I am a Palestinian who was born in the Israeli town of Lod, and thus I am an Israeli citizen. My wife is not; she is a Palestinian from Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Despite our towns being just 30 miles apart, we met almost 6,000 miles away in Massachusetts, where we attended neighboring colleges.
A series of walls, checkpoints, settlements and soldiers fill the 30-mile gap between our hometowns, making it more likely for us to have met on the other side of the planet than in our own backyard.
Never is this reality more profound than on our trips home from our current residence outside Washington.
Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion International Airport is on the outskirts of Lod (Lydda in Arabic), but because my wife has a Palestinian ID, she cannot fly there; she is relegated to flying to Amman, Jordan. If we plan a trip together — an enjoyable task for most couples — we must prepare for a logistical nightmare that reminds us of our profound inequality before the law at every turn.
Even if we fly together to Amman, we are forced to take different bridges, two hours apart, and endure often humiliating waiting and questioning just to cross into Israel and the West Bank. The laws conspire to separate us.
If we lived in the region, I would have to forgo my residency, since Israeli law prevents my wife from living with me in Israel. This is to prevent what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once referred to as “demographic spillover.” Additional Palestinian babies in Israel are considered “demographic threats” by a state constantly battling to keep a Jewish majority. (Of course, Israelis who marry Americans or any non-Palestinian foreigners are not subjected to this treatment.)
Last week marked Israel’s 64th year of independence; it is also when Palestinians commemorate the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” during which many of Palestine’s native inhabitants were turned into refugees.
In 1948, the Israeli brigade commander Yitzhak Rabin helped expel Lydda’s Palestinian population. Some 19,000 of the town’s 20,000 native Palestinian inhabitants were forced out. My grandparents were among the 1,000 to remain.
They were fortunate to become only internally displaced and not refugees. Years later my grandfather was able to buy back his own home — a cruel absurdity, but a better fate than that imposed on most of his neighbors, who were never permitted to re-establish their lives in their hometowns.
Three decades later, in October 1979, this newspaper reported that Israel barred Rabin from detailing in his memoir what he conceded was the “expulsion” of the “civilian population of Lod and Ramle, numbering some 50,000.” Rabin, who by then had served as prime minister, sought to describe how “it was essential to drive the inhabitants out.”
Two generations after the Nakba, the effect of discriminatory Israeli policies still reverberates. Israel still seeks to safeguard its image by claiming to be a bastion of democracy that treats its Palestinian citizens well, all the while continuing illiberal policies that target this very population. There is a long history of such discrimination.
In the 1950s new laws permitted the state to take control over Palestinians’ land by classifying them “absentees.” Of course, it was the state that made them absentees by either preventing refugees from returning to Israel or barring internally displaced Palestinians from having access to their land. This last group was ironically termed “present absentees” — able to see their land but not to reach it because of military restrictions that ultimately resulted in their watching the state confiscate it. Until 1966, Palestinian citizens were governed under martial law.
Today, a Jew from any country can move to Israel, while a Palestinian refugee, with a valid claim to property in Israel, cannot. And although Palestinians make up about 20 percent of Israel’s population, the 2012 budget allocates less than 7 percent for Palestinian citizens.
Tragically for Palestinians, Zionism requires the state to empower and maintain a Jewish majority even at the expense of its non-Jewish citizens, and the occupation of the West Bank is only one part of it. What exists today between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is therefore essentially one state, under Israeli control, where Palestinians have varying degrees of limited rights: 1.5 million are second-class citizens, and four million more are not citizens at all. If this is not apartheid, then whatever it is, it’s certainly not democracy.
The failure of Israeli and American leaders to grapple with this nondemocratic reality is not helping. Even if a two-state solution were achieved, which seems fanciful at this point, a fundamental contradiction would remain: more than 35 laws in ostensibly democratic Israel discriminate against Palestinians who are Israeli citizens.
For all the talk about shared values between Israel and the United States, democracy is sadly not one of them right now, and it will not be until Israel’s leaders are willing to recognize Palestinians as equals, not just in name, but in law.
Caterpillar bulldozers have come to symbolise foreign involvement in Israel’s occupation. But should the company be held liable if their products are used to break international law?
Bulldozers are the iron fist of the Israeli army, used to destroy Palestinian homes, uproot orchards and build illegal settlements. But it was the death of Rachel Corrie that brought to international attention a campaign to hold the company to account. Now a law suit has been launched accusing Caterpillar of human rights violations. (Inigo Gilmore)
Myth #1 – Jews and Arabs have always been in conflict in the region.
Myth #2 – The United Nations created Israel.
Myth #3 – The Arabs missed an opportunity to have their own state in 1947.
Myth #4 – Israel has a “right to exist”.
Myth #5 – The Arab nations threatened Israel with annihilation in 1967 and 1973
Myth #6 – U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 called only for a partial Israeli withdrawal.
Myth #7 – Israeli military action against its neighbors is only taken to defend itself against terrorism.
Myth #8 – God gave the land to the Jews, so the Arabs are the occupiers.
Myth #9 – Palestinians reject the two-state solution because they want to destroy Israel.
Myth #10 – The U.S. is an honest broker and has sought to bring about peace in the Middle East.
Excerpt of Transcript of Oral History Interview with Arthur N. Young
An economist and financial expert, beginning in 1912, principally as an adviser to the U.S. Government and to the governments of various other countries, including service as an economic adviser in the U.S. Dept. of State, 1922-28; financial adviser to the Chinese Government and to the Central Bank of China, 1929-46; a member of the Chinese delegation to Bretton Woods financial conference, 1944; director of Point IV program in Saudi Arabia, 1951-52; and financial adviser and chief of financial mission to Saudi Arabia, 1951-52.
February 21, 1974
James R. Fuchs
One point on which Acheson differed from Truman, and I think Acheson was one hundred percent right, was in the Middle East policy. I give President Truman very high marks for many of the things that he did; for his aid to Greece and Turkey; for intervening in Korea; for starting the Point IV program, although on that I think Dean Acheson deserves quite a lot of the credit for really putting the thing over in the first instance, and selling it to Marshall and getting Marshall to get back of it. I give Truman high marks for all those things.
But his Middle Eastern policy I think was a disaster, and will probably rank as one of the most serious blunders in American diplomacy and foreign policy–in backing Israel the way we have done. Our real interests lie more with the Arabs, who not merely have the oil, and the geography, and the numbers, but they have the ethics on their side, because they were robbed of their homeland quite unnecessarily. And I think the United States getting in on the wrong side, for which we are now paying so heavily, will rank as a major blunder. It is hard for Americans to get at the facts, because of the media being so slanted on the thing, and our people have been brainwashed. Right now most people blame the Arabs, and the oil companies, and almost everybody else for this crisis, when really they should look back and blame the policy, starting right at the end of World War II, to back Israel and not have an evenhanded policy.
We’ve lost much of the Arab friendship, they wanted to be friends with us and we had high prestige in the Middle East. We couldn’t have done more if we had tried, so far as I can figure it out, to help Russia to gain its ambitions of an entry into the Middle East. It’s been a disaster, and those in authority will not come out and say that because they are afraid of the media which are partly Jewish controlled and they are afraid of losing the votes and political contributions of Beverley Hills and New York City; but someone in authority should come out and say just about what I have said. Not as a matter of anti-Semitism – ‘ve got many Jewish friends, and…
FUCHS: Which is the charge you get right away.
YOUNG: That’s right. I’m not anti-Semitic. I have many Jewish friends. But the interests of the United States are not the interests of Israel. Somebody should come out and say all these things; and sooner or later there is a severe risk that anti-Semitism in the bad sense of the word will come out of this thing, if and when people get to realize what has been the American policy–that we’ve asked for this. The Europeans know that. It hurts our cooperation with Europe. It gives the Russians an opening. It’s bad from so many points of view, but people just won’t come out and recognize that.
FUCHS: What do you think Lord [Arthur] Balfour really intended in his declaration in respect to a home-land?
YOUNG: The part that has been ignored in the Balfour declaration is that the home for the Jews should be done in a manner consistent with the rights of the people living in the area.
My parents on their honeymoon visited the Holy Land in 1889 and they told about the Jews and the Arabs living together in harmony there in Israel, in the letters that my mother wrote, which we have. If you go back to the time of the Balfour declaration the Jews were only about a fifth of the population of the area, and they were getting on fine with the Arabs. The Arabs had most of the business then. They had, I think it was 95 percent of the olive groves, and 50 percent of the orange groves, which were the biggest things there. They had thousands of businesses in Jerusalem and in the area, and they greatly outnumbered the Jews in their economic weight and their numbers.
Now that thing has been completely turned around. It is now mostly forgotten that the Jews relied much on terrorism in their drive for an independent Israel after World War II–terrorists assassinated the UN representative, and their violence contributed to the British giving up their mandate. Now Israel denounces terrorists (quite properly) when used against them, but they forget their past.
For the first twelve or fifteen years of the State of Israel, in effect for every Jewish refugee taken in an Arab was driven out as a refugee. And nothing has really been done effectively yet for these Arab refugees. The Arabs are partly at fault, because they’ve tried to use them as a bargaining point and many Arab governments have resisted doing anything for the refugees apart from a settlement of the whole Middle East situation, so you can fault them for that. But it is a sore spot there, and we had better get on with doing something now, and bring the necessary pressure on Israel. We’ve got means of pressure on Israel through the arms and finances, and if we don’t put the pressure on them and tell them they’ve got to make a reasonable settlement, and that soon, if we don’t do that we will be in trouble. We’ll never have a better chance than we have right now, and it really ought to be done. Time works against Israel and they can have no long-time security from a purely military solution. Of course things have gone so far now that Israel should be assured of security in the pre-1967 territory.
I hope that the Watergate business doesn’t put the Administration in so much trouble that they can’t sufficiently press Israel. Perhaps if Mr. [Henry] Kissinger sees the light on it, and I imagine he may have, maybe he can do it. But it is hard because our people have been so brain-washed by years of propaganda and seem still to want to back Israel, although almost all the rest of the world does not like our policy. And the oil embargo has made it harder to see the basic justice of the Arab cause–not to speak of the terrorism.
FUCHS: It’s a strange situation.
YOUNG: It’s a terrible situation, and if I should write anything about it, it wouldn’t be published. It would be rejected by the media, because of their fear for the advertisers and the support of the Jews and their sympathizers. The only way it could be done would be by someone in high authority coming out and saying these things. Some of the professors have said it. There is a very good article in the current Reader’s Digest by Professor Griffith of MIT on this situation. That has wide circulation, and perhaps will do some good. You’ll find the State Department people–at least the Middle East experts–probably agreeing substantially with what I’ve just said. But repeatedly they have been rebuffed at the White House.
I have been told that Mrs. Roosevelt had Loy Henderson of the State Department removed from handling Middle East matters and Russian matters. I think it was Russian matters at that time, because she thought he didn’t have sufficient trust of the Russians–he knew them all too well. Loy Henderson also had trouble in having influence under Dean Acheson, although Dean Acheson trusted him.
The people in the State Department who try to get these things done if they are too active
risk being removed. There were indications that we almost lost Assistant Secretary [Joseph J.] Sisco for that reason. He was going to become president of Hamilton College, I don’t know the ins and outs of it, but it looked as if he was unhappy about the failure to bring sufficient pressure on Israel. It was a good sign that he stayed in the Department and became Under Secretary. A very able man who understands the situation very well.
FUCHS: I wonder what would have happened if in ’48 when we so, you could almost say, precipitately, recognized Israel, if Dean Acheson had been Secretary as he was the following year?
YOUNG: Well, he couldn’t get anything done because it was done unilaterally by President Truman. As I understand it, what took place was that they were debating this thing at Lake Success, and someone brought in word that the United States was in the course of recognizing Israel. And the American delegates who were trying to negotiate a plan for Palestine said, “Well that can’t be. That isn’t in line with our instructions or our policy.” And then they went out to check and found out it was true. That was most unfortunate. So with all my admiration for the good things that President Truman did I think that this is a very dangerous minus on the record.
HP is the second largest investor in Israeli Information Technology(IT). Its technology and equipment facilitate both the illegal Israeli occupation and apartheid, especially through the development of its biometric system used for population and territorial control and surveillance of Palestinians both inside Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territory.
The Checkpoints – HP’s Basel system is installed at the Israeli military checkpoints in the occupied West Bank which deprive Palestinians of freedom of movement in violation of international law.
The Israeli Military – HP provided the IT infrastructure for the Israeli Navy, thereby helping to enforce the blockade of Gaza, and supplies the computer systems for the Ministry of Defense.
The settlements – HP employs settlers in Beithar Illit and provides services and technologies to two of the largest in the occupied West Bank (Modi’in Illit and Ariel).
Biomeric ID cards – occupied territories – HP facilitates Israeli control of the Palestinian population of the occupied West Bank with its biometric identification of Palestinian civilians. The ID numbers for these Green cards that bear the PNA insignia are assigned by Israel, which controls the Palestinian population registry.
Biometric ID cards – citizens of Israel – HP facilitates Israeli apartheid with the development of its biometric system that differentiates between Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel, among other ethnicities and religions. In other words, “this system takes to a new level of technology the stratification of citizenship rights.”
Hyundai’s Corporate complicity
Home Demolitions and Collective Punishment: Hyundai Complicity in Israeli War Crimes
Collective Punishment & Corporate Complicity
Evidence indicates that Hyundai’s contract with Israeli company Automotive Equipment Group (AEG) violates their Fair Trade Code of Conduct that states the following:
“With our parent company headquartered in South Korea, Hyundai has implemented a voluntary fair trade compliance initiative to ensure we are meeting or exceeding all trade-related government regulations, including U.S. requirements. As part of this initiative, Hyundai has initiated a series of education programs to raise awareness of fair trade practices among our workforce and suppliers. Additionally, we have instituted a mechanism for reporting suspected unfair business transactions, corruption or other violations.”
United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights Richard Falk states “Companies taking part in the construction of the six lane illegal highway in Beit Safafa, under the auspices of the Moriah Jerusalem Development Company and their implementing partner, D.Y. Barazani Ltd., must be held responsible” for violating International law that condemns companies for participating in the collective punishment of the civilian population. http://www.bdsmovement.net/2013/israel-un-expert-warns-against-israels-plans-for-a-six-lane-settlement-highway-in-east-jerusalem-10988
Hyundai’s contract with the Israeli company Automotive Equipment Group is for their Robex 340 LC-7A excavator deal. A total of 237 homes were demolished and a total of 297 people displaced according to a report by The Israeli Committee to End Home Demolitions. Statistics on the number of home demolitions in Palestine is located at this link: http://icahd.org/the-facts
Hyundai representative defends their cooperation is with Israel’s private sector and have no knowledge of the specific use of the Robex 320 LC-7A excavator. On the same note, he/she explains Palestinians use their equipment for construction purposes despite Israel using their equipment for home demolitions. The Hyundai representative incorrectly stipulates there is a moral equivalence between the two purposes. Palestinians have no choice but to use equipment approved by Israeli authorities in constructing and reconstructing their infrastructures. Additional information on Hyundai’s representative response: http://www.bdsmovement.net/2013/hyundai-ends-relationship-with-home-demolition-equipment-firm-10469
South Korean activist have joined with the Boycott Divestment Sanction movement to pressure Hyundai executives to break their relationship with Israel. On ways the South Koreans stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people visit this article: http://www.palestinemonitor.org/details.php?id=lh7rdma891y9zkl5t08c
In addition to Hyundai, the Israeli company Automotive Equipment Group holds contracts with Caterpillar, and Volvo. Check out our blog post on Caterpillar: http://boycott4peace.blogspot.com/2014/12/boycott-caterpillar.html, and our Caterpillar boycott meme: http://boycott4peace.blogspot.com/2014/12/caterpillar-corporate-conscientiousness.html
Hyundai has been a target of the group “Who profits from the Israeli occupation?” http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/latestnews/tabid/62/entryid/1256/who-profits-from-the-israeli-occupation.aspx
Include toys, tools, clothes, accessories, electronics, and other Hyundai gear in this boycott!