboring councils in Judea and Samaria, is coping with political decisions regarding the manner of the the communities' expansion. However, this does not remove the need for proper planning procedures in order to expand the settlements in an orderly manner and in accordance with the law."

For its response, the WZO sent a thick booklet, a copy of which was previously sent to attorney Talia Sasson in response to her report. "Settlement in Judea and Samaria, as in Israel, has been accompanied by the preparation of regional master plans," says the booklet. "Steering committees from various government ministries, the Civil Administration and the municipal authorities were involved in the preparation of these plans? The (settlement) department worked solely on lands that were given to it by contract from the authorities in the Civil Administration and all the lands that were allocated to it by contract were properly
allocated."

The Civil Administration, which was first asked for a response regarding the database more than a month ago, has yet to reply



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Friday, January 30, 2009

Amnesty International USA--Take Action--Petition-- What our researchers found in Gaza






Amnesty International USA: TAKE ACTION NOW!
Amnesty International researchers' found evidence of war crimes and serious violations of international law:
Act now and demand an independent investigation.
Dear david-baptiste,

Hours before Israel announced a ceasefire, an Amnesty International fact finding mission gained access to Gaza. Their initial reports are disturbing: the team found first hand evidence of war crimes, serious violations of international law and possible crimes against humanity by all parties to the conflict.

AI researchers continue investigating attacks against southern Israel and are currently documenting the true scale of devastation wrought on civilians in Gaza. The stories they report are harrowing.

In the early afternoon of January 4th, three young paramedics walked through a field on a rescue mission to save a group of wounded men in a nearby orchard. A 12-year-old boy, standing by his house, assisted the operation by pointing to where the men could be found. An Israeli air strike on the area killed all four.

The bodies of the four victims could not be retrieved for two days. Ambulance crews who tried to approach the site came under fire from Israeli forces.

Our researchers later traveled to the scene of the strike with the two ambulance drivers who witnessed the attack. They met with the boy's distraught mother and found the remains of the missile. The label of the missile read, "guided missile, surface attack" and cited the United States as the country of origin. 
Take Action Now!
Label on the remains of a US-made missile that killed three paramedics and a child. The U.S. has to support investigations about misuse of US weapons in attacks against civilians. Tell Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Susan Rice to support an independent investigation. © AI
This is just one of many similar stories.

Under the Geneva Conventions, medical personnel searching, collecting, transporting or treating the wounded must be protected and respected in all circumstances. Clearly, this was not the case on Jan. 4th.

Since we last emailed you, more than 87,000 of you have written Congress and former administration officials. These emails, along with the massive outpouring of letters from around the world from other Amnesty sections, are making an impact. Just this week:
  • the United Nations pledged $613 million in aid for Gaza
  • 60 members of Congress signed a letter to Secretary of State Hillary of Clinton calling for humanitarian support for Gaza
  • And hours ago, the US pledged $20 million in aid1-2
We have a small window of opportunity to build on this momentum: urge Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Susan Rice to push for a full-fledged independent investigation.

This investigation is critical for many reasons, not the least of which is the clear evidence of the use of white phosphorous, as well as the mounting evidence of the misuse of US arms3. As you read this, Amnesty researchers continue documenting the use of arms, and we expect an action specifically calling on Congress to investigate the misuse of US weapons in this conflict in the coming weeks.

Everyone is responsible for the protection of international law. The US government must not turn a blind eye to possible war crimes and crimes against humanity. It should support an independent international inquiry by the United Nations into allegations of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law - by all groups participating in the conflict.

The story of the paramedics and the young boy is not an anomaly. Write Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice today and urge accountability for abuses in Gaza and southern Israel now.

Thank you for your continuing support,

Zahir Janmohamed
Advocacy Director
Middle East and North Africa

P.S. For comprehensive information on the conflict, go to www.amnestyusa.org/gaza. For late breaking updates, visit our blog, Human Rights Now. For organizing resources on the conflict, visit the Gaza Resources page
 
Take Action Donate Subscribe



[1] http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/ma01_olver/Gazaclintonletter.html
[2] http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090130/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_palestinians
[3] http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?id=ENGUSA20090129002&lang=e

 

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U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel


New boycott by US academics
 
 
http://usacbi. wordpress. com/
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Anarchists Against the Wall - Sunday talk

Sunday, February 1; 7 PM
Shachaf Polakow, representing Anarchists Against the Wall (AATW) 

will speak and present films on the Anarchists' struggle against the separation wall. Working with Palestinians AATW members have put their safety on the line by physically and non-violently opposing the bulldozers, the army, and the occupation.
Levantine Cultural Center studio,  5998 W. Pico Blvd, Los Angeles (street parking available)
Requested donation $10-$20 to support AATW's work, especially legal support for both Palestinian and Israeli activists who are arrested and charged in the course of the struggle.
Sponsored by LA Jews for Peace, the American Friends Service Committee, and the Islamic Shura Council

 

Jeff Warner
www.LAJewsforPeace. org
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Controversial Bestseller Shakes the Foundation of the Israeli State

AlterNet

Controversial Bestseller Shakes the Foundation of the Israeli State
By Joshua Holland, AlterNet
Posted on January 28, 2009, Printed on January 29, 2009
 
What if the Palestinian Arabs who have lived for decades under the heel of the modern Israeli state are in fact descended from the very same "children of Israel" described in the Old Testament?
 
And what if most modern Israelis aren't descended from the ancient Israelites at all, but are actually a mix of Europeans, North Africans and others who didn't "return" to the scrap of land we now call Israel and establish a new state following the attempt to exterminate them during World War II, but came in and forcefully displaced people whose ancestors had lived there for millennia?
 
What if the entire tale of the Jewish Diaspora -- the story recounted at Passover tables by Jews around the world every year detailing the ancient Jews' exile from Judea, the years spent wandering through the desert, their escape from the Pharaoh's clutches -- is all wrong?
 
That's the explosive thesis of When and How Was the Jewish People Invented?, a book by Tel Aviv University scholar Shlomo Zand (or Sand) that sent shockwaves across Israeli society when it was published last year. After 19 weeks on the Israeli best-seller list, the book is being translated into a dozen languages and will be published in the United States this year by Verso.
 
Its thesis has ramifications that go far beyond some antediluvian academic debate. Few modern conflicts are as attached to ancient history as that decades-long cycle of bloodletting between Israelis and Palestinians. Each group lays claim to the same scrap of land -- holy in all three of the world's major Abrahamic religions -- based on long-standing ties to that chunk of earth and national identities formed over long periods of time. There's probably no other place on Earth where the present is as intimately tied to the ancient.
 
Central to the ideology of Zionism is the tale -- familiar to all Jewish families -- of exile, oppression, redemption and return. Booted from their kingdom, the "Jewish people" -- sons and daughters of ancient Judea -- wandered the earth, rootless, where they faced cruel suppression from all corners -- from being forced to toil in slavery under the Egyptians, to the Spanish massacres of the 14th century and Russian pogroms of the 19th, through to the horrors of the Third Reich.
 
This view of history animates all Zionists, but none more so than the influential but reactionary minority -- in the United States as well as Israel -- who believe that God bestowed a "Greater Israel" -- one that encompasses the modern state as well as the Occupied Territories -- on the Jewish people, and who resist any effort to create a Palestinian state on biblical grounds.
 
Inventing a People?
 
Zand's central argument is that the Romans didn't expel whole nations from their territories. Zand estimates that perhaps 10,000 ancient Judeans were vanquished during the Roman wars, and the remaining inhabitants of ancient Judea remained, converting to Islam and assimilating with their conquerors when Arabs subjugated the area. They became the progenitors of today's Palestinian Arabs, many of whom now live as refugees who were exiled from their homeland during the 20th century.
 
As Israeli journalist Tom Segev summarized, in a review of the book in Ha'aretz:
 
    There never was a Jewish people, only a Jewish religion, and the exile also never happened -- hence there was no return. Zand rejects most of the stories of national-identity formation in the Bible, including the exodus from Egypt and, most satisfactorily, the horrors of the conquest under Joshua.
 
But this begs the question: if the ancient people of Judea weren't expelled en masse, then how did it come to pass that Jewish people are scattered across the world? According to Zand, who offers detailed histories of several groups within what is conventionally known as the Jewish Diaspora, some were Jews who emigrated of their own volition, and many more were later converts to Judaism. Contrary to popular belief, Zand argues that Judaism was an evangelical religion that actively sought out new adherents during its formative period.
 
This narrative has huge significance in terms of Israel's national identity. If Judaism is a religion, rather than "a people" descended from a dispersed nation, then it brings into question the central justification for the state of Israel remaining a "Jewish state."
 
And that brings us to Zand's second assertion. He argues that the story of the Jewish nation -- the transformation of the Jewish people from a group with a shared cultural identity and religious faith into a vanquished "people" -- was a relatively recent invention, hatched in the 19th century by Zionist scholars and advanced by the Israeli academic establishment. It was, argues Zand, an intellectual conspiracy of sorts. Segev says, "It's all fiction and myth that served as an excuse for the establishment of the State of Israel."
 
Zand Gets Slammed; Do His Arguments Stand Up?
 
The ramifications of Zand's argument are far-reaching; "the chances that the Palestinians are descendants of the ancient Judaic people are much greater than the chances that you or I are its descendants, " he told Ha'aretz. Zand argues that Israel should be a state in which all of the inhabitants of what was once "British Palestine" share the full rights and responsibilities of citizenship, rather than maintaining it as a "Jewish and democratic" state, as it's now identified.
 
Predictably, Zand was pilloried according to the time-tested formula. Ami Isseroff, writing on ZioNation, the Zionism-Israel blog, invoked the customary Holocaust imagery, accusing Zand of offering a "final solution to the Jewish problem," one in which "No auto da fe is required, no charging Cossacks are needed, no gas chambers, no smelly crematoria." Another feverish ideologue called Zand's work "another manifestation of mental disorder in the extreme academic Left in Israel."
 
That kind of overheated rhetoric is a standard straw man in the endless roil of discourse over Israel and the Palestinians, and is easily dismissed. But more serious criticism also greeted Zand's work. In a widely read critical review of Zand's work, Israel Bartal, dean of humanities at the Hebrew University, slammed the author's second assertion -- that Zionist academics had suppressed the true history of Judaism's spread through emigration and conversion in favor of a history that would give legitimacy to the quest for a Jewish state.
 
Bartal raised important questions about Zand's methodology and pointed out what appears to be some sloppy details in the book. But, interestingly, in defending Israel's academic community, Bartal supported Zand's more consequential thesis, writing, "Although the myth of an exile from the Jewish homeland (Palestine) does exist in popular Israeli culture, it is negligible in serious Jewish historical discussions. " Bartal added: "no historian of the Jewish national movement has ever really believed that the origins of the Jews are ethnically and biologically 'pure.' " He noted that "[i]mportant groups in the [Zionist] movement expressed reservations regarding this myth or denied it completely."
 
"As far as I can discern," Bartal wrote, "the book contains not even one idea that has not been presented" in previous historical studies. Segev added that "Zand did not invent [his] thesis; 30 years before the Declaration of Independence, it was espoused by David Ben-Gurion, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi and others."
 
One can reasonably argue that this ancient myth of a Jewish nation exiled until its 20th century return is of little consequence; whether the Jewish people share a common genetic ancestry or are a far-flung collection of people who share the same faith, a common national identity has in fact developed over the centuries. But Zand's central contention stands, and has some significant implications for the current conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
 
Changing the Conversation?
 
The primary reason it's so difficult to discuss the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is the remarkably effective job supporters of Israel's control of the Occupied Territories -- including Gaza, still under de facto occupation -- have done equating support for Palestinian self-determination with a desire to see the destruction of Israel. It effectively conflates any advocacy of Palestinian rights with the specter of Jewish extermination.
 
That's certainly been the case with arguments for a single-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Until recent years, advocating a "single-state" solution -- a binational state where all residents of what are today Israel and the Occupied Territories share the full rights and responsibilities of citizenship -- was a relatively mainstream position to take. In fact, it was one of several competing plans considered by the United Nations when it created the state of Israel in the 1940s.
 
But the idea of a single, binational state has more recently been marginalized -- dismissed as an attempt to destroy Israel literally and physically, rather than as an ethnic and religious-based political entity with a population of second-class Arab citizens and the legacy of responsibility for world's longest-standing refugee population.
 
A logical conclusion of Zand's work exposing Israel's founding mythology may be the restoration of the idea of a one-state solution to a legitimate place in the debate over this contentious region. After all, while it muddies the waters in one sense -- raising ancient, biblical questions about just who the "children of Israel" really are -- in another sense, it hints at the commonalities that exist between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs. Both groups lay claim to the same crust of earth, both have faced historic repression and displacement and both hold dear the idea that they should have a "right of return."
 
And if both groups in fact share common biblical ties, then it begs the question of why the entirety of what was Palestine under the British mandate should remain a refuge for people of one religion instead of being a country in which Jews and Arabs are guaranteed equal protection -- equal protection under the laws of a state whose legitimacy would never again be open to question.
 
Joshua Holland is an AlterNet staff writer.
© 2009 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet org/story/ 122810/
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