Are attacks on Israeli police in East Jerusalem terrorism?

In all justice, we should be condemning the brutal oppression and erasure of Palestinians meant to ensure the “Jewish character”, i.e., the “right” of Israel to exist as a Jewish state on stolen land

East Jerusalem is occupied by Israel. It is also illegally annexed. It is also illegally separated from the rest of the West Bank by an illegal wall. In Jerusalem, Israel boasts of 220,000 illegal Jewish settlers settled on land confiscated from 300,000 Palestinian residents who are now landless. It boasts of 50,000 illegally displaced Palestinian Arabs and 685 illegally demolished Palestinian homes that have rendered 2,500 Palestinian Arabs homeless [see sources for this information here]. All of this is legalized through Israel’s jurisprudence, but never legitimized as its fundamental human rights violations are enshrined in military occupation law.

Although the US and Israel both reject the concept of state terrorism (i.e. acts of violence practiced by official state agencies), the above description of Israel’s policies and actions in East Jerusalem should be regarded as terrorist activities. Israel’s violent activities are premeditated, political in nature, and aimed at civilians – i.e., all the factors generally accepted to constitute elements of terrorism.

The nature of Israel’s violence in Jerusalem (as well as in the other occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip) is highlighted by the extrajudicial and brutal erasure of Palestinians who exercise their internationally recognized right to resist as described by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/RES/33/24 of 29 November 1978:

2. Reaffirms the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and foreign occupation by all available means, particularly armed struggle;

Israel has a long history of extrajudicial killing of Palestinians in and outside Palestine and also a history of trying to prevent reporters from exposing its policy of extra-judicial killing. As Palestinian resistance increases, so does the proliferation of Israel’s extrajudicial killings:

Human Rights Watch has documented numerous statements since October 2015, by senior Israeli politicians, including the police minister and defense minister, calling on police and soldiers to shoot to kill suspected attackers, irrespective of whether lethal force is actually strictly necessary to protect life. (Israel/Palestine: Some Officials Backing ‘Shoot-to-Kill’)

So, what to make of the incidents that took place on June 16, 2017, in which three Palestinian young men reportedly conducted two attacks on Israeli police in Jerusalem?

two Palestinians were shot dead after opening fire at and trying to stab a group of Israeli police officers on Friday night, police said. At the other, a Palestinian fatally stabbed a border policewoman before being shot dead by police…. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the stabbing but the militant Palestinian organisation Hamas and the People’s Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said the three attackers and were their own members…. Palestinian media named the attackers as Adel Ankush, 18, from a village near Ramallah, Bra’a Salah, 18, from the same village, and Amar Bedui, 31 from Hebron.

Since September 2015, Palestinian assailants have killed 42 Israelis, two visiting Americans and a British student, mainly in stabbing, shooting and vehicular attacks. In that time, about 250 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire. Israel identified most of them as attackers.

Israel blames the violence on incitement by Palestinian political and religious leaders compounded by social media sites that glorify violence and encourage attacks.

Palestinians say it stems from anger over decades of Israeli rule in territory they claim for their state. (Israeli police officer stabbed to death in Jerusalem attack)

The excerpt from The Guardian above lays out all the dimensions of the tragedy, but in the wrong order. The reference to the Islamic State is in the subheading of the article, “Three Palestinians armed with knives and a home-made gun launched two attacks and were shot dead in attack claimed by Islamic State”, but the refutation of it is buried inside the story. The Israeli side of the report is up front, the Palestinian side is literally in the last line of the report. The three young men involved are said to have “entered Jerusalem from the West Bank,” as if occupied and illegally annexed East Jerusalem is not part of the West Bank and as if the village of these young men, Deir Abu Mash’al (Dayr Abu-Mashal/Meshal), northwest of Ramallah does not share the same confiscation of land by Israel and Jewish settlement ringing it as does East Jerusalem.

Here is a little bit of information from the village profile online that will connect the dots for you:

The Israeli government confiscated hundreds of dunums of lands in Deir Abu Mash‟al to open Israeli bypass road no. 465. This road is constructed and open to connect the Israeli settlements surrounding the village with each other. The real threat of bypass roads lies in the buffer zone formed by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) along these roads, extending to approximately 75 m on the roads‟ sides.” (Deir Abu Mash’al (Dayr Abu-Mashal/Meshal), Ramallah gov.)

In all justice, we should be condemning the instigators of the violence in Jerusalem, the brutal oppression and erasure of Palestinians meant to ensure the “Jewish character”, i.e., the “right” of Israel to exist as a Jewish state on stolen land. We should do what the United Nations General Assembly has already done (Resolution A/RES/33/24):

7. Strongly condemns all Governments which do not recognize the right to self-determination and independence of peoples under colonial and foreign domination and alien subjugation, notably the peoples of Africa and the Palestinian people.


This blog post was first published on Quora as an answer to: What do you think of the recent attack against Israeli police in Jerusalem? Is it terrorism? 

Can you help me understand Mahmoud Abbas’s politics toward the Gaza Strip?

Calling the politics between the PA and Hamas a “power struggle” is absurd, because neither has power in any meaningful way. The power resides with the Occupying Power.

Mahmoud Abbas has long colluded with Israel and Egypt to ensure that “the Palestinians in Gaza continue to suffer and starve.” Haaretz is now announcing that “Hamas and Palestinian President Abbas’ rival Mohammed Dahlan have reportedly agreed on a new way to run Gaza — which could loosen the blockade at Israel’s expense.”

And in another report: The extended cuts in Gaza’s electricity “follow a refusal by the Palestinian Authority to pay for electricity from Israel, as Egypt reportedly readies a diesel shipment to help power a Gazan power plant.”

Earlier, the Israeli press circulated rumors that Abbas is “mulling” over a plan to declare the Gaza Strip “a rebel district” soon.  Such a preposterous designation of the Gaza Strip – “the isolated enclave” is another media formulation – by the Palestinian Authority makes no sense, because that “district” is as surely under Israeli occupation as the West Bank is.   If he actually pronounces the Gaza Strip as such, Abbas will simply be transitioning from the realm of delusion to the realm of farce.

“Once again, it takes new ‘crisis’ for attention to turn to Gaza. And some important clarification is needed about Israel as Occupying Power. Contrary to what some disingenuously maintain, & others mistakenly believe, Israel’s so-called 2005 ‘disengagement’ did not end occupation. This is view of UN Security Council (R.1860), UN General Assembly (R.65/179), & the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICC (Nov. 2014). Thus, *irrespective* of internal Palestinian conflict, Israel has responsibilities & obligations under IHL as the Occupying Power.” – Ben White

In practical terms, the “rebellion” [read sumoud, read resistance] of the Gaza Strip is directed at its oppressor, Israel, and at the Palestinian Authority (PA) only in so far as it is colluding with Israel to abrogate Palestinian rights.  Calling the politics between the PA and Hamas a “power struggle” is absurd, because neither has power in any meaningful way.  The power resides with the Occupying Power.  [For more on the question of occupation read an excerpt here from Ben White’s e-Book The 2014 Gaza War: 21 Questions & Answers (2016).]  As it enters its eleventh year of blockade, the Gaza Strip, in the words of American political economist and scholar Sara Roy, is in a “state of humanitarian shock” where “need is everywhere.”

The greatest source of political tension between the Hamas government in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank is the continued refusal of President Abbas, who controls the purse strings, to pay the salaries of Hamas government employees. I was consistently told that if Abbas wanted to win the support of Gaza’s people all he would have to do is pay the civil servants their salaries. Because he is unwilling to do so – he claims that the money would be funnelled to Hamas’s military wing – he bears a great deal of responsibility for Gaza’s suffering. Abbas’s refusal is all the more galling because he has been paying full salaries – generally between $500 and $1000 a month, a huge sum in Gaza today – to at least 55,000 civil servants in Gaza who worked for the PA before Hamas took control of the territory. These people are being paid not to work for the Hamas government. Paying their salaries costs the PA $45 million a month, money largely supplied by Saudi Arabia, the EU and the US. Paying people not to work has institutionalised yet another distortion in Gaza’s deeply impaired economy. However, Abbas recently cut these salaries by between 30 and 70 per cent to pressure the Hamas government into relinquishing control of Gaza. ‘Either Hamas gives us Gaza back,’ Abbas threatened, ‘or they will have to take full responsibility for its people.’ According to my colleague Brian Barber, currently in Gaza, ‘Abbas’s salary cuts have come like an earthquake.’
(If Israel were Smart)

If Abbas (and Israel) were smart, they would be helping Gaza’s young generation to get out from under the rubble, to live a normal life, but Abbas is too wedded to the political course mapped out for him by the disastrous, and now defunct, Oslo Accords.  So what’s going on in his ossified mind?  Here are some insights from Palestinian political analyst Hani Masri:

Some may ask: Why does Abu Mazin not head towards ending the inter-Palestinian split, thereby becoming more than the head of Fatah, the PA, the PLO, and some of the Palestinians, thereby turning into the leader of all Palestinians?

What has prevented him from doing so is that the PA he heads is hostage to the unfair commitments imposed on it. Moreover, the path towards national unity necessarily passes through a full and genuine political partnership. And this means that Hamas will become a major partner without whose participation decisions and policies cannot be made. For Hamas is not of the same size as the other factions whose existence has allowed Abu Mazin to remain at the head of the PA and the PLO without opposition or any participation in influencing his leadership. Moreover, Hamas is better organized than Fatah, which means that its participation could pave its way to assuming leadership.

And what prevents Abu Mazin from pursuing the path of unity as well is the fact that participation in decision-making would not be confined to Hamas. He would also have to share this with Fatah, because he would be in greater need for the movement once unity is achieved. Moreover, the value and participation of the other factions would grow, because they would be courted by the two major factions so as to win them over to their side. Furthermore, unity would elicit severe Israeli anger; and since Israel is the occupying state, it plays a major role that cannot be ignored in the Palestinian court. In addition, if Hamas and Islamic Jihad were to join the PLO without accepting the International Quartet’s preconditions, that would expose the PLO to American, and perhaps European and international, boycott. (One Question)

Meanwhile, in Washington: “Top Senate Democrats said they were closer to signing on to a Republican-backed bill that would slash aid to the Palestinian Authority if it did not stop subsidizing Palestinians jailed for attacks on Israel.”

Also see “AID” TO PALESTINIANS IN CONTEXT OF ISRAELI VIOLATIONS: Militarization of Palestinian Aid by Nora Lester Murad and Alaa Tartir.


Palestinian Arabs violate Israel’s “right to exist” simply by existing themselves and procreating on their own land  

‘What will Israel do when there are five million Palestinians living in Gaza?’

In his book The Battle for Justice in Palestine: The Case for a Single Democratic State in Palestine,  Ali Abunimah uses a sort of test for moral action to address Israel’s claim of legitimacy and its “right” to exist as a Jewish state in historic Palestine.

Here is Ali Abunimah’s answer to the “only question” about the Jewish entity now – its legitimacy.

He writes:

Let us accept, for the sake of argument, that Israel has a “right to exist as a Jewish state”—or to maintain its “Jewish character” or “Jewish and democratic character,” to use other common formulations—and that this means in practice that Israel has a right to maintain a Jewish demographic majority. Let us also leave aside for now the fact that the Jewish majority within Israel’s pre-1967 boundaries was created when Zionist militias, and later Israel, expelled most of the indigenous Palestinian population in 1947 and 1948 and then prevented their return.

… Every right when with-held must have a remedy, and every injury its proper redress. If a person bears a right, then there must be some venue—usually a court of law—where she can seek to have that right enforced, to have an equitable penalty imposed on the violator, or to obtain some other form of legal relief.

By opposing Israel, by insisting on their internationally recognized right of return and their right for self determination, by simply procreating, Palestinian Arabs, the indigenous inhabitants of Israel and its occupation, are then said to be violating Israel’s “right” to exist.  In order to maintain its “right”, Israel must resort to remedies.  The following are some measures, as excerpted from Abunimah’s book, that Israel could take (and in many instances does take) against violators:

1) The “threat” from Palestinian refugees is dealt with by abrogating their right of return.
2) Violators in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are expelled, a step that would serve the dual purpose of reducing their existing numbers and eliminating the risk of future violations by Palestinian babies who might be born to those expelled.
3) Failing that, Israel could issue restraining orders against Palestinian parents to limit the number of children they are permitted to have or engage in other practices designed to deter the births of Palestinians and encourage those of Jews.
4) Similar measures could be used against other non-Jewish violators as well. Among political or legal measures, Israel could punish and prevent violations by stripping Palestinian citizens of Israel of their right to vote or by maintaining a separate regime for Palestinians in Israel and in the occupied territories that allows Jews to get on with running the country without any challenge to their power and control of resources.

These preposterous measures “flow naturally from the assertion that Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state, yet it is impossible to think of a single measure that does not do outrageous violence to basic principles of human rights, equality, and antiracism.”

In other words, Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state is a right to abuse non-Jewish Palestinian Arabs.  It is difficult to envision a policy that Israel can practice toward Palestinians in order to preserve its “character” that is not morally obscene.  What answer can there be for the question Sara Roy has recently asked?

If the Israelis were thinking clearly, one person said, ‘everyone could benefit. All they must do is give us a window to live a normal life and all these extremist groups would disappear. Hamas would disappear. The community must deal with … these groups, not IDF tanks and planes. Our generation wants to make peace and it is foolish for Israel to refuse. The next generation may not be as willing as we are. Is that what Israel truly wants?’ In the first six months of 2016, the Ministry of the Interior reported that 24,138 babies were born in Gaza, averaging 132 a day. In August 2016 alone, 4961 babies were born, or 160 a day: more than six babies every hour and one baby every nine minutes. The distance between Gaza City and Tel Aviv is 44 miles. ‘What will Israel do when there are five million Palestinians living in Gaza?’





What’s the “only question” about Israel that we must ask now?

In its pseudo-liberal brave vein of being the “fourth power” in an Apartheid state, Haaretz has a running series of opinion pieces, mostly written by Jews, weighing the pros and cons of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.  This is probably a tricky undertaking for the English/Hebrew Israeli newspaper, as legislation in Israel against those backing BDS is a burgeoning reality and activists can be punished on “suspicion of incitement” if they possess BDS materials.

The latest such opinion is the carefully phrased piece by veteran leftist Haaretz reporter Gideon Levy, in which he poses the following questions about BDS:

“…The only question is whether Israel deserves such a punishment, like the one imposed on apartheid South Africa in an earlier era, and whether such steps are effective. And one more question: What other means have not been tried against the occupation and haven’t failed?”

It is so sad that Levy and people like him are still phrasing “questions” about Israel in this way – by confining Israel’s misdeeds to the “occupation” and by framing BDS activism as “punishment” to Israel rather than as a fight for justice in Palestine.

The “only question” about Israel that we should ask is this:  Is Israel’s “right” to exist as a Jewish state legitimate?

For so long, Zionist myths have erased Palestinians just as they propped up a false vision of Jewish “reclamation, triumph and hope” in Palestine.  The lies behind that unconscionable vision are now tumbling down and we should hurry up Zionism’s demise by finally asking the right question.


no clothess2

I have started this blog in response to being banned from Quora, a social network Question/Answer internet presence that spews out hasbara misinformation on Palestine/Israel/Zionism, while at the same time belligerently “voting down” and “collapsing” answers that try to shift the reigning paradigm on the struggle for liberation in Palestine – i.e, the paradigm that limits any possibility of resolution to the ‘two-state solution’, the refusal, as Donna Nevel puts it, to acknowledge Zionism, and therefore Israel, as illegitimate from the beginning of its existence.

A lot of dirty tricks are going on at Quora, designed to muzzle speech on Palestine, starting with their policy of defining anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism, and removing “topics” such as “Zionism” related to a question and adding instead “Jewish ethnicities and culture.”  The most galling thing about this site is that it passes itself as a trustworthy conduit of information on the internet and a place to increase “knowledge” in the world.  This may be true about the site, except of course when it comes to Palestine, the big exception to free speech around the world.

I had put a lot of effort in answering questions on Quora, because I wanted, even if in a small way, to counteract Quora’s flood of misinformation about Israel.  The Zionist Jewish entity, as Ramzy Baroud expressed it in a brilliant piece on Aljazeera recently, has been “distracting from history – or the current reality of the horrific occupation of Palestine” for nearly 70 years.

“Incapable of sustaining its founding myths, yet unable to offer an alternative, the Israeli government is now using coercive measures to respond to the budding movement [of pushing for a paradigm shift in order to understand the roots of the conflict in Palestine]: punishing those who insist on commemorating the Nakba, fining organisations that participate in such events and even perceiving as traitors any Jewish individuals and groups that deviate from its official thinking.”

In the belief that submitting to censorship leaves the world distorted, I invite you to ask questions here and I will answer them here and host guests who will answer questions as well.  This blog will be the place where we can say, “The emperor has no clothes.”

Banned on Quora: Ask Rima Najjar on WordPress!


“Most probably, someone who doesn’t like what you write on Quora has made a complain, and the complain was heard.

One must add that searching Quora with ‘Rima Najjar’ brings some comments about your contributions, all very positive and welcoming.”