Thinking about Palestine and Israel

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Dear All,

Really seems a terrible bloody week for Palestine with the Nakbah and the killings in Gaza by Israeli soldiers of 26 protesters as well as many wounded. Just a reminder of how deeply entrenched the problems are. In contrast Israel celebrated 70 years since it’s  independence with the American Embassy moving to Jerusalem with encouragement from Donald Trump although the Tel Aviv Embassy will remain for another 3 years while the new Embassy is prepared for use. What a contract and an insensitive occasion by Israel showing how powerful it is with a backdrop of terrible deaths. If anything positive has come out of it Egypt has opened its border to Palestinians for Ramadan and prior to last week Israel was negotiating with the Gaza leadership a deal to ease restrictions on their borders if they agreed to cease the protests.

I’ve listened to some interesting Radio 4 programs about Israel over the last week. These were on Crossing Continents on 17 May at 11am Shades of Jewish in Israel. Has Israel become less welcoming to African Jews? On 18 May at 11am there was  a personal reflection by Simon Sharma when he considered Israel’s troubled life, it’s achievements and possible future. On 20 May at 5pm Jonathan Friedland  did Present at the Creation, speaking to the last 2 survivors present when Ben Gurion declared Israel declared Israel’s independence which I found very interesting. With what I read Patrick  Cockburn wrote an article in the I on 19 May suggesting that Trumps uncritical support for Israel is not in its interests with a view that Israel while the strongest militarily  in the Middle East over confident  Israeli governments are prone to over-playing their hand. He suggests that there is weakness in Israel’s strength and it’s action in Gaza has led to greater support for Palestinians. In my view killing protestors in full view of world media shows the poor judgement of Benjamin Natanyahu with the Israeli Army need to consider very quickly how to manage protests without the use of lethal force and to realise the events since recent Gaza protests started suggest that the resumption of peace talks with Palestinians in Gaza and on the West Bank  is urgently required.

Last Saturday 19 May I went with my partner to see a Play called the Shroud, a one woman play about an old woman who makes funeral shrouds in Gaza talks about her life in Palestine pre-Israel independence up until now. It was very intense and moving being there to hear the story, a reminder of how culture is very important in Palestine’s freedom struggle. It’s Ramadan and I wish all my Palestinian friends  Ramadan Kareem, thinking of my Christian friends who celebrated Jesus ascending to heaven yesterday and as a Jew having Shavuot, a reminder of how close all our Faiths are.

I’d like to encourage anyone who feels like it to respond to what I’ve written.

Regards,

Steve.

 

 

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Vladimir Putin’s politics of eternity

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Hi There,

Just found the correct link by typing into my search engine:

https://www.the guardian.com/news/mar/16/vlladimir-putin-russia-politics-of-eternity-timothy-snyder? then pressing enter which comes up with the title  Vladimir Putins politics of eternity | Timothy Snyder 

and pressing  enter again brings up the article to read.

Happy Hunting!!!

Regards,

Steve.

 

Vladimir Putin’s politics of eternity by Timothy Snyder Guardian 16 March 2018

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Hi There,

Really think the Titled article above is worth reading and I’ve found the Guardian link which is:

https://www.the guardian.com/news/mar/16/vlladimir-putin-russia-politics-of-eternity-timothy-snyder?CMP=share btn link

It took me about 3 attempts to read and understand the article as Timothy Snyder analyses the politics of inevitability and eternity. Think my approach has generally been  the politics of inevitability and the other option frightens me. I’d be really interested in your views so please add a comment if you want.

Regards,

Steve.

PS This may be my last Post until Easter ends. To my Jewish readers I wish Hag Sameach and Christian readers Happy Easter.

Cyril Ramaposa’s first Month as South African President

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Hi There,

Cyril Ramaposa became South African President on 17 February 2018 after Jacob Zuma was forced to resign and I’ve realised it’s too early to have any clear sense of how his Presidency will develop. A bit like Zimbabwe when Robert Mugabe was deposed Ramaposa has benefited from the initial relief South Africans feel about the change with my friend Xolisile from Soweto thinking that the new President will create employment for her age group. In a general sense international investors are more positive about the South African economy and the new Cabinet has an experienced Finance Minister, with further changes removing the most corrupt Ministers and those associated with what is called State Capture. Ramaposa hasn’t purged all Zuma supporters because of his narrow victory in the Presidential election. In time once factionalism in the ANC is addressed and as the situation calms down he’ll take action to remove them.

As I’ve written previously the ANC corruption since the Party became legal with Nelson Mandela and other leaders being released from Prison with internal activists joining them has been endemic and extended further under Jacob Zuma to make all the Nations politicians corrupt. Cyril Ramaposa has also enriched himself with shares from South African Companies from the Black economic Power Legislation. Previous Governments have allowed the largest South African Companies to transfer their HQ’s along with assets to the UK and other countries, leaving their South African Operations to continue their involvement. Chief Executives who manage the Industries which remain are cited as examples of the Empowerment process however they are stooges because their Companies power and capital is no longer in South Africa. High levels of Township and Rural unemployment comes from the asset stripping above, with little significant change there has been since majority rule.

Corrupt alliances the ANC leaders have established has broken their connection with their voters and it can’t be long before the Party loses power. The Economic Freedom Party (EFF) with it’s leader Julius Malema is becoming more attractive to Black South Africans because of their more critical view of the Country, which in time will direct voters anger towards White and other minority communities in South Africa. EFF’s approach breaks the expectation that leaders don’t question the settlement agreed to establish majority rule, getting traction from the anger felt by many South Africans about the absence of significant change since 1994. The populist approach he adopts makes him popular because revenge has become a stronger citizen characteristic. If I was a South African I’d dismiss him because behind his rhetoric he’s been tainted by corruption from his time as an ANC member and has continued to enrich himself.

Events last week regarding the Marikana Massacre reported by the Mail and Guardian  and a chat with my friend Xolisile in Soweto about Farm ownership transfers without compensation  are leading me to a final conclusion.

Nine senior police officials are to appear in the Rustenburg Magistrate’s Court in connection with the Marikana massacre – more than five years after the tragedy occurred. The senior officials face charges of murder, attempted murder, contravention of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) Act, defeating and/or obstructing the ends of justice and the contravention of the Commissions Act. Nine officers were due to appear before the Rustenburg magistrates court on Thursday on a number of charges including murder, attempted murder and defeating the ends of justice.

The officers will appear for the incident of August 13 2012 when the striking Miners were stopped by the Police as they were making their way back to the koppie (small mountain)where they were protesting from the mines. They will appear in Court for the deaths of Thembelakhe Mati, Semi Jokanisi and Phumzile Sokhanyile. Investigations into the murders on 16 August are still ongoing. from 16 August 2012 when Police shot dead 34 Miners and many more with most of them being shot in the back.

Last month, following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s promise of atonement for the Marikana massacre, families of the striking miners who were killed said that reparations should include a formal apology from the Police Minister and the institution of Criminal charges against the Police Officers involved. During Ramaphosa’s response to the debate over his first State of the Nation Address (Sona) he said he was determined to play whatever role he could in the process of healing and atonement in relation to the Marikana massacre.

“The Marikana tragedy stands out as the darkest moment in the life of our young democracy,” Ramaphosa told both Houses of Parliament. The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa SERI, which represents 36 families of the killed Miners, welcomed the President’s comments, but urged him to turn his promises into actions. SERI said in a statement, if the Government was serious about atoning for the Marikana massacre, the families of those killed had indicated that a meaningful response would include financial compensation, a formal apology from the Police Minister and that the Police Officers involved in the killings be charged criminally and prosecuted.

I don’t think that the Presidents comments about Marikana are sufficient because he was Mining Minister when Marikana took place. He was closely involved in trying to settle the Miners Strike. Records from the Official Enquiry  about the Marikana murders that Mr Ramaposa contacted Police Commanders inciting them to suppress the strike vigorously. What he still needs to do is to acknowledge his complicity in the massacre and apologize for his actions.

When I spoke with Xolisile yesterday she told me that  that the President  is wanting to bring Julius Malema who leads the Economic Freedom Front (EFF) back into the ANC. I can understand the wish to bring Mr Malema and his Party back into the ANC to provide it a majority in the 2019 election. The alliance would return radicalism to the ANC and Mr Malema as a previous ANC member won’t challenge the Party’s corruption because he also has a history of  enriching himself through politics.

I’d describe the EFF is the closest equivalent to a Populist Party, getting increasing traction in South Africa because of the lack of change and growing economic inequality since majority rule. This has allowed Mr Ramaposa to take a more radical stand regarding Farm ownership transfers without compensation. Farm ownership has been a problem since majority rule and remains so because of the voluntary process not succeeding. My view is that Farmers need to be given a short period to agree transfers with compensation payments and for potential owners being required to have necessary experience to manage these farms. I’d add land and property ownership as issues because it’s also a problem with house prices in Suburban South Africa being unaffordable which prevent most South Africans moving from Townships or rural areas if they want to do so. This creates what I’d describe as economic apartheid. The time clock is ticking for South Africa. Without significant change Nelson Mandela’s dream of a rainbow Nation  my beloved South Africa’s future is in peril.

Regards,

Steve.

PS: The 16 March Guardian Journal has an article titled ‘Vladimir Putin’s Politics of Eternity’ which analyses World Leaders Politics which I think is interesting.

 

The State of Israel What does Liberal Judaism Have to Say about our Relationship with Israel?

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Hi There,
This Post came from a Meeting  on 6 February which was part of my Congregation’s Adult Education Program  on the Theme above.
The definition of Liberal Judaism from the Liberal Judaism (United Kingdom UK) Website is that ‘ Liberal Judaism is an authentic and modern form of Judaism, rooted in a deep and meaningful engagement with Jewish texts, values, culture and history. We are a movement with a sense of purpose, engaged in community life, study, spirituality and social action. We believe in personal freedom and responsibility and the shared and collective bonds that unite us as Jewish people and members of humanity’.
Liberal Judaism’s views on Israel are ‘ We affirm a love for the Land of Israel and a strong commitment to the State of Israel. We pray for her people, care about her security and wish to enact the vision of her founders of a Jewish state for all its inhabitants, at peace with its neighbours, democratic and prosperous. We promote a two-state solution, and oppose all boycotts. We also strive to emphasize the value of, and to nurture, the unique symbiosis between Israel and the Diaspora (The Hebrew word for the Jewish world outside of Israel). We combine this vision of Israel with strong support for religious pluralism within the State, and partner with selected organisations within Israel to advance the cause of Progressive Judaism inside Israel and the rights of all Israelis, including those of other faiths and none’.
The Meeting’s discussion was led by a Liberal  Judaism Rabbi from a West London Synagogue. All Members recognised Israel. Where we split was over West Bank Occupation, Gaza and the One or Two State options. We didn’t consider what Jerusalem’s status would be. Despite of the different opinions the discussion allowed opinions to be shared respectfully ending with there being no shared agreement.
I said at the Meeting that the Balfour Declaration is now 100 years old. My view is that it remains relevant today as a possible peace route. While Palestinians have already recognised Israel a way to start reducing conflict would be Israel undertaking to implement the 2 remaining requirements in the Declaration which are “Nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.” 
I thought afterwards how hard it was to have a rational discussion about Israel. This is because of emotions any such debates raise inhibits any conversation with views strongly held making communication or agreement almost  impossible. 
Beyond the discussion which took place my view is that Israel and Palestine are in a perilous situation because of fear, trauma and hate coming from the Holocaust, Nakba and Occupation. What we forget is Jews dual heritage with Palestinians, linked through our Bible which we share with Muslims. Uri Avneri and Ilan Pappe’s writing regarding Israel and Palestine agree that there won’t be a Peace settlement until citizens of both country’s agree a joint account on how Israel was established, using this to  acknowledge that both Nations have rights to the land which they contest. 
Presently through military strength Israel has power which prolongs conflict, corrupting Ideals their Leaders held when it achieved Nationhood. This continues to traumatize new generations through  Military Service in the Occupied Territories 
for Israelis and the effects on Palestinians who oppose the Occupation.
In the absence of any Peace process taking place between Palestine and Israel time is of the essence because the current situation cannot be maintained indefinitely. Justice for Palestine Campaigners and Diaspora Jews need to campaign alongside each other away from Israel and Palestine to bring together both sides to create a workable resolution for all.

 

New Post after a long break

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Hi There,

Just picked up a new Site called Academia with an Article which has an interesting take on the Oslo Agreement as below.

Oslo Agreement and PLO Recognition of Israel?
Dr. Hatem Bazian
January 19, 2018
On January 15th, the Palestine Liberation Organization Central Council meeting in Ramallah concluded with a vote “to suspend recognition of Israel until it reciprocates by recognizing a Palestinian state and to cease security cooperation.” The meeting was called after Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, which was followed by the showdown in the U.N. Security Council and General Assembly. For the PLO, the vote is a clear indication that the Oslo framework had come to an official dead-end and the next stage in the search for Palestinians rights and sovereignty is as elusive today as it was when the Oslo Accords got signed.
In a September 9th, 1993 letter from Yasser Arafat to Yitzhak Rabin, the Chairman stated: “The PLO recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security… accepts United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338…. The PLO…commits itself to the Middle East peace process, and to a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides and declares that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations.” Furthermore, the letter committed the PLO to the “inaugurating a new epoch of peaceful coexistence, free from violence and all other acts which endanger peace and stability. Accordingly, the PLO renounces the use of terrorism and other acts of violence and will assume responsibility for all PLO elements and personnel to assure their compliance, prevent violations and discipline violators.”
Yitzhak Rabin’s response letter was very terse: “In response to your letter of September 9, 1993, I wish to confirm to you that, in light of the PLO commitments included in your letter, the Government of Israel has decided to recognize the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people and commence negotiations with the PLO within the Middle East peace process.” A longer and more expressive letter was sent from Rabin to Norway Foreign Minister, which in part stated: “I believe it starts a new era, an era in which we will do our best to achieve peace and security in Israel and, at the same time, give the Palestinians the right – in the context of agreement about the interim period – to run their affairs. I believe that there is a great opportunity, of changing not only the relations between the Palestinians and Israel, but to expand it to the solution of the conflict between Israel and other Arab countries, and other Arab peoples.” What is clear from the basic framing of the letters and the actual Oslo Accords is that the PLO gave everything Israel demanded but in return only achieved the right to represent the Palestinians in yet to be held future negotiations to determine the final status issues.

Today, we are certain that the Oslo agreement is dead and all indications point to a collapse of the framework that brought it forward. The Oslo Accords, the secretly negotiated and signed PLO-Israel agreement, is dead and buried much time over but this time it is very much public and televised as well. Arriving at an actual date for Oslo’s demise is an easy one, since the agreement, as far as Palestine is concerned, was dead on arrival. Oslo was never a peace process but a very carefully constructed security agreement that shifted the burden of the occupation to the occupied Palestinian population while maintaining total Israeli control over land and
resources. Under the Oslo Agreements, the PLO officially recognized Israel as a sovereign state while Israel in return recognized the PLO as the representative of the Palestinians that will be authorized to negotiate a final agreement within a five-year period. Thus, Oslo did not provide for an end to Israeli occupation or a basic recognition of Palestinian sovereignty over any part of Palestine. Simply put, Israel did not admit that it is an occupying power!
Critically, the framework of Oslo provided for the creation of the Palestinian Authority and the transfer of direct security and administrative responsibilities for the Palestinian population in what came to be known as area A. The other two designated areas B and C, Israel granted the PA civil affairs control and retained military control in B while area C was under total Israeli control, military and civilian.

Oslo is a security agreement that transformed aspects of Israel security responsibilities over the occupied Palestinian population to an indigenously constituted authority with the primary task of eliminating resistance to the current and never-ending occupation. Israel’s security structure inside the occupied territories collapsed post-1987 uprising, and the search was underway to find a formula that can maintain maximum territorial control but with minimum concession or no concession at all. Under Oslo, Israel did not admit that it is an occupying power; instead, it cast itself, and the framework provided the language that the territories are under a dispute between equal and valid claims of two parties. Zionist settler colonialism and indigenous rights were deemed equal in the Oslo framework!
The PLO recognition of Israel carries with it the implication of accepting the embedded Zionist claims over the occupied territories and negatively casting Palestinian as one of terrorism. Moreover, the recognition was not confined or limited in the scope since no specific maps or defined borders were included in the exchanged letters of recognition. Certainly, the inclusion of a reference to UN resolutions 242 and 338 might be deemed as a form of limitations but the interpretations of the existing body of resolutions are very problematic and by itself does not provide the needed clarification or a demand for an end to the occupation.
“Suspending” or withdrawing from the Oslo Accords will not be an easy task, even though it should not have been signed in the first place since it allowed Israel to have an occupation using a never-ending negotiation strategy. Here, the PLO and the PA are hard pressed to find a formula to untie themselves from the Oslo framework and the recognition of Israel that is at the foundation of the Accords and “authority to govern” granted to them inside the territories. Also, the regional and global funding for the PA is directly connected and funneled through a mechanism that is under total Israeli control, which makes Palestinian elites highly susceptible to economic pressure and manipulation of their political decision-making capacity. Lastly, the security cooperation is heavily integrated into Israeli security needs and under the direct monitoring of the U.S., and regional Arab security apparatus, and not to forget the direct funding and training enjoyed by the Palestinian security forces.

The PLO step is overdue, but the challenge is to plan for the next period which promises to be very difficult and filled with many unknowns. More importantly, the PLO and the Palestinians are being put under extreme pressure from the U.S. and Arab states to accept the unacceptable “deal of the century” which is being put forth by Trump, Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. It must be clear that the “deal of the century” might work for a TV show and can be read like a sound bite on a campaign trail, but it is dead on arrival for Palestine and the Palestinians.

What the PLO and Palestinians inside and outside Palestine must undertake is a very deliberate and systematic global strategy to assert the foundation of the rightful struggle for freedom, justice, dignity, sovereignty, liberation and peace. The days and months ahead must witness a rapid political unification among all Palestinians and fixing our collective body politic to represent a unified front to navigate the critical period ahead.

I did in the past and did at present call for the creation of a Palestinian government in exile that makes a sovereign territorial right over Palestine per a founding declaration, which once combined with an engagement at the international level can begin to put more pressure to end and transform the basis of discussion. The specifics need to be worked out, and the Palestine National Council must be empowered through open and inclusive elections and begin the work on the long road back to addressing the legitimate claims of all Palestinians. Every crisis is an opportunity, but the challenge is to correctly identify the emerging opportunity or opportunities in the middle of a challenging period. The primary opportunity is the opening of the door for Palestinian unity, which is the precondition for future success. Unity in the face of crisis is the first step toward undoing Zionist settler colonialism, which feasts on a divide and rule mechanism. Unity, strategy, and organizing for freedom and justice is the answer to settler colonialism.

My comments: What I liked about the Article was the informative way  Dr. Bazian commented on the Oslo Agreement and why it’s no longer relevant. He also writes that the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinians are being put under extreme pressure from the USA and some Middle Eastern States to accept the unacceptable “deal of the century” which is supported by the USA, Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia which he suggests the Palestinians must reject .

Dr Bazian is clear that the PLO and the PA will have difficulties to find a way to free themselves from the Oslo framework and the recognition of Israel that is at the foundation of the Accords. I think any action must include a unified approach from the Palestinian Authority for Gaza and the West Bank.  As he writes in conclusion “The Palestine National Council must be empowered through open and inclusive elections and begin the work on the long road back to addressing the legitimate claims of all Palestinians.”

My current Plans for the Blog after publishing this are to comment on a recent Adult Education Meeting of my Religious Community on 6 February which discussed ‘The State of Israel: What Does Liberal Judaism Have to Say About our Relationship with Israel?’ and prospects for South Africa with a new President.

Regards,

Steve.

 

 

End of Year Information links Palestine and Personal

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Hi There,

Thought I’d send out some links to my current interests. I’m very worried about the American Government recognize that Jerusalem is part of Israel, am very interested in current articles regarding the Balfour  Declaration which is now 100 years old and was very affected by a BBC Radio 4 Podcast from 26 November about Parkinson’s Disease to  which I listened with a dear friend who lives with it yesterday.  Links are:                              * The New York Times: A Wary Response, So Far, on Trump’s Expected Declaration on Jerusalem. A Wary Response, So Far, on Trump’s Expected Recognition of Jerusalem    * Tonight BBC Radio 4 at 8pm has a program titled Balfour’s Promised Land                  * The Guardian View on Israel and Palestine: escape the past I Editorial https:// http://www.the guardian.com/comment is free/2017/nov/1/the -guardian-view-on-israel-and-palestine-escape-the-past? CMP=share_btn_wa                                                                               * BBC Radio 4 Podcast The Art of Living 430pm 26 November 2017.

Best Wishes to All,

Steve.