Richard Falk: The UN Report Controversy

Former United Nations Special Rapporteur for Palestine and Pluto author Richard Falk found himself in the midst of a controversy this week over a report that he co-authored RICHARD-FALKwith fellow Pluto author Virginia Tilley, which concluded that ‘beyond a reasonable doubt … Israel is guilty of imposing an apartheid regime on the Palestinian people’. Following mounting pressure and outrage from the United States and Israel, the UN Secretary-General ordered it retracted and Rima Khalaf, the head of the UN agency which had commissioned the report, resigned in protest.

According to Falk, the language around Israel’s ‘occupation’ of Palestine must change, if
Israel’s claim to the land is to be seriously challenged and in order to move towards a more meaningful peace process. Rather than an ‘occupation’, which he views as an inaccurate term partly due to the length of time that Israel has now held on to the territories conquered in the 1967 war, he affirms that instead Israel should now be called an ‘apartheid state’.

The report has prompted heated debate and smears towards Falk and others involved in its preparation.

Below we link to the report and to coverage of the events that followed.

Richard Falk’s new book Palestine’s Horizon: Toward a Just Peace has just been published.

The UN report

Vijay Prashad on Falk’s UN report in the Hindu

‘UN Report Establishes Israeli Apartheid; Fallout Begins’ in Jadaliyya

‘U.N. Diplomat Behind Report Accusing Israel of Apartheid Quits’ in the New York Times

And the open letter to Theresa May demanding Falk be expelled from the UK

(Let’s not forget Theresa May’s recent statements on the Balfour Declaration, of course)

 

International Women’s Day Reading List

From feminist theory, to history and contemporary politics, these are some of Pluto’s best books, old and new, that celebrate radical women.

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Revolutionary Learning: Marxism, Feminism and Knowledge by Sara Carpenter and Shahrzad Mojab Carpenter T03129

Revolutionary Learning by Sara Carpenter and Shahrzad Mojab explores the Marxist and feminist theorisation of knowledge production and learning. From an explicitly feminist perspective, the authors reconsider the contributions of Marx, Gramsci and Freire to educational theory, expanding Marxist analyses of education by considering it in relation to patriarchal and imperialist capitalism.  The reproductive nature of institutions is revealed through an ethnography of schools and pushed further by the authors who go on to examine how education and consciousness connects with the broader environment of public policy, civil society, the market, and other instruments of ‘public pedagogy.’

The book’s use of work by feminist, anti-racist and anti-colonial scholars means it will have significant implications for critical education scholarship, but its use value extends beyond educational praxis; providing the tools dissect, theorize, resist and transform capitalist social relations.

 

Captive Revolution: Palestinian Women’s Anti-Colonial Struggle within the Israeli Prison System by Nahla AbdoAbdo T02851

Throughout the world, women have played a part in struggles against colonialism, imperialism and other forms of oppression, but their vital contributions to revolutions, national liberation and anti-colonial resistance are rarely chronicled.

Nahla Abdo’s Captive Revolution seeks to break the silence on Palestinian women political detainees. Based on stories of the women themselves, as well as her own experiences as a former political prisoner, Abdo draws on a wealth of oral history and primary research in order to analyse their anti-colonial struggle, their agency and their appalling treatment as political detainees. Through crucial comparisons between the experiences of female political detainees in other conflict; a history of female activism emerges.

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Leila Khaled: The Poster Girl of Palestinian Militancy’ International Woman’s Day

We’re celebrating International Woman’s Day with ‘the poster girl of Palestinian militancy’ and subject of Sarah Irving’s biography: Leila Khaled. Leila Khaled: Icon of Palestinian Liberation tells the story of Khaled’s remarkable life as a female activist in a man’s movement. From hijacking planes, to her involvement in radical sects, Leila Khaled’s activism made her as era-defining as Che Guevara.

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When Leila Khaled hijacked her first plane, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine was a left-wing organization with international links and the declared intention of winning the return of the Palestinian people to the lands they had left only 20 years before. This was the era of Che Guevara, killed in Bolivia just two years earlier, and of liberation struggles in South East Asia. The right of oppressed peoples to resist by armed means was discussed worldwide, and the heroes of these movements decorated the walls of student bedrooms and left-wing homes. The second wave of feminism was also breaking, adding another aspect to the environment in which news of this young female hijacker would be received.

In Leila’s Middle East home, Israel had just defeated the combined armies of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria in the Six Day War, humiliating the Arab world militarily and capturing the remaining Palestinian territories west of the River Jordan and north of the Sinai. Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, including thousands of refugees from the initial establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, had been living under Jordanian and Egyptian rule, but were now subject to Israeli military occupation. Despite this, the world’s attention to the Palestinians themselves was minimal. They were seen by the West as a small, dispossessed refugee people, caught up in the hostility between Jews and Arabs in the Middle East, and of little importance except as an excuse for aggression by Arab powers. Amongst the Palestinians of the refugee camps of Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, discontent had been brewing. A resistance movement, which had been growing since the mid 1960s, had been further radicalized and popularized by the Six Day War and by Palestinians’ increasing suspicion of the hollow support voiced by Arab regimes. As Rosemary Sayigh, who lived in Lebanon throughout the 1970s, puts it:

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Activestills: How photography can become a means of protest by Vered Maimon and Shiraz Grinbaum

Visual activism, including activist or struggle photography, can be seen as offering a response to the radical critique that photojournalism and documentary photography faced in the 1980s by critics such as Martha Rosler and Allan Sekula.[1] These critics argued that maimon-t03132by focusing on victimhood, empathy, and compassion, documentary photography was complicit with liberal politics and completely divorced from any program of social reform or revolutionary politics.  In documentary photography the focus was either on the “brave photographer,” or on the feelings of the spectator, but not on the subject of the photograph. This condition led to the constitution of a passive viewer and perpetuated existing power relations in which information about a group of powerless people was addressed to the socially powerful. In this way documentary photography failed to point out and address the economic, social, and political structures and conditions that enabled inequality in the first place.

Activestills collective work can be considered as part of this shift, from photojournalism to visual activism, and from the documentation of victimhood and destitution to the visualization of the social relationships and networks that underlie the activities of struggling and protesting communities. Activestills’ members see themselves as activists, photographers, and witnesses. They view their photographic act as tantamount to the act of protest itself, and not simply as a form of witnessing, the collective’s emphasis is not on “representation” of the “suffering of the other,” but on the enactment of political agency and the demand for rights—to mobility, livelihood, and protection from violence. As opposed to documentary photography, activist photography is intrinsically bounded within the communities and oppressive strategies it works to expose. Activestills’ work in Palestine/Israel is thus meant to address the struggling communities’ visual and material needs, while also working to emphasize the specific conditions of life under Israeli occupation and segregation policies. Continue reading

Video: Jeff Halper presents ‘War Against the People’ (part 1)

Check out our latest short video of Jeff Halper talking about his forthcoming book,War Against the People: Israel, the Palestinians and Global Pacification.

In this first of two short videos, Jeff Halper explores the reasons behind the reluctance of both the Israeli state and western governments to end the occupation of Palestine.

His book, War Against the People, is a disturbing insight into the new ways world powers such as the US, Israel, Britain and China forge war today. It is a subliminal war of surveillance and whitewashed terror, conducted through new, high-tech military apparatuses, designed and first used in Israel against the Palestinian population. Including hidden camera systems, sophisticated sensors, information databases on civilian activity, automated targeting systems and, in some cases, unmanned drones, it is used to control the very people the nation’s leaders profess to serve.
Halper WATP

Drawing from years of research, as well as investigations and interviews conducted at international arms fairs, Halper reveals that this practice is much more insidious than was previously thought. As Western governments tighten the grip on their use of private information and claw back individual liberties, War Against the People is a timely reminder that fundamental human rights are being compromised for vast sections of the world, and that this is a subject that should concern everyone.

The video can also be found on Pluto’s Youtube channel.

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Jeff Halper is the head of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). He is the author of Between Redemption and Revival: The Jewish Yishuv in Jerusalem in the Nineteenth Century (Westview, 1991), An Israeli in Palestine (Pluto, 2008) and Obstacles to Peace (ICAHD, Fifth Edition, 2013).

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War Against the People: Israel, the Palestinians and Global Pacification is available to buy from Pluto Press here.

Does unarmed resistance in Palestine work?

The authors of the new book  Popular Protest in Palestine discuss whether peaceful resistance to Israeli occupation is appropriate in the face of so much violence.

Darweish PPIP‘In March 2015 the Israeli electorate voted into power the most hard-line coalition in Israel’s history, headed up by Benjamin Netanyahu who had campaigned on the promise that he would prevent the establishment of any Palestinian state. In the national newspaper Haaretz the correspondent Gideon Levy bemoaned the result: ‘If after six years years of sowing fear and anxiety, hatred and despair, this is the nation’s choice, then it is very ill indeed. Netanyahu deserves the Israeli people and they deserve him.’ (Haaretz, 18 March 2015) Another commentator, James Besser, concluded that ‘apartheid is the path Israeli voters have chosen. The inevitable results will include even greater international isolation for the Jewish state, a boost to efforts to apply boycotts and sanctions, diminished support from American Jews and endlessly intensifying cycles of violence.’ (Haaretz, 20 March 2015)

But whilst the Israeli peace-camp anguished over the result, in the Occupied Palestinian Territories the return of Netanyahu to power was met with indifference by significant sections of the population. As Huneida Ghanem of the Palestinian Forum for Israeli Studies explained, ‘Nothing is going to come from the Israeli state if the Israelis don’t feel they don’t pay any price for the Israeli occupation.’ (http://tinyurl.com/nshownb, 22 June 2015)

Ghanem’s analysis echoed one of the conclusions we reached in Popular Protest in Palestine: The Uncertain Future of Unarmed Resistance. In 2002, the wave of Palestinian unarmed resistance to occupation grew in response to the Israeli decision to build a Wall between the West Bank and Israel. The subsequent resistance movement failed to exert sufficient leverage on Israeli publics and decision-makers, and the question of Israeli commitment to occupation was left untouched.

We came to this conclusion after conducting numerous interviews with Israeli peace activists struggling to maintain hope for the future of their country. One of our informants expressed herself with brutal frankness:

“The popular resistance is weakening. It breaks my heart. I want to live here, but the worst thing for Israel is peace and quiet. If the occupation continues there is no future for Israel. The weakening of Palestinian popular resistance allows the occupation to continue.

People here in Israel – they just don’t realise, they don’t have to deal with it. It is a different world for Israelis – but it will blow up.

There was the second intifada – nothing came out of that and the buses being blown up. Now the buses are not being blown up and still nothing comes out of it. Israelis are comfortable with the situation … people look the other way … people live with it.”

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Criminalizing the Victim: The Life Story of Rasmea Odeh

Rasmea OdehNahla Abdo

Since her birth and until this day, that is during her 67 years of struggling for justice, Rasmea Odeh has been the victim of injustice in both her homeland and her host country as well.

Rasmea was born in Lifta, an affluent village between Jerusalem and Jaffa.  This village is described as one of Palestine’s largest and wealthiest communities in the Jerusalem region. The beauty of this village, as described by Zochrot (an Israeli Jewish and Palestinian organization)[i], is evidenced through ‘the old homes which are still standing upon the overgrown hillsides… homes which pay tribute to that prosperous past’. The population of the village in 1948 was approximately 2,550 (including 2,530 Muslim and 20 Christian Palestinians). Like most Palestinian villages, many of Lifta’s residents were dependent on agriculture and cultivated 3,000 donums (3 km2) of land, including 1,500 olive trees.

However, like more than 400 other Palestinian cities and villages, between 1947 and 1948 Lifta was destroyed, forcefully depopulated and ethnically cleansed, rendering its population refugees. It is true that the story of Rasmea’s Lifta is the story of the Palestinian Nakba (the Catastrophe of the creation of the state of Israel). However, the close proximity of Lifta to the neighbouring village Deir Yassin has further aggravated its population, leaving its imprint on Palestinian collective memory and on Rasmea’s own personal memory. Continue reading