The Electronic Intifada

Breaking Oslo's Unmagical Spell


At a time in which the Palestinian people are desperately lost between the harsh reality of occupation and the uncertainty of a changing internal political landscape, a sober assessment and restructuring of the foundations of the so-called “peace process” may be our best attempt at reversing, or at least containing, the damage that has beset the Palestinian cause since the (evident) end of the first Palestinian Intifada (uprising) in 1993. Given the complete failure of the Oslo Agreement, and in light of the new dynamics governing the current regional and global political stages, what we desperately need is a fully restructured framework for negotiations. 

Building an edifice on blackmail


Richard Rogers, the noted British architect, was recently summoned to the offices of the Empire State Development Corp. to explain his connection to a group called Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine which has called for a boycott of Israel’s construction industry to protest the apartheid wall. Empire State is overseeing the redesign of New York’s $1.7-billion Javits Convention Center, and Rogers is the architect on the job. EI contributor Saree Makdisi explains how pro-Israel groups, enraged at Rogers’ association with the architects’ group used their political clout to force Rogers into obsequious professions of loyalty to Israel. 

Sane Britain disappears as Neocons set agenda


Until recently liberal Europeans were keen to distance themselves, at least officially, from the ideological excesses of the current American administration. They argued that the neo-conservative enthusiasm for the “war on terror” — and its underpinning ideology of “a clash of civilisations” — did not fit with Europe’s painful recent experiences of world wars and the dismantling of its colonial outposts around the globe, writes EI contributor Jonathan Cook. But there is every sign that the public dissociation is coming to a very rapid end. As criticism of Israel is increasingly not tolerated, it is becoming normal to see Muslims as a civilizational threat. 

Photostory: Israeli extremists' attack on Nazareth's most famous Christian church goes virtually unreported


Thousands of Nazarenes rushed to the Basilica of the Annunciation in the early evening of Friday March 3, as rumours swept the city that their church was under attack. For several minutes the congregation huddled together in fear of their lives before a priest and several churchgoers managed to overpower a grey-bearded man in jeans, 44-year-old Haim Habibi, an Israeli Jew accompanied by his wife, Violet, and the couple’s 20-year-old daughter Odelia. Almost from the outset the Israeli media downplayed the significance of the attack, saying only “firecrackers” had been set off by Habibi, who was described - without evidence - as being mentally disturbed. As a result, most of the world’s media ignored the event entirely. 

"Gaza Blues: Different Stories" provides surrealist snapshot of conflict


A collection of darkly humorous short stories by popular Israeli writer Etgar Keret and a novella by Palestinian writer Samir El-Youssef, the idea behind Gaza Blues was born during a particularly violent period of the intifada in 2002. The result is a set of stories that are not explicitly about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but rather, the people living it and the complexity of their existences. The snapshot Gaza Blues suitably offers is one of violence and tension. However, it successfully attempts to draw back the curtains on the tragedies and rhetoric of the conflict, its layered subtext forcing the readers to review their understanding of the lives inhabiting the conflict. 

Accusations of anti-semitic chic are poisonous intellectual thuggery


In recent weeks, claims of widespread “anti-Semitism” in the left have become increasingly frequent. London Mayor Ken Livingstone, the Church of England and the Guardian (over articles comparing Israel and apartheid) are the most recent to find themselves in the firing line. Yet the truth, unbearable to those laying such charges is that the left that identifies with the Palestinians today is largely the same left that identified with Israel in the 50s and the 60s. Moreover, it does so for largely the same reason: instinctive sympathy for the underdog. David Clark, a former advisor to the British government, says that claims of anti-Semitism are being cynically used to shock Israel’s critics into silence. 

Activism Call: Why are people afraid of Rachel Corrie's words?


Rachel Corrie was 23 years old when she was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer on March 16, 2003. She was working with others trying to protect the home of a Palestinian pharmacist from demolition in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Palestine. “My Name is Rachel Corrie” is a powerful one-woman show based entirely on the writings that Rachel left behind, telling her story from the time she was a small child, leading up to the days before her death. The play, edited by Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner from Rachel’s diaries and emails, was produced by the Royal Court Theatre in London. Starring Megan Dodds, it played to sold out audiences and wide acclaim. “My Name is Rachel Corrie” was scheduled to open at the New York Theatre Workshop on March 22nd. It has been postponed indefinitely, sparking much debate. 

Balata refugee camp under attack


The weekly reports of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights tell the frightening story of the Israeli occupation In its latest report of the week from 16 till 22 February 2006 it is mentioned that Balata refugee camp was invaded. Israeli troops “willfully killed two Palestinian children in Balata refugee camp, east of Nablus.” Most of the over thirty incursions took pace in Nablus and the neighbouring Balata refugee camp, killing three Palestinians, wounding thirty six civilians and arresting at least thirteen people. A number of houses were transformed into military sites. Adri Nieuwhof and Walid Abdelhadi researched the story behind the figures of the weekly report on the ground. 

Photostory: Freedom Theatre in Jenin aims to plant seeds of dignity


The spirit of resistance has not been beaten out of Jenin, was the message at the opening of the Freedom Theatre in Jenin refugee camp last weekend. Calls by speakers for the Palestinians to stand firm despite Israeli and American pressure resonated with the crowd, men on one side of the hall and women and children on the other. On one of the walls of the theatre hangs a series of photographs of the original theatre created by the late Arna Mer Khamis. Witnessing the devastating affects of the first intifada on children, Arna created a series of creative programmes to give beleaguered Palestinian children a means of expressing themselves. 

Punishing Hamas is punishing the Palestinian people


Israel claims, as it did years ago with the PLO, that it will not negotiate with anyone who does not recognize its “right to exist”. But for the past five years, writes EI contributor Hasan Abu Nimah, the Fatah-led PA, which recognizes Israel and opposes armed struggle has begged Israel for negotiations to no avail. The implementation of the two-state solution has not been blocked by Hamas or its violence, or its reluctance to recognize signed agreements. The main obstacle is Israel’s placement of 400,000 settlers throughout the West Bank in a manner calculated to preclude an Israeli withdrawal. It’s time for the international community to recognize this and change its hypocritical approach.