Zachary Wales

Carter and Camp David, where it all began

Now it’s on. The debate over President Jimmy Carter’s Palestine: Peace not Apartheid has become a mainstream staple. Turn on Fox News and see resigned Carter aid Steve Berman bullied into saying that Carter is not only anti-Semitic, but supports terror. Open the New York Times,, Washington Post and find outraged columnists, petitioning consumers, D-Rep. Lady Macbeth washing her hands of that dreaded a-word. But like most things Israeli and Palestinian, few are taking note of history and what it might mean to an ex-president. 

The latest Carandiru: Somalia and Palestine

Somalia, like Palestine, is part of the global Carandiru. For those not familiar, Carandiru was Latin America’s largest and most notorious prison complex. In 1992, Brazilian military police stormed the Carandiru facility of Casa de Deten, massacring 111 defenseless inmates. Preceding this awful incident was an increasingly shameful public consciousness over the conditions of Carandiru: HIV transmission and drug abuse were rampant; overcrowding produced nightmarish sanitation problems. The military police were not murdering human beings, they were cleansing the public conscience. 

With the New Year, will Ha'aretz's op-ed page be any different?

On New Year’s Day, notions of resolve, reform, or reflection come as no surprise on newspaper editorial pages. Similarly unsurprising are the op-eders that carry on with business as usual. Things were no different on Ha’aretz’s opinion page, which kept an even keel of New Yearisms. Rather untypical, however, was the limited role that honesty played in the mix. The most curious example was the lead editorial, — often viewed as any paper’s mouthpiece — entitled, “Our obligation to refugees, as refugees.” 

A dialogue at Huwara Checkpoint

Why were you traveling in Nablus, he asks. There are beads of sweat on his upper lip, the stubble on his chin is fair. He has found a way to prop his M-4 carbine against the wall behind him so that its sling rests loosely on his shoulder. The blue-eyed corporal next to him slams his palm against a steel beam inches from a woman’s face. She startles and retreats to the imagined line behind us, corrects her hijab along her hair line and stares through him. 

Dovetailing violence

As Israel destroys Lebanon, the words of right-wing pundits, however indicting, crude or inhumane, do not necessarily warrant the most concern. They hail from a realm intellectual poverty, hatred and from the most unimaginative strain of racism. What is more concerning are those who purport to represent a liberal pacifist left, but who exploit catastrophes to advance subtle agendas; those who recoil at the words of Likud party hawks, then meet them for lunch an hour later. If the name Yossi Beilin comes to mind, then read no further. 

Ghost World, Palestine

They say that when one loses an appendage, the sensation never leaves. One is visited by a “referred pain”. Since 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza, approximately one third of all Palestinians have, at one time or another, languished in Israeli prisons, contributing to a vacuum in family life. Today, as Israel and the United States use the capture of three Israeli soldiers to justify civilian massacres in Gaza and Lebanon, nearly 9,000 Palestinians are held in Israel’s detention facilities. 

Doublethinking Palestine

Three weeks ago, U.S. Congressmen Michael McCaul (R-Tex.) and Joseph Crowley (D-NY) solicited a bill concerning the “persecution” of Palestine’s Christian communities. The initiative attempts to intervene in Palestinian-Israeli politics by presuming that the Palestinian Christian minority in the West Bank and Gaza is “systematically” oppressed by the Muslim majority-and that punitive sanctions should apply. It is founded on the sweeping assumption that because Muslims outnumber Christians in the Palestinian territories, and because the Muslim fundamentalist Hamas party now dominates the Palestinian National Authority, Palestinian Christians are necessarily under threat. 

Looking for Shalit

It would be too simple to sum up Israel’s recent military incursions in Gaza as a humanitarian disaster. But beneath the immediate surface, we find those who task themselves with generating meaning where actions are inexplicable. Among them are the mainstream U.S. media, who squeeze water from stones, invoking the pretense of Qassam rockets - the latest fetish symbol of Arab confusion and savagery since suicide bombs - and now the youthful face of kidnapped Corporal Gilad Shalit, whose picture has become an exploitative reminder on nearly every Internet news story related to Gaza, whether it mentions him or not. 

Waiting to Exhale

On Tuesday, state mouthpiece Israel News Agency delivered the verdict the world was waiting for: Israel was not guilty of the shelling on Beit Lahiya’s beach that wiped out a family of eight last Friday. The trend is distinctly Orwellian yet familiar. The harder reality bites, the bigger Israel lies. But the story the media missed rests less in the allegations and disputed facts, and more in the space where the world waited to exhale. That is, while the media interrogated all the possibilities — or in the above examples, only one — it forgot to interrogate itself. 

Summer Time and the Living's Uneasy

On Wednesday afternoon, 23-year-old Sama was stepping out of a taxi in Ramallah’s bustling Manara Circle, when machine gun fire erupted. An undercover Israeli Defense Force (IDF) kidnapping mission, aimed at a senior Islamic Jihad figure, had run amok. Sama took cover in a side-street as the events unfolded. It started with youths hurling stones at the IDF agents — they were disguised as locals — and setting their car ablaze. Within minutes, about 11 armored IDF jeeps arrived, surrounding the Lo’Lo’A building on Manara, where the agents supposedly were. Two IDF helicopters came on the scene to provide further backup as the IDF made its violent withdrawal.