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They're Palestinians, not 'Israeli Arabs'

Submitted by Sydney Barakat,

Author: Saree Makdisi,
Can you imagine reading an editorial in a respected newspaper today discussing the rights of "Negroes" or "Chinamen"? Probably not. And yet, like other newspapers in this country, The Times continues to use the generic term "Arabs" or "Israeli Arabs" to refer to the Palestinians who live inside Israel, falsely distinguishing them from the Palestinians who live in the territories occupied by Israel in 1967 or those who were driven into exile during the destruction of Palestine in 1948.

The term is, at best, an archaism from the mid-20th century that Palestinians themselves resist using. Using it is akin to using "Negroes" or "Coloreds" instead of "African Americans" or calling Asians "Orientals." In general, the term that an ethnic or national group uses to designate itself is surely preferable to the terms that its antagonists have historically used to designate it.

But what's at stake here is not merely rhetoric but a form of historical distortion that makes it all but impossible for readers to fully grasp the nature of the conflict.

Palestinian artists and intellectuals as well as the most important institutions of Palestinian civil society inside Israel, including the human rights organization Adalah and the Mada al-Carmel research center, use the term "Palestinians" to identify and affiliate themselves and to assert their indissoluble connection to the rest of the Palestinian people.

In 2007, Adalah drafted a constitution for what it envisages as a genuinely multicultural and truly democratic state of Israel (i.e., not the state as it actually exists, which treats Palestinians as second-class citizens). It states, for example, "The Palestinian Arab citizens of the State of Israel have lived in their homeland for innumerable generations. Here they were born, here their historic roots have grown, and here their national and cultural life has developed and flourished. They are active contributors to human history and culture as part of the Arab nation and the Islamic culture and as an inseparable part of the Palestinian people."  Mada al-Carmel's Haifa Declaration — the single most important collective declaration of and by the Palestinians inside Israel — similarly states, "We, sons and daughters of the Palestinian Arab people who remained in our homeland despite the Nakba, who were forcibly made a minority in the State of Israel after its establishment in 1948 on the greater part of the Palestinian homeland; do hereby affirm in this Declaration the foundations of our identity and belonging, and put forth a vision of our collective future, one which gives voice to our concerns and aspirations and lays the foundations for a frank dialogue among ourselves and between ourselves and other peoples."

Just as Palestinians existed as a people before the dismemberment of their homeland, they continue to exist as a people afterward.
As these declarations remind us, the Palestinians inside Israel are the remnant of the Palestinian people who survived the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948, when the majority of the country’s Muslim and Christian population was driven into exile in what Palestinians call the Nakba. As Adalah puts it most succinctly, their political status “was changed against their will, making them a minority in their homeland.”  Adalah adds, “they did not relinquish their national identity.”

This is not merely assertion on the part of these institutions (though, frankly, even if it were, that would be enough to take it seriously); the destruction of Palestine and the dispersal of the Palestinian people is a matter of the historical record established by Israeli, Palestinian and other scholars, which only a last few scattered apologists for Israel continue to question.

Just as Palestinians existed as a people before the dismemberment of their homeland, they continue to exist as a people afterward. To refer to some Palestinians as Palestinian and others merely as deracinated "Arabs" is to doubt or negate their claim to a national existence as a people both historically and in the present. And in any case, it's not up to The Times — or anyone else — to determine who counts as Palestinian and who doesn't.

In fact, to use the ethnic term "Arab" to describe the Palestinians inside Israel is to strip them of any national identity — not only the national identity that they themselves assert, but quite literally any national identity whatsoever, given that, according to a 2013 ruling of the Israeli Supreme Court, "Israeli" is not a national identity. (For all its loose talk of democracy, Israel considers itself, after all, the state of the Jewish people rather than the state of its actual citizens or of those over whom it rules.) To reduce and describe people merely as an ethnicity shorn of national identity is, even if implicitly, to negate their political identity and to deny their rights, which, especially in this case, has very disturbing implications.

Moreover, to use different designations for the Palestinians inside Israel and the Palestinians in the occupied territories and in exile is to obscure, if not to deny altogether, the unity and continuity of the Palestinian people. The fact that the Palestinians inside Israel are an integral part of the Palestinian people is absolutely central to the history of this conflict as well as key to its resolution. Times readers will have no way of knowing that, given the newspaper's use of different designations for different parts of the Palestinian people.

Finally, and most importantly, Palestinians themselves — those inside Israel and those in the occupied territories and around the world — have asserted their identity as a people. It's unacceptable to deny or at best ignore these assertions, to look the other way, or pretend not to hear, when a people insists that they are a people and that they have a right to freedom and a will to be free.
Source: L.A. Times
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Cartoons of the Day

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The 'Moderate Axis' Attacking 'Axis of Resistance' in Yemen

Saudi Arabia and four other Gulf states, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, together with Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and Sudan launched a military operation against Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen.

Adel al-Jubair, Saudi ambassador to the US, said on Wednesday that a coalition consisting of 10 countries, including the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), had begun airstrikes at 7pm Eastern time.
Houthis captured city of Aden in the south after military confrontations with GCC-backed president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who fled later on to Oman.

Top US diplomat "commended the work of the coalition taking military action against the Houthis" and noted Washington's support "including intelligence sharing, targeting assistance, and advisory and logistical support for strikes against Houthi targets," the State Department official said.

Read also on AW360:
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is preparing Yemen's battle from the South.
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Israeli Delegation Heads To France Ahead of Final Round of Iran Nuclear Talks

A senior Israeli delegation traveled to Paris Sunday afternoon to discuss the nuclear deal coming together between Iran and world powers. The meeting between Israeli and French officials is set for Monday, two days before the final, decisive round of nuclear talks gets underway in Switzerland, where the sides will try to determine a framework for continuing the nuclear talks.

The Israeli delegation includes National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen, Strategic and Intelligence Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz and other senior figures in the Foreign Ministry and intelligence community. They are expected to meet French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and members of the French negotiating team taking part in the Iran talks, led by French Foreign Ministry political director for Iranian affairs, Nicolas de Riviere.

The Israeli delegation’s trip is a last-ditch effort to influence the understandings taking shape between Iran and the P5+1 – the U.S., Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany. They are meeting with French officials because they hold the toughest stance vis-a-vis Iran. The Israelis believe they can improve the developing agreement by persuading the French to improve it.

In the last round of talks between Iran and world powers in Lausanne, Switzerland, significant differences emerged between the positions of France and the U.S. that made progress in the talks difficult.

France called for Iran to implement the International Atomic Energy Agency’s demand that it disclose information about the possible military nature of its nuclear program as a condition for any agreement with world powers. The UN watchdog suspects that Iran tested a long-range missile that can carry a nuclear warhead several years ago and also tested nuclear detonation mechanisms.

In light of the differences between France and the U.S., the foreign ministers of those countries met in London with their British and German counterparts on Saturday in an effort to reach united position. President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande also discussed the subject by telephone.

The final round of nuclear talks between Iran and world powers opens Wednesday in Lausanne, a week before the March 31 deadline set to reach a framework agreement for a nuclear deal. If the sides come to an agreement, the talks will continue through June in an attempt to finalize a comprehensive deal.

The Iranian foreign minister and U.S. secretary of state are expected to attend the last round of negotiations, and the other foreign ministers may attend as well.

Despite progress made, gaps remain between the two sides’ positions and it remains unclear whether a framework agreement will be possible by the end of the month.

French officials say that the March 31 deadline is an unofficial date that was raised by the Americans due to political pressure from Congress, which is threatening to impose additional sanctions against Iran. They said they told the Americans that, as far as they are concerned, the end of June is the decisive timeframe.

France also opposes quickly lifting the international sanctions on Iran, particularly those imposed by the UN Security Council. Foreign Minister Fabius even called his delegation at the end of the last rounds of talks and demanded they not accept any deal that provides immediate sanctions relief. France believes that removing some of the sanctions too quickly would diminish the leverage world powers hold over Iran to fulfill its part of the deal.

The disagreement between the U.S. and France also relates to the duration of the agreement between world powers and Iran, with the former willing to accept a 10-year deal to curb the Iranian nuclear program. The French want a deal to be in effect for a minimum of 15 years.

Source: Haaretz
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Israel To Build A New Barrier

By Sydney Barakat

Israel to build a new barrier in ​only ​border­-free zone in the region

Israel continues to build ­ versus break ­ barriers. The Israeli government’s most recent ambitions, which seek to build yet another wall, show how little Israel is concerned with desegregating itself from other countries in the area.

According to and PressTV, the Israeli government’s latest plan is to build a brand new fence along the Jordan border in order to protect an Airport that will be constructed in the area.
The suggestion has already been approved by Israeli officials and members of the government. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had voiced his pre­acceptance of the notion to build a fence along the Jordan border back in 2012.

However, with the recent outbreak of protests in Israel held to demonstrate widespread disapproval of Netanyahu’s politics, ( and considering his recent failure­-of­-a-­speech made to the US Congress) and with the Israeli elections approaching, it is unforeseeable which further plans or actions will be taken as far as building the new barrier goes.

This will be the year that many nations will learn that borders are not the answer to substantiating peace and solidarity within the international and global communities as a whole.
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Reports: “Israeli Soldier Killed As Syrian Army Targets Gunmen In Quneitra”

According to reports by the Almayadeen News Agency and the Al-Akhbar News Agency, an Israeli officer was shot and killed, a few days ago, “during a meeting between Israeli officers and officials of the Free Syrian Army” in al-Quneitra city, southwest of Syria.
Map: Quneitra governate
The reports allege the officer was among a number of Israeli commanders who met with leaders of the “Free Syrian Army” a few days ago, including Abu Osama an-Na’imi, who was also killed in the incident. 

They said the officer; referred to as “Johnny,” was killed when Syrian soldiers targeted a site belonging to the Free Syrian Army in the al-Fitian town, in the Quneitra suburb. 

According to the Almayadeen report, the Israeli commander, in addition to Abu Osama and, a Jordanian officer, were planning to attack Daraa and al-Quneitra to obstruct the Syrian army after it managed to advance into the area for the first time since mid-February. 

In addition, the Al-Akhbar News Agency in Lebanon said it is likely that the Israeli commander was in charge of communications in a unit of the Givati Israeli Brigade, and was allegedly “involved in training armed fighters in Syria on advanced communication systems.”

Al-Akbar quoted unnamed senior sources stating that the location where Israel said its officer “was injured by a live round” is relatively far from areas of clashes; therefore, “it is possible Israel is preparing to declare the death of its soldier without defining a clear geographical location.
Source: IMEMC

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Iranian FM Responds To The Republicans' Letter

Iran’s Foreign Minister, Dr. Javad Zarif has issued a response on behalf of Iran regarding the open letter sent to the Islamic Republic of Iran and drafted by Republican Senator Tom Cotton and signed by 46 other Republican Senators. The response is nothing less than damnin,g and highlights the (new) international embarrassment the Republican Party has brought upon the United States. In the statement Dr. Zarif, stated:

“In our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy. It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history.”

He goes on to suggest that Netanyahu, along with the Republicans who signed the letter, view peace as an “existential threat.”

Oh, wait there’s more. Dr. Zarif goes even further. According to the statement, after reading the letter, Dr. Zarif expressed astonishment at the utter lack of understanding of not only international law, but even the United States Constitution. The statement reads:

“…it seems that the authors not only do not understand international law, but are not fully cognizant of the nuances of their own Constitution when it comes to presidential powers in the conduct of foreign policy.”

The letter made claims that if a peace agreement is made without ratification from Congress, they will consider it an “executive agreement” and it could be revoked by a future president. The letter reads:

“… we will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei. The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”

Dr. Zarif responds to this by saying:

“Change of administration does not in any way relieve the next administration from international obligations undertaken by its predecessor in a possible agreement about Iran’s peaceful nuclear program. I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement with the stroke of a pen, as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law.”

The statement then goes on to inform the Republicans that current negotiations will not result in a bilateral agreement between the United States and Iran. It will, in fact, have the full participation of five other countries, including all permanent members of the Security Council and it will have to be endorsed by the Security Council resolution.

Now, not only are the Republican Senators facing serious allegations of committing treason, they are also now being schooled on international and United States constitutional law by Iran.

Source: Addicting Info
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French Cartoonist Zeon Arrested for Anti-Zionist Work

The French cartoonist Zeon was arrested Tuesday morning by four police officers of the Brigade of Repression of Delinquency People (BRDP).

At 7 am, four police officers woke the cartoonist to take him before the judge to the High Court Instance of Paris. A complaint appears to have been filed by the BNVCA (National Bureau of Vigilance against Anti-Semitism).

The complaint seems to refer to the drawing – for which Zeon had yet been released last year by the 17th chamber – representing a balance and unbalanced weight of several historical crimes, but also for another drawing, which was not retained by the prosecutor at the trial, representing a Palestinian child stabbed by a knife-shaped Israel.

The judge has indicted the designer of incitement to racial, religious hatred, by speech, writing, picture or means of electronic communication. Zeon refused to answer his questions. He was set free in late morning.

Quick reminder on the BNVCA

The National Bureau of Vigilance against Racism and Anti-Semitism was founded by the Commissioner of Police Sammy Ghozlan in March 2002 with Union support Jewish bosses of France and the Word and Light Association (offshoot of the Simon Center Wiesenthal).

According BNVCA site itself, this organization has a unique community privilege to make complaints of “anti-Semitic aggression.”

Source: Non-Aligned Media
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Don’t Believe Media Coverage of Venezuela

By Sonali Kolhatkar

Diplomatic relations between Venezuela and the U.S. have just taken a big hit, with the government of Nicolas Maduro demanding that the American Embassy in Caracas reduce its staff by 80% and that U.S. visitors apply for visas.

Most symbolically, Venezuela has now barred a number of U.S. officials from visiting, including George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. The backdrop to these political moves is a new crisis within Venezuela that has an old script: right-wing leaders plan a coup, with the U.S. deeply implicated; wealthy protesters take to the streets; and the Western media cover both stories with great sympathy while openly mocking the democratically elected government for attempting to defend itself.

The latest crisis began when authorities acting on Maduro’s orders arrested Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma in mid-February. A well-known right-wing opposition figure, Ledezma will face trial for conspiracy against the government in what is now being called the “blue coup.” Among the pieces of evidence the government says it has collected are phone calls made by the mayor to a U.S. phone number, as well as a cache of weapons, including Molotov cocktails, grenade-like explosives and gas masks, found in the office headquarters of the opposition political party.

Ledezma is being held in the same facility as another right-wing politician, Leopoldo Lopez, who was arrested last year for overseeing a plan called La Salida, or “the exit,” to overturn the government. Lopez has had dealings with U.S. government figures including Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. According to Wikileaks, the two apparently “discussed possible media strategies with Lopez, and methods for getting his positive message to audiences in the U.S.” Just before Ledezma’s arrest, he, Lopez and other right-wing opposition leaders, including Maria Corina Machado, had signed a document calling for a “National Transition”—a move the government says was a precursor to a U.S.-backed coup.

The U.S. has long been involved in attempts to destabilize Venezuela’s socialist government. Its role in the 2002 coup against Hugo Chavez is well-documented. Over the years, many organizations, including ones in which right-wing opposition figures are involved, have received funding from the likes of USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), both U.S.-based agencies notorious for fomenting unrest in countries hostile to U.S. interests. For example, Machado headed an organization named Sumate that has received funding from the NED.

U.S. officials have also made no secret about their hostility to Venezuela. Last year the Obama administration imposed sanctions on a number of Venezuelan officials it claims are implicated in human rights abuses and corruption, although it is keeping the list of names secret. In President Obama’s 2015 National Security Strategy, he announced that the U.S. would “stand by the citizens of countries where the full exercise of democracy is at risk, such as Venezuela.”

Despite this documentation of American animosity toward Venezuela, media outlets continue to harbor an inexplicable blind spot on the U.S. role. The New York Timesopined last week in what we can consider Exhibit A in the case against media coverage of Venezuela:

Listening to embattled President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela ramble for hours about an international right-wing conspiracy to oust him, it’s clear that he would use any fabricated pretext to jail opposition leaders and crack down on dissent. In recent days, the government’s claims have become outlandish and its repression of critics even more vicious.
Professor Miguel Tinker Salas, one of the few U.S.-based experts on Venezuela, has written a book that will be released May 4 titled “Venezuela: What Everyone Needs to Know.” In an interview on “Uprising,” he responded to the editorial, saying, “We know that there was a historical amnesia on the part of the New York Times that celebrated the 2002 coup against Hugo Chavez.”
Salas was referring to the paper’s mea culpa at initially celebrating that coup and then retracting its words days later when it was overturned. In its new editorial, the paper failed to raise the historical context of U.S. backing for the 2002 coup or its own contradictory stances dismissing Maduro’s concerns. 
Exhibit B is The Economist, which went as far as headlining the current crisis in Venezuela “A slow-motion coup.” If by “coup” the magazine means “coup d’état”—which is generally defined as the illegal takeover of a government—then it is unclear what the writers mean, for the article claims the “regime is lurching from authoritarianism to dictatorship.” (Is Maduro’s government organizing a coup against itself?) The magazine also goes on to assert that “Crackpot economic policies have brought food shortages, soaring inflation and rising poverty.”

Salas explained that the writers are irked by the fact that “[s]ixty percent of the government’s budget actually goes to social programs and [the opposition] would rather it go to infrastructure and oil companies so that they can produce more oil and have a larger supply of oil on the world market, and have it be privately owned.”

Thanks to this type of media coverage, the Venezuelan right-wing opposition has been extremely successful at generating sympathy, especially among the U.S. public, and even among American celebrities. Last year’s right-wing protests inspired a shout-outby actor Jared Leto during his Oscar acceptance speech, a supportive blog post by Kevin Spacey and even a social media post by singer Madonna.
What neither the Times nor The Economist nor the supportive celebrities notice are the troubling double standards of criticizing Venezuela when a close U.S. ally such as Mexico suffers from far worse problems of anti-democratic corruption and violence. Salas pointed out the hypocrisy, saying that 43 people were killed in Venezuela last year on both sides of the divide, and still, “The New York Times blames the government for these deaths, and yet they remain silent about the 43 students that were killed in Mexico.” Additionally, Salas pointed out, although Mexico has “100,000 dead and a real humanitarian crisis,” the Times says “almost nothing, while on Venezuela they ... mock the government.”
November 2014 editorial by the Times on Mexico’s 43 missing students expressed not nearly as much vitriol for that country’s clearly corrupt and discredited government as the paper reserves for Venezuela’s Maduro, whom it called “authoritarian,” “erratic” and “maniacal.” 

Additionally, The Economist’s mocking of Venezuela’s economic crisis is also hypocritical because, according to Salas, in Mexico, “fifty percent of the population lives in poverty” and yet the country “is portrayed as a model for Western development and neo-liberal economics.” And while media outlets make fun of Venezuela’s toilet paper shortage, Salas counters that in Mexico, which is a U.S. ally, huge numbers of “people don’t even have access to basic services and foods.”

Media coverage of Venezuela is so skewed that even the contentious issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems to generate fairer coverage these days. Salas attributed the bias to the savvy organizing of right-wing Venezuelan groups, who he says have “learned the lesson very well from Cuban Americans in Miami and South Florida, so they know how to target the media, they know how to create public opinion and they have done that very well.”

But Salas thinks there is another explanation, and that is “the lack of knowledge that existed about Venezuela in the U.S. before Hugo Chavez came to power.” Most of what Americans knew about the country other than that it had abundant oil reserves was the fact that it once won a Miss Universe contest and was home to a few good baseball players. That ignorance has been a perfect blank slate on which the U.S. government, mainstream media and right-wing opposition parties have been able to carve their warped perspectives about Venezuela’s left-wing government.
Source: Truthdig
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The Next Battle in Yemen

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is preparing Yemen's battle from the South.

The resigned president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi secretly left his house in Sana'a and fled to Aden. The GCC-backed president rescinded his resignation and attempted to reclaim his position again.

Earlier on September 21, Iran-backed Houthis captured the capital Sana'a and controlled the main governmental institutions.

Ministerial communiqué from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) asked the Security Council to authorize the use of military intervention in Yemen under Chapter 7 of the UN charter.

The UN Security Council Resolution 2201 (2015) includes three key elements:

First, while deploring the Houthis' control of key government institutions, the resolution emphasised the return to the GCC Initiative and the National Dialogue Conference outcomes as the legal foundations of Yemen's transitional period.
Second, the resolution called for the release of the president, Prime Minister Khalid Bahah, and other members of the Yemeni government.
Finally, the Security Council requested Ban to report back to the council on the implementation of this resolution after two weeks.

The ambassadors of Saudi Arabia and Qatar on Wednesday resumed their work in Aden, the Red Sea port city where Yemen’s President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi fled after escaping house arrest in Sana’a imposed by the powerful Houthi movement, a Gulf source told Asharq Al-Awsat.

An Iranian deputy foreign minister has warned against foreign interference in Yemen, saying the disintegration of the Arab country would benefit "no side" in the Middle East region.

“Moving towards Yemen’s disintegration will be to the benefit of no side in the region,” Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, the Iranian deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs, said on Friday.

The Iranian official warned those seeking to impose a civil war in Yemen against making a strategic miscalculation with respect to the Arab country.

He said that the Yemeni people and leaders would not allow their “united” country to turn into another Somalia or Libya.

The mentioned Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat (link) mistakenly reported: "Aden, the Red Sea port city". In fact, Aden's water boundaries are the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden. But not the Red Sea.
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