Friday, December 29, 2006

Subject: South Africans see the parallel with wall, other methods Carter describes
Date: Fri, 29 Dec 2006 15:17:08 +0000
Do Israelis practice apartheid against Palestinians?

South Africans see the parallel with wall, other methods Carter describes

Sherri Muzher

W ith "Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid," former President Jimmy Carter, the statesman who oversaw the first Middle East peace agreement between Egypt and Israel, has provoked a much-needed discussion that rarely ever transpires in U.S. politics and media.

Not surprisingly, some politicians took issue with the book's title before it was even released, including U.S. Rep. John Conyers of Detroit, a cherished friend to the Arab-American community. He said the use of apartheid "does not serve the cause of peace and the use of it against the Jewish people in particular, who have been victims of the worst kind of discrimination, discrimination resulting in death, is offensive and wrong."

Conyers went so far as to call Carter "to request that the title be changed. President Carter does not build upon his career as a proponent of peace in the Middle East with this comparison and I hope he and his publisher will reconsider this decision."

Perhaps he felt South Africans who lived under a brutal apartheid regime would be offended. Yet, interestingly, South Africa's own Bishop Desmond Tutu and others have referred to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian Christians and Muslims as "Israeli apartheid."

In a 2002 speech in the United States, Tutu said he saw "the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about." Back in 1999, former South African statesman Nelson Mandela told the Palestinian Assembly: "The histories of our two peoples correspond in such painful and poignant ways that I intensely feel myself at home amongst my compatriots."

South African author Breyten Breytenbach, who spent nine years in prison for resisting apartheid, wrote in 2002, "I recently visited the occupied territories for the first time. And yes, I'm afraid they can reasonably be described as resembling Bantustans, reminiscent of the ghettoes and controlled camps of misery one knew in South Africa."

And consider more examples:

More water is given to Jewish citizens than to Palestinians; non-Jewish Israelis cannot buy or lease land in Israel; Israel's policies have involved planning regulations prohibiting Palestinian building on 70 percent of the West Bank and 80 percent of East Jerusalem. While restricting Palestinian development, Israel builds housing for its people in the occupied territories.

A few years ago, the Israeli government was shown to have a 70:30 policy in the city of Jerusalem which to maintain a 70 percent Jewish population over 29 percent Muslim and 1 percent Christian minorities. This has been accomplished through home demolitions, denial of building permits, ID card confiscations and residency revocations.

This year also saw many Palestinian-Americans denied entry by Israel to the occupied territories to visit families, or attend weddings and/or funerals. And then there's the ugly concrete wall, built far into Palestinian territory under the guise of security, ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004. Laypeople who've seen it nickname it the Apartheid Wall.

Nobody expects instant miracles to come from Carter's book, but hopefully, it will spark the sort of robust discussions that even Israeli society and media already engage in -- discussions that many are fearful to raise in our own country for fear of being labeled "anti-Semitic."

Sherri Muzher is a Palestinian-American who directs Michigan Media Watch.

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Subject: Robert Fisk: Banality and barefaced lies
Date: Thu, 28 Dec 2006 15:02:02 +0000

My son emailed this fine article this morning.
Robert Fisk: Banality and barefaced lies

Here in America, I stare at the land in which I live and see a landscape I do not recognise

23 December 2006

I call it the Alice in Wonderland effect. Each time I tour the United States, I stare through the looking glass at the faraway region in which I live and work for The Independent - the Middle East - and see a landscape which I do no recognise, a distant tragedy turned, here in America, into a farce of hypocrisy and banality and barefaced lies. Am I the Cheshire Cat? Or the Mad Hatter?

I picked up Jimmy Carter's new book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid at San Francisco airport, and zipped through it in a day. It's a good, strong read by the only American president approaching sainthood. Carter lists the outrageous treatment meted out to the Palestinians, the Israeli occupation, the dispossession of Palestinian land by Israel, the brutality visited upon this denuded, subject population, and what he calls "a system of apartheid, with two peoples occupying the same land but completely separated from each other, with Israelis totally dominant and suppressing violence by depriving Palestinians of their basic human rights".

Carter quotes an Israeli as saying he is "afraid that we are moving towards a government like that of South Africa, with a dual society of Jewish rulers and Arabs subjects with few rights of citizenship...". A proposed but unacceptable modification of this choice, Carter adds, "is the taking of substantial portions of the occupied territory, with the remaining Palestinians completely surrounded by walls, fences, and Israeli checkpoints, living as prisoners within the small portion of land left to them".

Needless to say, the American press and television largely ignored the appearance of this eminently sensible book - until the usual Israeli lobbyists began to scream abuse at poor old Jimmy Carter, albeit that he was the architect of the longest lasting peace treaty between Israel and an Arab neighbour - Egypt - secured with the famous 1978 Camp David accords. The New York Times ("All the News That's Fit to Print", ho! ho!) then felt free to tell its readers that Carter had stirred "furore among Jews" with his use of the word "apartheid". The ex-president replied by mildly (and rightly) pointing out that Israeli lobbyists had produced among US editorial boards a "reluctance to criticise the Israeli government".

Typical of the dirt thrown at Carter was the comment by Michael Kinsley in The New York Times (of course) that Carter "is comparing Israel to the former white racist government of South Africa". This was followed by a vicious statement from Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, who said that the reason Carter gave for writing this book "is this shameless, shameful canard that the Jews control the debate in this country, especially when it comes to the media. What makes this serious is that he's not just another pundit, and he's not just another analyst. He is a former president of the United States".

But well, yes, that's the point, isn't it? This is no tract by a Harvard professor on the power of the lobby. It's an honourable, honest account by a friend of Israel as well as the Arabs who just happens to be a fine American ex-statesman. Which is why Carter's book is now a best-seller - and applause here, by the way, for the great American public that bought the book instead of believing Mr Foxman.

But in this context, why, I wonder, didn't The New York Times and the other gutless mainstream newspapers in the United States mention Israel's cosy relationship with that very racist apartheid regime in South Africa which Carter is not supposed to mention in his book? Didn't Israel have a wealthy diamond trade with sanctioned, racist South Africa? Didn't Israel have a fruitful and deep military relationship with that racist regime? Am I dreaming, looking-glass-like, when I recall that in April of 1976, Prime Minister John Vorster of South Africa - one of the architects of this vile Nazi-like system of apartheid - paid a state visit to Israel and was honoured with an official reception from Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, war hero Moshe Dayan and future Nobel prize-winner Yitzhak Rabin? This of course, certainly did not become part of the great American debate on Carter's book.

At Detroit airport, I picked up an even slimmer volume, the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group Report - which doesn't really study Iraq at all but offers a few bleak ways in which George Bush can run away from this disaster without too much blood on his shirt. After chatting to the Iraqis in the green zone of Baghdad - dream zone would be a more accurate title - there are a few worthy suggestions (already predictably rejected by the Israelis): a resumption of serious Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, an Israeli withdrawal from Golan, etc. But it's written in the same tired semantics of right-wing think tanks - the language, in fact, of the discredited Brookings Institution and of my old mate, the messianic New York Times columnist Tom Friedman - full of "porous" borders and admonitions that "time is running out".

The clue to all this nonsense, I discovered, comes at the back of the report where it lists the "experts" consulted by Messrs Baker, Hamilton and the rest. Many of them are pillars of the Brookings Institution and there is Thomas Freedman of The New York Times.

But for sheer folly, it was impossible to beat the post-Baker debate among the great and the good who dragged the United States into this catastrophe. General Peter Pace, the extremely odd chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, said of the American war in Iraq that "we are not winning, but we are not losing". Bush's new defence secretary, Robert Gates, announced that he "agreed with General Pace that we are not winning, but we are not losing". Baker himself jumped into the same nonsense pool by asserting: "I don't think you can say we're losing. By the same token (sic), I'm not sure we're winning." At which point, Bush proclaimed this week that - yes - "we're not winning, we're not losing". Pity about the Iraqis.

I pondered this madness during a bout of severe turbulence at 37,000 feet over Colorado. And that's when it hit me, the whole final score in this unique round of the Iraq war between the United States of America and the forces of evil. It's a draw!

© 2006 Independent News and Media Limited

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas from Bethlehem

I found the following email among the emails I sent last Christmas from Bethlehem. Sadly the wall that was mostly built last year now completely encloses the small city where Christ was born.

Written December 24, 2005
I’m spending the weekend with a friend’s family in Bethlehem. Sami's sister has relieved me for a few days from my nursing duties. I'm getting a much needed rest. My hosts are a happy, very hospitable family and I’m enjoying my visit immensely. When it stops raining we will go into Bethlehem to Manger Square to see the Christmas lights and shop.

I’m surprised that many Muslim families now celebrate the season with gift sharing and decorated trees. There is one child in my hosts’ family, a boy not quite two. He’s the first grandchild from six siblings, is adored by all, and responds with hugs for everyone and a precocious vocabulary in English and Arabic.

The food here is delicious especially the fruits and vegetables that have not been bred as in the states for long distance shipping. The flavors remind me of food from my grandparents' farms when I was a child.

The culture is far more westernized than when I was here two decades ago. This is evident in their method of serving foods, how they dress, and the goods available in stores.

I must go now for the afternoon meal. My hostess has prepared my favorite Palestinian dish.

I wish you all a very merry Christmas day and a happy new year.

-Peace to all with no exceptions,

Brownwin Peel

Friday, December 22, 2006

Subject: So This is What Occupation Feels Like
Date: Fri, 22 Dec 2006 17:51:48 +0000

Published on Thursday, December 21, 2006 by the Christian Science Monitor
So This is What Occupation Feels Like
As an American, I took freedom of movement for granted. Not after Israel denied it to me.

by Janessa Gans

'So this is occupation,' I mused, staring down at the large DENIED ENTRY stamp on my passport.

The Israeli authorities were denying me entry into the West Bank. They gave no reason, but I had little doubt that Israel's Interior Ministry had learned of my enrollment at Birzeit University in the West Bank, where I had been studying Arabic since August. The university had warned me that Israel would not issue visas to international students for study in the West Bank, and students admitting that their destination was the West Bank would be denied entry.

The border crossing was a true "Aha" moment. It was the first time I felt the frustration of not having control over my life. As an American, I take freedom of movement for granted. Yet one of my country's closest allies was refusing me entry, not into its own land, but into a place where I was welcome. I heard many such stories during my time in the West Bank. My neighbor recounted his attempt to see his parents - a journey that required him to pass through an Israeli checkpoint.

"Where are you headed?" the guards demanded. "To [my family's village]," he answered.

"Where is that?"

"Near [a larger town]," he replied.

"And where is that?"

"In the north."

"And where is THAT?"

"In Palestine," he said.

"What did you say?" the guards bellowed. "This is Israel, not Palestine.... You're not getting through until you say, "In Israel." My neighbor never saw his family.

Israeli authorities maintain that checkpoints are essential security tools to keep would-be Palestinian suicide bombers from killing Israeli citizens. Yet this incident occurred at one of the many checkpoints located within and throughout the West Bank itself, not on the border with Israel. So, in telling these stories, Palestinians echoed a common refrain. "Are we terrorists? No! We're regular people wanting a normal life, wanting to see our families."

As a US official who liaisoned with Iraqi politicians in Baghdad for nearly two years after the US invasion, I had had my fill of complaints about the occupation. Many of us believed that our main problem was one of semantics. In May 2003, the US presence in Iraq officially became an "occupation," negating what we had earlier deemed "liberation." That stigma dogged us even after Iraqis gained sovereignty in June 2004, and I found myself dismissing the Iraqi leaders' references to occupation as demagoguery.

I also noted that Arab/Iraqi news programs regularly panned from American troops and tanks in Iraq to similar scenes of Israeli soldiers in the Palestinian territories. There were other similarities: The checkpoints and barrier wall between Israel and the West Bank match the checkpoints and wall surrounding the highly fortified Green Zone in Baghdad.

At the Israeli checkpoint, I experienced what occupation meant from the Arab perspective. It is not just semantics.

• To Arabs, "occupation" means that a foreign power is depriving Palestinians of basic freedoms.

• Through its unwavering support for Israel and its illegal (per UN resolutions) occupation, America is complicit in depriving Palestinians of freedoms its Declaration of Independence holds as "unalienable."

• In Iraq, the US use of the term "occupation" feeds Iraqi fears that the US presence is not about supporting human rights and democracy. Militants assert that the US intends to occupy and take over Arab lands.

For the Arab world, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Iraq war are two sides of the same coin - and it's American credibility that's getting flipped.

President Carter has outlined a solution and the role America can play in it. In his new book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," Mr. Carter writes, "There will be no permanent or substantive peace as long as Israel is violating key UN resolutions, official American policy, and the international "road map" for peace by occupying Arab lands and oppressing the Palestinians." He adds, "American leaders must be in the forefront of this long-delayed just agreement that both sides can honor."

In playing such a vanguard role, America would not only do justice to the Palestinian people, it would take a stand for its core values - and take a giant leap in restoring its credibility within the Arab world.

Janessa Gans is founder and president of The Euphrates Institute.

Copyright © 2006 The Christian Science Monitor

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

I'm receiving emails concerning the controversy President Carter's book, Peace No Apartheid. Also, I spoke by phone this morning to my American friend, Jane, who has returned successfully to the West Bank after her visit in the US. She said every book available in the bookstores in the West Bank sold out immediately. Folloing are two emails I've received today, the first from my son and the second from a friend of his.

Subject: Two Views of Jimmy Carter's Latest Book Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2006 14:48:37 +0000
The San Francisco Chronicle ran two commentaries today (both pasted below). The first, by Saree Makdisi, supports President Carter's use of the term "apartheid" to describe Israeli policies and points out the inequalities between Jews and non-Jews within Israel itself. The second, by David Makovsky, attacks Carter and blames the Palestinians for Israeli policies that deprive them of their rights. Please take a minute to let the San Francisco Chronicle hear from you.

Please write to letters@sfchronicle .com. Letters should be 200 words or less and include your name, address and telephone (for identification purposes only).

************ ********* ********* ********* ********* ***
http://www.sfgate. com/cgi-bin/ article.cgi? file=/chronicle/ archive/2006/ 12/20/EDGOULJ69N 1.DTL

On the New Book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid"
Carter's apartheid charge rings true < http://www.sfgate. com/cgi-bin/ article.cgi? file=/chronicle/ archive/2006/ 12/20/EDGOULJ69N 1.DTL>
- Saree Makdisi
Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Former President Jimmy Carter has come under sustained attack for having dared to use the term "apartheid" to describe Israel's policies in the West Bank. However, not one of Carter's critics has offered a convincing argument to justify the vehemence of the outcry, much less to refute his central claim that Israel bestows rights on Jewish residents settling illegally on Palestinian land, while denying the same rights to the indigenous Palestinians. Little wonder, for they are attempting to defy reality itself.

Israel maintains two separate road networks in the West Bank: one for the exclusive use of Jewish settlers, and one for Palestinian natives. Is that not apartheid?

Palestinians are not allowed to drive their own cars in much of the West Bank; their public transportation is frequently interrupted or blocked altogether by a grid of Israeli army checkpoints -- but Jewish settlers come and go freely in their own cars, without even pausing at the roadblocks that hold up the natives. Is that not apartheid?

A system of closures and curfews has strangled the Palestinian economy in the West Bank -- but none of its provisions apply to the Jewish settlements there. Is that not apartheid?

Whole sectors of the West Bank, classified as "closed military areas" by the Israeli army, are off limits to Palestinians, including Palestinians who own land there -- but foreigners to whom Israel's Law of Return applies (that is, anyone Jewish, from anywhere in the world) can access them without hindrance. Is that not apartheid?

Persons of Palestinian origin are routinely barred from entering or residing in the West Bank -- but Israeli and non-Israeli Jews can come and go, and even live on, occupied Palestinian territory. Is that not apartheid?

Israel maintains two sets of rules and regulations in the West Bank: one for Jews, one for non-Jews. The only thing wrong with using the word "apartheid" to describe such a repugnant system is that the South African version of institutionalized discrimination was never as elaborate as its Israeli counterpart -- nor did it have such a vocal chorus of defenders among otherwise liberal Americans.

The glaring error in Carter's book, however, is his insistence that the term "apartheid" does not apply to Israel itself, where, he says, Jewish and non-Jewish citizens are given the same treatment under the law. That is simply not true.

Israeli law affords differences in privileges for Jewish and non-Jewish citizens of the state -- in matters of access to land, family unification and acquisition of citizenship. Israel's amended nationality law, for example, prevents Palestinian citizens of Israel who are married to Palestinians from the occupied territories from living together in Israel. A similar law, passed at the peak of apartheid in South Africa, was overturned by that country's supreme court as a violation of the right to a family. Israel's high court upheld its law just this year.

Israel loudly proclaims itself to be the state of the Jewish people, rather than the state of its actual citizens (one-fifth of whom are Palestinian Arabs). In fact, in registering citizens, the Israeli Ministry of the Interior assigns them a whole range of nationalities other than "Israeli." In the official registry, the nationality line for a Jewish citizen of Israel reads "Jew." For a Palestinian citizen, the same line reads "Arab." When this glaring inequity was protested all the way to Israel's high court, the justices upheld it: "There is no Israeli nation separate from the Jewish people." Obviously this leaves non-Jewish citizens of Israel in, at best, a somewhat ambiguous situation. Little wonder, then, that a solid majority of Israeli Jews regard their Arab fellow-citizens as what they call "a demographic threat," which many -- including the deputy prime minister -- would like to see eliminated altogether. What is all this, if not racism?

Many of the very individuals and institutions that are so vociferously denouncing President Jimmy Carter would not for one moment tolerate such glaring injustice in the United States. Why do they condone the naked racism that Israel practices? Why do they heap criticism on our former president for speaking his conscience about such a truly unconscionable system of ethnic segregation?

Perhaps it is because they themselves are all too aware that they are defending the indefensible; because they are all too aware that the emperor they keep trying to cover up really has no clothes. There is a limit to how long such a cover up can go on. And the main lesson of Carter's book is that we have finally reached that limit.

Saree Makdisi is a professor of English and Comparative Literature at UCLA and a frequent commentator on Middle East issues.

************ ********* ********* *
http://www.sfgate. com/cgi-bin/ article.cgi? file=/chronicle/ archive/2006/ 12/20/EDGOULJ69H 1.DTL

On the New Book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid"
Carter's polemic will not help the Palestinians < http://www.sfgate. com/cgi-bin/ article.cgi? file=/chronicle/ archive/2006/ 12/20/EDGOULJ69H 1.DTL>
- David Makovsky
Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Former President Jimmy Carter has spent much of his adult life championing Palestinian rights. However, his most recent book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," will not help the Palestinians.

Some Palestinians may listen to Carter. Therefore, his book is a squandered opportunity. Instead of dispelling the myths that enable them to avoid making key decisions and moving forward, Carter perpetuates the fictions that have helped create the state of affairs: demonization of Israel, distortion of history and an overall sense of victimhood that puts no premium on Palestinian accountability.

The demonization of Israel begins with the book's title. Carter's use of such a charged word seems aimed at de-legitimizing Israel as a South Africa-type state. Carter mentions in a single, brief sentence on Page 189 that Israel is not a racist state like South Africa but does not elaborate. Had he taken the time to explain, he would have had to mention that Israel has airlifted many tens of thousands of black Ethiopian Jews from misery into new homes. He would also have had to mention that Arabs have Israeli citizenship, vote and hold office.

Israel has clearly made major mistakes since the 1967 war, but Carter conveniently puts virtually the entire onus for the ongoing conflict on Israel's shoulders. This is completely unfair. Yes, Israel's settlement enterprise has been misguided, with tragic consequences for both peoples, but this is only part of the picture. In the aftermath of that war, Israel faced classic Arab rejectionism and, more recently, growing Islamism, with groups like Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad receiving funding from Iran.

Carter's book bathes Arab leaders in a very positive light and takes Arab statements at face value but casts the Israelis as often being disingenuous. His depiction of Yasser Arafat after becoming head of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in the late '60s emphasizes that he spent much of his "attention to raising funds for the care and support of the refugees and inspiring worldwide contribution to their cause."

Really? In fact, his group was engaged in the early '70s in a bloody civil war in Jordan, cross-border attacks against Israelis from Lebanon including civilian terror attacks, maintaining a shadowy link to the Munich massacre at the 1972 Olympics, and killing the U.S. ambassador to the Sudan.

Carter allows a statement made by Arafat to him at their first meeting in 1990 to stand without challenge in the book. Carter cites (Page 62) Arafat as telling him, "The PLO has never advocated the annihilation of Israel." In fact, the charter of Arafat's PLO states (Article 22) that "the liberation of Palestine will destroy the Zionist and imperialist presence." The Washington Post cited Arafat as saying on March 29, 1970: "Peace for us is the destruction of Israel and nothing else."

If the issue were only about land, the problem would have already been solved. At the 2000 Camp David summit, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak was willing to confront the settlement enterprise and yield more than 90 percent of the West Bank. President Bill Clinton sweetened the offer to 95 percent, Barak concurred, and both agreed to offsetting territorial swaps to deal with the remaining land.

Carter, however, ignores the views of participant Clinton, who publicly said it was Arafat who missed that opportunity for peace.

Carter often minimizes terrorism. He falsely claims that Hamas has not been involved in terror since 2004. In reality, Hamas has directly claimed responsibility for several attacks since then, including blowing up part of the Karni crossing, a border point through which Palestinians were able to export goods to the outside world. Moreover, Hamas members are involved in the Popular Resistance Committees, which have fired more than 1,000 rockets from Gaza this year alone with Hamas-led security forces not lifting a finger to stop them. This came after Israel confronted its settler constituency and withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

Carter apparently minimizes terrorism in order to make it possible to blame Israel for malevolence. But his arguments don't hold water. For example, after 35 years without security barriers, why would Israel suddenly begin building a fence in 2002? Carter would have us believe that ill will on Israel's part led to that initiative, but in fact it was Hamas that effectively built the barrier by inundating Israel with suicide bombings that claimed an estimated 1,000 lives between 2000 and 2004. After the barrier was built, the amount of suicide attacks dramatically decreased.

Moreover, it has not precluded a two-state solution. In fact, the barrier's route is very close to the borders that Clinton envisioned at the end of his presidency. And the Israelis have regularly adjusted the barrier's route on their own accord, so it shrinks the amount it dips into the West Bank.

Terrorism prevention aside, the wider implications of the barrier's route are obvious, and contrary to what Carter repeatedly alleges. The stage is set for a historic two-state agreement. There is still room for land swaps on both sides to complete the picture, if the parties agree in the future that the goal is to give the Palestinians the territorial equivalent of 100 percent of the West Bank. However, this is an option, not a requirement. Contrary to Carter's assertion, diplomats from many countries who negotiated every word and voted for U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 after the 1967 war have said that the measure did not mandate such a 100 percent return.

The Carter of the late '70s, who was a vital peacemaker in bringing about the historic Egypt-Israel accord, knew the goal of peacemaking is to get each side to abandon their myths as they move toward coexistence. Sadly, Carter the polemicist of today has made this work much harder.

David Makovsky is a senior fellow of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The institute seeks to bring scholarship to bear on the making of U.S. policy in this vital region of the world.

Second Email Received today from a Palestinian American:

Thanks. I believe that the Iraq Study Group explained that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is important to US policy in Iraq.

Arabs and Muslims around the world see the United States and its policies through the prism of the Palestinian Issue. So if people are interested in the war in Iraq, I would hope they would want to understand the implications of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to our foreign policy while we are at war in the Middle East. I am not sure what is more timely than Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.

This issue has not been discussed adequately in the media. While Pres. Carter is being unfairly attacked in the media because some wish to continue to censure discussion of this issue in the US, but I do not believe they can stop people reading it for themselves and making their own minds. When Carter came to sign the book at the Baileys Borders Bookstore, all 2,000 copies were gone in 45 minutes, which shows that the American people want to understand this important issue.

My plane gets into National Carter (not Reagan) Airport at 7:00pm. I will do my best to make it, short of unforseen flight delay.


In a message dated 12/16/2006 5:00:54 P.M.

Hi Nibal:

I have thought about this book and think it is a great suggestion that
I will add to the list of suggested books. At the end of each meeting
we typically pick the book for the next meeting based on how strongly
people feel about the alternative choices. I am sure people will take
your interest into consideration as we make the next selection. Maybe
you can slip by on your way home from the airport and make the case in


--- In ProgressiveBookClub s@yahoogroups. com, marwanb99@.. . wrote:
> Now that America is involved in a war in Iraq and the Iraq Study Group
> recommended a diplomatic initiative to resolve the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
> if we want to see peace in the ME, I would like to propose Carter's
New book
> Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid as a relevant book to read and
> Unfortunately, this issue seldom gets discussed in the US press.
> I am out of town until Jan. 1st, I return in the evening. I hope
that you
> will consider this book for discussion in February.
> Nibal

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Sources for Information About Palestine

My Meeting House celebrated Christmas this past weekend with
a 24 hour Open House. Many spent the night and woke Sunday
morning for sunrise worship. One of the Friends, spoke to
the gathering about his recent trip to the Holy Land. He sent
the follwoing email this morning with a list of sources for
information concerning the conflict between Iszael
and Palestine.

At my talk last evening on my trip to Israel/Palestine, I spoke about
the wealth of infomation sources available, mostly on line. These
sources can fill in the gap of information in US main stream media,
which do not cover all sides of the conflict in Israel-Palestine very
well. This list is far from exhaustive, yet can itself be overwhelming.

For news coverage, I recommend the Palestine News Network,,
and the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs,
Read the others at your leisure, along with Jimmy Carter's latest
book--highly recommended.

Jack Wilson

A brief, far from exhaustive, list of resources for more information
about Israel/Palestine, in no particular order: Sabeel, Palestinian Christian Liberation Theology

www.palestinefairtr Palestinian Fair Trade Association, a
cooperative among Palestinian Olive and other farmers Palestine News Network, for all news about Palestine,
good and bad. Very readable.

www.holylandtrust. org Palestinian non-violence network ~alaslah/ feedback/ wiam.htm Wi'am, Palestinian Conflict
Resolution organization, also based on non-violence

www.epalestine. com/ A resource page by Sam Bahour,
Palestinian- American facing loss of residency in Palestine. Lots of
good articles.

www.btselem. org/English/ B'Tselem ("in the image of") widely
respected Israeli human rights group. Great publications, maps, etc.
and case studies.

www.rhr.israel. net Rabbis for Human Rights. Dedicated to human
rights for all, Israelis, Palestinians, and human beings

www.interfaithpeace builders. org/default. html Interfaith Peace
Builders, trips to Israel/Palestine Israel Committee Against House Demolition. Jeff
Halper's organization, involved with all areas of human rights issues
in Palestine/Israel

www.theparentscircl Bereaved Parents. Rami Elhanan.
Palestinian and Israeli bereaved families for peace and justice.

www.combatantsforpe asp?lng=eng Combatants for Peace, a
group of Palestinian and Israeli former combatants who believe
violence will not work. A moving group of people.

www.tentofnations. org Tent of Nations, a peace building project by
Daoud Nasser, as a non-violent response to Israeli attempts to
confiscate his land. Washington Report on the Middle East. Excellent
source for information about the entire Middle East, with emphasis on

Updated 12/17/2006

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Journal Entry About Friends Lost and Found
I started addressing my Christmas cards tonight and it surprised me how many friends and family members in my address book are no longer a part of my life. Many have died within the past few years, two aunts, several high school classmates, and my husband. There were former coworkers I’ve lost touch with who were once an important part of my daily life. I believe I’m not replacing the old friends and family as fast as I’m losing the earlier ones. I lead a very active social and work life. These days I seem to always be with people at work, at my place of worship, and at civic endeavors who are younger than I.

Last month I volunteered to help campaign for the Virginia Democrats running for Congress. I met new people and many who knew my son, who has for years been politically active in the DC area. They were for the most part young enough to be my children. People are attracted to others who are near their own age. Though always very polite to me, I know they will not include me in their inner circle because of the age difference.

I belong to a Quilters Guild, a large group of very talented women whose beautiful quilts intimidate me even though I won a national contest with a quilt block I designed many years ago. They are all ages, many older than I am, but they do not have careers so have the time to develop their talents. I’m caught between two worlds, old enough to retire, but lacking the funds to do so, at least in this country, I continue in a career that even though I have the health and energy for it, I do not have the enthusiasm that I had even ten years ago. I work with people who, for the most part, are a generation younger than I, people who though they like me are not likely to invite me to become a part of their social life. I live twenty-eight miles from my meetinghouse (place of worship) so it is difficult to become active enough to really get to know my fellow Quakers.

I made many new friends while I was in Palestine. I became closer to my in-laws and got to know them better than I had before. Sami had said before he died that I would love the villagers once I got to know them. After three months of living among them I understood what he meant. Palestinians are extremely polite, hospitable, and sensitive people. They were honored by my presence as a guest at their weddings and came to me, sometimes the next day, to thank me for attending.

The sensitivity surprised me the most. You can embarrass or offend them with a harsh word or the slightest public criticism. Once when European students attending Bier Zeit University visited in the village, a local woman on learning that a young Norwegian woman was married to a Muslim announced that she must become a Muslim. The young woman, a Christian, was offended by the suggestion and voiced her dislike saying Europeans would never even ask another’s religion much less attempt to change whatever it was. Thinking the village woman did not understand English I sympathized and announced that people who are self confident and sure of their beliefs do not have this constant need to proselytize. The Muslim woman’s daughter spoke to her a few times and on observing her reaction I realized the daughter had understood enough English to relate to her mother what we said. The mother was very quiet the remainder of the visit. Not having meant any harm by her suggestion, she was mortified that she had offended us.
The week I left several of the neighbors came to say goodbye and they wept. I was very moved, not since my late mother has anyone cried because I was leaving.

Sami’s funeral, with the ensuing receptions, lasted for three days. Although exhausted by it, I could see the psychological advantage. I’ve always heard it said that the worst part of the grieving process is when the last guest leaves after the funeral and the family is left all alone. The Arab custom not only does not leave you alone for many days, it shows you gently how you still have so many others even though you have lost a loved one.

Looking at my address book tonight I realize I don’t have that many others. I need to return to Palestine.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

An Appeal From A Friend by Email
To punish Palestinians for voting on Hamas the US has placed an embargo on all
funds going into Palestine. It is causing widespread hunger in the West Bank.
This embargo was put in place at the urging of the Israeli government.

December 2006

Dear Friend,

As the holiday season approaches, we appreciate our blessings and enjoy the bountiful food that we often take for granted. We also become aware of the hunger of others. In Palestine today, fathers feel helpless to put a loaf of bread on the table, mothers are worried about the worsening health of their sons and daughters, and innocent children sleep side by side with hunger and pain. More and more families wait for a meal that may never come.

Here in Palestine, the impact of the Israeli occupation and embargo has created a hunger crisis of unprecedented proportions. Unemployment is now approaching a record level of 40%, and 75% of the households in Gaza are living in poverty.

Ironically, while families go unfed because they cannot afford groceries, Palestinian farmers are becoming impoverished because they cannot sell their produce. Even with the razing of their land and the appropriation of their water, Palestinian farmers have been remarkably successful at harvesting crops - but the fruits of their labor often go uneaten. The local population cannot afford to buy these basic goods, and Israeli restrictions prevent the export of this produce out of Gaza. At the crucial Karni crossing from Gaza into Israel, for example, farmers' produce often sits in trucks for several hours, rotting in the sun.

Poor Palestinian families increasingly have nowhere else to turn except to their generous friends and supporters abroad. UPA is teaming up with the Welfare Association in Palestine to provide immediate assistance to them with an Emergency Food Drive. This will not just provide the basic necessity of food for those going hungry in Palestine; it will also benefit a starving economy by supporting local Palestinian farmers.

With your generous support, this year UPA has already provided: $6.5 million worth of pharmaceuticals for Gaza, $190,000 of assistance for 812 needy children, $105,000 in University scholarships for 211 students, $185,000 in grants for education and community development.

With another $500,000 UPA can feed 1,500 Palestinian families and invest in the economy. Your generous contribution to this Food Drive will make a difference to a struggling farmer and a hungry child in Palestine.

Your gift will bring new hope to those most desperately in need.

With gratitude and compassion,
Dr. Haidar Abdel Shafi, Trustee

Please make your check payable to "UPA" and mail to the below address. Or log on to to donate by credit card.

United Palestinian Appeal, Inc.
1330 New Hampshire Ave., NW, Suite 104 Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 659-5007 Toll free in USA 1-800-892-6183 Fax: (202) 296-0224
Email: Website:
US Blocks News of UN Fact-Finding Mission

December 13, 2006 Today I received the following email from an Arab American friend:

There is so much left out of US news, but the omission of this story boggles the mind.

From BBC
Israel has blocked a UN fact-finding mission to the Gaza Strip that was
to be led by South African Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu, the UN says.

Mr Tutu's team would have investigated last month's killings of 19
civilians in an Israeli artillery barrage in the northern town of Beit

But Israel had not granted the former Archbishop of Cape Town the
necessary travel clearance, a UN official said.

The Israeli government said it had not formally denied visas to the UN

Mr Tutu's team was supposed to report its findings to the Geneva-based
UN Human Rights Council by Friday.

Spokeswoman Sonia Bakar said Mr Tutu had other engagements and could
not wait any longer for Israeli permission to travel.

"It has been cancelled. We were supposed to go yesterday (Sunday)," she

An Israeli government spokesman said it had not made a final decision
on whether to grant visas for Mr Tutu's team.

He said the government did "not have a problem not with the
personalities, we had a problem with the institution. We saw a
situation whereby the human rights mechanism of the UN was being
cynically exploited to advance an anti-Israel agenda".

Shelling 'an accident'

The 47-nation Human Rights Council authorised the mission last month
after condemning the killings.

It asked Mr Tutu to assess the situation of victims, address the needs
of survivors and make recommendations on ways to protect Palestinian
civilians against further Israeli attacks.

The shelling, which Israel said was unintended, came after its troops
wound up a week-long incursion designed to curb Palestinian rocket
attacks on Israel from the town.

The Israeli army claimed Beit Hanoun was a rocket-launching stronghold.

Mr Tutu - the winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his fight
against apartheid in South Africa - chaired the country's Truth and
Reconciliation Commission after the end of white minority rule.

http://news. 2/hi/middle_ east/6168309. stm

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Observer: Old women step forward as 'martyrs'

While I was in the West Bank, a female physician, a member of my husband's famiy, told me it takes tremendous brain washing to turn a person into a suicide bomber. Two of the young Arab students I met this summer in an Arabic class I was taking at the local community college told me that all the suicide bombers had been through a traumatic experience in which they lost a family member. I thought of those two conversations while reading this report from The Observer.

Unfortunately, the western media has spread the word that they kill themselves because many virgins will be waiting in heaven for them or because "they are jealous of us" according to President Bush.

A 70-year-old blew herself up in a Hamas attack. She may be just the first of many elderly recruits

Sandra Jordan in Beit Hanoun, Gaza
Sunday December 3, 2006
The Observer

In the centre of Beit Hanoun, there is nothing left of the 800-year-old mosque but the minaret. It looks like a lighthouse stranded in a sea of rubble. People whose homes were demolished during the latest Israeli army incursion sit on plastic chairs around bonfires. At night they bunk down with the neighbours. One of them is Watfa Kafarna.
'I saw the Israeli soldiers eye-to-eye,' she said. 'They took my four-year-old grandson, Mahadi, who has Down's syndrome. They shook him and yelled: "Where are the guns?" Now he is traumatised and wets the bed every night.'

Not his own bed - the Kafarna family is homeless, living off the charity of friends. Tears run from Watfa's eyes as she looks at her son, daughter-in-law and grandchild huddled around a brazier. Her husband, Diab, shuffles across the ruins towards his wife. 'Bossa!' he says, 'A kiss!' In a highly unconventional move, Diab kisses his wife on the mouth. 'She is my heart, my eyes, my light. We have lost our house but not each other.'

During the incursion, Israeli soldiers detained all men aged 16-40, including Watfa and Diab's sons and grandsons. The army targeted the mosque, attempting to arrest militants hiding there.

The women put up their own resistance, gathering as human shields around the mosque to help the militants escape. 'I am 72, says Watfa, 'but by doing this I felt 20, young and useful and ready to act.' She pulls off her long veil and holds it high in her right hand. 'I waved my hijab as a white flag and prayed with the other women in front of the holy mosque. But the Israelis continued to destroy it.'

Two women were killed by the Israeli Defence Force that day. Watfa was bruised, as was 70-year-old Fatma Najar, hit by a bulldozer. Three weeks later, Najar blew herself up near Israeli soldiers, wounding two. In Gaza she is seen as a heroine. 'If the Israelis came to my house to gun down my children and I had a belt, I would do the same,' says Watfa. 'The woman is the biggest loser here,' says Khola, a neighbour, standing on the remains of a kitchen where flour is mixed with pulverised masonry. Two hundred homes were destroyed in Beit Hanoun. 'Fatma Najar, an old woman, did what many people don't have the guts to do. If you go back and research Fatma,' says Khola, 'you will see her home was destroyed on top of her head, her sons jailed, her grandson killed.'

'We want to believe in peace, but how can we when the warplanes still fly over our heads every night,' asks Watfa, 'making our grandchildren cry and wet themselves? When there are still tank movements on the border? I can't believe there will be peace.'

Najar's family heard of her attack on the radio. 'We thought it must be another Fatma Najar,' said her son, Jihad, 35. 'It never occurred to us it could have been my mother. Then the crowds started to arrive and we knew it was true. We had mixed feelings, sadness at her irreplaceable loss. But pride too.'

There is a huge shaheed - 'martyr' - poster of Najar on her house. It is shocking to see an old woman carrying an M16. Some of her 70 grandchildren and great-grandchildren play beneath the picture. Israa, six, wears a pink top with 'Happy Childhood' embroidered on it. 'My grandmother's gone to heaven. Because she shot the Israelis,' she says.

The funeral tent is empty now, the three days of official mourning over. On the first evening, men from the Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, arrived. Her son Inam said: 'They told us: "Your mother has been asking to do this for two years. We said no. Finally she said, if you don't give me a belt I will go anyway and get killed and my blood will be on your hands. We gave in".'

Other old women now want to become suicide bombers. The family talks of why she did it. Perhaps it was her grandson's death. 'My son, Adil, was 18 when he was killed,' says Fathiya, 52, Najar's eldest daughter. 'He was throwing stones at the Israelis.' Then there was Fathiya's other son, Sha'aban. He attacked an Israeli soldier with a knife. He was shot 72 times, lost a leg and is paralysed. The family show a photo of Fatma, a sweet-faced woman in a white cotton scarf. Neighbours crowd in with stories of her generosity, how she gave sweets to local children, told stories, played.

Najar was a religious woman, involved with mosque committees and close to memorising the Koran. It was only after her death, her family discovered she had been working for Hamas: 'They told us she had carried food, water, ammunition to the resistance at the front line. We had no idea.'

The night before her suicide operation, Najar went to visit all of her children and grandchildren. She brought clothes and sweets. 'But she was always so good to us,' says Inam. 'As she left me for the last time, she looked back in a way that made me wonder, but then she was gone.'

'On the day she acted like it was a normal day. She baked the bread in the clay oven. She took a shower, put on a new dress and went out,' said Jihad.

'I think the final straw was the Beit Hanoun massacre [a family of 17 killed at dawn when Israeli shells hit their house]. Mother went to the family's home and asked the women: "Why leave it to your sons to die? If Allah allows, I will become a martyr." They said: "You think they will take an old lady like you?"'

A fortnight later she was a suicide bomber, injuring two Israelis, decapitating herself. This weekend Hamas held a ceremony in Beit Hanoun, in memory of the 140 Palestinians killed in November. Thousands attended, waving Hamas flags. The mayor, Dr Nazek el-Kafarna, made a speech in honour of Najar: 'This old lady looked at the houses destroyed and the trees uprooted. She looked at how our people had been humiliated. She took her soul in her hand and rushed to her martyrdom.'

Huda Haim, a Hamas PLC member, believes Najar's act begins a new culture. 'We know behind the Israeli leaders there are decision-makers studying the behaviour of the Palestinians. Fatma told them they can't end the Palestinian issue with violence.'

The audience was thronged with women, many elderly, many clinging to photographs of their dead. 'We all want to be like Fatma,' they shouted.

'I am happy about the ceasefire,' says Zaifa. 'But if the Israelis come back, they will see what we will do, we will be like Fatma Najar.'

'I know at least 20 of us who want to put on the belt,' said Fatma Naouk, 65. 'Now is the time of the women. Now the old women have found a use for themselves.'

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Peace Not Apartheid by Jimmy Carter

My friend, Jane, an American woman living in Ramallah is in town for a short while. She’s so busy we’ve not met for a visit. We both tried to make it to former President Carter’s book signing at Borders, but other commitments intervened. Following is our email exchanges on the subject of the book: Peace Not Apartheid.

December 1, 2006

Jane wrote:

I have tried to get everything organized so I could
come to see you and your horse farm! but currently have three workmen
here and plans for lots of repair, maintenence, leak protection, etc.
and also am having a safe installed all of which I need to talk to my
tenant about face…

I will be back in Feb tho and would love to see you
and talk to any groups you think may be interested. When do you hope
to come? I thought Carter gave the government of Israel a free ride
on treatment of non jews within Israel itself but guess he thought he
had to pick his battles.

My Response:
I agree that President Carter has to pick his battles. A large majority
of Americans are still totally ignorant about the true nature of Israel.

I admire former president Carter for attempting what he is doing..
I've run into so much prejudice against Middle Easterners here where
I work that I've almost quit a couple of times, but I need a job.

I look forward to Sunday.
Ramzy Baroud: Ethnic Cleansing and Israel’s Racist Discourse

“The term ethnic cleansing refers to various policies of forcibly removing people of another ethnic group. At one end of the spectrum, it is virtually indistinguishable from forced emigration and population transfer, while at the other it merges with deportation and genocide.”

According to this definition and others, including those emerging in the 1990s, following the ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, Palestinians have been and remain victims of a determined and unwavering ethnic cleansing policy that began in 1947-48 and continues until today.

However, it is important that when we examine the subject of ethnic cleansing in Palestine, we take into account its various dimensions, one of which is the accompanying racist discourse, which has become part and parcel of Israel’s ethnic cleansing policies.

Any act of collective punishment — whether ethnic cleansing or genocide or any other — is often preceded and or adjoined by a racist discourse that dehumanizes the victim and justifies the crime on baseless grounds, a concoction of lies and fibs that may appeal to national or religious psyches, but fails the test of law, morality or basic human norms and expectations.

Without such discourse, which depicted the original inhabitants of Palestine as cancerous, subhuman and a nuisance in the face of civilization and progress — as defined by the founders of the Zionist movement — it would not have been possible to carry out a systematic campaign of murder and ethnic cleansing in 1947-48, which saw the killing of an estimated 13,000 Palestinians, the forcible eviction of 850,000 and the depopulation and subsequent destruction of nearly 500 villages and localities. Without such a racist discourse it would have been difficult, to say the least, to carry out scores of preempted massacres, including Deir Yassin, Tantoura, Abbasiyya, Beit Daras, Bir Al-Saba’, Haifa and so forth.

Were it not for a decided campaign of institutionalized racism that occurred on such a large scale and which is maintained until today, it would have been impossible and implausible to gun down scores of innocent people after lining them up against the crumbling wall of the old Tantura mosque in May of 1948, or to bulldoze the home of a crippled man in Jenin in April 2002 without giving his mother the chance to evacuate him. Or to describe as a “great success” the killing of 14 civilians, including children when a one-ton Israeli bomb slammed into their apartment building in the Zeitun neighborhood in Gaza in July 2002. Or the wanton murder of 19 people, most of them women and children of the same extended family in Beit Hanoun earlier this November. But according to Israeli officials, every other method has been tried, and failed. “With murderous, bloodthirsty terrorism that wants to wipe you off the map, you have to respond accordingly: Wipe it out,” as Ben Caspit commented following the brutal massacre of Beit Hanoun.

But if what purely motivates Israel is the fear of its own annihilation, then, how can the Zionist state’s morally flexible supporters explain Israel’s continuous colonization of the West Bank and Jerusalem? According to a 2004 Foundation for Middle East Peace report, the total settler population in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has neared 420,000: 220,000 settlers in the West Bank and 200,000 in East Jerusalem. Expectedly, the number stands at a much higher figure.

New settlements are being erected while existing settlements are ever-expanding. According to a recent report drafted by the PLO’s Negotiations Affairs Department, Israel approved tenders for 690 new settlement units in two major east Jerusalem settlements: Ma’aleh Adumim and Beit Illit. The housing units could accommodate up to 2,800 new Jewish settlers.

If the idea was indeed to shield Israel from Palestinian attacks, then why is 80 percent of the wall being built on ethnically cleansed Palestinian land? Why encircle the Palestinian population of the West Bank from east and west, and those of Qalqilia from all directions? Why do thousands of Palestinian schools kids have to stand for hours in front of their gated villages to acquire permission from an Israeli soldier to allow them access to their schools and back?

Ethnic cleansing is indeed back on the Israeli political agenda, as Avigdor Lieberman, an Israeli politician who has for long advocated the ethnic cleansing of the Arab inhabitants of Palestine, was recently appointed as Israel’s new deputy prime minister. One of his early ideas since the new post, aside from sending Palestinians packing, was the killing of the entire leadership of the elected Palestinian government. “They...have to disappear, to go to paradise, all of them, and there can’t be any compromise”, he told Israeli radio last week.

The unfortunate reality is that Israel’s campaign of ethnic cleansing, though it might have changed tactics and pace throughout the years, has never stopped and is now more active than it has been for decades. It’s also clear that the adjacent racist discourse that made such a policy sustainable for six decades is also at work, making advocates of war crimes heroes in the eyes of most Israelis.

Moreover, amid unabashed American backing of such policies and almost total silence or helplessness of the international community, Israel knows that the success of its colonial project in the West Bank is dependent on the element of time.

What’s even more disheartening is the fact that Palestinian infighting is distracting and wasting energies that should be put to work to provoke and sustain an international campaign against Israeli atrocities. Infighting over governments that have no sovereignty, the lacking of any national cohesion or consensus or a clear political program that unifies Palestinians at home and in diaspora around one political and national agenda, will certainly ensure the success of the Israeli program and further contribute to the racist discourse that sees Palestinians as incapable of taking on the task of leadership and self-determination.

-This article is based on a speech delivered by the author at a London conference entitled: “Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine: Methods and Consequences” and broadcast by Al-Jazeera television.

-Ramzy Baroud’s latest book is
The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle
(Pluto Press)

and is also available at

and in the United States from the University of Michigan Press;jsessionid=10E1D759F85D0C7853855B9ADF9F7BAF?id=211343