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Book Review: The Persistence of the Palestinian Question

Joseph Massad’s new book THE PERSISTENCE OF THE PALESTINIAN QUESTION comprises a collection of essays that address the question of Palestine from a number of new angles, covering a broad spectrum of fields in which history is made — official politics, sexual politics, popular resistance, national and social struggle, demography, ideology and state repression. In this review, Sally Bland writes that Massad recognises that the “peace process” has been a disaster for Palestinians, but rather than merely bemoaning this outcome, he seeks the roots of the problem, delving into awkward corners that most prefer to ignore. 

UN commander holds 'productive' talks on securing final Israeli withdrawal

The acting head of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Lebanon today held further “productive” talks with senior Lebanese and Israeli officers aimed at securing Israel’s speedy withdrawal from the last position it occupies in the south of the country after this summer’s war with Hizbollah. “Minor administrative issues with relation to Ghajar residents are still pending, and UNIFIL (UN Interim Force in Lebanon) hopes they will be solved at the next meeting early next week,” the Mission said in a statement. 

Barred from Contact: Violation of the Right to Visit Palestinians Held in Israeli Prisons

Israel holds in prison more than 9,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The vast majority are held in prisons situated inside Israel’s sovereign territory, and not in the Occupied Territories. Holding these prisoners and detainees in Israel flagrantly breaches international humanitarian law, which prohibits the transfer of civilians, including detainees and prisoners, from the occupied territory to the territory of the occupying state. 

An anxious arrival in Tel Aviv

My main reason for being here in Israel-Palestine again for the fourth time is to do free lance photojournalism and further document widespread human rights abuses that Israel commits every day against Palestinian Arab people in the West Bank and Gaza; the Israeli government is trying to slowly suffocate them and steal their land, making life so miserable that they will leave. I can’t tell the Israeli security officer about my real reasons for coming here, for if I do, I will be detained. My passport will be stamped “Entry Denied,” and I will be placed on the very next flight back to Amsterdam. 

Hebrew University discriminates against Arab citizen visitors

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem demands that Palestinian citizens of Israel who wish to visit its campuses present a character reference from the police as a condition for entrance. An email to this effect was received today by the Alternative Information Center (AIC), which was planning to host a publications stand at Hebrew University next week for the opening of the 2006-2007 academic year. The AIC received an email stating that “every participant [of a publication stand] planning to come to the university who is a minority member must bring an (official) character reference.” ‘Minority member’ is an oft-used racist term in Hebrew to refer to Palestinians. 

Lieberman out of the shadows: Israel's Minister of Strategic Threats

The furore that briefly flared this week at the decision of Israel’s Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, to invite Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beiteinu party into the government coalition is revealing, but not in the way most observers assume. Lieberman, a Russian immigrant, is every bit the populist and racist politician he is portrayed as being. Like many of his fellow politicians, he harbours a strong desire to see the Palestinians of the occupied territories expelled, ideally to neighbouring Arab states or Europe. Lieberman, however, is more outspoken than most in publicly advocating for this position. 

"I will only leave this house in a coffin"

“Iraqis want us to leave their country. Militias started to target us and force us out from our houses accusing us of being Saddam’s followers. Sometimes I work as a vegetable seller to get some money since I lost my job and my family needs to eat. I am desperate and do not have a choice and don’t know where to go. … They [militias] killed my father, brother, sister and two nephews because they refused to leave their home and I am sure that soon they will come after me. What will I do having four children to look after, without a job and without money? God bless us, the landless Palestinians.” 

Israeli Supreme Court rules for cancellation of promotion of October 2000 commander

In Landmark Decision, Supreme Court Orders Public Security Minister to Cancel Promotion of Senior Police Commander Benzi Sau as it Contradicts Recommendations of the Official Or Commission of Inquiry: On 24 October 2006, the Supreme Court of Israel ruled that the promotion of Benzi Sau, a senior police commander during the October 2000 protest demonstrations, by the Minister of Public Security should be cancelled as it contradicts the conclusions of the official Or Commission of Inquiry. The Court ordered Sau to resign from his current position as Head of the Minister of Public Security’s Operational Staff Unit within one month. 

UN Force Commander concerned at rising number of Israeli air violations

The military leader of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) today voiced serious concern over the increasing number of air violations over South Lebanon by Israeli planes, with nine occurring during the past 24 hours. “It is in the best interest of all the parties on the ground to respect the terms of Security Council Resolution 1701 in letter and spirit,” said Force Commander Major-General Alain Pellegrini, referring to the text which ended the fighting in the area and expanded the UN force there. UNIFIL said today that almost all of its battalions have reported air violations taking place in their area of operations. 

"This will be the worst Eid of my life"

While Gazans should have been preparing for the Eid Al Fitr, the fight for survival became all the more pressing. As 46-year-old English teacher Majed Rashid said, “There is no taste for this Eid, it’s a sad Eid.” Rashid continued to speak candidly. “This will be the worst Eid of my life because we are facing the worst humanitarian situation yet. There are no salaries due to the siege imposed on us by the American administration. If you have children then you know what I mean. I don’t have enough money to buy new clothes, candies, toys and edeyyah [money given to children at Eid] for my four kids.”