Archive for November, 2017

TFF PressInfo # 433: Balfour Declaration – 100 years today

Three articles reaching 9000+ recipients around the world on a day that has been mentioned by few Western mainstream media. And while sending, PMs May and Netanyahu celebrate the Anniversary in London.

The One and Only Path to Palestine/Israel Sustainable Peace

By Richard Falk

Prefatory Note
This post is a slightly modified version of my presentation to the Human Rights Commission of the Italian Parliament on October 11, 2017. The Commission is composed of members of Parliament and chaired by Hon. Pia Elda Locatelli, representing the city of Bergamo. The presentation was followed by a discussion, and a generally favourable response on the central issue of switching from an emphasis on ‘occupation’ to ‘apartheid.’

An Overview of Present Realities

We meet at a difficult time from the perspective of the Palestinian people: several developments nationally, regionally, and internationally now deprive Palestinians of that glimmer of hope that comes from seeing light at the end of the tunnel; more fully appraised, the situation is not as bleak for Palestinians as the picture of their struggle being painted from a realistic perspective.

A series of factors pointing in both directions can be identified, first to highlight the negative developments from a Palestinian perspective, and then to set forth several developments that are positive with regard to the Palestinian national movement aiming for decades to achieve a just and sustainable peace.

(1) The foreign policy priorities of regional and international political actors have increasingly shifted attention away from the Palestinian ordeal; developments internal to Israel have deliberately accentuated this inattention to Palestinian goals and rights; of special relevance in these regards are the ongoing wars and turmoil in Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Iraq, as well as deteriorating relations and rising tensions of the Iran/US relationship.

Further, there are the moves toward normalization of relations with Israel by the Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia; and the unsteady diplomatic approach of the Trump presidency that seems accurately interpreted as supportive of whatever the Israeli government chooses to do, including even accelerated settlement expansion and a rejection of the Palestinian right of self-determination.

(2) Israel and Zionist support groups have launched a variety of initiatives designed to convince the Palestinians that they have been defeated, that their struggle is essentially futile at this stage, and they should move on for their own sake, overtly renouncing their struggle and posture of resistance.

The pro-Zionist Middle East Forum, founded by Daniel Pipes has even sponsored a so-called ‘victory caucus’ that basically proclaims an Israeli victory as a way of demoralizing Palestinian activism and global solidarity efforts by treating Palestinian goals as a lost cause. Read the rest of this entry »

My ethnographic moment – In Rome

By Richard Falk

Lunch alone in a trattoria in the San Lorenzo neighbourhood of Rome, which is neither fashionable nor touristic. Noisy with students and young people at night, local places to hang out, some occupied spaces.

What struck me – in contrast to the U.S, Germany, even France, where I have recently been – is that Italy, and specifically Rome, is a deep culture that works for its working and middle classes, or put less structurally, for ‘ordinary people.’

Of course, this is an impression, but for me a rather convincing one, and harmonious with a morning cappuccino and croissant at a vibrant bar around the corner from a friend’s apartment where we are staying for a couple of days.

At the trattoria, there were about ten tables in the dining area. At one nearby, two men were playing a card game for small amounts of money with classical Italian faces, aged maybe 60 or 65, and singing and laughing intermittently. Read the rest of this entry »

Putin’s Ukraine proposal should be explored

By Jonathan Power

To its credit the Soviet Union and its successor state, Russia, has long supported UN peacekeeping, a practice that originated in 1960 in the time of UN Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjold, who evolved the concept during the great Congolese civil war when it was in danger of becoming a Cold War flashpoint.

But what Russia has never contemplated is UN troops in its own backyard. “Summoning the UN deep into Russia’s historical space is a serious step”, Dmitri Trenin, head of the Moscow Carnegie Centre, told The Economist recently.

There does seem to be a shift in Moscow’s thinking on this highly sensitive issue.

Last month President Vladimir Putin put forward a plan for the deployment of UN troops in south-eastern Ukraine. Not that he imagines their use along the Russian-Ukrainian border – that would be too much – but he wants them to divide the fighting forces inside Ukraine. Read the rest of this entry »

Impact of European common values on the EU’s ability to solve conflicts in the countries of the Eastern Partnership

By Per Gahrton
Former Member of the European Parliament, Green Party of Sweden
PhD Sociology
Lund, Sweden, October 2017

A lecture at the XI Congress of Ukrainian European Studies Association, Kharkiv National University, October 20, 2017

Introduction: Sweden-Ukraine ties

A couple of days ago Swedish media reported that a wild boar, shot some 200 kilometres north of Stockholm, had been found to contain ten times more radioactivity than permitted by the health authorities. As you may guess, this radioactivity emanated from the Tjernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. This shows that we live in one globalized world and that my Sweden and your Ukraine are linked together.

Another example of Swedish-Ukrainian common experience might be the battle of Poltava in June 1709, which according to Wikipedia resulted in the “beginning of Sweden’s decline as a Great Power”. As belligerents, Wikipedia lists on one side Sweden and Ukraine, on the other Russia.

However, this military defeat against the Tsar may have been a blessing for the Swedes, because afterwards the Swedish people toppled the dictatorship of the king and introduced what is called The Times of Freedom (Frihetstiden), when a four-chamber parliament including peasants, ruled the country for half a century. Though it was not a full-fledged democracy (women and the poorest men were excluded) it was a starting point, well before the French Revolution.

About hundred years later Sweden suffered another defeat against Russia, which in 1809 conquered Finland, a country that until then had been an integral part of the Swedish kingdom.

Although many Swedes wanted to retake Finland, today most historians think that perhaps even this defeat was a blessing, for two reasons: First, the inevitable Finnish struggle for independence – which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year – was not conducted against Sweden but against Russia. And secondly, the political elite decided, as expressed by the famous poet Esaias Tegnér, to “reconquer Finland inside the borders of Sweden” which meant to build a peaceful and rich society and give up wars and dreams of territorial expansion and great power status.

Since then Sweden has been militarily non-aligned and has seen no war for more than 200 years.

Examples of Scandinavian conflict-resolution

However, earlier throughout history Scandinavia has been an arena for endless internal wars, mainly between the Danish and Swedish kingdoms. Like so often people have fought with those who should be their closest friends – their neighbours. Read the rest of this entry »


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