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An Israeli-Arab Spring? 1.6 mn Palestinian-Israelis are Marginalized, Angry and Defiant

November 21st, 2014 No comments

By Emile Nakhleh | –

WASHINGTON, Nov 20 2014 (IPS) – The recent killing of an Arab youth by the police in the Israeli Arab village of Kafr Kanna, outside Nazareth, the ongoing bloody violence in Jerusalem, and the growing tensions between the Israeli security services and the Arab community in Israel could be a dangerous omen for Israeli domestic stability and for the region.

Should a third intifada or uprising erupt, it could easily spread to Arab towns and cities inside Israel.

Recent events clearly demonstrate that the Arabs in Israel are no longer a quiescent, cultural minority but an “indigenous national” minority deserving full citizenship rights regarding resources, collective rights, and representation on formal state bodies.

Foreign media is asking whether Palestinians are on the verge of starting a new intifada in Jerusalem, the Occupied Territories, and perhaps in Israel. Ensuing instability would rattle the Israeli body politic, creating new calls from the right for the transfer of the Arab community from Israel.

As Israeli politics moves to the right and the state becomes more Jewish and less pluralistic and inclusive, the Palestinian community, which constitutes over one-fifth of the population, feels more marginalised and alienated.

In response to endemic budgetary, economic, political, and social discrimination, the Arab community is becoming assertive, more Palestinian, and more confrontational. Calls for equality, justice, and an end to systemic discrimination by “Israeli Arab” civil society activists are now more vocal and confrontational.

The Israeli military, police, and security services would find it difficult to contain a civil rights intifada across Israel because Arabs live all over the state, from Galilee in the north to the Negev in the south.

The majority of Arabs in Israel are Sunni Muslims, with a small Druze minority whose youth are conscripted into the Israeli army. The even smaller Christian minority is rapidly dwindling because of emigration.

The vast Muslim majority identifies closely with what is happening at the important religious site of al-Haram al-Sharif or Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Islamic State’s territorial expansion in Iraq and Syria and the rise of Salafi groups in Sinai and Gaza will surely impact the Arabs in Israel.

In addition to Arabic, Palestinians in Israel speak Hebrew, travel throughout the country, and know Israel intimately. A potential bloody confrontation with Israeli security forces could wreak havoc on the country.

Israeli Arab Spring?

Based on conversations with “Israeli Arab” activists over the years, a possible “intifada” would be grounded in peaceful protests and non-violent civil rights struggle. The Israeli government, like Arab regimes during the Arab Spring, would attempt to delegitimise an “Israeli Arab Spring” by accusing the organisers of supporting terrorism and Islamic radicalism.

One Palestinian activist told me, however, “The protests are not about religion or radicalism; they are about equality, justice, dignity, and civil rights.”

Analysis of the economic, educational, political, and social status of the 1.6 million Arabs in Israel shows not much improvement has occurred since the bloody events of October 2000 in which 13 Arabs were killed during demonstrations in support of the al-Aqsa intifada. In fact, in welfare, health, employment, infrastructure, public services, and housing the situation of Israeli Arabs has retarded in the past decade.

For years, the Arab minority has been called “Israeli Arabs” because they carry the Israeli citizenship or the “’48 Arabs,” which refers to those who stayed in Israel after it came into being in 1948.

Although they have lived with multiple identities—Palestinian, Arab, Islamic, and Israeli—in the past half dozen years, they now reject the “Israeli Arab” moniker and have begun to identify themselves as an indigenous Palestinian community living in Israel.

Arab lawyers have gone to Israeli courts to challenge land confiscation, denial of building permits, refusal to expand the corporate limits of Arab towns and villages, meager budgets given to city and village councils, and limited employment opportunities, especially in state institutions.

In the Negev, or the southern part of Israel, thousands of Arabs live in “unrecognized” towns and villages. These towns often do not appear on Israeli maps! Growing calls by right-wing Zionist and settler politicians and their increasingly virulent “Death to Arabs” messages against the Arab minority have become more shrill and threaten to spark more communal violence between Jews and Arabs across Israel.

Deepening fissures in Israeli society between the Jewish majority and the Arab minority will have long-term implications for a viable future for Arabs and Jews in Palestine.

The Arab community expects tangible engagement initiatives from the government to include allowing Arab towns and villages to expand their corporate limits in order to ease crowding; grant the community more building permits for new houses; let Arabs buy and rent homes in Jewish towns and ethnically mixed cities, especially in Galilee; increase per capita student budgetary allocations to improve services and educational programmes in Arab schools; improve the physical infrastructure of Arab towns and villages; and recognise the “unrecognised” Arab towns in the Negev.

Depending on government policy and regional developments, Israeli Arabs could be either a bridge between Israel and its Arab neighbours or a potential domestic threat to Israel as a Jewish, democratic, or multicultural state. So far, the signs are not encouraging.

The Islamic Movement, which constitutes the vast majority of the Arab community, is also becoming more cognizant of its identity and more active in forging links with other Islamic groups in Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem.

The growing sense of nationalism and Islamisation of the Arab community is directly related to Israel’s occupation policies in the West Bank, continued blockade of the Gaza Strip, and refusal to recognise the Palestinians’ right of self-determination. Long-term government-minority relations in Israel, whether accommodationist or confrontational, will also affect American standing and national interest in the region.

Although secular activists within the Arab community are wary of the Islamist agenda, they seem to collaborate closely with leaders of the Islamic Movement on the need to assert the political rights of Israeli Arabs as full citizens.

In 2006-07, Arab civil society institutions issued three important documents, known collectively as the “Future Vision,” expressing their vision for the future of the Palestinian community in Israel and its relations with the state.

The documents called for “self-reliance” and described the Arab minority as an “indigenous, Palestinian community with inalienable rights to the land on which it has lived for centuries.” The documents also assert the Arabs in Israel are the “original indigenous people of Palestine” and are “indivisible from the larger Palestinian, Arab, Islamic cultural heritage.”

Arab activists believe that recent Israeli policies toward the Palestinian minority and their representatives in the Knesset are undermining the integrationist effort, empowering the Islamist separatist argument, and deepening the feeling of alienation among the Arab minority.

Way forward

Recent events clearly demonstrate that the Arabs in Israel are no longer a quiescent, cultural minority but an “indigenous national” minority deserving full citizenship rights regarding resources, collective rights, and representation on formal state bodies.

Many of the conditions that gave rise to the bloody confrontation with the police on Temple Mount over a decade ago, including the demolition of housing, restrictions on Arab politicians and Knesset members, restrictive citizenship laws, and budgetary discriminatory laws remain in place.

A decade ago the International Crisis Group (ICG) anticipated the widespread negative consequences of discrimination against Israel’s Arab minority and its findings still stand. Perhaps most importantly, the organisation judged the probability of violence to remain high as long as “greater political polarization, frustration among Arab Israelis, deepening Arab alienation from the political system, and the deteriorating economic situation” are not addressed.

In order to avoid large-scale violence, the ICG recommended that the Israeli government invest in poor Arab areas, end all facets of economic, political, and social discrimination against the Arab community, increase Arab representation at all levels in the public sector, and implement racism awareness training in schools and in all branches of government, beginning with the police.

A poor, marginalised one-fifth of the Israeli population perceived as a demographic bomb and a threat to the Jewish identity of the state can only be defused by a serious engagement strategy—economically, educationally, culturally, and politically.

If violence and continued discrimination are part of Israel’s long-term strategy against its Arab minority to force Arab emigration, it is unlikely that the government would implement tangible initiatives to improve the condition of the Arab minority.

Accordingly, communal violence in Israel would increase, creating negative ramifications for regional peace and stability and for U.S. interests in the eastern Mediterranean.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, IPS-Inter Press Service.

Edited by Kitty Stapp

Emile Nakhleh is a Research Professor at the University of New Mexico, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and author of “A Necessary Engagement: Reinventing America’s Relations with the Muslim World.”

Licensed from the Inter Press Service


Related video added by Juan Cole:

AJ+ “Video Captures Israeli Police Killing Arab Man”

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Climate Change already turning China Wetlands into Dust

November 21st, 2014 No comments

Euronews | –

“Former wetlands in north-west China (Gansu province) have been sucked dry as the climate has changed. It is a stark warning that we can expect other ecological disaster areas like it to develop elsewhere.

With the acceleration of global warming since the Second Industrial Revolution — specifically from 1880 to 2012 — the average temperature planet-wide has risen by almost one degree Celsius — 0.85 [ nearly 2 degrees F].

Heat-trapping gas emissions in our atmosphere are the highest they have been for 800,000 years . . .”

Euronews: “Climate change future looks sandy”

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Right-Wing Media vs. Reagan On Immigration – How GOP lost the Script

November 21st, 2014 No comments
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November 20, 1914: First Blood on the Suez Canal Front

November 20th, 2014 No comments

I’ll be tied up today with the MEI Annual Conference, but prepared this ahead of time because November 20 marks the centennial of the first shot fired on the Suez Canal Front in World War I, a minor affair, but an augury.

The Canal being Britain’s lifeline to India, it had already been decided even before Turkey’s entry into the War that Imperial forces (Indian, Australian, and New Zealand in this case) earmarked for France would train in Egypt. They would therefore be available to defend the Canal if it was threatened. Once Turkey joined the War, it was decided to station some of them there and deploy them for use in the region. A Territorial Division, the 42nd (East Lancashire)were sent out from Britain as well.

Gen. Sir John Maxwell

In September British forces in Egypt came under the control of Maj. Gen. Sir John Maxwell, a veteran of the Mahdist and Boer Wars (and later notorious for putting down the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916).

Zeki Pasha

Initially, the British were disdainful of the idea that the Ottoman Army could cross Sinai and threaten the Canal by land, though in January-February 1915 they would do just that. But although the Commander of the Turkish Fourth Army in Syria Zeki Pasha (later Zeki Baraz Kolaç K?l?ço?lu after 1934), had been ordered to prepare a campaign against the Suez Canal well before the declarations of war, he dithered and little was done.n November 18, 1914, he was relieved and the Ottoman Minister of Marine, Djemal Pasha, was designated to command the Fourth Army. Since Djemal (Cemal) was one of the ruling Young Turk Triumvirate, this indicated Enver’s emphasis on the war with Britain.

The incident I want to talk about today occurred only two days after Zeki was transferred and well before Djemal had reached Syria, and it did not involve Ottoman regulars. On November 20, a small force of the Bikaner (or Bikanir) Camel Corps was attacked by mounted, pro-Turkish bedouin in the Sinai only about 20 miles east of the Canal.

Bikaner Camel Corps in Egypt

The Bikaner Camel Corps was an elite Indian force raised and commanded by the Maharaja of the Indian princely state of Bikaner in Rajasthan,

Gen. Maharaja Sir Ganja Singh

It had been founded as an elite camel cavalry by the Maharaja of Bikaner, General Maharaja Sir Ganga Singh, who would also serve on the Imperial War Cabinet during the war and attend the Paris Peace Conference. The Bikaners had served in Somaliland in 1902-1904 (against Mohammed Abdullah Hassan, “the mad mullah of Somaliland”), and was now one of the early Indian forces deployed to Egypt.

The actual clash on November 20 was a minor one, a patrol of 20 men of the Camel Corps attacked by about 200 mounted bedouin. Here’s the account in the British Official History:

Meanwhile, on the 16th November, the Indian troops destined for the defence of Egypt reached Suez, and battalions were moved as quickly as possible to Ismailia and Port Said. Major-General A. Wilson, arrived from India, was appointed G.O.C. Canal Defences. The Sirhind Brigade was relieved and sailed on the 23rd to rejoin its division in France. At the same time Sir J. Maxwell was informed of Lord Kitchener’s project of bringing the Australian and New Zealand contingents to Egypt for war training. The intention was to send them later to France, but temporarily they would be available as reserves in Egypt, where their appearance would undoubtedly impress public opinion.

On the 20th November occurred the first hostilities. A patrol of 20 men of the Bikanir Camel Corps, under Captain A. J. H. Chope, was attacked at Bir en Nuss, 20 miles east of Qantara, by 200 Bedouin, who approached it under a white flag. The party extricated itself creditably, though with casualties amounting to more than half its numbers. Unfortunately this affair proved that the loyalty of the camel troopers of the Egyptian Coastguard, several of whom accompanied the Bikanirs as guides, was extremely doubtful, since they allowed themselves to be made prisoners in a manner virtually amounting to desertion.

The map below shows the location of the attack at Bir al-Nuss, about 20 miles east of Qantara on the road to al-‘Arish.Though nothing more would happen on this front until January, the attack on British Empire forces just 20 miles from the Canal was a warning, and Britain began to strengthen the Canal defenses.

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Another Domino Falls: Spanish Parliament votes to Recognize Palestine

November 20th, 2014 No comments


“Spanish MPs have urged their government to recognise the Palestinian state.

The a non-binding resolution presented by the socialists won the backing of all the political groups of the lower house, and would only ask for recognition when the Palestinians and Israel negotiate a solution to their long-running conflict.

“The Spanish Parliament unanimously believe that the recognition of the Palestinian state is the best contribution we can make to achieve peace.”

Euronews: “Spain MPs vote to recognise Palestinian state”

From Wafa Arabic via BBC Monitoring :

“A Palestinian presidency-controlled news agency Wafa website report posted at 0627 gmt says that the Palestinian Foreign Ministry “welcomed the decision of the Spanish Parliament’s majority on the evening of 18 November, calling on the Spanish Government to recognize the state of Palestine. Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki expressed the Palestinian leadership’s gratitude and appreciation of Spain and the Spanish parties which approved this important and historical memo. He said: ‘This recognition reflects an advanced and historical stance of our friend, the kingdom of Spain. It is a step forward in its ties with the Palestinian people. It is in harmony with Spain’s principles and noble values which respect the international law and the resolutions of the international and humanitarian legitimacy’.” The report adds that Al-Maliki called on the Spanish Government to recognize the state of Palestine “in order to initiate serious and successful peace negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis based on the two-state solution.”

Source: Palestinian news agency Wafa website, Ramallah, in Arabic 0627 gmt 19 Nov 14

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In Iran, US Choice is a Negotiated Peace Now or the Risk of War

November 20th, 2014 No comments

By Carlyn Meyer

In 2012, Israeli PM Netanyahu stood before the UN General Assembly with a cartoon representation of an “Iranian bomb.” It was filled with red paint (uranium) up to a thick black line representing the ‘point of no return’ where Iran could produce a nuclear bomb within a few months. Or so we were told.

If Mr. Netanyahu were to return with the same graphic this year, however, the cartoon bomb would be empty, the red paint erased or dissolved. The negotiations of the P5+1 (permanent member states of the UN Security Council plus Germany) with Iran have already accomplished more than anyone thought possible a year ago. Signed last July, the Interim Agreement required Iran to deplete or convert its store of highly enriched uranium that Mr. Netanyahu warned us about. It prescribed more intrusive inspections and put more inspectors on the ground in Iran. Essentially, Iran’s nuclear program was put on hold.

Should the Interim Agreement expire November 24 with nothing to replace it, a historic achievement for nuclear nonproliferation would be nullified. Most nuclear and nonproliferation experts believe Iran can maintain a civilian nuclear program, as the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty allows, with enough transparency, restrictions and oversight from UN inspectors to cut off each of several pathways it could possibly use towards producing a bomb — a bomb even US intelligence says Iran hasn’t decided to craft.

Yet fierce opposition to the resolution of this issue stems from three sources. The right-wing in Iran does not believe their country should even be talking to the West. Critics in the American Congress have tried to impose new sanction, after Iran ‘cried uncle’ and started negotiating in good faith, that would derail the deal. And Israel, which is not a signer of the NTP, believes Iran should be barred from even civilian enrichment.

The American and Israeli critics don’t realize they are in danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. If a negotiated Permanent Agreement doesn’t replace the Interim accord or if the talks are not extended, Iran will resume producing highly enriched uranium. The new inspectors would leave and tighter inspector regimens would die. A historic achievement for nuclear nonproliferation would be nullified.

This does not make sense. An agreement is within reach.

The important of these talks transcends the immediate nuclear issue and gets to the heart of how we as a nation conduct foreign policy. Do we prefer one that keeps lurching towards military action far away from our shores or one that underscores diplomacy as the pillar of world cooperation, nonproliferation and peace?

Carlyn Meyer, former editor of the blog Read Between the Lines, writes on politics from her home in Chicago.


Related video added by Juan Cole:

Press TV: “Rouhani: Iran united on key issues, goals pursued in talks”

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How human-emitted Carbon Dioxide Circulates in Earth’s Atmosphere (NASA)

November 20th, 2014 No comments

NASA Goddard | —

“An ultra-high-resolution NASA computer model has given scientists a stunning new look at how carbon dioxide in the atmosphere travels around the globe.

Plumes of carbon dioxide in the simulation swirl and shift as winds disperse the greenhouse gas away from its sources. The simulation also illustrates differences in carbon dioxide levels in the northern and southern hemispheres and distinct swings in global carbon dioxide concentrations as the growth cycle of plants and trees changes with the seasons.

The carbon dioxide visualization was produced by a computer model called GEOS-5, created by scientists at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Global Modeling and Assimilation Office.

The visualization is a product of a simulation called a “Nature Run.” The Nature Run ingests real data on atmospheric conditions and the emission of greenhouse gases and both natural and man-made particulates. The model is then left to run on its own and simulate the natural behavior of the Earth’s atmosphere. This Nature Run simulates January 2006 through December 2006.

While Goddard scientists worked with a “beta” version of the Nature Run internally for several years, they released this updated, improved version to the scientific community for the first time in the fall of 2014.”

NASA Goddard: “NASA | A Year in the Life of Earth’s CO2″

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Oldest song in the world…

November 20th, 2014 No comments

Listen to the Oldest Song in the World: A Sumerian Hymn Written 3,400 Years Ago

Open Culture, July 8th, 2014

In the early 1950s, archaeologists unearthed several clay tablets from the 14th century B.C.E.. Found, WFMU tells us, “in the ancient Syrian city of Ugarit,” these tablets “contained cuneiform signs in the hurrian language,” which turned out to be the oldest known piece of music ever discovered, a 3,400 year-old cult hymn. Anne Draffkorn Kilmer, professor of Assyriology at the University of California, produced the interpretation above in 1972. (She describes how she arrived at the musical notation—in some technical detail—in this interview.) Since her initial publications in the 60s on the ancient Sumerian tablets and the musical theory found within, other scholars of the ancient world have published their own versions.

The piece, writes Richard Fink in a 1988 Archeologia Musicalis article, confirms a theory that “the 7-note diatonic scale as well as harmony existed 3,400 years ago.” This, Fink tells us, “flies in the face of most musicologist’s views that ancient harmony was virtually non-existent (or even impossible) and the scale only about as old as the Ancient Greeks.” Kilmer’s colleague Richard Crocker claims that the discovery “revolutionized the whole concept of the origin of western music.” So, academic debates aside, what does the oldest song in the world sound like? Listen to a midi version below and hear it for yourself. Doubtless, the midi keyboard was not the Sumerians instrument of choice, but it suffices to give us a sense of this strange composition, though the rhythm of the piece is only a guess.

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Iraq Says it Retakes Refinery

November 20th, 2014 No comments

Iraqi Security Forces now say they have lifted the ISIS siege around the refinery at Baiji, having previously taken the town. 

This is the latest setback for ISIS on the Iraqi front. Juan Cole noted some of the others recently:“Top 5 Ways Daesh/ ISIL is Losing, as it lashes out like a Cornered Rat.”

Blogging will be light due to MEI’s Annual Conference.
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Contrary to Turkish pronouncements, the US is not considering a no-fly zone over Syria

November 19th, 2014 No comments

“… When asked about the US position on the establishment of a no-fly zone in Syria, as Turkey is pushing for, White House sources said the US is in constant discussion on a full range of possible ways Turkey can contribute to the anti-ISIL coalition and reiterated that at the moment, the US is not considering a no-fly zone or the establishment of a buffer zone….”

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