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White and Black: Political Cartoons From Palestine

Health & Wellness  (tags: Mohammad Sabaaneh, art, zionism, occupied Palestine, Palestinian human rights violations, U.S., White and Black, Palestine, political cartoons, news, activists, children, freedoms, education, media, law, health, world, violence, women, family, rights )

- 483 days ago -
Punching through the glass. Packed with more than a hundred single-page political cartoons, this compilation of Mohammad SabaanehâEUR²s work


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fly bird (26)
Thursday March 22, 2018, 7:17 pm
Mohammad Sabaaneh′s "White and Black: Political Cartoons from Palestine".
Punching through the glass.

Packed with more than a hundred single-page political cartoons, this compilation of Mohammad Sabaaneh′s work, which draws on different periods of the artist′s life, offers a complex and often surrealist take on the daily struggles facing those in the West Bank and Gaza. By Marcia Lynx Qualey

Cartoonist and editor Seth Tobocman writes, in his introduction to the collection, that the work of a cartoonist is to "explain complex political problems in such a way that the simplest person can understand them."

Sabaaneh, who draws for a Palestinian daily, does sometimes condense complex issues into brief, bite-sized messages. In one straightforward image, a prisoner sits behind a glass barrier while his wife and young child sit on the other. In a sort of wish-fulfilment, the prisoner′s hand punches through the glass to touch his unhappy child′s forehead. The message is clear: administrative detention harms families.

Sabaaneh was himself was held in an Israeli prison in 2013 and he writes – in his prefatory remarks – about how that experience changed his compositions. "I had drawn thousands of prisoner-heroes in the past, but in prison I felt completely impotent. Unable to portray myself as a hero, I surrendered to my weaknesses, for we all love, miss, fear and feel pain, and I had to confront the inescapable question: was everything I drew a lie?"

Yet these concerns didn′t stop Sabaaneh from composing fresh works. He "smuggled rough sketches out with every prisoner who was released. When I was released, I collected my sketches and completed the cartoons."

The diaspora and back

Sabaaneh was not raised in Palestine. He grew up in Kuwait and his family moved back to Palestine just before the second intifada began in September 2000. Thirteen years later, Sabaaneh was found himself in an Israeli jail. The charge was "contact with a hostile organisation". This "contact" was ostensibly the publication of several of Sabaaneh′s cartoons in a book written by his brother, who is a member of Hamas.

The five-month imprisonment, which included two weeks in solitary confinement, has been by far the most severe attempt to suppress Sabaaneh′s work. But Sabaaneh has other worries. He was once suspended from his newspaper job for ten days after he drew a cartoon some readers interpreted as irreligious.

Among the cartoons collected in White and Black, the most enjoyable are not the simple newspaper cartoons, but the dense, multi-layered portraits that are crowded with detail. In his introduction, Tobocman writes that there is something Guernicaesque about Sabaaneh′s work. Indeed, many of the most successful pieces depict people in dense spaces, hemmed in by walls, razor wire and distorted weaponry. Many of the figures – both Israelis and Palestinians – have empty, pupil-less eyes and skull-like, rocky faces.

Recurring characters: the separation barrier

The easily identifiable grey slabs of Israel′s "Separation Barrier" are one of the collection′s most powerful recurring images. The state began assembling the wall in 2002, just two years after Sabaaneh′s family moved back to Palestine. Sometimes, the wall separates Israeli neighbourhoods from Palestinian ones, but it also encircles Palestinian towns and separates Palestinians from Palestinians.

Often, the cartoon captions are over-reductive and get in the way of the drawings. The cartoon titled "Lives interrupted" shows walls in intensely small sections, separating each person′s life from the next, while "The wall besieges everything" shows people, animals, trees and sky in tiny boxes, hemmed in by sections of wall. The people sit hunched up, their arms around their knees. Even a soldier has a hard time cramming into the small, walled-in space with his gun.

In another drawing, the wall hulks in the background as a line of women and men, with Sabaaneh′s signature skeletal faces, hold hands and dance the dabke. Their legs are chained together and a checkpoint stands between two of them.

In one of the moving multi-panel works, a boy first watches a bird fly over the wall. After that, he flies his kite over. As he′s flying his kite, he imagines it not as an inanimate object, but as a bird tied to a string that he′s keeping behind the wall. The boy cuts the string, allowing the kite to fly free, beyond the wall.

Black ribbons: remembrance and entrapment

Black ribbons, hung on photos of the dead, also appear throughout the collection. In Sabaaneh′s images, ribbons often snake out from the portraits, looping around doves or suffocating the living. In one, an enormous black ribbon emerges from a man′s portrait, ties around a woman′s neck, binds a boy′s hands together, covers another child′s eyes, tangles up a girl′s hair, closes a bird′s beak and even tangles the hands of the clock.

In another, called "Family photos", there are portraits not only of people with black ribbons in the corner, but also of a fish, a paintbrush, a tree, and laundry drying on the line, all apparently deceased. In "Past and present fight for the future", the black ribbon at the edge of a portrait becomes a dripping spigot: those left behind are drowning in the black liquid.

Trapped together: occupied and occupier

Sabaaneh writes, in his introduction, that he acknowledges "in the process of exerting his political will, the occupier is also occupied." He adds that, "In some of my sketches, occupier and occupier are hard to tell apart."

In one of the sketches, given the over-obvious title "All of us are hostages of the place", both the occupier and occupied trapped together in a glass ship-building jug, stoppered by the soldier′s boot. In another, both a man in the watchtower and the people below are counting the minutes, thinking about their loved ones, wishing this charade was over and they could return to a different sort of life.

The cartoons themselves cry out for a different future where both occupied and occupier can break out of their current patterns and frames, past walls and ribbons, into a freer life.

fly bird (26)
Thursday March 22, 2018, 8:06 pm
The Artwork of Palestinian Cartoonist Mohammad Sabaaneh

Darren Woolsey (218)
Friday March 23, 2018, 1:52 pm
Noted, shared all above over social media.

Animae C (508)
Saturday March 24, 2018, 5:10 am
Ha, i was just going to say i think Sheryl posted something about this cartoonist, then i saw you posted the link!

TY Fly

fly bird (26)
Saturday March 24, 2018, 1:53 pm
"No justice under occupation!"

fly bird (26)
Sunday March 25, 2018, 9:25 am
US Congress Approves $4 Billion in Tax Aid to Israel, Cuts Aid to Palestine.
March 24, 2018

fly bird (26)
Monday March 26, 2018, 11:43 am
The Talk Israel Tried to Censor at the European Parliament.

Despite Israel's efforts to censor it, Omar Barghouti gave this talk at the "Israeli Settlements in Palestine and the European Union" conference held at the European Parliament on February 28, 2018. It was organized by MEP Ana Gomes of Portugal. Omar is a Palestinian human rights defender and co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Towards Ending EU Complicity in Maintaining Israel’s Illegal Settlements and Other Serious Human Rights Violations.

Despite Israel’s descent into unmasked, right-wing extremism, particularly with the current escalation of its brutal military occupation and repression, and its rhetoric notwithstanding, the European Union (EU) has failed to uphold its legal obligations under international law vs. Israel’s settlement enterprise and remains largely complicit in enabling and maintaining Israel’s occupation and violations of Palestinian rights. Only effective European civil society pressure can bring this EU complicity to an end, thus contributing significantly to the pursuit of a just and comprehensive peace in our region.

Israel’s serious breaches of international law trigger legal obligations for the EU, Israel’s largest trade partner, and to its member states. As reiterated in the 2004 decision by the International Court of Justice, to ensure respect for international humanitarian law and for the right of the Palestinian people to exercise self-determination, states must refrain from any act that would entail recognition of Israel’s settlement enterprise and from providing any form of assistance to maintaining the illegal situation arising from it.

By trading with Israel’s illegal settlements and supporting companies that are involved in the settlement enterprise, as defined by the OHCHR, the EU is violating both obligations of non-recognition and non-assistance.

The EU maintains a web of military relations, weapons research, banking transactions and settlement trade with Israeli companies, banks and institutions that are deeply implicated in human rights violations.

For instance, the EU imports goods from the Israeli settlements at an estimated annual value of $300 million. This is more than 17 times the average annual value of Palestinian goods imported by the EU between 2004 and 2014.

Through its Horizon 2020 research program the EU has approved more than 200 projects with Israeli companies, such as Elbit Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries, that are accused of deep complicity in Israel’s war crimes and possible crimes against humanity. Another Israeli beneficiary of EU funding is Technion University, a main hub for developing Israeli weapon systems used to perpetrate crimes against Palestinian civilians.

European banks continue their business relations with Israeli banks, despite the latter’s pivotal role in financing, providing services to, or otherwise supporting Israel’s illegal settlements. A recent report by Human Rights Watch concludes that “businesses cannot fulfill their human rights responsibilities if they continue carrying out activities inside or for the benefit of settlements.”

Despite pressure by hundreds of European civil society unions and NGOs and more than 60 MEPs, the EU has obstinately refused to enforce the human rights clause in its Association Agreement with Israel. This has continued even after a legal report published last year by a UN agency found that Israel has established a regime of apartheid against the entire Palestinian people. Apartheid is the second most serious crime against humanity in international law, it is worth mentioning.

If Palestinian rights are seen today as the “litmus test for human rights,” as described by John Dugard, the prominent South African jurist, the EU has failed this test. Merely labeling some of the illegal products of Israeli colonies instead of banning them all is considered by Palestinians as yet another EU failure to uphold European and international law.

Although the EU still votes as a bloc in support of UN resolutions upholding basic Palestinian rights, including the right of return for Palestine refugees, and still condemns Israel’s settlements as illegal, these positions have not been translated into any effective measures of accountability against Israel.

In contrast, the EU swiftly adopted sanctions against Russia after its takeover of the Crimea, which pales in comparison to Israel’s 50-year-old military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Nothing can justify this hypocrisy.

Israel’s Far-Right Government Drops the Mask

As Israel’s regime becomes more overtly associated with the global far-right, including white supremacist and anti-Semitic groups in the United States and Europe, and as it becomes the model for Trump’s xenophobic policies of ethnic profiling, refugee and Muslim ban, and the racist wall with Mexico, its popularity is sinking. A recent BBC poll shows that Israel has the fourth lowest popularity rating among many countries, with over 60% of the public in the UK, France and Spain viewing it negatively.

More and more people of conscience around the world -- including taxpayers in states that continue to arm Israel, such as the US, Germany, UK, Italy and France -- are recognizing and acting on their moral duty to end their governments’ respective complicity in Israel’s crimes.

Crucially, support for holding Israel to account is growing among Jewish Americans and the broader US public. A 2014 poll by J Street showed that 46 percent of non-Orthodox Jewish American men under forty support a full boycott of Israel to end its occupation, while a 2016 Brookings Institution survey reveals that almost half of all Americans support imposing sanctions on Israel to stop its illegal settlements.

With the unparalleled loyalty to its fanatic policies in the Trump White House and in Congress, Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid has become so drunk with power that it is dropping its thin, worn-out mask of democracy, shedding the veneer of supporting a “two-state solution” and cheering Trump’s rise to power as a rare opportunity to bury the Palestinian right to self-determination.

Israel’s government, the “most racist” in its history, is perpetrating serious crimes against the indigenous people of Palestine with unprecedented hubris and impunity, alienating the liberal western mainstream, which has for decades formed the backbone of its support base in the West shielding it from accountability to international law.

Israel is intensifying its land-grabbing construction of its illegal settlements and wall in the occupied West Bank, especially in East Jerusalem.

It is tightening its fatal, decade-long siege of two million Palestinians s in Gaza, denying them basic necessities, even crayons and musical instruments, while counting the per-capita calories that are allowed in to keep them at the edge of starvation, or to put them “on a diet,” as a senior Israeli official once admitted. As a result, the UN predicts that Gaza will be unlivable by 2020.

It is entrenching what even the US Department of State once characterized as a system of “institutional, legal, and societal discrimination” against Palestinian citizens of present-day Israel, enforced by more than sixty five racist laws. Last year, Israeli armed forces demolished the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Naqab (Negev) to build on its ruins a new, Jewish-only settlement, eerily called “Hiran.”

It also continues to deny the internationally-recognized rights of Palestinians in exile, predominantly refugees, who account for 50 percent of all Palestinians.

In light of this ongoing Nakba, and given the failure of the international community under the US-EU hegemony to uphold Palestinian rights under international law, the BDS movement for Palestinian rights was launched in 2005 by the broadest coalition in Palestinian civil society. It calls for ending Israel’s 1967 occupation, ending its system of legalized racial discrimination, and upholding the UN-stipulated right of Palestinian refugees to return to the homes and lands from which they were uprooted and dispossessed since the 1948 Nakba.

These three basic rights correspond to the three main components of the Palestinian people: those in the occupied Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem (38 percent of the Palestinian people, according to 2016 statistics); Palestinian citizens of Israel (12%); and those in exile (50%). More than two thirds of Palestinians are refugees or internally displaced persons.

Anchored in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, BDS has consistently and categorically opposed all forms of racism and racial discrimination, including anti-Semitism, anti-Black racism and Islamophobia. One’s identity, the movement upholds, should never diminish one’s entitlement to rights. BDS, as a result, targets complicity, not identity.

Arguing that boycotting Israel is intrinsically anti-Jewish is not only false, but it also presumes that Israel and “the Jews” are one and the same. This is as absurd and bigoted as claiming that a boycott of a self-defined Islamic state like Saudi Arabia, say, because of its horrific human rights record, its legalized discrimination against women, or its war crimes in Yemen, would of necessity be Islamophobic.

Since there is nothing Jewish about Israel’s regime of siege, ethnic cleansing and oppression, there is nothing inherently anti-Jewish, then, about a nonviolent, morally consistent human rights struggle to end this system of injustice. Support for BDS is growing substantially among Jewish millennials worldwide, in fact, with Jewish-Israeli BDS activists playing an increasingly significant role in the movement.

BDS draws a lot of inspiration from intersectional relations with movements defending the rights of refugees, immigrants, women, workers, Blacks, Muslims, indigenous nations and the LGBTQI communities as well as with the climate justice movement.

The BDS movement is supported by a near consensus in Palestinian society. Last month, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, declared its support for BDS and called for sanctions against Israel.

Impact of BDS

The strategic impact of the nonviolent BDS movement for Palestinian rights is now well recognized by the Israeli establishment.

Last December, Lorde, the famous New Zealand singer, cancelled a scheduled gig in Tel Aviv, becoming the most prominent and courageous artist of her generation to respect the Palestinian cultural boycott picket line. In response to an ugly smear campaign against her by Israel lobby figures in the US, over one hundred prominent artists, including Hollywood stars, signed a letter in the Guardian supporting her.

Of the twenty-six Oscar nominees in 2016 who were offered expensive propaganda trips paid by the Israeli government none has taken the offer to date.

Some of the largest churches in the US, including the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church and the United Church of Christ, have divested from Israeli banks or complicit international corporations, like Caterpillar, HP, and G4S, because of their involvement in the Israeli occupation.

Even before the UN publishes its list of companies involved in Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise, major multinational corporations, like Veolia, Orange, CRH and G4S, have suffered major financial and/or reputational losses in the last few years, due to effective BDS campaigning across Europe, the US, the Arab world, or Latin America. As a result, they have ended all or most of their involvement in Israel’s violations of international law. Hewlett Packard (HP) is facing a snowballing global BDS campaign, with many US churches and the National Union of Teachers (NUT) in the UK announcing themselves HP-free.

Leading global investment funds in Norway, the Netherlands, Denmark and elsewhere have withdrawn their investments from Israeli banks or international corporations implicated in Israel’s human rights violations.

The municipality of Barcelona announced in 2017 measures to end complicity in Israel’s occupation, following dozens of local councils across the Spanish state that have declared themselves “Israeli Apartheid Free Zones” in the last two years.

Major international trade union federations, like the Norwegian LO, joined the BDS movement in 2017.

Academic associations and tens of student governments in the U.S., UK, Chile, South Africa, Canada, among others, have voted for various BDS measures.

The prestigious Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium has recently announced its withdrawal from Law Train, a particularly disturbing EU-funded research project aimed at developing common prisoner interrogation techniques with the partnership of the Israeli police and the Israeli Ministry of Public Security. Both Israeli entities have been accused by human rights advocates of deep involvement in extrajudicial killings and the torture of Palestinian prisoners, including children, among other serious violations of international law.

The Portuguese Justice Ministry was the first to withdraw from this project in July 2016. Twenty five prominent legal scholars have published a legal opinion confirming the illegality of the Law Train project due to the Israeli entities’ involvement in serious violations of international law.

Israel's New McCarthyism

Having lost many battles for the hearts and minds at the grassroots level, Israel adopted a new top-down strategy in 2014 to fight BDS, replacing its previous, unsuccessful strategy of fighting the movement through “branding” and extensive propaganda alone.

Evoking memories of McCarthyism, the new Israeli strategy employs legal warfare and espionage with massive budgets to undermine, or even outlaw, peaceful BDS advocacy. Israel has even hired a large law firm to intimidate and silence BDS activists in North America, Europe and beyond, crossing “criminal lines,” as a whistleblowing Israeli lawyer has warned.”

A desperate Israeli government minister has established a “tarnishing unit” to smear Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights defenders in the BDS movement, while another has publicly threatened us with “targeted civil assassination.” Amnesty International has condemned these threats.

An Israeli anti-BDS law now denies entry to organizations that endorse BDS or merely advocate for selective boycotts targeting Israeli settlements. The anti-BDS Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs is working on a “blacklist” of Israelis who are active in any form of BDS activity.

Glenn Greenwald has described attempts by Israel and its lobby groups to criminalize Palestine solidarity, especially in the most effective form of BDS, as “the greatest threat to free speech in the West.”

The BDS movement is winning some remarkable battles against this Israeli McCarthyism, however. The European Union, the governments of Sweden, Ireland and Netherlands, the parliaments of Switzerland and Spain, Amnesty International, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Human Rights Watch, the Socialist International, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), among others, have all defended the right to boycott Israel as a matter of freedom of speech.

ACLU, which has condemned the application of anti-BDS legislation in Texas as “an egregious violation of the First Amendment [of the US Constitution], reminiscent of McCarthy-era loyalty oaths,” has recently scored a precedent-setting legal victory in a federal court against the Kansas state’s anti-BDS legislation.

In 2016, Federica Mogherini, the chief of EU diplomacy, said:

The EU stands firm in protecting freedom of expression and freedom of association in line with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which is applicable on EU Member States’ territory, including with regard to BDS actions carried out on this territory.

In the same vein, the Dutch government confirmed that BDS advocacy is protected free speech, “enshrined in the Dutch Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.” It also rejected calls for punishing BDS on the grounds that it involved “discrimination” against Israel, affirming that “human rights, including the prohibition of discrimination, aim to explicitly protect individuals [and] groups of individuals. On the basis of freedom of speech it is allowed to call on a government to take sanctions against another country.”

Also in 2016, in a major blow to Israel’s repressive legal war on the BDS movement, a groundbreaking statement by more than 200 legal scholars from 15 European countries, including former international courts’ judges, defended the right to BDS saying:

States that outlaw BDS are undermining this basic human right and threatening the credibility of human rights by exempting a particular state from the advocacy of peaceful measures designed to achieve its compliance with international law.


While Palestinians appreciate European support for our steadfastness in our homeland, Palestinians do not seek charity but solidarity. At the very least, we expect the EU to do no harm.

The average of 300 million euros that the EU gives to the Palestinians annually largely subsidize the Israeli occupation and serves to cover up the EU’s ongoing complicity in maintaining it. Furthermore, it pales in comparison to the occupation’s cost for the Palestinian economy, which in 2010 alone reached approximately $7 billion − almost 85% of the total estimated Palestinian GDP.

Palestinians are calling on progressive members of the European Parliament as well as national parliaments across Europe and European civil society to intensify pressure on the EU to fulfill its obligations under international law vs. the Palestinian people by, at the very least:
1.Banning the import of products of Israeli and other companies that illegally operate in the occupied territories.

2.Suspending the EU-Israel Association Agreement until Israel abides by its second clause which requires respect for human rights.

3.Implementing the recommendation of the European Council on Foreign Relations to halt all financial transactions with Israeli banks that finance Israel’s occupation, including the wall and settlements.

4.Stop considering the import of Israeli natural gas or electric power given Israel’s pillage of Palestinian energy resources and the serious legal, financial and security risks involved in such an undertaking.

5.Imposing a two-way military embargo on Israel, as was done against apartheid South Africa, including cutting funding to all Israeli companies and universities involved in military research that enables the commission of Israel’s war crimes.

Former South African anti-apartheid leader Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Far from being “neutral,” the EU is enabling the oppressor to carry on its injustices. It is high time to end that complicity to keep our hope alive that one day we can live in dignity, freedom, justice and true peace.

Omar Barghouti is a Palestinian human rights defender and co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. He is a co-recipient of the 2017 Gandhi Peace Award.

fly bird (26)
Monday March 26, 2018, 11:46 am
Having failed to stop the rise in worldwide support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality, Israel is now launching a desperate and dangerous fight back.

Israel is persuading supportive governments in the US, UK, France and elsewhere to repress the BDS movement. Israel has implemented a travel ban on BDS movement co-founder Omar Barghouti and is using its security services to spy on BDS activists across the world.

This war of repression has prompted the Swedish, Irish and Dutch governments and mainstream organisations such as Amnesty International to speak out.

fly bird (26)
Friday March 30, 2018, 2:09 pm
The Great Return March signifies the start of a new defiance campaign.
March 30, 2018

In a remarkably fresh approach to their resistance against Israel’s seven decades of colonialism, Palestinians have mobilised en masse in what has been dubbed the Great Return March. Starting on Friday, 30 March, thousands upon thousands headed towards the homes and land from which they have been forcibly expelled since 1948. Victims of evictions and ethnic cleansing whose losses have never been acknowledged by Israel, despite their formal recognition by the UN, they have every right under international law to return to their land and reclaim what is theirs.

Although the month of March has seen the commemoration of Land Day every year since 1976, this year it has expanded in a very creative way. The popular sentiment shared amongst Palestinians in the diaspora as well as within the suffocating occupied territories is simple: “Returning to our stolen lands and homes is legal under international law and UN resolutions.” The Great Return March is thus an affirmation of this inalienable right guaranteed by a substantial number of international conventions.

Reports from Gaza reveal that an aggressive and hostile military response to human beings demanding what is rightfully theirs is now underway. Leaks from Benjamin Netanyahu’s war-room pointed to threats to kill any and all Palestinians who dare to approach the apartheid barriers — the so-called “fences” — which keep the indigenous population from their homes and land. By the end of Friday, at least 13 Palestinians are known to have been shot and killed by the Israelis, despite being unarmed and protesting peacefully; thousands more have been injured.

To the dismay of Israel, the Great Return March is not planned to be a one-day event. To add to Israel’s PR nightmare, media coverage will probably revisit the issues at the heart of this popular demonstration via extensive analysis and historic footage of its systematic brutality.

However, expressing its displeasure through the mainstream media and throwing a tantrum — the usual Israeli reaction — will not assist the right-wing regime’s hasbara (propaganda) campaigns. In fact, such a response will be entirely counterproductive, as the National Party in South African apartheid’s heyday learnt to its cost.

Concealing the ugly reality of Zionism’s imposition of a foreign entity — Israel — and the consequences of the Naqba (catastrophe) of its founding in 1948, which are visible across the Occupied Palestinian Territories — of 1967 and 1948 — and refugee camps dotted across Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and elsewhere is not possible, even with a compliant media at Israel’s beck and call. Furthermore, it is would be morally repugnant to even try.

Moreover, it would be equally outrageous and utterly disgraceful for any media platform to ignore or downplay the enormous burden faced by Palestinians to free themselves from oppression and achieve a semblance of justice. The Great Return March is thus a challenge to the media to disassociate themselves from false Israeli narratives fed to them by well-resourced propaganda campaigns.

This requires a return to an understanding of the enormity of the losses suffered by the Palestinians at the hands of a racist colonial entity supported and facilitated by the British government a century ago. It means revisiting notorious historical details which certainly will be unflattering for those European powers who played central roles in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

The Great Return March is a challenge to those in the media who’ve been cowed into submission by intimidating threats of economic sabotage and “anti-Semite” smears to jump off the fence into the fray. Robust introspection and fearless reports on the reasons why Palestinians have embarked on this momentous, peaceful campaign of defiance should be par for the course for journalists who value their own integrity as well as that of their profession.

In keeping with its irrational conduct, Israel has imposed a “closure” on the Palestinian areas for the so called “Passover holidays”. In addition, the settler-colonial regime has enforced a “no go” zone on land adjacent to Gaza’s border. The Chief of Staff of the occupation Israel Defence Forces has admitted that “more than 100 snipers” from elite Special Forces have been deployed with permission to “open fire”; the first murderous results of their handiwork have already been seen.

Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, known for challenging the country’s violations of human rights without fear or favour, was justified to be concerned about threats by the regime to unleash lethal force on the demonstrators. “Completely ignoring the humanitarian disaster in Gaza and Israel’s responsibility for it, they are couching the planned protest in terms of a security risk, framing the demonstrators as terrorists and referring to Gaza as a ‘combat zone’.”

The death toll rose, as B’Tselem and other humanitarian organisations warned it would, and Israel’s war-mongering revealed its blatant disregard for the sanctity of Palestinian life and, indeed, the state’s obligations under international law.

The Great Return March has the support of all the Palestinian factions, including Hamas, Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Islamic Jihad. The protest is expected to continue daily until 15 May and the 70th anniversary of the Naqba. Its demands will resonate with justice-seeking people all around the globe: Palestinians must be allowed to exercise their legitimate right of return to their pre-1948 homes and land.

Iqbal Jassat is an Executive Member of the Media Review Network, Johannesburg, South Africa.
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