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May 24, 2001
"There is a huge gap between us (Jews) and our enemies -- not just in ability but in morality, culture, sanctity of life, and conscience. They are our neighbors here, but it seems as if at a distance of a few hundred meters away, there are people who do not belong to our continent, to our world, but actually belong to a different galaxy." Moshe Katsav President of Israel 5/23/2001
MID-EAST REALITIES © - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 5/24: Moshe Katsav, the right-winger who was catapulted into Israel's Presidency last year when the Knesset pushed Shimon Peres aside (only to see him reborn once again as Ariel Sharon's front-man), does indeed epitomize contemporary Israeli society. He is a racist and a bigot; condemned by his own words. He is a perfect example of the mentality of subjugation and oppression that is responsible for what has become Israeli Apartheid, the subject of the important article below by Gideon Levy in Ha'aretz.
But unlike in the days of South African Apartheid, President Katsav will be visiting the United States in early June as a welcome guest, welcomed by both the U.S. Government and the many institutions of the American Jewish community.Tragically it does not appear that any segment within organized American Jewry will be challenging Moshe Katsav, protesting against him, and condemning him -- which means that they too deserve to be condemned.
LIKE THE OLD DAYS IN SOUTH AFRICA
A tour of Hebron with Raymond Louw, former editor
of the Rand Daily Mail, the newspaper that was at the
forefront of the struggle against apartheid
By Gideon Levy
"The police in South Africa also treated
blacks as if they weren't human. This is
what is happening here. Non-people,
non-humans, people without any rights
or human dignity - so it's okay to do any-
thing to them. And it permeates everything."
[Ha'aretz - 5/24/2001]:
I went to Hebron with Raymond Louw. For 11 years, Louw was the
editor-in-chief of the Rand Daily Mail, the Johannesburg newspaper
that resolutely fought apartheid during its darkest period. A youthful
74, Louw, who has earned the nickname "Mr. Press Freedom," travels all
over the world. Last week, he was in Israel.We thought about visiting
Hebron because we thought about apartheid. No other place in the
occupied territories can better illustrate the brutal essence of the
Israeli occupation and the local version of apartheid. In Hebron, a
tiny minority of about 400 people cruelly controls a huge majority of
140,000 residents, about 30,000 of whom live under direct Israeli
military rule; tens of thousands of Palestinians are subjected to
curfews and closures due to a holiday or demonstration or any other
whim of the Jewish minority; there are roads for Jews only; stores are
burned down and market stalls are overturned; acts of violence occur
almost daily; the security forces stationed there do not lift a finger
when the violence is perpetrated by the ruling minority, but respond
severely when the violence comes from the subjugated majority. A
guerrilla war is being waged by the occupied against the occupier;
between the two peoples - not to say the two races - surges a deep
and violent hatred commingled with fear.
Louw has been to Israel a number of times, but this was his first
visit to its occupied territories, not counting East Jerusalem. On his
past visits, his hosts were careful to keep him away from those areas.
They showed him only the nice side of Israel - the beauty of
Jerusalem, the liveliness of Tel Aviv, the kibbutz and the moshav, the
universities and Yad Vashem, the Dead Sea and the holy places - the
usual itinerary. Last week, I took him to Hebron, perhaps the most
abject place in the occupied territories. He was frequently reminded
of the "old days" - the days of the apartheid regime against which he
fought; he often found the situation here to be incomparably worse
than the way things were in South Africa in the old days.
Louw donned a bulletproof vest - for the first time in his life - and
together we walked about the streets of the bloody and divided city.
He was obviously shocked by what he saw - the anti-Arab graffiti, the
soldiers' body language, the poster of murdered infant Shalhevet Pass.
The sweet tea he sipped while sitting on a rickety stool at the shabby
cafe of Abu-Adnan at the entrance to the Hebron casbah was unlike any
tea he'd ever tasted in South Africa, he commented. "Something has to
be different," remarked someone sitting nearby.
How symbolic: Apartheid began in South Africa in 1948. It lasted for
42 years, with five million whites controlling 35 million blacks,
"until we came to the conclusion that we couldn't go on this way.
Luckily, we managed to reach a solution before we destroyed ourselves.
We were on the verge of a civil war. It simply wasn't right. There's
no way you can keep on preventing most of the residents from living
In the car, on the road from Emek Ha'ela, via Tzurif near Alon Shvut,
we came upon Efrat, which is endlessly expanding: "I've never
understood the logic of the settlements. What do they want to achieve?
I'm not aware of the full history of your conflict. I understand the
Jews' need for a homeland and your homeland is here. It has always
been here. I can understand that.
"What I don't understand is why there cannot be mutual recognition
that this is the land of two peoples. I understand that in the
beginning, the Arabs wanted to throw you into the sea. I understand
that by now, they've accepted your presence here. So if they accept
your existence here and most of the Jews accept the Palestinians'
presence here, where do you plan on going with this? I understand that
most Jews and Palestinians do not want a one-state solution, so the
only thing left is a two-state solution.
"With us, the situation was that the whites wanted to keep South
Africa for themselves despite the black majority there. That's why
they kept them second-class citizens. It's exactly like what you're
doing here: The Israelis are determined to hold on to the territories
despite the people who live there. That's the similar part. But you
haven't taken the kind of steps that were taken in South Africa. You
haven't prevented Palestinians from doing business with Israelis."
But, in fact, that's exactly what's happening - the closure precludes
them from doing so.
"The blacks were only allowed to maintain very limited businesses in
their areas - only one store and no more. Almost all the resources
were at the whites' disposal and hardly anything was available to the
blacks. Perhaps it is similar here: With us, the whites saw the blacks
as a political and economic threat. You appear to view the
Palestinians the same way. But are you dependent on Palestinian labor
in your economy? With us, the economy was based on black labor. The
first time I came here, Israelis were concerned about the demographic
threat. Are you still afraid of it?"
Which is more moral - the South African apartheid or the Israeli
"Neither one is moral or even practical. They can't last forever. With
us, that's already been proven."
At the Cave of the Patriarchs, which has separate entrances for Jews
and Arabs: "In the old days, stores in South Africa had separate
entrances, one for whites and one for blacks. If a black person
entered through the whites' door, no one would serve him. There was
total separation. They also wanted separate elevators, but you know
what the problem was? They couldn't build enough elevators. I told you
apartheid wasn't practical."
We pass burned out Palestinian stores, a locksmith shop that has been
trashed, shuttered businesses situated opposite the Avraham Avinu
neighborhood. Elian Abu-Hadad is the proprietor of the ruined
locksmith shop. He'd worked here for 45 years. A few weeks ago,
settlers came and destroyed his business. Since the outbreak of the
Intifada, he's struggled to make ends meet; now his shop has been
completely wrecked. Several days ago, he tried to start rebuilding it,
but says that the IDF wouldn't allow him to. The 51-year-old locksmith
who has 12 mouths to feed, including his elderly parents, gazes
forlornly at the destruction and says that he doesn't know what to do.
"I have no idea what will be. I am waiting for God's help."
Further down the street: the bakery blown up by the settlers several
weeks ago. The walls are covered with soot; the owner would like to
fix the place up. "Shalhevet's blood cries out: No more terror!"
screams a poster affixed to the wall, which is also decorated with a
drawing of angry Palestinians shooting.
An Israeli soldier leans nonchalantly on his jeep, smoking a
cigarette; three young Palestinians stand submissively behind him
holding plastic bags full of groceries, waiting for the soldier to
permit them to continue on their way. They've already been standing
here a long time, having given their ID cards to the soldier. Now he's
having a smoke. He's in no hurry. Let them stand and wait. They're
A bulletproofed military truck transports a number of settler children
up Shuhada Street. Barbed wire fencing is spread along part of what,
until recently, were stalls of the Hebron marketplace. A sanitation
worker loads crates of rotten melons onto his wagon. The merchants
here are having a hard time selling their wares because of the
economic situation in the city and because of the fear of the army and
the settlers felt by shoppers in this market that abuts the Avraham
Raymond Louw's initial impression: "It's depressing. This is a city
under military occupation without any rights for the occupied. There
was never a situation like this with apartheid. The control in the
black areas was not so forceful. I don't think you can compare the two
situations. Under apartheid, there was a recognition that the blacks
would continue to live in their areas. Here the impression is that the
objective is to push the Palestinians out.
"With us, there were several pockets of blacks living in the heart of
white neighborhoods from which they were then expelled, but these were
only in isolated places. There was an area in Johannesburg -
Sophiatown - where blacks were living in the heart of an area
inhabited by whites. They expelled all the blacks to a distance of 15
or 20 kilometers away. And even then, it was done by the police.
"Here it is being done by the settlers. I don't know if that makes a
big difference. It may not be exactly the same thing, but the
motivation is the same. What's happening here is an attempt to
pressure them by means of attrition. The Israelis prevent some of the
Palestinians from making a living, stores are closed or burned."
Who generally initiates the provocations, Louw asks. Bassam Eid, head
of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, says that the
Palestinians are the ones fighting an occupation and thus the question
of who started it is meaningless.
"Ehud Olmert - A United Jerusalem" is the message embroidered on the
cap of the man clearing the rotten melons out of the market. "Arabs
out," urges the graffiti on the first closed store on Shuhada Street,
referred to as King David Street by the settlers. But this famous
street belongs to the settlers: Only Jewish cars are allowed on it,
the Palestinian stores stand deserted, some boarded up and sprayed
with Hebrew graffiti. Most of the windows of the Palestinian houses
have been covered with iron bars to protect them from stone-throwing
settlers. A number of windows are shattered. At the end of the street,
approaching Beit Hadassah, we two Jews - one Palestinian and one South
African - are also denied passage. A soldier wearing fashionable
eyeglasses blocks our way.
"With us, in the old days, there were no separate roads for blacks and
whites. There were places that blacks needed a permit to enter, but
they could easily obtain the permit. With us, they couldn't close off
the roads to blacks since they were the servants in the whites'
houses. There were hours when they were forbidden to be in certain
Purple bougainvillea crawls up the exterior of a closed-up furniture
store. To judge by the amount of bougainvillea covering the store's
doors, it has been a long time since any furniture was sold here. An
illustrated sign is the only reminder of the abandoned business.
Louw counts six IDF checkpoints in less than a kilometer, from the
Cave of the Patriarchs to Shuhada Street. In South Africa, there were
roadblocks only at the entrance to neighborhoods, not within them. "We
hate you, you stinking people," someone has scrawled in Hebrew on
another boarded-up store at the entrance to the market. No one -
Jewish or Palestinian - bothers to remove this particular bit of
Were there slogans like this in South Africa?
"No, not at all. There was graffiti supporting the African National
Congress, such as 'Long live the ANC.' Not on the stores, only on the
walls. Of course, the whites would say similar things, but they never
By the next checkpoint, on the street leading from Shuhada to the
market, Louw again notices several young Palestinians who are being
detained by soldiers. He wants to follow what's happening, but after
several minutes, when it becomes apparent that these young people
could be standing here for quite some time, he gives up.
"The Israeli soldiers appear to me to be more brutal than ever.
There's an atmosphere of power and domination and contempt. I don't
believe it was so in the past. They used to seem like they were
serving their country. It is my impression that the soldiers'
brutality and arrogance is penetrating all the authorities in their
contact with the Palestinians. The police in South Africa also treated
blacks as if they weren't human. This is what is happening here.
Non-people, non-humans, people without any rights or human dignity -
so it's okay to do anything to them. And it permeates everything.
This is the ugly side of all political oppression."
A distant memory: "Once, my car was pelted with stones after I entered
a black neighborhood. This was in the 1950s when blacks had just shot
at black train passengers who were returning from working for whites
after a general strike had been called. The car was suddenly
surrounded by a black mob and one of the blacks came up to me and told
me that I had better get away quickly. They wrecked the rear of the
car. It was the most dangerous situation I've ever been in. I had with
me a pistol that my father had given me as a present, but thank God, I
didn't use it. I finished off half a bottle of brandy because of the
fear. The next day, when I was in the tub, my son - who was then two
years old - came in holding the pistol. I returned it to my father
that same day."
A traffic jam on the Tunnel Road, due to work being done to increase
protection on the road. "I cannot understand how the settlers can want
to live in such an atmosphere. We have a high crime rate in South
Africa. My house has alarms, bars and infrared and is surrounded by an
electric fence. Every time we come in, we bolt all the four doors to
the house. We only leave a door open if we're sitting in the garden.
You never know if someone armed is about to suddenly come over the
fence with his gun drawn. We're also cautious when we get into the
car. This is the tension that we live with. But I think that this is
nothing compared to what we saw today in Hebron. In Hebron, they're
living atop a keg of dynamite."
Back in Jerusalem, Louw removed the bulletproof vest. Near Mishmar
Hashiv'a, on the eastern outskirts of Tel Aviv, he wanted to know if
the walls surrounding the highway were meant for protection against
shooting or to separate Jews and Arabs. But these walls were
constructed only for acoustic purposes
FEISAL HUSSEINI - DEAD AT 60 IN KUWAIT
(May 31, 2001)
Feisal Husseini will be buried tomorrow in Jerusalem with great circumstance.
However whatever else he was, and many think he was a good and committed man, he
was a fairly simple man and he certainly was not a great man.
SHARON SHOULD SURRENDER TO HISTORY
(May 25, 2001)
Like many nation states born out
of war, Israel must re-evaluate
its past in order to move forward,
argues Mark Mazower*
THE GAZA GHETTO/PRISON
(May 25, 2001)
The "Gaza Strip" is a huge ghetto; created of course by the Israelis. In a sense it is also the largest prison in the world as the great majority of those who reside in Gaza are unable to leave and return through any of the handful of Israeli army checkposts which control who comes and goes.
(May 24, 2001)
"There is a huge gap between us (Jews) and our
enemies -- not just in ability but in morality, culture,
sanctity of life, and conscience. They are our
neighbors here, but it seems as if at a distance
of a few hundred meters away, there are people
who do not belong to our continent, to our
world, but actually belong to a different galaxy."
(May 24, 2001)
In the end its not really the "settlements" that will determine which civilization will prosper in the once Holy Land now so fought over by the descendants of Abraham. Control and use of WATER is even more at the heart of the conflict between the two competing societies.
CONTINUE THE INTIFADA
(May 23, 2001)
It's a terrible deal for the Palestinians actually -- they expected to give up their very justifiable struggle against the occupier in exchange for another promise to "freeze settlements". Gee...it was just last year that Yasser Arafat was proclaiming ad infinitum that no matter what there would be a Palestinian State by the end of the year!
WHAT THE "MITCHELL COMMISSION REPORT" REALLY SAYS
(May 23, 2001)
"Here's your lifeline Yasser, Nabil, Jabril, and all you Palestinian VIPs -- and you better grab it because it may be the last one you get".
THE MITCHELL COMMISSION REPORT -- A LONG SORDID HISTORY
(May 22, 2001)
The big fix is on of course with the "Mitchell Commission Report". Other madmen desperately scampering from one TV studio to the next are "Ambassador" Dennis Ross, now back at the Israeli/Jewish lobby from whence he came, and of course Senator Mitchell, himself retired from the most pro-Israeli political body on the planet ...
ARAFAT AND THE WORLD FORCED TO DANCE TO SHARON'S WAR TUNES
(May 21, 2001)
The Israelis are pushing their lies, schemes, deceptions, and brutality more than ever these days. It's all designed of course to demoralize and confuse the Palestinians, to twist and torture them into submission.
BREAKING NEWS - RAJOUB HIT
(May 20, 2001)
Jibril Rajoub is a favorite of the CIA, the headquarters of which he has personally visited numerous times in recent years on his visits to Washington. His force is the main one trained by the CIA in order to keep the Arafat Regime in power ...
(May 20, 2001)
Mahmoud Ahmed Marmash -- 21 and now departed -- never knew anything other than Israel's brutal military occupation. He never knew anything other than Arab "client regimes" and the Arafat "Authority". He never knew anything other than a savage Israeli army, fueled by an increasingly racist ideology, armed and financed by America.
ISRAEL - APARTHEID IN THE MIDDLE EAST
(May 20, 2001)
A little trip back in history's lane will result in all kinds of close connections between Israel and South Africa in the days of Apartheid. And during that trip one will discover that Shimon Peres and Yossi Beilin were at the top of the list of those promoting those relations.
THE ARAB AMERICANS and their "CLIENT ORGANIZATIONS"
(May 19, 2001)
There are many desperate and depressed people out there these days, especially among Palestinians, their friends, and the Jewish left that is mortified to awaken to find itself with Ariel Sharon as Prime Minister, the hoped for salvation of the Oslo "Peace Process" destroyed, and one of their false prophets, Shimon Peres, at Sharon's side.
SUICIDE BOMB, ISRAELI AIR STRIKES CAUSE NEW CARNAGE
(May 18, 2001)
A suicide bombing followed by
retaliatory Israeli air strikes killed 16 people and injured 200 on Friday
in one of the bloodiest days since a Palestinian uprising erupted nearly
eight months ago.
ISRAEL'S ARMY - A NEW, PERHAPS DANGERSOUS, FREEDOM
(May 18, 2001)
TRIGGER-HAPPY troops set loose? Questions about the
response of Israeli soldiers facing Palestinian demonstrators
are being asked, and not just by Palestinians. But suspicions
about individual behaviour are less relevant than the clear fact
that the army, given its head by Ariel Sharon, has made a
deliberate decision ...
SEVEN KILLED, OVER 50 INJURED IN SUICIDE BOMB ATTACK
(May 18, 2001)
A Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance to the Hasharon
shopping mall in the center of the coastal town of Netanya at around 11.30
A.M on Friday morning. Seven people were killed in the blast, one of them
most likely the bomber himself.
ISRAELI ARMY ON THE RAMPAGE
(May 17, 2001)
The Israelis are more and more specifically targeting children, journalists, and Palestinians at all levels. The goal is to create such fear, such intimidation, such apprehension, that ...
MORE BLOOD AND MEMORIES FLOW ON "DISASTER DAY"
(May 16, 2001)
Yesterday was the 53rd anniversary of what the Israelis believe was the start of their independence and the Palestinians believe was the start of their ongoing and tortuous "disaster", the "nakba".
"SCHOLARS, INTELLECTUALS, EXPERTS BETRAY THEIR VOCATIONS..." - MER FLASHBACK
(May 15, 2001)
The recent orgy of 'activism' surrounding the new "Har Homa" settlement has given 'peace groups' and various Arab Americans groups something to do again.
THERE WERE WARNINGS THEN, THERE ARE WARNINGS NOW
(May 15, 2001)
It's 53 years now since Palestine was fractured, a Jewish State was born, the Palestinian refugee crisis created. There were warnings from both Arab and Jewish leaders what would result if a "Jewish State" were declared when the British withdrew from Palestine in 1948.
NO JUNITY, NO ALLIES, NO FUTURE
(May 14, 2001)
Let's get right to the bottom line here first. Those American Jews, and whoever else for that matter have been looking to what is called "JUNITY" (that's "Jewish Unity For a Just Peace" so they say) ...
AN AFFRONT TO CIVILISATION
(May 13, 2001)
I was on my way to Khan Yunis, a desperately poor
Palestinian refugee town in the Gaza Strip, when we
learned it was under heavy bombardment. Please, urged
my Palestinian guides, could I postpone my visit to
the next day?
IN MEMORY OF PROF. CHARLES BLACK
(May 12, 2001)
"Against hugh odds...they decline to submit, and instead go out
on the streets and pick up stones. They are beaten without let
or mercy. They are imprisoned under obscene conditions, after
kangaroo trials, or no trials at all.
THREATENING WRITERS AND MORE ASSASSINATIONS
(May 12, 2001)
Of course what the Israelis are doing in so many areas to many classes of people is dastardly and deserves widespread condemnation. The first article details what the Israelis are doing to Palestinian writers who are citizens of Israel; the second to Palestinian activists who are struggling against Israel's occupation.
HASHEMITE COLLUSION AND REPRESSION
(May 11, 2001)
The Hashemite Regime of King Abdullah the Second is running more and more scared; and for good reason. After all, the collusion of this regime with the Israelis, going way back to the beginning of the conflict...
MAHMOUD DARWISH ON 53RD NAKBA ANNIVERSARY
(May 11, 2001)
Next Tuesday, 15 May, is the 53rd Anniversary of what the Palestinians call the Nakba, the "Disaster", and what the Israelis call their Independence. In a very unusual move some 250 Arab Professors and Intellectuals have issued a call for their own countries to finally join in a serious way the Palestinian struggle.
FROM HERZL TO SHARON - STEALTH DISPOSSESSION
(May 10, 2001)
"The removal of Arabs bodily from Palestine is part of the Zionist
plan to 'spirit the penniless population across the frontier' by
denying it employment... Both the process of expropriation
and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly
THE POLITICAL PROSTITUTION OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN PALESTINE
(May 10, 2001)
We're talking here about political prostitution; for it too is an age-old profession and it too leads to many other vices.
THE POPE GOES VISITING
(May 9, 2001)
With the creation of a "Jewish State" in the Holy Land, in a sense a new era began twisting the modern-day concept of nationality back to one of ethnic and religious identification.
FROM HELL WITH LOVE
(May 8, 2001)
Ironically, in the early years of this ignoble "Peace Process", Dr. Sarraj himself -- a dignified psychiatrist and recipient of the Physician for Human Rights Award -- was arrested three times, tortured, and threatened with death...not by the Israelis but by the forces of the Arafat "Palestinian Authority".
ISRAELIS SEE THROUGH GLOSS OF LIFE AMID ORANGE GROVES
(May 7, 2001)
When the real estate sharks of California
began to coax Americans to Los Angeles early in the last century, they stuck
oranges on the trees to make the desert more alluring. The oranges are real
enough in the groves on the hills around Jerusalem, but the hard selling is
just the same.
WE ARE ACCUSED OF TERRORISM
(May 7, 2001)
The incomparable Nizar Qabbani was buried in Damascus earlier this week. "We Are Accused Of Terrorism" was one of his last poems first published a year ago; key excerpts from that poem follow.
GUNNING DOWN ISRAEL SHAMIR - Part II
(May 4, 2001)
Previously we outlined how the regimes-sponsored Arab American establishment, using the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) to try to control everyone as usual...
SHARON'S RISE TO THE PINNACLE OF POWER - HELPED BY THE ARABS THEMSELVES
(May 3, 2001)
Ariel Sharon's becoming Prime Minister of Israel didn't happen overnight. He pursued the job for a very long time and whatever one thinks of his person and policies he carried out a masterful political coup.
GUNNING DOWN ISRAEL SHAMIR
(May 3, 2001)
The worst thing that happened to the people of the Middle East in recent history was the imposition on them by the Western powers of the "Client Regimes" -- those who read MER regularly know what we are talking about...
ARAB REGIMES COWER AND BEG; ISRAELIS CONTINUE TO KILL AND DESTROY
(May 2, 2001)
Shimon Peres runs around the world, especially to the gullible American media, and especially to CNN and PBS, with soothing rhetorical jibberish while his Generals further demolish Palestinian homes making fools of those who believed in the "Oslo Peace Process" and its associated "agreements".
FORMER SHIN BET HEAD TALKS SOME SENSE IN PUBLIC....BUT WHY?
(May 2, 2001)
Motives are of course a very important aspect of life and politics...as is timing. And when it comes to someone who has been head of the Shin Bet, like Ami Ayalon, and who is saying these things now, at this particular crucial and sensitive time, there are good reasons to have many suspicions, and many questions, and many doubts.
EXTINGUISHING THE INTIFADA
(May 2, 2001)
A major effort is underway to somehow smother and snuff out the Intifada, one way or another. Those heading up the effort, in order of importance, are:
ARAFAT'S FIRST INTERVIEW SINCE THE INTIFADA BEGAN
(May 1, 2001)
Yasser Arafat often describes his struggle as a "long march" to the
"spires and minarets" of Jerusalem, capital of his Palestinian