Palestinians in Israel
On October 8, 48-year old Tawfiq Jamal got into his car with his 18-year old son and a friend, and set out for the house of his relatives, the Shaaban family, who lived as of then in a new, predominantly Jewish neighborhood on the eastern edges of Acre. A walled city on the sea, mainly famed in the West for having served as the CENTCOM of the crusading Richard the Lionheart, Acre is today a “mixed” Israeli town, inhabited by Jews as well as Arabs like Tawfiq. That day, he was on his way to pick up his daughter, who had been helping the Shaabans prepare cakes for a wedding scheduled for the following week. He insists that he drove slowly and quietly, with his radio turned off.
Should the United States, seeking to recalibrate the balance between security and liberty in the “war on terror,” emulate Israel in its treatment of Palestinian detainees?
That is the position that Guantanamo detainee lawyers Avi Stadler and John Chandler of Atlanta, and some others, have advocated. That people in U.S. custody could be held incommunicado for years without charges, and could be prosecuted or indefinitely detained on the basis of confessions extracted with torture is worse than a national disgrace. It is an assault on the foundations of the rule of law.
But Israel’s model for dealing with terrorism, while quite different from that of the U.S., is at least as shameful.
In April, Azmi Bishara, a contributing editor of this magazine and a member of the Israeli Knesset, left Israel and did not return as planned. Toward the end of the month, Israel’s General Security Services (Shabak) announced charges against Bishara of “aiding the enemy” during Israel’s summer 2006 war against Hizballah and Lebanon. Shortly afterward, Bishara submitted his resignation from the Knesset at the Israeli Embassy in Cairo. He maintains his innocence. This commentary by Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin, lecturer in Jewish history at Ben Gurion University in Beersheva, Israel, first appeared at Mahsom.com, a Hebrew-language website run by Palestinians from Israel. Raz-Krakotzkin’s article was translated from Hebrew by Robert Blecher.
Sometime in the late 1990s, employees in the Israeli State Archive unintentionally declassified an array of police documents. Many of the files consisted of the unremarkable personal data of prostitutes, petty thieves and black marketeers, but others dealt with a far more sensitive matter: the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel during the 1950s and 1960s. Though these “Arab files” also contained records of mundane criminal cases, most of the documents concerned the politically explosive subject of Palestinian Arab collaboration with the Jewish state. By means of the mistaken declassification, the actions, methods and goals of multiple Israeli security agencies among the Palestinian Arabs of Israel — in short, the entire history of two decades of espionage directed at a group of Israeli citizens — lay exposed. At the heart of these documents was detailed information about individuals and families and the well-guarded secrets of what they “gave” and what they “got” in return. Many retired collaborators are still alive.
On March 28, 2006, Nadia Hilou from the mixed Arab-Jewish city of Jaffa became only the second Palestinian woman to be elected to the Knesset since 1949, the year of Israel’s first national elections. Hilou’s sole predecessor was Husniyya Jabara, who made history in 1999 when she won a seat in the Israeli parliament. Jabara’s election to the Knesset with Meretz, a leftist Zionist party, caught the political system by surprise. Hardly anyone expected an Arab woman to win, much less Jabara, because many other Palestinian women in both Arab and Zionist parties were better known in the media or had longer histories as political and social activists.
On August 4, 2005, Natan Zada, 19, boarded an Egged bus at Haifa’s Hamifratz station, picked a seat in the back and rode it into Shafa ‘Amr, a mixed Druze, Muslim and Christian town in the heart of the Arab Galilee. Zada wore his Israel Defense Forces uniform and, as prescribed, carried with him his military-issued M-16 assault rifle, magazine primed in the slot. On any given day, Israel’s public transport system brims with young men like him, shuttling to and from military bases across the Israeli coastal plain and the occupied Golan Heights and West Bank. On this particular day, however, he was neither returning home nor reporting for duty.
On February 14, 2002, the Israeli government sent several light planes to spray 12,000 dunams of crops in the southern Negev region with poisonous chemicals. The destroyed fields had been cultivated for years by Bedouin Arabs, on ancestral lands they claim as their own. The minister responsible for land management, Avigdor Lieberman, explained:
We must stop their illegal invasion of state land by all means possible. The Bedouins have no regard for our laws; in the process we are losing the last resources of state lands. One of my main missions is to return to the power of the Land Authority in dealing with the non-Jewish threat to our lands. 
The mass demonstrations of Palestinian citizens of Israel during the first week of October represent a new stage of resistance and a transformation in the Palestinians’ struggle in Israel. The demonstrations were the culmination of several years of political ferment during which Palestinians in Israel asserted their collective identity as Palestinians and as citizens.
Azmi Bishara, a contributing editor of this magazine, represents the National Democratic Assembly (NDA), a party advocating cultural autonomy and civil rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel, in the Knesset. He spoke with Middle East Report on November 29, 2000, the day after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak preempted a likely vote of no confidence by calling early elections. In 1999, Bishara ran for prime minister on the NDA ticket.
In early October, Palestinians inside Israel protested very vocally in solidarity with the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. Why did that happen this time around, when it had not happened so much during the last intifada?
Last week, a shocking case of Israeli police brutality in the occupied West Bank was reported in the Washington Post. Officers accosted three young Palestinians out delivering groceries, beat them and took photographs of themselves holding up the Palestinians' bloodied heads "like hunting trophies" for the camera. Aggression and erratic behavior on the part of Israeli police is routine in the Occupied Territories — and familiar to Palestinian citizens of Israel itself.
There has never been anything abstract about the longings of the Palestinians. The object of their longing has always been well defined: the places that had been left behind in 1948. For these places were, and still are, the dominant components of the Palestinian identity. — Danny Rubinstein
Salim al-Shawamreh, his wife, Arabia and their six children live in the village of Anata, half of which is classified as Area B (under Palestinian municipal control) and half — where Salim’s house sits — as Area C (under full Israeli control). About a third of Anata’s 12,000 residents hold Jerusalem identity cards. The rest are considered West Bank residents, and thus cannot enter Jerusalem, including the section of Anata classified as part of Jerusalem.
The solar eclipse on August 11, 1999 led some people to expect the end of the world. According to one report, three people committed suicide, sure the end was near. Others shut themselves in their homes expecting extraordinary events to usher in the eschaton (“end times”). Since a simple eclipse could cause such panic, despite our considerable scientific knowledge, one wonders what the end of a millennium might do to people, individually and collectively.
“A displaced person owns nothing but the spot where he is standing, which is always threatened.” — Murid Barghouti
Israeli power, US backing, Palestinian weakness, Arab complicity — these are the basic ingredients for a coercive settlement of the “refugee problem” based not on refugees’ rights but on their disappearance. The “new Middle East” must be tidied up; states, citizens and borders must correspond; disruptive anomalies must be removed. Because of their centrality to regional instability, eliminating the Palestinian refugees is essential to a pacified Middle East free to fulfill its designated role in the global economy.