Arjan El Fassed

The writing on the wall spells "freedom"

“My dear Palestinian brothers and sisters, I have come to your land and I have recognized shades of my own.” These are the first 20 words of an open letter written by Farid Esack, a South African scholar and political activist known for his role in the struggle against apartheid. The total length of his letter is 1,998 carefully chosen words in which he argues that the situation in Palestine is worse than it ever was in South Africa under apartheid rule. The Electronic Intifada co-founder Arjan El Fassed comments. 

Durban II: no-show is slap in face of victims of apartheid

More and more Western countries are either announcing their boycott or are threatening to boycott Durban II, a United Nations conference scheduled for April to review progress made since the World Conference Against Racism held in Durban, South Africa in 2001. Earlier this month, Italy became the first EU member to withdraw from the event, stating that it could not endorse a draft agenda that criticizes Israel. The Electronic Intifada co-founder Arjan El Fassed comments. 

Breaking the Palestinian impasse

To end the Palestinian political impasse, elections for the Palestine National Council should be the top priority for all Palestinian parties. The 669-member Palestinian “parliament-in-exile” has not held a meeting since 1998 and its members have never been elected. Once a central body of the Palestine Liberation Organization, what is left of the PNC lacks all legitimacy. Arjan El Fassed comments for The Electronic Intifada. 

Palestine's greatest asset: its people

In January US president elect Barack Obama will be inaugurated as the new American head of state. The term of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will end a few days before that, and in February, Israeli elections will be held. In 2010 the term of the Palestinian Legislative Council is also set to expire. The Electronic Intifada co-founder Arjan El Fassed suggests how the Palestinian national movement should move forward, inclusive of Palestinians around the world. 

Dutch authorities let Israel get away with torture

Last May, although he was visiting the Netherlands, Dutch police failed to arrest Ami Ayalon, an Israeli government minister. An application for Ayalon’s arrest had been submitted to Dutch authorities by Khalid al-Shami, a Palestinian man who alleged he was tortured by Israel’s Shin Bet secret service when Ayalon ran it. It was a narrow escape; but credible reports indicate that Dutch authorities actively colluded with Israel to frustrate the course of justice. The Electronic Intifada’s Arjan El Fassed comments. 

Israel has won the European cup: a special relationship

Israel has now been granted the highest level of European Union relations available to a non-member state, despite the EU’s own finding that “little concrete progress” has been made on issues raised between Israel and the EU, namely Israel’s human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. EI co-founder Arjan El Fassed comments on the efforts towards a “more intense, more fruitful, more influential cooperation” between the EU and Israel. 

Beyond the make-believe of negotiations

Israel needs a Palestinian state — or at least the illusion of one — to mask the reality of apartheid where millions of Palestinians, soon to be the majority population between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, are ruled by a Jewish sectarian government in which they have no rights. EI co-founders Arjan El Fassed and Ali Abunimah comment. 

Palestine: Moving beyond collective denial

It was shocking to see Mahmoud Abbas, the designated head of the US-sponsored Palestinian Authority, warmly applaud the acknowledgement of Israel as a “Jewish state” and “homeland for the Jewish people” in Bush’s inaugural speech at Annapolis. With his clapping hands, Abbas supported the denial of his people’s history, in particular the 1948 mass expulsion that included the destruction of 531 villages and has been followed by the forced removal of Palestinians ever since. EI co-founder Arjan El Fassed comments on the need to object to this denial of Palestinian history. 

Abbas' Village League

For as long Palestinians have resisted violent Israeli policies against them, successive Israeli governments have tried to undermine Palestinian unity and foment divisions. A principal strategy has been to try to foster alternative leaders willing abandon fundamental Palestinian demands for justice and focus on an agenda with which Israel is comfortable. EI cofounder Arjan El Fassed parallels the Village Leagues established in the 1970s with the current system of Palestinian “self-rule” that instead serves to subcontract the occupation. 

Tony Blair: A true friend of Israel

“A true friend of the State of Israel,” said Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of his outgoing British counterpart Tony Blair. He was appointed this week as special envoy for the Middle East Quartet with a portfolio focused on Palestinian economic and political reform. “Tony Blair is a very well-appreciated figure in Israel,” said Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. According to an Israeli government statement, Israel “will provide [him] with all necessary assistance in order for him to carry out his duties.” EI’s Arjan El Fassed looks at Blair’s history and finds that it does not bode well for the Middle East’s future.