Posts tagged "israel-palestine":

20 Jun 2022

2022-06-22 Fiber | Israel-Palestine

Yesterday we were connected to the fiber infrastructure and, hopefully will receive more robust internet connection, though that flimsy wire hanging flapping about among the bushes, leaves me feeling rather doubtful. In the newer section of the village, the cables are buried; in the older section where we live, we depend on wires and poles, which occasionally get hit and pulled down by passing trucks. The phone company technicians are known for their resourcefulness. For years, our connection was dependent on cables twisted together inside an old coke bottle on our roof. I suppose the technician didn't have a proper connection box handy on his several visits.

Now we have a formal connection speed of 1 Mb, though stability, rather than speed will be the incentive of most of the village residents to adopt the new service.

I still haven't got around to asking the phone company to give me a permanent ip and open port 80, so this post will be offline till I so so.

For the Thich Nhat Hanh sangha I suggested to share the Nextcloud folder I use, so that we'll have a joint folder for sangha-related activities. It's hosted at They are a bit slow in responding to requests for new user registrations, so we'll see if this actually works. Most people are used to instant responses for new registration from the big tech companies, so the idea of a sign-up taking several days is foreign to them. I'm also not sure exactly how the Nextcloud federation plays out in real life, so we'll see. The service actually wasn't working at all for me for the past several months, till I figured out that I need to update my client. Then it worked again. This is one of the problems with AppImage and the other newer Linux software installations. The Debian package management system is much more dependable by comparison. And the more that software developers come to rely on the newer installation methods, the less motivated they are to keep the repository versions updated. (The other main problem is the variety of competing installation types, so that one has to remember whether an application was informed from the repository or snap or appimage, or Git or compiled from a tar ball, or whatever. The result is chaos, whereas formerly it was a lot easier to manage to update a Linux system than in Windows.


‘The land beyond the road is forbidden’: Israeli settler shepherds displace Palestinians This is typical of the painful story that happens beneath the radar of international attention. Shepherding weaponized and used simply to take over Palestinian lands. The occupation is violent in every one of its aspects, but when Palestinians resort to desperate means like blowing themselves up in order to protest the occupation, they are the ones who are castigated for being violent.

The phone company sub-contractor who came to install our new fiber line were Palestinians from East Jerusalem. He was impressed to hear that our village is shared by Arabs and Jews living together. "It's the only one, unfortunately, I said." - "Inshallah, one day there will be peace" . - "Sure, after we are dead," I joked. His young worker, who hadn't understand this exchange in Hebrew, asked him afterwards why he was hearing the teachers from the adjacent primary school speaking in Arabic. So his boss explained to him that the school has Arab and Jewish kids learning together. The two of them had nothing more to say about it. In the reality of East Jerusalem, such a reality is even more difficult to contemplate.

Tags: web israel-palestine
30 Mar 2022

2022-03-30 Crazy ironies

The scene of the terror attack in Tel Aviv yesterday was an ultra-orthodox Jewish neighborhood. Yet two of the five victims were non-Jewish Ukrainian workers. Another victim, an Arab policeman, was the hero who rushed to the scene and shot the attacker, preventing further killings. Two of the three policemen killed in the latest wave of violence have been Arabs.

So Ukrainians who probably thought themselves safer than the majority of their compatriots just happened to be in the line of fire of a gunman with different targets in mind, and finally a heroic Palestinian Israeli policeman ended up saving Jewish lives while dying at the hands of a shahid who was trying to take them.

In the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinians, I won't presume to judge which actions are legitimate and which not. Murder is repugnant, but is of course just one of the forms of violence being perpetrated. Both sides play a role in perpetuating this blood feud, though Israel has the greater responsibility as the occupying power. The conflict is intractable but Jews and Palestinians are highly creative and intelligent. As neither people is going to give up their homeland, ever, they owe it to themselves to find a way of living together in which everyone can enjoy dignity and respect.

Palestinians weren't offered much respect this week in the summit meeting between Israel and other Arab states: they weren't even invited.

Links of the Day

Tags: israel-palestine
24 Mar 2022

2022-03-24 нет войне

I am home alone for a long weekend while D is away on a mindfulness retreat. Plenty of work to do though - both for the office and around the house - some gardening if the weather permits. Just woke up at around 5 AM and am sitting here listening to Cafe de Anatolia music [1], a little loud.

When I look at the headlines from Ukraine and Russia with an eye, a mind, and a back-of-my-mind understanding that there is disinformation everywhere, it still computes to the fact that a big military giant is bearing down on a smaller neighbour with an army that has recently been committing despicable and hardly noticed atrocities across Syria. I'm pretty certain that the Russian leader is facing a growing wave of discontent at home, and that this will eventually explode, in ways that we will probably be clueless about. I don't think the guy is a madman, but just badly out of touch. And yet, with his help, Assad, similarly aloof, has managed to keep his chokehold on a nation. That's the way it is with dictators and strongmen. Their rule eventually wizzens and dies, but not always according to a predictable time-frame.

Likely Zelenskiy is similarly facing opposition and discontent, although it hasn't been reported, in the name of presenting a united front. His position is equally tenuous. Meanwhile Ukraine is being destroyed, and all for what? To score points against NATO? Wars serve no purpose other than allowing angry people to let off steam. The motivations and the outcomes are clouded in fog. The narrative can be made up, the facts doctored. History becomes a jumble of divisive narratives, as with the tkuma and the nakba. A people will always remember what it wants to remember. Meanwhile, humans die for stupid unnecessary reasons.

"Killing people is so easy," I said to D after the stabbing attack that killed 4 in Beer Sheba the other day. Our bodies are fragile. Sometimes a disease gets us, or a storm, or a radicalized Islamic militant. It makes little difference. On a recent car journey, the truck just ahead swerved out suddenly into my lane, which meant that I swerved into the next lane, with no time to look. It could easily have been the end for me, my wife and for other unfortunates. We are fragile and can die for no reason at all, kill others senselessly. In the arithmetic of causes and effects nothing adds up but the final balance is always a zero.

If we want to look for the reasons behind the reasons, we need to look to the metaphysical. The other day, into the office walked a gardener. A big scary guy in dark attire; a beard in the style that only religious Muslims wear, a large skull cap. He was looking for work, but ended up giving me a sermon. He asked if I "believed" and I said sure - I believe that the god of the Muslims and all the other gods are one and the same. He was very happy with this answer, asked if I knew the kalima, and I repeated after him La Illaha Il Allah. He departed after giving me a hug.

It is the same god that sends militants on a stabbing spree, the same that rescues us from a car wreck, and both the killers and the rescued praise him. Both are right to do so. We are just agents in an agency at the top of which stands an aloof and unknown owner - an oligarch - sailing somewhere in his super-yacht. Perhaps even he is unsure whether the next port will allow him to dock, will turn him away, or will seize his boat in the name of trumped-up sanctions.


  1. Cafe de Anatolia

Russian mercenaries in Ukraine linked to far-right extremists

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Tags: ukraine israel-palestine
01 Feb 2022

Amnesty Int'l report on Israel apartheid

Amnesty International says that Israel's treatment of Palestinians, whether in the OPT, in Jerusalem or in Israel itself amounts to the internationally recognized crime of apartheid (without making direct comparisons with S. Africa). As such it joins a string of Israeli and international human rights organizations. So the accusation is not new, but the report is certainly thorough, running to 278 pages. Such a report cannot easily be cast as based on "lies", though that is what Israeli officials are attempting to claim. It may be easier to claim that the organization is using "double standards", though I haven't heard of Amnesty sparing any country from censure. If anything it is the governments of western countries who are using "double standards" in giving Israel so much slack. That's true also of the news media. The report did not reach the front page of The Guardian today. I read what CNN, Aljazeera, The Guardian, HaAretz and the Times of Israel had to say about the report. Only AlJazeera had the link to the actual report - but I have often noticed that news organizations, when reporting on such matters, tend to leave out the links to the subject of their reporting - I don't know what journalistic policy lies behind that terrible decision but I find it inexcusable. When an NGO publishes a report, it does so with the intent that it will reach the widest possible audience. News outlets are not doing their job if they don't help them in that.

So is Israel an apartheid state? Of course it is. This is revealed by story after story in Israel's own news media. But apartheid is a modern word for an ancient phenomenon. Until the 20th century most nation states discriminated against minorities. Minorities (such as Jews) were treated differently and if this was not systematized, it is only because systems were not so rigid as they have become in our times. "Modern" liberal democracies are beginning to move beyond apartheid, due in part to the legacy of their imperial past. But this is not so in most Asian countries. To be a member of a religious minority in Pakistan or Bangladesh, a Muslim in Myanmar, a Tamil in Sri Lanka, a Muslim in China, or even a person of foreign ethnicity in Japan or India, means that one is never going to feel quite at home in one's own country. And not all of those examples involve the aspect of a national conflict. To the Israel-Palestine equation must be added the bitter conflict over territory and various other complications like the exile of the Jews from historical Israel and the mechanisms developed by Jews for self-preservation as a minority throughout the centuries.

It's going to take more than a few negative reports by the world's top human rights organizations to bring change. But in some ways, there is a greater potential for change here than in many other places. There is the aspect that Israel wants to be seen as a modern European country. There is the demographic aspect - it is hard to ostracize such a large minority. There is the aspect that eventually Israel and the Palestinian territories will probably end up being integrated. Creating an inclusive nation out of the current mess is going to take a while, but is eventually possible.

Tags: israel-palestine
30 Jan 2022


My younger son and his fiancée came over from TA and I brought D's mom over from her retirement home. We kept her away from my daughter and her kids because they were exposed to someone who has been sick with the Omicron, lately. The weather started to clear up, though it remains cold.


There was an item in the TV news about NSO; an interview with one of the founders, and the CEO, Shalev Hulio. He doesn't cut a very impressive figure and seemed nervous and evasive when asked key questions. A family man, maybe a little naive or unused to journalists. The TV news channel spent 2 days in the NSO headquarters in Herzlia and interviewed a few others there too. One guy demonstrated how what the company does is not simple interception of phones; it helps the clients to interpret the information collected and to construct an elaborate porfolio of the target and their network of connections. Sounds familiar from the descriptions of intelligence firm operations found in Cory Doctorow's novel, "Attack Surface".

The NYT story on NSO that I read yesterday had lots of new information. If it can be relied upon, it shows, in a more detailed way than known previously, how the sale of Pegasus went hand in hand with Israeli diplomacy and created friends among client countries who voted for Israel and against Palestinian interests in discussions at the UN. It also clearly states that India and Djibouti among others purchased Pegasus, despite denials or refusals to comment.

In the news item, Hulio is given the opportunity to make the case for the need for cyberweapons when facing sophisticated criminal or terrorist organizations. This is overshadowed by the fact that most of the countries to which the system was sold ended up using it against political opponents, critical journalists, ordinary citizens or diplomats of other countries. In this way, cyberweapons are not like other weapons. They are ideally constructed to undermine democracy wherever they land; even in supposedly democratic countries.

Yuli Novak

Haaretz runs stories in its English edition that have often appeared a few days earlier in its Hebrew edition. So today they have the story about Yuli Novak, a previous director of the Breaking the Silence organization. When the NGO and its members began to be hounded by rightwing groups, the media and politicians, and the group's members began to receive death threats, she stepped down and away from Breaking the Silence and fled overseas for a time. Now she is reassessing her relationship with her country and with Zionism.

Breaking the Silence is an organization that publishes testimony of former soldiers as a means to help Israeli society reevaluate the meaning of its military occupation of Palestinian territories. It is not the radical political organization that it is made out to be in the Israeli media. It actually stays clear of direct criticism of Israel. It simply tries to show people the consequences of what the army is doing in the Occupied Territories; to "break the silence" about what is being done by the military. Like Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers, it spreads awareness of activities that are normally kept out of sight and removed from the consciousness of ordinary citizens.

As such, it does not need to take a political stance and it is actually better for its work if it stays out of politics. The organization is made up of former soldiers who, when they signed up, believed in the army's mission, but got freaked out by what they saw happening on the ground. Whatever political conclusions they came to as a result are personal, and do not necessarily represent the organization itself. The point is to gather the soldiers' testimony and to present it as part of a public education campaign, so that citizens can form their own opinions. At least that is what I understood after going on a tour of Hebron with one of the organization's founders and listening to him at other times.

Choosing to target Breaking the Silence, and other organizations that are within the fold of the Zionist left, such as Betselem and the New Israel Fund, seems to have been a conscious choice of the Right. They obviously see them as more of a threat than truly anti-Zionist groups, whose numbers and resources are even more scant.

Yuli Novak - feminist, LGBT person and leftist as she is - seems to have taken quite a long time to question the narratives she grew up with and only recently has been coming around to opinions that many Israelis reached long ago. But eventually it dawned upon her:

"What sort of coexistence are you proposing here?” she asks rhetorically during our conversation, aiming the question at the Zionist left. “A coexistence that favors only you? That simply will not work. The moment we recognize that we are not living in a democracy in the deepest and most basic way, it suddenly becomes a lot easier to understand what is going on here. And it’s no longer chaotic."

I guess by "chaotic" she means the dissonance between her received understanding of reality based on what she has been told, and what she actually sees. I'm not sure that she's entirely out of it herself, just like all of us. A certain part of us always wants to believe that we are living in a fine sort of country that will basically be OK if we can only fix a few things. But that's not true in any of the liberal (and increasingly less liberal) democracies. It certainly isn't true of a society that is based on myths about selective group identity.

Nations, if we need them at all, should exist for the welfare of the totality of their citizens, not just for their elites, for particular ethnicities, castes, religious or ideological communities. They should provide us with a comfortable framework in which to live and maintain a peaceful relationship with other nations and the biosphere. The details may be difficult to work out but at least the mission statement should be clear.

Tags: israel-palestine privacy
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