Tag Archives: palestine

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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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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Today in Palestine

Settlers in Gush Etzion flood Palestinian village of Beit Ummar with raw sewage.

Thousands of litres were leaked onto the vineyards of Beit Ummar, destroying the grape harvest and probably contaminating the groundwater.

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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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The righteous anger of Turkey

I’ve written before on how Turkey’s engagement with its Middle Eastern neighbours does not signal some huge, paradigm-shifting ‘turn east’. Turkey has been reaching out towards countries like Syria for a while now for reasons that are less ideological than pragmatic – economic benefits, shared foreign policy aims, in short the reasons that any state tries to build good international networks. To view Turkey’s ‘choice’ between East and West as dichotomous and mutually exclusive is an unhelpful hangover from the clash of civilisations theory. Turkey is an ascendant power, capitalising on this ascendancy by forging links and building its presence in the region.

Yet, post- flotilla attack, the accusations levelled at Turkey have grown stronger. It’s now an ‘Islamist state’, a supporter of Hamas, an enemy of Israel, part of the menacing Muslim ‘other’. Its reaction to the flotilla killings amounts to calling for jihad, according to Joshua Teitelbaum. Well, not quite.

Whatever your views on the justice/injustice of Israel’s attack on the Mavi Marmara, it is a fact that eight of its citizens were killed. Erdogan’s response is hardly the ‘bellicose exhortations’ Teitelbaum claims –  and to compare it to Turkey’s response to the recent sinking of the South Korean ship is absurd. Turkey’s citizens are murdered and Erdogan’s response is entirely justified. Teitelbaum tries to twist the Turkish leader’s language, claiming that his criticism of Israel’s actions amounts to ‘warmongering’. If you want warmongering, look to the country that recently asked the US for more bombs and a doubling of its weapons cache – Israel. US military aid to Israel now amounts to $800m worth. To turn this around, to make Turkey the aggressor and the provocator, is a huge misrepresentation of the truth. So is calling this reponse a ‘call to jihad’ – Turkey has consistently been a friend to Israel in the region, despite a history of Israeli snubs and rejections. Erdogan felt ‘personally betrayed’ when Israel invaded Gaza only a few days after Turkey hosted Israel-Syria talks; how must he feel now, when his citizens and countrymen have died?

Why is it, furthermore, that whenever a country such as Turkey tries to assert itself on the foreign policy scene it’s automatically viewed as a direct challenge to the US-led Western hegemony? Is it not possible that it’s just, well, trying to assert itself? Teitelbaum claims that Turkey is trying to ‘lead the Muslim world once more’ and is promoting a ‘clash of civilisations’. This is just total balls. Turkey’s foreign policy is, again, far more complex than this, and it’s analysis like this that promotes the clash of civilisations theory by refusing to admit that it is possible for Turkey to engage with its Muslim neighbours and, shock!, still be friendly towards the West. The diplomatic rise of Turkey – hosting talks between Israel and Syria, striking the nuclear deal with Iran and Brazil – is not just them trying to ‘be’ America or, alternatively, trying to establish some kind of neo-Ottoman caliphate by leading a monolithic Muslim bloc. This kind of reductionism is not just intellectually lazy and dishonest, it’s incredibly damaging as well. The West needs to acknowledge Turkey’s right to form its own foreign policy and, occasionally, to take initative where the West has failed.

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