The Israel-Palestine Conflict

Guess whom I am touring with next?

Dear Dr. Finkelstein,

I recently heard you quote a U.S. Government study on Hamas that you used to support the fact that Hamas is interested in resolving the conflict along the internationally recognized terms (67 borders, right of return for refugees). Could you tell me the name of that study and how to obtain it?

Unrelated question: I’m nearly finished reading your book ‘Beyond Chutzpah’ which I find quite impressive. I’m going through appendix III in the part where you discuss the general public’s (in Israel) support for the terms of a two-state solution and for the harsh tactics employed by Israel against the Palestinians. You quote a study (Arian 2003) which reports that 88% of Israelis supported home demolitions in 2003 an 92% supported “political liquidations”. Considering that ~20% of Israel’s population is Arab isn’t that a bit surprising in your view?…especially since Israel employs many racist policies concerning housing even within Israel? That figure would imply that a significant fraction (~40%) of Arab-Israeli’s support demolitions – even if you assume that fully 100% of Jewish Israelis support house demolitions (which can’t be the case making the paradox worse). What, in your opinion, accounts for that apparent paradox? Maybe I missed that only Jewish Israelis were polled (I admit I haven’t tried to find the study myself) but that possibility didn’t seem to be the case from studying the table you present in Beyond Chutzpah. Could it really be that a significant fraction of Palestinian-Israelis support such horrible things?!

Finally, my mom sent me a cool Ska song on Youtube by a Latin American band that I thought you might enjoy! Cheers.

Such a pity Israel killed Eichmann. He so wanted to get married and start a family.

Military committee accepts appeal filed by Taysir Hayb, who was sentenced to eight years in prison for shooting Tom Hurndall in Rafah in 2003. Judges rule soldier has turned his life around, no longer poses a threat. Military Advocacy: Release could hurt Israel-UK ties

Hanan Greenberg

After six and a half years in jail and four committees which discussed mitigating his sentence, the Israel Defense Forces on Monday agreed to release soldier Taysir Hayb, who killed a British peace activist in Rafah.

The committee rejected the Military Advocacy’s stand that the soldier’s release, a year and a half before he was originally scheduled to complete his jail term, may damage Israel’s relations with Britain.

Hayb, 27, joined the army’s desert patrol unit. In 2003, he was involved in the shooting of International Solidarity Movement civilian activist Tom Hurndall, who worked as photographer and was documenting the activities at the Philadelphi Route area.

After a long trial, the soldier was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to eight years in prison. After serving three years in a military jail, he was handed over to the Israel Prison Service and began a rehabilitation process.

He first appealed to a military committee to mitigate his sentence after four years in prison, but the Military Advocacy insisted that he should not be released due to the severity of the act and the harsh British response the release was likely to spark.

Two additional appeals filed with the committee were denied. On Monday morning, he faced the committee – led by Colonel Erez Porat, president of the Southern Command and Ground Forces’ military court – once again.

Wishes to get married
The Military Advocate General reiterated its objection to the early release, but the soldier’s lawyer, Attorney Idan Pesach, outlined the changes that have taken place in Hayb’s lifestyle, the internalization that he has undergone following the incident and his desire to rehabilitate himself and start his life outside of prison.

The soldier’s mother also asked the judges to release her son. Hayb himself said he was engaged and wishes to get married and start a family.

After a brief consultation, the committee members declared that they believe the soldier has turned his life around and no longer poses a threat.

In addition, the judges ruled that the time that has passed since the incident has weakened the arguments to keep him incarcerated, and announced that the soldier is to be released in one month.

Upon hearing the verdict, Hayb’s family let out cries of joy and embraced.

It seems the Military Advocate General does not intend to utilize the option of petitioning the High Court of Justice against the decision, and will likely allow the soldier’s release from prison.

Amazing! A Western public official who utters several consecutive words that actually contain a shred of truth

Former EU commissioner Chris Patten calls Gaza blockade an immoral failure and says bloc must be more independent

The European Union must shake off US dominance and take a bolder approach in pressing for a settlement of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, the former EU commissioner Chris Patten said today on a visit to Gaza.

Israel’s policy of blockading Gaza had been a “terrible failure – immoral, illegal and ineffective”, he said, which had “deliberately triggered an economic and social crisis which has many humanitarian consequences”.

In an interview with the Guardian, the former Conservative cabinet minister suggested it was time to reassess the isolation of Hamas, saying that approach had failed to weaken it.

Patten’s visit, his first since 2002, coincided with a lightning second trip by the EU foreign policy chief, Lady Ashton, who called on Israel to open Gaza’s borders rather than merely allow in more consumer goods.

Ashton’s second visit since her appointment last December “showed a preparedness to be more independent-minded,” said Patten. “The default European position should not be to wait to find out what the Americans are going to do, and if the Americans don’t do anything to wring our hands. We should be prepared to be more explicit in setting out Europe’s objectives and doing more to try to implement them.”

He implicitly criticised US dominance of the Middle East quartet – the US, EU, UN and Russia – by saying he concurred with the description of it by the leader of the Arab League as the “quartet sans trois“.

Patten, who found it “easier to get into a maximum security prison in the UK than to enter Gaza”, said Israel’s relaxation of its blockade had not gone far enough. “It’s moved from about minus 10 to about minus eight. It doesn’t do anything to help restore economic activity in Gaza.

“It’s difficult to understand what preventing exports has to do with security. It has everything to do with the view that Gaza should be collectively punished to discredit Hamas. Unfortunately there are some centuries, if not millennia, of history that show that does not work. Presumably the international community as well as Israel wants at some stage – sooner rather than later – to be able to persuade Gaza and its political leadership to take a course which will lead to reconciliation and peace and stability. It’s difficult to know how you accomplish that if you deny the people of Gaza any social or economic progress.”

On earlier visits, he said, he had observed “a community that was poor, but at least economic activity was taking place”. Since the blockade, “economic and commercial life has been squeezed out of Gaza in what looks and feels and is like a medieval siege”.

Israel’s change in policy was not a “fundamental shift in its position but it has plainly deflated some of the criticism” following the lethal assault on the aid flotilla on 31 May. That, he added, was “a terrible own goal” for Israel.

On negotiations with Hamas, Patten referred to his involvement with the Northern Ireland peace process, which “would not have been successfully concluded if we hadn’t – with considerable American encouragement – agreed to talk to Sinn Fein/IRA.

“You don’t always agree with people you talk to – indeed sometimes you find them despicable – but you need to ease them out of the corners into which they’ve painted themselves rather than lay on the paint much thicker.

“I think it’s wholly reasonable to say we couldn’t deal with Hamas unless they agreed to a comprehensive and complete ceasefire. But do we need to insist on them accepting all past agreements? Has Israel accepted all past agreements? If you simply isolate them, do you weaken them?” In fact, he said, “you strengthen people who are even more extreme than they are”.

Before crossing to Gaza with the charity Medical Aid for Palestinians, of which he is president, Patten visited the West Bank and was shocked by the “huge new settlements”.

“We’re told there is an ‘unprecedented freeze’, but I saw large numbers of houses and flats being built as we speak. One of the key elements of a final agreement [between Israel and the Palestinians] will be how you cope with settlements. The more difficult it is to secure a viable and contiguous Palestinian state, the more difficult a final agreement will be.”

If two states were no longer possible, then there would have to be one state on the land, he said. “But can you have that and retain a Jewish state which is democratic? I haven’t heard anyone argue that convincingly.”

He said public opinion in Europe and Britain was moving in favour of a change in Israeli policy towards Palestinians, but that could be endangered by growing demands for a boycott of Israel.

“I don’t think a boycott would help,” he said. “It could have the reverse consequences to those intended.”

You decide!

Untitled from aneta on Vimeo.

EVERYBODY’S got a right to live (sing along, remember the people of Gaza)

Israeli with a heart (of gold)

Activist paints pro-Palestinian slogans on revered Holocaust site.

Former Israeli Air Force captain and Israel boycott activist Yonatan Shapira spray-painted pro-Palestinian graffiti on the walls of the Warsaw Ghetto last week, Channel 10 reported on Sunday.

Shapira was shown on camera the previous Sunday spraying the slogans “Free all ghettos” and “Free Palestine and Gaza” on the walls of the Jewish ghetto in the Polish city – famed site of Jewish resistance to the Nazis – and then hoisting upon the wall a Palestinian flag on a rope with a bottle attached at the end that he threw over the other side.

Speaking for himself and a friend who assisted him in the endeavor, Shapira expressed pride in his work and the political statement it sought to convey.

“We think it would be great that when the next groups of Israeli kids come to visit the Warsaw Ghetto they will see that a bunch of Israeli and international activists have left behind a surprise for them.”

Shapira added, “Gaza is the ghetto.”

10 Israelis to sue Al-Jazeera for unflattering angle shots that accentuate their “Semitic probosces”

A group of 91 Israelis wounded by Hezbollah rockets during the 2006 Second Lebanon War is suing the Arab news network Al-Jazeera for $1.2 billion in a New York court for allegedly aiding the Lebanese guerrillas, their lawyer said Tuesday.

Nitzana Darshan-Leitner said the suit, which was filed Monday, claims the Qatar-based news network intentionally violated Israel’s military censorship regulations and reported the precise locations of rocket strikes in Israel in live broadcasts during the month-long 2006 war.
Journalists at Lebanon border

The reporting enabled Hezbollah to aim its rockets more accurately at Israeli targets, the suit alleges.

There was no immediate comment from Al-Jazeera.

Hezbollah launched around 4,000 rockets into Israel during the month-long war in 2006. The fighting killed 159 Israelis and 1,200 people in Lebanon.

“Al-Jazeera made itself a crucial component of the Hezbollah rocket offensive.The intent was to assist the terrorists in targeting and killing civilians,” said Darshan-Leitner. “Without the assistance of Al-Jazeera’s on-the-ground spotters, Hezbollah would have been unable to accurately aim its rockets into Israeli cities.”

Israel’s military censor prohibited media outlets from reporting the locations of rocket strikes during the fighting, and Israeli police detained Al-Jazeera crews several times for violating the edict and broadcasting real-time information, though no formal charges were ever filed.

The lawsuit was filed on the fourth anniversary of the start of the war.

Haim Kaplan, who was wounded in the first day of fighting and his northern Israel home damaged, said the lawsuit aimed to hold all those connected to the rocket attacks accountable.

“Anyone involved in supporting terror should pay the price and anyone who thinks about doing so should think twice,” he said.


After an unofficial nine-month “moratorium,” the Israeli government has returned with a vengeance to its policy of demolishing Palestinian homes. Yesterday, July 13, six homes were demolished in East Jerusalem.


In Jabal Mukaber, the homes of the Tawil family (15 people) and the Masrawi family (six people) were demolished. In Beit Hanina, the municipality demolished the home of the Rajabi family (6 people). And in Issawaiyeh, three homes in advanced stages of construction were demolished: one of the Dari family, another belonging to the Nasser family and a third of the Abu Rameileh family.   


Today, in the West Bank, a reservoir belonging to the Jabar family was demolished by the Civil Administration, and other buildings are threatened. (This, despite the fact that the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement, which already has four large municipal swimming pools, is constructing a water park complete with an artificial lake.)


All this, plus municipal approval for the demolition of 22 homes in the Silwan neighborhood, continued pressure to remove Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah – and the approval by the municipality this week of 54 new housing units for the Pisgat Ze’ev settlement.


Despite claims that Palestinian houses, reservoirs and other buildings are “illegal,” demolition is merely another face of ethnic cleansing, since the Jerusalem municipality, the Ministry of Interior and the Civil Administration of the West Bank all deny Palestinians the right to build homes on their own property.  Although the pressure to demolish is constant – the Israeli authorities have demolished 24,000 Palestinian homes since 1967 and new orders are issued daily – the current wave of demolitions can only be explained only on the background of Prime minister Netanyahu’s visit to Washington a few weeks ago. For the past decade or so demolition orders can be executed only with the approval of the Prime Minister’s Office; these are not municipal-level decisions, even if the municipality presses for demolitions.


Only one of two explanations for the wave of demolitions is therefore possible. Either Israel has received a green (OK, blinking orange) light that the US will not object vociferously to demolitions – and, in fact, the State Department issued a mild statement describing the demolitions as “unhelpful,” the same term Hillary Clinton used when homes were demolished during her visit to Ramallah. Or Netanyahu, flush from his victory over Obama in the Biden affair, when Congress overwhelmingly supported the Israeli position of building settlements over that of their own Administration, felt free to return to his aggressive policies of “judaization.” Basking in the warm embrace he just received at the White House, Netanyahu knows he has nothing to fear from an increasingly weakened Obama Administration.



It is becoming obvious – if it wasn’t already – that the United States will not, or cannot “deliver” a just peace in Israel-Palestine. Even if an Administration tries to pursue a more critical line towards Israel, its hands will inevitably be tied by Congress. The time has come to pursue a “working around America” strategy, mobilizing the civil societies of Europe, Latin America, Africa and perhaps Asia as well to create a global consensus that either presses for a just solution to the conflict on its own, or prods the US to become constructively involved by virtue of its international isolation. The present wave of demolitions demonstrates the bankruptcy and ineffectiveness of the American “approach.” 24,000 demolitions later (and counting), it is time to look elsewhere.



The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions is based in Jerusalem and has chapters in the United Kingdom and the United States.

Please visit our websites:

Something we can do

This coming Tuesday, July 20th, CREF will hold its annual meeting in New York City. This is the one time a year where the leadership of TIAA-CREF sits down with fund participants and listens in person to their concerns. We certainly have a concern about the Israeli occupation, and we want to make sure that they hear us loud and clear.

We have barely started collecting signatures for our petition, and thanks to you we have surpassed the 5,900 mark. We need your help reaching out to friends, family, and co-workers right now. Help us greet the fund’s directors this Tuesday with 10,000 names in favor of divestment!

Israeli bulldozers resumed bulldozing Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem this week. Palestinians suffer and TIAA-CREF earns a profit. Why is TIAA-CREF invested in Caterpillar? We know that TIAA-CREF is taking us seriously, but this is only the beginning. We need your help to keep our momentum growing and let TIAA-CREF know that more and more people are asking it to divest from injustice.

We’re coming to the meeting on Tuesday with a large number of postcards. So many of you asked for postcards that we ran out! Please tell your friends to sign our online petition today.Whether you’ve signed the postcard or the petition, we will bring you with us to the July 20 meeting!


Sydney Levy
Jewish Voice for Peace

Ask friends and family to sign.

Help us get
signatures for divestment
by Tuesday!

I am shocked! shocked!

Israel’s Channel 10 secured a video (Hebrew) recorded in 2001 during the height of a Palestinian terror campaign against Israel and the settlements.  It records a condolence call Bibi Netanyahu, recently “retired” from politics after losing the prime ministership and leaving the Sharon government (where he had been Finance Minister), pays on a group of West Bank widows whose husbands had been killed by Palestinian attacks.

For those on the Israeli right who claim that the Oslo Accords broke down due to Palestinian terror or any such thing, watch this and you will see that Bibi brags that he destroyed Oslo.  Even if you discount this by half as the braggadocio of a macho Israeli politician, it’s still eye-opening.  Gideon Levy too has written about this footage in Haaretz.

Note in the first passage how Bibi brags that he has America wrapped around his thumb.  The cynicism is breathtaking.  Here is Dena Shunra’s translation:

Bibi:…The Arabs are currently focusing on a war of terror and they think it will break us. The main thing, first of all, is to hit them. Not just one blow, but blows that are so painful that the price will be too heavy to be borne. The price is not too heavy to be borne, now. A broad attack on the Palestinian Authority. To bring them to the point of being afraid that everything is collapsing…

Woman: Wait a moment, but then the world will say “how come you’re conquering again?”

Netanyahu: the world won’t say a thing. The world will say we’re defending.

Woman: Aren’t you afraid of the world, Bibi?

Netanyahu: Especially today, with America. I know what America is. America is something that can easily be moved. Moved to the right direction.

Child: They say they’re for us, but, it’s like…

Netanyahu: They won’t get in our way. They won’t get in our way.

Child: On the other hand, if we do some something, then they…

Netanyahu: So let’s say they say something. So they said it! They said it! 80% of the Americans support us. It’s absurd. We have that kind of support and we say “what will we do with the…”  Look. That administration [Clinton] was extremely pro-Palestinian. I wasn’t afraid to maneuver there. I was not afraid to clash with Clinton. I was not afraid to clash with the United Nations. I was paying the price anyway, I preferred to receive the value. Value for the price.

In the following segment, Bibi boasts about how he emptied the Oslo Accords of meaning by an interpretation that made a mockery of them:

Woman:  The Oslo Accords are a disaster.

Netanyahu: Yes. You know that and I knew that…The people [nation] has to know…

What were the Oslo Accords? The Oslo Accords, which the Knesset signed, I was asked, before the elections: “Will you act according to them?” and I answered: “yes, subject to mutuality and limiting the retreats.” “But how do you intend to limit the retreats?” “I’ll give such interpretation to the Accords that will make it possible for me to stop this galloping to the ’67 [armistice] lines. How did we do it?

Narrator: The Oslo Accords stated at the time that Israel would gradually hand over territories to the Palestinians in three different pulses, unless the territories in question had settlements or military sites. This is where Netanyahu found a loophole.

Netanyahu: No one said what defined military sites. Defined military sites, I said, were security zones. As far as I’m concerned, the Jordan Valley is a defined military site.

Woman: Right [laughs]…The Beit She’an Valley.

Netanyahu: How can you tell. How can you tell? But then the question came up of just who would define what Defined Military Sites were. I received a letter – to my and to Arafat, at the same time – which said that Israel, and only Israel, would be the one to define what those are, the location of those military sites and their size. Now, they did not want to give me that letter, so I did not give the Hebron Agreement. I stopped the government meeting, I said: “I’m not signing.” Only when the letter came, in the course of the meeting, to my and to Arafat, only then did I sign the Hebron Agreement. Or rather, ratify it, it had already been signed. Why does this matter? Because at that moment I actually stopped the Oslo Accord.

Woman: And despite that, one of our own people, excuse me, who knew it was a swindle, and that we were going to commit suicide with the Oslo Accord, gives them – for example – Hebron…

Netanyahu: Indeed, Hebron hurts. It hurts. It’s the thing that hurts. One of the famous rabbis, whom I very much respect, a rabbi of Eretz Yisrael, he said to me: “What would your father say?”  I went to my father. Do you know a little about my father’s position?

…He’s not exactly a lily-white dove, as they say. So my father heard the question and said: “Tell the rabbi that your grandfather, Rabbi Natan Milikowski, was a smart Jew. Tell him it would be better to give two percent than to give a hundred percent. And that’s the choice here. You gave two percent and in that way you stopped the withdrawal. Instead of a hundred percent.” The trick is not to be there and be broken. The trick is to be there and pay a minimal price.

Here are a few of Levy’s choice characterizations of Bibi’s performance in this video:

…Israel has had many rightist leaders since Menachem Begin…but there has never been one like Netanyahu, who wants to do it by deceit, to mock America, trick the Palestinians and lead us all astray. The man in the video betrays himself in his own words as a con artist, and now he is again prime minister of Israel. Don’t try to claim that he has changed since then. Such a crooked way of thinking does not change over the years.

Forget the Bar-Ilan University speech…this is the real Netanyahu. No more claims that the Palestinians are to blame for the failure of the Oslo Accords. Netanyahu exposed the naked truth to his hosts at Ofra: he destroyed the Oslo accords with his own hands and deeds, and he’s even proud of it. After years in which we were told that the Palestinians are to blame, the truth has emerged from the horse’s mouth.

…The government of Israel is led by a man who…thinks that Washington is in his pocket and that he can pull the wool over its eyes.

It should be noted that Bibi isn’t the only prime minister who boasted of such manipulation of the U.S.  Dov Weisglass, Ariel Sharon’s Mephisto bragged of “putting the peace process in formaldehyde” via the Gaza withdrawal.  He too claimed he had George Bush wrapped around his little finger (though he didn’t say which one).

This seems to be a fashion among right-wing Israel prime ministers.  They come to believe their own press clippings.  But really who is to blame for this but American presidents who allow Israeli leaders to outwit and outmaneuver them?  When has an American president, except perhaps George Bush pere, ever stood up to Israel and won?  And I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion it won’t ever happen with the current president.