The case of David Boim (“The Boim Case”) is a glaring example of the ongoing attempts to use the courts to suppress the Palestinian voice in America. A case that began in May 2000 and by 2008 seemed to have been put to rest, it has recently been resuscitated in a frivolous lawsuit targeting American Muslims for Palestine, AMP, and some of its officers.
In May of 2000 Stanley and Joyce Boim filed a civil law suit against Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development or HLF, and several other Muslim organizations demanding damages. Their son, David Boim (17), was a student in a fundamentalist-religious Jewish-Zionist high school, or Yeshiva, in the Settlement of Beit-El, in the heart of the Palestinian West Bank. On May 13, 1996 while he was sitting at a bus stop outside the settlement, two Palestinians, Khalil Al-Sharif and Amjad Hinawi drove by and shot him to death. In a strange confluence of events, while researching this information, I learned that Al-Sharif participated and died in a suicide attack in Jerusalem on September 4, 1997, the attack in which my niece Smadar Elhanan, 13, was killed. Now, in the current lawsuit it is being claimed that American Muslims for Palestine, AMP and its officers are “alter-egos” of HLF and therefore should pay the Boim family the $156 million judgment which was awarded them “against individuals and organizations who financed the murder of their son.”
To place this case in context, it should be stated at the outset that to do justice to the Palestinian cause, a major paradigm shift needs to take place. We must come to terms with the fact that Palestinian resistance to Israel is legitimate and should not be mischaracterized as terrorism. Attempts to discredit the Palestinian struggle in all its forms and conflate it with terrorism have been successful to a point that even charity to Palestinians is being labeled “material support for terrorism.” This mischaracterization that is at the very heart of the attitudes towards Palestine and the Palestinian plight, and it is at the very heart of this case.
Perhaps the most frivolous of all the anti-Palestinian policies and actions taken by the governments of Israel, the US, the UK and other European countries are those targeting charity organizations. New laws and practices that criminalize charity to Palestinians and conflate it with material support for terrorism are sweeping all over the world like a plague. Even though no evidence exists to support the claims of “material support to terrorist organizations,” this has not stopped banks from closing legitimate accounts, governments imposing severe sanctions, and even the imprisonment of people involved in charity to Palestinians. Clearly closing charities targets the weak and deprives the ones most in need of relief. The poor, orphans, former prisoners – many of whom cannot work due to permanent injuries sustained during interrogations, and the families of prisoners are left dry and without financial support.
In my soon to be published book “Injustice, The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five,” (available for pre-order here) I describe how the Holy Land Foundation, once the largest Muslim charity organization in the US was wrongly shut down and five innocent American Muslims of Palestinian heritage known as the HLF-5 ended up serving long sentences in federal prison. The HLF-5 were accused of providing material support to a designated terrorist organization and even though the case was built on hearsay and no evidence was produced linking them to any terrorist organization they were convicted. The government won using fear, prejudice and politics not evidence.
Allegations of material support for Hamas are a theme that connects many of the accusations against Muslim organizations that deal with Palestine. In the case of the Holy Land Foundation, the accusation was providing material support and even though no such support was provided, the allegations stuck and five innocent men were convicted. The resurgence of the David Boim case (“the Boim Case”) is one example of the intensifying witch hunt against Palestinian and particularly Muslim organizations. The case seemed to have been put to rest after HLF was closed down and the HLF-5 were convicted and imprisoned in 2008, but it has recently been resuscitated in the following frivolous lawsuit:
Plaintiffs Stanley Boim, individually and as administrator of the estate of David Boim, deceased, and Joyce Boim (together, “Plaintiffs”), for their claim against defendants American Muslims for Palestine (“AMP”), Americans for Justice in Palestine Educational Foundation (“AJP”), Rafeeq Jaber, Abdelbasset Hamayel, and Osama Abu Irshaid (collectively, “Defendants”), allege and state as follows:
- In 1996, Stanley and Joyce Boim’s son David was murdered by two agents of the international terrorist organization Hamas. The Boims initiated a lawsuit in this Court four years later, in 2000 (the “Boim Action”). In 2004, plaintiffs were awarded a $156 million judgment against individuals and organizations who financed the murder of their son (the “Boim Judgment”), and that judgment was affirmed in 2008.
The “Boim Defendants” were organizations that worked in tandem to support Hamas in the United States: the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (“HLF”), the American Muslim Society (“AMS”), and AMS’s alter egos operating under the name Islamic Association for Palestine (“IAP”). When time came to pay the Boim Judgment, AMS and IAP claimed to be out of business with few assets as a result of the burden of the Boim Judgment and associated litigation costs. HLF had ceased operations, and its assets had been seized by the United States. HLF and several of its leaders were subsequently convicted of terrorist activity. Seemingly, the Boim Action brought an end to these organizations. But that was not the case.
- In fact, these Boim Defendants are in business today in this District through their alter egos and successors, Defendants AMP and AJP. AMP and AJP were established by the former leaders of HLF, AMS and IAP—including Defendants Rafeeq Jaber, Abdelbasset Hamayel and Osama Abu Irshaid (together, the “Individual Defendants”)—in order to continue the same enterprise and agenda, while avoiding the burden of the Boim Judgment and the ignominy of having been found liable for aiding and abetting the murder of an American teenager. AMP and AJP continue to be run by former leaders of HLF, AMS and IAP, including the Individual Defendants; until August 2016 they were headquartered on the same street, and they are now located nearby; and they continue the same enterprise, mission and activities. On information and belief, they have also received assets and funds from HLF, AMS, and IAP.
- AMP and AJP are alter egos and successors of HLF, AMS and IAP, and are therefore liable for the unpaid portion of the Boim Judgment. Likewise, the Individual Defendants are alter egos of HLF, AMS and IAP. They participated in the direction and control of those entities in 1996, and they continue to direct and control the successor entities, AMP and AJP, today. Having been unable to collect more than a small fraction of the Boim Judgment from the named Boim Defendants, Plaintiffs should be permitted to recover from the Boim Defendants’ alter egos and successors, i.e. the Defendants herein.
- The purpose of this action is to request that the Court (i) enter a declaratory judgment determining that AMP and AJP are the alter egos and/or successors of one or more of the Boim Defendants (including AMS, IAP and HLF); (ii) enter a declaratory judgment determining that the Individual Defendants are alter egos of one or more of the Boim Defendants (including AMS, IAP and HLF), and that they engaged in the conduct that gave rise to liability in the Boim Judgment; (iii) enter a declaratory judgment determining that each of Defendants is liable for the unsatisfied portion of the Boim Judgment; (iv) enter money judgments against each of the Defendants, jointly and severally, for this unpaid liability; and (v) issue a preliminary and permanent injunction preventing AMP, AJP and the Individual Defendants from dissipating funds in their possession or in the possession of unknown third parties that rightfully belong to the Boims.
The general allegation is that Stanley and Joyce Boim’s seventeen-year old son David was murdered by Hamas terrorists at a bus stop in Israel in 1996. However three things should be pointed out:
- David Boim was in the settlement of Beit –El in the heart of the West Bank, an area that the US does not recognize as being part of Israel but rather part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
- At no point was any connection made, in a US court of law, between the shooters that killed David Boim and Hamas.
- No connection was ever proven between the actions of HLF and the death of David Boim.
How the Boim family lawyers were able connect HLF to the killing of their son is to most people a mystery. In order to unfold this mystery we must follow a trail of laws that were passed to make law suits such as this one possible. In 1992 Congress passed US Code 2333, a law says that any national of the United States injured by an act of international terrorism may sue and shall recover threefold the damages he or she sustains and the cost of the suit, including attorney’s fees. It further allows US citizens to sue any person or organization that is suspected of funding a terrorist group.
Then, in 1996, congress passed US Code 2339B. This law says that, “Whoever knowingly provides material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization, or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and, if the death of any person results, shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life.” It also adds, “To violate this paragraph, a person must have knowledge that the organization is a designated terrorist organization.”
And so, even though no proof was ever found – much less provided – that HLF was funding Hamas, or that Hamas was involved in the killing of David Boim, these laws allowed the parents of David Boim to sue HLF based on hearsay. The case ended up on appeal and attorney John Boyd argued the case for HLF. Boyd pointed out to the court that there is no evidence in the record that the death of David Boim had anything to do with anything the HLF had ever done.
One of the judges who heard the appeal was the esteemed judge Richard Posner, of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago. During the hearing, Boyd told me Judge Posner said the following: “I think it’s pretty well-known that if you give money to the charitable arm of a terrorist organization that it frees up money to buy guns and bombs.” Boyd responded by asking Judge Posner if he would take judicial notice that for the purpose of this case, if HLF gives money to charity that there is causation for the death of Daniel Boim?”
(For those of us who are not lawyers, a judge can take “judicial notice” of something that everyone knows to be true and that doesn’t require proof.)
“Judge Posner said nothing,” Boyd told me, “he just spun in his chair and turned his back to the court.”
I pressed John Boyd on whether it was ever made clear that Hamas was responsible for David Boim’s death because I could not see anywhere that it was determined to be the case. John Boyd replied clearly: “No! this was never determined.” The Boims obtained judgments by default, ie., without a trial on that issue, that issue was never addressed.
It has never been proven that Hamas, HLF or AMP had anything to do with the killing of David Boim, and it has never been proven that HLF or AMP or the other organizations and individuals mentioned in this lawsuit had provided material support to Hamas – It was all hearsay.
Now we must get to the central question: This lawsuit claims that AMP is somehow the “alter ego” of HLF which allegedly provided material support to Hamas. But did HLF actually provide material support to Hamas? This was never proven, ever. The US government claimed that the local charity organizations in Palestine, known as Zakat committees, with which HLF was working, were somehow part of Hamas. But this too was never proven. The international community believed they were not, the US Consul General to Jerusalem Ed Abington who testified at the trial believed they were not, and no US agency had ever listed them or any of their board members on any known terrorist list. Even USAID, a US government agency had worked with the Zakat committees but none of that was enough to save the HLF-5.
Another problematic issue that was raised in the HLF trial has to do with the way in which terrorists and terrorist organizations are designated by the US government. During the HLF trial, the prosecution called on John Robert McBrien to testify. Mr. McBrien was an associate director of OFAC, which is the Office of Foreign Assets Control at the Department of the Treasury. John Cline, one of the attorneys for HLF, questioned him and determined that “The Secretary of the Treasury delegated the authority to designate persons (as terrorists, MP) under that provision to OFAC,” which again, is the Office of Foreign Assets Control. Cline then determined and McBrien confirmed that “what is required for a designation is a reasonable belief. It is not, for example, proof beyond reasonable doubt. It is not proof by a preponderance of evidence, like you have in court.” Mr. McBrien replied: “That is correct.”
“When OFAC is making a designation under this provision,” Cline concluded, “we don’t have to abide by any particular rules of evidence.” McBrien once again replied in the affirmative.
So there is no real burden of proof needed and it is not clear how a designation actually takes place. Another serious question that came up in the HLF trial was the following: If indeed they are part of a terrorist financing network, why had Zakat committees never been designated as terrorist organizations? The government argued that there was no need to designate them separately because they were components of Hamas. John Cline demonstrated that this argument does not hold water. He showed clearly that in fact “OFAC designated a whole slew of component entities.” But never the Zakat committees or their board members.
All this shows that the entire case is built on prejudice and false information. It has not been proven that Hamas had anything to do with the killing of David Boim, it has not been proven that HLF or AMP or the other organizations and individuals mentioned in this lawsuit had provided material support to Hamas. Clearly, neither HLF, AMP or the individuals named in this lawsuit are in any way liable or responsible for the death of David Boim. The very method by which organizations are designated as “terrorists” is flawed and, one can argue, targets Muslim organizations that deal with Palestine.
Palestinians are fighting for their freedom, their independence and for their very lives. We would all do well to support them politically and when appropriate contribute to the organizations that further their cause. We must insist that Palestinian liberation organizations, resistance and charity organizations, educational and other learning institutions not be treated as terrorists or supporters of terrorism and we must join Palestinians in their struggle for justice. We would all do well to call for the release of the HLF-5 and demand that they be exonerated and that the Boim lawsuit be thrown out of court.
Miko Peled is a human rights activist. He is the author of “The General’s Son, Journey of an Israeli in Palestine” and the forthcoming book, “Injustice, The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five” expected to be available in the fall on 2017. To book Miko Peled for a lecture, please click here.
In what can only be described as the world’s largest event on Palestine, ten thousand people converged on the city of London to participate in the Palestine Expo, which was held at the Queen Elizabeth II center across from Westminster in the very heart of London. Sponsored by the Al-Aqsa Foundation, the event drew criticism from pro-Israeli Zionist groups who tried to pressure the British government to prevent them from using the QEII which is a government run venue. They used the usual excuses claiming that the Al-Aqsa Foundation has connections to terrorism and that some of the speakers expressed support for terrorism and anti-Semitism and that some had even been arrested (yours truly included).
Two weeks prior to the event there was still concern that the British government might interfere and prevent the event from taking place. A list of the terror supporting speakers was published as a warning.
I was told that I was confused:
Then I received one directed to me personally in Hebrew, again claiming that the Al-Aqsa Foundation is a Hamas supporter, and “the event will be called off.”
Well, it did take place. The pressure failed, the event went on to be an astounding success. An incredible lineup of speakers that is to long to list but included Hatem Bazian, Ilan Pappe, John Pilger, Iyad and Emad Burnat, Ghada Karmi, Maryam Barghouti, a women’s delegation from Palestine and Scottish MP (SNP) Tommy Shepheard to name but a few. All spoke in front of enthusiastic audiences in standing-room only halls. There was an entertainment and cultural segment to the even as well. Entertainers included Palestinian rapper and activist Shadia Mansour, Logic, comedian Amer Zahr and a troupe of young dancers and singers from Palestine. There was a good balance of culture, politics and social issues presented throughout the weekend all of which were packed with standing-room taken up completely.
My first talk was titled, “The Origins of Zionism” and I was pleasantly surprised to see what became the norm throughout the event – people pouring into a room packing it to the limit. Regrettably my co-panelist Sai Englert was not well and could not be there. The final panel in which I participated along with Scottish MP Tommy Shepheard was titled, “100 years After the Balfour Declaration, The Role of the British Parliament.” Since we were located across the street from Parliament it seemed like an excellent opportunity to express my thoughts regarding the infamous declaration, made by Lord Arthur Balfour one hundred years ago, and what I believe would be the right approach for the British Parliament to take at this point.
Though the Balfour Declaration provides some lip service acknowledging the existence of other people who live in Palestine, it describes the Palestinians not by their name or identity as the natives and owners of the land but merely as “the non-Jewish community” and states that there should be no prejudice towards them. This is a a Euro-Centric and racist point of view and indeed it is indicative of how the Zionist view and refer to the Palestinians to this day. I put together a list of demands that I suggested should be presented to the British parliament by the many constituents who were present in the room, the first being an unconditional retraction of the Balfour Declaration. These demands take into consideration the following: Palestine has been occupied since 1948. The name Palestine has been all but erased and the country has been renamed, Israel. Since 1948 millions of Palestinians have been victims of ethnic cleansing and genocide (insert Geneva convention on the crime of Genocide), and Palestinians living in Palestine have been subjected to an apartheid regime. All the attempts made by Palestinians to negotiate with the Zionist state have failed and with each attempt, conditions have gotten worse for Palestinians. Considering all the above, the following ten demands need to be made to the British parliament:
- Expel the Israeli ambassador and close the Israeli embassy in London.(This one received an enormous applause).
- Bring home the British ambassador from Tel-Aviv and close the British embassy there.
- Designate the sale of arms to Israel a crime against humanity.
- Adopt the Palestinian call for boycott, (insert BDS demands here) divestment and sanctions against the state of Israel and demand the same from the international community.
- Send British naval forces to force Israel to end the siege on Gaza and ensure regular supplies of clean water, medicine and electricity to the people of Gaza. Provide care for the injured and the sick.
- Call for the unconditional release of all Palestinian prisoners.
- Demand the dismantling of the apartheid Zionist state.
- Call for elections with one person one vote that will include all who reside in between the river Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea.
- Demand the creation of a constitution that will guarantee equal rights and respect for human rights within the new state of free Palestine.
- Call on the ICC to consider prosecuting Israeli political leaders and military commanders for the crime of genocide.
If the British parliament was to adopt these demands it would hasten the freeing of Palestine and Palestinians. It would facilitate ending the Zionist regime, and it would allow the British to atone for the crimes committed against the Palestinian people both directly and by complicity through military and political support for Israel.
At the end of the day, this wonderful tweet from Oxford PCS sums up the feelings of so many who were part of the Palestine Expo. And indeed thanks goes to the countless volunteers and organizers who worked tirelessly and to Friends of Al-Aqsa for fighting to make Palestine front and center.
To book Miko Peled for a lecture please click here
It is pretty rare to see talent, courage and a friendly disposition converge but that is exactly what you see when you meet Mohammad Sabaaneh. If you don’t know who he is, go to FB and check out his page. He is a brilliant political cartoonist and he just published a book of his work titled, “White and Black, Political Cartoons from Palestine” published by Just World Books. Why “White and Black?” because that is exactly what the situation in Palestine is like, clear cut evil vs. good, occupation and oppression vs. occupied and oppressed.
I am not an art expert by any means but I know Palestine and I know courage. Sabaaneh’s art expresses the complexity of the Palestinian reality in an honest and unapologetic way. Sabaaneh’s cartoons cannot fit on a bumper sticker and they do not attempt to make simplistic statements. They are not a “Free Palestine” or “Smash the Occupation” type of cartoons but more like a little girl looking at a photo of her father and thinking to herself, “you have not been to my birthday, you have not given me a hug or put me to sleep. But I am not an orphan, I am the daughter of a prisoner.” In a harsh detail in one of his large, heavy with detail, Guernica type of cartoons a Palestinian child is nailed to the Star of David.
Sabaanneh portrays the suffering of Palestinians at the hands of Israel with a brutal honesty that is unparalleled. But if ever a picture was worth one thousand words, Sabaaneh’s cartoons are just even though they often tell a complex story. The book is divided into five chapters which deal with every facet of Palestinian life from history to life under occupation, political prisoners to relations with the outside world. Among the many accolades the book received is one from pulitzer prize winner Matt Wuerker, political cartoonist for Politico who wrote, “His tenacity and courage are an inspiration for cartoonists around the world.”
The above cartoon fits well with another drawing which we find in the book where a baby goes directly from his mother’s womb to the coffin, the umbilical cord still attached. The world watches, some even hold a poster of the dead child, but nothing is done to prevent the Israeli brutality which makes this a reality.
The recurring themes in Sabaaneh’s work are the Israeli soldier with a large head and dumb, distorted facial features. The prisoner who is mouthless, the mother who is always between an imprisoned or dead husband and the poor Palestinian child who is fatherless even when the father is alive. And all of these are deeply connected to the homeland, Palestine: occupied, defaced, dissected and in which there is no justice and no compassion.
Yet somehow there is always a ray of sunlight in Sabaaneh’s work, a flower that manages to grow, a prisoner who manages to overpower his jailer, a child who holds on to the land.
The suffering depicted in Sabaaneh’s work is real. It is raw and painfully real. One particularly painful piece Sabaaneh drew is of the boy prisoner Ahmad Manasara who received a twelve year sentence from an Israeli military court for a stabbing attack. He was called a 13-year old terrorist by the Israeli press. He was shot and left bleeding on a sidewalk as passers by cursed and beat him. Sabaaneh captured the moment that he was shot with a cartoon depicting a soldier shooting him and taking a photo on his phone at the same time. The boy was hospitalized for a while, chained to his bed at Hadassa hospital in Jerusalem. After his release from the hospital he was taken to police custody. A video of his interrogation found its way online. In the video the boy was repeatedly yelled at by his Israeli interrogators as he replied “I don’t remember, I don’t remember.” The following video shows both scenes. Sabannheh captured this in a cartoon as as well and as usual, took it even further.
Sabaaneh spent time in prison and his brother Thamer has been imprisoned under administration detention countless times. Whenever Mohammad Sabaaneh crosses the border between Palestine and Jordan, he is held for hours by the Israeli security personnel who question him about his art. Once he was asked why he draws Israeli soldiers, to which he responded, “what do you see all around you?” Anyone who thinks there are are areas when it comes to Palestine, “White and Black” by Mohammad Sabaaneh is a wake up call, an expression resistance and a call to action for all of us to join the struggle for justice in Palestine.
To book Miko Peled for a lecture, please click here
These two pieces were published by electronic Intifada.
“One of the most disturbing aspects about the reality in Palestine is its normalcy.It has become normal to see Palestinians shot and killed, even children. The faces of young Palestinians showing up daily on social media, boys and girls shot by soldiers, accused falsely of attempting to stab a soldier.
Israel breathes a sigh of relief as trump leaves the region with no offer of a “deal” allowing it to continue to kill, displace, arrest and torture Palestinians take their land and water and give it to Jews. Trump’s visit to Jerusalem was like Cesar coming to visit the far away provinces. Israel welcomed him with smiles, flags and a perfectly orchestrated military parade, while Palestinians signaled their feelings by staging an all-out general strike – the first all out strike that included 1948 Palestine in over twenty years. The strike and protests, the significance of which likely went over Trumps head, was also an expression of solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners who at this point have gone without food for close to forty days.
Trump flew into Tel-Aviv from Saudi Arabia where he announced the US-Saudi weapons deal which will surely result in the death of many innocents in Yemen. Standing by the corrupt and aging Saudi King Salman, Trump announced that the weapons deal was worth many billions of dollars and, he made sure to add, this deal is an investment in the US and will provide “jobs, jobs, jobs” for Americans.
In Jerusalem the media could not, and still can not get enough of Trump. No one even complained about the fact that even though Trump flew from Tel-Aviv airport to Jerusalem, the highway connecting the two cities was closed for several hours “just in case.” On a morning news talk show, a panel which included the entire Zionist political spectrum discussed the Trump visit and was obvious from their discussions who is really in charge here. It was not the representative of the “sane” liberal Zionists nor the representative of the “right of center” Likud but rather the wild eyed zealot Daniella Weiss, the voice of the the extreme most religious zealots settlers. She began by saying that Trump will bring no change because even Trump the great deal maker cannot undo what was agreed upon between God and the Jewish people when He promised “us” the Land of Israel. Then she stated that now there are 750,000 Jews living in Judea and Samaria, and not one of them can or will ever be removed.
“What about three million Palestinians?” she was asked and she made it clear that they are not part of the messianic vision that she holds. The number three million is how Zionists view the world. While over six millions Palestinians live in Palestine, only the Palestinians in the West Bank are counted. Weiss was challenged by Omer Bar-Lev a veteran of the liberal Zionist Peace Now group and member of Knesset with the “Zionist Camp” party who passionately claimed that “people like her are destroying the Zionist vision” because they are forcing a reality where we (the Jews) will no longer be a majority and we will end up in a bi-national state, (this is coming from the “left”). The difference between zealot fanatics like Daniella Weiss and the liberal Zionists is that the former don’t see Palestinians, and the latter have a recurring nightmare whereby Israel is forced to grant Palestinians citizenship rights. Both sides believe though that as long as the Palestinians have no rights Israel can claim to be a Jewish State.
Liberal Zionists claim that the reason there should be “peace” is so that Jews can maintain a majority in Palestine occupied in 1948, and a few border “adjustments.” What liberal Jews regard as peace, is a large outdoor Palestinian prison stretching along parts of what used to be the West Bank. They will call this prison a state and all will be well. That, according to them is what will save the Jews from having to live among an Arab majority. In this peaceful, liberal vision, the majority of the West Bank remains as part of Israel. “The national consensus,” Bar-Lev claimed correctly, “is that the main settlement blocks remain.” Also according to the national consensus the entire Jordan River Valley and all of expanded East Jerusalem – or in other words the majority of what used to be the West Bank – remain as part of “Israel.”
Daniella Weiss represents the true face of Zionism which has always maintained that Jews ought not to worry about trivial matters such as a few million Arabs. Bar-Lev, who commanded one of Israels’s most murderous commando units, represents the fig leaf which which to cover up the true face of Zionism. When one travels to the South Hebron Hills region, which is mostly a wild and beautiful desert, spotted with Palestinian towns and tiny villages one sees the Zionist vision in action. The Palestinian villages are tiny, fifteen or twenty families living in caves and tents, some have built homes. There is usually no running water or electricity and very few paved roads. Even after fifty years of Israeli control, the water, electricity and paved roads didn’t reach these remote areas until Jewish settlers came. As soon as Jewish settlers showed up, they kicked the Palestinians off of their land, and built “outposts” which are like a baby settlements. Then, miraculously, running water, electricity and well paved roads appeared almost immediately, although they stopped short and did not reach any of the surrounding Palestinian villages. This is how the Jews make the desert bloom.
“We can sense that Trump is a great friend,” a Likud operative said on television. “He speaks of peace, and of course we too want peace, but we have no partner for peace. So while he (Trump) talks of a “deal” we can read the signs.” The signs being the new US ambassador, who is as true a Zionist as Daniella Weiss and of course, the son-in-law. I was reprimanded once for stating that the son-in-law is Jewish, as though it shouldn’t matter but if anyone thinks that Jared Kushner’s being Jewish is not relevant they can ask any Israeli on the street. They will tell you exactly what a “good friend” he is to Israel and how much money his family has given to settlements and the IDF.
So to sum up Trump’s mideast policy, the Saudi dynasty is safe and can keep killing Yemeni civilians using the best technology money can buy and in doing so they are also providing “jobs, jobs, jobs” for Americans. Trump is a great friend to Israel, we all agree that Israel has no partner for peace, and unlike Obama, Trump it seems will place no restrictions on Israel’s settlement expansion and ethnic cleansing campaign. It is a great day for Israel when the Emperor comes to visit!
I arrived in Jerusalem last night and as always during the weeks between mid-May and mid-June the media is full of romanticized memories. Within these weeks are the two most siginicfant dates in modern Palestinian history: May 1948 when Palestine was conquered and renamed Israel, and June, 1967 when the Israeli army completed the conquest of Palestine by taking East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. For Palestinians these dates bring back bitter memories, but for Israelis the memories are sweet – those were the days when we were young and brave and innocent. Vintage photos of soldiers at the newly conquered Western Wall, generals announcing “the Temple Mount is in our hands,” and teary-eyed old Jews praying with devotion are everywhere. The horrors that make up the Palestinian memories, the piles of dead bodies, civilians panicking as they are forcibly exiled, children lost in the mayhem and ancient villages and communities bulldozed only to be rebuilt for Jews are rarely shown or discussed.
To add to all that, Donald Trump is expected to arrive in Jerusalem and this gives the press and the official state PR machine an even greater opportunity to deal with the two things they love best: smoke screens and trivia. Gaza? never even heard of it! Fifteen hundred innocent political prisoners on a hunger strike for over a month? Nobody cares! But check this out: apparently Trump will fly directly from Saudi Arabia to Tel-Aviv and this is the first direct flight between the two countries; the King David Hotel in Jerusalem is preparing for Trump’s visit and a drone was spotted in the hotel parking lot! And the ongoing burning question, will the great deal maker be able to close the Israeli-Palestinian peace Deal? All smoke screens and trivia which are the staples of tabloids – a category into which most Israeli media outlets fit perfectly – though in their defense one must admit that there is no point in dealing with substance because Trump’s visit will offer none.
Here are a few items that are sure not to be on Trump’s agenda: Two million people in Gaza have no access to clean water, proper nutrition or medicine. They have been victims of devastating attacks for seven decades and before they can recover from one assault there is another one pending. The Israeli water authority allocates only 3% of the water to Palestinians even though they make up more than 50% of the overall population. More than 55% of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship live below the poverty line, and even though they rate one of the highest in the world in literacy, there is massive unemployment among Palestinians. Palestinians in the West Bank live under a brutal military regime governed by Israeli commanders who impose inhumane laws and prevent people from enjoying the basic most human rights. Seven thousand political prisoners sit in Israeli jails in violation of international law, over fifteen hundred of them on a hunger strike for over a month.
Trump may also visit Ramallah, and there too these topics are not likely to come up. Though there are attempts to prop the legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority, it is on life support and barely surviving. Municipal elections to West Bank cities were a failure – marked by boycotts of major political parties and a lack of voter interest. Mahmoud Abbas, the so-called president of the Palestinian Authority is old and tired and can no longer mask his disinterest in the fate of his people. Hamas has made some changes to its charter and the newly elected head of Hamas’ political bureau is the Gaza resident, Gaza born Ismail Haniya, who is also the democratically elected Prime Minister of the now defunct Palestinian Authority. The Authority has no real authority and neither party is relevant anymore.
The question of moving the US embassy to Jerusalem is also dead at this point although for political reasons Netanyahu will pretend it is a priority. Both Trump and Netanyahu know that Jerusalem is a red line that even two reckless politicians such as them will not dare cross. Trump will not risk a multi billion dollar weapons deal with Saudi Arabia, and Netanyahu won’t risk an uprising for a symbolic gesture for which no country in the world can give its support. The international community has never recognized Jerusalem as part of Israel, and international recognition of Israel’s jurisdiction is out of the question. So while Israeli politicians may try to create headlines over this topic, it is nothing but a smoke screen.
The terror under which Palestinians live – be it in their own country or in refugee camps around it, is part of the daily bread of Palestinian existence. The causes for this existence, the wars of 1948 and 1967 are commemorated each year during the weeks between mid-May and mid-June. The horror of the Palestinian reality is magnified when compared to the dishonest, romanticized narrative presented by Jews during that time: An Israel that is eternally young and brave and facing constant danger, yet winning and succeeding. Judging by Trump’s entourage, which includes David Friedman the new US ambassador to Israel and Jared Kushner, the famous Jewish son in law, Israel’s narrative of lies will dominate the agenda, while trivia and smoke screens will dominate the news.