We call on the Jewish Communal Fund to Defund Islamophobia

January 16, 2019

Read the Defund Islamophobia report here.

Defund Islamophobia Now

December 19, 2018

The Defund Islamophobia report is described in the article below.

Ben Gingell via Shutterstock)Ben Gingell via Shutterstock)

by Donna Nevel and Elly Bulkin

Imagine a scenario in which the communal fund of a major U.S. religious or cultural organization gave money to virulently anti-Semitic, neo-Nazi groups. Imagine the totally justified outrage that would accompany those revelations. Imagine how Jewish communities would react: with indignation and the demand that the fund immediately stop supporting hate and anti-Semitism. This would absolutely be the right thing to do.

Now imagine what has actually happened: New York’s Jewish Communal Fund (JCF) has been financially supporting hate directed toward Muslims. It has funded the work of some of the most virulent purveyors of Islamophobia in the country. When Jewish mainstream organizations learn about this support for anti-Muslim racism, imagine that they react with the same outrage as if it had been directed toward Jews. Let’s hope that will be the case when they learn the facts.

report recently released by three progressive Jewish organizations (two of which we work with), documents how the JCF is funding Islamophobia. JCF federal Form 990 filings reveal that, going back to at least 2001, it has funded anti-Muslim hate groups, with six of them receiving a total of $2,082,212 between 2013 and 2017, the last years for which 990 forms are publicly available.

These organizations are key parts of what was described in a Center for American Progress 2011 report—Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America— as “the Islamophobia network in America.” They include the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) whose public face is Pamela Geller, a notorious Muslim-basher who promoted a nationwide anti-Muslim ad campaign that placed vitriolic anti-Muslim ads in public buses and subways; the Clarion Project, which has produced Islamophobic propaganda films and uses inflammatory images to demonize and smear Muslims (along with Palestinians); and the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a major purveyor of anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, which the Southern Poverty Law Center refers to as “the godfather of the modern anti-Muslim movement.”

But that’s not all. JCF also funds the Investigative Project on Terrorism, led by Steven Emerson, perhaps best known for claiming immediately after Timothy McVeigh’s 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that the attack had “a Middle Eastern trait” because it “was done with the intent to inflict as many casualties as possible;” the Middle East Forum, whose Daniel Pipes alleged that President Obama “enforced Islamic law;” and the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which the Center for American Progress has described as the go-to source for those in the Islamophobia network who want to “make the case that Islam is inherently violent and promotes extremism.” JCF has also accepted financial support from two funders of the Islamophobia network: the Abstraction Fund and Gotham Charitable Foundation Trust.

The Center for American Progress describes the leaders of the Islamophobia network as “misinformation experts.” They not only provide misinformation to media outlets, but they also have relationships with government officials, whose support lends credibility to these anti-Muslim bigots, allowing them to secure funding from government and private sources.

Anti-Muslim racism has a long, ugly history in the United States, which has accelerated since 9/11 and intensified still further under the current administration’s policies. Islamophobia has become deeply entrenched within U.S. society—on the streets, in government, in institutions, in the media.

JCF has the power and obligation to stop funding anti-Muslim hate groups. Its rules give it the right to reject any and all grant recommendations, with includes individuals with donor-advised funds who designate a specific organization for funding. According to JCF’s handbook, “all grant recommendations are nonbinding,” with JCF retaining the power “to decline grant recommendations.” Although JCF gives to many worthwhile projects and grantees, that does not make it acceptable to give a single penny to anti-Muslim hate.

In addition to JCF’s funding of anti-Muslim racism, activists in Chicago exposed in 2017 similar funding of Islamophobia by the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago through its donor-advised funds. Its funding between 2011 and 2014 included the Middle East Forum and Investigative Project on Terrorism, recipients of nearly $650,000 from JUF. In the 2013-2017 fiscal years, the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston (the local Jewish federation) also funded anti-Muslim hate, including giving more than $360,000 to three of the anti-Muslim hate groups highlighted in the JCF report.

More recent research on the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco and the Helen Diller Family Foundation, which is “housed and staffed” by the Federation, documents substantial financial support for anti-Muslim hate going back to 2003. Nearly $2 million in the 2013-2017 fiscal years went from the Federation and Diller to the six groups that are the focus of the New York City report, as well as substantial funding to other anti-Muslim groups. It was heartening to learn that the Diller Family Foundation agreed to stop funding the blacklist website Canary Mission, which targets pro-Palestine activists, just hours after a report about its $100,000 donation appeared in the Jewish press. At this moment, however, there has been no public sign that it is ending its support of anti-Muslim racism.

White supremacists, including those with the power of the state behind them, feel emboldened these days to act upon their violent and aggressive combination of racism, misogyny, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, transphobia, homophobia, and more. It’s critical to be principled in the commitment to challenge all forms of injustice—in words, actions, and the insistence that community institutions be accountable. This means that the JCF and others need to cut off all funding to anti-Muslim hate groups, now and in the future.

Donna Nevel, a community psychologist and educator, and Elly Bulkin, a writer, are co-founders of Jews Against Anti-Muslim Racism (JAAMR).

Israel’s Environmental Colonialism and Eco-Apartheid

December 18, 2018
The construction of Israel’s mammoth apartheid wall has separated Palestinian farmers from their fields and destroyed Palestinians’ legally owned fertile agricultural land.

By Ben Lorber

July 12, 2012 – Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal — Since the idea of Zionism first gripped the minds of a few intellectuals and the limbs of many agrarian pioneers in the early 20th century, the state of Israel has presented its settlement of the land of Palestine, and its uprooting of the Palestinian people, as a rejuvenation of the earth. By “greenwashing” the occupation, Israel hides its apartheid behind an environmentalist mirage, and distracts public attention not only from its brutal oppression of the Palestinian people, but from its large-scale degradation of the earth upon which these tragedies unfold.

Determined to “make the desert bloom”, an international organisation — the Jewish National Fund-Keren Kayemet LeYisrael (JNF-KKL, or JNF) planted forests, recreational parks and nature reserves to cover over the ruins of Palestinian villages, as refugees were scattered far from, or worse, a few hilltops away from, the land upon which they and their ancestors had based their lives and livelihoods.

Today, as Israel portrays itself as a “green democracy”’, an eco-friendly pioneer in agricultural techniques such as drip irrigation, dairy farming, desert ecology, water management and solar energy, Israeli factories drain toxic waste and industrial pollutants down from occupied West Bank hilltops into Palestinian villages, and over-pumping of groundwater aquifers denies Palestinians access to vital water sources in a context of increasing water scarcity and pollution.

Read the rest of this entry »

JEWISH COMMUNAL FUND SUPPORTS ANTI-MUSLIM HATE GROUPS

November 29, 2018

The Shame of the UJA-Federation of New York

HOW ITS JEWISH COMMUNAL FUND  SUPPORTS ANTI-MUSLIM HATE GROUPS

The Jewish Communal Fund (JCF), the funding arm of the UJA-Federation of New York (UJA-Federation), has for years funded a host of anti-Muslim hate groups—contributing more than $2 million to six such groups just in 2013-2017. While JCF is understandably proud of its funding of numerous community, health, and other such organizations, it seems decidedly reluctant to call public attention to its support for these Islamophobic groups. We call upon the JCF to make a firm, public commitment to stop contributing to these anti-Muslim groups and to others that share their ideology.

READ MORE

 

How the Jewish National Fund Bluewashes Israeli Apartheid

November 18, 2018

Children in Gaza fill bottles of clean water at a purification station in Deir al-Balah. Up to 95 percent of Gaza’s groundwater is not potable. (Ashraf Amra APA images)On 19 June in New York City, the Jewish National Fund (JNF), in collaboration with the UN’s Department of Public Information and NGO Relations, will convene a panel of “experts” to discuss water management and sustainability in “arid countries.”

The presentation is just the latest example of how the JNF, founded at the turn of the century in order to colonize the land of Palestine with the Jewish people of the world, is attempting to alter its settler-colonial image by establishing itself as a leader and champion of environmental and water conservation causes. The organization is presenting at the UN as an approved member of its nongovernmental organization network.

But far from operating as a nongovernmental organization, the JNF actually works in close tandem with the State of Israel to promote its agenda of maintaining a Jewish settler-colonist state.

For example, the JNF holds a privileged status in Israel. It holds 50 percent of the seats on the Israel Land Administration (ILA) Council, the public authority that controls 93 percent of state lands. The JNF’s bylaws prohibit the organization from leasing land to “non-Jews.” In fact, in August 2004, the ILA admitted that the JNF tenders land only to Jews. Thus, Israel hands off the dirty business of explicitly discriminatory land policies to the JNF, neatly avoiding direct violation of many of the human rights treaties the state has signed.

But despite this function within Israel, in the last decade the JNF has presented itself to the United Nations as a nongovernmental, non-political organization. In July 2004 it was approved as a nongovernmental organization by the UN Department of Public Information. Thrilled with the credibility the status bestowed, Yehiel Leket, World Chairman of the JNF, said, “Our acceptance by other countries into the United Nations legitimizes our award-winning efforts in water, environment and sustainable development.”

Aggressive displacement

Of note, however, in 2006, the JNF’s application for consultative status was rejected by the UN on the basis that the organization was “too political,” and had been involved in projects in the “Occupied Palestinian Territories.” Israel denied the political nature of the JNF, stating it works on “sustainable development and environmental conservation issues.” At the vote, Israel pointed out that the organization had withdrawn from its participation in a project in the “Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

But even if the JNF is not operating directly in the Palestinian territories outside the Green Line (Israel’s internationally-recognized armistice line with the occupied West Bank), it has played a critical role in the aggressive displacement of Bedouin communities in the Naqab (Negev) — in particular, in Al-Araqib. Furthermore, despite Israel’s concerted efforts to depoliticize the issue of water, it is inherently a political one — as is JNF’s involvement in it.

The JNF began to alter its agenda from being an organization exclusively dedicated to settling Jews in Palestine and covering over Palestinian villages destroyed by Zionist militias to a seemingly less controversial agenda in 2002: “Beginning in 2002, Jewish National Fund made its debut on the international front as an environmental organization,” the organization states on its website.

JNF’s profile on the website of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs lists climate change, forests, freshwater and human settlements as among its fields of expertise.

JNF’s membership with the UN’s Department of Public Information allows it to sponsor or facilitate panels and workshops at UN conferences around the world, affording it the chance to conduct bluewashing events like the one taking place tomorrow.

Bluewashing

This “bluewashing” agenda seeks to extract the issues of water in Palestine from the broader political circumstances, focusing on technical solutions to water scarcity and emphasizing Israel’s conservational approaches to wastewater and agricultural practices. The salient facts are ignored — Israel exercises total control over all the natural water sources in the region, deliberately gives Palestinians insufficient water and even denies their ability to collect it, and thus maintains a system of water apartheid.

For Palestinians, the water crisis is constant: as many as 200,000 Palestinians are not connected to running water, and the average Palestinian consumes just 70 liters a day while the World Health Organization recommends at least 100 liters per day. Gaza’s sole aquifer is over-extracted, making 90 to 95 percent of the water unfit for drinking. Bluewashing is a flagrant attempt to paper over these facts and create new ones.

The panel

All of this brings us to tomorrow’s panel, which will be moderated by the JNF’s Vice President of Government Relations, Joseph Hess, and includes Clive Lipchin of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, Seth Siegel, an AIPAC member and commenter on water issues in the region, and Sharon Megdal, a professor at the University of Arizona.

Clive Lipchin is the Director for Transboundary Water Management at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. The Arava Institute was founded in 1996, in the wake of the Oslo Accords, and as such promulgates a mission that values cooperation between Palestinian and Israeli groups in “environmental studies” outside of any political context.

While its mission may appear anodyne, Arava has been a partner with the JNF since 2002. In 2010, New York City-based Palestine activism group Adalah-NY called for a boycott of a virtual event planned by the Arava Institute, writing: “The JNF and Arava are clearly close partners, using one another to bolster their images and funding.”

According to the JNF’s 2011 990 form, it gave $523,825 to the Arava Institute in 2011 alone, making it JNF’s largest single recipient of cash aid.

Blaming Palestinians

Seth Siegel sits on the national board of AIPAC and runs a brand-licensing agency. According to his biography, Siegel has a forthcoming book about water resources in Israel.

In February, he wrote an op-ed for The New York Times in which he excoriated Palestinians’ mismanaging of water and blamed Hamas for Gaza’s scarcity of potable water, writing, “Given their proximity to Israel, the Palestinians are likely to be among the few Arab winners in the water race … But as water problems grow, one hopes that ideology will give way to pragmatism and may open a door to an Arab and Islamic outreach to Israel.”

Siegel’s noxious mendacity makes his role as hasbarist easy to recognize. However, other water experts fall in line with him, ably assisting in bluewashing efforts that emphasize solutions like desalination rather than confronting Israel’s systematic denial of Palestinians’ water rights.

Sharon Megdal is a professor at University of Arizona has been traveling to Israel to study the water situation in earnest since 2009. She is the co-author of a 2012 publication, Shared Borders, Shared Waters: Israeli-Palestinian and Colorado River Basin Water Challenges, which advocates for a kind of “science diplomacy” to resolve difficult transboundary water conflicts, such as in Palestine.

In December 2004, the JNF wrote the following to Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Rights in Israel:

“The JNF is not the trustee of the general public in Israel…Its loyalty is given to the Jewish people in the Diaspora and in the state of Israel …The loyalty of the JNF is given to the Jewish people, and only to them is the JNF obligated. The JNF, as the owner of the JNF land, does not have a duty to practice equality towards all citizens of the state.”

While this admission was in reference to the region’s land, is there any reason to think that this organization would handle the region’s water resources with equity for all the people living there? By hosting this event tomorrow, the UN becomes complicit in the JNF’s bluewashing project.

Originally published in Electronic Intifada

Andrew Kadi contributed to this report.

Charlotte Silver is an independent journalist and regular writer for The Electronic Intifada. She is based in Oakland, California and has reported from Palestine since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @CharESilver.

Financing Racism and Apartheid

October 29, 2018

Synopsis

The Jewish National Fund (JNF) is a multi-national corporation with offices in about dozen countries world-wide. It receives millions of dollars from wealthy and ordinary Jews around the world and other donors, most of which are tax-exempt contributions. The JNF’s aim is to acquire and develop lands exclusively for the benefit of Jews residing in Israel.

The fact is that the JNF, in its operations in Israel, had expropriated illegally most of the land of 372 Palestinian villages which had been ethnically cleansed by Zionist forces in 1948. The owners of this land are over half the UN registered Palestinian refugees.  The JNF had actively participated in the physical destruction of many villages, in evacuating these villages of their inhabitants and in military operations to conquer these villages. Today the JNF controls over 2500 sq. km of Palestinian land which it leases to Jews only. It also planted 100 parks on Palestinian land.

In addition, the  JNF has a long record of discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel as reported by the UN.  The JNF also extends its operations by proxy or directly to the Occupied Palestinian Territories in the West Bank and Gaza. All this is in clear violation of international law and particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids confiscation of property and settling the Occupiers’ citizens in occupied territories. Ethnic cleansing, expropriation of property, and destruction of houses are war crimes. As well, use of tax-exempt donations in these activities violates the domestic law in many countries, where the JNF is domiciled.

This report compiles the facts about JNF activities, supported by new maps and tables detailing JNF violations of international and domestic law.

 

To read the full report click HERE or click on an individual section below.

List of Contents

1.     What is JNF?
2.     Its Objectives
3.     The Land Acquired by JNF in Palestine
3.1.  During the British Mandate (1920 – 1948)
3.2. After Creating the State of Israel (1948 – )
3.3. Early Conflict Between the State and JNF and its Resolution
3.4. The Demise of the Kibbutz
3.5. Split between ILA and JNF
4.    Illegal Practices of JNF
4.1. Ethnic Cleansing and Destruction of Property
4.2. Discrimination and Apartheid against the Palestinian Citizens of Israel
4.3. Violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention
4.4. Violation of Domestic Law where JNF operates outside Israel

International Law, Seeking Justice, and the Great March of Return in Gaza

October 7, 2018

During Israel’s creation, over 750,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled temporarily to save themselves from the violence. Palestinian refugees and their descendants around the world continue to be denied their right of return as stipulated in a 1948 UN resolution. Why won’t Israel let them return to their homes? What can be done to achieve peace with justice?

Speakers:  Bina Ahmad (social justice attorney, public defender, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights Steering Committee, Food Empowerment Project Advisory Board), Jamil Dakwar (human rights lawyer and adjunct professor at John Jay College and Hunter College),  Donna Nevel (community psychologist, Facing the Nakba Project, Jews Say No!; Jews Against Anti-Muslim Racism).  Moderated by Riham Barghouti (founder of Adalah-NY: Campaign for the Boycott of Israel)

September 26, 2018 @The Brooklyn Commons

Sponsor: Brooklyn For Peace; bfp@brooklynpeace.orgbrooklynpeace.org 718-624-5921
Co-sponsors: Adalah-NY: Campaign for the Boycott of Israel;, Al-Awda NY, All Souls Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East; Arab Muslim American Federation; Committee to Stop FBI Repression; Fort Greene Peace; International Action Center, Jewish Voice for Peace/NYC, Jews Say No!; Jews for Palestinian Right of Return; JVP-Westchester; Learning for the Empowerment and Advancement of Palestinians; Peace Action New York State; Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network; Tree of Life Educational Fund; USA Palestine Mental Health Network; Women in Black Union Square; World Can’t Wait

Discussion of Palestinian Right of Return – September 26 – Brooklyn

September 6, 2018

Laura van Rij interview with Sari Nasir

July 17, 2018

 

Laura van Rij (LR): What is your connection to Lifta?

Sari Nasir (SN): I was born in Lifta in 1938, but in 1948 we were kicked out of there. I remember how they drove us out. They told my father: ´you better take your family away because we don´t want to happen to you what happened to the people of Deir Yassin´. I think the Deir Yassin massacre frightened many of the people of Lifta.

LR: Did they leave everything behind when they fled?

SN: Most of the things, except for the key. I rememberthat my mother wouldn´t leave, we had to force her. She was forced to leave. She cried, I remember her tears. And I remember she said: ´please, let me close the doors´. They told her that we would only go away for a couple of days, that we would come back. I have childhood memories of fleeing to the other side of Jerusalem. How bombs would fall and how people would be injured, blood all over them.

LR: Where did you stay in Jerusalem?

SN: I remember my parents had a hard time finding a place to sleep, to get us children under one roof. We found a room in the Indian hospice in Jerusalem, in the old city. My uncle asked if his children could stay there as well, but they could not. That was why the families were scattered, they could not stay together. Half of them went to Ramallah, others Jerusalem, Damascus, Lebanon…

LR: How was Lifta before 1948?

SN: Lifta was a traditional village, and a very tight community. Usually if a girl married someone from outside the village, they would say she became a stranger, they didn´t like this. They wanted her to stay in the village. The families were traditional extended families. My family, for instance, was big, five boys and five girls.

LR: What do you tell your children about Lifta?

SN: We tell them how we left and how we look forward to going back. If you ask children in the diaspora now where they are from, they say I am from Lifta. My children, who are in the United States, still want to go back. The younger people are more enthusiastic about Lifta, they read about it, write about it… They are proud that they are from Lifta. The Israeli´s made a mistake by thinking the Palestinians would forget. The Palestinians are here to stay, no matter how they try to change the landscape of Palestine. We are more attached to it than ever, we remember it more than ever.

LR: Do you ever visit Lifta?

SN: Oh yes, I went several times. I went to my house and my grandfather´s house. I tried to remember how scenic Lifta was, very scenic. I remember that I went with my grandfather to the common place of the village, a room for the men to go and sit at the end of the day, and talk about what is going on.

LR: Was it like a coffee house?

SN: No, it was like a guesthouse. It was close to my grandfather´s house. I would go there and sit with my father and grandfather. In winter they had a stove to heat the place. I would fall asleep while listening to their talking and at the end they would wake me up and we would go home.

LR: Do you remember the shooting in the coffee house?

SN: Yes, I remember that. It was in 1947 I think. I saw it with my own eyes. The coffee house was right on the main road in Upper Lifta. Men would go there to talk and smoke the shisha. My grandfather used to go there a lot, but for some reason he didn´t go that day. I was there with my uncle when suddenly cars came, we heard shooting. I looked and many men were running away. Others ran and fell, and people were shouting. My uncle told me to stay away, he didn´t want me to see dead people, but I insisted. I wanted to see. Many were killed or injured… It was a message I think, that we should leave. They used this method to try to drive us out. And they did.

LR: How were the relations with the Jewish people before 1948?

SN: We were friends. I played with Jewish children; we would eat at each other’s house. But look what happened then. They started preparing themselves to take over, the Haganah and others, the Stern gang… You know, there are many images that crowd my memory.

LR: If you could return now, you would go immediately?

SN: Of course, immediately. Even my children who are in the States would come back. Palestine has become a legend, a symbol that people attach themselves to because it is collective.

LR: It would be a very difficult life in the beginning. 

SN: Yes, very difficult. You have to rebuild everything, but at least you are on your land. You are in the land that belongs to you. Wherever Palestinians go, they suffer. They are always singled out as strangers, as foreigners. You know it´s really painful to think about what happened and what is happening. There is nothing one can do about it now. But we always hope for better days.

The interview is for the project “It’s all about people – Narratives from Lifta” done by Laura van Rij as part of her M.A. in public history at The University of Amsterdam.
Interview location: The children´s and community center of Jabal Nazzal, Amman, Jordan
June 26, 2013

In Jerusalem we have the latest chapter in colonialism

June 18, 2018

 Originally posted at The Guardian December 12, 2017

By Karma Nabulsi 

Donald Trump’s intervention is not a mere aberration. It’s part of the continuing story of injustice in Palestine

One hundred years ago, on 11 December 1917, the British army occupied Jerusalem. As General Allenby’s troops marched through Bab al-Khalil, launching a century of settler colonialism across Palestine, prime minister David Lloyd George heralded the city’s capture as “a Christmas present for the British people.”

In a few months’ time, we mark another such anniversary: 70 years since the Palestinian Nakba of 1948, the catastrophic destruction of the Palestinian polity; the violent dispossession of most of its people with their forced conversion into disenfranchised refugees; the colonial occupation, annexation and control of their land; and the imposition of martial law over those who managed to remain.

The current US president’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel bookends a century of such events: from the Balfour declaration in November 1917 to the partition plan of 1947; from the Nakba of 1948 to the Naksa of 1967— with its annexation of Jerusalem, the occupation of the rest of Palestine, further mass expulsions of Palestinians including from East and West Jerusalem, and the invaders’ razing of entire ancient neighborhoods in the city.

Donald Trump’s declaration could easily be read as one more outrage in his growing collection of chaotic and destructive policies, this one perhaps designed to distract from his more prosaic, personal problems with the law. It is viewed as the act of a volatile superpower haplessly endorsing illegal military conquest and consolidating the “acquisition of territory by force” (a practice prohibited and rejected by the UN and the basic tenets of international law). And it is seen alongside a long list of domestic and international blunders.

However, this analysis obscures what happens each day in occupied Palestine, and hides what will surely happen next—unless governments, parliaments, institutions, unions and, most of all, citizens take measures to actively resist it.

Leaders across the world appear incapable of naming what is taking place in Palestine, so their received wisdom on the cause and nature of the conflict, along with the “consensus solutions” they offer, prove futile. This century of events instead should be understood as a continuum, forming part of an active process that hasn’t yet stopped or achieved its ends. Palestinians understand it: we feel it in a thousand ways every day. How does this structure appear to those who endure it day in, day out?

Patrick Wolfe, the late scholar, traced the history of settler colonial projects across continents, showing us that events in Palestine over the last 100 years are an intensification of (rather than a departure from) settler colonialism. He also established its two-sided nature, defining the phenomenon— from the Incas and Mayans to the native peoples of Africa, America, and the Middle East—as holding negative and positive dimensions. Negatively, settler colonialism strives for the dissolution of native societies; positively, it erects a new colonial society on the expropriated land: “Colonizers come to stay: invasion is a structure, not an event.”

After the British marched into Jerusalem in 1917 and declared martial law, they turned Palestine into an Occupied Enemy Territory Administration (OETA). Declaring martial law over the city, Allenby promised: “Every sacred building, monument, holy spot, shrine, traditional site, endowment, pious bequest, or customary place of prayer of whatsoever form of the three religions will be maintained and protected.” But what did he say of its people? Allenby divided the country into four districts: Jerusalem, Jaffa, Majdal and Beersheba, each under a military governor, and the accelerated process of settler colonialism began.

At the time of the military takeover, Palestine was 90% Christian and Muslim, with 7-10% Palestinian Arab Jews and recent European settlers. By the time the British army left Palestine on 14 May 1948, the expulsion and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people was already under way. During their 30-years rule, the British army and police engineered a radical change to the population through the mass introduction of European settlers, against the express wishes of the indigenous population. They also suppressed Palestine’s Great Revolt of 1936-39, destroying any possibility of resistance to what lay ahead.

Once any individual episode is understood as part of a continuing structure of settler colonialism, the hitherto invisible daily evictions of Palestinians from their homes assume their devastating significance.

Invisible too has been the force driving the expansion of illegal settlements on Palestinian land. Without a framing of settler colonialism, the notion of the founder of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, of “spiriting away” the native Arabs “gradually and circumspectly,” makes little sense. In Jerusalem this is how gradual ethnic cleansing is being practiced today.

The new US policy on Jerusalem is not about occupation and annexation; the supremacy of one religion over another so “balance” must be restored; the two-state solution or the failures of the Oslo agreement; or the location of an embassy, or division of Jerusalem.

Nor is it even about the soap opera-level conspiracy the Palestinian people have been abandoned to: where the son-in-law of the US president, who has actively funded the rightwing settlement movement in Israel, has been granted absolute power to fabricate a “peace process” with a crown prince who has just locked up his relatives.

In this dystopic vision, the village of Abu Dis outside Jerusalem is proposed as the capital of a future fragmented Palestinian “state”—one never created, given that (along with all US-led peace processes) its eventual appearance is entirely dependent on Israel’s permission. This is named, in “peace process” language, as any solution to be agreed upon “by the parties themselves,” via “a negotiated settlement by the two sides.”

With colonialism always comes anti-colonial resistance. Against the active project to disappear the indigenous people, take their land, dispossess and disperse them so they cannot reunite to resist, the goals of the Palestinian people are those of all colonized peoples throughout history. Very simply, they are to unify for the struggle to liberate their land and return to it, and to restore their inalienable human rights taken by force—principles enshrined in centuries of international treaties, charters, and resolutions, and in natural justice.

The US has been blocking Palestinian attempts to achieve this national unity for years, vetoing Palestinian parties in taking their legitimate role in sharing representation. Palestinians’ democratic right to determine their path ahead would allow our young generation—scattered far and wide, from refugee camps to the prisons inside Palestine—to take up their place in the national struggle for freedom. The US assists the colonizer and ties our hands.

Former European colonial powers, including Britain, now claim they are aware of their colonial legacy, and condemn centuries of enslavement and the savage exploitation of Africa and Asia. So European leaders should first name the relentless process they installed in our country, and stand with us so that we can unite to defeat it.

Originally published in The Guardian

Karma Nabulsi is a fellow in politics at St Edmund Hall and teaches at Oxford University.

In each of the next seven months we will post  an article from http://ongoingnakba.com/  (previously fowardd.com/)


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