Category Archives: Israel Crimes

Rebuilding the Islamic University of Gaza

Akram Habeeb and Marcy Newman, The Electronic Intifada, 16 February 2009
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10308.shtml

Since Israel’s bombing of the buildings housing scientific laboratories at the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG) on 28 December, the rubble that remains debunks Israeli claims that those labs were used to manufacture weapons. Of course such allegations are preposterous; indeed it would be quite foolish for IUG to even entertain the notion of producing weapons given the way in which Palestinian universities have been under constant Israeli attack since the founding of Birzeit University in the West Bank in 1975.

Rather, it is Israeli universities that contain the laboratories where the weaponry used to destroy Palestinian lives in Gaza and elsewhere is developed. In the 14 June 2007 issue of The Nation, US journalist Naomi Klein makes it clear that the relationship between the State of Israel, its academic institutions and its military are intertwined:

“Thirty homeland security companies were launched in Israel in the past six months alone, thanks in large part to lavish government subsidies that have transformed the Israeli army and the country’s universities into incubators for security and weapons start-ups (something to keep in mind in the debates about the academic boycott).”

The way that Israel binds together its universities (all of which are state-run and funded) and its military can be gleaned from any number of Israeli universities and their laboratories, which serve as incubators of destruction while the Palestinian people inevitably become its guinea pigs. In a recent article in the Tel Aviv University Review (Winter 2008-2009) entitled “Lifting the Veil of Secrecy,” Gil Zohar lays out the collaboration between Israeli universities and Israel’s colonial military project quite clearly:

“… Tel Aviv University [TAU] is at the front line of the critical work to maintain Israel’s military and technological edge. While much of that research remains classified, several facts illuminate the role of the university. MAFAT, a Hebrew acronym meaning the [Research and Development] Directorate of the Israel Ministry of Defense, is currently funding 55 projects at TAU. Nine projects are being funded by DARPA — the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the US Department of Defense.”

What is significant is that the US government and its military are complicit in the research leading to the destruction and devastation of Palestinian lives through their funding of these research projects, projects that inevitably lead to acts of aggression such as the bombing of IUG.

IUG is an institution of higher education open not only to its 20,000 students, but also to the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza who visit its libraries and attend its lectures. USAID, the US government’s foreign aid agency, claims that it funded more than $900,000 of projects, which went into building IUG’s campus (see “Audit finds US funded university linked to terrorism,” The Chicago Tribune, 12 December 2007). In March 2007 The Washington Times published a propagandistic article, “School Linked to Hamas Gets US Cash,” charging that USAID did not follow US federal laws when financially assisting IUG, as well as Al-Quds University (famous for its normalizing relations with Israeli academia, although it recently promised to cease such joint projects). USAID conducted an audit in response to The Washington Times article that questioned $140,000 of USAID money awarded to the university and to 49 students who received scholarships. The article and the audit argued that funding a so-called “Hamas-controlled” university violates US federal law. As a result of this audit faculty and students at IUG have been prohibited from receiving US State Department funds — whether USAID-related funds for building, scholarships or the Palestinian Faculty Development Program. This is yet another method of destroying educational opportunities for Palestinians in Gaza over the course of the past few years.

It is difficult to assess at present how much of the damage sustained by IUG was built with USAID funds. Likewise, it is difficult to ascertain a direct link between military research projects at Tel Aviv University funded by Israel and the US and the destruction of IUG. But what is clear is that past educational opportunities, for individual faculty members and students as well as for expanding scientific studies in the form of building laboratories, coming from the US are no longer available to Palestinians affiliated with IUG. Moreover, the primary “living” testimony which verily refutes Israeli claims about IUG as a place for hiding or manufacturing weapons can be found in the rubble of its destroyed buildings, which were decimated with knowledge produced by American research projects at Israeli universities. The mountains of rubble call out to any investigation team to come, to dig, to excavate in order to prove that Israeli allegations are merely a pretext employed to destroy a prestigious academic institution in Palestine. The debris of the science lab buildings shows that beneath it were 74 laboratories serving the science and engineering students at IUG. These labs were places for diligent research and scientific experiments. They were a fountain of hope for impoverished students, many of whom were about to graduate.

The science and engineering lab buildings were not the only premises that were pounded by the Israelis with their American-made weapons. Many other university buildings housing sophisticated computer labs, classrooms, workshops and seminar rooms were also bombed. In spite of the tremendous damage inflicted on IUG, it will be rebuilt with the spirit of resiliency that we see in the young minds of our students. This role however cannot be sustained without the help of our colleagues from around the world. That academics have taken the decision to boycott Israel and support Palestinians given Israeli academia’s role in its continuous military aggression, offers a glimmer of hope for IUG.

IUG needs financial support to help it rebuild and re-equip its labs. But it does not just need charity. IUG faculty and students also require solidarity from their academic colleagues at institutions around the world to start partnerships in order to rehabilitate the rest of its premises. Projects such as collaborative video-conference courses, faculty and student exchange programs and scholarships for faculty and students are all important ways of lending solidarity to IUG. Equally important for our American colleagues is to remove the false label that IUG is a “Hamas-controlled” institution. Just as Palestinians in Gaza belong to a variety of political parties, IUG’s students, board, faculty and staff represent that reality. IUG is a university like any other in Palestine that reflects the diversity of its population. As with Israel’s propagandistic claims that it engaged in a “war with Hamas,” when they besiege all Palestinians living in Gaza, this classification of IUG hurts all Palestinians pursuing higher education. We call on our colleagues to work to rebuild IUG through their solidarity through which it can remain an edifice of light, love and learning.

Akram Habeeb, teaches literature at the Islamic University of Gaza and Marcy Newman teaches literature at An Najah National University. For more information about IUG reconstruction please visit http://www.iugaza.edu.ps/iugrec/en/. For more information about how you can help please email Marcy at marcynewman at riseup dot net or Akram at akramhabeeb at yahoo dot com.

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10308.shtml

The Wounds of Gaza

From the Lancet (Medical Journal)

February 2nd 2009

The Wounds of Gaza

Two Surgeons from the UK, Dr Ghassan Abu Sittah and Dr Swee Ang, managed to get into Gaza during the Israeli invasion. Here they describe their experiences, share their views, and conclude that the people of Gaza are extremely vulnerable and defenseless in the event of another attack.

The wounds of Gaza are deep and multi-layered. Are we talking about the Khan Younis massacre of 5,000 in 1956 or the execution of 35,000 prisoners of war by Israel in 1967? Yet more wounds of the First Intifada, when civil disobedience by an occupied people against the occupiers resulted in massive wounded and hundreds dead? We also cannot discount the 5,420 wounded in southern Gaza alone since 2000. Hence what we are referring to below are only that of the invasion as of 27 December 2008,

Over the period of 27 December 2008 to the ceasefire of 18 Jan 2009, it was estimated that a million and a half tons of explosives were dropped on Gaza Strip. Gaza is 25 miles by 5 miles and home to 1.5 million people. This makes it the most crowded area in the whole world. Prior to this Gaza has been completely blockaded and starved for 50 days. In fact since the Palestinian election Gaza has been under total or partial blockade for several years.

On the first day of the invasion, 250 persons were killed. Every single police station in Gaza was bombed killing large numbers of police officers. Having wiped out the police force attention was turned to non government targets. Gaza was bombed from the air by F16 and Apache helicopters, shelled from the sea by Israeli gunboats and from the land by tank artillery. Many schools were reduced to rubble, including the American School of Gaza, 40 mosques, hospitals, UN buildings, and of course 21,000 homes, 4,000 of which were demolished completely. It is estimated that 100,000 people are now homeless.

Israeli weapons
The weapons used apart from conventional bombs and high explosives also include unconventional weapons of which at least 4 categories could be identified.

  • Phosphorus Shells and bombs

The bombs dropped were described by eye witnesses as exploding at high altitude scattering a large canopy of phosphorus bomblets which cover a large area.

During the land invasion, eyewitnesses describe the tanks shelling into homes first with a conventional shell. Once the walls are destroyed, a second shell – a phosphorus shell is then shot into the homes. Used in this manner the phosphorus explodes and burns the families and the homes. Many charred bodies were found among burning phosphorus particles.

One area of concern is the phosphorus seems to be in a special stabilizing agent. This results in the phosphorus being more stable and not completely burning out. Residues still cover the fields, playground and compounds. They ignite when picked up by curious kids, or produce fumes when farmers return to water their fields. One returning farming family on watering their field met with clouds of fumes producing epistaxis. Thus the phosphorus residues probably treated with a stabilizer also act as anti-personnel weapons against children and make the return to normal life difficult without certain hazards.

Surgeons from hospitals are also reporting cases where after primary laparotomy for relatively small wounds with minimal contamination find on second look laparotomy increasing areas of tissue necrosis at about 3 days. Patients then become gravely ill and by about 10 days those patients needing a third relook encounter massive liver necrosis. This may or may not be accompanied by generalized bleeding , kidney failure and heart failure and death. Although acidosis, liver necrosis and sudden cardiac arrest due to hypocalcemia are known to be a complication of white phosphorus it is not possible to attribute these complications as being due to phosphorus alone.

There is real urgency to analyze and identify the real nature of this modified phosphorus as to its long term effect on the people of Gaza. There is also urgency in collecting and disposing of the phosphorus residues littering the entire Gaza Strip. As they give off toxic fumes when coming into contact with water, once the rain falls the whole area would be polluted with acid phosphorus fumes. Children should be warned not to handle and play with these phosphorus residues.

  • Heavy Bombs

The use of DIME (dense inert material explosives) were evident, though it is unsure whether depleted uranium were used in the south. In the civilian areas, surviving patients were found to have limbs truncated by DIME, since the stumps apart from being characteristically cut off in guillotine fashion also fail to bleed. Bomb casing and shrapnel are extremely heavy.

  • Fuel Air Explosives

Bunker busters and implosion bombs have been used . There are buildings especially the 8 storey Science and Technology Building of the Islamic University of Gaza which had been reduced to a pile of rubble no higher than 5-6 feet.

  • Silent Bombs

People in Gaza described a silent bomb which is extremely destructive. The bomb arrives as a silent projectile at most with a whistling sound and creates a large area where all objects and living things are vaporized with minimal trace. We are unable to fit this into conventional weapons but the possibility of new particle weapons being tested should be suspected.

  • Executions

Survivors describe Israeli tanks arriving in front of homes asking residents to come out. Children, old people and women would come forward and as they were lined up they were just fired on and killed. Families have lost tens of their members through such executions. The deliberate targeting of unarmed children and women is well documented by human right groups in the Gaza Strip over the past month.

  • Targeting of ambulances

Thirteen ambulances had been fired upon killing drivers and first aid personnel in the process of rescue and evacuation of the wounded.

  • Cluster bombs

The first patients wounded by cluster were brought into Abu Yusef Najjar Hospital. Since more than 50% of the tunnels have been destroyed, Gaza has lost part of her lifeline. These tunnels contrary to popular belief are not for weapons, though small light weapons could have been smuggled through them. However they are the main stay of food and fuel for Gaza. Palestinians are beginning to tunnel again. However it became clear that cluster bombs were dropped on to the Rafah border and the first was accidentally set of by tunneling. Five burns patients were brought in after setting off a booby trap kind of device.

Death toll
As of 25 January 2009, the death toll was estimated at 1,350 with the numbers increasing daily. This is due to the severely wounded continuing to die in hospitals. 60% of those killed were children.

Severe injuries
The severely injured numbered 5,450, with 40% being children. These are mainly large burns and polytrauma patients. Single limb fractures and walking wounded are not included in these figures.

Through our conversations with doctors and nurses the word holocaust and catastrophe were repeatedly used. The medical staff all bear the psychological trauma of the past month living though the situation and dealing with mass casualties which swamped their casualties and operating rooms. Many patients died in the Accident and Emergency Department while awaiting treatment. In a district hospital, the orthopaedic surgeon carried out 13 external fixations in less than a day.

It is estimated that of the severely injured, 1,600 will suffer permanently disabilities. These include amputations, spinal cord injuries, head injuries, large burns with crippling contractures.

Special factors
The death and injury toll is especially high in this recent assault due to several factors:

  • No escape: As Gaza is sealed by Israeli troops, no one can escape the bombardment and the land invasion. There is simply no escape. Even within the Gaza Strip itself, movement from north to south is impossible as Israeli tanks had cut the northern half of Gaza from the south. Compare this with the situation in Lebanon 1982 and 2006, when it was possible for people to escape from an area of heavy bombardment to an area of relative calm – there was no such is option for Gaza.
  • Gaza is very densely populated. It is eerie to see that the bombs used by Israel have been precision bombs. They have a hundred percent hit rate on buildings which are crowded with people. Examples are the central market, police stations. Schools, the UN compounds used as a safety shelter from bombardment, mosques (40 of them destroyed), and the homes of families who thought they were safe as there were no combatants in them and high rise flats where a single implosion bomb would destroy multiple families. This pattern of consistent targeting of civilians makes one suspect that the military targets are but collateral damage, while civilians are the primary targets.
  • The quantity and quality of the ammunition being used as described above.
  • Gaza’s lack of defense against the modern weapons of Israel. She has no tanks, no planes, no anti-aircraft missiles against the invading army. We experienced that first hand in a minor clash of Israeli tank shells versus Palestinian AK47 return fire. The forces were simply unmatched.
  • Absence of well constructed bomb shelters for civilians. Unfortunately these will also be no match for bunker busters possessed by the Israeli Army.

Conclusion
Taking the above points into consideration, the next assault on Gaza would be just as disastrous. The people of Gaza are extremely vulnerable and defenseless in the event of another attack. If the International Community is serious about preventing such a large scale of deaths and injuries in the future, it will have to develop a some sort of defense force for Gaza. Otherwise, many more vulnerable civilans will continue to die.

Dr Ghassan Abu Sittah and Dr Swee Ang

After ceasefire, Gazans still don’t feel safe

Report, PCHR, 10 February 2009

Faten, holding her young daughter Nagham, in their home in Rafah. (Malian)

Foreign correspondents and camera crews have now begun to leave Gaza, in search of the next headline-grabbing location. But ongoing air strikes and violations of international law are a stark reminder that there is no real end to Israel’s offensive here.

Since Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire on 18 January it has continued to launch strikes against targets in the Gaza Strip. Some families in the southern town of Rafah have been evacuated from their homes up to 10 times in the last 15 days.

Faten al-Shaer, a 31-year-old mother of one, lives just 150 meters from Gaza’s southern border with Egypt. This area, known as the Philadelphi Route has been repeatedly targeted and is now a mass of rubble, sand and bomb craters. Her home is one of the few left standing here, surrounded by the grey concrete remains of homes, and the shreds of tarpaulin that once covered smuggling tunnels.

“I was baking bread when the bombing of the border area began on 28 December,” says Faten. “Thousands of people took to the streets, trying to escape. Everybody was on the move. My mother, my five-year-old daughter Nagham and I ran to my uncle’s house, which is further from the border.” Other family members were scattered at the homes of relatives.

“During the war there was daily bombing of this area — sometimes in the morning, sometimes at midnight,” says Faten. “It went on for 22 days. When the ceasefire was declared we came back to the house but had to evacuate it again the next day because they started bombing again.”

Faten and the 35 members of her extended family have still not spent the night at their home. They come back during the day but always leave before darkness falls.

“The children are suffering real trauma,” Faten adds, as her green-eyed daughter Nagham clings to her. “Some of them are incontinent and they wake up in the night and start crying. My daughter Nagham has to hold onto me all the time. They understand it’s a war.”

The impact of the air strikes and incursions on the children of the Gaza Strip has been acute. Faten’s seven-year-old nephew Dia was in school a few days ago, when he heard an unmanned Israeli drone in the sky. He automatically picked up his schoolbag and ran home, crying “The drones are still over my head. I can’t take it anymore.”

Gaza’s 1.5 million people are still being denied their rights to appropriate living conditions and humanitarian aid is still not reaching many people in need. Families like Faten’s who are not registered as refugees have not received any aid at all.

One of their only sources of income — a small patch of land where Faten’s brother grew vegetables — was bulldozed by the Israeli military a few years ago. Since then they have had to rely on help from relatives in an already beleaguered community. Border closures imposed by Israel since June 2007, have steadily tightened and continue to have a disastrous impact on the economy.

“The international community should intervene,” says Faten. “I just hope they can reach some sort of solution. If the borders were opened for food and fuel then we wouldn’t need the tunnels. It is Israel’s closure policy that has created a need for the tunnels.”

The Israeli-imposed siege has also resulted in a steady deterioration of health conditions. There are chronic shortages of vital medicines and hospital facilities that rely on electricity have been adversely affected by the lack of fuel to power generators.

The psychological cost of the air strikes cannot be underestimated. The bombs that Israeli warplanes are still dropping on Rafah and other parts of Gaza cause huge explosions and earth tremors and lead to sustained feelings of panic and fear among local residents, especially the elderly and children. Civilians often receive automated telephone messages before attacks, urging them to evacuate their houses near the border. But Gaza is densely populated and civilian structures including schools and hospitals sheltering displaced people, have been attacked. People feel there are no safe places left.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights is calling upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to take effective steps to ensure Israel’s respect of the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and to provide immediate protection for civilians like Faten and her family.

“We never feel safe,” adds Faten. “We know Israel will bomb again. We just hope there will be a proper ceasefire so we can come back to our homes and start to rebuild what is left.”

This report is part of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights’ series “Aftermath” that looks at the aftermath of Israel’s 22-day offensive on the Gaza Strip, and the ongoing impact it is having on the civilian population.

KUHN: When Israel expelled Palestinians

Randall Kuhn
Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Palestinian children gather at the site where three people died in a Israeli air strike outside a United Nations school in the Shati refugee camp, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009. Israel's military paused its Gaza offensive for three hours Wedesday to allow food and fuel to reach besieged Palestinians.

(AP Photo/AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

Palestinian children gather at the site where three people died in a Israeli air strike outside a United Nations school.

In the wake of Israel’s invasion of Gaza, Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak made this analogy: “Think about what would happen if for seven years rockets had been fired at San Diego, California from Tijuana, Mexico.”

Within hours scores of American pundits and politicians had mimicked Barak’s comparisons almost verbatim. In fact, in this very paper on January 9 House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor ended an opinion piece by saying “America would never sit still if terrorists were lobbing missiles across our border into Texas or Montana.” But let’s see if our political and pundit class can parrot this analogy.

Think about what would happen if San Diego expelled most of its Hispanic, African American, Asian American, and Native American population, about 48 percent of the total, and forcibly relocated them to Tijuana? Not just immigrants, but even those who have lived in this country for many generations. Not just the unemployed or the criminals or the America haters, but the school teachers, the small business owners, the soldiers, even the baseball players.

What if we established government and faith-based agencies to help move white people into their former homes? And what if we razed hundreds of their homes in rural areas and, with the aid of charitable donations from people in the United States and abroad, planted forests on their former towns, creating nature preserves for whites to enjoy? Sounds pretty awful, huh? I may be called anti-Semitic for speaking this truth. Well, I’m Jewish and the scenario above is what many prominent Israeli scholars say happened when Israel expelled Palestinians from southern Israel and forced them into Gaza. But this analogy is just getting started.

What if the United Nations kept San Diego’s discarded minorities in crowded, festering camps in Tijuana for 19 years? Then, the United States invaded Mexico, occupied Tijuana and began to build large housing developments in Tijuana where only whites could live.

And what if the United States built a network of highways connecting American citizens of Tijuana to the United States? And checkpoints, not just between Mexico and the United States but also around every neighborhood of Tijuana? What if we required every Tijuana resident, refugee or native, to show an ID card to the U.S. military on demand? What if thousands of Tijuana residents lost their homes, their jobs, their businesses, their children, their sense of self worth to this occupation? Would you be surprised to hear of a protest movement in Tijuana that sometimes became violent and hateful? Okay, now for the unbelievable part.

Think about what would happen if, after expelling all of the minorities from San Diego to Tijuana and subjecting them to 40 years of brutal military occupation, we just left Tijuana, removing all the white settlers and the soldiers? Only instead of giving them their freedom, we built a 20-foot tall electrified wall around Tijuana? Not just on the sides bordering San Diego, but on all the Mexico crossings as well. What if we set up 50-foot high watchtowers with machine gun batteries, and told them that if they stood within 100 yards of this wall we would shoot them dead on sight? And four out of every five days we kept every single one of those border crossings closed, not even allowing food, clothing, or medicine to arrive. And we patrolled their air space with our state-of-the-art fighter jets but didn’t allow them so much as a crop duster. And we patrolled their waters with destroyers and submarines, but didn’t even allow them to fish.

Would you be at all surprised to hear that these resistance groups in Tijuana, even after having been “freed” from their occupation but starved half to death, kept on firing rockets at the United States? Probably not. But you may be surprised to learn that the majority of people in Tijuana never picked up a rocket, or a gun, or a weapon of any kind.

The majority, instead, supported against all hope negotiations toward a peaceful solution that would provide security, freedom and equal rights to both people in two independent states living side by side as neighbors. This is the sound analogy to Israel’s military onslaught in Gaza today. Maybe some day soon, common sense will prevail and no corpus of misleading analogies abut Tijuana or the crazy guy across the hall who wants to murder your daughter will be able to obscure the truth. And at that moment, in a country whose people shouted We Shall Overcome, Ich bin ein Berliner, End Apartheid, Free Tibet and Save Darfur, we will all join together and shout “Free Gaza. Free Palestine.” And because we are Americans, the world will take notice and they will be free, and perhaps peace will prevail for all the residents of the Holy Land.

Randall Kuhn is an assistant professor and Director of the Global Health Affairs Program at the University of Denver Josef Korbel School of International Studies. He just returned from a trip to Israel and the West Bank.

Gaza 2009: Culture of resistance vs. defeat


Dr. Haidar Eid, The Electronic Intifada, 11 February 2009

Can the brutal 22-day Israeli war on the Gaza Strip be considered a victory for the Palestinian people? (Matthew Cassel)

The ongoing bloodletting in the Gaza Strip and the ability of the Palestinian people to creatively resist the might of the world’s fourth strongest army is being hotly debated by Palestinian political forces. The latest genocidal war which lasted 22 days, and in which apartheid Israel used F-16s, Apache helicopters, Merkava tanks and conventional and non-conventional weapons against the population, have raised many serious questions about the concept of resistance and whether the outcome of the war can, or cannot, be considered a victory for the Palestinian people. The same kind of questions were raised in 2006 when apartheid Israel launched its war against the Lebanese people and brutally killed more than 1,200 Lebanese.

At the beginning of the Gaza war, we were told by certain sectors of the Palestinian political leadership that “the two sides are to blame: Hamas and Israel” and that “Hamas must stop the launching of the rockets from Gaza.” Resistance in all its forms, violent and otherwise, was considered, by these same people, “futile.” Now that there are fewer bombs raining down on Gaza, the conflict focuses on whether the outcome of the war was one of victory or defeat. For the Israeli ruling class the answer is clear — in spite of the fact that none of the objectives announced at the beginning of the war have been achieved. It is clear because they, like the defeatist Palestinian camp, simply use the numbers of martyrs, disabled and homeless to determine victory and defeat.

This approach fails to acknowledge that none of the so-called “objectives” of the war have been achieved: Hamas is still in power; rockets are still being launched; no pro-Oslo forces have been reinstated in the Gaza Strip. The question now being raised by some Palestinian intellectuals and political forces, after the (un)expected brutality of the Israeli occupation forces, is “was it worth it?” The “it” here remains ambiguous depending on the reaction of the listener/reader. What is of interest here is the radical change that some national forces, especially the left and their intellectuals, have gone through in their mechanical, as opposed to dialectical, interpretation of history and their role, thereafter, in its making.

The war on Gaza has emerged as a political tsunami that has not only put an end to the fiction of the two-state solution and brought liberation rather than independence back to the agenda, but it has also created a new Palestinian political map given the intellectual debate vis-a-vis the outcome of the war. This new classification of the Palestinian intelligentsia and ruling classes has led to many ex-leftists joining the right-wing anthem of Oslo and its culture of defeatism. Not unlike the Oslo intelligentsia, the new pragmatic left is characterized by demagogy, opportunism and short-sightedness. The conduct of these NGOized intellectuals (those emerging from western-funded “nongovernmental organizations” — NGOs) does not show any commitment to their national and historical responsibility.

Michel Foucault’s famous formulation, “where there is power, there is resistance,” helps us to theorize the political and, hence, the cultural resistance, represented in some of the (post)war discourse. Within the context of resistance, it is worth quoting Frantz Fanon’s definitions of the role of the “native intellectual” during the “fighting phase”: “[T]he native, after having tried to lose himself in the people and with the people, will … shake the people … [H]e turns himself into an awakener of the people; hence comes a fighting literature, and a national literature.”

On the other hand, there are intellectuals who, according to Fanon’s theorization, “give proof that [they] [have] assimilated the culture of the occupying power. [Their] writings correspond point by point with those of [their] opposite numbers in the mother country. [Their] inspiration is European [i.e. Western] …” Hence the adoption of the Israeli narrative by some intellectual sections, including NGOized leftists, whereby Israel was exonerated of its crimes: “we are to blame for what happened;” “we were not consulted when Hamas started the war!” and “the people are paying the price, not the resistance movement;” “Hamas should have renewed the truce;” “we cannot afford to lose so many lives; Hamas should have understood this;” “there was no resistance at all on the streets of Gaza; resistance men ran away as soon as they saw the first tank.”

By the same token, one would also condemn the Algerian, South African, French, Vietnamese, Lebanese and Egyptian resistance to occupation. The same logic was used by the Bantustan chiefs of South Africa against the anti-apartheid movement, by the Vichy government of France, the South Vietnamese government, the reactionary Egyptian Forces against the progressive regime of Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1956, and even by the Siniora-Jumblatt-Geagea-Hariri March 14 coalition in Lebanon in 2006.

Obviously, these intellectuals’ assimilation of the Western mentality, through a process of NGOization, and hence Osloization, makes them look down upon the culture of resistance as useless, futile and hopeless. Resistance, broadly speaking, is not only the ability to fight back against a militarily more powerful enemy, but also an ability to creatively resist the occupation of one’s land. The Oslo defeatists and the neo-left camp fail to use people power creatively or even to see that it exists. They are defeated because they want to fight the battle on Israel’s terms — through the adoption of an Israel-Hamas dichotomy, rather than apartheid Israel vs. the Palestinian people — instead of looking at their strengths: that they are the natives of the land, they have international law supporting their claims, they have the moral high ground, the support of international civil society, etc.

One good lesson from the South African struggle is the way it tried to define resistance and its adoption of what it referred to as “the four pillars of the struggle” to achieve victory over the apartheid regime: armed struggle, internal mass mobilization, international solidarity, and the political underground. Alas, none of these pillars seem to fit within the paradigm of the Palestinian neo-left.

The principled critical legacy of the likes of Ghassan Kanafani, Edward Said and Frantz Fanon is no longer the guiding torch of the NGOized left — the secular democratic left which is supposed to be, as Said would argue, “someone who cannot easily be co-opted by governments or corporations [or donors], and whose raison d’etre is to represent all those people and issues that are routinely forgotten or swept under the rug.” A fascinating, and timely, remark by Hungarian philosopher George Lukacs points the way that the NGOized left should be talking right now: “When the intellectual’s society reaches a historical crossroads in its fight for a clear definition of its identity, the intellectual should be involved in the whole sociopolitical process and leave his ivory tower.”

Decolonizing cultural resistance insists on the right to view Palestinian history as a holistic entity, both coherent and integral. It also reflects a national and historical consciousness that Palestinians are able to be agents of change in their present and future regardless of the agendas of western donors, the Quartet and other official “international” bodies. Yet we see that the neo-democrats of Palestine are unable to acknowledge Palestinian agency because they refuse to respect the will of the people as expressed through the ballot box. This position is meant to synergize with that of their donors and international bodies who have worked hard over the last two years to delegitimize Palestinian agency.

This lack of political consciousness and the search for individual solutions — the major characteristics of defeatist ideology — contradict the collective national reality of the colonized Palestinians. Political consciousness must begin with a rejection of the conditions imposed by the Israeli occupation and the Quartet (Russia, the United States, the United Nations and the European Union) on the majority of Palestinians and even more crucially, a rejection of the crumbs that are offered as a reward for good behavior to a select minority of Palestinians. Indeed, class consciousness is dialectically related to the struggle for national liberation. It is the interests of some NGOized groups, ex-leftists, and neo-liberals, whose defeatist perspective on the outcome of Gaza 2009 is being disseminated with the help of some unpopular media outlets, which is at stake here — not the interests of the Palestinian people who have gained even more legitimacy through their steadfast resistance to the Israeli bombardment.

Osloized and NGOized classes argue that the only solution to the Israeli-Palestine conflict is the establishment of two states which basically means the creation of an independent Palestine on 22 percent of Mandate Palestine. They maintain that the only way to reach independence is through negotiations, though more than ten years of negotiations have not moved the Israeli position at all. The establishment of a Palestinian state is not mentioned in any of the clauses of the Oslo agreement, thus leaving the matter to be determined by the balance of power in the region. This balance tilts in favor of Israel, which rejects the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state, in spite of its recognition of the Palestinian people and its national movement the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). No Israeli party, neither Labor, Likud nor Kadima is ready to accept a Palestinian state as the expression of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. The impasse negotiations have reached has proven the oppositional camp correct.

Hence the “shocking” results of the 2006 elections, in which Hamas won the majority of the seats of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Both liberals and leftists were “surprised” and even felt “betrayed!” Accusations of the “immaturity” and even “backwardness” of the Palestinian people have been thrown around since then. Nothing was mentioned about the failure of “the peace process;” nor the end of the two-state solution, and thereafter, the necessity and need for a new national program that can mobilize the masses; a program that is necessarily democratic in its nature; one that respects resistance in its different forms and, ultimately, guarantees peace with justice.

It is this lack of a political vision and a clear-cut ideological program that allows for the contortions of the Osloized classes. It is this lack that makes it prepared to recognize a “Jewish state” alongside a Palestinian state, including the legitimization of discriminatory practices applied by Israel against its non-Jewish, i.e. mainly Palestinian citizens and residents since 1948, and the end of the right of return of more than six million of refugees. What we are constantly told, is either accept Israeli occupation in its ugliest form — i.e. the ongoing presence of the apartheid wall, colonies, checkpoints, zigzag roads, color-coded number plates, house demolitions and security coordination supervised by a retired American general — or have a hermetic medieval siege imposed on us, but still die with dignity. The first option seems to be the favorite of some NGOized “activists.”

The new, much-needed program, however, must make the necessary link between all Palestinian struggles: the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, Israel’s ethnically-based discrimination and rights violations of more than one million Palestinian citizens, and the 1948 externally displaced refugees. Gaza 2009 was not a defeat but a victory, because in Gaza the Israelis shot the two-state solution in the head; it is a victory achieved with the blood of those children, men and women who sacrificed their lives so that we could live and continue to resist, not surrender. Those Palestinians that are mourning the demise of the two-prison solution are out of step with new facts on the ground: there can be no going back to fake solutions and negotiations; it is time for a final push to real freedom and statehood. They can join other Palestinians, and internationals, in their demand for a secular, democratic state in Mandate Palestine with equality for all or they can walk into the dustbin of history.

Haidar Eid is an independent political commentator and activist residing in Gaza.

The war where I was killed and Gaza survived

Eman Mohammed writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine, 10 February 2009

A boy walks on the rubble of a destroyed home in the Gaza Strip. (Eman Mohammed)

Since Israeli missile savagery first hit Gaza, everything started to become blurry to me. My vision was totally unclear — all the horrible events went in slow motion as if I was watching a horror movie, but the most realistic one I’ve ever seen.

My biggest fear was losing a loved one.

After 21 indescribable days, “the war was over,” or so they said. But it wasn’t for me; enormous destruction covered the beautiful face of Gaza that I knew. Thousands of houses and buildings were wiped off the earth. Three weeks were all that Israeli warplanes and tanks needed to smash so many living creatures in Gaza including babies — even unborn ones — women, children, men and the elderly.

I wandered among the rubble of houses and the remains of lives for more than I can remember. I couldn’t find the words or photographs to convey how much pain the people feel. Somehow they still manage to get up every morning. They search for a new start, to begin their lives again, or they search for remnants of the old life — maybe a tattered family picture that was so precious to them.

Like the teddy bear with the ripped-off head which belonged to four-year-old Samar Abed Rabu who was hit three times in her chest and went abroad for treatment. Her father Khaled was clinging to it waiting for his baby girl to come back and get it after he lost her other two sisters Suad, seven, and Amal, two, in front of his eyes. Samar’s broken teddy bear was the only thing that managed to comfort him.

A similar tragic loss, but a different time and place, was Manal al-Samouni’s story. She was sitting near the remains of her destroyed house waiting for her brother’s four children to return from visiting their father’s grave. They lost him after he was injured while bravely rescuing his family. For four days he bled to death. This is their memory of their heroic father, Manal said.

Muhammad Balousha, age two, waited constantly by the door listening carefully to the sounds around him, hoping to recognize the sounds of his five sisters coming home. He does not know that on that one night they said goodnight and went to sleep, it was forever.

These were some of the stories I got emotionally involved with and maybe because of that I broke the first rule of journalism which is supposedly to stay professional, not to get involved. Whether I took photos, delivered a message, or whatever I was supposed to be doing, I did it all while watching my soul slip away, not being able to hold onto it or let it go, as if I were falling into a coma. I did not see this war coming even in my worst nightmares and I can’t feel that it has gone because all that is left are lifeless bodies whether they are under the ground or still breathing above it.

The silence in Gaza is too loud, too bare. Words don’t seem to ease the pain or heal the wounds. The shouts are gone without an echo, but Gaza’s people still managed to get up from under the rubble and the torn memories. My people proved to me once again that they are stronger than these attacks and invasions. They have vanquished death by rebuilding their lives time after time. Maybe that’s something I’ll never be able to understand or do myself, since the day they stabbed Gaza, my soul was stolen by an evil force. I believe it was a war on Gaza, not in Gaza as they claim. Their attacks were barbarism, but Gaza managed to survive, one way or another.

Eman Mohammed is a Jordanian-Palestinian freelance photojournalist and reporter based in the Gaza Strip since 2005.