Israel's Occupation Remains Poisonous

by Lori Allen | published July 26, 2007

There is an oft-told Palestinian allegory about a family who complained their house was small and cramped. In response, the father brought the farm animals inside -- the goat, the sheep and the chickens all crowded into the house.

Then, one by one, he moved the animals back outside. By the time the last chicken left, the family felt such relief they never complained of the lack of elbow room again.

No doubt, the recent release of Palestinian tax receipts by Israel, some of which will be used to pay Palestinian civil servants who received only partial wages for the last 16 months, felt like the last chicken leaving.

Gaza, the 21st Century Ghetto

by Bayann Hamid | published December 17, 2008

In the first attempt by a foreign country to break the blockade of Gaza, a Libyan freighter carrying 3,000 tons of essential humanitarian aid set sail for the impoverished coastal strip. On the shore Gazans assembled to welcome its arrival, a much needed gesture of hope and relief for Gaza’s 1.5 million residents, caged in on all sides in one of the most densely populated areas on earth, allowed only the most basic food stuffs and regularly bombarded with ordinance from the skies. As it approached Gaza’s coastal waters on December 1, the ship was intercepted by the Israeli navy and forced to turn back.

The Horrors of Israel's Peace

by Samera Esmeir | published January 22, 2009

Three weeks after the war on Gaza, Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire but refused to terminate its so-called defensive operations. In response, Hamas declared a ceasefire for one week, until the withdrawal of Israeli troops has been completed. For many in the West, the ceasefire might seem like an occasion to celebrate, for the cessation of military hostilities on both sides will perhaps renew the peace process. But there are reasons to be critical of this ceasefire, since it continues the situation in which Israel acts unilaterally. What we are actually witnessing is a new phase of the catastrophe in Gaza. While the characteristics of this phase are not yet known, Israel’s violence has become ever more evident.

Human Rights Watch Goes to War

by Mouin Rabbani | published February 1, 2009

The Middle East has always been a difficult challenge for Western human rights organizations, particularly those seeking influence or funding in the United States. The pressure to go soft on US allies is in some respects reminiscent of Washington’s special pleading for Latin American terror regimes in the 1970s and 1980s. In the case of Israel such organizations also face a powerful and influential domestic constituency, which often extends to senior echelons of such organizations, for whom forthright condemnation of Israel is anathema.

Disengagement and the Frontiers of Zionism

by Darryl Li | published February 16, 2008

In mid-January, when Israel further tightened its blockade of the Gaza Strip, it hurriedly assured the world that a “humanitarian crisis” would not be allowed to occur. Case in point: Days after the intensified siege prompted Hamas to breach the Gaza-Egypt border and Palestinians to pour into Egypt in search of supplies, Israel announced plans to send in thousands of animal vaccines to prevent possible outbreaks of avian flu and other epidemics due to livestock and birds entering Gaza from Egypt. [1] Medicines for human beings, on the other hand, are among the supplies that are barely trickling in to Gaza now that the border has been resealed.

Birth Pangs of a New Palestine

by Mouin Rabbani | published January 7, 2009

Shortly after 11:30 am on December 27, 2008, at the height of the midday bustle on the first day of the Gazan week and with multitudes of schoolchildren returning home from the morning shift, close to 90 Israeli warplanes launched over 100 tons of explosives at some 100 targets throughout the 139 square miles of the Gaza Strip. Within minutes, the near simultaneous air raids killed more than 225 and wounded at least 700, more than 200 of them critically. These initial attacks alone produced dozens more dead than any other day in the West Bank and Gaza combined since Israel’s occupation of those lands commenced in June 1967.

Cast Lead in the Foundry

by The Editors | published December 31, 2008

A stopped clock, the saying goes, is right twice a day. The “senior Bush administration official” who chatted with the Washington Post on December 28 was right that Israel is “not trying to take over the Gaza Strip” with the massive assault launched the previous day, and correct that the Israelis are bombing now “because they want it to be over before the next administration comes in.” That’s twice, and so one must take this official’s remaining reasoning -- that President-elect Barack Obama may not smile upon Israel’s gross abuses of military power as the Bush administration has done -- with a grain of salt.

Postmortem of a Compassionate Checkpoint

by Peter Lagerquist
published in MER223

In late October 2000, the intifada was in its then bloodiest throes. In his offices in Stockholm harbor, architect Alexis Pontvik followed the news from the Middle East with growing disquiet but little surprise. What perhaps would have been his most prominent project to date had already been stowed in a large steel drawer, but he had pored over it often enough to understand the frustrations that eventually came to a boil in the Palestinian territories.

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Heard on the Hill of Shame

by Peter Lagerquist
published in MER250

It was early afternoon, a bright, crisp Friday in mid-January on the hilltop that lies between Route 34 and the Gaza border, maybe half a mile from Sderot. At the base of the hill lounged journalists and TV crews in foldout chairs, taking advantage of a midday lull in the bombardment. Pop music sounded from one of their dish-mounted vans. No one seemed to take much notice of the locals who came and went overhead -- couples, amateur videographers, a man in a wheelchair, taking up positions under an overhanging copse of pine trees.

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Gaza Dispatch

by Hadani Ditmars
published in MER214

The observance of International Women's Day this year led me to reflect upon celebrations past, which have frequently revealed huge gaps in reality: a wine and cheese reception at UNESCO headquarters in Paris where well-meaning bureaucrats sang feminist anthems modeled on "The Internationale," or a March 8 gathering of angry upper middle-class Anglo-Canadian feminists in Vancouver who shouted egalitarian euphemisms through a loudspeaker.

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