sábado, mayo 31, 2008
A man pleads with an Israeli soldier detaining a child during an Israeli military operation into the West Bank city of Qalqiliya, May 2008. (Khaleel Reash/MaanImages)
his month Israel celebrated its 60th anniversary and a panoply of politicians and celebrities honored its achievements. The star attraction at the official celebrations was undoubtedly US President George W. Bush, whose praise for Israel reached Biblical proportions. Echoing both Theodor Herzl and the Old Testament in his speech before the Knesset, Bush called the Jewish state "a light unto the nations." But while Israel and its allies applauded six decades of Israeli independence, we Palestinians commemorated the Nakba, our catastrophe, our darkness.
Commemorating the Nakba means recognizing that 60 years of Israeli independence also marks 60 years of Palestinian dispossession; that 60 years of Israeli statehood also marks 60 years of Palestinian statelessness; and that 60 years of Jewish freedom in Israel also marks 60 years of unfreedom for Palestinians.
It was not always clear that Palestinians would remember themselves. One of the most widely repeated quotes attributed to David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, captures his dismissal of Palestinian pre-existence in what became Israel. "The old will die and the young will forget," he reputedly said. This was only half right: four generations of refugees later, we have not forgotten.
From Beit Lahiya to Beirut, from Nablus to New York, and from Lydd to London, we still remember. We remember how our homeland was partitioned against the will of the majority. We remember how our families fled in fear of massacre and rape, with thousands forced out by Zionist militias. And we remember that while the 1948 War for Palestine wiped our country off the map, it failed to erase our peoplehood.
The act of remembering is in this sense also an act of resistance. We refuse to submit; we decline to disappear; we reject the whiting out of our indigeneity. Through small acts of cultural resistance at home and in exile, we are reclaiming our history.
The establishment of the Nakba Archive, by Palestinians in Lebanon, is a case in point. The Archive, a fraction of which was screened in London's Palestine Film Festival, collates video testimonies from survivors of the 750,000 Palestinians who became refugees in the 1948 War. Currently, it boasts approximately 1,000 hours of interviews conducted with some 500 refugees from over 130 villages. It also maintains an excellent website at www.nakba-archive.org.
A similar project has been initiated in Israel itself, where filmmaker Raneen Geries has recorded testimonies of Palestinian women who were internally displaced in the 1948 War. Just as the fact that Israeli forces destroyed and depopulated over 500 Palestinian villages in the war is little known outside the Arab world, so the history of the internal displacement of approximately 40,000 Palestinians within Israel has been largely silenced. Projects like these are of vital importance because they genuinely give a voice to the voiceless.
But these projects also remind us of a disquieting truth: the Nakba is not over. There are echoes of 1948 among the recent waves of forced migration from conflicts in Iraq and Lebanon, where Palestinian families became refugees for a second, third or even fourth time.
There are echoes of 1948 in the approximately 40 "unrecognized" villages in the south of Israel, where Palestinian citizens of Israel today remain prey to yet further displacement and dispossession. Villages like Atir and Umm al-Hieran have already suffered home demolitions as Israeli authorities prepare for their evacuation and replacement with new, exclusively Jewish, towns.
And there are echoes of 1948 in the collective punishment that is still being inflicted on Palestinians today, most notably in the embargoed Gaza Strip, where approximately 70 percent of the population of 1.5 million are registered refugees. Meanwhile, in the occupied West Bank, Israel's unlawful construction of settlements and the wall is still expropriating Palestinian land for Israeli settlers, still separating family members from one another, and still denying Palestinians freedom of movement in the land of their birth.
The matrix of vulnerabilities that attend this state of statelessness raises an obvious question: if the Nakba is still in progress, then how will it end? Few people believe Annapolis holds the answer. As Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas recently admitted, "Nothing has been achieved in the negotiations with Israel yet." For all their efforts, neither Abbas nor his appointed Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has secured American intervention to enforce Israel's commitment to freeze settlement expansion. Almost half a million Israeli settlers already live in occupied Palestinian territory, yet Israel continues building to increase this figure yet further.
By now it should be clear that reliance on American benevolence is no strategy for national liberation. As Israeli settlement expansion continues apace, the prospects of a viable Palestinian state emerging at all, let alone by 2009, look ever more remote. Forget Palestine; at this rate, the scraps of land remaining for an "independent" state alongside Israel would have to take their name from a recent novel: Absurdistan.
But if the two-state solution is obsolete, the growing support for a one-state solution should reassure Israelis and Palestinians alike. Within a single democratic state that recognizes the equal value of all its citizens, irrespective of ethno-religious affiliation, we could begin to build a new history of peaceful cooperation and coexistence. This state would truly be a light unto the nations. And when such a state extended invitations to its birthday party, all its peoples could join in the celebrations.
Sharif Hamadeh is a former advisor to the PLO's Negotiations Affairs Department and a former fellow of Adalah - the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. He is currently completing his legal studies in London as a Lord Mansfield scholar of Lincoln's Inn. This commentary first appeared in Adalah's Newsletter, Volume 48, May 2008, and is republished with the author's permission.
Sharif Hamadeh, The Electronic Intifada, 30 May 2008
viernes, mayo 30, 2008
Three near-naked figures are visible in the forest clearing. Two of them are men, their bodies daubed with a red dye, and they are aiming their bows at the sky. A third figure appears to be a woman, her body blackened and only her pale hands and face betraying her natural colour.
This remarkable photograph is the first proof of the existence of one of the world's last uncontacted tribes. Taken from a plane that was flying low over the canopy of the Amazon rainforest near the border between Brazil and Peru, it could play a vital part in ensuring the tribe's survival.
"We did the overflight to show their houses, to show they are there, to show they exist," said José Carlos dos Reis Meirelles Junior, an expert on the remote tribal people who live beyond the boundaries of the modern world. "This is very important because there are some who doubt their existence."
Mr Meirelles, who works for FUNAI, the Brazilian government's Indian affairs department, said they first encountered the group on a morning flight earlier this month and saw dozens of people dotted around a clearing with two communal huts. When they returned later the same day, the impact of the earlier flight was clear. Most of the women and children had fled into the forest, he said, and those that were left had painted their bodies, taken up arms and appeared to be on a "war footing".
Experts believe that the hostile response is a clear indication that they understand that contact with the outside world spells danger. Across the border in Peru, similar tribes are being driven from their lands by aggressive oil and mining interests and illegal loggers.
Peru's President, Alan Garcia, has openly questioned the existence of uncontacted tribes. Meanwhile, evidence of the destruction of the forest has been piling up down river in the Brazilian state of Acre, where barrels of Peruvian petrol have washed up along with debris from logging operations. "What is happening in this region [of Peru] is a monumental crime against the natural world, the tribes, the fauna, and is further testimony to the complete irrationality with which we, the 'civilised' ones, treat the world," said Mr Meirelles.
After a decades-long political battle, indigenous groups now have their land rights protected under Brazilian law. The London-based charity Survival International is leading calls for Peru to act in accordance with international law and protect the tribes on its territory.
Survival's Fiona Watson, who recently returned from the region, said that Indians fleeing over the border into Brazil could be driven into conflict with uncontacted tribes already living there. "It is clear from this photograph that they want to be left alone," she said.
Encounters with the outside world are typically fatal for these tribes, who have no defences against the common cold and other commonplace diseases. "The groups are often fragments of much larger tribes that were overrun in the past and have died from disease or at the barrel of a gun," said Miss Watson.
The experience of the Akunsu tribe in neighbouring Rondonia, contacted a little over a decade ago, is not unusual. Today, only six members of the tribe survive. All relatives, they cannot marry and the group is expected to die out within a generation.
One of the survivors said they were overrun by loggers who sent gunmen into their areas to drive them out. Under Brazilian law, land occupied by Indians cannot be cultivated so ranchers make sure that no Indians survive.
Israeli PM Ehud Olmert's party should prepare for possible elections, his party deputy has said, amid calls that he step down over corruption claims.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, tipped as a possible successor to Mr Olmert, said Kadima should prepare for "every eventuality, including elections".
On Wednesday, a key ally said he should take leave of absence or resign.
"I think the reality has changed since yesterday and Kadima has to make decisions in relation to what it does," Ms Livni told reporters in Jerusalem.
"I suspect that Kadima needs to start right away acting for every eventuality, including elections."
She also said she favoured holding a party primary to give the public a say in choosing a leader, and to "restore the trust" in the centrist party.
Mr Olmert said on Wednesday he was "not going to give up", after Defence Minister Ehud Barak, warned he would take his Labour Party out of Mr Olmert's ruling coalition if he did not step down.
The prime minister has not been charged, but has said he would resign if indicted - which would be expected to lead to early elections.
Correspondents say the growing uncertainty over Mr Olmert's future casts doubt over Mr Olmert's ability to press forward current peace talks with the Palestinians, with his weak domestic political position likely to make it harder for him to negotiate.
Mr Olmert, the head of the Kadima party, admits accepting funds before he became prime minister in 2006.
But he insists they were legal contributions towards his campaigns for re-election as Jerusalem mayor and for the leadership of the Likud party.
He has previously said he has no plans to step aside unless he is charged.
Kadima has just 29 MPs out of a total of 120 seats in the parliament, the Knesset, and relies on the Labour Party's 19 MPs as key allies in its governing coalition.
On Tuesday, the US businessman at the centre of the allegations told investigators that he gave Mr Olmert envelopes full of cash.
Morris Talansky was questioned by investigators, and is due to be cross-examined by Mr Olmert's defence team in July.
Testifying in an Israeli court, Mr Talansky said he handed over about $150,000 of his own money to Mr Olmert, directly and through aides, over a 15-year period.
The rest of the money came from fundraising.
He said he did not know how the money had been spent, adding: "I only know he loved expensive cigars. I know he loved pens, watches."
Mr Talansky said that Mr Olmert also asked him for a personal loan of $25,000-$30,000 for a holiday in Italy.
In another case, he said, he walked to a bank to withdraw $15,000 in cash for a loan as Mr Olmert waited in a luxury hotel.Mr Talansky said he thought Mr Olmert's "word was gold", but that Mr Olmert never repaid either loan.
BBC NEWS REPORT
jueves, mayo 29, 2008
After the success of the Beats of Freedom Reggae Night
held at Marsa, Moviment Graffitti is organising
another reggae night at the Marsa Open Centre on the
31st of May. German DJ El Presidente with the El
Preseidente Sound System, and DJ Rhythm Teacher will
feature during the event.
Entrance is FREE! See flyer attached.