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Living with the Enemy
Living with the Enemy
by Stephen Lendman
How do Palestinians manage every day? How do they deal with state-sponsored denial of their rights? How do they survive under suffocating conditions?
Where will they live once Israel steals all parts of Judea and Samaria it wants? It's grabbing it durum by dunum. What Palestinians lived on peacefully for centuries is fast disappearing.
On September 21, 30 organizations urged Quartet action to keep Palestinian villages from disappearing. They include:
ActionAid; Amnesty International; Broederlijk Delen; Care International; Caritas Jerusalem; Comet- ME; Danish Church Aid (DCA); Diakonia; Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI); World Council of Churches; EWASH; GVC (Gruppo di Volontariato Civile); HelpAge International; Human Rights Watch (HRW); Japan International Volunteer Center (JVC); Islamic Relief; Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation; MAP UK; medico international; Norwegian Church Aid (NCA); Norwegian People's Aid (NPA); Oxfam; Polish Humanitarian Action (PAH); Prèmiere Urgence-Aide Médicale Internationale; SEBA; The Swedish Cooperative Centre (SCC); Terre des Hommes Italia (TdH); The Carter Center; The Overseas NGO; War Child; and World Vision Jerusalem-West Bank-Gaza.
In Hebron Hills alone, 13 Palestinian villages are targeted for demolition. Their residents face eviction. Its ongoing. Demolition and displacement rates hit a three-year high.
The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) said Israel destroyed 467 structures and 140 houses in 2012. Over 700 Palestinians were displaced.
Since 1967, Israel destroyed around 27,000 Palestinian structures. Information comes from the Israeli Interior Ministry, Jerusalem Municipality, Civil Administration, UN bodies and agencies, Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights groups, ICAHD's field monitoring, and other sources.
Every structure demolished was lawless. Private property was destroyed. Residents were dispossessed and displaced. It's ongoing mostly out of sight and mind.
It reflects decades of institutionalized oppression against people whose only offense is not being Jewish. Israel wants Palestinian land for settlement expansions, commercial development, closed military zones, and other purposes. Non-Jews are excluded. What better definition of apartheid.
Oxfam's Nishant Pandey said:
"The Quartet has issued 39 statements condemning the government of Israel's violations of international law, yet the number of people displaced by unlawful demolition of Palestinian homes continues to increase at an unprecedented rate."
"Words have so far failed to bring meaningful change to people's lives and the Quartet must now show Palestinians and Israelis that it is committed to working towards a just, durable peace."
According to Human Rights Watch's Leah Whitson:
"It's time for the Quartet to stop the euphemisms: Israel's demolitions of Palestinian homes and other structures without military necessity violate its obligations as an occupying power. The Quartet should press the government of Israel to end these violations immediately."
Amnesty International's Ann Harrison said:
"The Quartet must face the facts on the ground in the occupied West Bank: escalating demolitions and whole villages threatened with forced eviction."
"Ensuring respect for international human rights and humanitarian law should be the cornerstone of the Quartet's work. Only if it confronts these ongoing violations head on can the Quartet contribute to a just and sustainable solution."
According to CARE International's David White:
"The families we work with are terrified that any day they could lose their homes and the health clinic provided by CARE International. Tomorrow they could wake up and everything they have worked their entire lives to build could be gone."
"We are providing people with essential health services, but no amount of humanitarian or development assistance can help people overcome this feeling of despair. The Quartet needs to put forth a plan of action that brings the security people desperately need to lead a dignified life."
When is enough enough? When will tolerating the intolerable end? When will accountability replace indifference to human suffering? When will racist persecution no longer be condoned? When will PA leaders stop being Israel's enforcer.
On September 19, Maan News headlined "PA 'arrests scores" across the West Bank," saying:
Palestinian security forces did Israel's dirty work. They do it daily against their own people. About 60 arrests were made this time. Hamas members were targeted. They included Fuad al-Khuffash. He's a journalist and Ahrar Center for Prisoners' Studies director. He's a human rights defender. He's not a criminal.
For many years, Israeli and PA enforcers targeted him. He's been imprisoned without charge several times. Once in PA custody, the Palestinian High Court of Justice ordered his release. PA security forces refused. Israel said don't do it. They saluted and obeyed.
Most recently, Fuad was released in April 2012. He was imprisoned for 10 months uncharged.
In 2008, he said:
"The Israeli occupation targets every Palestinian who talks about Palestine and works for Palestine. The occupation targets the trees, and the stones, so it's no wonder that they target every person who defends human rights and the rights of the Palestinian people."
"They don't hesitate to do such things. What they are doing, forcing the Palestinians out of the lands where they were born, violates all international laws and treaties."
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said PA leaders aim to block national reconciliation. "This is clear evidence that Fatah's claims about implementing national reconciliation are incorrect. Fatah is trying to hide its political failure, its tense relationship with Arab countries."
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemned the arrests. It called on PA leaders to cease, desist, and comply with rule of law principles.
Palestinian Basic Law prohibits "arresting, checking, detaining or limiting the freedom of any person or preventing his/her movement without a judicial warrant." Political arrests are absolutely forbidden.
Human Rights Watch's Leah Whitson said:
"Israel and the Palestinian Authority are violating international law when they throw Palestinians in jail for months or years without charge or trial..
"Foreign donors supporting Israeli and Palestinian security forces should press for an end to longstanding practices that detainees are risking their lives to protest."
In May, at Israel's behest, Palestinian security forces arrested Zakaria Zubeidi. He's imprisoned uncharged. In early September, he began hunger-striking for justice. He refuses food, water, and medical care.
"I've been in prison for a long time without evidence," he said. "I had a meeting with the doctor in prison. He told me I have three days to live if I don't take water. So the court has decided to kill me."
A PA judge, at Israel's behest, ordered him detained another 19 days. In response, he said he's "been a freedom fighter since (birth), and it's unjust for me to die here." Israel wants him dead and gone.
PA scoundrels execute its orders. They're detaining a martyr. He's committed to die for justice. Freedom Theater managing director Jonatan Stanczak said he's "the person who inspired me to stay in Palestine to join the struggle for freedom against occupation."
Abbas, Fayyad, and like-minded traitors "succeeded in doing what the Israelis didn't: to kill Zakaria. The PA has learned their lesson from the Israelis very well, to the extent that" they're complicit with occupation harshness.
During the second Intifada, he headed the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade. In 2006, he co-founded the Jenin refugee camp Freedom Theater with Juliano Mer-Khamis. In April 2011, an unknown gunman killed him. It's no secret who wanted him dead.
Zubeidi decided to resist occupation harshness through theater. Doing so made him an enemy of the state. "Through the theater," he said, "you can talk to the world and give a different message than the way they see us as terrorists."
In May, he was one of 150 Palestinians arrested. Most were released. He remains detained uncharged. No evidence whatever suggests he's guilty of wrongdoing.
During his first few weeks in prison, he was brutally tortured and abused. He was further harmed by punishing isolation. His lawyer, Farid Hawwash, was also arrested for criticizing PA security forces for their treatment of Zubeidi.
Mer-Khamis' wife Jenny said:
"It's a disaster and a disgrace for the PA. If they let a person who has fought all his life for the freedom of his people die in prison, it's a very dark period, and a big symbol of the state of Palestinian society."
Hamas Leader Mashaal Speaks
The Al-Zaytouna Center published an interview Hamas head in exile Khaled Mashaal gave the Jordanian daily Al-Sabeel. Lots of ground was covered. He was asked for his views about negotiating with the enemy. He called doing so "a thorny and sensitive issue."
History shows Israel doesn't negotiate. It demands. How do you negotiate without a willing partner? At the same time, doing so isn't rejected out of hand.
The Koran says "And if they incline to peace, incline (you also to peace), and trust in God."
"This implies that negotiation is acceptable, reasonable and logical for us as advocates of a just cause when the enemy is forced to resort to it, when they come to us ready for negotiation and for paying the price, and to respond to our demands."
"However, if we seek it desperately and consider it our only option, then we will be the ones paying the price. Those who are forced to negotiate are those who usually pay the price. Hence God Almighty says in another verse: ;Do not weaken and call for peace when you have the upper hand.' "
"Peace cannot be be made when one party is powerful and the other weak," he added. Under those conditions, it's imposed.
The conflict with Israel is different. It's "a case of a body alien to the region." They came from outside and imposed themselves on a land they stole and people they dispossessed. The situation is complex and "must be dealt with delicately."
"Negotiation is a tool and a tactic in the service of a strategy and is not a strategy in itself. It is not a substitute for a strategy of resistance and confrontation with the occupation."
Today, negotiating with Israel is "the wrong choice." The balance of power is too one-sided. Achieving equity and justice won't happen. It's not worth the futility of trying.
Asked about recognizing Israel, he said:
"Recognition means legitimizing the occupation and conferring legitimacy upon Israel's aggression, settlement, Judaization, murders, arrests and other crimes and atrocities against our people and our land. This is unacceptable according to international law and human values, not to mention our religion."
"It is unacceptable to legitimize occupation and theft of land. Occupation is a crime, theft is a crime, and should not be legitimized under any circumstances."
"We reject recognition in both legal and pragmatic senses….In short, we refuse to recognize the legitimacy of Israel because we refuse to recognize the legitimacy of occupation and theft of land. For us, this principle is clear and definitive."
Asked about insistence by Israel and the international community to extend recognition, he said "demanding recognition is certainly a sign of weakness, an expression of an inferiority complex, lack of confidence in the future of this entity, a feeling that it is illegitimate and still rejected by the peoples of the region as alien, and that the mere presence of a steadfast Palestinian people is a practical expression of the rejection of the Zionist entity."
At the same time, it expresses superiority. It's the same logic as imposing "military supremacy." It's the notion of might affords right to dictate terms. Yielding is unacceptable.
"We refused all conditions on principle, and refused discussing them even in the context of seeking revised formulas. We reject the principle of conditions, for it suggests that there are two levels of human beings, and one party can dominate the other, one party having the upper hand and the other the lower."
"Our humanity, dignity and self-respect state that we are on par with others even if they are militarily stronger. Hence, we refuse to be dealt with through preconditions."
Asked why Israel and the international community reject the Hamas-proposed long-term truce, he said:
It's Zionist and US policy. Other international parties go along. It reflects "the logic of power, superiority and hegemony." They hope "pressure will drive us into a state of desperation."
They did it before successfully. They alone benefitted from Oslo. Palestinians got only the right to enforce Israeli diktat authority. They hope to get Hamas to accede the same way. They thought wrong.
They'll be forced to deal with Hamas equitably. "We tell them: 'If you think that you are able to achieve success in the region through other schemes, try and you will reach a dead-end.' "
Asked about Hamas' model of resistance, he said:
It's a natural part of the Palestinian struggle. It's ongoing since Zionism's inception. Great leaders pursued it. It continues until occupation ends and liberation is achieved.
As a resistance movement, Hamas is part of the struggle. It's "full of sacrifices, challenges, creativity, patience, endurance, and determination to continue the march and overcome all obstacles, challenges and adverse and unfavorable circumstances until the ultimate goal is achieved, God willing."
Current leaders build on bridges previous ones built. A legacy for future generations inspires resistance efforts.
It's a means to an end. It's not done for its own sake. Hamas isn't a military group. It's "an all-embracing national liberation movement." Its grassroots give it strength.
Weapons are only used for defense. International law permits legitimate resistance. "It is our natural right to defend ourselves when forced to do so….we did this from the position of a legitimate government formed after fair democratic elections which were approved by the elected Legislative Council."
At the same time, force isn't used against other Arab entities. "Our battle is exclusively against the Zionist enemy." Resistance is more than legitimate. It's the only way occupied people can achieve liberation.
Asked about Hamas' achievements in international relations, he said:
It has several dimensions. It's a battle of humanity against Israeli injustice and oppression. It involves promoting a just cause. It's also about "forging a network of relations."
It begins regionally, then elsewhere worldwide. It requires achieving breakthroughs. It depends on convincing other nations to "deal with us and accord us the consideration we deserve, respect our interests, rights and legitimate demands, and retreat from their current policies of bias towards Israel and disregard for the Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims."
Successes have been achieved. Much remains to be done. Relations are being forged "with poise and self-respect, with the purpose of reaping gains for the Palestinian cause rather than for narrow partisan" reasons.
Meshal covered a lot more ground. The interview was detailed and comprehensive. He had much to say and did so. He ended calling Palestine "a great nation, proud of ourselves, our religion, our land, our history, our culture and identity…."
Palestine and Jerusalem reflect "our beating heart and an indicator of our life and survival. Therefore, we won't tolerate the Zionist entity for long, and we will defeat it just as we defeated the Crusades and the Mongol advance in the past."
He quoted from the Koran again, saying: "For it is by turns that We apportion unto people such days (of fortune and misfortune)." He's confident the former will prevail in the end.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen [at] sbcglobal.net.
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.