The Cost of Peace

Assessing the Palestinian-Israeli Accords

by Kathleen Cavanaugh
published in MER211

We know the images well: ethnic cleansing in Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia, intra-communal violence in Northern Ireland, and competing claims to land rights spurring the forcible transfer of populations in Palestine and Israel. Claims to self-determination and minority rights, often found at the heart of intra-state disputes, draw actors to international law to determine the scope and nature of those rights. Indeed, the demands posed by ethno-nationalist disputes have moved the discourse beyond whether international law applies to ethnic conflict to how ethnic conflict has “shaped” interpretation of international law. [1] The ambiguity of the relevant international instruments has led some to question the relevance of international law.

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Court Wrongly OKs Profiling

by Moustafa Bayoumi | published July 2, 2006

Should the police be able to arrest you based on your religion and then imprison you indefinitely while they search for a crime to charge you with?

Of course not. The very idea flies in the face of American jurisprudence, whose traditions guarantee due process, equal protection and the presumption of innocence. The law works to prevent—not facilitate—arbitrary detention.

But that is not what a federal judge in Brooklyn recently ruled. According to District Judge John Gleeson, the U.S. government has the right to detain immigrants on the basis of their race, religion or national origin, and it can legally imprison immigrants indefinitely as long as their eventual removal from the country is “reasonably foreseeable.”

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.

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.

Elections Are Key to Darfur Crisis

by Khalid Mustafa Medani | published March 7, 2009

It has been quite a week. For the first time, the international community indicted a sitting president of a sovereign state. Omar al-Bashir of Sudan stands accused by the International Criminal Court in The Hague of “crimes against humanity and war crimes” committed in the course of the Khartoum regime’s brutal suppression of the revolt in the country’s far western province of Darfur. Having indicted two other figures associated with the regime in 2007, ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo began building a case against the man at the top, and on Wednesday, the court issued a warrant for Bashir’s arrest.

The Shi‘a of Saudi Arabia at a Crossroads

by Toby Matthiesen | published May 6, 2009

Deep in the morass of YouTube lies a disturbing video clip recorded in late February at the cemetery of al-Baqi‘ and on surrounding streets in Medina, Saudi Arabia. An initial caption promises images of “desecration of graves.” Al-Baqi‘, located next to the mosque of the prophet Muhammad in the second holiest city of Islam, is believed to be the final resting place of four men revered by Shi‘i Muslims as imams or successors to the prophet: Hasan ibn ‘Ali, ‘Ali ibn Husayn, Muhammad ibn ‘Ali and Ja‘afar ibn Muhammad. The prophet’s wives, as well as many of his relatives and close associates, are also said to be buried here, making the ground hallowed for Sunni Muslims as well.

Interventions

Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

Rachel Corrie in Palestine…and in San Francisco

by Joel Beinin | published August 2009

The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, the oldest such festival in the United States, was founded in rebellion against received wisdom. Since 1980, the festival has promoted independent Jewish films that contest the conventional Hollywood depiction of Jewish life, particularly its lachrymose over-concentration on Jewish victimhood, and regularly presented “alternatives to the often uncritical view of life and politics in Israel available in the established American Jewish community.” The festival’s audience, mostly Jewish, has reacted positively to this policy, even in 2005, when the organizers decided to show Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad’s Paradise Now, the theme of which is suicide bombing.

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.

Forty Years of Occupation

A Forum

by Lori Allen , Yoav Peled , Samera Esmeir , Robert Blecher , Mouin Rabbani | published June 6, 2007

An outpouring of retrospectives—good, bad and indifferent—has marked the fortieth anniversary of the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Predictably, and perhaps appropriately, most looks backward have also attempted to peer forward, and consequently most have focused on the impasse between Israel and the Palestinians. This question, though predating 1967 and not the only one left unresolved by the war, is nearly synonymous with “the Middle East” in the global media. Plentiful as the 1967 commentary has been, the relative silences have also spoken volumes. Middle East Report asked six critically minded scholars and analysts for their reflections on what has been missing from the conversation about Israel-Palestine occasioned by the passage of 40 years since that fateful June.