Patterns of Occupied Palestine: Goodbye Trump, Hello Status Quo

Politically, there is a clear difference between Biden and Trump, but for the Palestinians, they both favor Israel over us — Palestinian taxi driver Ahmed Zayed, former member of Fatah, The Christian Science Monitor, December 2

Two days after that article was published in the Christian Science Monitor, Israeli Occupation Forces killed a teenage Palestinian boy named Ali Ayman Saleh Abu Alia in al-Mughayyir village in the occupied West Bank. According to Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP), Ali was shot and killed while witnessing clashes between the occupation forces and Palestinian youth protesters of his village.

As much as Israel likes to present itself, or market itself as this little Sparta that can look after itself, of course it can’t. And as much as Israel makes of its own weapons technology and arms industry, the weapons that really allow Israel to project power and to project terror across the region are all American weapons… Israel is totally dependent on the United States. — Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada, November 18.

Ali was roughly 50 meters away from the occupation forces when he was struck in the abdomen “by a .22 caliber bullet fired from a ‘Ruger’ rifle — a gun produced by the Connecticut-based Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc.” DCIP also confirmed that Ali was the fifth minor to be killed with live ammunition this year alone. It also happened to be his birthday, December 4th, and he was looking forward to his party.

Ali got excited and asked his mother to prepare the cake for the evening. But it’s his fate to eat the cake somewhere else [in heaven]… This is not new … We are continuously targeted – our sheep, our houses and our kids – if not by the Israeli army, it’s by the settlers — Ayman, father of Ali Alia, Al Jazeera, December 6.

On December 6, 2017, exactly three years and two days before the state of Israel decided to violently snatch Ali’s life away from him with systemic unaccountability that it continues to enjoy, Donald Trump made known to the world that he would be moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Following Trump’s announcement, Palestinian protesters by the thousands took to the streets of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), which include the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Israeli forces responded with an excessive use of force that included live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas canisters and concussion grenades across the OPT. And by December 18th Israeli forces had killed 8 Palestinians, injured 2,900 others, including 345 children.

One of the protesters killed during those clashes in response to Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was 29-year-old Bassel Mustafa Muhammad Ibrahim from the town of Anata, northeast of Jerusalem. Like Ali, Bassel who was the father of a 4-year-old boy, wasn’t participating but was witnessing clashes between a group of stone throwers and Israeli soldiers, when he was shot in the chest with a live round from a distance of 200 meters.

Bassel Ibrahim was killed on December 15, 2017, and Ali Alia on December 4, 2020. Just between December 15, 2017 and December 2020, more than 480 Palestinians, including 96 children were killed by Israel in cold blood, with 17-year-old Mahmoud Omar Sadeq Kamil being the latest victim. Mahmoud’s father tells us that instead of “delivering various fatal shots” the soldiers could have just injured him. Not only that, but “by holding the corpse of his deceased son, and refusing to release it for proper burial, in addition to threatening home demolition Israel is violating numerous human rights agreements, and is attempting to harm and inflict more suffering on the entire family.”

In the April 24, 2018 teleSUR ‘The World Today with Tariq Ali’ episode Ali poses a question to his guest Amira Hass:

The situation in Palestine I feel is that there is no solution now being offered by most of the established states in the Arab world who are in a complete disaster story themselves… the idea of, which was the hope of many, we have to admit, of an independent Palestinian state is gone. If it exists, the South Africans who go there tell us it will be worse than the Bantustans… The campaigns which are nonviolent like the BDS are attacked as being anti-semitic. So when you look at all this what is the overall likely future?

To which Hass responded:

[The term] solution brings to mind something which is final… One of the reasons that I don’t like to discuss the one state solution… is because then it obliges us to discuss the rights of Jews in this state… If a one state is some kind of a metaphysical and emotional undoing of history then it’s not what you’re [Tariq Ali] talking about. So I prefer not to talk about solutions right now. I want to talk about phases… This is the reality today of Bantustans, and the Israeli side wants to deepen it.

Solutionism when applied to various crises around the globe, such as the occupation of Palestine by Israel, is a distraction from the systemic nature of the problem where there is no one magic solution that will simply make everything all right. Especially not when, as Ahmed Zayed suggested, the United States’ favoritism toward Israel is a deep-rooted bipartisan one.

Those of us who have been following the 53-year-old military occupation of Palestine, and the 12-year-old siege of Gaza, know fully well that what Trump overtly voiced via the so-called “deal of the century,” U.S. administrations-past have tried to pull off covertly: a Trump “peace plan” would effectively create a truncated Palestinian Bantustan in which sizable portions of their land would be furnished to the occupiers.

[Israel is] the best $3 billion investment we make. Were there not an Israel the United States of America would have to invent an Israel to protect her interest in the region — Joe Biden, in the Senate in 1986, Electronic Intifada, November 8.

Biden has already said that he will not move the US embassy back to Tel Avi. Come January 21,  is the status quo regarding the half century long U.S.-Israel romance still in order? Another phase? Let’s not forget that it was the Obama/Biden administration that handed Israel the $38 billion ten-year (2019 through 2028) military aid package on a silver platter. There is no reason to believe that Biden wouldn’t build on his 1986 and Obama/Biden administration rhetoric. 

The term “occupation” is strikingly missing from Trump’s 2020 plan. The only mention of the word is as a synonym for job or profession. — Al Jazeera, The Failed Deal of the century

The Democratic Party will not mention the word “occupation” in its 2020 platform when describing Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories – a key demand of progressive activists.Middle East Eye, July 27.

Interestingly, four years of the Trump administration have held a mirror up to the soul of U.S. domestic and foreign policies. Policies that created the Black Lives Matter movement at home in response to institutional police and white-power brutality; and policies toward Palestine that prompted the BDS movement in response to the belligerent Israeli occupation. 

For the Zionists when it comes to Palestine, as Tariq Ali suggested, BDS = anti-Semitism; and, for the white supremacists when it comes to Black and Brown lives, BLM= All Lives Matter. Two hollow, pathetic, irrational defenses against which there may be no defense. 

So what is the “overall likely future” for Palestinians like Ali Alia and Bassel Ibrahim, and Americans like Breonna Taylor and George Floyd for that matter? That is at a minimum a $38 billion question.

Patterns of Occupied Palestine: Part 4 of Uncountable

Patterns of Occupied Palestine: Part 3 of Uncountable

Patterns of Occupied Palestine: Part 2 of Uncountable

Patterns of Occupied Palestine: Part 1 of Uncountable

JatiIndia Flag of the Week

Atrocities Caste, Present and Future

Sandip, Ramu, Lavkush and Ravi. Those are the names of the upper-caste Thakurs who tortured and gang-raped a 19-year-old girl in Hathras, Utter Pradesh, JatiIndia, on September 14. 

Folding his palms, [Manisha’s father] pleaded, ‘Our daughters are no longer safe. We are helpless, I request the nation to stand with us, help us get justice for our daughter. Please.’ —,  September 29.

No. The nation is not ashamed of its two categories of daughters and their respective rights: The Savarna (upper-caste Hindu) daughter has way more rights than her Dalit or any other minority sister will ever have.

But these daughters do have one thing in common. In JatiIndia, for the most part “naming a rape victim even when she wants to be identified is still taboo… notwithstanding Section 228A, which clearly lists the circumstances under which one can legally name and publish the identities of these girls and women.” 

In JatiIndia, their chastity is their rightiousness, and if that has been sullied no matter the circumstances like violent gang-rape, the blame and shame is dumped on her and not the criminal (s) involved. 

#SayHerName. No, not one of those symbolic epithets like Nirbhaya (fearless). Manisha Valmiki. The one she was born with. The one JatiIndia is ashamed to utter. 

No, not because it’s ashamed of what the country’s men, including Thakurs, are capable of doing to poverty-stricken, Dalit girls and women, but because their names are a mirror to the soul of this land of, among other beautiful sights, bajra (pearl millet) which was “in full bloom, with the crop as tall as six feet” and where Manisha “was found naked, bleeding and barely alive in a small village…” 

This village still practices untouchability, and is in a state that in 2019 had the highest number of reported cases of rape outside of Rajasthan, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. 

JatiIndia’s Savarnas relish what they call an “ethnic” meal like bajra rotis (Indian bread) with baingan (eggplant) every now and then. For me anyway, bajra rotis have created a new discomforting memory in my brain. I don’t think I can eat another one without thinking of Manisha’s face in the crosshairs of JatiIndia’s Hindu soul. 

This soul of JatiIndia continues to shimmer with the un-uttered names of the more than ten Dalit girls and women who are raped every day. It’s a soul of mirrors from where there is no escape.

JatiIndia: Atrocities Caste, Present and Future

The jingoist nation and nationalism have got weaponized by the political class to destroy dissent and polarize people. The mass frenzy has accomplished complete derationalization and inversion of meanings where destroyers of the nation become deshbhakts (patriots) and selfless servers of people become deshdrohis (traitors). As I see my India being ruined, it is with a feeble hope that I write to you at such a grim moment. Well, I’m off to National Investigative Agency custody and do not know when I shall be able to talk to you again. However, I earnestly hope that you will speak out before your turn comes. — Excerpted from ‘Anand Teltumbde’s Letter to the People of India Before His Imminent Arrest,’ Countercurrents, April 13

The Dalit scholar, writer, and activist Anand Teltumbde wrote an open letter to the people of India the day before he was arrested by the state under fabricated charges of inciting violence between Dalits (formerly known as untouchables) and the Maratha community of Maharashtra in western India in 2018, as well as attempting to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

In 1818, members of the Mahar (Dalit) community of Maharashtra had fought in the victorious battle of Bhima Koregaon on the side of the British against the upper-caste Peshwas, bringing an end to their rule. Thirty-three years later, a victory pillar (Vijay Sthamb) was constructed in Bhima Koregaon at the battle site. It included the names of the fallen Mahar soldiers. The first commemoration event was held on January 1, 1928 and was led by India’s father of the Constitution, the Dalit-rights leader B.R. Ambedkar. Every year since, “Ambedkarite Dalits” from all across the state have gathered there to celebrate Mahar “valor and pride.”

On January 1st, 2018, thousands of Dalits had gathered at the Vijay Sthamb to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Koregaon when violence broke out. The celebrants were attacked by Hindutva (Hindu nationalists) activists waving saffron flags, torching vehicles and pelting stones, killing one person and injuring many others.

Protests were organized throughout Maharashtra in response to the attack. Apart from 70-year-old Anand Teltumbde, fifteen other prominent Dalit rights activists and public intellectuals associated with the gathering were arrested and their homes raided across the country. They were arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), a draconian law designed to target Indian citizens who are critical of government policies, thereby nullifying the Constitution’s guarantee of democratic rights and civil liberties.

The acclaimed historian of the Ambedkarite movement Eleanor Zelliot noted that the monument began to be used as a gathering place for Mahar meetings in the 1920s and 1930s, ‘with the memorial to Mahar soldiers who have fought a victorious battle serving as inspiration for a more modern struggle.’  — Dwaipayan Sen, The Wire, May 16.

Social constructs like racism and inequity in the U.S. are fruit of the tree of systemic white supremacy and injustice. In India, or JatiIndia—my name for this nation of jatis/castes—the social hierarchical structure of jatiism/casteism stems from the country’s tree of systemic upper-caste supremacy and injustice. Dalits and Black and Brown people have been resisting this injustice in their respective countries for centuries. 

Protesters and counter-protesters alike tend to gather around flags as they do around monuments when they want to score gestural points for their side. They alternately shape and resist modern-day supremacy in so-called democracies like the U.S. and India. For both the resisters of injustice and its perpetrators, they can act as a medium, a link in the long chain that connects an unjust past to an unjust present, and in all probability, a capitalist, extractive, unjust future.

According to the state and the perpetrators of violence, the distinction of who is a deshbhakt and who is a deshdrohi depends on the hand that’s waving the flag, or the feet that gather around historic monuments like the Vijay Sthamb, or the voices that project their position and their intent toward a certain segment of society.

This flag with Anand Teltumbde’s face at the center is number nineteen in my JatiIndia series. If you’d like to see and read about numbers one through eighteen, you can view them here

JatiIndia: Flags of Atrocities Caste, Present and Future is a continuing series that features a face of resistance to systemic injustice in the center of a modified Indian flag. The color orange in the flag symbolizes long-existing casteism, now made more open and feverish by resurgent Hindutva politics; blue—a color historically adopted by the Dalit movement—here honors all of JatiIndia’s and occupied Kashmir’s resisters of supremacy and injustice; the bottom green bar embodies JatiIndia’s ecological foundations, which are endangered by the ideology of extractive capitalism and defended by the country’s Adivasi (indigenous) communities and others, including Kashmiris resisting occupation. The circular image in the center, replacing the Dharma Chakra (Wheel of Law) signifies the view through the crosshairs of a saffron (Hindu nationalist) gunsight. 

The blue strip in the middle of the flag featured here is done in chain-stitch embroidery, illustrating the long chain of atrocities that have been carried out by JatiIndia over the years on Dalits, Kashmiris, Adivasis and other minorities. Each blue stitch, of which there are more than twenty thousand in the blue strip, represents a face of resistance to systemic state violence.