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Wednesday, 4 March 2009

fiction to help see the facts

Little bit by little bit, though I know these little bits have been going on for some time now, and do not necessarily stop people from being blown into little bits. However, when the British Embassy gets involved (in the way that the Church of England did when it divested from Caterpillar) there is some hope.
The British embassy in Tel Aviv has stopped negotiations to lease a floor in Africa-Israel's Kirya Tower because of the company's role in West Bank settlement construction..
Its reasons for doing this were in response to British petitioners who stated that:
... moving the embassy into a building owned by a company that builds in the settlements would send a message contravening British policy, and would be tantamount to criminal complicity.

The petitioners also argued that choosing this location would enable Israel to continue violating Palestinian human rights in the West Bank
The embassy requested details from Africa-Israel about the nature of its activities in the settlements, and a week ago, the British embassy in Tel Aviv received the information. As a result, plans to move into the tower were frozen.

And they say that sports should have nothing to do with politics (this is related to the above information), but politics was obviously a major reason for South African Zola Budd becoming a very quick U.K. citizen in time for the 1984 Olympics due to the campaign against apartheid in South Africa at the time. The actions by both the UAE and Sweden in reaction to Israeli tennis players, stemming back to the treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories, and most importantly (at present) the recent war on Gaza, can be seen in their decisions to firstly, ban Israeli competitors (in the U.A.E., a decision met with international outrage - though it does not say which internationals), and to secondly allow Israel and Swedish contestants from to play, but to not allow an audience to attend (Sweden).

Of course, politics is also to do, unfortunately, with the attacks on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan, but that is a separate issue from this one. The boycott of sports was a driving force in both bringing apartheid conditions in South Africa to the forefront of many people's minds, and was also effective in dismantling that system of government (Israel does not have an official system of apartheid government, per se, but it definitely tightly controls the people in the lands which it occupies, and there is plenty of infrastructure in place to make sure that conditions of living are far from equal between the two groups. That's putting it mildly).

Still from Lemon Tree.

Returning to the original article referred to, if information is more easily gained in the form of stories, the movie Lemon Tree details some of what goes on in the West Bank, and the young adults' book Where the Streets Had a Name, by Australian writer Randa Abdel-Fattah also tells the story of a young thirteen year old girl who lives in Bethlehem. When her grandmother falls sick she wishes to get through the various checkpoints, apartheid wall, and other obstacles to return to the land her grandmother grew up in and was ousted from (East Jeruselem), to get soil from her grandmother's village, which the protagonist feels will make her grandmother better.

The synopsis from the link above describes it better:
"I need to see Sitti Zeynab [the grandmother] one last time. To know if I will have the courage to go ahead with my plan. The two nurses look frazzled and smile wearily at me. 'We must leave now,' they say in urgent tones. 'I won't be long,' I reassure them and I jump up onto the back of the ambulance.

"I can smell the air of her village, pure and scented. I can see her village as though it were Bethlehem itself. I can smell the almond trees. Hear my heels click on the courtyard tiles. See myself jumping two steps at a time down the limestone stairs. I can see Sitti Zeynab sitting in the front porch of the house. I only have to remember that walk through her memories and I know I can make my promise. I've already lost once. I refuse to lose again. 'Stay alive,' I whisper. 'And you shall touch that soil again.'"

Thirteen-year-old Hayaat is on a mission. She believes a handful of soil from her grandmother's ancestral home in Jerusalem will save her beloved Sitti Zeynab's life. The only problem is the impenetrable wall that divides the West Bank, as well as the check points, the curfews, the permit system and Hayaat's best friend Samy, who is mainly interested in football and the latest elimination on X-Factor, but always manages to attract trouble.

But luck is on their side. Hayaat and Samy have a curfew-free day to travel to Jerusalem. However, while their journey may only be a few kilometres long, it may take a lifetime to complete.
Israeli writer, Amira Haas in Haaretz today, commenting on the money donated to rebuild Palestinian people and land, stated this today:

The Clinton and Bush administrations - and Barack Obama appears to be following in their footsteps - erased the phrase "Israeli occupation" from their dictionaries and collaborated with Israel in ignoring its commitments as enshrined in international law. The billions of dollars that Israel receives from the United States for weapons and defense development - which played a significant role in the destruction in the Gaza Strip - are part of Israel's successful propaganda, which presents the Rafah tunnels and Grad rockets as a strategic threat and part of the Islamic terror offensive against enlightened countries.

The West has blown the Hamas movement out of proportion, exaggerating its military might to the point of mendacity; this allowed for an extended siege and three weeks of Israeli military intractability. In the Palestinian and larger Arab world, this embellishment helps Hamas depict itself as the real patriotic force.

The hundreds of millions of euros that have been donated or pledged to help Gaza, as though it were beset by natural disasters, are overshadowing the trade ties between Europe and Israel. The Western countries concerned about humanitarian aid for the Palestinians also buy from Israel arms and defense knowledge developed under the laboratory conditions of the occupation, that serial creator of humanitarian crises.

And the 1 billion petrodollars? First of all, they were generated from a natural resource that logic dictates should benefit the Arab peoples. Second, they were pledged at a conference that boycotted Gaza (neither Hamas nor business people or social activists from the Strip participated in the donors conference). This is how Saudi Arabia lends its hand to the American and Israeli veto of inter-Palestinian reconciliation.

Every cent paid to the Palestinians - whether for the Ramallah government's budget or medical treatment of children wounded by Israeli pilots or soldiers - lets Israel know that it can continue its efforts to force a capitulation deal on the Palestinian elite. Only by recognizing that surrender is the goal can one understand that 16 years after Oslo, no Palestinian state was established. When did Shimon Peres, Ariel Sharon and Tzipi Livni begin talking about two states? Only after their bulldozers and military bureaucrats crushed the realistic physical basis of a Palestinian state. And this basis is: June 4, 1967 land (including East Jerusalem), Gaza - an inseparable part of the state - and zero settlements (and that applies to Gilo and Ma'aleh Adumim).
There is more in that article (not too much more). It is worth reading in full.

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this cutie was taken by Crazyegg95 in 2005 and is from flickr