Palestine Update 326
Of land, laws, and boycotts
Often times, a map is a mere sheet of paper that shows one where a certain location can be identified. It is meant to be a helpful aid to find one’s way around. But when maps are sprayed with deceptive politics, its time to be agile and alert to its manipulations. In colonial practice, there was always the attempt to draw and redraw maps to suit colonial intent, to divide up countries, and carve up confusion futures. For example, it was said that Kuwait was the product of a British General’s drunken fancy- a line that said that ‘this is Kuwait begins; and this is where Iraq ends.” Most pre-colonial borders were fuzzy. Europeans changed that, carving up territory by drawing lines on maps. The article Maps, Technology, and Decolonial Spatial Practices in Palestine which argues that while maps served as a ‘vehicles of erasure’, it is possible to employ the map as an expression of geographic rethinking and a tool of resistance. Such applies to archives and the knowledge there from. Also to unleash hidden records as a way of exposing the truth towards justice!
Knowledge makes one dangerous in a positive sense. Danger exists when there is an imbalance of power between two parties, and one of them is willing to use their power to their own advantage even if the other party suffers for it. Knowledge creates the advantage of understanding beforehand what is more likely to be the effect of some action or event. And it may supply the understanding of how to be a “cause” instead of just being “exposed”.
This issue of Palestine Updates focuses on this aspect of politics in the Middle East.
Maps, Technology, and Decolonial Spatial Practices in Palestine
This policy brief examines the varied ways that Palestinians have been excluded from maps of their own land, from the start of the British Mandate to the present day. It argues that poorly mapped localities alter the way that Palestinians understand space and alienate them from their homeland. It also explores alternative, subversive maps as ways of recognizing the past, appraising the present, and imagining the future. It concludes that maps, though intricately linked to both British and Israeli colonialism, and consistently used as vehicles of erasure, can be reclaimed as expressions of geographic imagination and a means of resistance.
Ottoman archives help Palestinians reclaim their land
Deeds 100 years old from the Ottoman archives are helping the Palestinians in their battle to prove their rights to lands around Jerusalem, Judea and Samarria that have been confiscated by Israel. Turkish officials had announced as early as 2015 that they were handing Ottoman documents to the Palestinians to help them claim ownership of properties taken over by Israel. The archives included “land registers, sultans’ decrees and historical documents proving the property ownership of Palestinians in Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories.” In 2018, a full electronic archive of 140,000 documents was available, spanning over 400 years of Ottoman rule in Palestinian lands.
Israel Hayom newspaper published an article Jan. 2, titled “Erdogan’s Quiet Jihad,” reporting that Turks handed the Palestinians 140,000 microfilm pages from the Ottoman archives in an effort to extend their “influence-peddling in Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount…The Palestinians see these documents as a game-changer in their battle with Israel over land. They have already used the archive to challenge Israeli ownership of land and real estate in various parts of the country,” the article noted, adding that the Turkish authorities delivered the microfilms to the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Ankara last year.
NGOs Urge UN to disclose firms involved in Israel’s Settlements
Ramallah-based human rights group Al-Haq released Tuesday a statement urging the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and its chief Michelle Bachelet to publish a database listing companies that “directly and indirectly, enabled, facilitated and profited from the construction and growth of the settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” The database was created in 2016 after the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) voted the resolution 31/36 instructing the OHCHR to create a list of businesses engaged in activities in Israel’s settlements.
The list should have been submitted to the HCR at its 34th session in March 2017 and updated annually since. However, this was never done. “After three years since the adoption of resolution 31/36 and more than two years of its initial scheduled release at the 34th HRC session, the OHCHR is yet to release the U.N. database,” Al-Haq said.
With international law under siege, can the ICC bring justice to Palestinians?
As the ICC prosecutor’s investigation awaits a green light, Palestinian experts reflect on what the legal battle portends for their struggle.
Even with the legal proceedings going forward, the experts warn that heavy political pressure against the court could prolong the process, interfere in the investigation, and block the arrest of indicted suspects in the future. This pressure is principally coming from Israel and the U.S. — neither of which signatories to the Rome Statute and both of which are are openly undermining the court (the Trump administration has denied visas to Bensouda and other ICC personnel for investigating U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan). European reactions have also been apprehensive, if not antagonistic, toward the ICC campaign. Despite proclaiming their commitment to international law, European governments have discouraged Palestinian efforts to actually enforce that law, including through sanctions and accountability measures.
BDS backer upsets tranquility of Israel’s first English-speaking herb confab
Israel’s first ever English-speaking conference on medicinal herbs has received more attention that its organizers bargained for – from an activist in the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divest and Sanctions campaign. The conference, set to take place at the Poriya Guest House, just south of Tiberias, in northern Israel, from February 9 to 11, is the brainchild of Ancient Roots — an informal group of herbalists. It has been planned to coincide with the Jewish holiday of Tu B’Shvat, commonly known as the new year of the trees, and was expected to attract a few dozen participants.
One speaker called 7Song from the US and another from Northern Ireland, Danny O’Rawe, announced that they would not be attending the conference after all. At the center of the ruckus was one Shabina Lafleur-Gangji, a Canadian herbalist who, it emerged, had been taken on to edit the AHG’s journal? “The conference had no Palestinian or Muslim speakers included in their lineup, yet included a speaker who referred to Palestinians as a non-people who willfully left their ancestral lands. “I am someone who absolutely stands behind the BDS movement, not because I hate Israeli folks, but because of the LOVE I have for Palestinians,” she continued. “I believe they are entitled to dignity, human rights, clean water, education, healthcare, and the ability to live freely on their ancestral lands.” She then celebrated having been able to persuade the two speakers to “retract their support for the conference in solidarity with folks in living under the brutal force of Israeli apartheid.”