Thursday, June 14, 2012

My letters to the NYTimes & WSJ RE Music for the Masses by Raja Shehadeh & Harris letter about Maen Rashid Areikat's "The Time for a Palestinian State Is Now"

A Palestinian girl practicing the flute at a school in a refugee camp near Ramallah, West Bank, in April 2009. The lessons were organized by the Al Kamandjati Association, which supports the education of Palestinian children (Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times)

RE:  Music for the Masses by Raja Shehadeh

Dear Editor,

Delighted to see another fascinating NYTimes blog post by Raja Shehadeh ! I very much hope that more reasonable, compassionate, creative and intelligent Palestinians like
Shehadeh can continue to help lead Palestine (and its many various supporters) away from the dangerous influence of Islamists who seek not only the destruction of Israel, but also the destruction of secular freedom and justice for the people of Palestine: The Hamas government is quite clear that there will be "No peace with secularism". 

FYI Trudy Rubin currently reporting from Egypt points out that "the Muslim Brotherhood, which now dominates Parliament, is trying to eliminate women's right to divorce, lower the marriage age to 12, and rescind a law that bans female genital mutilation."  Egyptian women fighting for rights

Meanwhile (according to Haaretz, providing a highly relevant news report I know about only because of the American Task force on Palestine ):   Israel admits it revoked residency rights of a quarter million Palestinians- "Many of those prevented from returning were students or young professionals, working aboard to support their families"

The very real plight of the Palestinians is being exasperated and made worse by religious extremists and bigots and useful idiots on both sides of the Israel-Palestine conflict.  Bad will swiftly shift to worse without an officially negotiated agreement that provides for two sovereign states - Israel and Palestine - living side by side in peace and security.
Full respect for international law, basic human rights, real democracy and diplomacy can and should help create a viable and economically stable free Palestine (with real borders) that is democratic, pluralistic, non-militarized and neutral in armed conflicts. A fully secular two state solution really is the best way forward- for everyone's sake.

Anne Selden Annab


RE: Mr. Ariekat's Partial Remembrance letter by David Harris, Executive Director American Jewish Committee

Dear Editor,

Clearly David Harris Executive Director American Jewish Committee does not want Americans to support a fully secular two state solution to once and for all end the Israel-Palestine conflict. Rather than answering diplomatic outreach with diplomatic outreach Harris choses to misinterpret and scorn Maen Rashid Areikat's The Time for a Palestinian State Is Now.

But that does not change the fact that it really is time for a Palestinian state.  There are and will be people who vehemently object to ending the conflict, just as there were people who vehemently objected to the end of slavery- and Jim Crow laws.

Anne Selden Annab

"Since we established the American Task Force on Palestine in 2003, I have been criticised for being "too soft on Israel", mostly by those who seek to lecture me about the Nakba and trumpet their own Palestinian "patriotic credentials". In an insightful comment about my attendance at a recent Israeli Independence Day event, a distinguished Palestinian American friend of mine noted, “you weren't celebrating the exodus of 800,000 Palestinians, or the destruction of Palestine, or the Nakba, but keeping the face of Palestine alive, and keeping the door for negotiations and human contact open.”  Ziad Asali: Learning from the Nakba

"In our debate, I continued to insist that a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians is indeed still possible, mostly because a majority on both sides want it and because there is a huge body of international opinion and law that requires it." Hussein Ibish: Nothing is “inevitable”

"It is in Israel's vital interest to come to a complete resolution of the conflict between it and the Palestinian people sooner rather than later, relieving the weight of this tragic conflict from both of our peoples' shoulders. We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to the world." Maen Rashid Areikat: The Time for a Palestinian State Is Now

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Israel admits it revoked residency rights of a quarter million Palestinians

 Many of those prevented from returning were students or young professionals, working aboard to support their families.

Israel stripped more than 100,000 residents of Gaza and some 140,000 residents of the West Bank of their residency rights during the 27 years between its conquest of the territories in 1967 and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994.

As a result, close to 250,000 Palestinians who left the territories were barred from ever returning.

Given that Gaza's population has a natural growth rate of 3.3 percent a year, its population today would be more than 10 percent higher, had Israel not followed a policy of revoking residency rights from anyone who left the area for an extended period of time. The West Bank's population growth rate is 3 percent. Many of those prevented from returning were students or young professionals, working aboard to support their families.

The data on Gaza residency rights was released by the Defense Ministry's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories this week, in response to a freedom-of-information request filed by Hamoked - The Center for the Defense of the Individual. In its letter, COGAT said that 44,730 Gazans lost their residency rights because they were absent from the territory for seven years or more; 54,730 because they did not respond to the 1981 census; and 7,249 because they didn't respond to the 1988 census.

It added that 15,000 of those deprived of residency are now aged 90 or older.

In May 2011, Haaretz obtained the figures on West Bank residents who were stripped of their residency rights. The report noted that Israel had, for years, employed a secret procedure to do so. Palestinians who went abroad were required to leave their identity card at the border crossing. Unlike those from Gaza, who were allowed to leave for seven years, these Palestinians received a special permit valid for three years. The permit could be renewed three times, each time for one year. But any Palestinian who failed to return within six months after his permit expired would be stripped of his residency with no prior notice.

Former senior defense officials told Haaretz at the time of that report's publication that they were unaware of any such procedure.

Today, a similar procedure is applied to East Jerusalem residents: A Palestinian who lives abroad for seven years or more loses his right to return to the city....READ MORE

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My letter to the WSJ RE The Time for a Palestinian State Is Now by Maen Areikat

RE: The Time for a Palestinian State Is Now by Maen Areikat

Dear Editor,

I quite agree with Maen Areikat that The Time for a Palestinian State Is Now and I very much hope that any one involved in weighing in on the conflict, or funding and fueling it in any way, steps up to do what they can to help convince friends and family and colleagues to do whatever one can to contribute serious positive momentum towards the creation of a just and lasting peace for both Israel and for Palestine- for everyone's sake.

Anne Selden Annab

Palestinian options are significantly limited: Israel, as the occupying power, holds almost all the cards." Hussein Ibish

"After almost a half century of an occupation and settlement enterprise that shows no sign of ending – quite the opposite, settlements become more entrenched by the day – many would argue there already is an apartheid regime in place in the territories under Israeli control between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea." Hanan Ashrawi

"We're very clear that continued Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank undermines peace efforts and contradicts Israeli commitments and obligations."  State Department spokesperson, Mark Toner

"We must work together to build a future in which both peoples can enjoy the rights, responsibilities and dignity of citizenship and self-determination. There is only one way to actually accomplish this: ending the occupation and creating a Palestinian state to live alongside Israel. Palestinians must recognise and accept Israel, which is a legitimate member state of the United Nations. The Palestinians must have one place on earth, the territories occupied in 1967, where they can live freely as first class citizens in their own independent state. There is no other way to end the cycle of bloodshed, pain and hatred that has lasted for so long." Ziad J Asali

"The variety and distribution of plants and animals on Earth – and, for many species, prospects for survival – may be nearing an abrupt, fundamental change because of human activity, warns an international team of ecologists and biologists. Unless humanity deals with the underlying causes that could be pushing Earth's biosphere toward such a change, the results could lead to social and economic instability, write the researchers in a study unveiled Wednesday in the journal Nature. The underlying triggers that the researchers say could lead to a global ecological tipping point have a familiar ring: population growth and the resulting thirst for resources, with their effects on land use, climate, and habitats." Report: Humans near tipping point that could dramatically change Earth


Sunday, June 10, 2012

My letter to the New York Times RE Thomas L. Friedman's "Facebook Meets Brick-and-Mortar Politics "

RE:  Facebook Meets Brick-and-Mortar Politics

Dear Editor,

Regarding Thomas L. Friedman's "Facebook Meets Brick-and-Mortar Politics "... It is not facebook but the internet in general with its echo chamber tendencies which has become "an addictive substitute for real action", as well as a source for manipulative misinformation and bad advice for many naive and gullible people.

And the effect is not limited to far away conflict zones and people living under authoritative regimes: One can be a graduate student of Public Policy at Harvard University and be every bit as out of touch and unable to influence any one beyond a small closed circle of  like minded  "activists".  Unhampered by reality checks and any sense of accountability internet bullies tend to be full of  "sound and fury, signifying nothing".

That is not to say the internet is useless or even counterproductive. Building civic muscle is a slow process, and a serious process best shaped by competent, intelligent, connected people who know there is much more to life, and to political power, than adolescent howls and echo chamber antics.

Anne Selden Annab

Hussein Ibish: Clarifying why Arab and Muslim Americans should be smart rather than stupid

Ziad Asali: Learning from the Nakba "The only way to honour our tragic histories is to create a future for our children free of man-made tragedy. This means making peace fully, completely and without reservation, between Israel and a State of Palestine.

"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world."Eleanor Roosevelt