Will the people of Gaza continue to support Hamas despite the terrible consequences?
The Palestinians of Gaza are saying we are suffering because of the crimes of Israel. Even with the carnage and their homes reduced to rubble, they say, “Mr. Khaled Meshaal, we don’t want to emerge from this war without breaking the siege. We were dying slowly. Now we are dying instantly because of the F-16s and all the Israeli and American technology.” The Palestinian people have had enough. They do not make distinctions between slow death and instant death. They say, “Our families are targeted in their homes. However, we want to resist, to insist on lifting the siege.” How does the killing stop? What do you want?
Human beings have to defend themselves. If we are starved, if we are besieged, we have to defend ourselves. When [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu stops every effort to reach peace, the rest of the world ought to expect an explosion in the West Bank and Gaza. What do I believe Hamas needs or wants? Peace. But we want peace without occupation, without settlements, without Judaization, without the siege. We want to live on par with every single nation. We need to live in Palestine.
“You think the key is trust. We actually are enemies. They are the occupiers. The solution doesn’t start with trust. … How could I trust my enemy?”
Will you pledge not to eradicate Israel? Do you want to live in coexistence with Israel?
I do not coexist with occupation and with settlements. Do you think that Palestinians who suffer from occupation and settlements can eradicate Israel? No, this is beguiling, misleading propaganda. … We in Hamas believe in moderation of Islam. We are not fanatics. We do not fight the Jews because they are Jews per se. We fight the occupiers. I’m ready to coexist with the Jews, with the Christians, with the Arabs, with the non-Arabs. I do coexist with other religions. … When we have a Palestinian state, then the Palestinian people can have their say. There are disproportionate standards, but we have the upper hand. Every single occupation ends, and the people are victorious.
How do you create trust between Israelis and Palestinians?
You think the key is trust. We actually are enemies. They are the occupiers. The solution doesn’t start with trust. The international community’s full mission is to say to the Israeli occupation, “Stop. Enough is enough.” They ought to compel Israel to withdraw. How could I trust my enemy? We had a number of negotiations. The negotiations failed.
Some suggest, to preserve Israel’s security, the sovereignty of a Palestinian state must be restricted.
Why does the world understand Israeli security issues and not take heed of Palestinian security issues? In order to have a Palestinian state, why ought that state be demilitarized? Who accepts a state without arms? It will be subject to the aggression of others. I cannot accept any tutelage of any other entity. If you say, “Come, you are Palestinian. We can give you a piece here and a piece there in piecemeal fashion”—no. No.
Do you need the approval of the military wing of Hamas to commit to any agreement?
We are not two heads or two bodies. We are one single movement. When the political leadership commits to something, then the military wing will commit itself, too. If the leaders take a decision, then every single person, whether militant or civilian, they will follow.
Why are you in Qatar and not Gaza?
This is a very reasonable question. You can ask not only Khaled Meshaal, you can ask the 6 million people in the diaspora. Why are they not in the West Bank? Why are they not in Gaza? Because Israel expelled the Palestinians in 1948 and 1967. I’m from the West Bank. Since 1967, I was expelled. I used to live in Jordan, in Kuwait, when I used to be a student. Then I moved to Syria and now Qatar. You have hundreds and thousands of Palestinians in America. They long to go back to Palestine. Although they are American citizens, Palestinians long for their home country. That’s why we insist on the return of the refugees, for me and for others to return. My natural existence is there, but I’m compelled to be here.
A Jewish settler walks past a Palestinian on Shuhada Street, in the West Bank city of Hebron. (Nayef Hashlamoun/Reuters)
HEBRON, West Bank—I first saw the boys through the rear view mirror of the car I was riding in, as they approached Shuhada Street. One of them was about the age of my daughter, who became a bat mitzvah last week. The other might have been 16 or so, like my older son. The boys hesitated at the top of the street and seemed to take a breath. Then they stepped into the void.
Shuhada Street, lined with small shops whose owners typically lived upstairs, was once among the busiest market streets in this ancient city. But in 1994, in response to a horrific massacre that left 29 people dead and 125 injured, the Israel Defense Forces began clamping down on Shuhada Street. They welded shut the street-facing doors of all the homes and shops, and by the time of the Second Intifada in 2000, had turned the bustling thoroughfare into a ghost street on which no one was permitted to set foot. No one, that is, who is Palestinian. Israeli Jews and foreign visitors are free to come and go along the road—to snap photos and make their way to Hebron’s three Jewish settler outposts, Beit Hadassah, Beit Romano, and Avraham Avinu. But there is nothing to buy, nothing to see, no reason to tarry. The stores are all closed. The few Palestinians who remain have been barred from the street where they live. If they want to enter their homes, they must do so through back doors, which in many cases involves clambering over rooftops.
One might be tempted to view Shuhada Street as just another casualty in an endless cycle of violent retribution. A Palestinian kills dozens of Hebron’s Jews, so Israel punishes the Palestinians of Hebron by closing Shuhada Street. But that is not, in fact, what happened. The victims of the massacre that impelled the Israeli government to shutter Shuhada were not Jews. They were Palestinians—unarmed Palestinians gunned down as they prayed at the nearby Cave of the Patriarchs by Baruch Goldstein, an American-born Jewish zealot with Israeli military training and a Galil assault rifle, who stopped firing only when he was overcome and killed by survivors of his attack. You can add Shuhada Street, and the vibrant urban life it once sustained and embodied, to the list of Goldstein’s victims.
My visit to Hebron had begun at Goldstein’s tomb, in a small park in the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba on the city’s outskirts. The grave has become a site of pilgrimage and ecstatic veneration for some religious Israelis and sympathetic foreigners despite the Israeli government’s prohibition on monuments to terrorists. The massive slab of marble is inscribed with the words, “He gave his life for the people of Israel, its Torah and land.” On the day I visited, the gravestone was littered with small stones, placed there in homage in accordance with Jewish tradition.
After puzzling over the epitaph (I was born in Jerusalem but my family emigrated to Canada before I learned to read), I brushed away the commemorative stones. A mass-murderer deserves no such honor. An Israeli army jeep rumbled alongside the park and I stepped back, nervous that I would be harassed for my action. The Israeli military presence in Hebron is intense—between 600 and 650 soldiers, military police, and commanders, or at least one for every settler—and its role is very clear: The security forces are there to protect the settlers, regardless of how brutal or inflammatory the latter’s actions may be, and regardless of the fact that, as Goldstein’s homicidal cowardice makes clear, it is the Palestinians who often need protection against settlers who, sure of support from the Netanyahu government, seek to make permanent their incursion into the city.
My companions and I then made our way to Shuhada Street, where an Israeli soldier checked our passports to ensure both that we were not Palestinian and that we understood the omnipotence of Israeli military authority. We passed the new Beit Hadassah museum, an exhibit of curated propaganda dedicated to legitimizing the presence of Jewish settlers in the city. Then we came to the end of the street, and I happened to glance in the rearview mirror, where I saw the two boys. I didn’t need to be the mother of children their age to fear for their lives and safety. I only needed to have been following the news.
Less than a week before, on Nakba Day, when Palestinians commemorate the displacement that preceded and followed Israel’s declaration of independence, there had been a protest in front of Ofer military prison in the West Bank town of Beitunia. After the protest was dispersed, two Palestinian teenagers had been shot and killed by the Israeli army. Video of the killings had surfaced on the Internet, and in my hotel room in Jerusalem I had watched as another Arab boy my son’s age, carrying the kind of backpack my son carries, doing nothing more than crossing a street—crumpled and pitched forward, motionless.
Now, several days later, I watched these Shuhada Street boys risk death for the sake of a liberty so rudimentary and fundamental that my own children are not even aware of its existence, or its importance, or its simple human beauty: the right to walk down the street.
I should have gotten out of the car and joined them. I should have taken out my cell phone and started filming. But I just sat in the car and fretted. Thankfully, the Israeli soldiers on duty that day did nothing more than lift their weapons and motion the boys back to permitted ground, and the boys obeyed. It was one of many such interactions—petty indignities and tiny acts of courage. It was nothing as dramatic as an incident, viewable on YouTube, in which settler girls take advantage of a school holiday to lie in wait for Palestinian children on their way home from school, then curse the other children and throw rocks at them while Israeli soldiers look on, periodically urging the rock-throwers to stop but doing little to protect the victims of the violence. Nothing as dramatic as another encounter, also captured on video, in which a female settler, flanked by soldiers, lobs curses at a Palestinian woman who had the temerity to walk out the front gate of her own house. “Whore! Whore!” the settler hisses.
I ended my visit to Hebron at a small community center run by Palestinian peace activists, where we shared plates of hummus and fresh vegetables and tried to find inspiration in the tiny outpost of hope. But the bright murals painted by Palestinian activists had been disfigured by Jewish settlers with splashes of gray paint, and we ate under the stony gaze of soldiers assigned to guard settlers whose vandalism is among the least of their offenses.
The litany of Hebron’s many immiserations is long. I could write paragraphs about the racially differentiated access to water, and about how settlers sometimes spray the ground with their hoses, taunting Palestinians who have severely limited access to water for drinking or cooking or bathing. I could describe the ugly anti-Arab graffiti I saw, the bumper stickers plastered onto walls with messages like, “Arab! Don’t even dare to think about a Jewish woman!” I could describe the achingly torturous journey an elderly resident of Shuhada Street must make just to leave her house, with its front door welded shut, because one day in 1994 a hate-filled fanatic massacred her townspeople.
But out of respect for the people who escorted me down the tragic length of Shuhada Street, I will try to close on a note of hopefulness. My guides were a couple of Jewish Israelis, raised in religious homes, who had served as soldiers in the West Bank and who, as a result of what they saw and what they did, now devote their lives to raising awareness about the injustices of the Occupation. My guides described in painful detail the structural inequality of a land where one ethnic group lives under oppressive military rule, and another under democratic, civilian authority. They described receiving explicit instruction to make Palestinians feel as if they were constantly under surveillance, constantly pursued, constantly harassed. They said their role, as described by Moshe Ya’alon, the current defense minister and former army chief of staff, was to “sear the hearts and minds of the Palestinians.” My guides told me of instances in which they were involved in “Straw Widow” actions, where they invaded a Palestinian home, shut the family into a single room, and then made free use of the house. Ostensibly these home invasions were conducted for security reasons, but just as often they were simple training exercises. Sometimes the homes were chosen because they had a satellite dish, and an important soccer match was on TV. “What hope is there?” I asked them, in response. They replied that they named their organization Breaking the Silence because they fervently believe that once people know what is happening in Hebron and the rest of the Palestinian territories, change is inevitable.
I’m not sure that I share their faith in the power of knowledge to create justice, but I want to. And that’s why, as Bibi Netanyahu’s right-wing government broadcasts its contempt for the U.S. State Department’s commitment to working with the new Palestinian unity government, and announces the construction of 1,500 new settlement housing units in the West Bank, I, a Jewish American born in Israel, who believes in Israel’s right to exist within its own borders, am breaking my own silence.
After two decades of intermittent “negotiations, including five years of deadlock following Netanyahu’s return to power in 2009, the United States relaunched peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians last July.
But we know the illegitimate state called Israel, never wanted peace nor is it interested in peace. The terrorist-established state wants another PIECE of Palestine and reduce Palestine and Palestinians to tribes as in America, with Indian tribes occupying certain territories but really have no state!
This has been addressed time and again here. I’ve selected a couple of old articles from this blog as examples to prove that peace is the last thing on Israelis minds.. or until Palestinians give up what remains of their land.
Don’t despair though. Palestine shall RETURN to Palestinians. And as long as Israelis keep vowing to take a tough stance, they will eventually find themselves back where they belong: the ghettos of Europe!
May his grave be just a taste of eternal punishment he will receive on the day God “welcomes” the tyrants of the world – The Pharaoh, Hitler, Begin, Sharon, Sadat, Sisi, Bush and Netanyahu, etc., to eternal damnation in Hell.
Outrage in Germany, Nobel Laureate Günter Grass has, once again told the truth about Israel being the greatest threat to world peace.
Günter Grass, Germany’s most famous living author and the 1999 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, sparked outrage in Germany on Wednesday with the publication of a poem, “What must be said,” in which he sharply criticizes Israel’s offensive approach towards Iran.
Once again, it is the artist rather than the politician, who tells the truth as it is. Once again it is the Artist rather than the academic who speaks out.
“Why did I wait until now at this advanced age and with the last bit of ink to say: The nuclear power Israel is endangering a world peace that is already fragile?” Wrote Grass.
In the poem, published by Germany’sSüddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and other European dailies on Wednesday, Grass also calls for an
“unhindered and permanent monitoring of Israel’s nuclear potential and Iran’s nuclear facility through an international entity that the government of both countries would approve.”
Israel and some German Jewish prominent voices were quick to react. The Israeli Embassy in Berlin issued a statement offering its own version of ‘What must be said.’
“What must be said is that it is a European tradition to accuse the Jews before the Passover festival of ritual murder,” the statements reads.
Pretty outrageous, don’t you think? In the open Israel together with its supportive Jewish lobbies (AIPAC, AJC) are pushing for a new global conflict. Yet, shamelessly the embassy defies criticism tossing in the air the old blood libel. The appropriate timely question here is why Israel and AIPAC are pushing for a world war and a potential nuclear conflict just before Passover? Can they just wait for another Yom Kippur (atonement day)?
The Israeli Embassy continues,
“in the past, it was Christian children whose blood the Jews allegedly used to make their unleavened bread, but today it is the Iranian people that the Jewish state allegedly wants to annihilate.”
Isn’t it really the case? Every military expert suggests that Israeli pre-emptive attack on Iran could escalate into a nuclear conflict. If anything Grass tries like others, including your truly, to prevent Israel from celebrating its lethal symptoms once again.
The Israeli embassy noticed though that “Israel is the only state in the world whose right to exist is openly doubted.”
Correct, and so it should be. Israel is a racist, expansionist state, it doesn’t have room amongst nations.
The Central Council of Jews in Germany also called the poem an “aggressive pamphlet of agitation.” I wonder, is it really aggressive to try and restrain an aggressor?
The German newspaper Die Welt, which apparently obtained an advance copy of Grass’ poem, published a response by rabid Zionist Henryk Broder, the country’s most prominent Jewish writer. “Grass always had a problem with Jews, but it has never articulated it as clearly as he has in this poem.” Broder said “Grass has always had a tendency toward megalomania, but this time he is completely nuts.” I would expect Germany’s leading Jewish writer to come with something slightly more astute.
Border however may be correct when he notes that Grass is “haunted by guilt and shame and also driven by the desire to settle history, he is now attempting to disarm the ’cause of the recognizable threat.’”
Wednesday’s poem is not the first time Grass has come out with critical views of Israel. In a 2001 interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, he offered his own solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Israel doesn’t just need to clear out of the occupied areas,” he said at the time. “The appropriation of Palestinian territory and its Israeli settlements are also a criminal activity. That not only needs to be stopped — it also needs to be reversed. Otherwise there will be no peace.”
Broder contends that such a statement is “no less than a demand for Israel to not just cede Nablus and Hebron, but also Tel Aviv and Haifa. ” he continues, “Grass does not differentiated between the ‘occupied areas’ of 1948 and 1967.” Needless to say that from an ethical perspective Grass is correct-there is no difference between 1948 and 1967. The Jewish State located itself on historic Palestine on the expense of the Palestinian people. I guess that Grass understood already in 2001 that the Jews only State must be transformed into a ‘State of its Citizens’. Israel should embrace the true notion of peace, universalism and inclusiveness. But I guess that we shouldn’t hold our breath for it is not going to happen soon.
Yes! A new breed of pigs is now being bred and allowed to roam freely!
These pigs are the Israeli Settlers Terrorists that Israeli Terror Forces recently announced they wanted to arm and train to quell any Palestinian uprising!
QUSRA, West Bank (Reuters) – Jewish settlers set fire to a mosque in the occupied West Bank on Monday, Palestinians said, in a likely reprisal for Israel’s dismantling of three buildings in an unauthorised settlement outpost hours earlier.
Abdel Azeem Wadi, a member of the village council in Qusra near the Palestinian city of Nablus, said settlers threw burning tyres into the mosque, damaging the entire first floor.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad denounced the attack as an act of terrorism.
“These acts are what threaten to pull the region into a cycle of violence,” Fayyad’s office said in a statement, adding that the Palestinians themselves would not revert to violence.
An Israeli police spokesman said police and army personnel had entered the village to inspect the damage to the mosque and that the investigation was ongoing.[Oh we feel much better now!]
Earlier on Monday, Israeli authorities enacted a court order and demolished three houses in Migron, a Jewish hilltop outpost.
The names of Migron and a second outpost were written in Hebrew on the mosque walls.
Some settlers have threatened to exact a price on Palestinians in response to Israeli government actions against unauthorised settlements.
Last month, the Supreme Court ruled that Israel must evacuate the entire Migron outpost by the end of March 2012, a spokeswoman for the court said.
Migron is one of about 100 small outposts that settlers built without government approval on land that Israel captured in a 1967 war and which Palestinians want for a future state.
The World Court deems all Israeli settlements illegal under international law — a ruling that Israel rejects.
Settler-related incidents resulting in Palestinian injuries and damage to property are up more than 50 percent this year, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which documents violence in the Palestinian territories.
Palestinian authorities say settlers have attacked at least six mosques in the West Bank in the past two years. Fayyad’s office criticised the Israeli police for failing to track down those behind previous such violence.
“The prime minister holds Israel completely responsible for the continuation of these terrorist acts because of its failure to pursue the perpetrators of this type of attack on previous occasions and bring them to account,” its statement said.
Settler and military officials said last week that Israel’s military has been training Jewish settler security units to cope with any eruption of Palestinian protests alongside a planned bid for statehood at the United Nations this month.
(Reporting by Abed Omar Qusini, Tom Perry and Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Louise Ireland)