By Salena Tramel
June 20th, 2011
May 24th, 2011
Over the last couple of days official Washington has been abuzz with what President Obama said, and didn't say, about the 1967 borders between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. The president didn't say anything that hasn't been official U.S. policy under both Republican and Democratic administrations since at least President Carter's time. And, for good measure, nothing different than what the international community has been saying since even before then!
RAFAH, Gaza—I’m sitting around a table at the Rural Women’s Development Society (RWDS) near the Gaza Strip’s southernmost border with a group of women discussing grassroots agricultural initiatives and drinking sugary sage tea. For a second, the sound of a war plane suffocates our words. One of the center’s leaders looks out the window and rolls her big brown eyes. “As I was saying,” she repeats, “we are dealing with real threats here.”
Below is an article from Grassroots International’s ally, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, outlining actions planned for the commemoration of the 63rd anniversary of the Nakba on May 15, 2011. Al-Nakba, which means “the catastrophe” in Arabic, commemorates the day in 1948 on which Palestinians either fled or were forced to leave their homes, villages and towns as war broke out between the newly declared State of Israel and neighboring Arab countries in the wake of Israel’s declaration of statehood on May 14, 1948.
GAZA CITY— The turnstile locks behind me and I’m standing in a small metal room. I flashback to the first time I crossed Erez checkpoint last year and remember the claustrophobic feeling of walking into a trap, three small metal doors blending into the steel. This time, I know the drill, and place bets on which one of these gateways to Gaza will randomly open. One finally does, revealing a seemingly endless open-air tunnel that snakes through the expanse of the buffer zone. I have been waiting for this moment, for the long walk alone to the other side. I crank up Gran Vitaly’s “Looming Hurricane” on my iPod and weave through the cage, separated from heavily armed soldiers by razed agricultural land. Time stands still for a while, and then before I know it, I’m back in the Strip.
After a relatively quiet few months in Gaza, conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians have erupted anew, with each side claiming retaliation rights. Flexing its superior military might—and causing mighty damage—the Israeli armed forces have intensified their attacks on the blockaded territory. And just like during operation “Cast Lead,” Gazan civilians are paying the heaviest price.
This article, Israel lays Gaza-like siege on West Bank village, highlights many threats to resource rights in Palestine, as the people living there have diminishing access to land, water, and food. These developments in Beit Ommar not only show the severity of the politics of occupation, but also stand in the way of a just peace .
Sometimes the work we engage in as people who believe in a just peace in the face of a brutal world is quite simply heart breaking. Today is such a day.
At the rate the Separation Wall is being built, soon Palestinian Land Day (March 30) will need only a few hours. The Wall and the Israeli mandated buffer zones jut into the Palestinian territories by as much as 300 feet, gobbling up fertile agricultural land and precious water reserves, and make cool profits for companies like Elbit Systems Ltd. contracted to build the massive structure.
by Stephen R. Shalom
NOTE: the following is an excerpt from an article by Stephen R. Shalom, Jewish professor, writer, and advisory board member of the Israeli Occupation Archive. This article is a slightly edited and footnoted version of remarks delivered at New York University 28 Feb 2011 for Israel Apartheid Week