Tag Archives: israel

Hacking Palestine

‘The current Palestinian telecommunications infrastructure is a result of the asymmetrical power relationship between the PA and Israel, as well as the constraints and failures of the Oslo Accords. Much the same way in which sovereignty afforded to the PA over internal political and civilian issues has been a masquerade, so too is sovereignty over telecommunications a facade. Consider for example that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (as others before him) stresses that any future Palestinian state will not have control over its electro-magnetic field. If the future vision of Palestine is one without sovereignty over telecommunications, the present condition is one that ascertains such an outcome.

A much less publicised event than this latest cyber attack was the interruption of international landline, mobile phone and internet connection in the Gaza Strip this past August which occurred when an Israeli military bulldozer digging near the Nahal Oz checkpoint severed one of the fibre-optic lines connecting Gaza to the rest of the world. The ability to shutdown telecommunications whether by dictatorial regimes – as we witnessed in Egypt in January 2011 – or occupying regimes, is incumbent on an infrastructure being managed and controlled in particular ways. In other words, the establishment, building, and ownership of a communications infrastructure is in and of itself a deeply political decision…

Finally, what the events of last week also highlight is not ‘hacking’. Hacking in its historical roots refers to the breaking into computers, accessing administrative controls and other similar practices, under the ideological-political umbrella of the liberalist ideals of freedom of speech, the pursuit of technological beauty, of the desire to ‘free’ and keep code ‘open’. The shutdown of the Palestinian network is instead reflective of an act of cyber terrorism – whose intent of undermining the security of a digital network is explicitly malicious and destructive. In the case of Palestine, the mal-intent was not simply the purposeful target of the digital network, but the right to sovereignty as well.’

Read the rest here.

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Palestine is not immune

From The Economist:

‘Since 2007 the Palestinian territories have been divided between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah, the Palestinians’ oldest nationalist movement, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, in the West Bank. Too busy vying with each other to confront Israel, which occupies most of their land, they have sought to consolidate their holds on their respective domains by scrapping parliament and ruling by decree.

Not everyone has taken kindly to this new authoritarian yoke. Inspired by protests against other despots, Palestinians in both territories have been crying for “revolution until we end the division”. In Gaza and the West Bank protesters champ for an interim government of the young, aligned to no party, to be followed by elections in both bits of Palestine.

Under the watchful eye of his Western patrons, Mr Abbas’s security forces have generally stopped beating up protesters and have let them erect tents in the West Bank’s main towns. Hamas has shown less tolerance, fearful lest a turnout of thousands, including many women and a few rappers, posed a secular challenge. “Hamas is worse than Mubarak, because it governs in the name of God, not the people,” says Ayman Shaheen, a professor at Azhar University, Gaza’s last remaining college outside the movement’s control.’

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The Iranians are coming

World War III? Nah, probably not.

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Geert Wilders and the Israeli far-right

Via Coteret, who points out that support for Wilders in Israel goes beyond the National Union party to other leading Israeli neocons.

‘Cooperation between the extreme right wing in Holland and Israel: Dutch anti-Muslim nationalist Geert Wilders will come to Israel in order to support the idea that “Jordan is the Palestinian nation state,” which is being promoted by MK Arieh Eldad (National Union).

Eldad, chairman of the Hatikva party, one of the constituent parties of the National Union, is convening a special conference of his party in order to discuss an “alternative foreign policy plan,” which mainly consists of recognition of the fact that Jordan is the Palestinian state, while only one state will exist between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea—the State of Israel.

MK Eldad will present the main points of his idea at the conference, which will be held in Tel Aviv at the beginning of next month.  Eldad will be followed by a guest speech by the Dutch nationalist Wilders, in which he will voice support for the idea of establishing a Palestinian state in Jordan.  Former defense minister Moshe Arens and former GSS director Ami Ayalon were invited to the conference in order to respond to the speeches.’

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The policing of Area C

On why giving Palestinian police the task of security in Area C (the area placed under Israeli military control after Oslo) would be better for West Bank residents, the Israeli government, and even the settlers:

‘Giving the PA more security responsibility in “C” areas could reduce the threat to settlers. The PA has already shown its commitment to muzzling Israel’s enemies through arresting thousands of suspected Hamas operatives. The militants who killed four Kiryat Arba settlers in August would have struggled to access weapons or evade the intelligence networks in a PA-controlled area.

The Israeli army recognises the need for better power sharing and co-ordination. At a restricted, local level, this is already happening. Talks are continuing over the possibility of opening a Palestinian civil police station in a “C” area of the northern West Bank.

Netanyahu’s government would improve its image by supporting such initiatives. Conceding limited security control to the PA would assert the Israeli prime minister’s independence from the settler right while winning goodwill from the international community. It would encourage the moderates without provoking the extremists.

The PA has the capacity to restore order in “C” areas and it is in Israel’s interests to allow them to. A slow-phased handover would improve security for both sides and engender better relations between the governments. The alternative is to allow “C” areas to degenerate further into violent chaos.’

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Israel and liberal values

The new Israeli loyalty oath law is, quite clearly, ‘bad, harmful, and useless’. (One might add racist, insulting, and baffingly myopic.) In this Ha’aretz column, Carlo Strenger argues that it represents not an attack on Arabs but rather an attack on liberal ‘Western values’. (HUGE quote-unquote there…) He seems to suggest that the bill is some kind of turning point for Israel; that this is the moment when the disparate right-wing forces in Israeli politics united to turn Israel ‘east’, away from the liberal, Enlightenment values of the West.

His questioning of the alliance between Shas and Yisrael Beitenu is valid:

‘Consider this strangest of alliances between Yisrael Beiteinu and Shas; one is a completely secular, ultra-nationalist, the other an ultra-Orthodox party. What do they have in common? Why are they lately so effectively cooperating with each other, together with other extreme-right parties?’

He makes the important point that the two parties have an, at best, cavalier attitude to human rights and democratic values, although for slightly differing reasons – Lieberman and Yisrael Beitenu because they are far-right nationalists who see no problem in suppressing Israeli Arabs in order to strengthen Israel’s Jewish character, Yishai and Shas because democracy, for them, is a sideshow to their spiritual program.

According to Strenger: ‘Israel is now facing a fateful question: will it remain a liberal democracy, or is it on the way to becoming a totalitarian ethnocracy?‘ In other words, Israel is abandoning its commitment to liberal, democratic, ‘Western’ values, and is turning ‘east’, a word the author does not elucidate but one can take to mean some kind of Oriental despotism.

The old canard that Israel is the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ no longer bears up to any serious scrutiny, and has not done for a while; the encroachment on liberal, democratic values began long before this latest measure. This incomprehensibly bad loyalty oath is a further step in this direction, but to acknowledge that should not mean ignoring the fact that this bill is undoubtedly targeted at Arabs, and is an attack on them. To separate these two sides is to oversimplify the issue. Lieberman and Yishai are not attacking an Enlightenment ideal of liberal democracy; they are attacking Israel’s Arab population, and are taking democracy down with them. Not that, in Israel, it has very far to fall.

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Not one occupation, but two

A great piece in the NYRB by Nathan Thrall on the Fayyad government in the West Bank:

In October, Dayton will retire and be replaced by a three-star Air Force general, Michael Moeller. During the next year, Moeller is scheduled to receive the USSC’s largest ever appropriation. His tasks, as the deadlines for both the Fayyad plan and the end of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations approach, will be to advance two irreconcilable goals: building a Palestinian force that can guarantee Israeli security while also lessening the perception that the US is firmly supporting what many residents of the West Bank, like the independent politician Mustafa Barghouti, have come to describe as not one occupation but two.

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