Palestine Primer

Dome of the Rock

Haram al-Sharif/ Temple Mount, Jerusalem

The website is intended for people who want to get up to speed on the conflict over Palestine. It is written anonymously by a British, female, academic with a background in politics and history. Though I had for many years supported the Palestinian cause, at the time of the Israeli invasion of Gaza in December 2008 I was still hazy about basic facts. Since then I have attended conferences and lectures, read extensively and been on a study tour of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian territories. I have attempted to write the website that I lacked: starting from an assumption of little knowledge, it aims to bring readers up to the level of sophistication which they need to campaign effectively. Hopefully it will be useful to the many who have been drawn to this cause in recent years.

Commensurately with its aim, the site has a multi-level approach, with ‘foundational’ pages and others which are more advanced. The foundational pages are full of pictures as well as text, given one needs to ‘see’ to understand. The more advanced pages are orientated to current pressing issues and contain evaluation and discussion. Some users who already know much may want to turn directly to these latter. The site has the following pages:

Elementary, Foundational, Information

History and Background. (May be useful to many to refer to dates).

Political Parties and Politicians.

Maps & the Land. (Discusses the basis of the problem.)

A->Z Index. Entries on: Army (IDF); Bedouin; Bethlehem; Checkpoints; East Jerusalem; Economy; Education; Hebron; House Demolition; Israeli Politics; Israeli Psychology; Jaffa; Lod; Militarisation of Israeli Society; Palestinian Politics; Permits/ID; Prisoners; Refugees; Settlements; the Wall (Separation Barrier); Water, Roads & the Land; Women. (See note at head of A->Z Index.)

External Relations

Gaza/ Hamas/Goldstone. Entries on: Gaza, Hamas, the Goldstone Report.

The EU and Israel. Entries on: Trade Agreements; Calls for Suspension of Agreements; Arms Exports; Research & Development; EU Concern?; The UK.

The OECD & Israel.

Iran & the Lebanon.

Universal Jurisdiction.

Major Recent Issues/ Evaluation of the Current Situation

Solutions? – one-/two-state solutions and related issues

The Palestine Papers

The Present Impasse

Whither Then?

What we Can Do?/ Further Information/ This Site

What Can We Do? Entries on: Spreading Information, Campaigning, Giving Money; Boycott,

Divestment, Sanctions; Breaking the Siege of Gaza.

Further Information

This Site

We may
well say that in the West we have been on the wrong track, landing up with the bizarre situation whereby our regimes fund those who have not been democratically elected and who suppress others, and boycott not the aggressors but those subjected to occupation. For over sixty years (almost the entire lifetime of the present author) the Palestinian community has waited (for the most part with extraordinary patience

Israeli soldiers, the Western Wall, a covered way for any Palestinian who can get there to go to their sacred sites, the dome of the Al Aqsa Mosque on the Haram al-Sharif/ Temple Mount beyond.

and endurance) for the West to do something about a situation which it essentially created and foisted on another people. This is not to say there was necessarily bad faith on the part of the West (that is another question). But the Palestinians are scarcely responsible for what has befallen them. Meanwhile we fail to enforce UN Resolutions and international law which would rule in their favour. It is not that we do not have it in our power to bring about change; in the case of Europe through our trading relations with Israel, in the case of the States they are funding Israel to a tune of some $27 million a day in military and financial aid.

We have reached a moment of historic importance. The so called ‘peace process’, extending from the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, finally came to nothing in the late autumn of 2010. The leaking of the ‘Palestinian Papers’ on the web in January 2011 would seem to make it clear that the process was doomed from the start. Far from being an honest broker, the States has been hopelessly tied into supporting their ally Israel. Whatever the Palestinian negotiators may offer, it is still not enough and Israel (with the might of the States behind them) simply asks for more. With a right wing government in power, it is perfectly clear that the Israeli aim is to occupy the land ‘from the river to the sea’, confining the Palestinian population to some small Bantustans or, preferably, making conditions so unbearable that they join the Palestinian diaspora. But the Palestinians, divided between those who live in Israel, in the occupied West Bank, in Gaza, and in refugee camps in the surrounding countries, see Palestine as their homeland. (How should we feel were we in their situation?) Many have concluded that – however difficult of attainment – a one state solution is the only viable option.

Given the momentous events of the last few years – the unrestrained attack on Gaza, the publication of the Goldstone Report which laid responsibility for that catastrophe overwhelmingly at Israel’s door, and the unprovoked attack on an aid flotilla sailing
for Gaza – what is actually afoot with Israel has dawned on many. There is now a widespread international campaign to bring about justice for the Palestinians. This people’s movement is the their best hope. Our governments, unless under pressure, will do little. Obama’s experience has only gone to show his powerlessness in the face of the Jewish lobby and the industrial-military complex in the States. The response of the European Union has been

Orthodox Jews in the Western (Wailing) Wall Plaza, the Wailing Wall behind, the Dome of the Rock beyond.

(as one who has been a major player quietly said to me) pathétique. What is hopeful is that those of us working for change have international law on our side. There needs to be a complete change of paradigm, from power-relations and realpolitik, to one of justice and the sanctity of law. As I have mentioned, there do exist ways to solve this conflict short of war. We need to see the situation for what it is and to act accordingly. Israel is increasingly a rogue state out of control and the result of doing nothing could be international disaster.

Working in this movement is full of joys as well as tension and strain. I have met some of the finest people I have ever met, most of them Jews who, with extraordinary courage, see and speak the truth. The warmth with which such Jewish people are received, both on the West Bank and in Gaza brings tears to one’s eyes and is a beacon for the future. It is only matched by what Palestinians call  their ‘steadfastness’ in the face of brutal military occupation and grinding poverty. Palestine is a beautiful land, a land which has been with many of us in our imagination since childhood.  The contrast with the reality of the present situation - incipient war, aggression and barriers - could not be greater. It makes an extraordinary impact to travel there if one sees behind the scenes. One has to remember that humankind has in the past found its way out of the most terrible situations and can do so again.

Some day, when this is all over, I do believe that with hindsight we shall look back with horror at what could happen to a people on the doorstep of Europe and ask how was it possible; why didn’t we act? The situation pertaining in Israel/Palestine is nothing if not a colonial occupation of the worst kind short of genocide (and at times, such as the ‘ethnic cleansing’ whereby three quarters of the population of what was formerly Palestine and became Israel was pushed out in 1948, or the furious onslaught on Gaza, we are confronted with unimaginable suffering). It is of course the case that the West wanted to make ‘amends’ for the horrors of the holocaust. But this was no reason to visit intolerable circumstances on another innocent people over 60 years. Some have been blinded by thinking Israel a democracy: scarcely, when 20% of its own population do not enjoy the most elementary human rights, and it rules over a subject population as great as its own. We need to see through Israeli disinformation and propaganda. If this website helps some others to become more informed it will have done its job.