Saturday, June 9, 2007

Targeted Killing Won't Bring Peace

By Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi

As we enter the 41st year of Israel‘s military occupation, one of the more sinister policies inflicted upon us is what Israel calls "targeted killings."

Israel applies no death penalty, except against Palestinians living under Israeli military government in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

There, suspected opponents of Israel‘s occupation are routinely executed without charge, judge or jury. Innocents who happen to be in the vicinity of Israel‘s "target" just as often suffer summary execution.

In April, 17-year-old Bushra Breghish was pacing her bedroom, studying for an exam. An Israeli sniper, from a squad dispatched to arrest her brother, shot her through the forehead, killing her instantly. All she held in her hands was a book.

Last week in Ramallah‘s central square, in broad daylight, Israeli undercover forces shot a fleeing 22-year-old, Omar Abu Daher, in the leg. After he fell, and was entirely vulnerable to arrest, an Israeli assassin shot him in the back of the head from close range, then kicked his body, apparently to confirm the kill.

The deaths of these young Palestinians are not rare, nor were they unintentional. They were the victims of an openly acknowledged policy.

For decades, Israel murdered Palestinian leaders abroad, following the macabre calculations of its political scientists and intelligence experts that even a small number of assassinations could retard, if not foil, our national movement.

Israel claimed to target those guilty of committing or planning acts of violence. In reality, Palestinian political leaders, poets, journalists and other professionals and artists were also killed.

Israel began "targeted killings" in the Gaza Strip in the 1970s, and expanded this practice during the first Palestinian intifada, which occurred from 1987-1993.

Palestinian youths faced Israeli tanks with little more than slogans and stones. Israel condemned their "targets" based on mere suspicion. They have since signed the death warrants of hundreds more, including bystanders like young Bushra studying for final exams.

Since September 2000, more than 400 Palestinians have been murdered in extrajudicial executions. Nearly half were innocent bystanders and at least 44 were children. These extrajudicial executions are war crimes.

The Palestinian unity government has offered to end all forms of violence, provided Israel reciprocates and ends its violence against Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Our own security forces are challenged, and we face acute internal political differences. But we are committed to halting all attacks - including by Qassam rockets - as long as Israel respects its obligations under international law and stops murdering Palestinians.

We have no hope of succeeding in this goal if Israel will not meet us half way. Palestinians would rightly reject a government that protected Israeli lives while failing to protect Palestinians, who have been slaughtered at 30 times the rate of Israelis over the last 17 months.

Israel has responded with escalating attacks against Gaza and extrajudicial killings in the West Bank. Is its political objective something other than peace? Israel‘s assassinations over the past seven years have repeatedly shattered unilateral truces by Palestinians and scuttled any prospect of negotiations.

Why has Israel consistently re-kindled violence? Is it possible that our willingness to negotiate our differences is more dangerous than any military threat our beleaguered population could ever muster against the sixth most powerful military in the world?

Could it be that Israel seeks to finish the systematic dispossession of Palestinians begun in 1948, when 750,000 Palestinians were driven or fled in fear from their homes and homeland? Does goading Palestinians into violence permit Israel to dodge peace negotiations, and provide it cover to continue its confiscation of Palestinian land and construction of Jewish settlements in the lands it seized in 1967?

After all, "security" was the initial justification for Israel‘s settlements, and "military necessity" was the pretext for the seizures of our lands.

"Security" rationalizes the segregated road system Israel has constructed in the West Bank, whisking Jewish Israeli settlers wherever they wish to go, while Palestinians negotiate a decrepit one.

"Security" is allegedly served by the 500-plus Israeli roadblocks and checkpoints that dot our territory, restricting travel and smothering our economy, and by the "separation fence" that Israel has built, penning our communities into small Bantustans that function like open-air prisons.

"Security" is why Israel says it will never give up the Jordan Valley, nearly 30 percent of the West Bank.

In fact, security for both Israelis and Palestinians is mutually interdependent, not mutually exclusive. Israel cannot have security while denying it to Palestinians. When Israel is willing to renounce violence, it will discover how ready we have been as a partner for peace.

Dr. Mustafa Barghouti is Minister of Communication for the Palestinian Authority. He is also the founder of medical organizations which provide health services to more than 1.5 million Palestinians each year.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Responsibility of the Diaspora Communities

From IHP Diaries Blog.
originally posted on May 14, 2007 by Amineh Ayyad.

A few days ago IHP sponsored a talk by Dr. Alice Rothchild, an obstetrician-gynecologist from Harvard University. Alice presented narratives about issues of health and human rights violations in Palestine and read from her recently published book "Broken Promises, Broken Dreams: Stories of Jewish and Palestinian Trauma and Resilience". Alice told stories of Palestinian pregnant women and the effect the Israeli occupation has on their daily lives, specifically the effects of restrictions on movement. A recent example of what Alice talked to us about is the shooting of a pregnant Palestinian woman, Maha, by Israeli soldiers, killing her 7-month-old unborn baby. Emergency teams were prevented from reaching Maha's home.

The Israeli attacks pose immediate danger to mothers and children in particular, which ranks high as the cause for indirect deaths in the area. Access of mothers to post-natal health care services is frequently blocked due to Israel‘s separation wall and the presence of hundreds of Israeli military checkpoints throughout the West Bank. A recent study on perinatal and in
infant mortality published by John Hopkins University found that four out of every 1,000 Palestinian children born die before age one due to Israel‘s restrictions on movement on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Alice wrote in a concluding chapter in her book "I wonder whether the ongoing occupation, dense matrix of bypass roads and checkpoints, and the growth of Jewish settlements have actually made a viable two state solution a physical impossibility. I wonder how two peoples with such a history of trauma and loss can heal their many wounds, and what is the responsibility of the Diaspora communities." In a recent conversation with Dr. Barghouthi, Palestinian Minister of Information and President of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society stated that Israel‘s continuous breaches of international law undermined the potential for peace. I believe that medicine is not separate from politics and a people's right to health in Palestine can only be achieved when there is peace in the region and when we see an end to the occupation.

So, "what is the responsibility of the Diaspora communities" and the international community? W
hat can we do from here?

Monday, June 4, 2007

Global Solidarity Activities Mark 40 Years of Israel’s Occupation of Palestine

by Bahia, 3 June 2007

Ramallah, 03-June-07: Solidarity activities will take place throughout the world this week marking 40 years of Israel’s occupation of West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza. In a press conference held today in Ramallah, Minister of Information, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, presented the details of solidarity events taking place in Palestine, Israel, the Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe, and announced that the Ministry of Information was initiating a series of year-long activities to sustain exposure of Israel’s ongoing military occupation, which he said, had become the longest-running occupation in modern history.

By keeping the Palestinians’ 40-year-old struggle for freedom and self-determination in the media spotlight in this way in addition to global solidarity initiatives, he said that he hoped the campaign would promote greater regional and international efforts to end the occupation.

Dr. Barghouthi also presented a review of 40 years of occupation which began between June 5-10 1967, and in which the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem as well as Arab territories were occupied by Israel.

Forty years later, and in contravention of United Nations resolutions, peace agreements and international law, this occupation not only continues, but has mutated into a fully-fledged system of Apartheid worse than that which prevailed in South Africa. Reiterating the words of former US president Jimmy Carter, Dr. Barghouthi underlined that Apartheid can be identified when two peoples living in the same area are segregated by force, as is the case with the Palestinian and Israeli peoples and where one side is oppressing and prosecuting the other .

He pointed to several characteristics of this Apartheid system, focusing on the creation and continued construction of Israeli settlements built illegally on occupied land and inhabited by 460,000 Israeli-Jewish settlers, and which are sustained by an infrastructure of 543 permanent checkpoints and 600 ‘flying’ checkpoints, and settler-only roads forbidden for use by Palestinians, the first time in history roads have been segregated. He added that this system was being consolidated by Israel’s Wall, which was designed to annex these settlements, and swathes of Palestinian land in the process, to Israel.

At the same time, settlements and the Wall are part of Israel’s long term policy to ethnically cleanse East Jerusalem of its Palestinian population by physically isolating the city from the West Bank and encircling it with a ring of settlements, thereby ‘Judaising’ East Jerusalem.

Further evidence of this system of Apartheid lies in differing levels of access to natural resource, which see Israeli West Bank settlers allocated 2400 m 3 water per year compared to just 50 m3 for Palestinians.

In addition, while GDP per capita in Israel was 6 times higher than that in Palestine in 1993, it has rocketed to a massive 30 times more than the GDP in Palestine in 2007. Despite this, Palestinians are still obliged to buy products at the same Israeli market price due to the forced dependency of the Palestinian economy on Israel. All this in the context of Israel’s continued withholding of Palestinian tax revenues amounting to some US$ 850 million, said Dr. Barg


A Weekend of Events to End the Israeli Occupation
JUNE 8th, 9th, and 10th

A broad group of organizations concerned with peace and justice in the Middle East will mark forty years of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. Weekend events will include theater, visual art, performances, discussions and films.

Seattle Central Community College
Student Activity Center - 1718 Broadway Room 208
6:30 PM -- 8:30 PM

Documentary films and discussion
Personal Narratives: Accounts of the Effects of Occupation

* Dying to Live 2002. 10 minutes.
Producer/Director Amineh Ayyad, member of Friends of Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS)
* In the Spider's Web 2004. 47 min.
Produced by Al-Haq, Palestinian human rights organization. Directed by Hanna Musleh.
* Films will be preceded and followed by short presentations by Amineh Ayyad, and a facilitated discussion/Q&A together with Erin Wade of the
Palestine Solidarity Committee.

Cal Anderson Park
12:00 PM. to 6:00 PM

An outdoor living gameboard with a self-guided all-directions-at-once journey into day-by-day life in military occupation.

Over 80 different board squares present a set of rules which -- like the rules of a military occupation -- may work or may not. Dice will be supplied, or bring your own.
For more information:

Cal Anderson Park
2:00 PM. to 3:00 PM

The Theater Squad presents an outdoor voice-and-image theater performance
adapted from Sophocles; Antigone, exploring the conflict between security, stability, rebellion and freedom. For all of time, I will never be that living person who stood by silent
and did not a thing, did not a thing. Directed by Robert Leigh from an adaptation by local playwright Edward Mast and featuring several local actors, musicians and movement artists.
For more information:
Central Lutheran Church by Cal Anderson Park
1710 11th Ave
3:00 PM

More activities and panel discussions are scheduled to take place on Sunday as well.


Saturday, June 2 at 4:00 p.m.
Newberry Books, 561 NE Ravenna Blvd
Ed Mast will speak on the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Human Rights Perspective. What are the obstacles to equal rights? What are the possibilities?

Ed Mast is a poet, playwright and activist who has traveled many times to Occupied Palestine with the International Solidarity Movement.
For information contact: J. Glenn Evans, Program Director
  • Presentation by the Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek
Wednesday, June 6, at 7p.m.
609 8th Ave, Seattle
The Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek will speak on the topic:

Dr. Ateek will speak about the current state of Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories, which began in 1967, and what steps are needed to end the occupation and bring a lasting peace to the Holy Land.

Dr. Ateek is a Palestinian Episcopal priest and theologian, who founded and directs Sabeel, an ecumenical peace and justice educational and advocacy center in Jerusalem. This free public event is sponsored by the Bishop's Committee on Peace and Justice in Israel / Palestine and Friends of Sabeel-North America.
  • Radio broadcast: POETSWEST AT KSER 90.7 FM
Friday June 8 at 4:30 PM

A special program of Palestinian poetry read by local actors and writers.