Lessons from the Gaza War

Free Haifa


There are many reasons why I didn’t write any political analysis at the time of this bloody war.

One reason is that I only wanted the war to be over, to stop the bloodshed, while I knew that the longer Gaza can stand in the face of the Israeli genocidal rampage, the better the chance that the aggressors will not get what they want and that the siege of Gaza, which, in the long term, is even more destructive to Human lives and development, will be lifted.

But the best excuse is that throughout this war the monstrous Israeli war machine seemed clumsy and clueless, while the Gaza resistance seemed to keep cool and know what they are doing.

I preferred to keep quiet and do my small thing by demonstrating against the aggression.

Now, that the war is over, what can we learn from it politically? I will…

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A Traditional Future

Pakistani architect Yasmeen Lari uses local building techniques to rebuild villages in the flood-stricken Sindh region.

Yasmeen Lari - Architect

Yasmeen Lari is Pakistan’s first female architect and one of the most successful providers of disaster relief shelters in the world. She has built over 36,000 houses for victims of floods and earthquakes in Pakistan since 2010.

Shunning the structurally weak, mass-produced houses offered by international organisations, Lari uses vernacular techniques and local materials such as lime and bamboo. Her houses have a tiny carbon footprint and are simple enough for people to build themselves. With this, she hopes to demonstrate the role that architecture can play in humanitarian aid.

“I often tell my colleagues, let us not treat disaster-affected households as destitute, needing handouts … but with dignity,” she says.

Lari once built giant concrete and steel buildings for clients like the Pakistani State Oil company. But when disaster struck in 2005, she turned to traditional techniques to design flood and earthquake proof buildings for people in remote regions.

She returns to the Sindh region to see how her homes survived the 2013 floods and helps villagers in Awaran after the 2013 Balochistan earthquake.

Filmmaker’s view

By Faiza Ahmad Khan

Just a week before I left for Pakistan to film this documentary, the chief minister of my home state Rajasthan in India (which, incidentally, borders Sindh, the part of Pakistan that I was about to visit), pledged that within the next two years, there would be not a single mud house left standing in the state.

For many years the central government in India has already had a programme in place, which gives those in rural areas a sum of money to replace their traditional mud houses with brick and cement structures. Traditional is seen as poor and inferior and the fast track to “development” cannot, God forbid, be lined with mud and thatch houses.

While filming in Pakistan, I shared our chief minister’s announcement with an artisan who works with Yasmeen Lari at the Heritage Foundation in a village called Moak Sharif in Sindh.

“Thank God we’re decades behind India in this development business,” he said.

On one of my travels in Orissa in India, to a village called Govindpur that is resisting land acquisition for the mega steel company, POSCO, I met a woman who was rebuilding her kachcha house (made of natural materials, such as mud, bamboo and leave) despite being able to access government funding for a concrete house.

“We depend on this land for everything, we take what we know can be replenished. People in cities have no connection with the land so they don’t think twice about cutting down trees, mining the earth hollow. You think you’re separate from nature but you’re not. If this goes, you go,” she said.

What I am constantly being reminded of, as this country builds the capitalist dream, is that we stand to lose the wealth of traditional knowledge that pivots around this belief – ways to farm, heal, learn and live.

At the Heritage Foundation centre in Moak Sharif, Yasmeen Lari has been working to preserve traditional ways of building. The centre was set up by Yasmeen and her team in 2005 and has evolved to include a women’s centre, a small learning centre for children and a clinic to provide health care for the residents of the village.

Yasmeen believes that her role as an architect should not be restricted to designing houses and buildings. Instead, things should grow in an integrated way.

While I was there, they managed to get the government school, once barely functioning, in working order. Women from the village had organised themselves into a ‘mothers committee’ to oversee the school’s daily operations. And after I returned to India, every once in a while, Yasmeen would call and explain, with great delight, something new they were experimenting with – organic farming, bio fertilizers and natural soaps.

Through the making of this film I realised that building the “earth-way” means fluidity, not concreteness. It means working with the community, integrating it with structures of support and togetherness. Building homes, for Yasmeen, is about situating them. She guides her team to create this kind of space. Traditional, yes, but by no means can this approach be deemed irrelevant. More



New book reveals top-secret collusion between Israel, US during twenty years of “peace talks”

“I’ll back you and protect you, I’m your guy … it’s very upsetting … all the Arabs are the same,” US PresidentBill Clinton told Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak in a 19 July 2000 meeting during the failed Camp David summit with Palestinian Authority president Yasser Arafat.

Only months earlier, in March 2000, Clinton displayed the same kind of obeisance to Barak — albeit without the racist slur this time — when he explained, “I’ll do my best … I’ve gone through the script … I’ll do a good job.” He said this while he attempted to reassure Barak during another failed summit, this time with then-president of Syria Hafez al-Assad.

That the US government has acted as Israel’s attorney rather than an honest mediator in peace negotiations has been known for some time, ever since the disclosure of a secret 1975 letter from President Gerald Ford to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

But these quotes from Ahron Bregman’s Cursed Victory: A History of Israel and the Occupied Territories (2014), which includes the actual “script” agreed upon between Clinton and Barak, make graphically clear the extent of the collusion between the two governments.

Top secret disclosures

Bregman’s book breaks new ground with a number of leaked top secret disclosures from Israeli sources. It shows that the recent revelation that Israel eavesdropped on current US Secretary of State John Kerry is really nothing new.

Israel also secretly recorded conversations between Clinton and Assad back in 2000. The only question unanswered is why, given the extent of the collusion, the Israeli government believed it was necessary to eavesdrop on its counterpart.

Bregman is a British-Israeli political scientist who teaches in the War Studies Department of King’s College London. He served in the Israeli army during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. But during the first intifada, he openly announced his refusal to serve in the “occupied territories,” in an interview with Israeli newspaperHaaretz.

Facing prison for his refusal, he emigrated to the UK where he obtained a doctoral degree, and subsequently began a career as a lecturer and journalist, eventually authoring four other books on Israel.

Bregman believes that Cursed Victory is the first chronological history of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Syria’s Golan Heights, and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula following the 1967 war. His book differs from other studies which he says take a more thematic or analytical approach to the post-1967 occupation.


Bregman’s perspective is that of a liberal Zionist. He briefly describes the 1947-1948 Nakba — the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland — as a “civil war,” and suggests that Israel emerged as a colonialist country only after the 1967 war, hence the book’s title.

This perspective eventually weakens his concluding chapter and mars his analysis of the failure of Clinton’s Camp David summit. Nevertheless, many Palestinian voices are heard in the course of his chronology, and he rigorously details how Israel implemented the “three main pillars” of its post-1967 occupation through military force, laws and bureaucratic regulations and settlements — in the process, trampling on international law and Palestinians’ human rights.

Bregman’s top secret material appears mostly in the later chapters, which cover the period between 1995 and 2007 when his chronology ends. Many of the documents are not surprising, and their contents could be deduced from both US and Israeli public policy and behavior.

Still, the documentation reinforces what Palestinians have long maintained. We get to read, for example, the actual text of US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s reaffirmation of the US pledge to consult first with Israel in peace talks.

In a secret 1998 letter to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Albright promised: “Recognizing the desirability of avoiding putting forward proposals that Israel would consider unsatisfactory, the US will conduct a thorough consultation process with Israel in advance with respect to any ideas the US may wish to offer the parties for their consideration.” As Bregman notes, this effectively gave “Israel carte blanche to veto any American peace proposals” it didn’t like.

Arafat’s death

Many Palestinians have long suspected that Israel assassinated Arafat by poisoning him. Bregman’s revelations point to this conclusion as well, although he concedes that the information leaked to him to date does not contain the “smoking gun” proof.

The clearest indication, he writes, is a 15 October 2000, document prepared by the Shabak (or Shin Bet), Israel’s secret service, which describes Arafat “as a serious threat to the security of the state. His disappearance outweighs the benefits of his continuing existence.”

After noting that in 2004, US President George W. Bush appeared to release Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon from an earlier commitment not to harm Arafat, Bregman states that the US government had given Sharon “if not a green light to proceed with the killing, then at least an amber” light.

Ignoring Palestinian response

Bregman’s liberal Zionism is apparent in several instances in this work, including his suggestion that if Israel had used greater force it might have avoided the first intifada in 1987. But the most obvious example is his acceptance of the notion that the so-called Clinton Parameters, outlined after the failure of Camp David, represented the best deal the Palestinians could have hoped to get.

The deal Clinton offered, he says, was Palestinian sovereignty over the Haram al-Sharif (Dome of the Rock), the principal Muslim holy site in Jerusalem, in exchange for giving up even a symbolic right of return for Palestinian refugees.

Whereas throughout most of the book Bregman is conscientious in representing Palestinian viewpoints, here he largely ignores the official response of the Palestinian negotiating team to the Clinton Parameters.

Nor does he suggest that Palestinian negotiators had little reason to trust Clinton after he had already broken two key promises: one, that Clinton would not blame Arafat if the summit failed (which Clinton did), and two, that Israel would continue to withdraw from the occupied West Bank if the summit failed (which Israel did not).

More to the point, Bregman effectively dismisses the Palestinian right of return as a fundamental human right central to their struggle and to a just peace.

The parameters guaranteed little more than limited autonomy for Palestinians in less than 22 percent of historic Palestine, not full state sovereignty, and the Palestinian Authority would have had to depend on Israeli goodwill to withdraw its military presence in the Jordan Valley twelve years from the agreement.

The result is a disappointing concluding chapter in which the author suggests that the post-1967 occupation will eventually end simply because history shows that occupations don’t last.

In his final paragraph, he distinguishes between “good” colonialists (the British) and “bad” colonialists (the Israelis), but his fixation on 1967 means he misses entirely that Israeli settler-colonialism began not in 1967, but in the years leading up to the founding of the state in 1948. More

Rod Such is a former editor for World Book and Encarta encyclopedias. He is active with Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights, Jewish Voice for Peace-Portland Chapter and the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign.


‘Mangrove Man’ inspired by world travel

He’s traveled half a million miles over the years – enough to go around the world 12 times, or to the moon and halfway back – so it’s little wonder that writer, photographer, conservationist and educator Martin Keeley continues to find inspiration for his work.

Keeley’s latest trips are with the Marvelous Mangrove education curriculum, a program that teaches schoolchildren about the importance of mangroves and the eco-systems which they support worldwide, as well as training teachers to teach both students and other teachers.

The program was developed by Cayman Brac-based Keeley in 1999 and initially was incorporated into Cayman’s primary school curriculum. It is part of the Mangrove Action Project, a conservation group comprised of more than 300 scientists and academics spanning more than 60 nations.

The Marvelous Mangrove program is now in 11 countries, with the expansion this year to South Sulawesi, Indonesia, and Queensland, Australia.

“For me, the mangrove trips continue to stimulate the creative process,” said the writer.

“They often inspire my poetry, and I reckon that in another six months or so I’ll have enough to publish another anthology. My photography also continues to benefit from my travels and exposure to other cultures and their environments.”

In addition, he says, he gets an in-depth perspective on the countries and the cultures where he works.

“I experience and observe firsthand their societies and the common problems they face – the huge and ever growing disparity between the obscenely wealthy and the desperately poor who are barely making it,” Keeley added.

“The contrasts I observed this summer between nations like Indonesia and Australia stimulate not only sympathy and anger between the haves and have-nots, but empathy with those whose daily struggle is that of survival, while others have little or no idea how lucky they are take for granted their secure and protective social environment.”

At the Indonesian trip, 30 teachers and educators spent three days in an intense workshop that, in the words of Keeley, “introduced them to the wonderful world of mangroves through hands-on science.”

A particular highlight was the surprise introduction of 15 school kids who came in and assisted for the afternoon, Keeley said.

“The setting is perfect, with elevated cabins connected by elevated walkways and the “hall” for the workshop itself in a Roman-style amphitheater that is open to the elements – roofed, but with shutters, not glass windows,” he said.

“The accommodation, theater and restaurant operate independent of the grid on solar power with water from local wells and storage systems which is treated through solar osmosis, although it sometimes has to be topped up by water trucks during the dry season. The food is all grown locally, and mostly seafood that is caught locally on a daily basis.”

The Australian leg of the trip, he said, was slightly different.

“Australia saw the launch of ‘Mangrovia,’ a huge inflatable red mangrove that students go inside to explore and hear storytelling,” Keeley said.

“In addition, Mangrovia’s creator, international festival artist Evelyn Roth, also designed and made 28 costumes of mangrove critters that are used in conjunction with the inflatable.

“Many Cayman students [and adults] have had similar experiences with my huge inflatable shark and the 30 mangrove critter costumes which go with it during the past 15 years! It’s an exciting way to learn.”

The issue of mangrove conservation has become more and more important in recent years, Keeley says, largely because of their environmental qualities.

“It has been known for many years, and the 2004 Asian Tsunami proved it beyond doubt, that mangroves are the first line of defense against major tropical storms, be they hurricanes or typhoons,” Mr. Keeley continued.

“Recent studies during the past six or seven years have also shown that, given the opportunity, mangroves will keep pace with sea level rise thereby extending that level of protection. In addition, recent research has shown that mangroves capture CO2 from the atmosphere and store it in leaves, roots, trunks and soil.

“No maximum storage capacity has been determined as the trees continuously store carbon in the soil for centuries or millennia. Obviously ripping out mangroves releases this stored CO2 and thereby adds to the acceleration of global warming.

“National governments from Vietnam and China to Belize and Guatemala have come to understand what local communities and scientists have been telling them for many years. Mangroves are the major source of more than 75 percent of reef species of fish and invertebrates – they are the spawning and nursery grounds for these species. Thousands of communities round the world rely on these aquatic species for their livelihoods and to feed their families.”

Next up for stamps on the increasingly-packed passport pages will be trips to Bangladesh and Kenya, scheduled for summer 2015. Keeley has already visited both briefly to get the ball rolling and he told Weekender that – funding permitting – translations of the materials and teacher training workshops will be introduced.

There seems no sign of slowing down there, either, for the Brac-based whirlwind.

“World-wide at least a dozen other countries are interested in the Marvellous Mangroves curriculum,” he concluded.

“As usual, it’s just a matter of time and, of course, money, to make it happen.” More


Revival of Political Islam in the Aftermath of Arab Uprisings: Implications for the Region and Beyond

Revival of Political Islam in the Aftermath of Arab Uprisings: Implications for the Region and Beyond

Authored by Dr. Mohammed El-Katiri.

Brief Synopsis

View the Executive Summary

Regime change during the Arab Spring allowed Islamist political forces that had long been marginalized to achieve political influence in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. Morocco’s first government led by an Islamist party has been in power since January 2012. This trend caused widespread concern over the future direction of these states; but despite the tragic example of Egypt, few negative predictions have yet been borne out. The author cautions against an overly simplistic assessment of this rise in the influence and power of political Islam. He shows that the political crises besetting each of these Islamist governments are not necessarily of their own making, but instead are determined by objective circumstances. Dr. El-Katiri describes how, in several key respects, the aims of Islamist parties are in line with U.S. aspirations for the region.

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Did US intelligence tie Israel to 9/11?

Jonathan Cook

29 AUGUST 2014 Good to have Justin Raimondo at Anti-war.com set out the hugely suppressed but growing indicators that Israeli intelligence knew of the 9/11 attacks but failed to alert the Americans (while the Saudis were probably more directly involved in the attacks).

The definitive evidence is likely to be found in the censored 28 pages of the joint report of the intelligence committees of the two houses of Congress, as Raimondo highlights.

As to the Israeli interests at work in allowing 9/11 to take place, Raimondo misses revealing comments made by the two most senior Israeli intelligence officials at the time, statements I noted in my book “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations” (p. 103):

Israel’s National Security Adviser, General Uzi Dayan, and the head of the Mossad, Ephraim Halevy … reportedly told that year’s Herzliya conference [in 2001] that the 9/11 attacks were a ‘Hanukkah miracle’, offering Israel the chance to sideline and punish its enemies. Halevy spoke of the imminent arrival of ‘a world war different from all its predecessors’ and the emergence after 9/11 of a common perception combining ‘all the elements of Islamic terror into one clear and identifi able format’, creating ‘a genuine dilemma for every ruler and every state in our region. Each one must reach a moment of truth and decide how he will position himself in the campaign.’

Dayan, meanwhile, identified the targets, after Afghanistan, for the next stage of the regional campaign: ‘The Iran, Iraq and Syria triangle, all veteran supporters of terror which are developing weapons of mass destruction.’ He argued: ‘They must be confronted as soon as possible, and that is also understood in the US. Hezbollah and Syria have good reason to worry about the developments in this campaign, and that’s also true for the organizations and other states.’

Sounds like a rather accurate prediction of how things turned out, no?

The Haaretz article on 18 Dec 2001 that quoted the pair, written by Aluf Benn, now the paper’s editor-in-chief, was originally titled “For Israel, September 11 was a Hanukkah miracle”. The version on Haaretz that can now be found has excised all references to “Hanukkah” and “miracles”, and is under the much blander – and misleading – headline “Israel strives to import America’s war on terror“.

More likely, as I explain in my book, Israel tried to export to Washington, care of the neocons, its own “war on terror” – and its long-term designs for breaking up the Middle East into feuding sects and tribes. More






Jamaica to host Youth Climate Change Conference


Youth Climate Change Conference Youth Climate Change Conference

The USAID-funded Jamaica Rural Economy and Ecosystems Adapting to Climate Change (Ja REEACH) project is hosting a mock United Nations-style assembly on climate change at the inaugural Youth Climate Change Conference in Kingston, Jamaica on September 14, 2014.
Themed, "One Climate, One Future...Empowering Youth for Action" high school delegates will deliberate on the availability, access, and quality of water in Jamaica, a relevant and timely issue considering the country's current drought condition.
The assembly will discuss the rights and use of water across Jamaica's social and economic sectors, focusing on tourism, agriculture and fisheries, manufacturing and industry, health and recreation, and the environment. The deliberations will be collated to formulate a youth position on risk management strategies and actions for sustainable use of the resource in the face of a changing climate.
The conference will also incorporate a poster competition, exhibit of climate information, water…

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Brazil Vows Water Supply Is Under Control as Basins Dry

The state of Sao Paulo is facing its worst drought in eight decades, threatening the water supplies for 20 million people — but you wouldn’t know that by asking Brazil’s elected officials.

Sao Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin, who is seeking re-election in October, has been minimizing the crisis for the region, which includes South America’s largest city. The reaction is a far cry from the response in drought-stricken California, where Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency and residents are being fined for watering their lawns.

Sao Paulo state is already rationing water for more than 2 million people in 18 cities. The capital city’s main reservoir is now at only 12 percent of capacity, according to the water utility Cia. de Saneamento Basico do Estado de Sao Paulo, known as Sabesp. While the utility received a warning at the end of July that it risks running out of drinking water in 100 days, officials vow the situation is under control.

“Sao Paulo is denying this crisis because we are in the middle of the political campaign,” said Joao Simanke, a hydrogeologist consultant who worked for Sabesp for more than two decades. “The crisis is already in place and it is getting worse, but until now it has been possible to mask it.”

Blaming unusual weather in a city traditionally known as “drizzly Sao Paulo,” Alckmin denied last week he was slow to respond to the drop in the city’s main reservoir, which began in May 2013, because of the political cost of rationing.

“The situation in Sao Paulo is serious, but it is under control,” Mauro Arce, water resources secretary for the state, said in a telephone interview.

Reduced Flow

While Brazil’s largest city isn’t rationing water, thousands of residents are already complaining of reduced flow from their taps in the past two months.

In February, Sabesp began offering 30 percent discounts to customers who cut consumption by at least 20 percent of their 12-month average. The utility is spending money on special equipment to pull water known as “dead volume” from the very bottom of the Cantareira reservoir and to get supplies from other reservoirs.

In California, an estimated 82 percent of the state is experiencing extreme drought. Most of its major reservoirs are at less than half of capacity, state records show, as residents face restrictions on car washes and restaurants only serve water to customers who request it.

Spring Rains

Relief may be slow to come before more Sao Paulo residents have to contend with water limits. According to weather forecaster Climatempo, the spring season that starts in September will bring rains at or below historical averages — not enough to refill basins. The drenching El Nino rains that caused floods in southern Brazil won’t travel far enough north to help refill reservoirs in Sao Paulo.

Sao Paulo’s water situation is “scary,” given the historical humid weather condition of the region, said Benedito Braga, president of World Water Council, an international organization that promotes awareness of water issues.

“Sao Paulo’s situation is not devastating such as the California’s situation, because the American state has experienced droughts many times,” he said. “We have never seen anything similar in Sao Paulo, so we are in an uncomfortable situation.”

Sao Paulo should be already adopting more measures in an attempt to reduce water usage, such as a progressive water rate in which consumers pay more for exceeding a certain level of water consumption, said Braga, who was on the board of Brazil’s national water agency from 2001 to 2009.

‘Serious’ Situation

Sao Paulo’s water resources secretary said there’s no need to adopt more measures to reduce demand and pressure on the city’s water reservoirs. The government isn’t minimizing the crisis and it’s reaching out to increase awareness of the issue, Arce said. Irrigation in the upper reaches of rivers is already being limited, he said.

“The situation is serious and we are dealing with it with the seriousness it deserves,” Arce said. Sabesp says its voluntary demand reduction programs are working and some, including Gesner Oliveira, a consultant who served as Sabesp’s president from 2007 to 2010, agree.

“The set of measures adopted were correct to manage the situation of water scarcity,” said Oliveira.

But reductions in demand haven’t held steady. In July, water consumption in Sao Paulo rose as tourists filled the city for the World Cup soccer tournament and fewer people joined the consumption reduction program, Sabesp executives said on an Aug. 19 conference call.

Water Fines?

“The water saving campaign is not enough to avoid a bigger problem and people don’t exactly know what is going on,” said Samuel Barreto, a coordinator with the Nature Conservancy. “The government must better inform the population.”

Sao Paulo’s governor press office didn’t respond to a phone call seeking comment.

Marco Antonio Barros, superintendent of water production of Sabesp, downplayed the possibility the company would fine customers for excessive water use, saying such penalties took a long time to be established in California. Limiting secondary uses of water, for washing cars and other non-drinking consumption, is possible, he said.

According to a July report by Citigroup Inc., if the water flow remains below average for the remainder of the year, the Cantareira reservoir “will dry up by December in spite of the use of dead-storage volume.”

Sabesp expects to be able to supply water until the rainy season ends in March and says the chance of rationing in the capital by the end of the year is zero. Recovery of its reservoirs in the first months of the next season is unlikely “even if it rains a lot,” Sabesp Chief Financial Officer Rui Affonso said on the conference call. “The constancy of the rains is what matters.” More

To contact the reporter on this story: Vanessa Dezem in Sao Paulo at vdezem@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net Tina Davis, Randall Hackley


DIARIES: LIVE FROM PALESTINE “A clumsy army beating Palestinians into submission”: TIME correspondent’s Nablus diary from 1990

An excerpt from the unpublished memoirs of the former TIME journalist Murray J. Gart describing the occupied West Bank city of Nablus at the height of the first intifada, or uprising, could have been written today.

Murray J. Gart interviews Yasser
Arafat on a plane en route to
Baghdad on 25 October 1988

Closure under the pretext of “security,” tear gas and lethal fire against unarmed protesters was what Gart observed in the city in 1990.

Gart’s granddaughter, Brooke DeNisco, says of her grandfather that “the Middle East was his passion and he spent years living and traveling there.”

When he retired from TIME, the publication with which he spent most of his career, Gart “began working on a book about the Middle East peace process, but died in 2004 before its completion. I inherited some of the notes and drafts for the book, including a narrative of five weeks he spent living in the West Bank,” DeNisco explains.

“My grandfather was proudly Jewish and enjoyed traveling often to Israel,” she adds. “He voted for Ronald Reagan and was a member of George Bush Sr.’s Council on Foreign Affairs.”

The following “is a small excerpt from his pages of notes about his experiences in Nablus, forty miles north of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank,” DeNisco told The Electronic Intifada. “He wrote on the manuscript that this is a draft and had not been thoroughly fact-checked.”

The excerpt from Murray J. Gart’s memoirs follows.

Nablus, occupied West Bank, 1990

Though I was there only five weeks, it was long enough for a good look at Nablus life.

I had to remind myself of the baggage I carried, limitations of culture, sense of history, background and language. But, after twenty years of visits to Israel, I was also aware that my experiences and preparations for the trip, including long interviews for TIME with Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat would help to shield me from being unfair.

I had tried to reach Nablus the previous year but was turned away by Israeli soldiers who said the city was a closed “security zone.” An invitation to consult at An-Najah National University got me into the West Bank’s most active cultural and political center. But when I arrived, the university’s campus was as closed as a tomb and prohibited from opening or operating.

By the end of the week I became accustomed to bursts of Israeli gunfire, exploding gas and other disturbing noises of daily urban warfare.


One of my first mornings in Nablus I was distracted by heavy gunfire. When I leaned out my open first-floor window, I saw fires in my street at the corner of a walled schoolyard, teenage boys running and teachers shouting.

The yard filled with smoke, driving students into the school directly opposite my window. I could see cannisters landing, exploding and spewing out more smoke. In seconds, the gas got my face and forced me to fall back and grope my way blindly to the bathroom for a wet towel. When I was able to look out the window again, perhaps ten minutes later, there wasn’t a person in sight outdoors. Later the ashes and rubble were cleaned up. The job was done by Palestinians rousted from passing cars and made to do it by soldiers pointing guns.

The Israelis had turned the most vital center of Palestinian life into something resembling a vast, maximum security prison. That at least, was how it felt from the inside.

Armed troops did all the work of police, tightly controlled every life in the city and dispensed summary justice. They guarded entry and exit roads like prison gates and enforced Israel’s iron-fist occupation rules, which in practice meant repressive martial-law measures like collective punishment and preventive detention.

They used force to suppress the slightest hint of civil resistance, and responded to nonviolent protest with the force of lethal arms. To conceal these conditions to the world, the city was almost always a “closed military zone” which barred entry by the press, diplomats, clergy and anyone else the army chose to keep out.

There was no one to witness the real conditions of the Nablus lockup. Twenty-four hours a day every day of their lives, residents saw soldiers, as I did, close by on foot and in vehicles keeping relentless house-to-house pressure on every neighborhood. They broke into private homes, mosques and even hospital operating rooms, leaving a tornado-like aftermath.

A lot of residents have died. Doctors in Nablus said the number of wounded or dead was probably ten to twenty times more than reported. Injuries from beatings and stonings, illnesses made worse by gas, including the loss of human fetuses ran into the thousands.

Dozens of Nabulsis were dragged off daily for interrogations, beatings, jailing or imprisonment, without trial, for terms that can last years. On walks or from my window, it was common to see people carted off in military vehicles. A command car drove past me with two feet in white sneakers sticking out the rear. Inside, the prisoner’s face was being smashed into the floor by an Israeli soldier’s boot.

No safety

In Nablus I met old and young people, activists, businessmen, doctors, writers, lawyers and students. Not one of them felt safe or secure anywhere in town, and I came to understand why. Thousands of violent incidents, few of them ever reported, had touched the life of every person in town.

They stated their views respectfully, but asked me heated questions about American policy. The bitterness they felt toward the US for supporting Israel against the Palestinians poured out. They saw the American-Israeli alliance as hostile and directed against them.

A tall fellow about twenty put it this way: “Americans send bullets and gas for Israelis to shoot at us. Why do you hate us too?” When asked, I stated frankly the unwelcome opinion that the US will not, as Palestinians I met almost universally hope it will, punish Israel if it does not leave the West Bank and Gaza.

My biggest discovery was that there was no big discoveries to be made about the conflict beyond its awesome scope and pervasiveness, and the degree to which Israel had come to rely on brute force dealt out by a clumsy army to beat Palestinians into submission.

I saw what I already knew, but somehow had refused to believe could be happening in the same Jewish state meant to shelter an oppressed people. It was why the Palestinians in lands Israel rules under martial law so passionately oppose occupation, why they hate Israelis and why they feel so strongly that their struggle must continue, whatever the cost. They do believe they have little left to lose. Murray J. Gart, 1990 More





Small islands to sign historic treaty in Samoa

Small islands to sign historic treaty in Samoa, to help finance climate change adaptation

Representatives from 31 small islands and low lying countries that are members of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) will reaffirm their commitment to the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Sustainable Energy mechanism – SIDS DOCK – at an Official Ceremony for the Opening of Signature for the Statute Establishing the SIDS DOCK, on 1 September 2014, during the upcoming United Nations (UN) Third International Conference on SIDS, in Apia, Samoa, from 1-4 September. The opening for signature of this historic SIDS-SIDS Treaty is a significant highlight and outcome of the Conference, and a major step toward the treaty’s entry into force.

Representatives scheduled to attend the ceremony confirmed their continuing support for, and preparation to sign the Statute as soon as possible, and reiterated their resolve to continue cooperating to achieve its prompt entry into force and to support the SIDS DOCK goal of 25-50-25 by 2033: Island Energy For Island Life. SIDS need to mobilize and facilitate in excess of USD 20 billion by 2033, about USD 1 billion per year, to help finance the transformation of the SIDS energy sector in order to achieve a 25 percent (from the 2005 baseline) increase in energy efficiency, generation of a minimum of 50 percent of electric power from renewable sources, and a 25 percent decrease in conventional transportation fuel use, in order to significantly increase financial resources to enable climate change adaptation in SIDS.

The Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Finance, for the Commonwealth of Dominica, and acting in his country’s capacity as Chair of the SIDS DOCK Steering Committee, said that SIDS DOCK represents a significant achievement in solidifying SIDS-SIDS relationships and cooperation and is, “an extraordinary lesson learned of what can happen when a genuine partner takes ‘a chance’ on a new and innovative idea that has the potential to help SIDS adapt and become more resilient to the changing climate and sea level rise.” Recognising that the lives of more than 20 million people in small islands and low lying states are at high risk, the majority of them young people, the Government of Denmark was the first country to provide support for SIDS DOCK start-up activities with a grant of USD 14.5 million in 2010, during climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark. This gesture and demonstration of support was followed by a grant of USD 15 million, over two years in 2011, from the Government of Japan during climate talks in Cancun, Mexico.

In March 2014, in partnership with the United Nations Industrial and Development Organization (UNIDO), the Government of Austria extended support under a Memorandum of Understanding, with a grant of 1 million euros, for start-up activities for Centres for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in the Caribbean (CCREEE), the Pacific (PCREEE), and support to African SIDS through the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ECREEE in Cabo Verde, and at a later date, support for a centre in the Indian Ocean region (IOCREEE). The new centres will also act as SE4ALL Hubs, assisting SIDS to translate commitments to actions. SIDS DOCK is highly complementary to the work being done under the Sustainable Energy For All (SE4All) Initiative, a personal initiative of the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, that has SIDS as the largest group of signatories and with the highest ambitions.

During the Third International Conference on SIDS, the Government of Samoa and its people will host hundreds of representatives from small islands and low lying states, donors, investors and civil society groups, to what is expected to be the most important conference on SIDS to date, and one that is expected to define SIDS in a Post-2015 world, with genuine partnerships at the core of the agenda. SIDS DOCK is well-positioned to participate in the SIDS Post-2015 Agenda with its partners, the Governments of Denmark, Japan and Austria; the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Industrial and Development Organization (UNIDO); The World Bank; and The Clinton Foundation – Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI).

During the Signing Ceremony on September 1, the Dominican Prime Minister will invite other members of the AOSIS to consider joining the organisation. The Statute will remain open for signature in Apia, Samoa until September 5, and will re-open for signature in Belmopan, Belize, from September 6, 2014 until it enters into force. Belize is the host country for SIDS DOCK, with Samoa designated as the location for the Pacific regional office. More