The Price of Occupation

July 23, 2009

The following report has been written by Gabe Maldoff, an intern at Peace Now and a student at the University of McGill.

 

Gabe MaldoffI’ve been in Israel for over two months now, and the longer I’m here, the more I find myself unable to characterize what I’ve seen and what’s happening here.  It is a place of contradictions, where a few hours’ drive can take you from the rolling dunes of the Negev to the snows high above the Golan; where you can spend the day in the holiest city in the world, then party in one of the hippest; where time follows no chronology as it meanders from bustling shopping malls to budding, thousand-year old archeological sites.

Indeed, it is a place that seems at times to defy gravity.  Cranes – the national bird, I’ve been told – pull buildings skyward amidst failing world markets and the regional conflict, ever present in the media here and abroad.  In fact, that is one of the big surprises, that despite all we hear about in the news of violence, life here moves forward at breakneck speeds.  Israel has become so successful, that one author, Gideon Levy of Haaretz, in his column yesterday, speculates that there no longer is an incentive for peace:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Not Obama’s Problem! Not the World’s Problem!

July 20, 2009

"Not Obama's, not the world's, the Settlements are our problem!"Peace Now has recently launched its new campaign, ‘Not Obama’s Problem! Not the World’s Problem! The Settlements are our problem!.’  The campaign aims to remind the Israeli public of a truth which they may have forgotten.  For a brief slideshow please visit the Peace Now home page.  

Coverage on Ynet news

Reflection on the West Bank – Josh Morris

July 19, 2009
Joshua Morris, Peace Now Intern

Joshua Morris, Peace Now Intern

The following report was written by Joshua Morris, a student at the University of Birmingham UK, after driving through the West Bank for the first time.

After spending a rather hectic afternoon traversing areas of the West Bank, visiting both settlements, outposts and Palestinian villages I was caught in very much two minds.  On one hand it made me immensely proud of Israel, and on the other, deeply embarrassed to call myself a supporter of the state.

 Although beautiful in some parts, the West Bank is in many ways a desolate place.  It lacks natural resources and the land is very hard to cultivate.  Interestingly however, when travelling through it, my instant gut feeling was not sorrow for the clear daily hardship which faces the Palestinians who wished to work and build upon this bleak land, but pride for Israel.  This was because, for much of the journey, all I could see through my eyes, was the wondrous achievements of how the state of Israel and Jewish people had settled and built upon this land just like this.  Read the rest of this entry »

Perspectives on Settlements – Adie Angrist

July 19, 2009
Adie Angrist, Peace Now Intern

Adie Angrist, Peace Now Intern

I encourage you to visit bitterlemons.org – a site for Israeli-Palestinian crossfire. In this edition, two Palestinians and two Israelis discuss their take on settlements as an obstacle to negotiations.

bitterlemons.org is a website posting Palestinian and Israeli viewpoints on current issues. Each week a different, controverisal question is addressed. The authors include prominet Palestinians and Israelis selected by the page’s editors.

 My thoughts:

One of this week’s Israeli authors, Dore Gold, former ambassador to the UN, writes: “the settlement question is clearly an overstated issue in the peace process.” The  US’ concern is the extent to which settlement building may diminish Palestinian territory in a future agreement — the settlements comprise 1.7% of West Bank territory and the marginal increase in this land due to ‘natural growth’ will be ‘infintesimal’, he claims. On the surface, Gold raises a compelling point. What is the marginal cost of an  Israeli cottage in the West Bank? In terms of land: zero. So why are the Americans so insistant on this subject?  Because the Palestinian Authority refuses to negotiate otherwise. Expansion of settlements has played an important role in the diminishing support for the Palestinian leadership from its own people. Thus, contributing to Palestinian Authority’s perception as a ‘weak’ negotiating partner.  These costs are equally as  important as those measured in dunams. Gold also ignores the fact that we are not looking at the construction of  one villa here and there but rather at the expansion of outposts that inhibit the future of a contigous state.

The Americans have gotten themselves into a viscious cycle. No Palestinian participation without a settlement freeze and no settlement freeze because of its immense political costs to Netanyahu’s administration. The cycle must be broken but not by ignoring the importance of the settlement question.

Obama to relax pressure on settlement freeze

July 16, 2009

An article in Haaretz today announced a potential shift in the American position regarding a settlement freeze. The Obama administration is working on an “American Plan”, essentialy a framework for negotiations which have been dead-locked for the past 6 months. Notably, after massive amounts of pressure for a complete settlement freeze, the US is interested in reaching a compromise with Israel on the settlement issue as a precondition for the plan’s presentation. US Middle East Envoy, George Mitchell, is working on a formula compelling Israel to go ‘as far as it can’ on the settlement issue.

 We welcome your thoughts.

Haresha and Hayovel Petition – Court Gives State 4 Months to Set Timetable for Evacuation

July 16, 2009

For 4 years Peace Now’s petition over the evacuation of the illegal outposts of Haresha and Hayovel  has been dragged through the Court. 

On July 13, the Justice’s ruled that the State has a deadline of 4 months – and then it must present to the court a detailed plan for the evacuation.

Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish, Justice Alyakim Rubenstein and Justice Yoram Dantziger wrote in their ruling about the failure to evacuate 18 houses in the illegal outposts: “for these reasons, the country must implement the provisions for evacuation or at least draw a decisive timeline for implementation as a part of her liability to and conscientiousness of the law”

For court decision (Hebrew)

For Ynetnews (English)

For Haaretz (English)

Cellcom ad brave display of reconciliation – Yariv Oppenheimer (Peace Now Secretary General)

July 14, 2009
 
Yariv Oppenheimer

Yariv Oppenheimer

 Israeli cellphone giant Cellcom recently released a new commercial and, I must say, it does not leave anyone feeling indifferent: instead of a sea and sun scene, stars being born or models acting like models, Cellcom has decided to bring the security barrier smack into the middle of our lives, deep in the heart of prime-time TV as part of the backdrop to its most recent commercial broadcasted incessantly on Israeli channels. The ad shows a group of young soldiers on patrol in an IDF jeep along the security barrier when suddenly a soccer ball falls onto their jeep. Startled, the soldiers first suspect a terror attack but after a few moments, a soldier kicks the ball over the barrier onto the Palestinian side. From here, the ad continues with the ball going back and forth over the barrier from the Palestinian to the Israeli side. The moment this ad was broadcast, the Israeli left and senior Palestinian Authority officials rose up to voice their disgust with the commercial which depicts, according to them, the barrier as a positive element around which one can play soccer and have fun. They claim that the IDF soldiers are also portrayed much more positively than is realistic and that the Palestinians themselves remain unseen over the barrier.

  I admit, this is hardly a ‘perfect’ commercial reflecting the harsh reality of Palestinian suffering as a result of the barrier; the land grabs, the effective imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians behind a concrete wall. Nonetheless, the security barrier takes center-stage and the ad chose to address one of the most difficult topics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Read the rest of this entry »

The Settlements are Our Problem!

July 14, 2009
"Not Obama's, not the world's, the Settlements are our problem!"

"Not Obama's, not the world's, the Settlements are our problem!"

Earlier today Peace Now launched its new campaign. The slogan: “Not Obama’s problem, not the world’s problem, the settlements are our problem!’ Targeted at the Israeli public, the campaign aims to remind them what they already know but may have forgotten. For a brief slideshow visit Peace Now’s home page.

Coverage on Ynet news.

Barrier to Communication – Adie Angrist

July 14, 2009
Adie Angrist, Peace Now Intern

Adie Angrist, Peace Now Intern

Cellcom recently released an advertisement which generated public debate over its controversial  political message.

 The advertisement begins with a group of bored IDF soldiers patrolling the security fence until a soccerball lands on their tank. One of the good-looking soldiers makes a phone call on his Cellcom device asking friends to join him and his buddies for a “good time.” The camera pans out to reveal the soldiers playing soccer over the barrier which conceals the Palestinian opponent. At the end, a voiceover delivers the punch-line: “After all, what are we all after? Just a little fun.”

 Watch the full advertisement in Hebrew below:

 Not everybody took the political implications lightly. “The ad was criticized by Israeli bloggers for its insensitivity to the Palestinian predicament,” reported Haaretz. The newspaper also informed that Knessed member, Ahmed Tibi, “has joined the chorus of voices calling for cellphone company Cellcom to pull its latest commercial.” (for full article) Cellcom rebutted the claims by saying that they are a communication company that does not meddle in politics and reiterated the message of their campaign: when people of diverse backgrounds want to communicate they can do so under any circumstance.

 I think the ad is daring and, more notably, pragmatic in its depiction of the security fence. In its irreverence, the ad lays out a reality which is swept under the rug: the fence is, both figuratively and literally, an obstruction to communication with Palestinians. Yet the ‘reality’ depicted in the ad is misleading. The soldiers  ‘overcome’  this barrier,  an overly rosy message about society’s strengths that ignores Palestinian difficulties and an increasingly grim situation. Then again, Cellcom can’t expect to boost its sales with the message that people can’t communicate in trying situations. I only wish that when IDF soldiers cheer at the end, we would see excited faces on the other side of the fence.

Is settlement growth really natural?

July 13, 2009

Channel 2 Report debunks the case for “natural growth”. For full story click here: http://www.peacenow.org.il/site/en/peace.asp?pi=62&docid=3704&pos=0

For more information on “natural growth” visit: http://www.peacenow.org.il/site/en/peace.asp?pi=62&docid=3704&pos=0