Ramona Wadi – Informed Comment https://www.juancole.com Thoughts on the Middle East, History and Religion Thu, 26 Jan 2023 04:45:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.7.8 Israeli Calls for Palestinian Hamlet Khan Al-Ahmar’s Demolition speak of Colonial Violence and Privilege https://www.juancole.com/2023/01/palestinian-demolition-privilege.html Thu, 26 Jan 2023 05:04:41 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=209686 ( Middle East Monitor ) – The former Israeli ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, has told a Likud faction meeting that “illegal Palestinian construction” in the occupied West Bank is “rampant”. He wasn’t being honest.

“Last Friday we made it clear that supporting settlements does not contradict upholding the law,” he claimed. “The defence minister received our backing. We expect the defence minister to act with the same determination in the face of rampant Palestinian illegal construction in the West Bank. We will no longer tolerate discrimination against the settlers.”

Israeli settlements and settlers are, of course, illegal under international law, something that Danon is adept at overlooking when he makes such outrageous claims.

As the Israeli government prepares to submit its response to the High Court over the impending demolition of the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan Al-Ahmar, Danon and Likud MK Yuli Edelstein visited the village, calling for its demolition and accusing the government of selective enforcement over the evacuation of the Or Chaim illegal settler outpost in the occupied West Bank.

In an op-ed, Danon described the EU’s funding of infrastructure in Khan Al-Ahmar as “subversive involvement of international entities in Israel’s domestic affairs” and accused the bloc of violating Israel’s sovereignty and international law. “It is part of an ulterior agenda that seeks to delegitimise Israel’s historical claim to its own land,” Danon wrote.


The Demolition of Khan Al-Ahmar by the IOF – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Completely eliminating Israel’s colonial context and the fact that Khan Al-Ahmar is built on Israeli-occupied Palestinian land, Danon referred to the evacuation of Or Chaim and said, “The law is the law and must be applied to all citizens and communities, Jews and Arabs alike.” However, there is no equivalence between the coloniser and the colonised, as Danon knows well.

Khan al-Ahmar has attracted enough international attention to become newsworthy periodically, and the related activism has ensured that Israel’s violations are fully exposed. The village, though, is also part of a long colonial process that seeks to dispossess Palestinians of their land. Its demolition is not an isolated incident. Earlier expulsions and destruction of properties, including the ethnic cleansing from the 1948 Nakba onwards, need to be kept in mind.

Israel benefits from the international community’s differentiation of colonial settlement expansion. It has gained a veneer of legitimacy for the earlier colonial settlements despite the atrocities committed by Zionist paramilitary terror gangs to establish control over Palestinian territory. Israeli law is justifiable only unto itself and the violence it created. In terms of equality and rights, there is no justification for Israel’s colonial expansion. Likewise, there is no equivalence in calling for the demolition of Khan Al-Ahmar because an illegal (even under Israeli law) settlement outpost was dismantled. Palestinians are rarely issued building permits on what remains of their land. Danon’s use of the word “rampant” is totally dishonest. Indeed, his words only reflect his country’s colonial violence and privilege when calling for Khan Al-Ahmar’s destruction, not to mention targeting an integral part of Palestinian resilience in the face of impending demolition orders.

Lest Danon forgets, Khan Al-Ahmar’s residents relocated to the area after being displaced by Israel in 1950, laying bare the lie of delegitimising “Israel’s historical claim to its own land”. Israel wants territorial contiguity to Jerusalem, not demolitions based on equal rights. Erasing the Palestinian landscape through colonial settlement expansion does not erase the fact that Israel’s settler-colonial population cannot lay legitimate claims to Palestinian land, and neither can the Israeli government. The only claim that Israel can make with any degree of accuracy and honesty is that it colonised Palestine and intends to finalise its colonial enterprise. Khan Al-Ahmar stands in the way of its plans, just as other Palestinian towns and villages did decades ago. More than 500 paid the price and were totally destroyed and wiped off the map.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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Israeli Security Minister Ben-Gvir’s Efforts in the Erasure of Palestinian Identity https://www.juancole.com/2023/01/security-minister-palestinian.html Sat, 21 Jan 2023 05:04:50 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=209578 ( Middle East Monitor ) – Tying in to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement that “the Jewish people have an exclusive and unquestionable right to all areas of the land of Israel” is the recent order by Israel’s Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir to remove Palestinian flags that are publicly displayed. At face value, the directive was prompted by displays of Palestinian flags during recent protests against Netanyahu’s government, as well as the recent release of Palestinian prisoner Karim Younis from Hadarim prison after serving 40 years, and his waving of a Palestinian flag upon arriving at his village of Ara. According to Aljazeera, Younis’s family were instructed by Israel not to celebrate his release from jail.

“It cannot be that lawbreakers wave terrorist flags, incite and encourage terrorism, so I ordered the removal of flags supporting terrorism from the public space and to stop the incitement against Israel,” Ben-Gvir declared.

Yet the speed at which Netanyahu is stifling any form of Palestinian political expression point towards maintaining Israel’s colonial expansion and Palestinian erasure.

Equating Palestinian legitimate anti-colonial resistance with terrorism enabled Israel to build its false security narrative. Colonial opposition to the Palestinian flag dates back to the aftermath of the 1967 war when Israel established its military occupation over all of Palestine. With annexation plans back to the helm, silencing Palestinians is becoming Israel’s new normalised form of violence which the international community will not object to. Removing Palestinian flags is far from a global concern and the action will not raise any urgency, not even for perfunctory statements. The latter, after all, have already been saved for the more visible international law violations, including settlement expansion, forced displacement, and the killing of Palestinian civilians. If diplomats worldwide have failed to act on what the International Criminal Court has clearly deemed to be war crimes, how will a flag resonate enough to catch attention internationally?

For Palestinians, however, Ben Gvir’s directive has grave implications. Not so long ago, during the funeral of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, Israeli police officers disrupted the funeral violently and arrested mourners for displaying the Palestinian flag. In 2017, Israeli snipers killed Palestinian activist and double amputee Ibrahim Abu Thurayya during the Great March of Return demonstrations, who was known for displaying Palestinian flags during protests. Similarly, to Abu Akleh, Israel was able to construct impunity for Abu Thurayya’s killing, claiming that it was impossible to determine his cause of death.

Behind the Palestinian flag displays, there are Palestinians whose voices are being silenced through various repressive means and, at times, murder. What the flag stands for; that is, the perseverance of Palestinians despite the looming annexation, is what Ben Gvir seeks to currently eliminate. Yet the current focus on the Palestinian flag by the Israeli government should not be dissociated from the ultimate plans to colonise all of Palestine. And this is precisely why the international community, if it was truly in favour of Palestinians’ political rights, should go beyond Ben Gvir’s explanation and treat the latest repressive action against Palestinians in terms of colonial violence.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor or Informed Comment.

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Washington cares about Israel killing Palestinian-American Journalist Abu Akleh, but Not about dead unhyphenated Palestinians https://www.juancole.com/2022/11/palestinian-unhyphenated-palestinians.html Sat, 19 Nov 2022 05:04:58 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=208253 ( Middle East Monitor) – Israel is once again, albeit temporarily, under the spotlight for the targeted killing in May of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. This follows the revelation that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is conducting an investigation into the crime. In September, after many denials, Israel conceded there was a “high possibility” that the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) had killed Abu Akleh “accidentally”. Witnesses have said otherwise, and insist that the IDF had specifically targeted journalists who were reporting from Jenin, in the occupied West Bank. Investigations by human rights organisations and respected media outlets have corroborated the witness statements.

Criminal responsibility is something that Israel wants to evade, hence its reaction to the news that the FBI has opened an investigation into the IDF crime. When Israel ran its own “investigation”, the US supported the findings and adopted the Israeli narrative that Abu Akleh was merely a victim of tragic circumstances, rather than targeted deliberately for assassination.

Israel was informed by the US Justice Department that the FBI is conducting a probe. Abu Akleh carried dual nationality, so US law made this inevitable. Predictably, Israeli officials have said that they will not cooperate with the Bureau. Outgoing Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz had the gall to call the investigation “a mistake” while reminding Washington that the IDF “has conducted a professional, independent investigation.” The IDF investigating its own soldiers is, obviously, anything but “independent”, yet for Israel “independence” simply means that no other entity must interfere with its ability to act with impunity.


Israel shoots dead Al Jazeera journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, during invasion of Jenin – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Prime Minister Yair Lapid repeated the same erroneous arguments about the IDF being a “moral and values-based army” while insisting that the institution thoroughly investigates “aberrant incidents”. Lapid upheld the Israeli narrative that the IDF soldier who killed Abu Akleh was defending himself from alleged terrorist gunfire. “We will not abandon IDF soldiers to foreign investigations, and our strong protest has been conveyed to the Americans at the appropriate levels,” he insisted.

Abu Akleh was a US citizen, which gives Washington leverage over opening a probe into the killing. However, the criminal investigation is tainted by the US-Israel political alliance. For the US, the investigation is only happening because of Abu Akleh’s nationality; other Palestinians killed by Israel don’t garner any US attention. Within the wider political framework, therefore, it needs to be acknowledged that the Palestinian identity of Abu Akleh is of no concern to Washington. According to Axios, the White House and the US State Department were not behind the FBI’s decision to open an investigation, which would indicate that the US government seeks to leave intact Israel’s colonial violence as a political strategy.

Israel’s refusal to cooperate is nothing new, but the US choosing to focus on criminal responsibility while eliminating the colonial politics that resulted in Abu Akleh’s murder should be noted. The investigation rests on US, not Palestinian, citizenship, which means that Abu Akleh would have been just another forgotten name were it not for her being a dual national. Clearly, the US will set its boundaries as regards the investigation into the IDF’s targeted killing of Abu Akleh, and other Palestinians will fall outside the established parameters, leaving the settler-colonial enterprise free to keep expanding over the land of occupied Palestine and killing Palestinians with impunity.

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With Israeli Expulsionists in Power, US SecState Blinken can’t Assuage Palestinian Fears With talk of defunct “Two-State Solution” https://www.juancole.com/2022/11/expulsionists-palestinian-solution.html Wed, 09 Nov 2022 05:02:31 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=208061 ( Middle East Monitor) – With Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu set to return as Israeli prime minister, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, spouting yet another round of futile rhetoric about improving the quality of life for Palestinians and, of course, reaffirming Washington’s adherence to the — surely defunct — two-state paradigm. According to US State Department spokesperson Ned Price, Blinken’s call to outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid was very similar to what was told to Abbas regarding deescalating “heightened tensions” in the occupied West Bank. Of course, despite the similar wording, the clear expectation is that Palestinians get the blame and Israel enjoys impunity. It’s business as usual.

Netanyahu’s government is predicted to be the most far-right that Israel has ever had. This means that the Palestinians can expect serious repercussions with Itamar Ben-Gvir, leader of the far right Otzma Yehudit, propelled to a probable ministerial appointment following last week’s General Election. In a call to Netanyahu, US President Joe Biden reassured him of America’s “unquestionable” commitment to Israel and the hope for “more historic peace deals”, a nod to extending the Abraham Accords.


Israeli election and the possible come-back of Netanyahu – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

The Biden administration’s routine reassurances stand in contrast to the losses that Palestinians keep incurring as a result of the US foreign policy’s inherent bias towards Israel. While the US so far seems apprehensive about political cooperation with someone as extreme as Ben-Gvir, the latter’s influence will not be diminished just because of probable marginalisation by Washington.

Netanyahu and former US President Donald Trump left a legacy which has been normalised by the international community. The normalisation agreements with some Arab states are the new veneer of respectability behind which Israel can hone its ability to act with impunity. Meanwhile, the connection between state and settler violence – a permanent fixture of Israeli colonialism – is set to expand in the next government. The international community will, of course, turn a blind eye, as it has throughout the decades. Annexation, which the Trump administration warned repeatedly was merely suspended and not cancelled altogether, will possibly make a stronger comeback with the political inroads that the far right in Israel has made.

With Netanyahu’s win, settlers are expecting an acceleration of the apartheid state’s colonial expansion. While the Abraham Accords have been wrongly credited with preventing annexation, it is more likely that the agreements will provide enough economic incentives for governments to turn a blind eye to the de facto annexation that arises out of Israel’s illegal, colonial settlements and the infrastructure of occupation that sustains them. The two-state compromise, lauded by Abbas despite it being obsolete, is no longer part of official Israeli rhetoric. Lapid’s nod towards the paradigm at the UN General Assembly this year had no value then, and has much less now, not only because the international community has no intention of fulfilling its diplomatic moves, but also because Netanyahu ensured during his previous terms of office that Palestine is a secondary consideration in any agreement with Arab countries.

Blinken’s reassurances to Abbas are futile, to say the least; empty words. Palestinians will be facing a government that will most likely be more vocal in its intent to marginalise and eliminate them, yet Blinken is only able to come up with talk about enhancing Palestinians’ security and freedom. That’s a circle that can never be squared. Palestinians have neither security nor freedom as a result of Israel’s colonial existence. How long, I wonder, will it take the US to renege on its rhetoric for the benefit of Israel’s fake security narrative under Netanyahu’s new far-right regime?

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor or Informed Comment.

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Should Palestine be accepted as a Member State at the UN? Conundrums of the 2-State Compromise https://www.juancole.com/2022/09/palestine-conundrums-compromise.html Fri, 02 Sep 2022 04:04:48 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=206722 ( Middle East Monitor ) – The Palestinian Authority is once again seeking full membership of the UN, and the US has already expressed its opposition. The two-state compromise continues to form the premise for the arguments both for and against UN membership, as presented by the PA and the US respectively. However, the PA’s political decision-making is so fragmented, that its arguments in favour of the two-state compromise only strengthen those within the international community, and in this case the US, who oppose Palestine becoming a full UN member state.

Relying solely on two-state diplomacy, a US State Department spokesperson quoted by Axios said: “The only realistic path to a comprehensive and lasting peace is through direct negotiations between the parties. There are no shortcuts to Palestinian statehood outside direct negotiations with Israel.” According to Axios, the US has already warned that it will veto the proposed statehood at the UN Security Council.

Full UN membership would strengthen Palestine’s statehood recognition within the international community, which the US says should not precede the two-state compromise. However, the US has also adopted Israel’s narrative that the time is not right to embark upon negotiations, preferring to speak vaguely about political horizons and hope, even as the ongoing expansion of illegal Israeli settlements confirm the demise of the two-state hypothesis which the Middle East Quartet declared to be obsolete in 2016.

While a US veto is undoubtedly a big hurdle for the PA — and it will determine how far it can get at the UN — the authority has also failed to build the case for Palestine’s recognition as a UN member state. In diplomatic circles, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas takes his cues from donor funding and the ensuing acquiescence that international donors expect in return for Palestinians being forced into a perpetual humanitarian paradigm.

If the two-state “solution” is touted as the reason why Palestinians should or should not pursue full UN membership, then Palestinian independence is already doomed. The US and Israel, as well as the international community for that matter, have no intention of allowing Palestinians to have any degree of political or other independence.

The Palestinian Ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, gave a prime example of how even the question of Palestinian statehood through full UN membership is being used primarily to advance the politics which have kept Palestinians colonised. “It would be hard to explain that in addition to being reluctant to hold Israel accountable for destroying the two-state solution before our eyes, you would also oppose a positive way that contributes to saving the two-state solution, which is the official policy of the United States,” Mansour told the Times of Israel.

If the PA’s ambition is to save the rhetoric of the two-state compromise, all it has to do is abide by what the international community dictates to Ramallah. The paradigm is already destroyed, so talk of saving or implementing it only spells further delays as Israel accelerates its illegal settlement expansion. The treachery is that the PA speaks of full UN membership only from an external perspective, as if Palestine is no longer Palestinian, but a caricature drafted by Israel’s colonial accomplices.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor or Informed Comment.

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Israeli Leaders Gantz and Lapid May differ on Meeting Abbas, but They agree on the Fate of the Palestinians https://www.juancole.com/2022/08/israeli-leaders-meeting-palestinians.html Fri, 19 Aug 2022 04:06:24 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=206458 ( Middle East Monitor ) – For Israeli officials who disagree with the meetings between Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, the latter’s remarks during a press conference in Germany provided an opportunity to showcase their opposition. Abbas later retracted his statement about Israel committing 50 holocausts against the Palestinians and thus strengthened the Israeli manipulation of the Holocaust narrative even further. It would have been better if he had turned to the Palestinian Nakba narratives to make a point about the ongoing Zionist colonial violence in occupied Palestine against the Palestinians.

However, Gantz’s justification is of more concern than Abbas’s statements and the momentary flurry of faux outrage that his words prompted. Keeping in mind that Israel is embarking upon coercion to attempt to convince the PA to abide by the 2020 Abraham Accords, Gantz is exploiting rhetoric of “war” and economic prosperity to keep detractors at bay. Neither signifies anything good for the Palestinians.

“It’s best if those who aren’t responsible for sending soldiers to battle and aren’t responsible for the lives of citizens of Israel and the soldiers in the IDF [Israel “Defence” Forces], don’t lecture me about meetings that prevented and are preventing the next war, and are bringing stability out in the field and freedom and diplomatic freedom,” Gantz declared.

There was, of course, no war in Gaza recently. Israel instigated a military offensive against a largely civilian population. It was an act of aggression which Prime Minister Yair Lapid confirmed later was intended to act as a warning to the Palestinians in the besieged enclave. His message was simple: Subjugate yourselves to our demands, or face annihilation. Economic prosperity, which has kept the occupied West Bank under the PA’s authoritarian violence, is what Israel wants for Gaza.

This is nothing new. Prior to the Abraham Accords, various diplomats and UN officials had expressed how much easier it is to negotiate with the PA and speculated about aid being used as an incentive to take the PA’s influence into Gaza. While former US President Donald Trump’s parting legacy may be the driving force behind his successor Joe Biden’s pro-Israel policy, the normalisation agreements have decades of subtle influences which all contribute to the current scenario. Normalising the PA, despite its violence, is one tactic which the international community has used routinely.

Gantz also attempted to deploy the humanitarian paradigm in his statements. “I hope to continue and conduct diplomacy responsibly in the area, specifically with the Palestinians, for Israel’s safety and not out of political consideration.”

Every time that Israel or the UN attempts a political manoeuvre with the Palestinians, both are quick to point out that political considerations are not a driving force. However, forcing Palestinians into a humanitarian predicament is a political choice made by Israel and its international allies, as was Lapid’s decision to initiate another brutal offensive against Gaza in the name of economic prosperity.

While Israeli politicians may argue about Gantz’s decision to continue meeting with Abbas based upon the recent statements, it is the former army chief of staff who holds enough sway to influence the PA towards Israel’s demands. There is no contradiction between Gantz and Lapid’s intentions. The PA’s existence is subject to international financial donors; if that fact is taken as groundwork by Israel, then the Palestinians are being set up for a much bigger and possibly irreversible loss of land and liberty.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor or Informed Comment.

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Faced with Killing of American Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, US Priority has been to Preserve Israel’s Impunity https://www.juancole.com/2022/07/journalist-priority-impunity.html Fri, 29 Jul 2022 04:06:39 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=206059 ( Middle East Monitor) – The developments in the “investigation” into the targeted killing of Palestinian-American Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh point rather too obviously to the preservation of Israel’s ability to act with impunity. Matters went downhill in the aftermath of Abu Akleh’s killing when Israeli military spokesman Ran Kochav put forward an ugly and false equivalence between the Israel Defence Forces and Palestinian journalists: “They’re armed with cameras, if you’ll permit me to say so.”

After the Palestinian Authority agreed to hand over the bullet that killed Abu Akleh for a supposedly independent ballistic analysis supervised by the US, the results were “inconclusive”, as reported by State Department Spokesman Ned Price. “We will remain engaged with Israel and the PA on next steps and urge accountability,” he added. “We again offer our deepest condolences to the Abu Akleh family.”

So engrossed is the US in establishing accountability, that not even a brief meeting with Abu Akleh’s relatives was on US President Joe Biden’s agenda when he visited Israel and the occupied West Bank earlier this month. This dismissive approach prompted her relatives to seek a meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington, which met with even more contempt from administration officials. The meeting, Price stated, would provide “the secretary an opportunity to convey messages to them – it will be a message of condolence, there will be a message of the priority we attach to accountability going forward.” Although dialogue with the family members was mentioned, it is clear that the agenda led by the US State Department has nothing to do with establishing channels of communication. If the US really was serious in its commitment to accountability, Abu Akleh’s family would not have needed to initiate further contact with US diplomats. If human rights were truly upheld and universal, they would not have to beg for justice in Washington.

The family is exhibiting greater awareness, stating that its mission for justice is not merely for Abu Akleh, but also an attempt to shield other Palestinians from going through a similar ordeal. The recognition that Abu Akleh’s family gives in this regard is commendable, and speaks more of human rights than diplomats or sensationalised media reports ever do. It conveys an acknowledgement – one that has been experienced directly – of Israel’s targeted killings of Palestinian civilians, and goes a step further in asserting the Palestinian narrative through referring to the bigger picture of Israel’s colonial violence.

Blinken’s tweet summarises the US nonchalance. Surely, Abu Akleh’s relatives have not embarked on such a journey to listen to statements that are so repetitive one could find them on a commercial condolence card, albeit minus the “tragic killing”, or targeted assassination, part. Shireen’s niece, Lina Abu Akleh, has called for a process of accountability which includes both the soldier who pulled the trigger and the officer who issued the order. However, there is no remorse from officials towards a dual national with US citizenship who was killed by Israel. Her US citizenship is only being exploited to elaborate the diplomatic statements published by the State Department.

Shielding Israel, however, remains a priority for the US, which continues to give billions of dollars in military aid to help the settler-colonial enterprise oppress Palestinian civilians who may, like Shireen Abu Akleh, also find themselves the subject of a targeted killing. How many more must lose their lives before someone in Washington wakes up to the fact that supporting a rogue state like Israel is simply unacceptable for any country claiming to be a democracy?

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In Biden World, Palestinians are not an Occupied Nation-in-Waiting but a mere Charity Case https://www.juancole.com/2022/07/palestinians-occupied-waiting.html Fri, 15 Jul 2022 04:04:40 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=205794 ( Middle East Monitor ) – When the Palestinian Authority leader jumped on the US bandwagon spouting status quo rhetoric, he should have remembered President Joe Biden’s dedication to Zionism and colonial Israel. Upon arriving in Israel yesterday for a two day visit during which he will also go to the occupied West Bank, Biden said, “I realised that I had the great honour to be part of the great history of this country. I’ll say it again, you need not be a Jew to be a Zionist.” That “great history”, remember, is built upon a distorted narrative and the ethnic cleansing of the people of Palestine.

Israeli media have described clearly the discrepancies in Biden’s visit. In Israel, he will be meeting with Israeli leaders, given tours of Israeli security systems and visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, built near the ruins of Deir Yassin, the village where the infamous massacre of Palestinian men, women and children took place at the hands of Zionist terrorists in 1948. The irony will no doubt be lost on the US president. In stark contrast, in the occupied West Bank Biden will be meeting with Mahmoud Abbas and visiting a hospital for Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem. Getting away from the humanitarian paradigm in occupied Palestine is essential — it is, after all, a political not simply a humanitarian issue at its core — and yet the PA continues to settle for slivers of aid which only serve to boost Israel’s impunity. Axios reported that Biden will be announcing a pledge of $100 million in aid to Palestinian hospitals.

Humanitarian aid has changed nothing for Palestinians, other than exacerbate the colonial violence which Israel instigates against the Palestinian population, knowing full well that the international community will intervene financially to ease some of their suffering. Pledging financial aid to Palestinians hospitals, while necessary for their survival, is also evidence of how the US is willing to step in to protect Israel’s violations of international law. It is impossible to forget that tens of thousands of Palestinians have needed hospital treatment as a direct result of Israeli state and settler violence.

For the PA, these aid gimmicks are tried and tested, and do not require Abbas to step out of his comfort zone. Biden’s gesture will also reinforce Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz’s overtures to Abbas, designed to keep the subservient PA in power and the Palestinian people subjugated. Work permits are not synonymous with freedom, and the fact that Palestinians are being forced to accept survival over freedom says much about the PA’s non-existent leadership and its dependence upon Israel to survive in its illegitimate political realm. Gantz, meanwhile, has been lauding Biden for being “a true friend of Israel”.

According to Biden, the two-state compromise “remains the best way to ensure a future of equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy for Israelis and Palestinians alike.” Since taking office, rhetoric about “equal measures” has been a staple of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, yet nothing out of the vague idealistic concept has materialised. Of course, Israeli colonialism stands in the way, just as much as the two-state compromise impedes Palestinians from decolonisation.

So far, the US has only strived to keep the PA afloat by cajoling Israel into giving the Palestinian people meagre concessions to survive, tactics which the PA celebrates as a prelude to negotiations. The PA did the same when Biden was elected and Abbas prostrated himself unequivocally to garner US favour, instead of acknowledging that Biden would simply endorse Trump’s legacy against a backdrop of the politics of the bogus two-state “solution”.

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Occupying Habits. Everyday Media as Warfare in Israel-Palestine https://www.juancole.com/2022/07/occupying-everyday-palestine.html Sun, 10 Jul 2022 05:55:23 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=205708 Reviw of Daniel Mann, Occupying Habits. Everyday Media as Warfare in Israel-Palestine. London: I.B. Tauris

( Middle East Monitor) – “Sovereignty is made out of a patchwork, weaved together from institutions, private companies, and most significantly technology itself, which dictates certain behaviour and habits.” Israel’s security narrative has become heavily reliant on media technology, as Daniel Mann’s book “Occupying Habits: Everyday Media as Warfare in Israel-Palestine” (I.B.Tauris, 2022) shows. Drawing upon the Israeli Defence Forces’s archives, the author discovers that the expansion of media technology has actually created a form of impunity for the military and the state, while desensitising Israeli soldiers and the settler population in the process.

The desensitisation which Mann writes about is intertwined with the perception of home and violence, which in Israel are synonymous and which Hagar Kotef discussed in her book, “The Colonising Self Or, Home and Homelessness in Israel/Palestine” and which the author refers to in his treatise to show how the colonial experience is attached to violence, while also detached from the consequences which the Palestinian victims suffer. The home is also the place where Israelis can view through media technology and in a detached manner, the IDF’s violence against Palestinian civilians. Building upon Kotef’s research, Mann writes how the home rooted in colonial violence sanctifies life for the colonisers and vilifies, as well as constructs a site of violence, the homes of Palestinians.

Mann writes, “the more media technologies were incorporated into the very fabric of the occupation, the less evidence I could find of its application by the IDF.” The increasing use of social media has expanded Israel’s control and as a result, the way Israel’s military occupation is portrayed, or promoted, depending on who is behind the lens, has also altered. With such alterations, Israel and the IDF have been able to increase their oppression and colonial violence against Palestinian civilians, and create alternative options when it comes to deciding or declining accountability and responsibility.

While media technology can record the state’s abusive power, it can also be incorporated into the state’s apparatus, as Israel and the IDF did, creating a new form of warfare that is manipulative and also strengthens the state’s narrative of security threats.#

Spacing Debt. Obligations, Violence, and Endurance in Ramallah, Palestine

The author notes that the IDF’s film unit traces its roots back to 1948, its role changing through decades from accompanying combatants to taking the role of journalists in recent decades, when the military started reassessing the role of media technology and media coverage. Mann writes of how phone companies play a role in structuring the IDF’s media technology, noting that Motorola had signed a $100 million contract with the IDF. “The central role of cellular companies strengthened the know between private communication companies and surveillance,” Mann writes. As media technology use increased in Israel by 2006, the IDF had to content with the singular use of social media by its soldiers as well, thus opening a possibility of liability for both state and institution. “Individuating soldieries through the exposure of their faces, therefore, constitute an inherent threat to this collective authority.”

On one hand, the author notes, such liability could, possibly, contribute to evidence of Israeli military violence against Palestinian civilians as a result of the soldiers’ individual use of social media and posting. However, the IDF has also emphasised the singular use of media technology to differentiate between the soldier posting acts of violence and the institution itself. “The IDF can afford the admission of a singular violent act in order to spare the system itself.” Additionally, instances where individual soldiers’ violence was recorded and disseminated on social media rarely sparked the majority’s outrage within Israel, as happened in the case of Elor Azaria, where only 30 per cent of the Israeli public condemned the extrajudicial killing of a Palestinian civilian.

The defensive stance which the Israeli colonial state has so successfully disseminated is also entrenched within Israeli society, as Mann notes: “The model of the defence self that kills the other.”

Being There, Being Here: Palestinian Writings in the World

Other forms of impunity which exist within Israel include the use of sniper teams, as well as public lynching of Palestinian civilians by Israeli settler-colonists. “When violence takes place out in the open, in front of the cameras, it hides in plain sight,” Mann writes. Even if the culprits are identified, the crowd is still protected through the same impunity which the IDF generates for itself when a soldier is identified and his action described as a singular violent act with allegedly no links to the IDF or the Israeli state itself.

In his introduction, Mann notes that Israel has constantly blurred the lines between the military and civil society. The widespread use of media technology has enabled the IDF to make use of the ambiguity which enables the state the strengthen its survival – by transferring responsibility solely upon the individual, the state’s institutions are permanently safeguarded. It is the obfuscation which the book seeks to delve into, which in turn also exposes the limited understanding we can have of media technology in Israel, unless its use is analysed from within the colonial framework.

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