Israeli Palestinian Peace Process

Recent Reports

March 27, 2012

Israel is just trying to fool everyone

Reporting from Israel: Ran Bar-Yoshafat

Israel. Israel with its constant goal of defending itself to the international community, justifying its actions, proving its significance to the world, its support of human rights and mainly, pretending that it is not an ‘apartheid’ state, its false pretenses runs so deep that it is reflected in all its actions. Allow me to share some examples of this sickening phenomenon.

“Security”

Israel’s actions are inconceivable. Namely, its Apartheid wall.  They claim that just because 97% of this wall is really a fence, it should be referred to as a fence. This is their attempt at convincing the international community that it is not an apartheid wall. Wall or fence, it serves the same purpose: Segregation.  Israel justifies this wall. They claim that it was built in order to protect their citizens from “suicide bombers” and thus, only constructed it 34 years after the establishment of their state. This 34 year wait was really just a cover-up for their real intentions. They said the purpose was to protect them from “suicide bombers”. Suicide bombers I ask you? These are young men and woman, freedom fighters! And while fighting for freedom, casualties sometimes take form in the killings of a thousand Israeli woman, men and children. But accidents happen while fighting for freedom. It is hard to understand the Israeli nerve, to claim that the building of the wall was due to the attacks against Israelis between the years of 2000-2005. Why not tell the truth? Why not give the real reason for the construction of the wall? They want more land. That’s all they have ever really wanted, and they will take it at any cost. The decrease in suicide bombings since its construction is yet just another reason on their list of excuses. I mean, yeah, they did give the whole Sinai Peninsula, which is more than twice the size of the Israeli state, but I just know they are in it for the land.

Israel also has “check-points” – A place where they have the audacity to violate privacy laws in order to conduct a physical check that will determine if individuals have explosives on them.  As a result, people have to wait in line for hours. They justify this “security check” by checking everyone: Israelis, Palestinians and tourists alike, but it practice, it is only the Palestinian people. I mean, they are the only ones who suffer. So what if every Israeli is being checked whenever they go to a shopping mall, a school or a bank? They only check the 7.3 million people in Israel as well so they can justify the checking of the Palestinians. Where else in the entire world does one have to go through security in order to enter the country?  Aside from every single airport… but this is a bad example since unlike in airports, Israel’s security measures are intentional in order to hurt the Palestinian people. Look at the facts – the checkpoint go up and down. Again, the Israelis pretend it is because of the terror alerts, when obviously it is because of the mood of the current Israeli government. I mean, what makes more sense to you?

“Equal Rights”

One of Israel’s biggest violations is its attempt to disguise itself as a democracy. They do so by providing their citizens with equal rights such as the rights to vote, to be elected etc. They have freedom of press, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech – all under the false pretenses of being a democracy. But it does not stop there; they even have Arab members of Knesset (The Israeli Parliament) dating back to the first elections in 1948.  The most amazing thing about these Arab members of Knesset is that they each belong to different parties from all different political spectrums. Israel even had an Israeli-Arab Supreme Court Judge who convicted the former Jewish president, sending him to jail. Look how far this Jewish state will go in order to fool the world into thinking that it is a democracy, when it is clear that they are not. They are not, since they are not treating the Palestinians who are not within Israeli borders as equal citizens. Are they? Granted, these Palestinians are NOT citizens of Israel, NOR DO THEY WANT TO BE, but shouldn’t they get equal rights to that of an Israeli citizen, Jewish, Christian or Muslim alike? I mean, shouldn’t all Mexicans receive US rights? And all Canadians receive full Holland rights?

Pink washing

Israel tries to look like a vibrant democracy and by doing so, provide the LGBTQ community with full rights. They have Gay Members of Knesset. LGBTQ organizations even receive money from the government, adoption rights, legal homosexuality, legal protection for Gays from discrimination and hate crimes, spousal benefits, and if that is not enough, they allow them to remain “out of the closet” while serving in the Israeli Army. But obviously, the reason for this is in order to pretend that they care. Tel-Aviv was recently chosen as the number one place in the world to be Gay. Can you imagine how far Israel will go in order to pretend that it cares for these issues? Disgusting right?

Humanitarian aid

Israel, once again with their attempt at showing the world how deeply they “care” for others, is almost always the first to send aid after a humanitarian crises occurs. From Mexico to Argentina, Turkey to El Salvador. India, Peru, and Indonesia – Israel always provides help – just for its own sake. They don’t only help, but rather, they take it one step further: During the Rwanda refugee crisis, Israel opened field hospitals to aid the refuges. Israel sent supplies to Sri Lanka after the flood in 2003, and sent a mission to Southeast Asia after the 2004 Tsunami. Oh, and of course, their poor attempt to look like they care in Haiti, where they were the first on the scene with the best hospitals.

To prove how much they care, Israel goes to the extreme by providing agriculture assistance to over 30 countries worldwide, sharing medical discoveries and helping refugee resettlement. They even have an organization called “Save A child’s Heart”, where they treated over 1,500 children from over 20 countries around the world where medical care is unavailable. Many of them, by the way, are Palestinians. Can you imagine the Israeli nerve? “Helping” people when we all know they are all just doing it to harm the Palestinians. The connection may seem unclear, but if you think about it – it has to be because they want to harm them, no?

This false pretense has existed for too long. It has been going on for over 63 years, ever since Israel was established. I guess it is all part of a smart master plan; a plan to fake being a democracy and then argue when the truth is exposed.

(For those who still don’t get it – this article was written in a sarcastic tone. To say Israel is anything BUT a Democracy can only show a lack of some basic information)

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March 17, 2012

Reporting from Israel: Ran Bar-Yoshafat

Rockets and Airstrikes – Again

I open my computer to catch up on the news in Israel, as I am currently in the US for a couple of months. Sadly, what I found was that once again, the southern part of Israel is under rocket fire. In the recent escalation that began on Friday, March 9, Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired more than 200 rockets into Israel. Many of these rockets struck major Israeli population centers. More than one million Israelis live under the threat of rocket attacks from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Those who live closest to the Gaza Strip have only 15 seconds to find shelter after hearing an alarm.

I was hoping to find some information about it in the NY times, but it seems that the only mentioning was that Israel killed a civilian. A civilian. It amazes me how the status of a terrorist upgrades when he is killed. We are talking about a terrorist who planned, funded, and directed the combined terror attack that took place on Route 12 in August 2011, in which 40 Israeli civilians were injured, and who was involved in rocket fire at Israel, as well as in the attack on the Nahal Oz fuel terminal in April 2008 (in which two Israeli citizens were killed). Not to mention the transferring funds from Hezbollah to terror organizations in the Gaza Strip.

Don’t get me wrong – there are, unfortunately, civilians who are killed in Gaza. 26 Palestinians were killed in Israeli air strikes: 22 terrorists and four civilians. Innocent people who die on both side is a tragedy and should be condemned – by both sides, just like Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz expressed regret over the civilian deaths on the Palestinian side.

The number of casualties is actually larger on the Palestinian side. However, I don’t believe Israel needs to apologize for making sure its citizens are safe. Most of the damage to residential zones was prevented by the Iron Dome system, which intercepts missiles headed for population centers. The Iron Dome, however, is not the main reason for the difference in numbers of casualties on the two sides. The main difference is that when Israel is attacked, the government sends its people to the shelters and the combatants to the battlefield. Hamas does not. Hamas deliberately operates in civilian areas, putting the life of the Palestinians at risk.

I believe that most people, in Israel and in the Gaza strip, just want to be able to go to sleep without having to fear a missile will fall on them. Not mentioning the suffering of over one million Israelis, and that marking Israel as the aggressor is the right formula for the extremist to continue to work on their next attack. Why wouldn’t they? All they hear in their own media is that Israel is killing innocent civilians. You see, in the Israeli media, I was able to hear about the suffering of the people in Gaza. But the people of Gaza do not hear about the suffering of my people. They won’t get it from their media. They can’t, because they are controlled by Hamas.

In Israel, people will criticize to government. Some will say they didn’t do enough, some will say they did too much. That is one of the problems and benefits of living in a Democracy. In Gaza, unfortunately, the people will have to try to rebuild after the chaos done mainly by their government. I hope the fighting will end soon and that people on both sides can go on to live their normal lives, and that the next time I open the computer I’ll hear about peace talks. Hope – but don’t believe it will be, at least not as long as Hamas are in control.

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March 8, 2012

Reporting from the Occupied Palestinian Territories: Zaina Awad

Under the Burden of Proof

My office is located inside Jerusalem’s Old City, just next to the Al Aqsa Mosque compound.  Our balcony overlooks the Dome of the Rock; all that separates us is a wire fence and security cameras.  Because of our close proximity to the compound, where clashes between Muslims and Jews often taken place, the Israeli Occupation Forces routinely conduct checks on the fence to ensure that no one can enter without their permission.

About a month ago, an armed Israeli soldier stormed into our office because one of our visitors had taken a picture of the mosque from our balcony.  He shouted angrily at my boss – a young woman – for allowing the visitor to take the photograph, which he claimed compromised the security of the compound.  Hearing the yelling, my colleague, who was the only male in the office at the time, rushed to her side.  The situation quickly escalated into a physical confrontation, one that the soldier accused my colleague of initiating.  This was untrue.  My boss had asked the soldier not to storm into the office again, because it is a working environment and a private building.  The soldier informed her that he could do whatever he liked in our office because it was he who was in charge.  My colleague responded with a sarcastic comment, and the soldier reacted by shoving him angrily.

Scared of what would happen to our colleague if the fight continued, we pulled him into the adjoining room.  We tried to keep him calm, which was made especially difficult by the insults the soldier yelled from next door.  The soldier radioed several fellow officers to come and arrest my colleague.  My boss frantically tried convincing them that our colleague had merely acted out of self-defense, but it was of no use.  Because the eyewitnesses were Palestinian, their accounts of the incident were meaningless and held no weight against the word of an Israeli soldier.  They dragged my colleague to prison.

Incidents like these are not atypical here.  As can be expected, they are frustrating, upsetting, and frightening.  But they are also so disturbing, because it seems that Palestinians have grown almost used to living in a reality where we are being stripped of our human rights.  Yet, when dealing with outsiders, it seems to be Palestinians who are under the constant obligation to prove their legitimacy.  It appears that we are irrationally held to higher standards than most; we are guilty until proven innocent.

For instance, faced with eviction, a family in the Palestinian village of Silwan is caught up in a legal battle to prove that they are the rightful owners of their home – a fact that is being contested in an Israeli court even though the family holds the deeds and has lived there for generations past.  Despite this, the court plans to evict this family in favor of a party that has no legal ties to the property, yet are being granted ownership based on apparently irrefutable religious claims to the land in general.  Palestinian juveniles are imprisoned indefinitely under abysmal conditions, without trial, charge, or evidence against them.   All Palestinians, young and old, are forced to endure humiliating and invasive searches at checkpoints, in order to prove that they are not carrying weapons.  After living under an illegal occupation for more than sixty years, Palestinians are called upon to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.  Yet, Israel has never considered the rights of the Palestinians it has displaced and continues to displace in the creation and expansion of that state.

Living under occupation, Palestinians face unremitting degradation and a lack of control over their lives.  This is a reality that we are never allowed to forget.  Even in the best of circumstances, we know that the safe spaces we have built can be shattered quickly and easily because our lives are under someone else’s control.  The evidence is everywhere – on our roads, in our schools, and in our offices.

A couple of weeks after the incident in my office, a bus carrying Palestinian kindergarten students crashed into an oncoming truck near the Jaba’a checkpoint, just south of Ramallah in the West Bank.  The bus was originally headed toward a playground in Ramallah, but the driver made the last-minute decision to turn back because of heavy rain and slippery roads.  Upon collision with the truck, the bus flipped onto its side and was soon engulfed in flames; at least five children and one school teacher were killed, and more than thirty children were hospitalized with burns and other serious injuries.

Almost immediately after the bus crash, hospitals in Jerusalem and Ramallah issued urgent requests for blood donations for the injured children.  The word spread remarkably quickly.  Within half an hour of the announcement, my colleagues and I had arrived at a hospital to donate blood.  We found it so full of others wanting to donate that the doctors had begun turning them away.

Waiting in that crowded room, seeing people pour in to help, was a remarkably humbling experience.  Perhaps two of the most salient emotions I associate with being Palestinian are helplessness and hopelessness.  Yet, what I witnessed in the hospital that sad day served as a powerful and much-needed reminder of what it is that, in fact, unites and defines Palestinians.  It is not violence or powerlessness.  It is our loyalty to one another, our humanity, and our resilience.  Even when our legitimacy is constantly being questioned and undermined, these are all attributes that can never be taken away from us.  And, in the famous words of the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, we will remain “Standing here, staying here, permanent here, eternal here.  We have one goal, one, one: to be.”

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March 7, 2012

Reporting from Israel: Ran Bar-Yoshafat

Peace – what does it mean?

There are many definitions for the word “peace”. One definition is a state or period of mutual concord between governments; a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity. Another definition is a state in which there is no war or fighting. (from Webster Online Dictionary)

I find it very interesting when people use the second definition, mainly with concern to Israel. There is a real chance for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, which will come to fruition from both sitting together at the negotiation table, reaching an agreement of some sort. I believe the vast majority on both sides are talking about peace of this sort.

The latter definition, however, can be reached by other means. One of these means is the destruction of Israel and kicking all the Jews out of the land. That is also “peace” – right? Wrong! But this is exactly what some “peace” movements are trying to do. The best example is the BDS (Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, who are calling to create boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. I wonder if ever in the history of men two sides stopped fighting because a third party demanded that a fourth party should not talk to one of the two parties that are fighting. Another example to this hypocrisy is the “Jewish Voice for Peace” organization. This organization claims somehow to recognize Israel’s right to exist, yet at the same time it calls openly for the world to divest against Israel. These “peace” activists can come in many shapes. Some even like to carry fire arm, knifes and iron bars. They like to use the word “peace” to poetically describe themselves as the victims. Some like to inject even more incitement into the region, by spreading lies about Israel, and using harsh and negative “sound bytes” like “apartheid”, presenting the situation in the Middle East as a simple black and white scenario, with Israel as the bad side.

Personally I think it is insulting to use the apartheid analogy. It’s not just harmful, but completely false and inaccurate, and does a real disservice to any person who suffered under real apartheid in South Africa, and an injustice to any person who suffers under real apartheid today in South Sudan, Darfur, etc. these are crimes which are, sadly enough, ignored by the world. One of the most important parts of this is the fact that all of Israeli governmental policy is almost always taken out of context. People with short memory do not remember the massive wave of terror Israel was facing between the years 2000 and 2005. People forget that the checkpoints, security fence, and other restrictions only started to exist because 30-40 terrorist would enter Israel every day, murdering and the most brutal ways thousands of Israeli civilians – Jews, Christians, Muslims, Druze, and other minorities.

The sad thing is that this context is actually making it more difficult for the Israelis and the Palestinian to have a true dialogue. Furthermore, it is a disservice even more for the Palestinians than to the Israelis. Free Gaza? Great! Free Gaza… from HAMAS! A terrorist organization, that in the year 2006 has killed more Palestinian civilians in Gaza than the Israeli Defense forces during Operation Cast Lead — not to mention the violation of basic human rights like killing people who are Christians because of the fact they are Christians, gender segregation, forcing people to wear certain clothes, creating a Muslim criminal court system (which allows executing people for being gay, or just in general not following the Muslim laws), and not allowing freedom of press, assembly or religion. The saddest thing in my mind is that these “peace activists” are so caught up in their cause, that they have stopped noticing that they have become violent.

The only way to solve a conflict is with a dialogue. Not talking to one side, Israel or Israel supporters (which is what organizations such as Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, and other representatives of the BDS movement are doing) is the opposite of peace. It is causing both sides to be more alienated from each other. So the next time that you talk about peace, please, think about the definition you would prefer using – an open dialogue to bring a period of mutual concord between governments, or a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity — and not just to eliminate one side.