Fouzi’s work centered around Israel and the Palestinians, with particular focus on the Palestinian citizens of Israel. Following in the footsteps of his mother, Najla El-Asmar, who was an activist long before Israel’s establishment in 1948, Fouzi helped found al-Ard, an anti-Zionist political organization committed to the defense of the civil and political rights of “Israeli Arabs.”
Journalist Magda Abu Fadil remembers Palestinian activist Fouzi El-Asmar who died last month in the Washington DC area.
Fouzi El-Asmar discusses Al-Ard (The Land), a political organization he helped found in Palestine during the late 1950s whose history and perspective have been marginalized if not largely absented from most narratives about the Palestinian liberation movement.
Leaders from the [Israeli] Palestinian community, Christian and Muslim, who have spoken against this new [IDF] enlistment effort have been called in for investigation by Israel’s secret police. In an Orwellian inversion, they have been accused of “incitement to violence.”
[Lawyers] and others argue that Israel is carrying out a systematic and intentional policy to drive Palestinians off their land to replace them with Jewish communities. This, they say, should be identified as “ethnic cleansing”, a term first given legal and moral weight in the Balkans conflict in the early 1990s.
While Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies on the far right were castigating an amusement park called Superland for separating Jewish and Arab children, they were busy backing a bill that will give Israeli Jews who serve in the army a whole raft of extra rights in land and housing, employment, salaries, and much more. Superland’s offence pales to insignificance when compared to that, or to the decades of state-planned and officially sanctoned discrimination against the country’s Palestinian minority.
Youths attacked an Arab cleaning man working for the city of Tel Aviv as he was emptying garbage cans. They broke a bottle over his head. The man, covered with blood, asked them why they were doing this to him. “Because you’re an Arab,” they shouted.
IOA Editor: Although not without several shortcomings, this article is important in that it is an example of mainstream European media finally beginning to cover ‘domestic’ Israeli racism towards Palestinian Arab citizens.
Assuming the Arab League makes good on its commitment … the fund will serve only to highlight the very problems it seeks to alleviate… The reality is that Mr Abbas and the Arab League are at least a decade too late to protect East Jerusalem. In the current circumstances, such a cash fund will do little more than salve consciences.
We are struggling not only to liberate the Palestinian people from the occupation and from Israel’s racist apartheid regime, but also to liberate you from the illness of racism, so you can stop inflicting harm on me and on millions of people who are the natives of this country. And then we can live together equally and peacefully.
On the occasion of the swearing in of the new Israeli government and the 19th Knesset (18 March 2013) and the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (22 March 2013), Adalah is pleased to launch the Discriminatory Laws Database,
Far from marking a revival by the center-left, as most media presented the results, [Israel's 2013] election results signaled a further rightward shift in the center of political gravity in Israel. Hana Suwayd of the Democratic Front, the least outspoken of all the Palestinian legislators, observed: “I believe that what happened in Israeli politics is a kind of transformation: The extreme right became the mainstream, and the most extreme people are sitting at the center of Israeli politics.”
As Nazareth, the capital of Israel’s Palestinian minority, gears up for the country’s general election next week, the most common poster in the city features three far-right leaders noted for their virulently anti-Arab views. Paid for by one of the largest Palestinian parties, the posters are intended to mobilize the country’s Palestinian citizens to vote. They pose a blunt question in Arabic: “Who are you leaving it [the Israeli parliament] to?”
Adalah document covering Israeli election rules and party or individual disqualifications.
MK Haneen Zoabi called the decision “anti-democratic and illegitimate”, a form of political revenge that reflected the tyranny of the majority. “No one will determine for the Arab minority who represents it other than Arab citizens themselves,” she said. “I was elected to represent my people and, through their support, I have a legitimacy that the committee cannot take from me.”
Jamal Zahalka: “Our problem is not that we are terrorists but rather that we are democrats in an environment that does not believe in democracy… We are tired of apologising for demanding full equality for all Israeli citizens. We’re tired of sitting in the dock for being patriotic Palestinians.”
Haneen Zoabi: “Legally, they have no case. I never imagined myself to be in the middle of a war like this. I don’t think they will disqualify me. If so, and if Balad is disqualified, there will be no election – the Arabs will not vote.”
Awad Abdel Fattah: “Our [Palestinian Israelis'] traditional strength derived from the fact that we, as a community, survived the ethnic cleansing of 1948 [the Nakba]. We remained in our homeland, even as it was transformed into a Jewish state.”
Tzipi Livni: “The national solution for Israel’s Arabs lies elsewhere: in order to maintain a Jewish-Democratic state we must constitute two nation-states with clear red-lines. Once this happens, I will be able to come to the Palestinian citizens of Israel, whom we label Israel’s Arabs, and tell them that their national solution is elsewhere.”
Jonathan Cook tells the story of Nazareth, a Palestinian town that survived the Nakba only to be subjected to massive land confiscations, economic strangulation, and systematic discrimination by all Israeli governments since 1948. An important report covering issues crucial for the understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: because the Occupation didn’t start in 1967, and because discrimination against Israeli Palestinians, at times violent, continues.
A new bill is being debated in the Israeli Knesset: compulsory civil service for all citizens, including Palestinians and ultra-Orthodox Jews, the two groups that have been exempt. If passed, the bill would force every 18-year-old citizen who is exempted from military service to serve in another public institution for between one and two years… In 2008, about 250,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel signed a petition rejecting compulsory civil service, the largest such petition in history, and a wide coalition of youth groups and civil society organisations have campaigned against the service under the motto: “We won’t serve our oppressor.”
The discovery of a rare aerial photo of Jerusalem in the 1930s, taken by a Zeppelin, has provided the long-sought after proof that when Israel occupied the Old City in 1967 it secretly destroyed an important mosque that dated from the time of Saladin close to the al-Aqsa mosque.
Raja Zatara: “From the perspective of the Arab population, which was part of the Palestinian people, David Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin are not just prime ministers. The former is identified with the Nakba, from our perspective, and with the repression and land appropriation during military rule, while the latter is identified with the activities of Etzel, with the Lebanon War and the massacre at Sabra and Chatila…”
The National Democratic Party has accused Israel’s security services of repeatedly harassing one of its leaders each time he leaves and enters Israel. The NDP, which represents Israel’s large minority of Arab Palestinian citizens and has three members sitting in the Israeli parliament, has suffered a campaign of persecution from the Israeli security services for many years. The latest incident occurred last month, when Awad Abdel Fattah, the NDP’s secretary-general, returned from a speaking tour in Europe.
Israel has always denied Bedouin their rights to the land they owned before 1948, because they had no official documents from the Ottoman and British periods to prove their ownership. In those periods, however, Bedouin acquired lands under their own tribal law, the law then valid in the desert, which accepted such transactions based on oral guaranty and dispensed with written proof.
The Palestinian issue can only be resolved if Israel and its supporters in Britain abandon the dogmas of supremacy and truly adhere to the universal values of justice and fairness. Britain has a special responsibility in this, because it is uniquely responsible for our suffering: our national tragedy began with the Balfour Declaration.
Palestinians and activists in the occupied West Bank, Gaza, Israel and neighbouring countires have demonstrated on Land Day in memory of six Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces on March 30, 1976 during protests over land confiscations. Al-Jazeera presents a selection of excellent images.
Judith Ilani, Jaffa’s Popular Housing Committee: “In Palestinian Jaffa, the poorest people live on the most expensive piece of soil in the country… Even if I have a doghouse close to the sea, the value of it comes from what you can build once you demolish the doghouse.”
Simultaneous Arab marginalisation and revitalisation also has manifested itself in initial efforts by its leadership to define the community’s political aspirations. The so-called “Vision Documents” advocate full Jewish-Arab equality, adamantly reject the notion of a Jewish state and call instead for a “binational state” – in essence, challenging Israel’s current self-definition. This, for many Jews, is tantamount to a declaration of war.
Israel sees its Arab citizens as a security threat, and their leaders are increasingly under attack. While cooperation and political participation once seemed feasible, systematic discrimination has led to an untenable situation. Secretary general of The National Democratic Party Assembly (Tajamoa) writes on missed opportunities and grim predictions.
Abeer Zeibak Hadad is a Palestinian filmmaker living in the Israeli mixed city of Jaffa. This year her first feature film – Dum’a – was released in Israeli theaters. The film is the first in the Arab world to deal with sexual assault of women and girls. The film has been screening throughout the country. This week, two days before International Women’s Day Dum’a was screened to hundreds of high school girls in Qalanswa, a Palestinian city half an hour’s drive from Tel Aviv.
Haneen Zoabi in a highly biased interview with Israel’s Channel 2 TV. Her courage stands out, rising above the abrupt Israeli interviewing style: she keeps to her principled positions. (Hebrew with English subtitles.)
Israeli-Palestinian Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran refused to sing ‘Hatikva’ at retirement ceremony of Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, prompting calls for his removal.
In recent years, the government has adopted the so-called Prawer Plan, reversing several earlier decisions to recognize unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev desert. The new plan, explained by Association for Civil Rights in Israel lawyer Rawia Abu Rabia, will relocate 40,000 Bedouins in southern Israel for the establishment of 10 Jewish villages in their place.
Adalah: “When the issue of ‘equality’ for Palestinian citizens of Israel is seen as a political rather than a constitutional question, it is then a short step to also view human rights groups that strive to achieve the rights of dignity and equality for Palestinian citizens as political organizations, and the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence in such cases as political, and thus subject to intervention by the Knesset. However, the Knesset’s interference in the work of the Supreme Court threatens the fundamental principle of the separation of powers.”
For over 50 years, Fouzi El-Asmar has been one of the most important public intellectuals of the Palestinian liberation struggle. He is most well-known as the author of the landmark autobiographical work, To Be an Arab in Israel (1975), published in seven languages including Arabic and Hebrew, and as a prolific journalist specializing in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict with particular focus on matters of concern to Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Ben White: I hope that this book can be a useful resource for university students and also for human rights and solidarity activists who seek a better grasp of Israel’s discriminatory policies towards Palestinian citizens. But I also would like this to be read by those people who have an interest in the issue or region as a whole, as well as those who have never had a chance to seriously unpack the implications of Israel’s definition as a “Jewish and democratic” state. There are insights here, I believe, that are crucial for an approach to the conflict that realistically appreciate what it will take to reach a settlement.