Tagged: Palestine

Behind the Hamas smokescreen

PIERRE Rehov take us behind the Hamas smokescreen to reveal a chilling reality missing from the mainstream media narrative on the border fence protests. Footage below shows activists cutting a fence to enter an exclusion zone defended by the IDF. The same narrative is contained in a piece by Ivo Vegter, a man whom Medialternatives has often criticised.

Vegter defends Gareth Cliff as quoted by the media.

UN human rights chief says Israel used “wholly disproportionate” force against Palestinian border protests which have left over 100 people dead. Israel’s Ambassador Aviva Raz Shechter rejected the blame, saying ‘Israel had done everything possible to avoid harming civilians.’

Another documentary worth watching to gain insight, also below, depicts the missing story of Jewish refugees from Arab countries and the reason why the borders of 1948 aren’t going to disappear any time soon. The all important context missing from the current factually unsupported media bias.

A piece on international Farhud Day commemorating the dispossession and displacement of 850 000 Arab Jews, held every 1 June, demonstrates this exact same point. A book is also available on the subject.

One can only recommend that viewers keep an open mind, and avoid taking a binary position on a conflict which has resulted in Injustice v Injustice.

 

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Everything you know about the Palestinian Struggle is wrong

Significant departures from the political “truth” associated with the Jerusalem conflict

1. East Jerusalem is the Capital of Palestine 
Under International Law, and the Corpus Separatum, the City of Jerusalem was to be an independent enclave. It was Jordan which occupied East Jerusalem 1946-1967, and subsequently Israel occupied Jerusalem 1967-current.

2. There is a map showing how Israel has displaced Palestinians
The map ignores the 1920 San Remo Conference which partitioned a former empire, and the later division of British Mandate Palestine and French Mandate Syria, which created TransJordan aka Hashemite Palestine and Syria (arguably, Syrian Palestine) in 1946-1948. It must be remembered that the Ottomans, supported Hitler and the Kaiser, and thus Germany in both world wars. The map cynically ignores the 1949 Armistice line and the displacement of Arab Jews from Arab countries and their loss of land, some 100 000 square km of deeded property confiscated by Arab states. The map thus ignores the reality that part of British Mandate occupied by Jordan and Egypt was ethnically cleansed with no Jewish population left. Jewish inhabitants of communities like Gush EtzionHebron and Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem were absorbed by the new State of Israel. The map also fails in its lack of comparison to Greece and Turkey and India/Pakistan, two examples where populations have been separated according to religion and ethnicity and involving population swaps. Sudan was recently partitioned between the north Arab half and the south African half. Ireland remains separated between the Protestant north and Catholic south.

3. Palestinians and Jews, each form a distinct race and the conflict is thus like apartheid. 
Nations are not races. While ethnicity plays a part, there is no science to back up either claim. The infamous 1975 UN resolution 3379 ‘equating zionism with racism‘ was overturned by an overwhelming majority of nations in 1991. The same assertion was voted out of the final text of the controversial 2001 Durban Conference on Racism  and the text reaffirmed at Durban II. A highly flawed 2017 UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) report examining the policies of Israel within the context of a UN definition of apartheid, admits the error of race, proceeds to supply ​”reasons for the error of comparison” ​and states, there is ‘no single, authoritative, global definition of any race’ at the same time that it attributes race characteristics to Jews for the purposes of analysis. The same category error appears in an equally flawed 2009 local HSRC report  written around the time of Durban II. While the policies of Israel are reprehensible and morally indefensible, their root cause is not race, (a loaded term) but rather the confluence of ​religion and nationality and in particular, religious schism which results in nationality on the basis of religion​, a fact common to many Middle Eastern countries.

4. Arab Israelis do not possess the vote.
They are allowed to vote in the Knesset, however Arabs living in the area controlled by the Palestinian Authority do not. This is a major and significant human rights issue. No physical wall was ever built by the apartheid state.  Bantustan leaders were puppets of Pretoria at best. None of the bantustans ever waged war against the central government. If the PA is not an apartheid bantustan except in metaphor, what is it? Like South Africa’s North West province, it must be seen as a de facto internal province caught up in armed insurrection against the central government, the Israeli state. A position of statelessness, pacification and occupation. The same goes for Gaza, arguably, a subsidiary or satellite of both Egypt, Israel and Iran. How can this be solved? A plurinational, overlapping state solution, and involving neighbours Egypt and Jordan, would do a lot to resolve friction while ensuring independence and the maintenance of human rights. Reasonable accommodation of differences in faith and religious outlook is a prerequisite. Keep an open mind.

5. The conflict has nothing to do with religion.
The conflict surrounding the final status of Jerusalem has been ongoing for centuries, involves different versions of monotheism dating back to the crusades, and predates the creation of the modern state of Israel. The worst part of it. We must not allow it to become a binary conflict and permanent war around race, ethnicity and religion.

6. The majority Arab Palestinians were displaced in 1948 by a white minority, and the result is the Nakba or catastrophe.
Focusing on the 700 000 displaced persons, removed from the Jewish side of Palestine under UN mandate, adding them to some 250 000 Arabs who had chosen to move to the Arab Palestine half, and forgetting that some 850,000 Arab Jews were displaced and dispossessed from Arab countries such as Iraq and Yemen at the same time, results in Nakba inflation. An inflation which also ignores the return of hundreds of thousands of black Ethiopian Jews. Forcible transfer of populations was a factor of the Ottoman and Persian Empires. See Farhud Day, a commemoration of the dispossession of Baghdad Jews.

7. Israel is the result of the Balfour Declaration, a colonial enterprise at best. 
The country unilaterally declared its independence during the war of 1948, and the situation under Benjamin Netanyahu is similar to UDI in Rhodesia. Aside from the internal friction between black Mizrahi and white Ashkenazi and Separdhi Jews, this is the one similarity with the white regime of Ian Smith, that one must accept. The Belfour view also ignores the earlier Sykes–Picot Agreement and the later Weizmann Faisal Agreement, and is used to argue the disaster of colonialism, while ignoring the tragedy of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

8. Hamas and Fatah are the equivalent of the ANC and PAC during the struggle.
While all three parties are for the most part, nationalistic, the ANC is the only secular party which has until now, consistently supported civil rights for all persons in the region. The other parties raising the Pan Arab flag waved around at Pro-Palestine rallies, are mostly theocratic, and only nationalistic insomuch as Arab autonomy in the region is concerned. Fatah is nominally secular insofar as divergence within Islam is concerned and thus tolerates other groups, (see Dhimmitude). Embarrassingly, Hamas was forced in 2017 to amend its charter advocating death for all Jews, to death for only Zionist Jews, to bring its objectives more in line with the Fatah Movement which supports the borders of 1967. More importantly, the ANC had an end-game strategy involving compromises, no such strategy is evident amongst the Palestinians. It was the National Party which opposed LGBTIQ++ rights, and supported the death penalty, not the ANC. No Gay Pride for Gaza, ditto Palestinian feminist group Aswat, based only in Haifa. There is thus a qualitative difference between these two struggles, one backed by the Freedom Charter, the other by religious texts and history books associated with previous Empires. The result is Injustice v Injustice.

9. Israel supported the apartheid regime until the bitter end.
While Israel was slow to act on sanctions against South Africa, and collaborated with the regime on nuclear weapons, it severed such ties in 1987. “There is no room for discrimination, whether it’s called apartheid or any other name”, then foreign minister Shimon Peres said in the New York Times. “We repeat that we express our denunciation of the system of apartheid. The Jewish outlook is that every man was born in the image of God and created equal.” This view ignores the role played by Western countries such as Thatcher’s Britain in supporting apartheid, or the fact that Zionists stood trial in South Africa for opposing apartheid, it also avoids the actual commonality, pariah status, in many ways similar to the position of Taiwan today.

10. We must choose sides, since standing on the fence is tantamount to support for apartheid
During the anti-apartheid struggle where the issues were black and white, standing on the fence was inappropriate. The opposite is true in the Middle East. Declining to support religious conflict, withdrawing from waging war in the name of religion, supporting freedom for all people, defending secularism and seeking to uphold civil rights in our own country, alongside the victories of the non-aligned movement when it comes to the current East-West brinkmanship and Super-power hegemony, is the only peaceful path forward. Nelson Mandela was perhaps the best spokesperson for this position.

We are all hostages to this ongoing conflict. The time to stand up for secular rights and freedoms, non-alignment and world peace, is now.

Correspondent’s misapplication of law does struggle for human rights a disservice

IN the annual search for a silver bullet solution to the Middle East problem, activists are rushed into reductionist conclusions. In the process open intellectual inquiry, debate and analysis about the conflict closes down. The resulting dogma and political correctness undermines the struggle for human rights.

In a recent piece, published by IOL, correspondent Azad Essa claims: “Not everyone agrees with the Israeli apartheid terminology, despite its rising legitimacy among many academics and scholars in the field. As a contentious analogy, the UN had never – until last week – officially called it apartheid.”

The statement by Essa is only partially true, since in 1975 the UN did in fact issue a resolution 3379 equating Zionism with racism. However after the end of the Cold War, the same UN general assembly issued a resolution 46/86, (adopted on 16 December 1991), reversing its earlier resolution. Thus in 1991 “the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly … to revoke the bitterly contested statement it approved in 1975 that said: “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.””

The official count found 111 nations in favor of repealing the statement and 25 nations, mostly Islamic and hard-line Communists, voting against. Thirteen nations abstained. Seventeen other countries, including Egypt, which recognizes Israel, and Kuwait and China, did not take part in the voting.”

That news-hounds can’t be bothered to do their homework, verifying the facts, can be seen by the persistent belief amongst many activists that resolution 3379 is still in force. A 2015 piece by Ben Norton of Mondoweiss, for example, a news outlet exposed as a purveyor of ‘alternative facts’, (i.e. facts which are not true), proceeded to ignore the revocation, and myopically accuses both the United States and Israel of wanting to rewrite history of a resolution which in any event, is null and void.

Until last week, the equation of Israel’s existence with ‘racism and racial domination’, was considered a foregone conclusion, an emerging fact of international law. This week, things were no longer so certain. The problem arose when a controversial report by a UN agency, the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) equating Zionism with apartheid, and touted by IOL as definitive of the problem, was suddenly shelved, albeit from intense political pressure. Continue reading

Open letter to Die Antwoord

Dear Die Antwoord,

The recent letter from the Dagga Party and BDS refers.

There was a time when the solidarity campaign with Palestine tolerated secular Jews such as myself, who do not ascribe affiliation to any particular branch of Judaism as such. Over the years, as the campaign has grown, we have seen the closing down of debate, which has merely short-circuited around an untested analogy — the wholesale relocation of our nation’s own experience under apartheid — with the dire results, that unlike the anti-apartheid struggle, dissident points of view, divergent opinions and alternative solutions are ignored.

At no point has there been any consultation with those like myself, who require special needs, in particular that our justice system recognise that freedom of religion, is also freedom from religion, the right not to be subjected to laws governing a religion. The short-circuiting of debate on Israel and the Middle East, and the closing down of secular norms and values, has occurred hand in glove with the erosion of civil rights and freedoms in our own country.

I currently face religious and discursive sanctions in the newsroom as a music journalist, in a country which, having miraculously escaped its past under a Christian Theocracy and the Dutch Reformed Church (NGK), looks set to repeat its historical failures and mistakes. A disputed decision handed down by a civil court in South Africa as late as 2010, and 16 years after democracy, not only slated the late Robbie Jansen and trashed the findings of the TRC Final Report, but it upheld the supposed right of employers to interrogate, to discipline and to enforce conformity, over those persons, like myself, who may not be members of a major religion per se, but merely secularists.

Despite my insistance that I am a secular humanist and progressive, who subscribes to the principles of secular humanism as outlined by the Society for Humanistic Judaism, I have been turned into a pariah, apostate and heretic by our justice system, which seemingly eschews secular Judaism and thus the roots of secularism, as anathema – outside the health and boundaries of acceptable discourse in the community.

To make matters worse, legal professionals such as Kahanovitz SC and Ashraf Mahomed, President of the Cape Law Society, have turned into religious police, and this conservative backlash against progressive values is increasing, with absurd consequences. None other than Jeremy Acton of the Dagga Party has jumped on the ecclesiastical band wagon, who when he is not campaigning for the abolition of cannabis prohibition in South Africa, finds the time to oppose cannabis research in the Middle East. His views on the subject in his recent letter to you, must therefore be rejected as the work of a hypocrite and opportunist.

Israel is the leading proponent of Medical Dagga in a region, where both homosexuals and drug users are routinely faced with capital punishment. In Syria, the death penalty is meted out for drug use and trafficking by a despotic regime, whose Ba’ath party under Assad bears the exact same Pan Arab flag waved around at BDS meetings. Unlike any of the Arab States, Israel has also turned into a technology leader where Cannabis is concerned.

Unlike some Orthodox Jewish sects, whose members in New York recently blessed the herb as Kosher for Passover, attempts to raise the issue of harm reduction, public health, rational drug use, medical cannabis, and the abolition of dagga laws amongst BDS, is guaranteed to raise the ire of affiliate organisations such as People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (Pagad). The organisation eschews all forms of inebriation, recreational or otherwise. I do not have to explain to you what this means for your band, associated as it is with recreational drug use, and civil liberties.

The conservative assaults against traditional Khoisan herbs and beverages by religious cops and the vice squad in South Africa, supposedly enforcing the fatwas, edicts and religious strictures issued on a daily basis by BDS and others, have occurred in an atmosphere of intolerance and political inquisition. I have only to refer to the closing down of popular Observatory Jazz Venue Tagores, following a campaign against Jazz music by the Woodstock constabulary who perceive music itself as licentious, since it supposedly is a gateway to drug use.

Despite criticism of the BDS movement by academic luminaries such as Noam Chomsky, who has publicly stated that it is “a mistake for BDS campaigners to target Israeli cultural and educational institutions” and who has argued that “parallels between BDS campaign and action against apartheid-era South Africa are misleading”, the campaign continues along its merry way, and now looks set to launch into a vigorous campaign against Die Antwoord.

Chomsky and many musicians and activists like myself, favour a limited sanctions campaign targeting goods produced by Israeli firms actively involved in the occupation. Such a position is both moderate, accurate and reasoned. It gives opportunity to engage both parties at the same time that it places our voices, behind peace and resistance to war on both sides. It also embraces and articulates the bipartisan position of our nation’s founder, the late Nelson Mandela.

Mandela whilst on the Ted Koppel Show shortly after his release from prison, explained his principled position on Israel and Palestine thus:

“I explained to Mr Sigmund, that we identify with the PLO because just like ourselves, they are fighting for the right of self-determination. I went further however to say, that the support for Yasser Arafat and his struggle does not mean that the ANC has ever doubted the right of Israel to exist as a state, legally. We have stood quite openly and firmly for the right of that state to exist within secure borders, but of course, as I said to Mr Sigmund in Geneva in August, that we carefully define what we mean by secure borders, we do not mean that Israel has the right to retain the territories they conquered from the Arab world, like the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the West Bank. We don’t agree with that, those territories should be returned to the Arab People.”

Clearly the lesson learnt from South Africa’s bitter and tragic experience under apartheid, in particular its unprecedented resolution, is that until we accepted that the other party was a part of the solution, there could be no solution to the problem. Similarly, unless we recognise the rights of both parties to the conflict, in particular Israel’s right to exist, which includes guarantees of access to Jerusalem and other holy sites in the region, as well as the right of access of all Muslims to Al-Aqsa, there will be no end in sight to to the conflict.

I therefore kindly request that you join solidarity with the global campaign for a secular solution to the problems in the Middle East.

Best regards

David Robert Lewis

NOTE: A news story Activists request meeting with Die Antwoord over Israel boycott, is not the lead story about the Dagga Party Letter, but merely one of a sequence of events surrounding Acton’s sudden activism on the subject.

Israel solution – a binational state or two-state divorce?

FOR years the tragic conflict between those who want Israel to be replaced by an Arab state from the Jordan to the sea; those who want a greater Israel to include the ancient sites of Judea and Samaria; those who demand that Israel retreat to the 1967 borders (which could mean giving up Jerusalem); and those who believe in the possibility of a binational solution in which all Israeli’s whether Jewish or Arab, Muslim or Christian, can live side by side, has raged on, and on and on.

The sheer complexity of the many issues surrounding the 1000-year-old conflict surrounding competing monotheisms has meant honest, open debate, has been near impossible.

Now, as Israel faces an election — with the real possibility that Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu will be replaced by Isaac Herzog, whose center left block “Zionist Union” party along with co-leader Tzipi Livni, has emerged as a primary rival — a number of articles have appeared in the international press. Each one tackling the unthinkable: Could a binational state, or one state solution be on the cards?

For celebrated author Amos Oz, writing in Haaretz, the one-state solution presents too many difficulties. He says: “If there will be one state here, it will be an Arab state, from the sea to the Jordan River. If there will be an Arab state here, I don’t envy my children and my grandchildren.” Oz goes on to discuss binationalism.

“With the exception of Switzerland, all the existing binational and multinational states are creaking badly (Belgium, Spain) or have already collapsed into a bloodbath (Lebanon, Cyprus, Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union).”

Surprisingly, Israel’s new president, Reuven Rivlen, quoted in the New Yorker by David Remnick in a provocative article entitled “The one-state reality”, and who has long been an ardent advocate of a greater Israel that includes Jerusalem, is not adverse to a federalised “binational state plan”, since as many critics point out, “there is too much history and not enough land.”

“The map of Ireland is a veritable continent compared with Israel and the Palestinian territories,” says Rivlen “…the West Bank, as Israelis are quick to point out, is seven miles from Ben Gurion Airport. Any two-state solution with a chance of working would have to include federal arrangements not only about security but also about water, cell-phone coverage, sewage, and countless other details of a common infrastructure. Talk of a one-state solution, limited as it is, will never be serious if it is an attempt to mask annexation, expulsion, or population transfer, on one side, or the eradication of an existing nation, on the other. Israel exists; the Palestinian people exist. Neither is provisional. Within these territorial confines, two nationally distinct groups, who are divided by language, culture, and history, cannot live wholly apart or wholly together.”

For Oz, the only persons who thus agree on the need for a binational state are the far left and the far right.

The rather convoluted New Yorker article by Remnick, carries informative background to the origin of the concept of a binational state, which is also favoured by persons such as Noam Chomsky, and Peter Hain.

Martin Buber, the eponymous Jewish philosopher, he says “warned of excessive nationalism in Zionist thought and counselled against the creation of a “tiny state of Jews, completely militarized and unsustainable.”

“The idea of two states for two peoples came together in official form in 1936, when Lord Peel was charged by the British Mandate with investigating unrest between Arabs and Jews. His commission set out the initial boundaries of partition. By the time the United Nations voted in support of partition, in 1947, the binational idea, and its array of supporting factions … had dissolved. The surrounding Arab states rejected partition and invaded the new state of Israel, which emerged victorious.”

“The reappearance of a one-state discussion in Israel came out of frustration over the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank following the Six-Day War and the failures to gain an agreement with the Palestinians. Meron Benvenisti, who was the deputy mayor of Jerusalem from 1971 to 1978, years when Israel kept expanding the city, spoke out against the occupation of lands won in the 1967 war and what he saw as Israel’s broader intentions. By the early eighties, he concluded that the leaders of both Labor and Likud were complicit in the ever-widening construction of settlements throughout the territories and were making it impossible to lay any groundwork for Palestinian independence. “

With the possibility of the overthrow of the Likud party, all solutions are now on the cards, bringing fresh ideas.

Is a two-state solution in itself racist, as implied by Remnick and other critics? Is the possibility of several satellite Arab states existing inside Israel going to result in a dictatorship by far-right Jews according to Oz?

Is all of this merely the politics of “divide and rule” or a real step in the right direction?

Questions such as these are inevitable as some of the political notions that have dogged the 20th Century seem no longer to hold water in the 21st century and its version of the Middle East.

UPDATE: Response from the Jerusalem Post.

SRC politics and BDS extremists

TWO incidents involving campus politics in South Africa need some explanation.

The first involved the Durban University of Technology (DUT). Last week its SRC chair was calling for all Jews to be deregistered and in particular, those Jews who support Israel.

This week, the SRC was issuing a retraction. The announcement was shortly followed by news that members of the University of Cape Town (UCT) students council would be visiting Israel, ostensibly on a fact-finding mission.

The predictable anger from the vocal Palestinian lobby on campus looks set to disintegrate into yet another round of name-calling. So far as PSF is concerned, issues in the Middle East should not be debated, Jews must be banned or restricted from holding any opinions not authored by the BDS central committee.

It is not surprising then that some of the basic tenets associated with the campaign are falling apart, since BDS appear to be living in a Cold War time warp, cherry-picking UN resolutions to back up their arguments.

In 1975 the UN issued the infamous resolution 3379 equating Zionism with racism.

After the end of the Cold War, the same UN general assembly issued a resolution reversing the earlier resolution.

Thus in 1991 “the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly … to revoke the bitterly contested statement it approved in 1975 that said “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.”

“The official count found 111 nations in favor of repealing the statement and 25 nations, mostly Islamic and hard-line Communists, voting against. Thirteen nations abstained. Seventeen other countries, including Egypt, which recognizes Israel, and Kuwait and China, did not take part in the voting.”

The earlier 1975 resolution 3379 is the basis for several conferences in South Africa, each one arriving at the conclusion that Zionism is Racism and worse, apartheid.

The 1975 resolution is also the basis for a Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) research paper reiterating its findings.

No resolution has ever been issued by the UN for any similar form of ethnic nationalism, for example: Kemalism.

Peter Hain’s one-state solution

hain-mandela_2759061bBRITISH Labour MP and former cabinet minister Peter Hain says a one-state solution could “more easily resolve the deadlock than the two-state solution I and many others have long favoured”. In an article published by New Statesman, Hain says the establishment of a binational state with equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians – must now be seriously considered

“For close to seventy years the cycle of violence and hatred has ripped the region apart. Stop-start negotiations to achieve a two-state solution – an Israel with secure borders, not living under siege from its neighbours, and alongside an independent Palestine – have led nowhere, despite the fact that a majority of both peoples (Palestinian and Israeli) continue publicly to support it. ”

“I am both a longstanding supporter of the Palestinian cause and a friend of Israel.

As a British Minister for the Middle East in 1999-2001 Hain worked closely with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

“My record of fighting apartheid, racism and anti-Semitism is long and recognised.”

Hain is the first British figure with direct ministerial experience to argue that after decades of failure, a one-state solution to the conflict should be considered.

This comes as both Arab and Jewish Palestinians are engaged in peace talks involving the United States brokered framework agreement.

The latest proposal involves land swaps in which Israel would gain sovereignty over 70% of Jewish settlements on the West Bank in return for the resolution of the Jewish refugee land question involving 100 000 sq/km of deeded property owned by Jews which was confiscated by Arab States following Israel’s declaration of Independence in 1948 and the war which followed after these states refused to accept Israeli independence.

The talks have faltered on the issue of *Jerusalem and the extension of citizenship to some **6 million Jordanian-Palestinians living in Jordan.

NOTE: Medialternatives has already presented the case for a binational “one-state solution” also known as the three-state solution in which two states coexist within the borders of a third on the basis of a constitutional arrangement. Such a plan may involve a strong federal system as in South Africa, or a weak central government as is the case in Belgium.

* The original partition plan for “Palestine” involved the creation of a Corpus Seperatum, in which the UN declared that the city be placed under a special international regime. During the 1948 War, Jordan captured the old city of Jerusalem and the City was effectively partitioned until 1967 when Israel gained control of the West Bank and the East City. Islamic fundamentalists continue to maintain that Jerusalem should be the capital of an Islamic Empire which includes Palestine. However, there are now several such Palestinian entities, including the self-declared “State of Palestine” in the Levant. Its independence was declared on 15 November 1988 and only recognised by the UN in 2013.

**Under the Lausanne treaty following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, a population exchange between Greece and Turkey,  occurred whereby 1.1 million Greeks left Turkey for Greece in exchange for 380,000 Muslims transferred from Greece to Turkey. Similarly, under the Belfour Declaration, population swaps occurred between the newly created state of Israel and the new state of Jordan. Because of an ongoing theological and territorial conflict amongst the Arab States, Jordan invaded Israel and occupied the West Bank until 1967.