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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

Rabin: complex man, complex legacy

1) Amira Hass, 2) Guy Ziv, both in Haaretz premium


Preparing for the Rabin rally on the 20th anniversary (2015) of his assassination. AP photo.

Setting the Record Straight on Yitzhak Rabin

The assassination of the former prime minister in 1995 isn’t the main reason a Palestinian state hasn’t been established – despite what Yasser Arafat believed

By Amira Hass, Haaretz premium
November 06, 2017

One of the foolish remarks Yasser Arafat used to make – and which you can still hear some of his people saying to this day – was that if Yigal Amir hadn’t assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, the Oslo process would have continued and reached a good conclusion: a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Arafat and his circle had to justify the Oslo Accords to themselves and their people. They had to excuse the serious mistakes they made during negotiations (initially naively and carelessly, then later with a mixture of innocence, negligence, stupidity, incompetence, powerlessness, increasing impotence, turning a blind eye, and personal considerations of survival and corruption).

Israeli policy was not and is not based on the decisions of only one person. And certainly not when it comes to the key question of our Zionist being: What the hell to do with all these Arabs who pushed themselves into our Jewish home.

The proud Zionist answer to this question today can be found in the reality of crowded Palestinian enclaves, dwarfed by the real estate-hungry Jewish space that God promised us. Whether He exists or not.

One person can’t be responsible for this convenient reality – not even the most seasoned of our geopolitical thinkers, Shimon Peres or Ariel Sharon, or Shlomo Moskowitz, who from 1988 to 2013 headed the Civil Administration’s supreme planning committee, which entrenched planning apartheid in the West Bank.

In order to shape the reality of the enclaves, a whole web of ideologues, generals, lawyers, officials, seekers of improved housing, rabbis, politicians, geographers, historians, contractors and many, many more were needed. Therefore, one person is not enough to block a policy that a determined and fully co-ordinated web designed. Not even Rabin – even if we assume for a moment that he realized a logical agreement could be based only on a contiguous Palestinian state.

True, Rabin called the settlers in the Golan Heights “propellers,” but he also said he wished Gaza would drown in the sea. He also did a very good job of defining Israel’s expectations from its Palestinian subcontractor when he said the Palestinian Authority would rule without the High Court of Justice and without the human rights group B’Tselem. And yet, more important than his politically incorrect statements are the facts on the ground, which were determined even before his murder.

And these are the foundations of the reality of the enclaves – which are the opposite of a state:

· cutting off the Gaza Strip from the West Bank;
· cutting off East Jerusalem from the rest of the Palestinian area;
· Area C;
· a weakened Palestinian leadership;
· strengthening the settlements and settlers;
· two unequal infrastructures and legal systems    – one for the Jews and one for the Palestinians;
· the use of the security pretext as a colonialist tool.

This is a reality that cannot be created in a day.

In Rabin’s time, the closure of the Gaza Strip – that is, the regime that started banning freedom of movement – grew ever tighter. Students were not allowed to return from their studies to the Gaza Strip. And then, suddenly, he allowed only students from Bir Zeit to return. Asked why only them, he said (as a member of the Palestinian liaison committee at the time told me), “When Arafat asked me to allow students to return, he only mentioned Bir Zeit University.”

Rabin supported the creation of a network of bypass roads in the West Bank – an important condition for attracting new settlers and for cutting off Palestinian geographical contiguity, strengthening the interim phase in exchange for making the phase of the Palestinian state dispensable.

Marwan Barghouti, in a typical mixture of incredulity and seriousness, told me about the following conversation between Rabin and Arafat:

Rabin: “But how will the settlers get to their homes in the interim phase if they don’t have separate roads?”

Arafat: “They’re welcome to travel through our cities.”

Rabin: “But if somebody hurts them, we will stop the negotiations and the redeployment.”

Arafat: “Heaven forbid! OK, so build the roads.”

As prime minister and defence minister, Rabin punished the Palestinians in Hebron for the massacre perpetrated on them by Baruch Goldstein in 1994. The army, under his control, imposed draconian movement restrictions on the Palestinians – which only became worse over time – and was responsible for the emptying of Palestinian residents from the city centre. Rabin is the one who refused to move settlers out of Hebron after the massacre.

The silent transfer policy in Jerusalem (revoking the residency status of Palestinian, native-born Jerusalemites) began secretly – as usual, without any official declaration – during his time as prime minister. The struggle against it started only after evidence began to mount in 1996. The artificial division of the West Bank into areas A, B and C as a guide for the gradual redeployment of the army, was imposed during the negotiations for the Interim Agreement, which was signed in September 1995.

It’s impossible to know whether Rabin was a partner to that evil trick, through which, in the guise of a gradual process and for security reasons, Israel preserved Area C as a land reserve for Jews. But he was the one who coined the phrase, “There are no sacred dates,” in connection with the implementation of the Oslo Accords.

The assassin was so successful because, contrary to the right-wing propaganda, the government headed by Labour had no intention of cutting the umbilical cord by which it was connected to its colonialist methods and goals. The argument with opponents in Likud was never about the principles, but only about the number and size of Bantustans to be allocated to the Palestinians.



Chief of General Staff, Yitzhak Rabin consults with his officers in the six day war – which delivered the Palestinian territories to Israel. Photo by Yeshayahu Gavish, courtesy of IDF Archive

Fight the Right-wingers Rewriting History: Rabin Wanted a Palestinian State

Opponents of a two-state solution assert loudly that Israel’s assassinated premier contested the idea of Palestinian statehood. With the two-state solution on life support, we should end this dangerous fallacy

By Guy Ziv, Haaretz premium
November 02, 2017

It was 22 years ago that a bullet from a far-right religious assassin put an end to Yitzhak Rabin’s life.

Since then, opponents of a two-state solution have repeatedly noted that Rabin was a lifelong opponent of a Palestinian state and confidently assert that were he still alive he would continue to oppose it.

Today, with the two-state solution on life support, it is more important than ever to end this dangerous fallacy.

Mourning Israelis stand next to an informal memorial headlined with the words “the incitement continues” at the site of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination in Tel Aviv, Israel, November 7, 1995.Sven Nackstrand, AFP

While we will never know whether Rabin could have successfully reached a final peace agreement with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, he would certainly have made every effort to end the occupation that threatens Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.

To be sure, Rabin never publicly expressed support for Palestinian statehood; on the contrary, he spoke out against it.

Those who argue that Rabin would not support the establishment of a Palestinian state today tend to cite his last speech to the Knesset, on October 5, 1995, in which he expressed support for “an entity which is less than a state, and which will independently run the lives of the Palestinians under its authority.”

Also cited as evidence is a statement by his daughter, Dalia Rabin-Pelossof, suggesting that her father was so frustrated with Arafat that he considered ending the peace process. Yair Shamir, the son of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who shares his father’s hard-line views, once publicized a letter signed by Rabin’s top adviser to a private citizen noting that it was the Rabin government’s policy to “reject the creation of a Palestinian state.”

But the preponderance of evidence suggests otherwise.

In 1976, in his first term as prime minister, Rabin warned of apartheid if Israel continued to rule over the Palestinians, even calling West Bank settlements “a cancer.” In a September 11, 1988 interview to Al Ahram, the then-defence minister said he was “currently against the establishment of a Palestinian state” — hardly a definitive stance.

Public rhetoric aside, Rabin understood that the logical extension of the Oslo process he authorized in the 1990s, and the creation of the Palestinian Authority, was a Palestinian state. Rabin biographer Dan Kurzman writes that Rabin was resigned to the eventual establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state, although his preference was for it to be linked in a federation with Jordan.


King Hussein of Jordan, L, had more in common with Yitzhak Rabin than love of smoking. Photo by Yaakov Saar/Israel GPO

Kurzman’s claim is supported by my interviews with close associates of Rabin who told me that he had come to terms with the eventuality of a Palestinian state. He and his foreign minister, Shimon Peres, had an agreement not to discuss a Palestinian state at that stage but clearly understood that this was the end game, then-Labour Party Secretary General Nissim Zvili told me. Context is critical to understanding Rabin’s tough rhetoric.

The Israeli public in the mid-1990s was not ready for such a dramatic policy reversal; it already had difficulty with the idea of ongoing negotiations with Arafat, a terrorist who had spilled much Israeli blood and was widely perceived as someone who could not be trusted to lead a state. In 1994, only 37 percent of Israelis supported a Palestinian state; a large majority opposed it.

As a seasoned politician, Rabin understood that his right-wing political opponents would exploit every act of terror to play on people’s fears. In the months leading up to his assassination, right-wing demonstrators disseminated pamphlets and held up signs showing Rabin dressed as an SS officer, wearing a kaffiyeh and collaborating with “the terrorist enemy.”

Rabin would not play into their hands by prematurely endorsing statehood, though he was well aware this was the end game of the peace talks.


Shimon Peres addresses a rally commemorating the tenth anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, Tel Aviv, Israel, November 12, 2005. Photo by Oleg Popov, Reuters

Even Peres, who was far more enthusiastic about the Oslo process than Rabin, did not endorse a Palestinian state during Rabin’s lifetime. Nor did he mention a Palestinian state in his memoirs, published two years after the Oslo breakthrough. He did so only in 1997, the year that Rabin and Peres’ Labour Party updated its platform to recognize the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination in a state of their own.

Rabin witnessed the price of the occupation first-hand as defence minister during the first intifada. Preserving Israel’s character as a Jewish and a democratic state was of paramount importance to him. In contrast to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s status quo policy of “managing” the conflict with the Palestinians, Rabin undoubtedly would have continued trying to resolve it.

It is difficult to imagine that he would disagree with the vast majority of other retired Israeli generals – as well as the former heads of the Mossad and Shin Bet intelligence service – who today argue that a Palestinian state, alongside the Jewish state, is a top national security interest for Israel.

Rabin paid the ultimate price for pursuing peace. Suggesting he would have abandoned this path is a disservice both to his legacy and to the country for which he sacrificed his life.

Guy Ziv, an assistant professor of international relations at American University’s School of International Service, is the author of “Why Hawks Become Doves: Shimon Peres and Foreign Policy Change in Israel”. Twitter: @zivguy

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