Christmas Day in Palestine: no end of Israeli military brutality

Christmas Day Palestine  (REUTERS:Mohamad Torokman) Dec 26 2015

Christmas Day 2015, Ramallah, West Bank: Palestinian protesters here defend themselves with burning tires against Israeli military aggression outside Ofer Prison, notorious for the incarceration of Palestinian children & for human rights abuses. The psychological stress of the occupation on Palestinians must be overwhelming, especially on holidays with the international mantra “peace on earth, good will to men.” Four Palestinian protesters were shot dead just on Christmas Eve.

Christmas is high season for pilgrimage tourism with tens of thousands of Christians from around the world traveling to the West Bank sites where Jesus lived. Jewish tourism is part of this industry to sites reinvented & claimed as meaningful in the Old Testament from 3,000 years ago. This year the season was preceded by three months of an Israeli settler & military pogrom against Palestinians & fallacious reports of a stabbing binge by Palestinians. This apparently dampened religious ardor, even among Christian evangelicals who help bankroll the Israeli settlements & feel they have a vested interest in promoting Israeli colonialism.

Pilgrimage tourists were down by tens of thousands this year. Media reported the catastrophic effects the current conflict had on the local Palestinian economy. What they didn’t report was the long-term economic problems caused by the apartheid wall, economic encumbrances caused by restrictions like special roads for Israelis to the settlements separate from Palestinian roads with numerous checkpoints & barriers, & most of all that Israel long ago hijacked the tourist industry in the West Bank. Israel’s control of the tourist industry in the West Bank, along with the settlements, expose how thoroughgoing & massive the military occupation–& make chopped liver out of pretensions to a bantustate solution. Israeli’s intentions are ethnic cleansing, not neighboring Palestinian bantustates.

The Israeli military controls access & entry to the West Bank, including by tourists. Preference is given to Israeli tour companies over Palestinian firms. Most of the income from multi-million dollar pilgrimage tourism in the West Bank is accrued by Israeli businesses who book tours, provide necessary travel permits, book hotels within Jerusalem, & earn millions in annual income simply ripped off by the occupation of the West Bank.

Bethlehem, about 22 km/13 miles from Ramallah (8 km/6 mi from Jerusalem), has also been a center of military aggression against Palestinians–to protect the 22 Israeli settlements on stolen Palestinian land surrounding the city. Reportedly the streets stink from the skunk bombs used by Israeli troops to disperse Palestinian protesters.

In Manger Square, usually the center of Christmas caroling by Christian tourists, Palestinian activists set up a “resistance Christmas tree”–now for the third year. An olive tree uprooted by an Israeli bulldozer was decorated with barbed wire & teargas canisters & surrounded by barriers taken from protests against Israeli plans to extend the apartheid wall through monastery grounds at a nearby town.

The smell of skunk bombs & sight of a resistance tree do not serve the purpose of Israeli propaganda. Their travel companies are not going to usher thousands of pilgrimage tourists to get a load of apartheid or resistance to it.

Another question of course is how Christians reconcile apartheid with the New Testament. As Zionists do with the Old Testament? Some day a social psychologist will unravel the mysteries of such consciousness.

Stand with Palestinians as they fight for peace on earth by honoring the boycott of Israel (BDS)–barcode beginning 729.

(Photo by Mohamad Torokman/Reuters)

“Identity politics” & the struggle against oppression

santa claus

“Identity politics” have come under an avalanche of attacks in the past few decades. The primary criticism is that they are divisive of some supposed unity. There could not be a more banal criticism or one more rooted in LaLa Land. The ruptures in society are not caused by women or oppressed peoples standing up to oppose persecution but by the persecution which is always violent & includes psychological warfare to demean or efface identity.

A unity that can only be achieved by pretending everything is hunky-dory is a false one. Political power to end these monstrous persecutions is the goal of identity politics–& political power is what is being opposed under the guise of solidarity & phony-assed unity.

Is it possible to remove women, Blacks, Muslims, & others from the vicious campaigns against them & make oppression a generic thing? How does that work? Was it possible under fascism to remove Jews, Roma, & others from being targeted for holocaust? Would the pogroms against Rohingya Muslim in Myanmar cease if they change their identity to Buddhist? Will Israel cease ethnic cleansing of Palestinians if they reconcile themselves to colonialism & accept Israel’s insistence that they never existed as a people?

This AP photo is captioned “An Israeli Arab Christian boy dressed up as Santa Claus waits for the start of the annual Christmas parade in the northern Israeli city of Nazareth, Israel, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015.” That would be the mother of all identity thefts. “Israeli Arabs” call themselves Palestinians & they do so as an assertion of their political & cultural identity.The switch in terminology is nothing more than a political construct by Israel to efface the political identity of the Palestinian people & their historic connection & claims to Palestine.

When media uses “Israeli Arab” instead of Palestinian, they are making a political stand with Israeli colonialism & one that should be rejected. A phenomenon which social psychologists should try to explain is why the oppressed have to fight the oppressors about what they are called. There are hundreds of abusive epithets used for the simple identity of woman. People struggle over what to call Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans in the US, the oppressed castes in India, & numerous ethnic & indigenous groups around the world.

Well the deal is that the oppressor doesn’t get to rename the oppressed to efface our identities. Part of the struggle for freedom & justice demands we reclaim our own names & our unique identities & demand we be treated with respect.

Build & honor the economic, cultural, & academic boycott of Israel (BDS) to stand with Palestinians within Israel & the occupied territories.

(Photo by Ariel Schalit/AP)