Dismantling the Matrix of Control

by Jeff Halper | published September 11, 2009

Almost a decade ago I wrote an article describing Israel’s “matrix of control” over the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It consisted then of three interlocking systems: military administration of much of the West Bank and incessant army and air force intrusions elsewhere; a skein of “facts on the ground,” notably settlements in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, but also bypass roads connecting the settlements to Israel proper; and administrative measures like house demolitions and deportations. I argued in 2000 that unless this matrix was dismantled, the occupation would not be ended and a two-state solution could not be achieved.

Israel’s Religious Right and the Peace Process

by Nicolas Pelham | published October 12, 2009

It would be easy to describe the residents of the outpost of Amona as radicals. In February 2006 they led protests of 4,000 settler activists, some of them armed, against 3,000 Israeli police who were amassed to make sure that nine unauthorized structures in the West Bank were bulldozed as ordered. In the ensuing clashes, 80 security personnel and 120 settlers were wounded, more than the entirety of the casualties during the 2005 “disengagement” from settlements in Gaza, in a showdown that became the symbol of the West Bank settlers’ resolve to resist the state’s efforts to tear down encampments, like their own, that were erected without the state’s permission.

In Annapolis, Conflict by Other Means

by Robert Blecher , Mouin Rabbani | published November 26, 2007

At an intersection in front of Nablus city hall, a pair of women threaded a knot of waiting pedestrians, glanced left, then dashed across the street. “What’s this?” an onlooker chastised them. “Can’t you see the red light?” Not long after, his patience exhausted, the self-appointed traffic cop himself stepped off the curb and made his way to the other side of the boulevard. Such is life in the West Bank on the eve of the meeting in Annapolis, Maryland, where the Bush administration intends to create the semblance of a “peace process” between Israel and the Palestinians for the first time since it assumed office.

The Continuity of Obama's Change

by Mouin Rabbani , Chris Toensing | published January 27, 2009

President Barack Obama’s campaign pledge that his administration would begin working for peace in the Middle East from its first day in office is one that he almost met. On January 21, a mere 24 hours after his inauguration, Obama placed phone calls from the Oval Office to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Husni Mubarak and Jordanian King ‘Abdallah II. The next day, together with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, he visited the State Department to announce the appointment of former Sen. George Mitchell as the new special envoy for the Middle East.

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.

Livni in Principle and in Practice

by Peretz Kidron | published September 30, 2008

On the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, the sitting Israeli prime minister spoke more plainly than ever before in public about what will be required of Israel in a comprehensive peace with the Palestinians and Syria. In a September 29 interview with the newspaper Yediot Aharonot, Ehud Olmert said that, to achieve peace, “we will withdraw from almost all the territories, if not all the territories” that have been under Israeli occupation since the 1967 war, including most of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Particularly coming from Olmert, who long opposed the notion of swapping land for peace, these words might have inspired hope that deals on the Palestinian or Syrian fronts were at hand.

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.

Donning the Uniform

The Military and the Media in Israel

by Ilan Pappe
published in MER223

In his book The Making of Israeli Militarism, Uri Ben Eliezer described Israel as a nation-in-arms—the Jewish collective identity in Palestine was constructed mainly through the militarization of the society. The Zionist leadership used the army as the principal agent of development and integration. Through mandatory reserve service and seasonal mass maneuvers, the army became the hammer and anvil forging national entity.

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There Are Many Reasons Why

Suicide Bombers and Martyrs in Palestine

by Lori Allen
published in MER223

Izz al-Din al-Masri, 23, was considered to be an ordinary fellow, until he went to Jerusalem on August 9, 2001, and blew himself up inside a pizzeria, killing 15 Israelis and injuring scores of others. The montage photo produced for his martyr poster shows him in his early twenties, a bit somber, wearing wireless glasses and a neatly trimmed beard.

“He was a completely average young man,” his father insisted. “He worked at my restaurant, was religiously devoted, not too much time for friends.”

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