Showing posts with label nadia hijab. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nadia hijab. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Palestinians Don't Need More Aid

Nadia Hijab is a co-founder of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and serves on the Advisory Board. This letter was published in The New York Times

What Palestinians Need
January 14, 2013 

Your Jan. 11 editorial “
Financial Crisis in the West Bank” is absolutely right: This problem should not be “swept under the rug.”

But blaming rich Arab countries for the Palestinians’ financial situation is not the answer. Since 1993 Arab countries, Europe and the United States have poured billions into occupied Palestinian territory to support the “peace process.” They’ve basically ended up paying for Israel’s occupation and colonization and relieving it of its international obligations. Why pay more?
Palestinians cannot develop a thriving economy while Israel controls the movement of people and goods to and from the West Bank (from Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, on down) and almost all movement to Gaza, while swallowing up most land and water resources.
Palestinians don’t need more aid. They need American political clout to end the occupation as the first step to a just and lasting peace.
Nice, France, Jan. 11, 2013
The writer is director of Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network and an author and commentator.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Can Israel survive its 45-year occupation?

Nadia Hijab is Director of Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network. She serves on the advisory board of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

This week marks the 45th anniversary of Israel's occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. A decade ago, I joined a small group of Americans in identifying the occupation as the Achilles heel in Israel's decades-old violations of Palestinian human rights. We believed that hard work and our diverse ethnicities, faiths, and ideologies, grounded in a common commitment to international law, would soon get the "end occupation, uphold human rights" message out to the political establishment and fellow Americans. After all, there was international consensus concerning the "inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war," a basic principle of international law enshrined in U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967, which called for Israel's withdrawal from the territories it seized in the 6-day war it launched on June 5.  

Even though the organization we co-founded has since grown to represent hundreds of thousands of Americans, the Israeli occupation appears more entrenched than ever. Israel has cemented its control of Palestinian land and water, settling over 500,000 of its people in the territories and herding the Palestinians into ever-smaller enclaves, all the while flagrantly violating international law. Yet it has continued to enjoy the support of the United States, including diplomatic cover at the U.N. and massive military aid.  

Israel has also benefited from the acquiescence of the Palestinian Authority and Palestine Liberation Organization in the moribund "peace process" launched by the Oslo Accords nearly 20 years ago. Although this so-called leadership now refuses to participate in negotiations so long as Israel continues to colonize, they have not definitively pulled out of them, even though the only tangible result has been the inexorable loss of Palestinian land and rights. 

Worse, they have no clear counter-strategy and have not been willing to invest in the sources of power necessary to achieve Palestinian human rights, even though there are many avenues available -- diplomatic, economic, mobilization of Arab and international civil society -- that could effectively challenge Israel.

Continue Reading at Foreign Policy

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Get Your City to Take a Stand against Weapons to Israel

By Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director

On Monday, President Obama is scheduled to submit his 2013 budget request to Congress, which could include as much as $3.1 billion in military aid to Israel! 

Weapons that we taxpayers give to Israel demand an unacceptable moral cost, enabling Israel to injure and kill Palestinian civilians, entrench its 44-year military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, expropriate Palestinian land for illegal Israeli settlements, and perpetuate its apartheid regime over Palestinians. 

Military aid to Israel also has an unacceptable financial cost.  A policy paper we'll be launching during Occupy AIPAC (register to participate, March 2-6) puts it this way:

"During this time of economic crisis, it is irresponsible for the United States to continue to expand military aid to Israel--or, indeed, continue it at present levels. The remainder of the $30 billion pledged to Israel in the 2007 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) but not yet appropriated, could be easily foregone, thereby reducing the U.S. national debt. A far better use of the taxpayer money the United States now gives to Israel--the 28th wealthiest country in the world in 2011 according to the International Monetary Fund--for weapons could be much better spent to help meet unmet community needs here at home."

That's exactly why we're investing resources to help grassroots activists like you to organize to get the your city council to pass a resolution to end military aid to Israel and to redirect that money to crucial needs in your community.

If you or your local activist group are interested in making this happen in your city, then take advantage of these great opportunities:

1.Join the US Campaign for an all-day training and strategy session this Sunday, February 12 in Milwaukee, WI. For those of you in the area, learn more and register here.

2.Join the US Campaign for a conference call on Wednesday, February 15 at 9:00 pm (Eastern). Our special guests will be two activists who have undertaken extraordinary work to pass local and national resolutions to end U.S. spending on wars and redirect the money to unmet community needs:

Lisa Savage is Local Coordinator for CODEPINK and a co-coordinator of Maine's Bring Our War $$ Home campaign, which aims to educate and influence public opinion by means of city council resolutions.

As the CODEPINK Bring Our War $$ Home campaign organizer, C.J. Minster led the successful national grassroots effort to submit and pass a resolution "Calling on Congress to Redirect Military Spending to Domestic Priorities at the US Conference of Mayors."

Lisa and C.J. will share their expertise and provide us with inspiration, while the US Campaign shares with you the resources we've developed to help you organize locally. 

To join the call, dial 209-647-1600 and enter the access code 489902.

3.And, don't forget about our matching funds competition. Your local group could be eligible to receive part of the $7,500 in matching funds that we are providing to member groups of the US Campaign that are organizing city council campaigns this year.  But, act quickly, because the deadline is February 19. Learn more about the competition and apply here.

We've assembled an all-star panel of judges to help us select winning applications:

Laila El-Haddad is a journalist, blogger, media activist based in Baltimore, and author of Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything in Between.

Nadia Hijab is director of Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network, and a writer, public speaker and media commentator. She is an Advisory Board member of the US Campaign.

Remi Kanazi is a poet, writer, and activist based in New York City. He is the author of Poetic Injustice: Writings on Resistance and Palestine.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Nadia Hijab on HuffingtonPost: Flotilla said "No to a kinder, gentler siege"

Nadia Hijab
A member of our Advisory Board published the following on the Huffington Post:

By Nadia Hijab
July 4, 2011

It was never about aid.

Freedom Flotilla II is, like its assaulted predecessor of a year ago, a political act. The passengers came together in shared determination to challenge Israel's five-year siege of Gaza and to exercise their right to travel through international waters to Palestinian shores and, by so doing, support the Palestinian right to freedom.

Many have misrepresented this political act as being about aid. If Palestinians had a dollar for every time the State Department bleated, "there are established channels for aid to Gaza," they would never need another donated dime. Instead, because of U.S. policy the highly educated and enterprising Palestinians have been stripped of their dignity and forced to live on international charity.

Israel has never made any secret of its intentions for Gaza. Dov Weisglass, key advisor to former Israeli prime ministers Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, reportedly explained in the wake of Hamas' electoral victory in 2006, "the idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet but not to make them die of hunger." This was later revealed to be Israeli strategy according to official documents.


Friday, July 22, 2011

For human rights advocates, supporting BDS is a no-brainer

Nadia Hijab is an Advisory Board Member of the US Campaign

By Nadia Hijab, on
July 21st, 2011

Nadia Hijab
Making the Palestinian case has never been a problem. It is a powerful story grounded in universal principles of human rights and in international law. The question has always been how to shift the balance between one of the strongest military powers in the world and a people struggling with occupation, inequality, and exile.

That question began to be answered in the mid-2000s. The International Court of Justice issued its advisory opinion in 2004, affirming the illegality of Israel's wall and settlement enterprise, the Palestinian right to self-determination, and the applicability of international law. The ICJ opinion reinforced a resurgent Palestinian civil society movement not seen since the Madrid and Oslo peace processes defused the first intifada or uprising.

The 2005 Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (also known as BDS) marked the first anniversary of the ICJ opinion, becoming another strand in Palestinian non-violent resistance that included the popular struggle against Israel's separation wall in the Palestinian villages directly impacted by its route.

Click Here to Read the Full Article

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A State of Palestine: The Case for UN Recognition and Membership

Editor's Note: Al-Shabaka is directed by Nadia Hijab, a member of the Advisory Board of the US Campaign. Our blog also featured this op-ed by Victor Kattan on May 1, 2011. Kattan is the author of From Coexistence to Conquest: International Law and the Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1891-1949 (London: Pluto Books, 2009) and The Palestine Question in International Law (London: British Institute of International and Comparative Law, 2008). Victor was a Teaching Fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London from 2008-2011 where he is presently completing his PhD. Previously Victor worked for the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (2006-2008), Arab Media Watch (2004-2006), and the BADIL Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights as a UNDP TOKTEN consultant (2003-2004).

By Victor Kattan
May 27, 2011


Is the strategy of seeking international recognition from and membership of the United Nations (UN) this September for the State of Palestine a meaningful move or just a gimmick? What benefits would UN membership bring given that Israel may still retain de facto control over the occupied Palestinian territories? What would the impact be on the growing movement for a one-state solution? In this policy brief, Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor Victor Kattan tackles these and other questions below and finds that on balance UN membership for a State of Palestine would be a strategic asset to the Palestinian struggle for self-determination, although there are risks involved.

The Strategy in Question

Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and President of the Palestinian National Authority (PA), affirmed in the New York Times on 17 May 2011 that “this September, at the United Nations General Assembly, we will request international recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 border and that our state be admitted as a full member of the United Nations.”

Although this announcement has provoked a storm of indignation amongst certain constituencies in the United States, it will not come as a complete surprise to those who have been following developments closely. In the past six months several Latin American countries have recognized the state of Palestine, bringing the total number of countries to have done so since 1988 to over 100. In addition, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom have upgraded the Palestine General Delegations in their capitals to diplomatic missions and embassies—a status normally reserved for states.

From Abbas’s op-ed it would appear that there are two prongs to this strategy: international recognition of Palestine as a state, and membership of the UN.


Although the Palestinian strategy has not been fully articulated, it appears that the PLO hopes to use the opening plenary of the UN General Assembly in September as a forum to call upon other states to recognize it. In other words it will seek collective recognition.

According to Riyad al-Maliki, the PA Foreign Minister, some 150 countries have said that they will recognize a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders in September.4 If this number is achieved it could be significant, especially if it includes recognition from some of the countries in the European Union (EU.) This is because if recognition of a Palestinian state is viewed as constitutive (the argument that statehood is a matter of recognition only) then the number and quality of states that recognize Palestine is important. If, however, recognition of a Palestinian state is viewed as declaratory (the argument that recognition alone cannot confer statehood but must be accompanied by other factors, independence being particularly important) then there is of course a problem if Israel retains control over the occupied territories.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Arab Spring, Gaza and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A conversation with Nadia Hijab

Listen to the recording of the May 2011 monthly phone conference of Ta'anit Tzedek - Jewish Fast for Gaza - featuring Nadia Hijab, Palestinian-American author and member of the US Campaign's Advisory Board, speaking about "The Arab Spring, Gaza and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict."

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

US Campaign's Nadia Hijab on CNN: "Palestinians must be equal."

Nadia Hijab is a member of our Advisory Board, and is director of Al-Shabaka, The Palestinian Policy Network. The same questions below were also answered by Yousef Munayyer, Executive Director of The Palestine Center in Washington, D.C., which is a coalition member in the US Campaign. Munayyer's answers can be read here.

Nadia Hijab: 'Israel needs to be a state in which all citizens are equal'

By Jay Kernis, Senior Producer

After his meeting with President Obama on Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "While Israel is prepared to make generous compromises for peace, it cannot go back to the 1967 lines - because these lines are indefensible; because they don’t take into account certain changes that have taken place on the ground, demographic changes that have taken place over the last 44 years." 
In your point of view, does that line in the sand slow down the possibility of new peace negotiations, or offer some possibilities?
"Good question, because this is really a key issue. Under the law, Israel has  to withdraw from all the territory it occupied in 1967, just like it did when it withdrew from Egypt’s Sinai desert.
"The core principle of international law - that territory cannot be acquired by force - is the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 242, which Israel actually accepted in 1967.  The 1967 borders have been the basis of peace negotiations for 44 years.
"Yet Israel has grabbed about 60% of the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem for its illegal settlements. If Israel really wants peace, it got to stop taking Palestinian land."
Netanyahu also said, "Israel cannot negotiate with a Palestinian government that is backed by Hamas.  Hamas, as the President said, is a terrorist organization committed to Israel’s destruction."
On Tuesday, he added, "Why has peace not been achieved?  Because so far, the Palestinians have been unwilling to accept a Palestinian state, if it meant accepting a Jewish state alongside it."
Why does Hamas take that extreme position against the existence of Israel as a Jewish homeland-and do you believe Hamas always will?
"Countries, like people, make enemies - and peace is negotiated between enemies. If you’re friends, then there’s no problem!
"Although Hamas and Israel are enemies, Hamas has clearly stated its acceptance of a two state solution based on the 1967 borders. Netanyahu has specifically rejected such a solution.
?Hamas has also accepted that Mahmoud Abbas will, as chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, be responsible for negotiations, and the PLO has recognizedIsrael. The truth is that most Palestinians don’t believe that Israel wants peace because it keeps taking Palestinian land and water and prevents them from traveling to or within Palestine whenever it wants to. Israel announced it wants to build yet another 1,500 illegal homes in occupied East Jerusalem just before Netanyahu came to the United States.
"Since 1967,Israelhas illegally settled 650,000 Israelis on Palestinian land - by Netanyahu's own count. Netanyahu need look no further than his own government's actions for an answer to his question of 'why has peace not been achieved.'"

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Gaza and the Arab Spring: A Conversation with Nadia Hijab

Nadia Hijab is an Advisory Board Member of the US Campaign.

Ta’anit Tzedek - Jewish Fast for Gaza will sponsor "Gaza and the Arab Spring," a conference call with prominent Palestinian writer and human rights advocate Nadia Hijab on Thursday, May 19 at 12:00 pm EST.

The Arab Spring - a series of popular uprisings all over the Arab world - has brought new hope for greater freedom, justice and democracy to millions of people throughout the Arab world and beyond. The uprisings have already brought about dramatic changes in several countries and the popular movement is growing in strength. How will these changes affect the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and more particularly the people of Gaza? What is impact of related developments, such as the Hamas - PA unity agreement and Egypt's opening of the Rafah crossing into Gaza?

Our guest, Nadia Hijab was born in Syria to Palestinian parents and was raised in Lebanon. Ms. Hijab began her career as Editor-in-Chief of Middle East Magazine and later moved to New York to work for the United Nations Development Program where she served in several UNDP departments and helped organize the Program’s contribution to the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights.


Friday, April 30, 2010

Nadia Hijab and Jesse Rosenfeld: New Palestinian roads "facilitate settlement expansion, apartheid-style segregation and annexation"

US Campaign Advisory Board member Nadia Hijab and Jesse Rosenfeld of The Daily Nuisance have a piece in The Nation on new Palestinian roads in the West Bank, encouraged by Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad and funded in part by USAID. These roads, they allege, contribute to the solidification of Israeli apartheid and settlement expansion in the West Bank:
"Fayyad has argued that development will make the reality of a Palestinian state impossible to ignore. However, many of the new roads facilitate Israeli settlement expansion and pave the way for the seizure of main West Bank highways for exclusive Israeli use.

For decades Israel has carried out its own infrastructure projects in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. These include a segregated road network that, together with the separation wall Israel began building in 2002, divides Palestinian areas from each other while bringing the settlements--all of which are illegal under international law--closer to Israel.

Now, armed with information from United Nations sources and their own research, Palestinian nongovernmental organizations are raising the alarm. Their evidence spotlights the extent to which PA road-building is facilitating the Israeli goal of annexing vast areas of the West Bank--making a viable Palestinian state impossible.

Roads currently under construction in the Bethlehem governorate are a prime example, as they will complete the separation of the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, which includes some of the earliest Israeli settlements, from the Palestinian West Bank, swallowing up more pieces of Bethlehem on the way. The PA is building these roads with funding from the US Agency for International Development and thus ultimately the US taxpayer. "

Hijab and Rosenfeld argue that "many of the alternative roads could facilitate settlement expansion, apartheid-style segregation and annexation by taking Palestinians off the main grid--thus working against a Palestinian state." They point out the human impact of segregated roads:
"Nidal Hatim, a local playwright, online columnist and activist with the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS), cannot take the main road from Bethlehem to his home village of Battir, just outside the city. Route 60 is the main highway running north-south through the center of the West Bank. "To go on the highway, we have to go through the checkpoint and turn around," he said. "I have a West Bank Palestinian ID, so I can't go through the checkpoint." Instead, he takes a bumpy side road that is currently being built by the PA with USAID support. The road turns from choppy cement to residential street to dirt and gravel path, weaving around and under the four-lane Route 60, which is now used mostly by Israeli settlers. Passing through a partly completed tunnel, the car stalls for a second on a steep unpaved incline on the edge of an olive grove."
Separate is never equal. Read the rest of the article here, and learn more about how you can take a stand against Israeli apartheid and U.S. aid to Israel.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Nadia Hijab: "Make the costs of occupation clear"

US Campaign Advisory Board member Nadia Hijab writes at Agence Global that the Obama Administration's best way forward is to clarify its position on international law and settlements and to make the costs of violating that position clear:
"For starters, Obama could dust off that 1979 State Department ruling that Israeli settlements are “inconsistent with international law.” Never revoked, it peeps through the verbiage every now and then. Now it needs to be rearticulated forcefully. Further, the Administration should begin public investigations of how much of its own aid -- and that of U.S. non-profits -- supports settlement activity, with a view to stemming that flow. This will send the clearest message yet to the Israeli government -- and to the settlers -- to stop settlements and begin to pull back. Buying property there will become unattractive while supporting settlements would be a risky enterprise for law-abiding Americans. Concurrently, the Obama administration should continue the steady if unglamorous task of pushing for a final and comprehensive agreement, albeit at a much, much faster pace and backed by clear costs for Israel for not ending its occupation. And it should call on Europe -- Israel’s largest trading partner -- to help make the costs of occupation clear. This will lessen the heat on the Administration and present Israel with a determined united front that says: Yes, to security for the citizens of Israel, No to occupation, injustice, and inequality."

Monday, November 30, 2009

Nadia Hijab and Phyllis Bennis at the Palestine Center conference

US Campaign member group The Palestine Center held their annual conference on November 13, 2009. You can see video of the conference here. Check out the first panel, "Erasure Before and After 1967," which was moderated by US Campaign Advisory Board member Nadia Hijab and features US Campaign Steering Committee member Phyllis Bennis (Bennis' contribution begins around 53:00):

Monday, October 19, 2009

Nadia Hijab on Goldstone Report, Gaza Freedom March

US Campaign Advisory Board member Nadia Hijab writes at Middle East Online on the Goldstone Report and civil society efforts to break the siege of Gaza:
"The Goldstone Report has rightly focused international attention on the crimes committed during Israel’s offensive against Gaza in December-January this year. Even if the United States quashes it at the United Nations Security Council -- where it is likely to go now that the Human Rights Council has adopted it -- the report will make human rights violators think twice. But it doesn’t end the Israeli siege of Gaza....This has left it to people from around the world to try to break the siege themselves."
Hijab highlights the efforts of the Free Gaza Movement, the Viva Palestina convoys, and the US Campaign endorsed Gaza Freedom March. Here's Hijab commenting on the march:

"The Gaza Freedom March involves hundreds of international activists who plan to cross the border at Rafah and to march alongside the Gaza Palestinians on December 31st, aiming to reach the border with Israel. Enthusiasm for the march in Gaza is understandably high, given the Strip’s isolation, with thousands reportedly planning to march with the internationals. Among other things, youth groups from around Gaza are planning dance, theatre and music shows to welcome the visitors. University student unions hope to strike for the day to bring out the numbers, and women’s groups are also aiming to mobilize their members. All of these international volunteers have been speaking out when they get back home and pushing for change in their own government’s policies that allow Israel to keep its siege in place. Perhaps their sustained efforts will finally shame their leaders into action to end the persecution of the Palestinians."

Click here to read the full article. To find out more about the Gaza Freedom March, click here. And keep an eye on this space and our website for opportunities to shame our leaders into ending the U.S. policy that keeps Israel's siege of Gaza in place.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Goldstone Report Already Making Waves

The Goldstone Report, the report on the December-January assault on the Gaza Strip initiated by the UN Human Rights Council, has finally been released, and is already making waves. US Campaign Advisory Board member Nadia Hijab writes in Agence Global:
"On Monday, the United States assumed its seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council -- the one the Bush administration had cold-shouldered, then boycotted. Its representative declared in Obamaesque tones, “Make no mistake: The United States will not look the other way in the face of serious human rights abuses.” And on Tuesday, Justice Richard Goldstone and his team submitted the report of their fact-finding mission into violations of international human rights and humanitarian law during Israel’s December-January offensive against Gaza -- a report requested by the Council itself."
What are advocates for human rights and international law to make of the report? It has been produced by preeminently qualified experts on international law, including one participant in the commission of inquiry on Darfur and Goldstone himself, who served as prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunes for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. It is, in the words of Nadia Hijab, "painstakingly even-handed," criticizing not just Israel but Hamas and the Palestinian Authority for their crack-downs on opposition during the December-January assaults. It's recommendations include that the crimes described in the report be taken up by the International Criminal Court. It is, in short, one of the most potentially important documents of international law related to Israel/Palestine since the 2004 ICJ advisory ruling against the apartheid Wall. What does that mean for us? Hijab quotes outgoing UN General Assembly President Father Miguel d'Escoto, who spoke powerfully of the need for accountability in his final speech in that position:
"[d'Escoto] went on to make a very serious accusation against “those who should supposedly have been most interested” yet “denied their support.” He said he hoped “that they were right and that I was wrong. Otherwise, we face an ugly situation of constant complicity with the aggression against the rights of the noble and long-suffering Palestinian people.” If this complicity repeats itself at the Human Rights Council, the Goldstone Report will be sunk. The power of the state system (and a putative statelet) will have trumped the principles of international law and human rights -- unless human rights advocates act to make sure the right thing gets done."
We need to make sure the right thing gets done. Over the next few days we'll be posting action alerts and resources that you, our supporters, need in order to make sure that this report doesn't get "sunk," as Nadia Hijab fears it will. For now, if you haven't already, join our campaign to end U.S. military aid to Israel--military aid that was used to commit many of the crimes described in the Goldstone report. Check out the whole report here [warning: it's a big file to download]. Read Hijab's full article here. Watch US Campaign steering committee member Phyllis Bennis talk about the report with Laura Flanders on GRITtv. And donate to the US Campaign to support our response to the Goldstone report. Stay tuned for more!
UPDATE: You can now take action to support the recommendations of the Goldstone Report by clicking here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Apartheid, Apartheid, Everywhere -- and not a sanction in sight

Critical analysis of Israeli apartheid has been making surprising media headway recently. With Israeli Professor Neve Gordon critiquing Israel's apartheid policies in The Los Angeles Times and YNet News, former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories John Dugard and American Jewish philanthropist Edgar Bronfman raising the specter of apartheid in in The Huffington Post, Israeli journalist Gideon Levy pointing out the apartheid implications of the Sheikh Jarrah evictions in Ha'aretz, and Alain Gresh of Le Monde Diplomatique exploring connections between apartheid-era South Africa and Israel, it's evident that more and more people around the world are becoming aware of the apartheid reality of Israel's policies toward Palestinians. One particular aspect of Israeli policy that has been receiving attention recently is a new set of restrictions on travel to and from the West Bank that Israel is imposing on international visitors. New Israeli visa stamps restrict travel by foreigners to "Palestinian Authority only" or to areas strictly under direct Israeli control. Here's Toufic Haddad at The Faster Times blog on the new "apartheid visa stamps":
"Previous Israeli-issued tourism visas do not restrict the freedom of movement of tourists who are allowed passage into the country, and who originate from countries which Israel has diplomatic relations and reciprocal arrangements regarding travel. That meaning, as long as someone was allowed into the country, they were able to travel freely whether they chose to visit the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, or the Palestinian city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank....“Palestinian Authority only” greatly restricts this freedom of movement, and thus undoes the former arrangement. It essentially precludes travel to areas of pre-1967 Israel, as well as to Israeli controlled areas in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem."
This arrangement solidifies the fragmentation of the West Bank in a manner that seems all too familiar to Haddad:
"The fragmentation of PA jurisdiction in the West Bank has invited comparisons to the Bantustans of Apartheid South Africa. Bantustans were false states set up by the white apartheid regime as a means to enforce the segregationist nature of apartheid, controlling the primarily black population, while disenfranchising them particularly with regards to expropriating their land and resources."
The new visa restrictions, which would affect U.S. citizens who work, live, or have family in the West Bank, have met with strong condemnation from the U.S. State Department, with Ha'aretz reporting that "The United States has harshly criticized new Israeli restrictions placed on foreign nationals entering the West Bank via the Allenby Bridge, calling the new regulations 'unacceptable'." The State Department made specific note that the new Israeli policy would "'unfairly impact Palestinian and Arab-American travelers.'" (Ha'aretz journalist Amira Hass also published an in-depth report on the new restrictions, which you can read by clicking here.) As with other statements from the Obama Administration, however, this one appears so far to be toothless, as US Campaign Advisory Board member Nadia Hijab notes in her most recent column for Agence Global, entitled "Israel Tests Obama-Again". Hijab recounts an exchange between State Department spokesperson Ian Kelley and a persistent journalist:
"Journalist: What does that mean, we cannot accept this kind of practice? You also can’t accept, you know, continued building of settlements, and they seem to be doing that. Kelly: Yeah. Journalist: So what exactly does that mean? Kelly: Well, it means that this kind of practice is something that the U.S. Government believes should not be done. This is not…something that we can accept. Journalist: What are you going to do if they don’t stop? Kelly: We will continue to protest. Journalist: But that won’t make any difference - Kelly: Yeah. Journalist: So? Kelly: It is what it is. We don’t like the practice."
Thank goodness the State Department is standing up for our rights!! Hijab goes on to point out the dangerous implications of this change in policy:
"Unchallenged, it allows Israel to reinforce its hold on East Jerusalem, which it has (illegally) annexed, as well as those pieces of the West Bank it would like to keep if and when there is a final settlement, such as Palestinian lands east of the separation wall and the fertile Jordan Valley. Those Americans whose passports are stamped “Palestinian Authority only” would be unable to visit any of these places, just as Palestinians cannot, even though they are part of occupied Palestinian territory."
The plain truth is that as long as we provide unconditional support for Israeli apartheid and occupation, the Israeli government can do what it wants--whether to U.S. citizens or to Palestinians. To change Israeli policy, we have to end U.S. military aid and U.S.-based corporate support for occupation. Otherwise, statements only pile on top of statements--and nothing changes. Join our movement for change today by clicking here!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Nadia Hijab: "More than One S in Resistance"

US Campaign Advisory Board member Nadia Hijab comments on the efficacy of boycott and divestment in her latest syndicated column at Agence Global:
"Palestinian civil society and the international solidarity movement have shown that boycott and divestment are powerful non-violent, economic tools in the struggle for freedom and justice. How much more powerful such tools would be if a Palestinian leadership also called for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) so that the entire people spoke with one voice and reinforced each other’s efforts."
Read the full article here. To get involved in the movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions in the United States, click here.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Nadia Hijab: "Playing from Strength in the Middle East"

US Campaign Advisory Board Member Nadia Hijab has some suggestions for the Obama Administration on how to "play from strength" in its dealings with Israel:
"Here’s what Obama could say: “Let me be clear. I have already stated that my administration does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. There is no point having ‘natural growth’ in structures which must be evacuated, as required by international law. Peace with the Palestinians -- based on two sovereign states along the 1967 borders with minor, mutually agreed modifications -- is the best guarantee of Israel’s survival and security. We call on the world to act: Not against Israel, but against Israel’s occupation.”"
(View of Dheisheh Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, with the settlement of Efrat in the background. For more photos from the US Campaign/IFPB delegation, click here) Hijab adds that the Obama Administration needs to consider the leverage that it has:
"[J]ust as Israel is stalling on what America has described as one of its national security interests -- peace in the Middle East -- the administration should similarly stall on issues important to Israel. For instance, sharing military technology, providing military aid or loan guarantees, and conducting joint military exercises. Bureaucracies can find ways to slow things down without a policy shift, and the administration should use them all."
To read the full article, click here. To take action against U.S. military aid to Israel, click here.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Nadia Hijab: Israel's Illegal Threat Diplomacy

Check out the latest column from US Campaign Advisory Board member Nadia Hijab (syndicated by Agence Global): Israel's Warships and Threat Diplomacy By Nadia Hijab Two Israeli missile class warships sailed through Egypt's Suez Canal into the Red Sea this week, some days after one of their nuclear submarines. The news barely blipped the media surface of the United States. It should have raised a few questions: Will Israel really attack Iran? What does the law have to say to Israel -- and to Egypt? Will the world act to prevent war? The idea of an Israeli attack on Iran is almost unthinkable. It could devastate Iran and have repercussions beyond a counter-attack on Israel. Nuclear fallout could affect neighboring countries. Americans in the region and elsewhere could be vulnerable. Iran could close the Strait of Hormuz through which about 20% of world oil flows, perhaps felling a global economy already on its knees. As French president Nicolas Sarkozy said at the G8 summit, such a unilateral act would be an "absolute catastrophe." Barack Obama wants a diplomatic resolution of the standoff over Iran's nuclear program, so perhaps all we are seeing is Israeli sabre-rattling. If this is all, it is still useful to Israel. Israeli strategists have openly said they prefer Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power -- his inflammatory rhetoric is more likely to keep Iran at loggerheads with the world -- and an external threat strengthens Ahmadinejad against his reformist rivals. Israeli military maneuvers also reinforce Iran's determination to seek a nuclear deterrent, thus keeping the country isolated. And it distracts attention from Israel's relentless colonization program in the occupied Palestinian territories. Yet an attack cannot be ruled out: Israel has been known to do the unthinkable. The world cannot afford to wait and see. The United States in particular needs to take more muscular action. The Obama administration does not have to expend political capital by taking Israel on by itself. It can make use of the protection provided by the United Nations and international law. There's plenty to work with: An Israel strike against Iran would be against the law. Any state's use of force must be justified as self-defense; otherwise, it is a fundamental violation of the United Nations Charter. What's more, International law expert Richard Falk says, even the threat to use force is unlawful. Israel's "threat diplomacy" is "explicitly prohibited by the Charter," the American Jewish law professor explains, because the threat to use force can be as disruptive as the use of force itself. It constitutes a crime against peace, as it was defined at the Nuremburg Tribunal after World War II, becoming a principle of international law. It promotes an arms race and escalates tension. Today, there are tensions indeed, and they evoke eerie echoes of the June 1967 war. The weeks before the war were full of military maneuvers and tough talk that culminated in the lightning Israeli attack on and victory over Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. Israel knew full well that the Arabs did not intend war. The late premier Menachem Begin told the Israel National Defense College in 1982: "We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack [Nasser]." The military swagger provided the cover for Israel's strike. If the world doesn't want to spend the next 42 years trying to unravel the consequences of another Israeli attack -- this time against Iran -- it must act fast. First, countries must be careful not to be complicit in Israel's "threat diplomacy." So while Egypt has no right to block the passage of Israeli vessels through the Suez Canal, Falk refers to the concept of "innocent passage" in international law. Whether Israel's deployment of its warships and nuclear submarines can be seen as innocent -- given the threats it has been making -- is a tricky question under international law. Egypt may well have a duty to the international community not to allow such passage. And if so, the international community must support it in this position. Second, countries must lay down the law. Obama was quick to deflect Joe Biden's claim that Israel, as a "sovereign nation" was entitled to decide on a strike against Iran. Obama underscored that America had "absolutely not" given Israel a green light. He even appeared to slap his vice president on the wrist by saying it was very important that his administration be as clear and "as consistent as it can be." But Obama did not go far enough. Biden's remark is not just another unguided missile: It is not consistent with international law. No state, however sovereign, has the right to threaten world peace unless it is acting in self-defense or has a mandate from the United Nations Security Council. This is what Biden should have said, what Obama must say, and what all countries, Egypt included, must uphold. Otherwise we will all pay a heavy price.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Netanyahu and Obama

In a flurry of media attention and a blur of ambiguous promises, U.S. President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Monday in Washington, D.C. What are supporters of justice, international law, and human rights in Israel/Palestine to make of this meeting? Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, was featured on NBC News coverage of the meeting. He wonders what pressure the Obama Administration will be willing to apply to a Netanyahu administration hostile to Obama's preferred two-state solution: US Campaign Advisory Board member Nadia Hijab is wondering what sort of state Netanyahu and Obama are talking about for Palestinians, and worries that such a state will be "truncated." US Campaign Steering Committee member Phyllis Bennis echoes these fears. And US Campaign Steering Committee member Adam Horowitz is curious where Netanyahu's terminology is coming from. We don't have time to wait for a right-wing Israeli government to set the terms for peace. Join the conversation today! Act to end U.S. military aid to Israel by clicking here, and let us know what you think of the Obama-Netanyahu meeting by commenting to this post.