By Marwan Barghouti for The New York Times – HADARIM PRISON, Israel — Having spent the last 15 years in an Israeli prison, I have been both a witness to and a victim of Israel’s illegal system of mass arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners. After exhausting all other options, I decided there was no choice but to resist these abuses by going on a hunger strike. Some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners have decided to take part in this hunger strike, which begins today, the day we observe here as Prisoners’ Day. Hunger striking is the most peaceful form of resistance available. It inflicts pain solely on those who participate and on their loved ones, in the hopes that their empty stomachs and their sacrifice will help the message resonate beyond the confines of their dark cells. Decades of experience have proved that Israel’s inhumane system of colonial and military occupation aims to break the spirit of prisoners and the nation to which they belong, by inflicting suffering on their bodies, separating them from their families and communities, using humiliating measures to compel subjugation. In spite of such treatment, we will not surrender to it.
By Abby Martin for The Empire Files. While the Israeli state espouses multiculturalism and diversity, it oppresses not just the Palestinian population, but also any Black person within its borders. From warehousing African asylum seekers in giant prison camps, to criminalizing and carrying out eugenics programs against its Ethiopian Jewish citizens, Israel’s treatment of Black people reveals that the Zionist project is not just about Jewish supremacy, but also white supremacy. In this on-the-ground investigation, Abby Martin talks to Osman Ali, a refugee from Darfur, at Holot prison camp about the treatment of refugees by the government, and Tehune Maharat, an Ethiopian Jewish activist whose cousin was killed in an apparent hate crime by Israeli police, about the rampant and institutional racism in the country.
By Nir Hasson for Haaretz – Earlier Saturday, a Palestinian was shot dead after wounding two civilians and a border policeman with a knife in Jerusalem’s Old City. One of the organizers, Itamar Avneri, said the incident “was a painful reminder of the price of the occupation. We convey wishes of swift recovery to the wounded, and hope we don’t see any more such incidents or fear on the city’s streets. This has to end.” The march began at Gan Hasus in the city’s center and concluded in the Old City with a rally near Jaffa Gate. Knesset Member Zehava Galon, the chairwoman of the Meretz party, addressed the rally, saying: “We can’t keep the conflict with the Palestinians on the back burner, when the flame is on top of a barrel bomb. The stabbing attack in the Old City exposes the illusion that it’s possible to deprive an entire people of rights and sovereignty without the desperation turning into horrible hatred and violence.”
By Vijay Prashad for Black Agenda Report – In 2015, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) was charged by its member-states — the eighteen Arab states in West Asia and North Africa — to study whether Israel has established an apartheid regime. ESCWA asked two American academics — Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley — to undertake the study. Falk had been the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories from 2008 through 2014. Tilley had served as a Chief Research Specialist in South Africa’s Human Sciences Research Council, which had produced a study in 2009 showing apartheid-like conditions in Israel and the Palestinian Occupied Territory.
By Allison Deger of Mondoweiss – Rima Khalaf, the head of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). resigned today after she was asked to withdraw a report her agency published earlier this week that stated Israel is an “apartheid regime.” “The secretary-general demanded yesterday that I withdraw the report, and I refused,”Khalaf told reporters at a press conference in Beirut today, according to the Middle East Eye. “It was expected that Israel and its allies would put enormous pressure on the United Nations secretary general to renounce the report,” she also said, according to Reuters. Then Khalaf stated that the United Nations “had scrubbed the report from its website.”
By Lila Weintraub for Truthout – On the morning of David Friedman’s Senate hearing for the US ambassadorship to Israel, I stood with five Muslim and Jewish partners, faced the ranking members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and demanded the attention of an audience packed with white male decision-makers and press, along with elite members of the American Jewish community. In the 20 seconds I had before being escorted out and arrested, it seemed that for the first time in my life, my young, female, proudly Jewish voice would be heard by so-called American Jewish leaders. In loud and unambiguous terms, I explained to the room that Friedman’s potential ambassadorship is devastating on two levels: for Palestinians and for the American Jewish community itself.
By Philip Weiss for Mondoweiss – I completely believe that Donald Trump was in bed with the Russians before the election and the campaign may well have intrigued with Vladimir Putin with respect to Wikileaks and that helped defeat Hillary Clinton. I believe that because that’s how the world works; because a lot of very smart people in the liberal establishment believe it; and because the New York Times and Washington Post are documenting some of it, with the fervor of Watergate. Maybe it will bring the liar in chief down some day and end this short national nightmare. I certainly hope so. But there are two large exceptions to the Russian conspiracy. The first is that it is good policy for the United States to be talking to Russia. If Clinton were president today, there might be dogfights over Damascus.
By Ali Abunimah for Electronic Antifada – US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a joint press conference at the White House on Wednesday morning, before going into their much-anticipated bilateral meeting. Asked about whether the US was still wedded to a two-state solution, Trump broke with longstanding orthodoxy. “I am looking at two states or one state, and I like the one that both parties like,” the president said. On settlements, Trump reaffirmed to Netanyahu, “I’d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit.” Advocates of a two-state solution, including the previous US administration and European governments, see it as the only way to rescue Israel as a racist state that ensures its Jewish demographic majority through a battery of racist laws – a situation they refer to as “peace.”
By Eli Safran and Ibrahim Bushnak. Ramallah, West Bank, Palestine – Robi Damelin, an Israeli bereaved mother whose son – an IDF officer – was killed by a Palestinian sniper during the Second Intifada, gave to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) a watch bearing the flags of Israel and Palestine, and the word “Peace” in Hebrew, Arabic and English. That was at the climax of a meeting which President Abbas held with more than a hundred Israeli activists who came to the Presidential Compound in Ramallah. Robi Damelin and the other Israeli activists expressed appreciation for what Abbas said to them: “I do not believe in violence and terror. Despite all the difficulties that we face under occupation, we will not turn to other, improper means. We oppose such means and struggle against them. We are against violence and terror, anywhere in the world.”
By James North and Philip Weiss for Mondoweiss – Sgt. Elor Azaria was convicted today by a military court in Jaffa of manslaughter for the execution of Abdel Fatah al-Sharif as he lay incapacitated in the street in Hebron last March, and there were immediate calls from Israeli political leaders and the public for the 20-year-old soldier to be pardoned. The story was the lead on BBC, and the New York Times and Washington Post also promptly put up the news. B’Tselem, the human rights organization whose video unleashed the investigation, said the case was the rare exception in which an Israeli soldier was held accountable for a human rights atrocity.
By Tom Suarez for Mondoweiss – Good evening, thank you so much for taking time out of what I know are your busy schedules to be here now. My thanks to Jenny Tonge for making this meeting possible; and I would like to thank three people without whom the book would not exist: Karl Sabbagh, my publisher; Ghada Karmi, who inspired the book; and my partner, Nancy Elan, who was my constant alter-ego during my research and without whom I surely would have given up. My work is based principally on declassified source documents in the National Archives in Kew. When I have had to rely on published works, I have trusted established historians who cite first-hand sources.
By Grant Smith for Anti War – On September 14, 2016, the United States and Israel signed a “memorandum of understanding” (MOU) pledging $38 billion in “security assistance” to Israel over ten years. The agreement replaces a similar MOU signed by the Bush administration. However, the Obama administration claimed two key differences on its MOU web page. First, Israel is not allowed to lobby Congress for hundreds of millions in additional funds from its embassy and US affinity organizations. Second, more of the ten-year allotment must be spent on US military contractors rather than inside Israel.
By Jerry Haber for The Magnes Zionist – The following post was written in May 2012. The one-state/two-state debate was “weary, stale, and unprofitable” then, and it is even more so now, with the incoming Republican administration. We are, and have been, for some time in a one-state reality. Israel has ruled for three generations over people without their consent and against their will, with a different system of law. Israel today is a democracy in the sense that America was a democracy before African Americans and Native Americans were made citizens and given the vote — in short, it is at best a nineteenth-century democracy.
By Mark LeVine for Scoop – Those who long ago succumbed to cynicism and hopelessness when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can find many reasons to discount the importance of Security Council Resolution 2334, passed unanimously (14-0 with the U.S. as the only abstention) on December 23. It is certainly true that Israel will ignore and indeed work actively to undermine the Resolution just as it has ignored innumerable other resolutions demanding a halt to settlement construction or expansion. As one activist tweeted shortly after its passage, in all likelihood Israel will expand the seizure of Palestinian land and construction of settlements just to thumb its nose at the UN…
By Philip Weiss for Mondoweiss – President Obama’s decision to allow passage of a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements as illegal has done more to change the shape of the conflict than any other action in the last ten years, even than Israel’s massacres in Gaza. He has nudged Israel, and the media, toward recognition of the country’s new status, as a rogue state; he has split the Israel lobby right down the middle, or down the side anyway; and he has given huge impetus to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS).