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JfJfP comments


2016:

06 May: Tair Kaminer starts her fifth spell in gaol. Send messages of support via Reuven Kaminer

04 May: Against the resort to denigration of Israel’s critics

2015:

23 Dec: JfJfP policy statement on BDS

14 Nov: Letter to the Guardian about the Board of Deputies

11 Nov: UK ban on visiting Palestinian mental health workers

20 Oct: letter in the Guardian

13 Sep: Rosh Hashanah greetings

21 Aug: JfJfP on Jeremy Corbyn

29 July: Letter to Evening Standard about its shoddy reporting

24 April: Letter to FIFA about Israeli football

15 April: Letter re Ed Miliband and Israel

11 Jan: Letter to the Guardian in response to Jonathan Freedland on Charlie Hebdo

2014:

15 Dec: Chanukah: Celebrating the miracle of holy oil not military power

1 Dec: Executive statement on bill to make Israel the nation state of the Jewish people

25 Nov: Submission to All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

7 Sept: JfJfP Executive statement on Antisemitism

3 Aug: Urgent disclaimer

19 June Statement on the three kidnapped teenagers

25 April: Exec statement on Yarmouk

28 Mar: EJJP letter in support of Dutch pension fund PGGM's decision to divest from Israeli banks

24 Jan: Support for Riba resolution

16 Jan: EJJP lobbies EU in support of the EU Commission Guidelines, Aug 2013–Jan 2014

2013:

29 November: JfJfP, with many others, signs a "UK must protest at Bedouin expulsion" letter

November: Press release, letter to the Times and advert in the Independent on the Prawer Plan

September: Briefing note and leaflet on the Prawer Plan

September: JfJfP/EJJP on the EU guidelines with regard to Israel

14th June: JfJfP joins other organisations in protest to BBC

2nd June: A light unto nations? - a leaflet for distribution at the "Closer to Israel" rally in London

24 Jan: Letter re the 1923 San Remo convention

18 Jan: In Support of Bab al-Shams

17 Jan: Letter to Camden New Journal about Veolia

11 Jan: JfJfP supports public letter to President Obama

Comments in 2012 and 2011

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Posts

Ban on movement is foundation of control


What would people living in any civilised society think if this was their daily route to work? Photo by Clare who blogged in Spending 3 months in the West Bank

The Closure of the West Bank and Gaza Has Lasted 26 Years

When Israel announces a lockdown of the occupied territories, it creates a false impression that the Palestinians normally have freedom of movement – that hasn’t existed since January 1991. [Defence minister Lieberman announced no Palestinian from Gaza or the West Bank could enter Israel October 4th-25th]

By Amira Hass, Haaretz premium
October 16, 2017

I was reminded of the great distance between 21 Schocken Street (the Haaretz offices) and Qalandiyah, Nablus or Jayyous with some of the articles published in Haaretz before the Sukkot holiday. They reminded me (again, again) how badly I have failed in my attempts to describe, explain and illustrate Israel’s policy of restrictions of movement. Because I have written reams on the closure policy in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank since it was first imposed in January 1991, I recognize my personal responsibility on the matter.

Several of my colleagues at Haaretz (including in one editorial) rightly criticized the order of the Israeli political and military leadership to prohibit the exit of Palestinians from the West Bank during the entire Sukkot holiday. The writers noted the cruelty of harming the livelihood of tens of thousands of workers with collective punishment, with a blockade.

But these articles created the false impression that the checkpoints are open to everyone normally and, consequently, somehow justify the word used by the military establishment – “crossings,” as though these are border crossings between two sovereign and equal states.

From the criticism in the articles, it appeared that, just as the average Israeli can board a bus or get into a car and travel eastward, freely, on any day of the week and at any hour, a rank-and-file Palestinian can likewise hit the same deluxe highways and head westward. To the sea. Or to Jerusalem. To their family in the Galilee; as they choose, on almost any day and at any hour, except on Shabbat and holidays.

So let’s say it once more: The closure has not been lifted since it was imposed on the population in the Gaza Strip and West Bank (not including East Jerusalem) on January 15, 1991. How should we define it today, more than 26 years on? The closure is the reinstatement of the Green Line – but only in one direction, and for one people. It is nonexistent for Jews, but it most certainly does exist for Palestinians (along with its new reinforcement – the West Bank separation barrier).

Sometimes, the closure is less hermetic; sometimes more so. In other words, sometimes more Palestinians receive entry permits into Israel, and sometimes fewer, or none at all, or almost none at all (Gaza). But it’s always a minority of Palestinians to whom Israel gives permits – and mostly because some sectors in the Israeli economy (mainly construction and agriculture, as well as the Shin Bet security service) need them.

For almost two decades, and for its own political calculations, Israel respected the Palestinians’ right to freedom of movement – with a few exceptions – and they entered Israel and traveled between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank without requiring a time-limited permit.

Since 1991, though, Israel has denied the right to freedom of movement to all Palestinians in these areas, with a few exceptions, according to criteria and quotas that it determines and changes as it sees fit.


All Palestinian men know the routine: on the command of a police officer or soldier they must spread their legs, lean forward onto a wall and let officers run their hands all over their bodies. Here it’s border police at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem Old City, May 6, 2016. Photo from Ammar Awad/Reuters.

January 1991 is ancient history for many readers and interested parties, some of whom were even born after this date. But for every Palestinian over the age of 42, January ’91 is one of the many dates that mark another retreat and negative reversal in their lives. [Before 1991, Palestinians could move freely within the oPt and Israel. This freedom was revoked in 1991.]

In the historiography of our domination over the Palestinians, January 15, 1991, should be studied as a cornerstone (not the first or the only one) in Israeli apartheid. One country from the sea to the river, two peoples, one government whose policy determines the lives of both peoples; the democratic right to elect a government is granted to only one people and to part of the second one. That is known. Two separate legal systems; two separate and unequal infrastructure systems – improved for one people, a rickety and deteriorating one for the second.

And, no less important: Freedom of movement for one people; different levels of reduced movement, up to a total absence of freedom of movement, for the other. The sea? Jerusalem? The friends who live in the Galilee? They’re all as far from Qalqilyah as the moon – and not only during the Sukkot holiday.

The technique of how the closure was actually implemented is also important. A drastic change never comes all at once, it is never declared publicly. It’s always presented as a response – not as an initiative. (Israelis view the closure as a means of preventing suicide bombings, conveniently ignoring its starting date long before the attacks began.)

Since 1991, the denial of freedom of movement has only become more technologically sophisticated: separate roads, checkpoints and search methods that are more humiliating and time-consuming; routine biometric identification; an infrastructure that enables a restoration of the checkpoints around the West Bank enclaves and separates them from each other. The calculated gradualness and failure to announce the policy and its objective in advance, and the internal closure of the Palestinian enclaves surrounded by Area C – all of these normalize the situation.

Closure (as a foundation of apartheid) is perceived as the natural, permanent state, the standard people no longer notice. That’s why only a temporary worsening of the situation, announced in advance, attracts any attention or recognition.

However, I’m not the megalomaniacal type so don’t carry all the responsibility on my own shoulders. The inability of words to describe and fully explain the many aspects of Israeli domination over the Palestinians is a sociological and psychological phenomenon, which isn’t due to the impotence of a single writer or two. The words don’t reach – even for those who oppose the closure – in all their significance, because it’s hard to constantly live with the knowledge and understanding that we have created a regime that is darkness for the non-Jews; that our evil planning to make things worse is virtuosic, and that we are living quite well with the horrors we have created.


A new crowd-control weapon installed on the separation wall near Bethlehem which shoots ‘skunk’ liquid at protesters below. Photo from Active stills.

 

NOTE

From the Proclamation of Independence 1948

The state of Israel will promote the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; will be based on precepts of liberty, justice and peace taught by the Hebrew prophets; will uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens without distinction of race, creed or sex; will guarantee full freedom of conscience, worship, education and culture; will safeguard the sanctity and inviolability of shrines and holy places of all religions; and will dedicate itself to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

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