Canton native CJ McCollum helps Ohio-based non-profit grant wish of injured Palestinian teen

Damian Lillard of the Portland Trailblazers met with 14-year-old Palestinian Thaer before last night’s big basketball game. Thaer lost his leg when Israel bombed his home in occupied Gaza during the 2014 50-day-long attack on the occupied Strip.

With international law under siege, can the ICC bring justice to Palestinians?

The International Criminal Court is to begin investigating Israel for war crimes, but many are rightly skeptical and experts warn that heavy political pressure against the court could prolong the judicial process and even interfere in the investigation.

Maps, Technology, and Decolonial Spatial Practices in Palestine

The practice of mapping in Palestine-Israel has long been an exercise in power, imperialism, and dispossession. From the British Mandate to the present day, Zionist (later Israeli) cartographers have used maps to obfuscate and eradicate physical, geographic, and social markers of Palestinians’ connections to, and possession of, the land. 

During the British Mandate, the colonial forces produced an array of detailed surveys for military, political, social, and economic planning. The geographic distribution and activity of Palestine’s indigenous Arab inhabitants were rarely depicted on the maps. However, the geographic language was almost entirely comprised of transliterated Arabic names.

In the wake of the First Zionist Congress in Basel in 1897 and the first Aliyah, or wave of European Jewish immigration from 1881 to 1903, Zionist maps began to proliferate, many featuring topographic and religious markers designed to redraw the map in the image of a proposed Zionist state.

After the Nakba of 1948, the new state of Israel set out to transform the national map from Arabic to Hebrew as a way of Zionist nation-building. The Hebrew map continues to be an exercise in state formation, a living document of Zionist colonization where Zionist ideology is folded into the spatial practices of the Israeli state.

Today, legislation such as the Kyl-Bingaman Amendment (KBA), which restricts the availability of high-resolution satellite imagery by preventing US satellite operators and retailers from selling or disseminating images of Palestine-Israel at a resolution higher than that available on the non-US market, as well as the complicity of technology firms in privileging Israeli spatial control at the expense of Palestinians – such as how Google Maps routes are designed for Israelis and illegal Israeli settlers – represent a missed opportunity to use technological advancements to democratize mapping.

However, technology can serve as a tool to tangibly imagine the right of return. Detailed historical maps and uncensored, high-resolution images, for instance, allow Palestinians to catalogue the remnants of villages and towns destroyed during the Nakba. Such images not only provide substantial proof of the ongoing colonial encroachment into Palestinian land, but allow Palestinians to actively imagine an alternative reality. 

For Palestinians living under martial law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory or under siege in the Gaza Strip, despite technology creating an opening for democratizing spatial practices, mainstream mapping applications fail to account for the walled-off reality on the ground and the restrictions and repercussions it has on Palestinian movement. Yet Palestinians and allies continue to subvert and resist colonial maps through counter-maps. 

There are some other concrete steps forward: 

  1. As recommended by 7amleh, the Arab Center for Social Media Advancement, Palestine should be named properly on Google Maps, in line with the UN General Assembly Resolution of November 2012. 
  2. According to Resolution 181 of the UN General Assembly, the international status of Jerusalem should be correctly displayed on Google Maps. Google must also identify and correctly label illegal Israeli settlements on occupied land, according to Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Article 55 of the Hague Regulations.
  3. Google should clearly distinguish areas A, B, and C in the West Bank and account for all movement restrictions and restricted streets.
  4. Google should locate “unrecognized” Palestinian villages within Israel as well as Palestinian villages in Area C. 
  5. The United States should dispose of the KBA, leveling the commercial playing field between US and non-US imagery providers. This would allow satellite operators to share high-resolution images of Palestine-Israel on widely-used open-access platforms. It would also enable archaeologists, researchers, and humanitarians to accurately document changes on the ground and allow for better accountability of the Israeli occupation.
  6. Palestinian civil society should encourage and promote the active use of counter-maps as an alternative to incomplete contemporary maps. Simultaneously, Palestinian civil society and allies should focus their efforts on pressuring (a) the US government to abolish the KBA and (b) Google to make the changes outlined above.

The post Maps, Technology, and Decolonial Spatial Practices in Palestine appeared first on Al-Shabaka.

اغتيال قاسم سليماني: إسرائيل هي الرابح الأكبر

على الرغم من أن اغتيال الجنرال الإيراني قاسم سليماني كان قراراً أميركياً صرفاً جاء من ضمن سياق من التصعيد الأمني الذي تشهده المنطقة منذ أشهر، وفي ظل احتدام الصراع الدائر بين الولايات المتحدة وإيران منذ انسحاب دونالد ترامب من الاتفاق النووي الإيراني وفرضه عقوبات اقتصادية صارمة عليها، فإنه لا يمكن تجاهل أن هذا الاغتيال حقق هدفاً كانت إسرائيل تسعى اليه منذ وقت طويل، وقدم خدمة ثمينة لها، وساعدها على التخلص من ألد أعدائها.

سليماني في دائرة الاستهداف الإسرائيلي

As U.S. Congress votes on war powers, Falk & Cobban join the discussion

This afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives is due to vote on a resolution (PDF text here) that, in the wake of the United States’ killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani would direct the President “to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran or any part of its government or military”  unless either Congress has declared war or “such use of the Armed Forces is necessary and appropriate to defend against an imminent armed attack… “

Voting on this resolution is expected to take place later this after (EST). This is the most serious attempt Congress has made to assert its constitutionally mandate power to declare war since it passed the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) resolution of Octo0ber 2002, which authorized the President to launch the invasion of Iraq five months later. Since then, the military operations that successive presidents have authorized in the Middle East have been bundled and justified under that AUMF.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched this new legislative initiative in response to the assassination of Gen. Soleimani in the early hours of January 3, Baghdad time, which sparked widespread fears of the kind of serious Iranian response that might catapult the Middle East and indeed the world into a conflict of apocalyptical proportions.

In response, a group of eminent American intellectuals led by Professors Noam Chomsky and Richard Falk and veteran antiwar activist Daniel Ellsberg issued a stirring public letter calling on Congress to, “fulfill its most solemn constitutional responsibility, and impose effective restraints on the war-making actions of this impeached president.”

This, the letters’ signatories noted,

is a moment when partisan politics should be put aside, not only for the sake of national interests but for the benefit of humanity – -we should realize that these unilateral actions by the United States have put the entire world at risk. It is also a moment when Republicans as well as Democrats must stand up for a sane foreign policy, and for diplomacy and peace instead of aggression and war, and fulfill their duties as Members of Congress.

Just World Educational is proud that Richard Falk is a member of our Board of Directors. Another JWE leader, President Helena Cobban, has also been working actively on the US-Iran issue over the past ten days, in her capacity as an expert analyst of Middle eastern and strategic affairs.

Ms. Cobban published two timely analyses of the US-Iran confrontation on the “Responsible Statecraft” site:

Most recently, yesterday (January 8) she published this commentary, Trump and Khamenei de-escalate. Political struggle inside Iraq continues on her personal “Just World News” blog.

(The image at the head of this blog-post is a satellite image published by the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey that shows the precision with which Iranian missiles hit unmanned facilities in the U.S. Ain al-Assad base in Western Iraq, on the night of January 7.)

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