Friday, December 16, 2011

A call to Christians
at Christmas 2011
Virginia Tilley
14 December 2011

A Call to Christians at Christmas 2011
By Virginia Tilley

Introduction: Finally, we have someone prepared to call the
Christian Churches out on their feeble caution and empty
prayers on Palestine. Virginia Tilley does it with the razor
sharpness of one who knows her business - not prepared to
mince words or pay lip service to mealy-mouthed assurances
of Christian concern for Palestinian suffering while doing 
nothing to hold Israel to account. It is long overdue as one
denomination after another pussyfoots around Israel too
afraid to call a spade a spade. In recalling the 1985 Kairos 
document composed by Archbishop Tutu during South
Africa’s anti-Apartheid struggle, Virginia Tilley says it should
be read “just to show how clear-headed Christian activism can
get when it truly girds its loins. The 1985 Kairos had no truck
with empty talk of ‘peace’, ‘reconciliation’ and ‘dialogue’.” 
Tilley’s article is an important expose of how the Christian
church, for all its efforts in giving succor to the Palestinians,
has been woefully lacking in moral fortitude. As Tilley says 
so eloquently, “the tasks in Palestine have long been plain.
The evangelical Christian right must be approached about its
gullible equation of a modern military state with spiritual
rebirth. Israel’s instrumental deceit about Jewish life in the
Holy Land constituting a path to Christian salvation must be
exposed. The sins of ethnic cleansing and state-sponsored 
bigotry must be confronted. The malevolent whispers
circulated by Zionist plants in Jerusalem and Palestine, which
attempt to demonize Islam for Christians and Christianity for
Muslims, must be openly and unanimously denounced. In the
spirit of the 1985 Kairos, the true meaning of Christian love
 must show its moral fist to reject false symmetry and the sinful
notion of reconciliation with oppression.” It is something to
think about as we gear up for the usual Christmas festivities
celebrating the birth of Jesus more than 2000 years ago in
Bethlehem, long before walls, barbed wire and checkpoints
imprisoned the city from the rest of Palestine. Perhaps it will 
make for more sober reflection about the part we all have
played in perpetuating the intolerable Palestinian predicament.
At five minutes to midnight, it is really time for the Christian
church to “gird its loins” and call for true justice for the

Sonja Karkar

The Archbishop of Canterbury has warned that the Arab Spring is threatening the safety of Christian communities in the Middle East. He did not realise it, but this public warning—much as President Obama’s UN speech in September struck the death knell for US credibility in the Middle East—has dealt still another fatal moral blow to other central Middle East actors: the world’s Christian Churches, already suffering from a wobbly posture regarding ethnic and religious relations in the Middle East. For those within the faith, it impels a collective “j’accuse” to Christian leaderships and an unqualified call for principled action. For it must now be said plainly, and confronted honestly: it is morally unacceptable for the Christian churches to continue to dither and wander morally on sectarian relations in the Middle East by ducking the question of Palestine.

Anyone familiar with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict knows the painful back story to the Archbishop’s concerns. The Middle East is a pastiche of religions and sects which have coexisted mostly peacefully through the millennia, except when some exogenous factor stirred things up. Invading empires and crusades occasionally have done so, from the Persians through the infamous US interventions in Iran (1953) and Iraq. But one such sin has stood for the past century as a seeping sore, aggravating sectarian tensions and provoking religious polarisation throughout the region. That is the creation of Israel as an ethnic state in the Levant and the resulting Palestinian-Israeli conflict which springs from explicitly religious bigotry. For a Church leader of the Archbishop’s stature to pretend that this conflict does not enter the Arab Spring equation is both disingenuous and unacceptable.

For decades, it has been a quiet scandal that individual Christians and Christian projects regarding the Palestine-Israel conflict, labouring on doggedly with courage and principle, have been consistently crippled by pabulum statements, strategic over-caution or sheepish silence by the major Church leaderships. This silence has not reflected any lack of information. It’s certainly no secret to Christian Palestinians, and therefore the Church leaders to whom they report, that Israel has deliberately sabotaged the ancient Christian axis of pilgrimage between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Thus shattering Christian community and impoverishing the old Christian mercantile sectors, Israel has also systematically and deliberately stoked tensions between Muslim and Christian Palestinians over the years. The combination has impelled steady Christian emigration in recent decades, reducing the once-formidable and culturally rich Christian community from some nineteen percent of Jerusalem’s population in 1944 to just over two percent today. As a package, Israel’s policies have indeed brought Christian Palestinians in the occupied territories under a sense of local siege and threat they have not experienced for centuries, while aggravating sectarian tensions with their Muslim neighbours in ways that have polarised and poisoned sectarian sentiments throughout the Middle East. Cries of alarm about this trend have issued from Christians in Palestine for decades and with increasing desperation, yet the Church leaderships have remained reticent and Israel’s suffocating compression continues.

It has further agonised those faithful who treasure Palestine’s awe-inspiring biblical landscape to see the Christian Churches stand silent while Israeli settlements and security installations pave that landscape over. Just twenty years ago, Christian pilgrims could still walk to the old city of Jerusalem or Rachel’s Tomb on ancient trails laid down over five thousand years among the rocky hills of Judea, following the footpaths of prophets and disciples that wove among the springs and valleys of biblical legend. Just twenty years ago, shepherds still tended their flocks by night around the hills of Bethlehem, playing on wooden flutes. Now these sacred landscapes are paved over, blocked off, and the West Bank is an uglified mess of four-lane highways, broken up by hideous concrete barriers and electrified fences, the old olive terraces crushed and buried under acres of monolithic Jewish-only apartment blocs. The shepherds are arrested, harassed and gone. The ancient trails are gone forever. Millennia of humanity’s historical heritage, razed and effaced in a scant few decades, to serve not natural population growth but an artificial state-sponsored project to take over land in the name of an exclusive ethnic nationalism. The loss is heartbreaking on so many levels that it cannot be expressed.

And the world’s great Churches, whose cathedrals are nested in all this? To Israeli authorities, quiet pleas, in stiff meetings behind closed doors, tactical manoeuvres to keep privileges and access. To the world, silence or token gestures, even as Israel’s construction and archaeological excavations press up against their churches’ very walls.

Some may quickly protest that the Christian Churches have not been silent. The World Council of Churches has regularly met, denounced, and called for action on Palestine. The Catholic Church has expressed concern in various ways. The Presbyterian Church launched some broad discussions. The Evangelical Lutheran Church has called for prayer, investment and education. Yes, yes. But a close read of Church statements finds in most of them a disturbing vagueness, language calculated not to offend, punches consistently pulled. The net effect? Complicity, and a spiritual crisis.

Examples of this net effect are myriad, but two will illustrate the problem: first, a small one, the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum’s It’s Time, which, despite a bold title, manages never to bruise the toes of the Israeli government. Take, for example, its gentle idea that “It’s time to assist settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories to make their home in Israel” while not saying why or how. Or, “It's time for people who have been refugees for more than 60 years to regain their rights and a permanent home,” yet carefully not specifying where those homes should be. At some point, It’s Time slips into morally offensive symmetry that also violates common sense: e.g., “It's time for both sides to release their prisoners and give those justly accused a fair trial.” While adopting the profile of a call for action, the whole piece leaves one spiritually anaesthetised and bemused, as the illusion of real spiritual fortitude is derailed into vaporous ideals amounting to non-action. Over-all, the effect is like reading one of those pastel Sunday-school pamphlets.

Or, for a far more influential example, take the 2009 Kairos Palestine, which has drawn thousands of Christian signatures and the endorsement of some Christian world leaders, including Archbishop Tutu. Composed by a formidable line-up of theologians, it does offer some firm statements: e.g., “the military occupation of our land is a sin against God and humanity”. But the first warning flag arises in the first sentence of the preface, which refers blandly to “difficult times that we still experience in this Holy Land” and other vapid calls to “stand by” the Palestinians without saying much about how. Otherwise, it gives the bad impression of a co-written document whose moral momentum was curtailed by some timid gatekeepers. The bulk of Kairos Palestine is a recital of Israeli human rights abuses and a long-winded theological treatise on “hope”, “love” and “mission”. Alas, the journey thus suggested never gets anywhere. For example, under the subsection, “word to the Churches of the world”, we find an appeal: “We ask our sister Churches not to offer a theological cover-up for the injustice we suffer, for the sin of the occupation imposed upon us.” But instead of a clear call for action and an incisive statement of principle, this passage then waffles away to drain all but the mildest energy: “Our question to our brothers and sisters in the Churches today is: Are you able to help us get our freedom back, for this is the only way you can help the two peoples attain justice, peace, security and love?” The call to “Jewish and Muslim religious leaders” is equally void: “Let us together try to rise up above the political positions that have failed so far and continue to lead us on the path of failure and suffering.” But “rise up” how? And what action is urged regarding Jerusalem, which is affirmed to be “the foundation of our vision and our entire life”? None at all, except to urge that Jerusalem be “the first issue to be negotiated”. After a page or two of this fog, the mind numbs over and moral energy fades and turns inward to prayer circles and polite discussion groups.

Lest it seem rude to denounce so well-meaning an effort, consider that the 1985 Kairos, composed by South African pastors and theologians in South Africa, targeted precisely this kind of slippery religious language as deployed by the major South African churches and the state to defend apartheid. For real Christian inspiration regarding Palestine, this famous Christian document from South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle should be reread in full, but a selection is worth reproducing here just to show just how clear-headed Christian activism can get when it truly girds its loins. The 1985 Kairos had no truck with empty talk of “peace”, “reconciliation” and “dialogue” and its reasoning on this point is worth quoting at length (readers are encouraged to substitute “Palestinians” for “South Africans” to suggest the comparison):

In a limited, guarded and cautious way [mainstream Church Theology in South Africa] is critical of apartheid. Its criticism, however, is superficial and counter-productive because instead of engaging in an in-depth analysis of the signs of our times, it relies upon a few stock ideas derived from Christian tradition and then uncritically and repeatedly applies them to our situation. The stock ideas used by almost all these Church leaders that we would like to examine here are: reconciliation (or peace), justice and non-violence. ...

Church Theology' takes 'reconciliation' as the key to problem resolution. It talks about the need for reconciliation between white and black, or between all South Africans. 'Church Theology' often describes the Christian stance in the following way: "We must be fair. We must listen to both sides of the story. If the two sides can only meet to talk and negotiate they will sort out their differences and misunderstandings, and the conflict will be resolved." On the face of it this may sound very Christian. But is it?

The fallacy here is that 'Reconciliation' has been made into an absolute principle that must be applied in all cases of conflict or dissension. But not all cases of conflict are the same. We can imagine a private quarrel between two people or two groups whose differences are based upon misunderstandings. In such cases it would be appropriate to talk and negotiate to sort out the misunderstandings and to reconcile the two sides. But there are other conflicts in which one side is right and the other wrong. There are conflicts where one side is a fully armed and violent oppressor while the other side is defenseless and oppressed. There are conflicts that can only be described as the struggle between justice and injustice, good and evil, God and the devil. To speak of reconciling these two is not only a mistaken application of the Christian idea of reconciliation, it is a total betrayal of all that Christian faith has ever meant. Nowhere in the Bible or in Christian tradition has it ever been suggested that we ought to try to reconcile good and evil, God and the devil. We are supposed to do away with evil, injustice, oppression and sin--not come to terms with it. We are supposed to oppose, confront and reject the devil and not try to sup with the devil.

In our situation in South Africa today it would be totally un-Christian to plead for reconciliation and peace before the present injustices have been removed. Any such plea plays into the hands of the oppressor by trying to persuade those of us who are oppressed to accept our oppression and to become reconciled to the intolerable crimes that are committed against us. That is not Christian reconciliation, it is sin. It is asking us to become accomplices in our own oppression, to become servants of the devil. No reconciliation is possible in South Africa without justice.

The 1985 Kairos is especially clear-headed about the true meaning of peace: “It would be quite wrong to try to preserve 'peace' and 'unity' at all costs, even at the cost of truth and justice and, worse still, at the cost of thousands of young lives. As disciples of Jesus we should rather promote truth and justice and life at all costs, even at the cost of creating conflict, disunity and dissension along the way.” And where Kairos-Palestine, It’s Time and other Christian Church resolutions skid around in “both sides’ language, the 1985 Kairos explicitly rejects any false symmetries and focuses on the central issue of oppression:

It would be quite wrong to see the present conflict as simply a racial war. The racial component is there but we are not dealing with two equal races or nations each with their own selfish group interests. The situation we are dealing with here is one of oppression. The conflict is between an oppressor and the oppressed. The conflict between two irreconcilable causes or interests in which the one is just and the other is unjust. ... This is our situation of civil war or revolution. The one side is committed to maintaining the system at all costs and the other side is committed to changing it at all costs. There are two conflicting projects here and no compromise is possible. Either we have full and equal justice for all or we don't.

With this noble language before us, we must finally see the truth and drop the charade. Most Christian Church statements regarding Palestine are embarrassing fluff by comparison.

Why the weak and woolly stance by Church leaderships in Palestine, where the moral issues are so stark and Christian concerns so keen? The reasons are too well known. The world’s major Churches have long walked on eggs with Israel. Some of this caution reflects well-warranted (if confused) guilt about centuries of anti-Semitism. Local churches may restrain themselves out of kindly and principled concern not to offend and ruffle relations with Jewish neighbours. Less noble motives include conservative concerns to preserve Church real estate and privileges in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, the Galilee and other Biblical sites, where an irate Israel can sever Christian access in an instant. It is also Not Done to criticise other Christian denominations, so even those Churches who view Israel’s practices as abhorrent will still avoid challenging the whole Zionist project, as this would insult the Zionist theology of evangelical churches that have fallen for Israel’s (cynically deployed) story of collective Jewish redemption of the Holy Land. Given that actual Christian life in Palestine is being graphically destroyed, however, one does not have to be a 666-er to see that Zionist propaganda has “led Christians astray” by successfully attaching Jewish state-building in Palestine to misty visions of Jewish life in a Biblical landscape and confusing Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians (even Christian ones) with messianic prophecies about the End Times.

Some historically minded cynics might object here that Christian timidity and confusion about the conflict in Palestine should not be singled out. Courageous priests and Christian activists have always stood forth in the world’s conflict zones in selfless and sometimes martyred defence of the weak, and do so in Palestine, but the uncomfortable truth is that these heroic figures and groups have always been outliers. Overwhelmingly, over past centuries the major Christian churches have either linked their futures and finances to whatever states they operated within or simply operated in an illusory sphere of detached spiritual practice where they absolved themselves of moral responsibility for the suffering around them, except by offering spiritual solace to endure it. Here one might recall the old state-church alliance in Latin America, a system of totalitarian social control that has stood for five centuries as the edifice glowering over those grassroots liberation-theologians whose courage is always cited as the Church’s redeeming example, yet whose noble work the last Pope outlawed. Hence, for long-time observers of the conflict, it has been no surprise but still a bitter pill that the Archbishop of Canterbury, like most Church leaders, has been conspicuously silent, vague or reserved about Israel’s physical ruin of the Holy Land landscape and its progressive decimation of Christian community in Palestine.

Yet it is really too much that this same Archbishop now blames the Arab Spring, of all things, for an anti-Christian tilt that his own Church has, through neglect and caution of the Palestinian problem, systematically aggravated. For it is indeed a bitter scandal that the official Churches in Palestine, with their great properties embedded in the Jewish state and their slumbering but immense moral authority on the world stage, who could delegitimize and end Israel’s occupation overnight with one unified public denunciation, instead have opted—from timidity, caution, conservatism, internecine rivalries or merely a sloppy moral compass—to enable it. That this choice has fed heavily into the present sectarian mess in the Middle East is a given. The Archbishop may well worry that Christians in Egypt and elsewhere now feel “exposed and uncertain”, but he would do well to consider how much responsibility for those fears traces to his own desk.

It is up to the entire Christian community to end this confusion, abandon feeble caution and unintended hypocrisy, and reconsider the example of Jesus as set forth in the 1985 Kairos and in the Gospels themselves. The tasks in Palestine have long been plain. The evangelical Christian right must be approached about its gullible equation of a modern military state with spiritual rebirth. Israel’s instrumental deceit about Jewish life in the Holy Land constituting a path to Christian salvation must be exposed. The sins of ethnic cleansing and state-sponsored bigotry must be confronted. The malevolent whispers circulated by Zionist plants in Jerusalem and Palestine, which attempt to demonise Islam for Christians and Christianity for Muslims, must be openly and unanimously denounced. In the spirit of the 1985 Kairos, the true meaning of Christian love must show its moral fist to reject false symmetry and the sinful notion of reconciliation with oppression.

Each Christmas, it has become a seasonal ritual for Christians to call for new care and action on Palestine. Each subsequent year, the same empty, circumscribed, ineffectual gestures result. The courage of the Arab Spring exposes this shameful ritualised cycle of moral failure as a spiritual imperative. This year’s Christmas must be a time for spiritual renewal, frank self-examination, fresh insight, and new courage to set aside sanitised pleas and empty prayers, stop listening to the internal gatekeepers, reject Israel’s manipulation of Christian theology to serve militaristic ends, and demand that all Church leaderships, with one clarion voice, call for true justice in Palestine. If the teachings of Jesus mean anything today, surely they mean this: the salvation of all three Abrahamic faiths from the false gods of mutual fear and the scourge of oppression. The alternative is to stand before the Cross at Christmas 2012 with a deepening and well-earned sense of shame.

Virginia Tilley is associate professor and Director of the Governance graduate program at the University of the South Pacific. As Chief Research Specialist at the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa, she convened and edited a major legal study of whether Israel’s practices in the occupied Palestinian territories are consistent with colonialism and apartheid, to be published in 2012 with Pluto Press. She is author of “The One-State Solution” (London Review of Books, 6 November 2003), The One-State Solution (U. of Michigan Press, 2005) and numerous articles and essays on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Email:

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


By: Mazim Qumsiyeh

( for original:

Is hypocrisy ignored?
As children of lesser gods cleansed!
While colonial settlers from Europe enriched
and 7 million Palestinian refugees created
dozens of massacres committed
And 540 villages and towns depopulated
putting us here them there as planned!
While speaking of security not for the colonized
And Safety not for the occupied

Is hypocrisy sanctified?
When big brown eyes teared
As Mother was gunned
And Americans mourned
for Rachel bulldozed
While soldiers celebrated
a mission accomplished
and we, who were not chosen or selected
our dead we buried
our wound we licked
or in our drinks we drowned
even shopped while silenced
or behind closed doors muttered
or news on TV cursed
to the world as it is adapted

Is hypocrisy unquestioned?
When rich Abe Foxman "feels" discriminated
and the new Goebles called Regev worried
and Friedman in his column squeaked
Netanyahu hugging racists demanded
and a bar bouncer minister bellowed
and they all told us to be silenced
for only Jewish suffering was allowed
and apathy on today's atrocities encouraged
as the altered school curricula deemed
a whole history manufactured
bible myths promoted
while archeology ignored
and conflicts promoted
to fulfill prophecies
Hope diminished
Love massacred

Is hypocrisy worshipped?
When some Palestinian politicians adapted?
Their revolutionary spirit long quenched
And with VIP cards in 5 star hotels dined?
And their European-funded studies accumulated
While even prayers in churches and mosques were stopped
and a thousand year old tree was uprooted
And an old man became partially blind
for his olives behind the fence withered
and after a second stroke he was buried
But not in his land….
his neighbor said "with no choice I worked"
So that "with shekels from occupiers I was paid"
But others in suits in front of cameras their mouth opened
And to the dry hot dusty air contributed!

Is hypocrisy normalized?
When, not Bahrain but Syria sanctioned!
And not Yemen, but Libya attacked!
Belligerent Israel with its nukes supported
While Iran, attacking no one, is bullied
And so what if western politicians lied?
After they took the paid junkets and were bribed?
Isn't it normal for prostitutes to be sold?
And keep millions in apartheid?
While to millions the truth denied?
And poor Americans lose their homes?
While billionaires get more enriched?

Is hypocrisy easily digested?
When 20 racist laws are codified
In an apartheid country supposedly democratized
Or when an Israeli soldier's life is venerated?
While Thousands of Palestinian chained…
A hundred thousand Injured…
With high walls Surrounded….
In Bantustans warehoused….
Millions ghettoized…
And graves of hundreds of children overflowed…
And as collateral damage justified
an army with a state is called moralized!

Is hypocrisy elevated?
When on Yom Kippur they pledged
Sins and lies to be purified
And their US made F-16s bombed
refugee camps with explosives obliterated
While an old woman in Silwan evicted
And humanitarian ships pirated
Peace Activists on the deck executed
As the dreaded word "bitachon" regurgitated
And again and again Al-Araqib demolished

Is hypocrisy deified?
When monotheistic religions distorted:
Jacob with Elohim/El-lah struggled
And in triumph Isra-El renamed!
When idols like Zionism worshiped
and can't be challenged
by inferior gentiles who can't understand
and by us the native "roaches drugged"
Yahweh gave the deed to the land
to those who can create gods from Gold
and gold from hasbara as they lobbied
for yet another war and got readied

Is hypocrisy venerated?
When myths are believed
Jewishness and Zionism worshipped
And ashes of murdered Jews used
Even as living survivors screamed:
not in our name can history be politicized
and "never again" must not be Judaicized

Is hypocrisy exalted?
Or a global intifada launched
London to San Francisco echoed
Wall Street to Sidney "occupied"
our unity in humanity finally emerged
hypocrisy exposed!
Humanity reclaimed!
Love ascertained
Mazim Qumsiyeh: Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh teaches and does research at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities in occupied Palestine. He serves as chairman of the board of the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People and is coordinator of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Sahour. He is author of "Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human rights and the Israeli/Palestinian Struggle" and “Popular Resistance in Palestine: A history of Hope and Empowerment”

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pakistan: Reversing the Lens

By Conn Hallinan, October 26, 2011
                                                                       Conn Hallinan

Since the United States invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, Pakistan has lost more than 35,000 people, the vast bulk of them civilians. While the U.S. has had slightly over 1800 soldiers killed in the past 10 years, Pakistan has lost over 5,000 soldiers and police. The number of suicide bombings in Pakistan has gone from one before 2001, to more than 335 since.
“Terrorism,” as Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari says, “is not a statistic for us.”
For most Americans, Pakistan is a two-faced “ally” playing a double game in Central Asia even as it siphons off tens of billions of dollars in aid. For Pakistanis, the spillover from the Afghan war has cost Islamabad approximately of $100 billion. And this in a country with a yearly GDP of around $175 billion and whose resources have been deeply strained by two years of catastrophic flooding.
Washington complains that its $20.7 billion in aid over the past nine years has bought it very little in the way of loyalty from Islamabad, while Pakistan points out that U.S. aid makes up less than 0.3 percent of Pakistan’s yearly GDP.
Both countries’ opinions of one another are almost mirror images. According to a U.S. poll, 74 percent of Americans do not consider Pakistan to be an ally, while the Pew Research Center found that six in 10 Pakistanis consider the Americans an “enemy” and only 12 percent have a favorable view of the United States.
This mutual distrust in part results from mistakes and misjudgments by both countries that date back to the 1979-89 Russian occupation of Afghanistan. But at its heart is an American strategy that not only runs counter to Pakistan’s interests, but will make ending the war in Afghanistan a far more painful procedure than need be.
Pakistani Interests
If Pakistan is a victim in the long-running war, it is not entirely an innocent one. Pakistan, along with the United States, was an ally of the anti-Communist, right-wing mujahideen during the 1980s Afghan war.
Pakistan’s interest in Afghanistan has always been multi-faceted. Islamabad is deeply worried that its traditional enemy, India, will gain a foothold in Afghanistan, thereby essentially surrounding Pakistan. This is not exactly paranoid, as Pakistan has fought—and lost—three wars with India, and tensions between the two still remain high.
Over the past six years, India has conducted 10 major military exercises along the Pakistani border. The latest—Viajyee Bhava (Be Victorious)—involved 20,000 troops. India has the world’s fourth largest army, Pakistan the 15th.
By aligning itself with Washington during its Cold War competition with the Soviets in Afghanistan, Islamabad had the inside track to buy high-performance American military hardware to help it offset India’s numerical superiority. Indeed, it did manage to purchase some F-16s fighter-bombers.
But when Pakistan allied itself with the Taliban, India aligned itself with the Northern Alliance, composed of Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Hazaras who opposed the Pashtun-dominated Taliban. Pashtuns are a plurality in Afghanistan’s complex mix of ethnicities, and traditionally they dominated the Kabul government.
Islamabad has always been deeply concerned about the Pashtuns, because a long-time fear of Islamabad is that Pakistani Pashtuns could ally themselves to Afghani Pashtuns and form a breakaway country that would fragment Pakistan.
From Islamabad’s point of view, the American demand that it corral the Taliban and the Haqqani Group that operate from mountainous Northwest Frontier and Federally Administrated Tribal Areas of Pakistan could stir up Pashtun nationalism. In any case, the task would be beyond the capabilities of the Pakistan military. In 2009, the Pakistani Army used two full divisions just to reclaim the Swat Valley from local militants, a battle that cost billions of dollars, generated two million refugees, and inflicted heavy casualties.
Diverging Objectives
Current U.S. strategy has exacerbated Pakistan’s problem by putting the Northern Alliance in power, excluding the Pashtuns from any meaningful participation, and targeting the ethnic group’s heartland in southern and eastern Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai is a Pashtun, but he is little more than window dressing in a government dominated by other ethnic groups. According to Zahid Hussain, author of a book on Islamic militants, this has turned the war into a “Pashtun war” and has meant that “the Pashtuns in Pakistan would become…strongly allied with both al Qaeda and the Taliban.”
The United States has also remained silent while India moved aggressively into Afghanistan. On October 4, Kabul and New Delhi inked a “strategic partnership” that, according to The New York Times, “paves the way for India to train and equip Afghan security forces.” The idea of India training Afghan troops is the equivalent of waving a red flag to see if the Pakistani bull will charge.
One pretext for the agreement was the recent assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani, head of the Afghan High Peace Council, killed by the Taliban under the direction of the Pakistani secret service, the ISI, according to Karzai government claims. But evidence linking the Taliban or Pakistan to the hit is not persuasive, and the Taliban and Haqqani Group—never shy about taking the credit for killing people—say they had nothing to do with it.
Pakistan’s ISI certainly maintains a relationship with the Afghan-based Taliban and the Haqqani Group, but former Joint Chiefs of Staff head, Admiral Mike Mullen’s charge that the latter are a “veritable arm” of Pakistan’s ISI is simply false. The Haqqanis come from the powerful Zadran tribe based in Paktia and Khost provinces in Afghanistan and North Waziristan in Pakistan’s Tribal Area.
When their interests coincide, the Haqqanis find common ground with Islamabad, but the idea that Pakistan can get anyone in that region to jump to attention reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the deeply engrained cultural and ethnic currents that have successfully rebuffed outsiders for thousands of years. And in the border region, the Pakistan Army is as much an outsider as is NATO.
Dealing with the Mess
There is a way out of this morass, but it will require a very different strategy than the one the United States is currently following, and one far more attuned to the lens through which most Pakistanis view the war in Afghanistan.
The United States and its allies must first stand down their military offensive—including the drone attacks—against the Taliban and Haqqani Group, and negotiate a ceasefire. Then the United States must open immediate talks with the various insurgency groups and declare a plan for the withdrawal of all foreign troops. The Taliban—the Haqqanis say they will follow the organization’s lead—have indicated that they will no longer insist on a withdrawal of troops before opening talks, but they do want a timetable. Any government in Kabul that emerges from such negotiations must reflect the ethnic make-up of the country.
Pakistan’s concerns over Indian influence must also be addressed, including the dangerous issue of Kashmir. President Obama ran on a platform that called for dealing with Kashmir, but he subsequently dropped it at the insistence of New Delhi.
Pakistan and the United States may have profoundly different views of one another, but on at least one issue they agree: slightly over 90 percent of Pakistanis would like U.S. troops to go home, and 62 percent of Americans want an immediate cut in U.S. forces. Common ground in this case seems to be based on a strong dose of common sense.
Conn Hallinan is a Foreign Policy In Focus columnist. His writings can be read at: and
recommended citation:
Conn Hallinan, "Pakistan: Reversing the Lens" (Washington, DC: Foreign Policy In Focus, October 26, 2011)
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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Back to basics in Palestine –

 Time for unity, synergy and mobilization

by Susan Abulhawa 

The Palestine Chronicle
October 2011

(The following is a condensed version of Susan Abulhawa’s speech at the Al-Awda Center grand opening. It is reproduced her by courtesy of The Palestine Chroinicle and  Sonja Karka, Editor, Australians for Palestine )

Summary: Susan Abulhawa presents an argument to abandon all negotiations with Israel and to abandon calls for the One State and Two State solutions; and in fact, to abandon academic debates on a political construct in favor of embracing the basic calls of Palestinian civil society for essential human rights. This strategy includes the need for a consensus and unified call originating from Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and agreed upon with the various Palestinian communities that make up the Palestinian
Nation, including: Palestinians of the West Bank, Jerusalem, Gaza, refugee camps outside of Palestine, the worldwide Diaspora and Palestinians of 1948. She argues that the greatest and unstoppable power available to Palestinians lies in their roots, the moral authority of their struggle for freedom. Harnessing that power, to which Israel has no real defenses, is the most practical path forward and it is rests on the need for 1) a unified call for freedom and the full range of human rights and dignities 2) a point of synergy among the multitude of internal and external movements which
include direct action and solidarity activities inside Palestine and around the world and 3) sustained mobilization from the bottom up, hopefully with the assistance of the Palestinian Authority, but at least without interference from them.

To try to comprehend the PA’s UN bid for statehood and to figure out what the ramifications are on many fronts, it behooves us to take a look at history because, this is, after all, not the first time that a Palestinian state was formally declared. I know there are legal differences between the
declaration of state in the 1980s and the current application for recognition, but for all intents and purposes, they are both attempts to achieve statehood by seeking international recognition, which, I feel, is the wrong approach for our struggle at this moment in history and, in my opinion is also probably a cynically calculated move that has little to do
with actually achieving statehood.

The First Intifada & Declaration of Statehood

In 1988, the PLO formally declared the State of Palestine, and the designation “Palestine” for the PLO was adopted by UN in acknowledgement of that declaration, even though we had no formal status at the UN as a state. At that time, as with the present, we had overwhelming popular support in the General Assembly. Also at that time, as in the present, the US did everything it could to prevent any kind of recognition or international legitimacy for Palestine.

The more important and striking similarity between the declaration of statehood in 1988 and in the present UN bid is the presence of a persistent nonviolent movement with growing international solidarity.

In 1987, the first Intifada began as a popular, spontaneous, and grassroots uprising that moved the Palestinian struggle away from guerilla warfare. It changed the way the world saw Palestinians and began to reveal the brutality of the occupation. The first intifada was nonviolent, marked by mass civil disobedience, boycotts, refusal to pay taxes, disruption of power and sewage going to illegal colonies and more of the like. Throwing rocks against tanks and armored Israeli vehicles was symbolic and few in the international
community bought Israel’s claims that these rocks constituted serious violent threats.

As a result, the first intifada began to capture the imaginations and inspire civil societies everywhere, despite Israel’s best PR and hasbara campaigns. Popular international solidarity was growing and there was a burgeoning awareness of who we are and what we had suffered for decades under occupation. And for the first time, there was open public criticism of Israel in places that would not have dared to do so before. Simply, the moral authority of our cause could not be ignored.

Even though Israel was committing unspeakable war crimes to suppress the intifada, the movement only intensified and caused power to shift to the Palestinian street, for the first time. That shift was also changing world opinion, which was a major threat to Israel because it hit at their greatest weak point: their image, and I’ll touch on that more shortly.

But the first intifada didn’t just threaten Israel, it was also a threat to the Palestinian leadership, which was outside of Palestine at the time. The persistence of the first intifada spawned local leaderships that were not directly affiliated with the PLO, and although the PLO had nothing to do
with the first intifada, they quickly positioned themselves at the forefront and began to take control as much as possible from the outside. The PLO’s efforts to control extinguished the intifada’s fire and culminated in the Madrid Conference followed by the Oslo Accords.

In essence, here’s what happened: after decades of suffering at the hands of a brutal military occupation whose only purpose was to displace or subjugate Palestinians under their control, we had the first bottom up movement that was full of solidarity, full of hope. And, more importantly, it was full of
promise. It promised to grow and spread. It promised a path of successful nonviolent resistance with growing international attention at the levels of civil society, mainstream media, and government leaderships. This promise was seized by the Palestinian leadership. They took ownership of the movement when it started to gain momentum on the ground and abroad, they grabbed the reigns of it, and then they steered us into what turned out to
be more slaughter and more wholesale theft of our lands and properties, all under the auspices of a negotiated settlement called the “Peace Process”.

Today we find ourselves in a situation bearing many of the same hallmarks and a reaction by the Palestinian leadership that looks too much like their reaction then.

The Second Intifada & UN Bid for Statehood

Although the second intifada’s early days saw violent Palestinian reactions to Israel’s sustained terrorism, it has morphed into a nonviolent struggle that is taking roots not only in Palestine, but throughout the world. The change in the 2nd Intifada’s character has spurred many to declare it over, but this is not an accurate statement. The second intifada is alive and well and growing.

Perhaps the earliest manifestations of the active nonviolent resistance came from the activites of the International Solidarity Movement. Construction of the Apartheid Wall spawned more local heroes who began leading unrelenting
and regular demonstrations. The call from Palestinian Civil Society for international Boycott Divestment and Sanctions against Israel was launched was launched in 2005, pushing the movement in new directions and far outside of Palestine, whereby solidarity groups all over the world joined and have
been implementing creative nonviolent resistance actions.

The results have been impressive and nonviolent resistance is once again taking hold in the occupied territories and around the world. It’s happening on an even greater scale internationally, thanks to the current communication technology that was not available in the 1980s. Among the
many victories of BDS abroad, several major corporations have had their hands forced by activists. Thanks in large part to BDS affiliate, CodePink, AHAVAs flagship store in London was forced to close. Veolia, the French multinational corporation lost billions of euros worth of municipality
contracts for its involvement in building infrastructure to illegal Israeli settlements and it is now facing financial meltdown. Most recently, Agrexco, a major Israeli exporter of produce, that come primarily from illegal Israeli farms on stolen Palestinian land, has been forced to liquidate its assets after being unable to pay its creditors thanks to the efforts of BDS.

These are just a few examples of the results of cooperation between civil society everywhere who have heeded the calls of BDS. This popular movement is taking a life of its own and is accompanied by similar movements, like the International Solidarity Movement that I mentioned before, the Free Gaza
Movement, the flotillas, and the Russell Tribunals, to name a few. Important international figures across the world have signed on and taken action against Israel’s apartheid. These are prominent individuals in their fields – literary figures, musicians, clergy, military personnel, activists, journalists, and more – who have taken very public stands against Israeli

This is huge! It’s importance and impact should not be underestimated.

It hits right at what I said was one of Israel’s weakest points. Israel pours billions of dollars into creating and maintaining the image of civilized and enlightened country, and they panic when the world starts to see the reality of their ongoing campaign of ethnic cleansing; And they panic even more when they’re called out on it.

That’s why they’ve been so freaked out lately passing one fascist law after
another to try to police what people say, what they publicly remember [anti-Naqba law], or what they choose to buy or not buy [anti-boycott law]. They’re freaked out by internationals bearing witness to their war crimes; so they’ve passed a series of laws to prevent non-Palestinians from going into the West Bank and Gaza. Then there’s the racist loyalty oath – the list goes on. They are absurd, fascist laws that only show how scared Israel has become of our growing solidarity movement, BDS, and nonviolent actions inside Palestine.

This ground swell should not be minimized!

Then came Arab Spring!

It caused a seismic shift in power away from the ruling elite toward the people and toward popular action and democracy throughout the Arab World. Arab Spring inspired and galvanized our movement even more. Arab Spring is now going global, as it’s not a stretch to make a connection between the demonstrations in Tahrir Square and the ongoing Occupy Wall Street in New York.

Against this backdrop of people power, the Palestinian Authority, unilaterally [and I don't mean 'unilaterally' in that it excluded Israel; but 'unilaterally' in that it excluded Palestinians] decided to make a bid for statehood at the UN. At no time did Mahmoud Abbass address the people
he supposedly represents. Even at the UN, when he made the bid for statehood, he was still speaking to everyone except us. That, to me, is a bad sign that history could be repeating itself here. It looks too much like the past, particularly when we see images of Palestinians giving Abu Mazen a heroes welcome home; it reminds me of the fanfare of the PA’s arrival in the West Bank after Oslo, which is clear to everyone in retrospect to have been nothing more than a ruse to quiet popular  nonviolent action in order to give Israel the time it needs to continue its colonial endeavors in the occupied territories.

I would also add that the timing of this UN bid is uestionable, as it comes when the PA is severely weakened by the damning revelations of the Palestine Papers leaked on Al Jazeera. Why, after 20 years of negotiations, does the PA make this move? I’m sure it didn’t just dawn on them that Israel was only ever just trying to buy itself time to create facts on the ground. They’re not stupid and they understood Israel’s colonial expansion and goal to take everything they could. The truth is that the PA was scared. Their power was threatened by Arab Spring and by the fadeeha el kobra (the great scandal) of the Palestine Papers. So, this move may well have been just a cynical calculation to restore the power of the PA. I hate to think the worst – that it was actually orchestrated with Israel and the US for the same purpose and what we’re witnessing is theatre.

Caution to the PA/PLO

So, I’m worried about this UN bid. However, I also think, that if certain conditions are met and the same mistakes of the past are not repeated, it can still be salvaged as a good thing. For that to happen, the PA (or PLO, it’s hard to know who is who anymore) must ensure that the following happens:

1. They must go forward full force with what they started, without compromise.

I hear that at least one Security Council member is trying to get the PA to alter the text of the UN bid, in exchange for voting in favor of statehood, so that it excludes the ability to take any retroactive grievances to the International Court of Justice.

If this happens, it would be a disaster for us because it would be a back-handed way for the PA to abdicate the Right of Return (which they have no right to do) under the cover of statehood.

We cannot let them do that and I think, Zahi, it’s time for another petition with 600,000 signatures to deliver to Abbass like the one Al-Awda delivered to Arafat when he was considering the same thing. The second part of going full force forward is to take the bid to the General Assembly once the SC sends it back with the promised US veto. I’m very happy to see that the PA has been pushing for Palestine membership in various UN bodies, including, most recently, UNESCO.

2. Don’t stand in the way of popular movements. Already the PA is sending police to bust up peaceful anti-occupation protests, in essence, working for the occupier. This has to stop. The PA cannot be allowed to seize the power on the ground and tamp out the spread of nonviolent resistance.

3. Become a force that creates synergy among our various efforts to achieve our rights; make the UN bid into something that adds to the ongoing efforts instead of something that stifles them. For example, the UN bid can open up legal avenues for a whole new arena for our struggle, but don’t let that come at the expense of tamping a growing nonviolent resistance movement.

4. They should become a force of unity; not only between Gaza and the West Bank, but also among Palestinians of 1948; Palestinians still in refugee camps in other nations; and Palestinians in the Diaspora, whether in Arab nations, the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia and other parts of the world.

5. Finally, they should not assume that they will maintain power without popular blessing, which will not remain if this UN bid stifles our efforts or gives away an iota of our Right to Return.

This is a warning to the PA that accepting statehood at the expense of retroactive grievances (i.e. everything we’re fighting for, including the Right of Return) will have terrible consequences for us all.

Time to abandon calls for Two-State Solution AND the One-State Solution

That said, I want to emphasize why I think we are living in the most opportune time we’ve had in the history of this conflict.

The kind of bottom up power we’re witnessing is fertile ground for us. This is the arena in which we are more powerful. This is the field where we win because Israel has no real defenses against us in this arena. Our greatest power lies in the moral command of our cause – we are the indigenous people fighting for freedom, struggling to live dignified lives in our own homeland. We didn’t come from Poland or Russia, or France, or Germany, or any other place. We are the natives of the Holy Land in ever sense of the word “native” – historically, ethnically, culturally, legally, and even genetically, we are the natives. If you take samples of our DNA, the results will show genetic markers specific to that region of the world. Our strength is in our roots.

It is no accident that Israel is so often so busy uprooting our olive trees or unearthing our cemeteries to cover them over with new structures. Because the truth is that there is no forensic evidence linking most Israelis to the land. So, they have been busy either destroying traces of our existence or trying to claim it as theirs. But that is really an impossible task, now matter how much they’ve already destroyed. Palestine is passed down from one generation’s hearts and memories to another. Ben Gurion could not have been more wrong when he predicted that “The old will die and the young will forget”.

But we are where we are now and they are here with us, whether we or they like it or not.

And the bid for statehood has been made, regardless of how we feel about it.

So what is the path forward?

Before we answer that, we have to decide what is the end game. What is the result we want to achieve. Unfortunately, and after 65 years of this struggle, we still do not have a truly unified call.

People often ask me which proposal do I support, the one state or the two state. It seems those are the only two proposals in people’s mind. That it has to be one or the other and we end up struggling for one or the other. We waste precious time and energy debating the merits of one over the
other. Which is better, we ask: The Two State Solution – ostensibly based on the 1967 borders; or the One State Solution – which would presumably include all of Palestine for all her inhabitants.

The fundamental problem with both of these proposals is that they are concentrating on the political construct and of statehood. And I think that is the wrong approach.

If we drill down to what we really want, what we all want and all can agree on: it is to live dignified lives in our own homeland, with full human and civil rights accorded to everyone there equally regardless of religion.

I know this sounds a lot like the One State proposal; but it differs in that it is simply a call for basic rights. It is not a call for a particular political construct because frankly, it doesn’t matter what the political construct looks like, as long as all our basic human rights are upheld, and that includes our natural right to return and live in our own homeland.

This, in my opinion, is what we should be working toward. Calling for our natural rights as human beings and as an indigenous people is what unifies us all. To be accorded human rights is our rightful inheritance. It is the rightful destiny of human beings not to be subjugated, expelled or
oppressed. The call from Palestinian Civil Society, which originated inside the occupied territories, is the best starting place framework. In any event, we are in great need of a consensus for a unified and uncompromising call founded on the goal of human dignity. This can form the frame of reference for whatever actions we take.

So, I would say, do NOT think in terms of a political construct; but to think in terms of human rights. In terms of human dignity and human worth that is not measured by religion. This is a goal that will unify us and will strengthen our collective efforts that pour into the same movement for

Palestinian Resistance: Failures of the past and why it’s time to abandon negotiations

For the most part, Palestinian resistance has been allowed to develop on two major fronts, and mostly exclusive fronts. 1. Armed resistance.

Although we have the right to resist foreign occupation by any means available to us, including armed resistance, I think this is not an effective strategy for us.

For starters, rocks, moltov cocktails, or even homemade ockets, don’t stand a chance against armoured tanks, warplanes and some of the most sophisticated death machines known to man. This is simply not an arena where we can gain any ground because here we are weak in this regard. We do not have a military or any necessary hardware to change this fact.

More importantly, armed resistance ultimately erodes the singul most important power we have. As I already mentioned, it is the moral superiority of the cause of justice and human rights, against their cause, which is the desire for power and an ethnoreligious pure society.

2. The second main path that the Palestinian leadership has taken us has been negotiations. This too is and always was a fundamentally flawed and moral unsound approach, because it assumes a very denigrating assumption:

That our basic rights as human beings, our rights as the indigenous people of the Holy Land, and our freedom, are things to be negotiated for; as if our rights, enshrined in all tenets of international law, and our freedom are mere bargaining chips to be traded for clean water or bread.

And yet, the PA has continued along in what every one of us knows is a sham. This peace process was never designed to lead to a life of dignity for Palestinians. It was never meant to lead to a viable Palestinian state. Netanyahu’s speech made that clear. Israel’s actions for the past twenty years have made that clear. Why else would they continue, on a daily basis,
to expropriate Palestinian land and turn it over for the exclusive use of Jews being invited from all over the world to come and take what is not theirs? Why else would they continue their policy of home demolitions unabated? The Peace Process was always a ruse to buy Israel more time to
take more and more and more and ultimately wipe us off the map.

You only need to look at how the map has changed over time to see the truth in that statement.

The current map proves that. How could this not be apparent to the PA? In fact, even as he submitted the bid for statehood, Mahmoud Abbas made the mind boggling statement that there was no substitute for negotiations.

He is, in fact, very wrong. In fact, there is no other instance in history where an occupied and oppressed people has been expected to actually negotiate with their oppressors for freedom and for basic human rights.

When Nelson Mandela was in prison and change began to sweep over South Africa, some of his comrades were being released from prison. Nelson Mandela too was offered a deal for his freedom. P. W. Botha offered him freedom if he would renounce violence. Mandela refused the offer, and his now famous letter, he explained that “Only free men can negotiate.”

He was the only one of his comrades to remain in prison by the end of the 1980s. His uncompromising insistence on implementing the full range of human rights and freedoms to Blacks equal to Whites inspired us all and eventually culminated in bringing Apartheid to it’s knees.

Likewise, Rosa Parks did not negotiate with the white driver or white passengers to take her rightful place among the rest of humanity on that bus. She stayed put with all the force she could muster. Her insistence on being recognized as fully human, fully worthy, inspired the Civil Rights Movement.

Martin Luther King and Malcom X didn’t enter into negotiations to beg the government to let Black folk use a few more water fountains, or to be allowed to buy a house in just a few white neighborhoods.

Yet that is precisely the indignity we are accepting upon ourselves by engaging in these negotiations. By continuing to negotiate for basic rights, we are accepting the premise that we cannot be fully worthy human beings unless Israel says so.

This is Our Time

With Arab Spring, with BDS, ISM, Free Gaza, and the massively growing international solidarity, this is our time!

It’s our time to say that only free people can negotiate. It’s our time to take our seat on the bus and refuse to get up for anyone. It’s our time to boycott. To divest. To proudly link arms with every human being willing to stand with us, no matter who they are – be they Jewish, Christian, Muslim,
gay or straight, Black or White or any color in between. And to remember the solidarity shown to us, as our beloved Edward Said once said.

If we continue on the path of nonviolent resistance that we started in the occupied territories and throughout the world, and with the solidarity of justice-seeking people everywhere, I believe with all my being, that we will eventually be in a position to say to the Israelis in no uncertain terms, and with a force they will have no choice but to listen to, that they are
welcome to stay as our equals, but not as our masters.

You may think that that day is unrealistic. You might say that because we’ve been conditioned to see our weakness. To see how outgunned we are. How outmaneuvered we’ve been. Or how little clout we have in the halls of power compared with the intense influence that Israel wields on the most
powerful countries. But focusing on these things obscures how powerful we really are.

I read an article recently by someone I very much admire and whose words I often like to read; but this particular article was one that I disagreed with because it reinforces this sense of powerlessness, which is quite harmful. The article was written when everyone was speculating whether the PA would follow through with the UN bid and the premise of the article was that no matter what happens, Israel will win, whether Abbas follows through or not.

I not only disagree with the premise, but I think that this kind of defeatist outlooks really hurts us. Yes, I know it’s true that Israel can make any US President jump when they say jump; but I don’t think Israel is feeling much like a winner right now.

How triumphant do you think Israel feels with the world turning against them? Peoples of the world are seeing them for the apartheid state that they are and their growing isolation surely doesn’t feel very triumphant to them. It surely doesn’t feel triumphant to them to essentially lose their
two major allies in the region, Egypt and Turkey, within the span of one year.

And by believing that we are powerless, we’ve allowed every Israeli to think they can dictate our destiny to us. Just take for example Benny Morris, who said on Cross Talk a few weeks ago, quote:

“I wish the Palestinians would return to the negotiating table to which they had been invited repeatedly, and do so seriously in good faith and negotiate in good faith. If they don’t want to do that, the Palestinians will continue to suffer.” Translation: “Do as Israel wants or you will continue to be bombed, killed, deprived, oppressed, and systematically robbed.” In fact, that is happening even when we do negotiate as Israel wants; but the point is that you can see from this statement the level of arrogance that pervades
every sector of Israeli society.

We Are Powerful & History is on Our Side

While it is true that we don’t have the military capabilities nor do we have anywhere near Israel’s clout among the ruling elite of powerful nations, we are not powerless.

In fact, we are unrivaled in our power on the ground level internationally. Our struggle for freedom is the longest running and best known around the world. Harnessing that advantage is the path we must continue to take.

Taking our case, not to the UN or the US State Department or to the UK or France; but to the populations of the world is where our energy should be focused.

- It’s to the universities that have been signing onto the academic boycotts; - To consumers who do not want to buy blood products;

- To the churches and synagogues and other religious institutions that understand the ungodliness of ethnic cleansing and who are making sure that their trusts are not invested in Israel’s war crimes

- To the municipalities and the labor unions who are divesting their pensions from Israel in order to affirm their belief in universal human dignity regardless of ones religion

- To the artists and musicians and writers and filmmakers who do not want their names or creations associated with Israel’s Apartheid

- To our fellow US citizens who do not want their tax dollars spent in support of ethno-religious entitlement and exclusivity, especially when our school districts are teetering on bankruptcy and the unemployment is knocking on the door of 10%.

We cannot lose on this path. You don’t need to take my word for it. History is replete with examples that prove what I’m saying. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

And we don’t need to continue down a path of denigrating and racist negotiations. We are a native people who deserve to live in their native homeland with full human rights. It’s that simple.

And so to the new sound bite that Israel issued (which is being parroted by the Obama administration, Congress, and nearly all mainstream media commentators): “there are no shortcuts to peace”, I would like to offer these truths:

“Palestinian freedom is non-negotiable” and “Human Rights are non-negotiable”.

Our message will resonate – maybe not with the ruling elite, but certainly with civil society and ordinary people who adhere to principles of justice and fair play. Because:

Our demands are self-evident truths that we should pursue without apology, without negotiations, without compromise, and without fear.

That’s how every freedom movement achieved its goal before us, and that is how we will achieve ours. THAT is our most effective path forward, not negotiations.

Susan Abulhawa is the author of Mornings in Jenin and founder of Playgrounds for Palestine. She contributed this article to