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One Proper Vision – One Secular Democratic State Called Palestine : Haidar Eid

Dr. Haidar Eid
Dr. Haidar Eid (Photo: Palestinalibre.org)
Dr. Haidar Eid speaks about opposition in Gaza to the renewed peace negotiations, the need for Palestinian self-critique concerning current political events, waning support for Hamas and the situation in Gaza.

“What is happening now in Gaza is a slow genocide.” – Dr. Haidar Eid

Dr. Haidar Eid is Associate Professor in the Department of English Literature, Al-Aqsa University, Gaza Strip, Palestine. Dr. Eid is a founding member of the One Democratic State Group (ODSG) and a member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

The world looks to a new round of negotiations under US Secretary of State Kerry – where is Gaza in those talks?

Gaza is diverse and I cannot speak for Gaza as one, but clearly most here are opposed to negotiations. Hamas laid out its official position on Tuesday with officials expressing their dismay at the resumption of talks. Most organizations within the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) – among them the Popular as well as the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP and DFLP) – oppose the talks. Only some members of Fatah have fallen for the lie that negotiations might bring a viable solution.

Speaking for myself, as an advocate for one democratic state of Palestine, I oppose the talks, which aim at a two-state solution. We believe that creating two states is no true solution but a racist one. Two viable states have become impossible to achieve – mainly because Israel has created facts on the ground that subvert the whole concept.

But more than that – the two state solution does not guarantee even a minimum of rights for the Palestinians. There is no talk anymore of the right of return for those refugees from villages and towns that were ethnically cleansed in 1948. 75-80% of Gaza’s population are refugees and international law provides for their return – what is there for them?

The Oslo accords never incorporated international law. And most importantly: they never dealt with Israel’s racist measures and apartheid system against Palestinians.

What alternative would you favor?

Fatah is the only force officially supporting negotiations. When I oppose them, I do not represent only Gazans but the majority of Palestinians. Our alternative? Stick to the call supported by most organizations in 2005: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)! The campaign calls on the international community to boycott Israel, divest from its economy and impose sanctions until Israel complies with international law. Then, when there is pressure, we can negotiate.

In South Africa the ANC did not negotiate before it had substantial backing. We cannot negotiate about basic rights at present, and equal rights must be the basis for negotiations about any kind of state. The only just solution is one like in Northern Ireland and South Africa, meaning a secular, democratic state for all.

How can this be achieved?

The first step is serious self-critique. Palestinians have to consider publicly what the leadership of PLO and Hamas have done to the Palestinian cause since the Oslo accords were struck. The past 20 years have led us nowhere. Instead, settlements have expanded and Gaza has been transformed into the largest concentration camp on earth.

Serious self-critique will, secondly, lead to dismantlement of the PA. The institution of the PA gives the wrong impression to the international community of an equality between the sides, as if Palestinians had an also army and occupied another people! We as Palestinians should have a local administration to organize daily life and the resistance, not to undermine it.

Thirdly, we have to forget about the two-state solution. It is a complete waste of time and energy. We should all be talking about one democratic state, because the two state option is a fiction.

What is the situation in Gaza like at the moment? How isolated is the population?

The situation has deteriorated. Israel has tightened its closure. Things have turned worse since last days of Morsi’s government in Egypt, when it decided to destroy all tunnels [on the Egyptian-Gazan border] that are vital for the supply of all basic goods here. After Morsi was ousted the destruction of tunnels continued, and now most are closed.

Furthermore, the only official crossing to Egypt, Rafah, is frequently closed, for example today. Rafah is vital! As all crossing points to Israel are virtually closed, Rafah is the bottleneck out of Gaza.

Hamas first renounced the Syrian regime and Hezbollah, now it lost the Muslim Brotherhood as a mighty ally in Egypt. What does this mean for the Hamas government?

Hamas is in a limbo now. It lost its most important strategic alliances with Iran and Hezbollah, which it gave up for closer relations with the Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar. Now that the Muslim Brothers are deposed from the government in Egypt, Hamas is left hanging in the air. And the new Emir in Qatar is showing a new style of diplomacy, increasing pressure on Hamas.

Hamas, as a matter of fact, does not have a clear-cut political vision. You keep hearing different, contradictory positions from various officials. This has also affected talks for reconciliation with Fatah in the West Bank, which have effectively come to a halt.

Gaza is controlled by Hamas, yes, but Hamas is no more than the leading prisoner among the 1.7 million prisoners of Gaza.

What are the current topics of Gaza’s internal politics?

First is the need to end this deadly, medieval siege imposed on Gaza in 2006. A slow genocide is happening here that has already caused the death of about 2,000 people who did not receive vital medical treatment in time. The rate of malnutrition in Gaza is the highest worldwide.

The end of this siege will only come within a political solution to the Palestinian question as a whole. When we talk about negotiations, we are talking about Gaza’s fate as well. That is also why we, activists in Gaza, promote BDS so strongly.

We are highly affected by what is happening in Egypt. We are holding our breath right now. We want Egypt to open the Rafah crossing permanently and unconditionally. It is our only option right now so as to not make us utter hostages to Israel’s will.

And how much support does Hamas enjoy in Gaza today?

Hamas has lost a lot of its popularity as it resorted to repressive tools and tactics against its opponents. Most people who voted for Hamas did so not because they were for Hamas, but because they were against the corruption of the PA and the concept of a two-state solution. As such, Hamas was the only option.

Now people are questioning everything that Hamas said before the election. It promised resistance, but in fact since the ceasefire with Israel in Dec 2012, it does not allow any kind of independent and popular resistance anymore.

Is there a vision for Gaza?

For me, there is one proper vision – a solution for Palestine as a whole that implements UN Resolution 194 which calls for the right of return for all refugees and compensation for their decades in exile. Gaza should become part of one secular democratic state called Palestine.

Israel has another vision – it wants to get rid of Gaza. It wants Gaza to become part of Egypt like it was before 1967 to end all its Gaza problems. The Egyptians do not want and will not allow that. Instead, what is happening now is a slow genocide in Gaza.

Edited in consultataion with Haidar Eid, and reblogged from his interview with Lea Frehse, AIC

Get Thee to a Library & Learn!

An eclectic overview of the current state of play on prospective Australian net censorship is presented by Warwick Rendell – suggesting the leaking of the possible / partial ACMA list plays into pro-filter hands, and that filter opponents need to focus on the development of workable alternatives.

Activities which violate human rights – child pron, rape, war, murder, torture, economic servitude, domestic violence, racism and so on are worldwide problems both on and off the internet. Those who prosecute human rights violators are to be applauded. Yet it is desirable that success in identifying and dealing with human rights violators should be achieved without compromise of others’ fundamental human freedoms. For example, consider the logical extreme – of an hypothetical nation banning computers and electronic data transmission completely as a last resort to protect a vulnerable group from ‘undesirable’ material.

At this point it’s been definitively revealed what won’t work to address these violations and the violators productively – blacklists which interminably and inevitably end up on Wikileaks, increasing ease of access for voyeurs of abuse.

Firstly if a blacklist must exist, a right of appeal and review is essential in order to protect freedom of speech and allow redress for those whose sites have been wrongfully banned or filtered. Political free speech, the only free speech afforded some protection in our Australian constitution is at stake – and sex too can be regarded as a form of political communication, an act of freedom, of free individual expression. Likewise sites which discuss euthanasia, abortion and so on also have political dimensions and opinions thereon have a right to be heard and debated no matter how uncomfortable some may find the subject and extent of the argument. One *does* have a choice not to read sites thrown up in one’s search results. Will we as parents and adults serve our children well if these freedoms, which many of us have taken for granted since the advent of the internet, are not preserved for them?

Consideration of the above adult subject matter (as opposed to prurient voyeurism of exploitative abuse), is part of normal, healthy human activity – we all die, most of us desire sex and many of us are faced with reproductive choices. Would stigmatisation and repression of adult material as a consequence of mandatory and/or opt-out censorship assist us to maintain a healthy, guilt-free society? is there a possibility that suppression of adult net content may even contribute to civil unrest, or uninformed, neutered political apathy and personal disempowerment? are we there already?

The main thrust of the pro-filter argument is that children must be protected from unsuitable material upon which they might stumble inadvertently or through curiosity.

However, as has been pointed out by anti-government filter proponents (in addition to a plethora of technical problems), parents have primary responsibility for their children, not government – and functional parents employ self-chosen, caring, one-on-one methods of parenting to address the individual needs of their unique offspring. The internet is an online library in some ways analogous to a physical library. Books and magazines not suitable for children may be housed on the top shelf, away from young eyes, or hidden in drawers, should that be the parental proclivity. Are not parents in the best position to judge when their child’s reading age has progressed to be able to handle more ‘adult’ material? Why do pro-filter lobbyists demean Australian parents by assuming they are incapable of choosing to supervise their childrens’ net activities, subscribing to a ‘child-friendly’ ISP or installing PC based filtering software? why treat Australian parents as if they were children themselves and assume without real evidence that (a) children have been harmed by accessing an unfiltered internet for the past 30 years and (b) that the vast majority of Australian parents want the government to censor their internet?

The issue of consistency across the media spectrum logically arises as a flow-on from the filter debate – whilst parents may collect a vast array of adult reading material for their own physical libraries, will the government, under further pressure to act on behalf of ‘inadequate’ parents then intervene again to ensure parents do not make their salacious or otherwise provocative material available to their children? will the government next institute brigades of inspectors to do spot checks on shelves of books and magazines kept in the familial home, just in case the children inadvertently open the wrong drawer, or find a ladder to climb to the top shelf? Further along, will ALL adult material be banned, for fear parents may fail to conceal it from their children. The slippery slope to a virulently sanitised toyland is not at all inviting.

When forbidden, that which is ultimately attractive to curious humans – information and stimuli enabling exploration of their own functions, feelings and purpose – may become all the more tantalising. I developed a fascination with Ian Fleming’s novels at a young age, precisely because my father valiantly attempted to hide them from me. To no avail. Portnoy’s Complaint and Lady Chatterley’s Lover (the history of the banning in Australia of both these books should serve as a potent reminder of our antipodean propensity for wowserish, parochial overreaction ) were successfully purloined from my mother’s secret library. One wonders whether I would have been interested in these works at all, had not they been concealed. (I strongly suspect that I would be the first kid on the block to find a way around a net filter as well, simply because it was there).

On reflection now, I know that these books irrevocably enriched my life. It is worth remembering too that those who abuse more often than not learn it from modelling the real life culture which surrounds them. Footballers who participate in pack rapes don’t learn their behaviour from books or the net, they model the established real life behaviours of their ‘tribe’.

We do not ban sugar because diabetics cannot tolerate it; we do not ban football because some footballers pack rape. Should we emasculate the net because pro-filter advocates assume an unmeasured minority of parents may presently lack the skills to teach themselves and their children well?

Treating the entire population as incompetents, criminals or potential criminals by instituting mandatory, unaccountable and optout filtering of their internet feed including non-illegal adult net material to boot for ‘the sake of the children’ is unacceptably patronising and fascistic.

In Queensland at least, some libraries provide free internet training. Parents who lack computer skills, who wish learn to supervise their offsprings’ browsing habits, discuss PC based filtering and existing choices of filtered ISPs might do well to avail themselves of these courses. The extravagant waste of our taxpayer funds on filtering proposed by Conroy and his acolytes would be far better spent as a worthy investment in those wondrous institutions shining at the pinnacle of human civilisation – our libraries.

“You think it’s just a movie on a silver screen
And they’re all actors and fake each scene
Maybe you dont care whose gonna lose or win
Listen to this and I’ll tell you somethin’

It’s a horror movie right there on my TV
Horror movie right there on my TV
Horror movie and there’s known abuse
Horror movie, it’s the six-thirty news
Horror movie, it’s the six-thirty news

The public’s waitin’ for the killin’ and the hatin’
Switch on the station, oh yeah
They do a lot a-sellin’ ‘tween the firin’ and the yellin’-a”

– Skyhooks

“Censorship cannot eliminate evil. It can only kill freedom.”

– Excerpt from a letter to 28 newspapers, signed by Ed Morrow, president, American Booksellers Assn. and Harry Hoffman, president, Walden Book Co., Inc. (1990).

Portnoy’s Complaint

– Time included this novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.[1]

– In 1969 the book was declared a “prohibited import” in Australia, though the Australian publisher, Penguin Books, resisted and had copies printed up in secret and stored in fleets of moving trucks. Several attempts to prosecute Penguin and any bookseller carrying the book failed.[3]

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

– Not only was the book banned in Australia, but a book describing the British trial, The Trial of Lady Chatterley, was also banned. A copy was smuggled into the country and then published widely. The fallout from this event eventually led to the easing of censorship of books in the country. However, the country still retains the Office of Film and Literature Classification. When the office considers material to be too offensive or obscene, it will refuse to classify the material. Material that fails to receive a classification cannot be distributed. Its officers are called “classifiers” not “censors”.[7]

UPDATE

Wikileaks to Conroy: Go after our source and we will go after you

Thu Mar 19 23:07:20 EDT 2009

The Stockholm based publisher of Wikileaks today issued a warning to the Australian Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Steven Conroy, who is responsible for Australian internet censorship.

Senator Conroy, in an official media release yesterday, claimed, in response to the release of the Australian internet censorship list by Wikileaks, that his department, “is investigating this matter and is considering a range of possible actions it may take including referral to the Australian Federal Police. Any Australian involved in making this content publicly available would be at serious risk of criminal prosecution.”

Sunshine Press Legal Adviser Jay Lim stated:

“Under the Swedish Constitution’s Press Freedom Act, the right of a confidential press source to anonymity is protected, and criminal penalties apply to anyone acting to breach that right.

Source documents are received in Sweden and published from Sweden so as to derive maximum benefit from this legal protection. Should the Senator or anyone else attempt to discover our source we will refer the matter to the Constitutional Police for prosecution, and if necessary, ask that the Senator and anyone else involved be extradited to face justice for breaching fundamental rights.”

Senator Conroy may wish to consider the position of the South African Competition Commission, which decided to cancel its own high profile leak investigation in January after being advised of the legal ramifications of interfering with Sunshine Press sources.

See:

* Australian government secret ACMA internet censorship blacklist, 6 Aug 2008
* There is no bigger issue than net censorship
* Bank Fees: Banking on silence
* In depth background detail on Australia’s proposed internet censorship system
* Sydney Morning Herald: Leaked Australian blacklist reveals banned sites
* Sydney Morning Herald: Dentist’s website on leaked blacklist
* 278+ other press references

Contact: http://sunshinepress.org/wiki/Wikileaks:Contact

Over to you, Senator Conroy!

Possible Australian ACMA banned sites list published

Wikileaks, the international purveyor of information governments would rather keep privy from their citizens, has published what is claimed to be the Australian ACMA blacklist in their section on Australia.

The leak was revealed by @ashermoses in an exclusive in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Wikileaks has previously published the blacklists for Thailand, Denmark and Norway.

University of Sydney associate professor Bjorn Landfeldt said the leaked list “constitutes a condensed encyclopedia of depravity and potentially very dangerous material”.

He said the leaked list would become “the concerned parent’s worst nightmare” as curious children would inevitably seek it out.

But about half of the sites on the list are not related to child porn and include a slew of online poker sites, YouTube links, regular gay and straight porn sites, Wikipedia entries, euthanasia sites, websites of fringe religions such as satanic sites, fetish sites, Christian sites, the website of a tour operator and even a Queensland dentist.

The subject matter of banned content may shed a unique light on national societal tabus and mores – for example, the distaste of the Thai government for internet content which criticises their sacrosanct monarchy. Apparently online poker is an Australian tabu – is this because our government collects taxes from local betting in TABs, casinos and pokie machines than have precious revenue dispersed to overseas gambling dens?

ACMA clarifies:

The Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (the IGA) makes it an offence to provide, or advertise, certain interactive gambling services. ACMA is responsible for investigating formal complaints made under the IGA in relation to prohibited internet gambling content.

Prohibited internet gambling content is content that can be accessed, or is available for access, by customers of a prohibited internet gambling service.

A prohibited internet gambling service is a gambling service provided in the course of carrying on a business to customers using an internet carriage service, and an individual physically present in Australia is capable of becoming a customer of the service.

If ACMA receives a complaint about prohibited internet gambling content that is hosted in Australia, ACMA will refer the matter to the Australian Federal Police.

If prohibited internet gambling content is hosted outside Australia, ACMA will notify the content to makers of the approved Family Friendly Filters listed in Schedule 1 to the Interactive Gambling Act Industry code.

Other legal adult sites also feature on the list.

Although AbbyWinters is hosted overseas and accessible now, it would be blocked to all Australian Internet users if mandatory ISP filtering is introduced.

Perhaps certain sectors of our government may have serious religious and/or personal issues with sex and a prurient interest in what consenting adults choose to do in the privacy of their own homes on the net with legal adult material.

Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, dug up the blacklist after ACMA added several Wikileaks pages to the list following the site’s publication of the Danish blacklist.

He said secret censorship systems were “invariably corrupted”, pointing to the Thailand censorship list, which was originally billed as a mechanism to prevent child pornography but contained more than 1200 sites classified as criticising the royal family.

“In January the Thai system was used to censor Australia reportage about the imprisoned Australian writer Harry Nicolaides,” he said.

“The Australian democracy must not be permitted to sleep with this loaded gun. This week saw Australia joining China and the United Arab Emirates as the only countries censoring Wikileaks.”

The leaked list, understood to have been obtained from an internet filtering software maker, contains 2395 sites. ACMA said its blacklist, as at November last year, contained 1370 sites.

Assange said the disparity in the reported figure is most likely due to the fact that the list contains several duplicates and variations of the same URL that stem from a single complaint. Alternatively, some sites may have been added to the list by the filter software maker.

That the list has been so readily leaked attests to the counter-productivity and uselessness of maintaining such a list at all, let alone attempting to censor its entries at ISP level, which can be easily circumvented using VPNs, proxies etc.

Warning – “ACMA said Australians caught distributing the list or accessing child pornography sites on the list could face criminal charges and up to 10 years in prison.”

Controversy is raging in the twitterverse as to whether direct linking to the relevant Wikileaks page may lead to criminal prosecution – and at present there is no shortage of folks willing to defend their tweets in court. Relevant ACMA legislation is here.

Asher Moses has now interviewed some legitimate businesses and sites who’ve ended up on the ACMA blacklist – legal claims against the government may be relevant?

The Queensland dentist included on the Australian communications regulator’s blacklist of prohibited websites has demanded that the list be cleaned up, as he is now being associated with child porn peddlers and sexual violence sites.

Other Australian sites on the list are canteens.com.au (“Tuckshop and Canteen Management Consultants”) and animal carers MaroochyBoardingKennels.com.au.

The dentist, Dr John Golbrani, was furious when contacted to inform him that his site, dentaldistinction.com.au, appeared on the blacklist.

“A Russian company broke into our website a couple of years back and they were putting pornographic listings on there … [but] we changed across to a different web provider and we haven’t had that problem since,” Golbrani said in a phone interview.

He said the fact that he hadn’t been removed from the list was “criminal” and he was scared potential customers may avoid him.

“The government needs to get in and clean it up,” said Golbrani.

UPDATE

Conroy says the list on Wikileaks is not the ACMA blacklist.

“I am aware of reports that a list of URLs has been placed on a website. This is not the ACMA blacklist,” Conroy said in a statement.

“The published list purports to be current at 6 August 2008 and apparently contains approximately 2,400 URLs whereas the ACMA blacklist for the same date contained 1,061 URLs,” he said

He admitted the list contained some common URLS, but said that other URLs on the list had never been the subject of a complaint or ACMA investigation.

“ACMA is investigating this matter and is considering a range of possible actions it may take including referral to the Australian Federal Police. Any Australian involved in making this content publicly available would be at serious risk of criminal prosecution,” Conroy said.

How odd – Conroy says that the Wikileaks banned list is not the ACMA list, then decrees that one can be at risk of prosecution for making it publicly available?

Conroy’s statement should be reviewed in the light of ACMA’s press release today:

ACMA has previously investigated and taken action on material—including child pornography and child sexual abuse images—at some of the sites on this list of 2300 URLs. However, the list provided to ACMA differs markedly in length and format to the ACMA blacklist. The ACMA blacklist has at no stage been 2300 URLs in length and at August 2008 consisted of 1061 URLs. It is therefore completely inaccurate to say that the list of 2300 URLs constitutes an ACMA blacklist.

It also appears that many of the 2300 URLs provided on the list are no longer active. However, some of the URLs that remain active appear to relate to online depictions of child sexual abuse. Possessing, distributing or accessing such material may amount to an offence under the Commonwealth Criminal Code and relevant State laws.

ACMA provides the ACMA blacklist to the fourteen providers of filter software which have been tested and accredited by the Internet Industry Association (IIA), as part of IIA’s Family Friendly Filter scheme. ACMA is discussing with the IIA what if any action it may need to take to help ensure that ACMA’s list remain secure.

ACMA considers that any publication of the ACMA blacklist would have a substantial adverse effect on the effective administration of the regulatory scheme which aims to prevent access to harmful and offensive online material. Such publication would undermine the public interest outcomes which the current legislation aims to achieve.

ACMA does not mention any penalties for linking to the current Wikileaks page.