Palestine Update 368
Israel’s apartheid is worthy of contempt and more slaps
Two critiques of Israel’s apartheid designs.
Slapping Israeli Apartheid – Sentencing of Yifat Doron (Excerpts)
July 1st, the date on which Doron is set to begin serving her prison sentence, is also the date which Israel has set for the start of its formal annexation of a third of the West Bank, further consolidating its colonialist plans to reduce Palestinians to Bantustan dwellers. And that’s also some symbolism.
More than two years ago, the young Palestinian resistance icon Ahed Tamimi shook the world with a slap to an Israeli occupation soldier in Nabi Saleh. During Ahed’s sentencing hearing, Israeli peace activist Yifat Doron slapped the chief military prosecutor. It came out of her as a spontaneous reaction to oppression: “The way I see it, this was in reaction to seeing my friend in distress,” Doron said. Last week, Doron was sentenced to eight months prison, plus a fine of 3,000 Shekels and probation entailing a potential 4 months to 3 years prison if she would be convicted of additional ‘violent offenses’. The case was of course held at a civilian court – the Jerusalem Magistrates Court – not the military court in which Palestinians are tried. Then 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi’s slapping of a soldier occupying her village and backyard in December 2017, shortly after her cousin Mohammed was shot in the head, became famous as a symbol of courage and defiance. Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy opined that “she slapped the soldier who invaded her home, and slapped the occupation, which deserves far more than slaps.” More representative was centrist journalist Ben Caspit, who was enraged, and insidious: “In the case of the girls, we should exact a price at some other opportunity, in the dark, without witnesses and cameras,” he wrote.
Ahed and her mother Nariman were both sentenced to eight months prison, Nariman for assisting in filming the event. Then Yifat Doron ended up doing pretty much the same act as Ahed, in March 2018, during the sentencing. She slapped Lt. Col. Issam Hamad, the military prosecutor at the Ofer military court. Doron was not kept in prison for months up to her trial, as Ahed had been (Ahed was kept in detention for three months up to her trial). Israeli ‘ethicist’ Asa Kasher, known as the author of the Israeli army’s ‘ethics code’, opined that Ahed should indeed remain in prison, because she might, God forbid, slap again.
“Who are you to judge her?!” shouted Doron when she slapped Hamad. It was not a personal, singular slap – it was precisely a slap to a whole system. Doron is unrepentant, as she stated to the court this month: “I will never regret the fact that I stood alongside my friends and acted according to my moral compass. It is a badge of honor to join a list of women whom I respect and admire who have been convicted of violent crimes in the Zionist court.” Doron did not even want a lawyer: “Because the arrest happened in a political context, I have no interest in entering into all kinds of legal arguments,” she said of her decision. “I’m going to represent myself politically – I understand politics.” And she has stood firm all the time. It’s as if everything that the military and the state were saying about her actions, were a confirmation of her own activism.
Attorney Efrat Filzer, who represented the military prosecution, claimed that the assault on Hamad “was not accidental,” and was done because he is the head of the military prosecution in the West Bank. “The very act against him is in fact a challenge to the entire military system… “The purpose here is to undermine and delegitimize the legal system.” Doron was challenging a whole system. Her slap may have been spontaneous, but it wasn’t accidental. Her purpose, to undermine the Apartheid system, is clear. The Magistrates Court judge Aharon Cohen wrote: “It is an error to treat the case before us as a routine one in which one person attacks another. The act must be viewed in the broader context as one that seeks to undermine the principles of government in the occupied territories and is intended to damage them.” Once again, obviously, Doron is an activist seeking to dismantle the Israeli Apartheid system. Of course she seeks to damage the “principles of government in the occupied territories”.
Doron was essentially saying that the court should come at her with whatever it has. She did not offer conventional defense entailing apology or repentance. Doron will not be transferred to a prison of an occupying power in contravention of the 4th Geneva Conventions, as is routinely done to Palestinians. Still, the length of time seems to suggest an attempt to match that of Ahed’s. Doron has said that “we are not punished the same way the Palestinians are for the same actions”.
The judge tried to persuade Doron to accept a penalty of community service, which she refused. The military attorney actually requested 10 to 20 months prison. But it ended up with those 8 months. Doron is only emboldened by the notion of solidarity with these oppressed people. There are people who accept imprisonment peacefully, like many of my Palestinian friends…prison is simply a part of these Palestinians’ lives.
Doron is taking a noble stance of solidarity with the oppressed, and this does not come easy, also for the privileged Jews – eight months in prison is not nothing, it’s a heavy price to pay. She knows that she is representing the oppressed, and she has to reject her inherent and systemic privileges to arrive at a place which to some degree represents what Palestinians have to face when they resist. She knows that this is still somewhat symbolic – she will not be gunned down– unlike the hundreds of protesters in Gaza. Doron let the state prosecution slap itself in its own self-righteous, hypocritical face. The Israeli state was on political trial.
Israel put itself in a corner (Excerpts)
By Sam Bahour
Anyone following the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is sitting on the edge of their seat waiting to see if the new Israeli coalition government currently being formed will act on the green light the Trump administration has given it for additional acts of annexation of parts of the West Bank. Another act of annexation or not, Israel has already lost.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s 16-hour trip to Israel last week raised red flags for some. Could it be that the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, drunk on power and impunity, was taking Trump’s “Deal of the Century” and implementing it faster than the U.S. administration desires? Clearly, the world did not buy any part of Trump’s “Peace to Prosperity” fiasco — not the Palestinians, not the Arab states, not the EU, and not many Israelis and devoted supporters of Israel as well.
The New York Times’ David M. Halbfinger and Lara Jakes reported that “If the United States, with President Trump’s peace proposal, gave Mr. Netanyahu a green light on annexation, it may have now changed to yellow.” They went on to note that “A key, officials and experts said, was in the timing. [Pompeo’s trip] came on the eve of Israel’s seating its new government, one that appears divided over the immediacy of annexing about 30 percent of the occupied West Bank.”
From the Palestinian side, Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said that President Mahmoud Abbas will chair a meeting of the leadership on Saturday to take the appropriate decision.” Speaking about the new Israeli government about to be sworn in Shtayyeh said, “we will listen to its political program that calls for annexation of Palestinian lands and the imposition of [Israeli] sovereignty over the settlements.” The assumption here being if such a political program is announced the Palestinians will act without waiting until July 1, the date the Israeli coalition parties agreed to before implementing further annexation.
Such bravado statements have become commonplace in Palestine, but this time around the Palestinian public’s feeling is that the Palestinian leadership is finally acknowledging that it has reached the end of the Oslo Accords rope and may be in a hurry to finally act, so as not to be hung by that rope once Israel formally lets go.
The European Union, that underwrote most of the past 25 years of U.S. failures in the Middle East Peace Process, is also up in arms about Israel’s possible annexation moves. Hugh Lovatt, a policy fellow with the Middle East and North Africa programme at the European Council on Foreign Relations, wrote “West Bank annexation will bring an end to the EU’s cherished two-state solution. International norms and the EU’s own laws will now need to underpin post-annexation relations with Israel.” He goes on noting that, “Annexation — whether it starts with one settlement block or most of Area C — will cross a threshold which will be almost impossible to reverse back on. The full repercussions that such a move will trigger may be slow in coming, but they are real. This will challenge EU credibility and relevance. It will also undermine the fundamentals of the international rules-based order — in particular, the prohibition on the acquisition of territory through force.” He speculates that post-annexation, “Palestinians [will] live under an increasingly explicit system of apartheid.” It is no wonder that the EU, for the first time, is speaking about possible economic sanctions on Israel if they proceed with any form of annexation.
Whether it is a political survival tactic of a Palestinian leadership fearing total irrelevance, the EU’s supreme concern with being compliant with their own laws, or pro-Israel organizations and many Israelis who are shocked that their hollow motto of an Israel that is “Jewish and democratic” is rapidly unraveling for all to see, they all miss the point. It is past time that all stakeholders take note that the Palestinian struggle for freedom, independence and return home of refugees are the issues. Until these are addressed head-on for the just case they constitute, the conflict will not end. If annexation happens, yet again, it makes sense for Palestinians to remain on track in their long-haul struggle and not play into the U.S.-Israel annexation game. Other than the U.S., a longtime accomplice in this ongoing crime against Palestinians, no other meaningful country will recognize Israeli annexation.
In his full-court press to stay out of jail on the three corruption indictments Netanyahu he is facing, he is taking Israel down a very deep hole, one they may never exit. If annexation proceeds, as most expect it will, albeit incrementally as is Israel’s trademark, its rogue status around the world will continue to deepen in places unexpected — think Jordan, Egypt, and EU. Worse yet, for Israel, is its flagrant racism, structural discrimination, and blatant disregard for a rules-based world will be publicly visible for all to see.