Jon Simons reports on the bizarre process that saw the establishment two weeks ago of a new university in the settler town of Ariel in the occupied West Bank, and argues this represents another step in the legitimation of the Israeli occupation.
Jon Simons is an Associate Professor of Communication and Culture at Indiana University.
Quebec: Photograph: Olivier Jean/Reuters
Karma Nabulsi is an Oxford academic and a former PLO representative.
London Review of Books, October 2010
...Exactly 50 years ago, Palestinians were at a similar stage of social and political fragmentation brought about by defeat and dispossession and the anomie that followed the Nakba of 1948. Without a country or the protection of a sovereign state, they were confronting, on the one hand, Israel, and on the other, sundry Arab regimes: between them they controlled every aspect of Palestinians’ social and civic lives as well as their physical space. They lived deep in the dust and disease of tent cities, without personal papers or property. In 1955, a young Palestinian writer, Ghassan Kanafani, moved to Kuwait from Syria, where he had been a teacher at a school set up for refugees by the UN, after himself being expelled from Palestine with his family in 1948. One of his people’s most perceptive chroniclers, he described their mood in his diary: ‘The only thing we know is that tomorrow will be no better than today, and that we are waiting on the shore, yearning, for a boat that will not come. We are sentenced to be separated from everything – except from our own destruction.’
But what appeared to Kanafani to be the collective end was in fact its extraordinary beginning. By the end of the decade, the revolution had found a language and a form. For the first time in a century of rebellions and uprisings against foreign rule, Palestinians could mount a collective challenge to international, Israeli and Arab coercion, and unify sufficiently to represent themselves...
...For Palestinians, whose national politics were undone in an instant over a single year in 1948, it took the concerted actions of tens of thousands of cadres across the region to hold the people together while at the same time putting sufficient pressure on those governments, both Western and Arab, that would have preferred to see us capitulate to Israel. The mood of that short period, as I remember it, was profoundly popular and democratic: pluralist, multi-party, universalist, secular and highly progressive...
Waiting for Solutions in Uncertain Times: Palestine Refugees in the Middle East Context
Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford
16 November 2011
My presence here indicates your acknowledgement of the 4.8 million Palestinians registered as refugees with UNRWA in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and in the occupied Palestinian territory...(as well as) the millions of Palestinians contributing to life across the globe, who for reasons of personal choice and circumstance are not registered with UNRWA, yet nevertheless partake of the historic experience of exile triggered by the Arab-Israeli conflict of 1948.
We take the firm view that there can be no just and durable peace in the Middle East unless Palestine refugees are brought out of their state of dispossession and exile. The UN bid does not in and of itself tackle the plight of the refugees. Therefore, UNRWA will continue to advocate that the refugees’ legitimate rights and aspirations must be achieved in the context of discussions between political actors, including the parties - discussions that must be based on international law and UN resolutions and reflect the informed views and choices of the refugees...
We therefore maintain our insistence that any strategy to resolve the conflict and specifically to address the refugee issue must include as a central frame of reference the realization of the rights and entitlements of the Palestine refugees. Any genuine efforts to wrest peace from the prevailing gloom must recognize the pivotal importance of the refugee constituency, and take the bold and principled steps required to harness its potential. This will advance the refugees’ own interests, and serve the regional and universal good. It also makes eminent sense, I may add, in a context where “Arab Spring” movements have at their heart the aspiration of all people to justice and rights.
The refugees have a crucial role and position in the unresolved Arab-Israeli conflict. Given the centrality of the Middle East in our history, past and present, providing them with real reasons for hope will contribute to improve the chances that our shared future will be a better one.
November, 2, 2011,The Guardian
Article was written by Alaa Abd El Fattah on 1 November 2011 from cell No 19, the Appeals Prison, Bab el-Khalq, Cairo. It is has been published in Arabic by the Egyptian newspaper Al Shorouk and in English by the Guardian.
November, 2, 2011, The Guardian
Egyptian junta pledges to free hundreds after damning prison letter is published
Democracy Now, 9/27/11
Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza and Vice President of the International Federation for Human Rights.
Sourani says even if the bid does not pass, it will show the world that the United States and Europe failed to support Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, a man dedicated to peace. He says Palestinians want a two-state solution, as outlined in the PLO charter, the Oslo Accords, and called for by much of the international community. Sourani also discusses how the 1.8 million residents of Gaza, more than 90 percent of whom live below the poverty line, are “in the eye of the storm” of Israel’s siege that blocks the movement of people and goods without deterring Hamas. He also notes that the popular uprisings sweeping across the region in the Arab Spring have been a great asset for the Palestinian cause. A 1991 recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award and an Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience in 1985 and 1988, Sourani was denied entrance to the United States for the past 11 years because of his alleged affiliation with terrorists. His trip to the United States on a three month visa was made possible after a campaign in which former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, among others, advocated on his behalf.
Haaretz, September 2, 2011
By Hassan Jabareen, a lawyer and the founder and general director of Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.
In his speech before the U.S. Congress last May, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posed a serious challenge to the Palestinian Authority: If the PA would just say, "We recognize Israel as a Jewish state," this would be sufficient to end the conflict. Israel, said Netanyahu, would be the first to vote for Palestinian statehood in the United Nations...
The timing of Netanyahu's offer is very relevant: It comes at one of the moments of greatest defeat in Palestinian history. Israel has succeeded, as political scientist Meron Benvenisti says, in fragmenting the Palestinians to pieces - the refugees, the Green Line, Gaza, West Bank and Jerusalem. Walls and checkpoints divide them. Each piece lives under different laws and different leaders. In addition to this weakness, the PA's security forces continue to obey Israel's orders. For Netanyahu's government, this is the best time to ask the Palestinians to officially recognize the Zionist narrative.
This notion of surrender allows us to understand how Netanyahu can suggest that the Palestinians are "guilty" for all of their tragedies. He is right about one thing: Just as surrender ends a war, such recognition by the PLO would end the conflict. But he will have a hard time finding an Arab partner who will accept such an offer during this time of the Arab Spring, which is all about the right to dignity.
Analysis: Implications of Palestinian statehood
Ma'an News Agency
By Dr Abdel Razzaq Takriti. Dr Abdel Razzaq Takriti is a political historian at St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford. He is active with Palestinian campaigns for democratic popular representation.
The recent release of an authoritative legal opinion highlighting certain unexpected, unintended, and serious political and legal dangers in the September initiative, has created useful popular discussion and public debate.
The Opinion assesses the implications arising if the Palestine Liberation Organization replaces itself with the State of Palestine as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people at the UN. It was authored by Professor Guy Goodwin-Gill, perhaps the world’s foremost authority on international refugee law, and commissioned by his colleague at Oxford University, Karma Nabulsi.
An essay on U.S. policy towards recognition and refugees
July 23, 2011
By Irene Gendzier, Professor of Political Science at Boston University
Published on Z Net
What will the Palestinians do at the UN in September? The question appears to haunt Washington and Tel Aviv as they prepare to block Palestinian attempts to obtain UN recognition, as though the very idea of such action represents a form of political impudence that merits the harshest international rejection. Sober accounts by Palestinians of what they may expect from a trip to the UN have done little to allay the dark cloud of suspicion that is fostered in mainstream accounts. The same can be said of references to the refugee problem whose origins are regularly shrouded in distortions if not simply deleted. The combination is invariably offered by Washington and Tel Aviv as further proof of the efforts to 'delegitimize' the state of Israel.
Admittedly from their perspective, opening of discussion of these questions is unacceptable since it constitutes a risk, the risk that the American public may discover that the problems at the root of the great fear that looms over September are not new. They have been part of the conflict over Palestine at least since 1948, as has the U.S.A.