Monday, August 18, 2014

Why My Grieving Heart Must Break Open For #Gaza….

Reflections from my recent visit to Gaza in May 2014 and Israel's current, horrific assault on Gaza that began on July 8th, 2014.  Israel must be held accountable and responsible for its war crimes in Gaza. We will not stop working and fighting for justice, equality, human rights, ending the occupation, and ending the siege on Gaza. We will not stop until Gaza and all of Palestine is free.








I will never forget the special afternoon I spent in the home of this lovely refugee family in Saleh Al balawi Beach Camp, Gaza Strip in May (2014). The family's father still holds the key to their family home in Majdal.







Photo of my last night in Gaza in May (2014). The people of Gaza are beautiful beyond words in every way. Their joy, happiness, spirit, humor and progressive political and movement building ideas amazed me, inspired me, and renewed my spirit and hope that Gaza and Palestine will soon be free. 

  
    
     
Departing Gaza in May (2014) through Israel's Erez Checkpoint, I took this photo while walking inside the 500 meter (.3 mile) over-ground caged tunnel, with mounted automatic machine guns watching you from the distant wall. Very few can get in or out of Gaza, only those with permits and those are very limited and granted artibrarily. Entry and Exit to Gaza at the Erez crossing has become even more impersonalized, with automated gates and narrow doorway passages where no human being is present. Israeli soldiers send orders to pass via microphones as they are stationed above the entry hall in glass sealed rooms.







Photo of my colleague's house in Gaza that was destroyed by Israel's July 2014 bombardment on Gaza.  






Abdullah Mansor Abu Amara (22 years old).  Abdullah was killed by Israeli soldiers in Israel's assault on the Shujaiya neighborhood in Gaza on July 20th, 2014.  Abdullah was a participant in our "Palestine Youth: Together for Change" program, and was studying to be an international human rights lawyer.  

I will never forget the days I spent with Abdullah and the many other inspirational students while in Gaza in May (2014).  My heart breaks for Abdullah, his family, my Gaza colleagues, and for all those in Gaza during this horrific time. 




Grieving For Gaza… 
I’m terrified to let my mind be still and truly feel the grief that swims silently through my veins threatening to slowly poison my heart. The risk is too great. 

What if my silent pain consumes me and brings me to my knees in helpless agony? 

But, I know at the center of my being, this is a risk I must take. For the fear of not feeling my own humanity terrifies me even more. 

Lying under the stars in the darkness of night, I will lose myself to my suffocating pain. Only the stars and moon will hear my cries. But, I know I will make it through my tears and out of the darkness, weightlessly riding on the healing rebirth of the sunrise.

May the souls of Gaza guide me towards courage… Courage to be still, truly grieve and weep. Courage to let my heart break open, so that it may be filled with the beauty of forgiveness and the music of hope.

May the light of Gaza guide us all through the darkness, reminding us of our humanity and carry us home to peace at last. 








Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Two months ago in May, I was doing Dabke in Gaza with Palestinian youth- Today's current horror is a tragic contrast to this joy: Video & Reflection

Two-months ago, I was in Gaza visiting our American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Gaza colleagues, students, activists and more, as part of our AFSC staff delegation.  My experience in Gaza was life-changing and moving beyond words.  My colleagues in Gaza and all of the wonderful young people we met with touched my heart and spirit in ways I will never forget.  

We all left Gaza in tears, tears for knowing how precious our time there was and tears for knowing that our dear Gazan friends and colleagues could not leave Gaza because of Israel's on-going siege.  Everyone we met in Gaza amazed me and inspired me with their warm spirit, laughter, and unwavering hope that justice will prevail despite Israel's horrific on-going siege. 

Below is a video of our AFSC delegation and Palestinian youth doing dabke in Gaza two-months ago. 

Abdullah Mansor Abu Amara (22 years old)
Killed by Israel on July 20th, 2014
Over the last week, most of these amazing people in the video have had to evacuate their homes, have had family and friends killed, and one of the students, Abdullah, who was participating in our "Palestine Youth: Together for Change" program, was killed yesterday by Israeli soldiers in Israel's assault on the Shujaiya neighborhood in Gaza. Abdullah was aspiring to be an international human rights lawyer and had a contagious smile that none us will ever forget. 

My heart breaks for Abdullah's family and friends and for all those in Gaza during this horrendous time. I pray that humanity's global conscience awakens and Israel's bombing of Gaza, murder of Palestinians, siege and occupation end soon, and that the people of Gaza can live their lives as human beings… laugh again, dance again, and follow their dreams in freedom, safety and peace. 

May Gaza and all of Palestine soon be free. 

Video of our AFSC delegation and Palestinian youth doing dabke in Gaza two-months ago in May 2014. 



Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Emergency Protest against Israel's collective punishment on Gaza and West Bank and its violence against Palestinian youth



Emergency Protest! Omaha, Nebraska- Saturday, July 5th @ 4pm @ 72nd & Dodge St.
Demand an end to collective punishment. Demand fair and accurate media coverage of Israeli violence against Palestinian youth. 


In response to the tragic deaths of three Israeli youth, Israel has unfortunately engaged in the collective punishment of Palestinians. This includes heavily bombing the Gaza strip and raiding and attacking West Bank towns and villages. Several people have been arrested and killed, including children. In the last 24 hours, settlers have run over a 9-year-old girl, Sanabel Mohammed Tus, and kidnapped, tortured, murdered, and burned 17-year-old Mohammed Abu Khader. 

These are only two names of the many people who have either had their lives taken or shattered at the hands of Israel’s colonial regime. 

We call for an end to Israel's collective punishment and violence against Palestinian men, women, and children.

We call on mainstream US media to stop with its biased reporting, focusing on the Israeli youth killed and ignoring Palestinian youth killed. We demand fair and accurate coverage of the situation.

We call on the US government to condemn Israel's actions.

We call on people of conscience everywhere to stand up against Israel's violent occupation and apartheid.

The people of Omaha cannot sit back and do nothing while Israel is not only emboldened by the uncritical support of the United States but completely funded by the US citizens like you and me. Our tax dollars are used to fund mothers dying of bombshells and children being beaten, abducted, and shot by IDF soldiers. It is the responsibility of every American not only to care about where their taxes are going, but to be morally indignant at such crimes against humanity. 

Join us in collective display of indignation. We are not going to be complicit in US backed Israeli war crimes. Stand with the mothers of Palestine. Stand against the Palestinians who have their futures violently torn away. Stand against injustice.

 Click Here to Join Omaha's Emergency Protest on Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/events/299497763564540/?source=1

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Upcoming Event with Josh Ruebner- "Shattered Hopes: Obama's Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace"



Mark your calendars! Political analyst and journalist Josh Ruebner will be coming to UNO to talk about his new book “Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace.” 

Josh's new book analyzes why the Obama administration has entirely failed to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace, discussing the path of this administration's policies regarding the Israeli lobby, military aid to Israel, settlement expansion, Palestinian state recognition and peace talks. Ruebner argues that the growing number of Americans who are dissatisfied with their government’s policy have the power to create real change through causes such as the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Josh Reubner is the National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, as well as a former Analyst of Middle East Affairs at Congressional Research Service and former director of Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel.

The new book by Josh Reubner, "Shattered Hopes: Obama's Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace" is highly acclaimed and has been reviewed by well-known scholars and activists such as Phyllis Bennis, Nadia Hijab, and Bill Fletcher jr.

You won't want to miss out on enlightening discussion with Josh Ruebner on the US involvement in the conflict.  
Doors open at 1pm and after the talk, Josh will have a Q&A session to answer any questions.

Josh will also be selling and signing his book! The book will be $25 and $20 for students (cash, check or credit will be accepted).

*Refreshments and snacks will be provided

To find out more about him and his book, visit his website:

http://joshruebner.com/
http://www.endtheoccupation.org/


Sponsored By: UNO’s Afghan Student Association, UNO’s International Student Association, UNO’s Muslim Students Association, Creighton’s Muslim Student Association and Nebraskans for Peace

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Omaha's Black Friday Protest to Boycott SodaStream

Action Alert!!! 
Omaha's Black Friday Protest to Boycott SodaStream

When: Black Friday (Fri., Nov. 29th)
Time: TBA
Where: Corner of 72nd and Dodge 

This holiday shopping season, keep SodaStream off the shopping list and on the boycott list!  Friday, Nov. 29th marks the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, as well as Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. 

A national boycott of SodaStream is being organized by an interfaith coalition for Black Friday. 

Why? SodaStream is produced, in part, on an Israeli settlement, illegal under international law. 

Goal: Target a specific product produced on settlements and a specific store (Target) so that our message is unified and heard. 

Join us to pressure Israel to end its illegal occupation of Palestinian land!

The primary CORPORATE FOCUS of the Day of Action will be Target.  For more than a year, from Sacramento, CA to Washington, DC, Palestine solidarity organizations have been challenging Target and other U.S. vendors asking them to stop shelling SodaStream products, which are produced in an illegal Israeli settlement through the exploitation of Palestinian land, labor, and resources.  Last month, Friends of Sabeel sent a letter to the CEO of Target, outlining these grievances.  Other faith communities from the Interfaith Boycott Coalition and beyond have signed on in support.

Please Check Out Omaha's Black Friday Protest on Facebook at the following link:
https://www.facebook.com/events/187304121461501/

Please see the following links for more info: 

http://sodastreamboycott.org/
http://www.endtheoccupation.org/section.php?id=456

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Upcoming Event: Please Join Us for a Conversation with Maen Rashid Areikat- Chief Representative of the Palestinian Liberation Organization Delegation to the United States

Please Join Us for a Conversation with Maen Rashid Areikat 
Chief Representative of the Palestinian Liberation Organization Delegation to the United States and Keynote Speaker at the Global Studies Conference 
October 3rd-5th

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013
12:30-2:00pm
Omaha Room
Milo Bail Student Center
University of Nebraska at Omaha

Free and Open to the Public



Maen Rashid Areikat, who was born in Jericho in the occupied West Bank earned his Bachelor of Science in Finance from Arizona State University and his MBA in management from Western International University. He received his diplomatic training at the Ministry of External Affairs in Ottawa, Canada and completed a training course in good governance at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 2001.

Prior to his appointment to Washington, he served for 11 years at the Negotiations Affairs Department (NAD) of the PLO in Ramallah, most recently as its Deputy Head and Coordinator-General (2008-2009). Mr. Areikat first joined NAD in 1998, when it was headed by current Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), and served as its Director-General until March 2008. In addition to overseeing NAD's day-to-day operations, Mr. Areikat was responsible for overseeing the work of the Negotiations Support Unit (NSU), which provides legal, policy, communication and technical support to Palestinian Negotiating Teams and to the Palestinian Leadership.

Earlier, he spent five years at Orient House, the headquarters of the PLO in Jerusalem and of the Palestinian Negotiating Team to the Madrid peace talks. While at Orient House, he served as spokesperson for the late Mr. Faisal Husseini, former PLO Executive Committee member in charge of Jerusalem Affairs, and later as Desk Officer for the U.S., Canada, Australia and South Africa in Orient House's International Relations Department. Mr. Areikat previously took part in Palestinian-Israeli negotiations at Beit Hanoun in Gaza and Taba in Egypt in 1996, in Jerusalem in 1997 and was an official member of the Palestinian delegation to the Wye River negotiations in 1998.


For more information about this event or the conference, please contact Dr. Rory J. Conces, rcones@unomaha.edu or call 402.554.2947


Friday, September 6, 2013

NO U.S. Military Intervention in Syria- Talking Points


    First and foremost, several valid reasons based on current facts and multiple international laws, firmly oppose the United States from taking any type of military action in Syria.  In terms of international law, a U.S. military strike on Syria would be illegal based on the UN Charter (Article 51) that only allows military force in situations of immediate self-defense.  Thus, because the United States is not currently under direct attack by Syria at the moment, a U.S. military strike on Syria would be illegal.

     Furthermore, a U.S. military strike on Syria would not at all be aimed at “aiding the Syrian humanitarian cause.”  Already more than 100,000 Syrians have been killed in the civil war, and over two-million Syrian civilians have fled the country and are now refugees.  A U.S. military strike on Syria will not protect Syrian civilians from future threat and would potentially increase the civilian death toll.

     A U.S. military strike on Syria would also have drastic effects in the region, and could mean retaliation from Syria and/or its allies such as Iran or Russia.  It also could exacerbate any of the multiple current wars/conflicts currently being fought in Syria at the moment, including the Syrian civil war, the sectarian (Sunni-Shi’a) war, regional (Saudi-Iran) power war, global U.S.-Russia war, and the U.S./Israel- Iran war over nuclear policy. 

     Instead of taking military action in Syria, the United States must take immediate action in galvanizing world leaders to demand a multilateral cease-fire, support the political process and a rapid convening of a Geneva II peace conference with all involved actors, press for a full blockade of arms, arrange to evacuate Syrian people who choose to flee harm’s way, provide care for the evacuees and assist with re-settlement once the civil war has ended. 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Emergency Global 'No War With Syria' Rallies Happening This Saturday August 31st In Omaha & Around The World


It is critically important that all those who oppose a new war and who are demonstrating today, stay in the streets over this crucial weekend. What people do can make a difference!!! 

WE WILL RALLY in OMAHA, NEBRASKA 
at 72nd & Dodge from 12pm-2pm on Saturday, Aug. 31st. to 
STAND AGAINST U.S. MILITARY INTERVENTION IN SYRIA! 

In the last few hours, reports have appeared that Pres. Obama is preparing to authorize an attack on Syria as soon as Saturday. An Aug. 29 New York Times article titled: “Obama Willing to Pursue Solo Syria Strikes, Aides Say,” includes:
“Although the officials cautioned that Mr. Obama had not made a final decision, all indications suggest that the strike could occur as soon as United Nations inspectors, who are investigating the Aug. 21 attack that killed hundreds of Syrians, leave the country. They are scheduled to depart Damascus, the capital, on Saturday.”
Such an attack would be nothing other than a new lawless and reckless act of aggression by the world’s greatest military superpower. The consequences of such an assault are unknowable in advance. In addition to further exacerbating the suffering of the Syrian people, the potential for a wider war is very real. Russia has announced it is moving warships to the eastern Mediterranean; Iran has stated that if Syria is attacked by the U.S., Israel will be hit, too.

Worldwide opposition to an attack is so profound that even the parliament of Great Britain, the U.S. closest ally for the last seven decades, has voted down British participation in military action against Syria!

Despite the growing global opposition, the Obama administration appears determined to launch yet another war in the Middle East.

But until the missiles are fired and the bombs dropped, it is still possible to stop the war before it starts. It is critically important that all those who oppose a new war and who are demonstrating today, stay in the streets over this crucial weekend. What people do can make a difference! 
We will rally in Omaha, NE at 72nd & Dodge at 12PM- 2pm on Saturday, Aug. 31 to stand against this new war for empire.

Many demonstrations are already being planned for this Saturday, August 21 in Washington DC, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Albuquerque and many other cities around the world.

Hands Off Syria – No New U.S. War in the Middle East!


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Upcoming Event in Iowa City! A Call to Action to All People of Conscience- By Katie Huerter: Eyewitness to Palestine

Thank you to People for Justice in Palestine for inviting me to speak in Iowa City later this September!  I am very excited to speak on my travels throughout Israel and Palestine and building a movement for change here in the U.S. 

If anyone is in the area, the event is on Sunday September 29th at 2:00pm- please feel free to share. 

For more information please check out http://iowapjp.org/




Monday, July 8, 2013

We Need Your Help: Nebraskan High School Is Searching for a "Sister School" in the West Bank or Gaza


I would greatly appreciate any help and/or suggestions regarding recommendations of high schools in the West Bank or Gaza that would be interested in partnering with a local high school here in Nebraska as part of a "sister" school program. 

Students from one of our local high schools were "blown away" when learning about Israel's occupation and want to do more to raise awareness and actually help in some way. The students hope to make real connections with other teens in the West Bank or Gaza and would like to create a forum to exchange stories, in addition to, collecting supplies/equipment to send to the sister school in Palestine. 


If you or anyone you know might have suggestions or advice regarding a high school in Palestine that might be interested in this sister school program please contact me. Thank you!!! 

With Peace and In Solidarity, 

Katie Huerter
email: khuerter@unomaha.edu
phone: 1-402-312-1188
website: www.katiehuerter.com

Monday, April 15, 2013

One State: Equal, Secular and Democratic- A New Strategy for Palestinian-Israeli Peace

By: Katie Huerter    April 15, 2013




Today, it is evident that two decades of Oslo peace process have brought Palestinians and Israel no closer to establishing a viable peace.  Palestinians have remained internally displaced within the state of Israel since 1948. Israel now controls over 62% of the West Bank and has ignored all international calls and laws to stop its colonization process through its settlement expansion. Israel has sanctioned, funded and encouraged the growth of the settler population in the West Bank.  It built 85% of the separation barrier on occupied West Bank land. The siege of the Gaza Strip has exacerbated the social and national distance between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and its continued colonization campaign based on religious and nationalist ideology has accelerated the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, further damaging any future hopes of a secure, independent Palestinian state. 

“The call for two states is really a call for the separation of two populations based on ethno-national homogeneity. The proposal has failed, not just because of a lack of accountability, but because it is fundamentally flawed. Like prescribing aspirin to deal with cancer, Oslo offered truncated self-rule as a prescription for Jewish-Israeli settler-colonialism and domination” (Erakat, Noura. “Rethinking Israel-Palestine: Beyond Bantustans, Beyond Reservations” New York Times. March 21, 2013).
            
Today’s Israel-Palestine is impossible to divide and is demonstrably one state.  But, it is a discriminatory single state operating an apartheid-style system against the Palestinians with impunity.  The Zionist colonization project is at the very core of the refugee crisis and the marginalization of Palestinian Arabs at the time of the British Mandate, and remains to be the at the very core of the continued marginalization of Palestinian Arabs today.  Every Palestinian displaced beyond the borders of the mandate territory of Palestine is thus a success for the apartheid regime, and any successful return of a displaced Palestinian is a threat to the regime in its totality. The denial of refugee return is not simply one aspect of Israeli apartheid; it is the cornerstone of the Israeli colonial-apartheid project as a whole. Additionally, the issue of settlements must be addressed head on.  Israel is making the establishment of a Palestinian state impossible through its settlement expansion, the erection of the separation barrier in the West Bank and the hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints that obstruct the movement of Palestinians.  Israeli settlements, illegal under international law, pose an obstacle to peace and will continue to deny the Palestinians a viable, contiguous state.

Therefore, a new Palestinian-Israeli strategy aimed at a single, democratic secular state is needed for a just and lasting peace to occur.  The goal of the single, democratic secular state should be to dismantle the institutions that provide any type of legal or social privilege to any particular ethnic, religious or national group.  In addition to the removal of all discriminatory laws and practices, rehabilitative policies must be included in order to achieve a lasting just peace for all who call Israel and Palestine their home.

Historical Overview


It is important to note, that although a series of laws have been passed by Israel that privilege its Jewish populations and continue to marginalize and dispossess its non-Jewish indigenous population, two laws are particularly relevant: “The citizenship Law (1952) bifurcated Jewish nationality from Israeli citizenship and denationalized the Palestinian population.  In doing so, the state instantly created a two-tiered system of rights: one available for Jews, who could be both nationals and citizens, and one for non-Jews, who could be citizens only.  The Law of Return (1950) extended the right to Israeli citizenship and associated state benefits to any Jewish person, now a Jewish national as well, anywhere in the world. These laws not only helped to solidify Israel’s Jewish demographic majority, but in addition to instituting multiple similar laws, it also solidified Jewish political, social and economic privilege” (Erakat, Noura. “Rethinking Israel-Palestine: Beyond Bantustans, Beyond Reservations” New York Times. March 21, 2013). 

The Palestinian refugee crisis began when Israel was created as a state in 1948.  During the ensuing Arab-Israeli war, 750,000 indigenous Palestinians, whose families had lived in Palestine for hundreds of years, were forcibly expelled by, or fled in terror of, the powerful militias that would soon become the army of the State of Israel. Palestinians call this the "Nakba," Arabic for "catastrophe" or "disaster."  In December 1948, following Israel's establishment and the attendant displacement of approximately 750,000 Palestinians from areas that fell within its control, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 194, which states, "refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.” parties (FACT SHEET: The Right of Return & Palestinian Refugees. IMEU, NOV 5, 2012. http://imeu.net/news/article0023194.shtml).

Throughout the years of 1947- 1949, approximately 750,000 Palestinian refugees were displaced and more than 500 Palestinian villages were depopulated and later destroyed to prevent the return of the refugees.  In the districts of Jaffa, Ramla and Bir Saba not one Palestinian village was left standing.  150,000 Palestinians remained in the areas of Palestine that became the state of Israel.  Around 40,000 of these were internally displaced.  Israel refuged to allow these internally displaced Palestinians to return to their homes and villages.  Ongoing displacement of Palestinians continued from 1948-1966.  According to Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, Israeli officials transferred Palestinians from one village to another within the borders of the state in order to facilitate colonization of these areas and enacted multiple military laws aimed to displace Palestinians and confiscate their land. The consequences of the 1967 War resulted in the expulsion of over 400,000 Palestinians approximately 35% of the Palestinian population of the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.  Villages in Latroun and Jerusalem were destroyed, as well as several refugee camps.  Almost half of those expelled were Palestinian refugees from 1948 (Palestinian Refugees and IDPs: The Right of Return. Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights. May 2011).

The right of the law of return is part of international law, and Palestinians are specifically guaranteed that right by UN Resolution 194 of December 1948, which states that “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return.”  In addition, other international laws and conventions including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Hague Convention, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and several regional conventions all support the right for refugees to return and compensation.

Furthermore, under international law, all refugees have a right to return to areas from which they have fled or were forced, to receive compensation for damages, and to either regain their properties or receive compensation and support for voluntary resettlement. This right derives from a number of legal sources, including customary international law, international humanitarian law governing rights of civilians during war, and human rights law. The United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights states in Article 13(2) that "everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and return to his own country." This is an individual right and cannot be unilaterally abrogated by third parties. (FACT SHEET: The Right of Return & Palestinian Refugees. IMEU, NOV 5, 2012. http://imeu.net/news/article0023194.shtml).

In the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967, more Palestinians have been displaced as a result of war, house demolition, revocation of residency rights in Jerusalem and construction of illegal Jewish settlements, as well as the Wall and its associated regime.  Over 105,000 internally displaced Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza strip before Operation Cast Lead.  In 2008, approximately 265,000 Palestinians in West Bank communities facing imminent displacement. The majority of Palestinian refugees live within a 100-mile radius of their original homes and villages.  Of the 3.8 million refugees registered by the UN, 33% live in 59 overcrowded and under-resourced camps administered by the UN throughout the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon.  The other 67% are scattered throughout the Middle East and other countries around the world (FACT SHEET: The Right of Return & Palestinian Refugees. IMEU, NOV 5, 2012. http://imeu.net/news/article0023194.shtml).

Palestinian refugees are the largest and longest standing single group of refugees in the world.  Almost two in five refugees worldwide are Palestinian.  In total, the Palestinian refugee population comprises approximately three-quarters of the entire Palestinian population worldwide, numbered today at some 9.8 million.  The Palestinian right of return has been confirmed repeatedly by the UN General Assembly, including through Resolution 3236, which "Reaffirms also the inalienable right of the Palestinians to return to their homes and property from which they have been displaced and uprooted, and calls for their return."  Despite international law and specific UN resolutions, Israel has not allowed Palestinian refugees to return.  This is in spite of the fact that Israel’s admission to the UN in 1949 was conditioned on its willingness to abide by General Assembly resolution 194 calling for repatriation and compensation.  Today, Israel maintains that allowing the Palestinian refugees to return would change its demographic balance, more than doubling Israel’s current 19% Palestinian population.  Israel also claims that there is no space to accommodate Palestinian refugees seeking to return to their homes (FACT SHEET: The Right of Return & Palestinian Refugees. IMEU, NOV 5, 2012. http://imeu.net/news/article0023194.shtml).

“The expulsion of the majority of the Arab population of Palestine during Israel's establishment was not an unintended consequence of war, but rather a preconceived strategy of "transfer." The blueprint for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine was Plan Dalet, which was developed and implemented under the leadership of Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, and the forerunner of the Israeli army, the Haganah.  Two months prior to Israel's declaring independence, on March 10, 1948, the Zionist leadership under Ben-Gurion adopted Plan Dalet, which laid out in detail a plan for the forcible depopulation and destruction of Palestinian towns and villages. Amongst other things, it called for: 
'Destruction of villages (setting fire to, blowing up, and planting mines in the debris), especially those population centers which are difficult to control continuously.” (FACT SHEET: The Right of Return & Palestinian Refugees. IMEU, NOV 5, 2012. http://imeu.net/news/article0023194.shtml).

Multiple Israeli leaders have voiced opinions and concerns regarding the transfer of Palestinians and the problem of Palestinian refugees for Israel.  In 1895, The father of modern Zionism, Theodor Herzl, wrote, “We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it any employment in our own country...expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly” (Benny Morris. “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited.” 2004).  More recently, Ariel Sharon, the Prime Minister of Israel from 2001-2006, said, "It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism, colonialization, or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands." (Agence France Presse, November 15, 1998).

In the Gaza strip, “Two out of three Palestinian residents of Gaza - more than a million people – identify themselves as refugees; the majority of these are 1948, and not 1967, refugees - that is, they fled to the Strip in the “ethnic cleansing” of 1948 and not the Six Day War and subsequent occupation of 1967” (Ten Things You Need to Know About Gaza.15/11/2012 20:09 http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/mehdi-hasan/gaza-10-things-you-need-to-know_b_2139356.html?view=print&comm_ref=false).  The Gaza strip is one of the most crowded and impoverished communities in the world.  The Gaza strip is an area twenty-five miles long and is home to 1.6 million Palestinians.  Since 2007, Israel has imposed an almost total blockade on the movement of people and good in or out of Gaza and currently controls Gaza’s airspace and territorial waters.  The U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation states, “Israel’s blockade of the Palestinian Gaza Strip is an illegal act of collective punishment in violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.  According to the Geneva Conventions, Israel is legally responsible for providing the basic needs of Palestinians who are forced to live under its military occupation” (http://www.endtheoccupation.org/downloads/gazasiegetps.pdf). 

According to a March 2011 UN report entitled, “Easing the Blockade: Assessing the Humanitarian Impact on the Population of the Gaza Strip,” international law does allow Israel to restrict the access of people and goods to and from Gaza for legitimate security concerns; however, when doing so, it must balance these concerns with the rights and needs of Gaza's population. In any case, Israel must absolutely refrain from imposing restrictions that are detrimental to these rights and needs and are not strictly required by legitimate security needs. Policies and practices in contravention to this norm may amount to collective punishment, which is prohibited under any circumstances. (Easing the Blockade: Assessing the Humanitarian Impact on the Population of the Gaza Strip. March 2011 UN Report).

Recent Developments

In the wake of the Arab Spring, multiple events and changes continue to sweep across the region including: a brief war in Gaza, a vote in the United Nations granting observer statehood to Palestine, Netanyahu’s announcement of plans to build 3,400 additional homes for settlers in the occupied West Bank, and an election in Israel.  In mid-March of this year (2013), Netanyahu unveiled his new coalition dominated by the hawkish Likud-Beitenu and its new national-religious ally Jewish Home, a far-right faction that is the party of choice for settlers. 

Following the recent Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip last November (2012), popular resistance movements have been spreading throughout the West Bank and continuously building momentum.  In late November 2012, Netanyahu announced plans to build 3,400 settlement units in an area known as E1, effectively cutting off Jerusalem form the West Bank.  Popular resistance activists responded by erecting a tent “village” called Bab al-Shams in E1, symbolically appropriating the methods of land confiscation employed by settlers.  Although the tent demonstration only lasted two days before the activists were evicted by direct orders from Netanyahu, momentum has continued to build and the popular resistance movement has continued to spread.  

This year alone, thousands of Palestinians have joined the popular resistance movementand have protested throughout the West Bank, “first in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike demanding an end to the indefinite detention of Palestinians without trial, later in outrage at the death of a 30-year old prisoner named Arafat Jaradat.  Once again, the words “third intifada” were buzzing through the press” (Ehrenreich, Ben. “Is This Where The Third Intifada Will Start?” New York Times. March 15, 2013). 

In early January (2013), following the United Nations’ conferral of nonmember state status on Palestine last November (2012), the Palestinian foreign minister, Riad Malki, warned that if Israel persisted in its plans to expand its settlements throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Palestinian leadership will be taking Israel to the International Criminal Court (I.C.C.).  

The I.C.C. could prosecute major international crimes committed on Palestinian soil anytime after the court’s founding on July 1st, 2002.  Furthermore, the upgraded status at the United Nations enables the Palestinian leadership to advance the cause of Palestinian freedom from Israeli occupation for Palestinians living the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip within the framework of human rights and international law.  Although an upgraded status to an observer state for Palestine has multiple advantages for the Palestinian people, the upgraded status still fails to address the right of return under international law for Palestinians, which is vital for a just peace process.  “The initiative will not, in and of itself, achieve justice for Palestinian refugees because it will not ensure they can exercise their right of return to their homes in what is today Israel. Nor will the initiative, in and of itself, achieve equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel.  Both justice for Palestinian refugees and equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel are necessary for the establishment of a just and lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace and for reconciliation between Palestinians and Jewish Israelis” (http://www.endtheoccupation.org/article.php?id=3022).  

Recent international support and solidarity with the Palestinians’ struggle for equality and freedom has been building as well.   

On April 7th, 2013, the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) voted unanimously to support the request for an academic boycott that has been made by a broad coalition of Palestinian civil society. The union has called on its members to “cease all cultural and academic collaboration with Israel, including the exchange of scientists, students and academic personalities, as well as all cooperation in research programmes”.  The motion refers to Israel as an “apartheid state” and called on the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) to build on its previous work and to “step up its campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against the apartheid state of Israel until it lifts its illegal siege of Gaza and its illegal occupation of the West Bank, and agrees to abide by International law and all UN resolutions against it”  (http://www.ipsc.ie/press-releases/palestinian-academics-teachers-and-writers-welcome-tui-boycott-israel-call).

Policy Recommendations


Ongoing events in the region have the potential to have grave effects on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process- including: the recent elections in Israel, polls in Jordan and the start of the US President Obama's second term.  This is not a time for any concerned party to remain idle on the peace process.  The future of the Palestinian struggle must include a cohesive strategy aimed at a one-state with equal rights within what is now a unitary state ruled by Israel. 

Politically, the Palestinians remain just as divided as the Israelis, torn between Abbas’s Fatah leadership, which controls the West Bank, and the militant Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip.  “Any moves to resume the peace talks will by necessity have to involve some kind of reconciliation with Hamas, both with the Palestinians and with the international community,” argued Khaled Elgindy, a former adviser to the Palestinian leadership on the negotiations with Israel.  Furthermore, the new Palestinian strategy must either dismantle the Palestinian Authority (PA) as it is currently constituted as a result of the Oslo Accords, or change the direction of the Palestinian leadership.  “The PA’s role as a buffer between the occupier and the occupied should end, along with the illusion of s spurious Palestinian autonomy it has fostered.  This has not only shielded Israel from facing its legal obligations as an occupying power, but it has created a false equivalence between the occupier and occupied” (Karmi, Ghada. “Palestinians need a one-state solution.” The Guardian).  The PA’s new role in its relationship to Israel should be pursuing the rights of its occupied people, including the right to political resistance. 

It is vital that the Palestinian leadership fulfills their responsibilities in ensuring justice and redress for Palestinian victims of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law by seeking justice through the international courts. Palestinian leadership have a responsibility to sign the Rome Statute and other international treaties in order to provide protection for the Palestinian people, due to Palestine’s recognition of non-member observer status to the United Nations on November 29th, 2012.  The I.C.C. is the primary institution through which they may seek to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of crimes against the Palestinian people, and achieve accountability for the countless Palestinian victims who have been denied access to justice for so long.

“If the choice is between a Palestinian legal intifada, in which arguments are hashed out in court, and an actual intifada, in which blood flows in the streets, the global community should encourage the former.  Indeed, Palestinians would be doing themselves, Israelis and the global community a favor by invoking I.C.C. jurisdiction. Ending Israel’s impunity for its clear violations of legal norms would both promote peace in the Middle East and help uphold the integrity of international law.” (Bisharat, George. “Why Palestine Should Take Israel to Court in the Hague.” The New York Times. 29 January, 2013.)  

Additionally, the new Palestinian strategy should continue to intensify its international efforts at Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in concert with Palestinian internal resistance against Zionist colonization and apartheid policies.  Similar strategies have proved to helped end white rule in South Africa, with former apartheid officials themselves testifying to the impact of BDS on their ability to obtain international loans and the cultural impact of South Africa’s isolation in international arenas.

Today’s Israel-Palestine is impossible to divide and is demonstrably one state.  But, it is a discriminatory single state operating an apartheid-style system against the Palestinians with impunity.  The Zionist colonization project is at the very core of the refugee crisis and the marginalization of Palestinian Arabs at the time of the British Mandate, and remains to be the at the very core of the continued marginalization of Palestinian Arabs today.  Therefore, a new Palestinian-Israeli strategy aimed at a single, democratic secular state is needed for a just and lasting peace to occur.  The goal of the single, democratic secular state should be to dismantle the institutions that provide any type of legal or social privilege to any particular ethnic, religious or national group.  In addition to the removal of all discriminatory laws and practices, rehabilitative policies must be included in order to achieve a lasting just peace for all who call Israel and Palestine their home.