Monday, August 27, 2007


Jeff Halper

August 7, 2007

On paper, the headlines sounded promising, even stirring. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, it was reported, told Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas at their meeting in Jericho that he would push for the establishment of a Palestinian state as "fast as possible" on “the equivalent to 100 percent of the territories conquered in 1967.” The Palestinians, according to the report, would cede just 5% of the West Bank in return for territorial swaps. In other words, Israel would withdraw from 95.6 % of the combined West Bank and Gaza – although that figure does not include East Jerusalem, which Israel does not consider occupied.

It looked like another “generous offer,” one the Palestinians could not possibly refuse. The problem is, it was much too generous for the Israelis to accept. A few hours after the report appeared, the Prime Minister’s Office denied even the existence of the proposal. “We do not know of any plan as described in the [Ha’aretz] article,” the PMO said. “We would like to clarify that such a plan has not been considered, nor is it being raised for discussion in any forum.”

So much for that. But the proposal itself is useful to examine if only because it presents a “best case” scenario. It appears to relinquish almost all the occupied territory to the Palestinians; it appears to be the maximum that Israel could possibly offer the Palestinians. If it can be shown as nothing more than a sophisticated attempt to expand Israeli control to the Jordan River , with no chance of ending the conflict with the Palestinians, it will provide the best illustration of the futility of basing any peace process on the mere transfer of territory rather than viability. The devil, as we all know, is in the details. Let’s see what this 100% plan hides, even if it not really a plan.

At issue is not a Palestinian state on the equivalent of 100% of the Occupied Territories (that is, we should note, only 22% of historic Palestine ). The issue is, as the road map specifies, whether a Palestinian state is truly sovereign and viable, no matter on how much of the territories it arises. I would argue that even the 5% of the West Bank that Israel would retain under the purported plan can prevent the establishment of such a state. What details make the difference between a just and lasting peace and apartheid?

Sovereignty: The basis for negotiations, says Olmert, “will continue to be the road map, which is acceptable to both sides." This is true in general, but with some major caveats. Phase II of the road map is the Palestinians’ nightmare, and they have constantly pressed to have it removed. This phase calls for the establishment of a “transitional” Palestinian state with “provisional borders.” If all is quiet, they fear, and Israel can claim that a Palestinian state exists and that the Occupation has ended, who could guarantee that the road map process would continue into Phase III, where the thorny final status details are to be negotiated and a real Palestinian state would emerge? Their fears are justified – and this may be the “catch.” Israel considers its “14 reservations” as integral parts of the road map. Reservation # 5 states: The provisional state will have provisional borders and certain aspects of sovereignty, be fully demilitarized…, be without the authority to undertake defense alliances or military cooperation, and Israeli control over the entry and exit of all persons and cargo, as well as of its air space and electromagnetic spectrum.”

Read that again and try to square that reservation with the notion of Palestinian sovereignty. Tzipi Livni has worked for months on what she is calling “The Israeli Initiative for a Two-State Solution” based precisely on replacing Phase I of the road map (which calls for a freeze on Israeli settlement building) with this problematic Phase II. Rice has said that the Bush Administration will work towards a provisional Palestinian state, leaving “the details” to the next administration.

A state has no sovereignty without borders. In additional to the problem of provisionality, does Olmert intend to grant the Palestinians an unsupervised border with Jordan ? If Israel insists on controlling the borders, or if the Jordan River is part of the 5% the Palestinians must cede, there is no Palestinian state even if they receive all the territory.

Viability: Israel may indeed relinquish 95% of the West Bank but still remain in complete control over a Palestinian Bantustan with no viable economy. If it insists on controlling the borders, denying the Palestinians free movement of goods and people, the Palestinian state is not viable. If the 5% the Palestinians must cede includes a corridor across the West Bank, or if Israel insists on keeping the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement with its “E-1” corridor to Jerusalem, thus destroying the territorial continuity of a Palestinians state, it is not viable. If it includes Israeli control of all the water resources, it is not viable. If Jerusalem is not fully integrated into the Palestinian state politically, geographically and economically – and I would bet that the core of East Jerusalem falls outside the 95% – then there is no viable Palestinian state. According to the World Bank Jerusalem accounts for up to 40% of the Palestinian economy because of tourism, their largest potential industry.

The difference between a truly sovereign and viable Palestinian state and a Bantustan is a few percentage points of strategic territory. It’s clear that Israel could relinquish 95% of the West Bank, Gaza and parts of Jerusalem and still maintain complete control. The very conception of a territorial-based “solution” is flawed. It does not meet the Palestinians’ right to a sovereign and viable state, and it merely perpetuates Israeli control. A workable solution requires an approach based upon a commitment to a viable Palestinian state. That requires addressing the issues outlined above.

In the meantime, Israel’s repeated advancement of territorial-based plans, some more “generous” and some less, all have the same aim: to perpetuate the settlements, an Israeli
greater” Jerusalem and control of the entire country. Until that matrix of control is broken and a real Palestinian state be allowed to emerge – if that is still possible given the Israeli “facts on the ground” – we will have to carefully monitor each proposal to ascertain if it will truly end the conflict or will merely substitute for the Occupation a sophisticated regime of apartheid. Israel ’s ongoing settlement construction and its commitment to retaining strategic parts of the West Bank and “greater” Jerusalem justify that suspicion of Israel ’s intentions.

(Jeff Halper is the Coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. He can be reached at )

Israel Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)
PO Box Jerusalem, Israel

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Subject: The Independent: Death divides UK and Israel
Date: Tue, 07 Aug 2007 13:22:36 +0000
Award-winning film-maker's death divides UK and Israel
By Eric Silver in Jerusalem
Published: 06 August 2007
Britain and Israel face a diplomatic and legal showdown this week over the death of James Miller, an award-winning British film-maker who was shot by Israel soldiers while working on a documentary in the Gaza Strip more than four years ago.

Israel has failed to respond to an ultimatum issued by Lord Goldsmith, the former attorney general, to his opposite number, Meni Mazuz, on 26 June to launch a criminal investigation within six weeks against the officer suspected of firing the fatal shot. The deadline expires tomorrow.

Tel Aviv is refusing to be stampeded. In a previous case - that of a British student, Tom Hurndall, killed by an Israeli sniper in 2003 - it eventually yielded to British pressure and court martialled the soldier concerned. He was sentenced to eight years in prison for manslaughter.

The army's first instinct, as shown in both cases, is to protect its soldiers. A military spokesman said that "a cameraman who knowingly enters a combat zone, especially at night, endangers himself."

Moshe Cohen, a spokesman for Israel's Justice Ministry, said in a written statement yesterday that an earlier British request had been thoroughly checked and a decision to close the Miller case had been reported to London. "Now that the British authorities have decided once more to approach us, the matter will be attended to.... A response will be provided in an acceptable fashion, as soon as possible, in accordance with the timetables of the Israeli authorities."

Mr Miller's death was captured on video and was included in the film Death in Gaza, released by HBO in 2004, which went on to win three Emmys. Mr Miller had gone to the troubled region to film children on both sides of the conflict, but he was killed on his last day in Gaza before he could film the other side of the story.

In April, 2006, a London jury at St Pancras coroner's court returned a verdict of unlawful killing and said that Mr Miller, 34, had been "murdered". The Israeli army had dropped the case for want, it said, of enough evidence to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

The coroner, Dr Scott Reid, wrote to Lord Goldsmith inviting him to "consider starting criminal proceedings in the UK against members of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) for an offence of willful killing".

The only soldier who has been named, though only by rank and surname, is Lieutenant Heib, who commanded the armoured vehicle from which the fatal shots were fired.

To try him in Britain, Lord Goldsmith's successor, Baroness Scotland, would have to seek his extradition, which Israel would be expected to resist.

Mr Miller's family accused Israel of "an abject failure to uphold the fundamental and unequivocal standards of international humanitarian and human rights law". They are suing the Israeli government in the Tel-Aviv magistrates' court for compensation.

His wife, Sophy, said after the military investigation was closed: "The truth will come out and we hope the Israeli judicial system will mete out justice. This investigation does not serve the IDF, decent Israeli citizens, us his family, and above all James."

Their Israeli lawyer, Michael Sfard, said yesterday: "The family demands justice, both criminal and civil. They deserve that the man who shot their loved one for no reason whatsoever should be indicted and get what he deserves. As he left a widow and two children, they deserve to be compensated by the State of Israel. This is something the political and military echelons have promised time and again, but they have not fulfilled their promise so far."

Mr Miller was filming near Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip with Saira Shah, who was named television reporter of the year in 2002 for Beneath the Veil and Unholy War, documentaries the two had shot for Channel 4 in her native Afghan istan. Mr Miller, who doubled as cameraman and director, had earlier won an Emmy and a Royal Television Society award for films on Serbian massacres in Kosovo. He was an experienced war photographer, having covered conflicts in Lebanon, Sudan and Algeria for a news agency.

Death in Gaza shows the two journalists leaving the home of a Palestinian family in the turbulent Rafah refugee camp at night, carrying a white flag. They were accompanied by a local crew from Associated Press Television News (APTN).

In an investigative report in October 2003, the journalist John Sweeney wrote: "They had walked about 20 metres from the veranda when the first shot rang out. The team froze. For 13 seconds, there is silence broken only by Saira's cry: 'We are British journalists.' Then comes the second shot, which killed James. He was shot in the front of his neck. The bullet was Israeli issue, fired, according to a forensic expert, from less than 200 metres away. Immediately after the shooting, the IDF said that James had been shot in the back during crossfire. It later retracted the assertion about where in his body he was shot, but until today it has maintained that he was shot during crossfire. There was no crossfire on the APTN tape."

Israeli and British forensic studies produced conflicting results. The Israelis said that acoustic tests on the video tape indicated that there were six shots. The second hit Mr Miller. Not all the shots, the Israelis said, came from the same source. So they could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that the fatal shot came from Lieutenant Heib's gun. Similar tests by Scotland Yard concluded that the first three shots came from a single source, the Israeli armoured car.

In an interview, distributed to promote the Death in Gaza DVD, Ms Shah admitted that they were worried about filming in Gaza, particularly Rafah. She accused Israeli soldiers of lack of respect for human life.

Key events

* 2 MAY 2003

The British cameraman James Miller, 34, is shot dead by an Israeli soldier.

* MARCH 2005

Israel says it will not prosecute soldiers involved in Mr Miller's death.

* APRIL 2005

Israeli military judge clears soldiers of any wrongdoing.

* APRIL 2006

British inquest reaches verdict of "unlawful shooting with intention of killing Mr Miller".

* MAY 2006

Lord Goldsmith, then attorney general, flies to Israel to assess grounds for a prosecution in UK.

* JULY 2006

Metropolitan Police and CPS decide to investigate.

* JUNE 2007

Lord Goldsmith gives his Israeli counterpart six weeks to launch a criminal investigation against the officer suspected of firing the fatal shot.

Three other killings of innocents by the Israeli army


Mohammed al-Durrah, 12, a Palestinian schoolboy, was shot four times by Israeli soldiers and died in his father's arms. The scene was captured by a French cameraman and became one of the most powerful and enduring symbols of the conflict.

16 MARCH 2003

US peace activist Rachel Corrie, 23, was crushed to death by an Israeli Army bulldozer razing a Palestinian home. She was wearing a fluorescent jacket that identified her as an activist. The Israeli government claimed her death was an accident.

11 April 2003

British photography student Tom Hurndall, 22, was shot by an Israeli sniper while he was trying to rescue Palestinian children from Israeli gunfire. He was left comatose and died in Britain nine months later from his wounds.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Subject: VOANEWS on My Name is Rachel Corrie Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2007 13:39:54 +0000

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Controversial Play in Spotlight at Contemporary American Theater Festival
By Susan Logue
Shepherdstown, WVa.
23 July 2007

Ann Marie Nest portrays Corrie in the CATF production of 'My Name is Rachel Corrie'
The Contemporary American Theater Festival, held each July in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, has never shied away from controversial subject matter. This year's festival is drawing attention for one play in particular.

My Name is Rachel Corrie is a one-woman play pieced together from journals and e-mails written by 23-year-old Rachel Corrie. The young American was working in Gaza with the International Solidarity Movement in 2003 as a human shield.

Corrie's parents had recognized her talent as a writer from an early age. After her death, they wanted to share her work with the public, but Cindy Corrie says the idea of producing a play just evolved.

Rachel's parents, Craig and Cindy Corrie, have seen the play many times
"Some people in London happened to read Rachel's e-mails in the newspaper, in 'The Guardian,' where they were printed during the first week after she was killed. Some of those people were connected with the Royal Court Theater. They approached us with the idea and we kind of flowed with it."

Those people were actor Alan Rickman and journalist Katharine Viner, who edited and assembled Corrie's writings for dramatic effect.

In one particularly prescient scene, Anne Marie Nest, who portrays Corrie, speaks words written in an e-mail to her mother just days before she tried to block an Israeli bulldozer and was killed. "I have bad nightmares about tanks and bulldozers outside our house and you and me inside," Corrie wrote. "Sometimes the adrenaline acts as an anesthetic for weeks, and then at night it just hits me again, a little bit of the reality of the situation here. I'm really scared for these people."

My Name is Rachel Corrie premiered in London two years ago without controversy, but its arrival in New York was postponed for many months. Other theaters in Florida and Boston decided not to mount productions after complaints that the play gave an unbalanced view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza.

Ed Herendeen, founder and producing director of the Contemporary American Theater Festival, says theater should pose questions
"I've been doing this for over 30 years, and I can't remember a work of art having to be required to be balanced," says Ed Herendeen, founder and producing director of the Contemporary American Theater Festival.

Herendeen, who also directed the production, says when he read the play, he realized that "it could be inflammatory to some people." But, he says, he did not see it that way.

"All the pre-controversy and drama surrounding this production really had very little to do with this young woman's story." Herendeen says he didn't see Corrie as pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel. "She was writing her view of the world at the age of 23. And her view of the world was: Why are we doing this to one another? This has to stop. This violence has to stop."

But Corrie clearly identifies with the Palestinians, at one point describing the conflict as "a largely unarmed people against the fourth most powerful military in the world."

After a lengthy discussion, the board of the CATF decided to support Herendeen's decision to mount the play. But following that decision one trustee resigned and withdrew a pledge of $100,000.

In addition, some regular festival-goers said they would not attend this year. Those who did attend were invited to participate in a dialogue on the issue.

Actor Ann Marie Nest (r) joined the post-performance discussion of the play 'My Name is Rachel Corrie
After a Sunday matinee, the audience adjourned to a large tent, where they sat in small groups and discussed the play and the issues it raises. Afterwards, some of them shared their opinions with the entire group.

Several people applauded the Contemporary American Theater Festival for producing the play, despite pressure not to, and one woman noted, "Whatever your point of view, she was a tremendous communicator."

While some Jews who joined the discussion said the play made them feel "a little defensive." One Jewish man, when asked if he had a similar reaction, said "not at all."

One man was not pleased with the play's description of the International Solidarity Movement as a peace movement. "I don't think it is a peace movement. I think it is a terrorist front for radical Islamic militants." He added that the group "tantalizes idealistic kids like Rachel Corrie to go in and become part of this movement thinking they are only doing good."

That last opinion was also expressed in a two-page ad in the playbill under the banner "My Name is Rachel Corrie Does Not Tell the Whole Story: Don't Be Misled." One page has photos of six other women named Rachel who were killed by Palestinian suicide bombers. The ad was paid for by

Ed Herendeen says he expects, and welcomes, people to question what they see at the Contemporary American Theater Festival. "It's in the questioning of a work of art like My Name is Rachel Corrie that maybe you and I could have a conservation, even if we disagree," Herendeen says. "Theater is an opportunity to create a forum for a real dialogue, for a living conservation to take place."

Fears that theatergoers would stay away from the festival, were unfounded.. In fact, both ticket sales and donations are up this year.

The Contemporary American Theater Festival runs through July 29 in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

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