A DAY WITH AN EVICTED FAMILY IN OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM

Despite the cold outside…. you can feel the inner warmth of these wonderful people.

We spent the day in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem today. 28 Palestinian refugee families are at the threat of being evicted from their homes to become refugees again. Four families have already been evicted and thrown out on the streets of Sheikh Jarrah by Settlers with the support of the Israeli government – Police and Military involved.

The story of these internally displaced refugees is heartbreaking. Listen to Nasir as he shares with us the background of what is happening in Sheikh Jarrah. Note: Nasir only started learning English 17 months ago, and is a fluent Hebrew speaker as well. A man with many talents he is a graphics designer by profession, but has now made staying outside his own house in a tent his full-time duty. He shares his story with all the visitors, and even attempts to converse with his Occupiers.


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

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Related………

“Thieves Go Home – Sheikh Jarakh is Palestine!”

Every one of those who came took into account that he could be arrested and held in detention for at least a day. The more experienced brought with them a toothbrush. Still, at the appointed time, 3 p.m., hundreds were already waiting (a most unusual thing in Israel.)

This was the largest demonstration yet in Sheikh Jarakh, were for some time now a demo is taking place every Friday, much like the demos in Bil’in, Nilin and other places.

The Friday before, the police had brutally squashed the protest and arrested 11 demonstrators, among them the director of the Association for Human Rights. Contrary to their usual treatment of peace demonstrations, the media this time covered the event extensively. The behavior of the police upset many who generally do not take part in demonstrations. This time they felt they must take part.

So almost a thousand protesters gathered today (Friday, 22.1.10) in an empty plot opposite Sheikh Jarakh, a few dozen yards away from the houses from which Palestinian families had been thrown out in order to allow settlers to move in. Side by side with the old battle horses one could see people for whom this was the first time. Among those who came was former minister Yossi Sarid. Also present were the painter Uri Lifshitz and several professors from the Hebrew University, whose buildings could be seen on a nearby hill. More or less young people stood besides more or less old ones, with the young shouting slogans, whistling with whistles specially donated for this purpose, singing and drumming. Almost all were Jewish.

One protester brought flowers and tried to deliver them to the police commander, who froze and did not move a muscle in his face. She put the flowers at his feet, where they remained, until, in the end, one of the protesters claimed them as booty.

The police dictated the place and the time: across the road, until 4 p.m. “One minute after 4, I shall disperse the demonstration by force,” the commander announced. On the hill opposite, a large detachment of border police was waiting.

But the protesters were not in the mood for dictates. After demonstrating for some time at the appointed place, shouting slogans, singing and whistling, at ten minutes after 4 they moved forward, crossed the road and marched towards the disputed houses. They were, however, stopped by a chain of border police. At this stage, a number of protesters were already arrested, while their comrades shouted and whistled.

For two more hours, until darkness descended, there were several such incidents – the police arrested protesters, the demonstrators shouted slogans (“A brave policeman beats demonstrators”). One protester was thrown to the ground and then she was arrested and dragged to the police car like all the rest.

All though the demo, ultra-Orthodox Jews in their Shabbat attire with their children pushed their way through the crowd on their way to the nearby grave of the Righteous Rabbi Shimon. Nobody hurt them. From time to time they were greeted with loud shouts of “Thieves, go home!” because the grave is located in occupied territory. The story that was published, that demonstrators had attacked them, was a blatant lie.

“We are protesting against the injustice done to the Palestinian families that were evicted,” Uri Avnery told the many Israeli and foreign reporters on behalf of Gush Shalom, “The eviction is based on the argument that these houses were bought by Jews a hundred years ago, long before the 1948 war. If every Jerusalemite were to get back the house he owned before 1948, half the Jewish population of West Jerusalem would have to be evicted, since they live in houses from which the Arabs were expelled during the 1948 war.”

Avnery added that the declared aim of the settlers is to Judaize East Jerusalem, in order to make peace impossible forever. “Everybody knows that there will be no peace without a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

Source

HAITI: WHY STEAL THE ORGANS WHEN YOU CAN STEAL THE WHOLE CHILD

Photo by Reuters

Americans arrested taking children out of Haiti


PORT-AU-PRINCE – Haitian police have arrested 10 U.S. citizens caught trying to take 33 children out of the earthquake-stricken country in a suspected illicit adoption scheme, authorities said on Saturday.

The five men and five women were in custody in the capital, Port-au-Prince after their arrests on Friday night. There are fears that traffickers could try to exploit the chaos and turmoil following Haiti’s January 12 earthquake quake to engage in illegal adoptions.

One of the suspects, who says she is leader of an Idaho-based charity called New Life Children’s Refuge, denied they had done anything wrong.

The suspects were detained at Malpasse, Haiti’s main border crossing with the Dominican Republic, after Haitian police conducted a routine search of their vehicle.

Authorities said the Americans had no documents to prove they had cleared the adoption of the 33 children — aged 2 months to 12 years — through any embassy and no papers showing they were made orphans by the quake in the impoverished Caribbean country.

“This is totally illegal,” said Yves Cristalin, Haiti’s social affairs minister. “No children can leave Haiti without proper authorization and these people did not have that authorization.”

U.S. authorities could not be reached for immediate comment on the arrests.

But Laura Sillsby from the Idaho group told Reuters from a jail cell at Haiti’s Judicial Police headquarters, “We had permission from the Dominican Republic government to bring the children to an orphanage that we have there.”

“We have a Baptist minister here (in Port-au-Prince) whose orphanage totally collapsed and he asked us to take the children to the orphanage in the Dominican Republic,” Sillsby added.

“I was going to come back here to do the paperwork,” Sillsby said. “They accuse us of children trafficking. This is something I would never do. We were not trying to do something wrong.”

In addition to outright trafficking in children, authorities have voiced fears since the quake that legitimate aid groups may have flown earthquake orphans out of the country for adoption before efforts to find their parents had been exhausted.

As a result, the Haitian government halted many types of adoptions earlier this month.

There are no reliable estimates of the number of parentless and lost children at risk in Haiti’s quake-shattered capital.

(Editing by Peter Cooney)

Source Via Uruknet

TWO FRIENDS REMEMBER HOWARD ZINN

Howard Zinn, 1922-2010 ….. Photo By Robin Holland

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

We lost the good voice of historian, intellectual and activist, Prof. Howard
Zinn.  I met Zinn twice while in the US.  I read two of his books and hope
to have time some day to read the others.  Zinn was not happy with Zionism
and frequently criticized the Zionist atrocities, from massacres in Lebanon
in 1982 to those in Gaza last year.  But, like many leftists, preferred to
challenge US imperialism over challenging the destructive Israel-first lobby
in the US.  In this, I disagreed with him because I believe Zionism sits at
the table of power in Washington DC and is not merely a tool of “US
Imperialism”.
His statements about the misuse of the Nazi atrocities (e.g.   were not as strong
as those of other Jews who addressed the issue (e.g. Joel Kovel, Lenni
Brenner, Norman Finkelstein, Gilad Azmon etc). But Zinn was so perceptive on
so many areas, it is hard to quibble about these points.  Zinn’s intellect,
activism, honesty and positive spirit have  inspired three generations.  He
cut short his last lecture when he retired and urged his students to join
him in the demonstration and 100 of them did so.  I always thought thatthis
is how I hope to end my last lecture too.  In my 2004 book “Sharing the Land
of Canaan”, I cited the following statement from Zinn which I also shared
two times with listserves:

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on
the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of
compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in
this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it
destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places
– and there are so many – where people have behaved magnificently, this
gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this
spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in
however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future.
The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we
think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is
itself a marvelous victory.” You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A
personal history of our times, p. 208. (More on Zinn at )


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A Memory of Howard

By Daniel Ellsberg

I just learned that my friend Howard Zinn died today. Earlier this morning, I was being interviewed by the Boston Phoenix, in connection with the February release of a documentary in which he is featured prominently. The interviewer asked me who my own heroes were, and I had no hesitation in answering, first, “Howard Zinn.”

Just weeks ago, after watching the film, I woke up thinking that I had never told him how much he meant to me. For once in my life, I acted on that thought in a timely way. I sent him an e-mail in which I said, among other things, what I had often told others: that he was, “in my opinion, the best human being I’ve ever known. The best example of what a human can be, and can do with their life.”

Our first meeting was at Faneuil Hall in Boston in early 1971, where we both spoke against the indictments of Eqbal Ahmad and Phil Berrigan for “conspiring to kidnap Henry Kissinger.” We marched with the rest of the crowd to make citizens’ arrests at the Boston office of the FBI. Later that spring, we went with our affinity group (including Noam Chomsky, Cindy Fredericks, Marilyn Young, Mark Ptashne, Zelda Gamson, Fred Branfman and Mitch Goodman), to the May Day actions blocking traffic in Washington (“If they won’t stop the war, we’ll stop the government”). Howard tells that story in the film, and I tell it at greater length in my memoir, “Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers.”  But for reasons of space, I had to cut out the next section in which Howard—who had been arrested in D.C. after most of the rest of us had gone elsewhere—came back to Boston for a rally and a blockade of the Federal Building. I’ve never published that story, so here it is, an outtake from my manuscript:

A day later, Howard Zinn was the last speaker at a large rally in Boston Common. I was at the back of a huge crowd, listening to him over loudspeakers. Twenty-seven years later, I can remember some of what he said. “On May Day in Washington, thousands of us were arrested for disturbing the peace. But there is no peace. We were really arrested because we were disturbing the war.”

He said, “If Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton had been walking the streets of Georgetown yesterday, they would have been arrested. Arrested for being young.”

At the end of his comments, he said: “I want to speak now to some of the members of this audience, the plainclothes policemen among us, the military intelligence agents who are assigned to do surveillance. You are taking the part of secret police, spying on your fellow Americans. You should not be doing what you are doing. You should rethink it, and stop. You do not have to carry out orders that go against the grain of what it means to be an American.”

Those last weren’t his exact words, but that was the spirit of them. He was to pay for that comment the next day, when we were sitting side by side in a blockade of the Federal Building in Boston. We had a circle of people all the way around the building, shoulder to shoulder, so no one could get in or out except by stepping over us. Behind us were crowds of people with posters who were supporting us but who hadn’t chosen to risk arrest. In front of us, keeping us from getting any closer to the main entrance to the building, was a line of policemen, with a large formation of police behind them. All the police had large plastic masks tilted back on their heads and they were carrying long black clubs, about four feet long, like large baseball bats. Later the lawyers told us that city police regulations outlawed the use of batons that long.

But at first the relations with the police were almost friendly. We sat down impudently at the very feet of the policemen who were guarding the entrance, filling in the line that disappeared around the sides until someone came from the rear of the building and announced over a bullhorn, “The blockade is complete. We’ve surrounded the building!” There was a cheer from the crowd behind us, and more people joined us in sitting until the circle was two or three deep.

We expected them to start arresting us, but for a while the police did nothing. They could have manhandled a passage through the line and kept it open for employees to go in or out, but for some reason they didn’t. We thought maybe they really sympathized with our protest, and this was their way of joining in. As the morning wore on, people took apples and crackers and bottles of water out of their pockets and packs and shared them around, and they always offered some to the police standing in front of us. The police always refused, but they seemed to appreciate the offer.

Then one of the officers came over to Howard and said, “You’re Professor Zinn, aren’t you?” Howard said yes, and the officer reached down and shook his hand enthusiastically. He said, “I heard you lecture at the Police Academy. A lot of us here did. That was a wonderful lecture.” Howard had been asked to speak to them about the role of dissent and civil disobedience in American history. Several other policemen came over to pay their respects to Howard and thank him for his lecture. The mood seemed quite a bit different from Washington.

Then a line of employees emerged from the building, wearing coats and ties or dresses. Their arms were raised and they were holding cards in their raised hands. As they circled past us, they held out the cards so we could see what they were: ID cards, showing they were federal employees. They were making the peace sign with their other hands, they were circling around the building to show solidarity with what we were doing. Their spokesman said over a bullhorn, “We want this war to be over, too! Thank you for what you are doing! Keep it up.” Photographers, including police, were scrambling to take pictures of them, and some of them held up their ID cards so they would get in the picture. It was the high point of the day.

A little while after the employees had gone back inside the building, there was a sudden shift in the mood of the police. An order had been passed. The bloc of police in the center of the square got into tight formation and lowered their plastic helmets. The police standing right in front of us, over us, straightened up, adjusted their uniforms and lowered their masks. Apparently the time had come to start arrests. The supporters who didn’t want to be arrested fell back.

But there was no arrest warning. There was a whistle, and the line of police began inching forward, black batons raised upright. They were going to walk through us or over us, push us back. The man in front of us, who had been talking to Howard about his lecture a little earlier, muttered to us under his breath, “Leave! Now! Quick, get up.” He was warning, not menacing us.

Howard and I looked at each other. We’d come expecting to get arrested. It didn’t seem right to just get up and move because someone told us to, without arresting us. We stayed where we were. No one else left either. Boots were touching our shoes. The voice over our heads whispered intensely, “Move! Please. For God’s sake, move!” Knees in uniform pressed our knees. I saw a club coming down. I put my hands over my head, fists clenched, and a four-foot baton hit my wrist, hard. Another one hit my shoulder.

I rolled over, keeping my arms over my head, got up and moved back a few yards. Howard was being hauled off by several policemen. One had Howard’s arms pinned behind him, another had jerked his head back by the hair. Someone had ripped his shirt in two, there was blood on his bare chest. A moment before he had been sitting next to me, and I waited for someone to do the same to me, but no one did. I didn’t see anyone else getting arrested. But no one was sitting anymore, the line had been broken, disintegrated. Those who had been sitting hadn’t moved very far, they were standing like me a few yards back, looking around, holding themselves where they’d been clubbed. The police had stopped moving. They stood in a line, helmets still down, slapping their batons against their hands. Their adrenaline was still up, but they were standing in place.

Blood was running down my hand, covering the back of my hand. I was wearing a heavy watch, and it had taken the force of the blow. The baton had smashed the crystal and driven pieces of glass into my wrist. Blood was dripping off my fingers. Someone gave me a handkerchief to wrap around my wrist and told me to raise my arm. The handkerchief got soaked quickly and blood was running down my arm while I looked for a first-aid station that was supposed to be at the back of the crowd, in a corner of the square. I finally found it, and someone picked the glass out of my arm and put a thick bandage around it.

I went back to the protest. My shoulder was aching. The police were standing where they had stopped, and the blockade had reformed, people were sitting 10 yards back from where they had been before. There seemed to be more people sitting, not fewer. Many of the supporters had joined in. But it was quiet. No one was speaking loudly, no laughing. People were waiting for the police to move forward again. They weren’t expecting any longer to get arrested.

Only three or four people had been picked out of the line to be arrested before. The police had made a decision (it turned out) to arrest only the “leaders,” not to give us the publicity of arrests and trials. Howard hadn’t been an organizer of this action, he was just participating like the rest of us, but from the way they treated him when they pulled him out of the line, his comments directly to the police in the rally the day before must have rubbed someone the wrong way.

I found Roz Zinn, Howard’s wife, sitting in the line on the side at right angles to where Howard and I had been before. I sat down between her and their housemate, a woman her age. They had been in support before until they had seen what happened to Howard.

Looking at the police in formation, with their uniforms and clubs, guns on their hips, I felt naked. I knew that it was an illusion in combat to think you were protected because you were carrying a weapon, but it was an illusion that worked. For the first time, I was very conscious of being unarmed. At last, in my own country, I understood what a Vietnamese villager must have felt at what the Marines called a “county fair,” when the Marines rounded up everyone they could find in a hamlet—all women, children and old people never draft- or VC-age young men—to be questioned one at a time in a tent, meanwhile passing out candy to the kids and giving vaccinations. Winning hearts and minds, trying to recruit informers. No one among the villagers knowing what the soldiers, in their combat gear, would do next, or which of them might be detained.

We sat and talked and waited for the police to come again. They lowered their helmets and formed up. The two women I was with were both older than I was. I moved my body in front of them, to take the first blows. I felt a hand on my elbow. “Excuse me, I was sitting there,” the woman who shared the Zinns’ house said to me, with a cold look. She hadn’t come there that day and sat down, she told me later, to be protected by me. I apologized and scrambled back, behind them.

No one moved. The police didn’t move, either. They stood in formation facing us, plastic masks over their faces, for quite a while. But they didn’t come forward again. They had kept open a passage in front for the employees inside to leave after 5, and eventually the police left, and we left.

*  *  *

There was a happier story to tell, slightly more than one month later. On Saturday night, June 12, 1971, we had a date with Howard and Roz to see “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” in Harvard Square. But that morning I learned from someone at The New York Times that—without having alerted me—The Times was about to start publishing the top secret documents I had given them that evening. That meant I might get a visit from the FBI at any moment; and for once, I had copies of the papers in my apartment, because I planned to send them to Sen. Mike Gravel for his filibuster against the draft.

From “Secrets” (p. 386):

“I had to get the documents out of our apartment. I called the Zinns, who had been planning to come by our apartment later to join us for the movie, and asked if we could come by their place in Newton [Mass.] instead. I took the papers in a box in the trunk of our car. They weren’t the ideal people to avoid attracting the attention of the FBI. Howard had been in charge of managing antiwar activist Daniel Berrigan’s movements underground while he was eluding the FBI for months (so from that practical point of view he was an ideal person to hide something from them), and it could be assumed that his phone was tapped, even if he wasn’t under regular surveillance. However, I didn’t know whom else to turn to that Saturday afternoon. Anyway, I had given Howard a large section of the study already, to read as a historian; he’d kept it in his office at Boston University. As I expected, they said yes immediately. Howard helped me bring up the box from the car.

“We drove back to Harvard Square for the movie. The Zinns had never seen ‘Butch Cassidy’ before. It held up for all of us. Afterward we bought ice-cream cones at Brigham’s and went back to our apartment. Finally Howard and Roz went home before it was time for the early edition of the Sunday New York Times to arrive at the subway kiosk below the square. Around midnight Patricia and I went over to the square and bought a couple of copies. We came up the stairs into Harvard Square reading the front page, with the three-column story about the secret archive, feeling very good.”

Daniel Ellsberg is a lecturer, writer and activist and the former American military analyst employed by the RAND Corporation who, in 1971, released the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times.

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CARLETON UNIVERSITY TAKES THE LEAD IN ‘BDS’ CAMPAIGN 2010

Poster ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

“. . . the global movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions, BDS, against Israel presents not only a progressive, anti-racist, sophisticated, sustainable, moral and effective form of civil, non-violent resistance, but a real chance of becoming the political catalyst and moral anchor for a strengthened, reinvigorated international social movement capable of reaffirming the rights of all humans to freedom, equality and dignity and the right of nations to self-determination.” Omar Barghouti

*****************************

“It reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians
at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about.
Many South Africans are beginning to recognize the parallels to what we went through.”
— Desmond Tutu




SAIA demands that Carleton University immediately divest its stock in BAE Systems, L-3 Communications, Motorola, Northrop Grumman, and Tesco, and adopt a Socially Responsible Investment policy.


Click HERE for more info and to see another video

OBAMA’S CONSPICUOUS FAILURE

Conspicuous failure

From rich sounding promises, Obama’s Israel-Palestine policy appears reduced to simply managing, not resolving, the conflict, writes Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank


The conspicuous failure of the latest visit to the region by US envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell raises questions as to the Obama administration’s ability — or even willingness — to pressure Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian lands. Prior to his arrival, Mitchell was widely thought to be carrying “serious ideas” that would help resume stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

However, after meetings with both Palestinian and Israeli leaders, it became clear that the American envoy was near completely empty handed, and that he was succumbing to Israeli intransigence. Seeking to obscure his surrender to Israeli whims, Mitchell tried to cajole the increasingly vulnerable Palestinian leadership to resume the moribund peace process without receiving any guarantees that renewed talks would go anywhere.

Mitchell pressed the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel to start “low level talks” which he suggested might help leaders tackle the hard issues. However, in making such suggestions, Mitchell seemed to have forgotten that his proposal had been tried numerous times before but to no avail, mainly due to Israel’s refusal to give up the spoils of the 1967 war.

Mitchell also offered the PA leadership what one Palestinian official termed “secondary inducements” to return to the negotiating table with Israel, including enhancing Palestinian mobility in the West Bank and allowing PA police to operate in additional localities. But Mitchell refused to commit himself to pressure Israel to freeze settlement expansion and reportedly tried to circumvent the issue, saying that the sides would discuss the issue in bilateral negotiations.

Mitchell also suggested that the sides initiate “indirect talks”. The Israelis described the proposal as “interesting” while the PA called it “totally pointless”.

As Mitchell arrived in Israel, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued a plethora of provocative and uncompromising — even pugnacious — statements, suggesting that Israel will never agree to the establishment of a truly viable Palestinian state. Marking a Jewish holiday at the settlement of Gush Etzion north of Hebron, Netanyahu declared that, “we are here to stay” and “this [settlement] is Jerusalem’s southern gate while Maali Adumim is Jerusalem’s eastern gate.”

Earlier, he stated that, “in the context of any peace arrangement, Israel would completely surround any Palestinian entity from all sides,” adding that Israel would have to maintain a “presence” in “Judea and Samaria” (the biblical names of the West Bank).

Maintaining a broad smile throughout his visit, Mitchell didn’t try to challenge Netanyahu and instead kept repeating old platitudes about the continued commitment of the Obama administration to Palestinian-Israeli peace. However, it was obvious that at least some of Mitchell’s Arab interlocutors were exasperated, having seen the Obama administration waste precious time while Israel steals more Arab land.

One Palestinian official in Ramallah remarked: “Every new visit by Mitchell makes the prospect of resolving the conflict more elusive.” The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, complained bitterly that all that Mitchell wanted was to force the PA to absorb Israeli provocations.

The growing defiance displayed by Netanyahu finds encouragement in what is widely seen here as Netanyahu’s “victory” over Obama in the apparent tug-of-war between them over a settlement expansion freeze. Obama had been demanding that Israel freeze all settlement expansion in the West Bank, including Arab East Jerusalem. However, Netanyahu refused to budge. Eventually, it was Obama who really budged, allowing Netanyahu to emerge victorious.

To be sure, Netanyahu made a half-hearted decision to freeze some settlement building for 10 months. However, that freeze was disingenuous to a large extent, given continued building in numerous locations, as revealed by Israeli peace groups such as the Peace Now movement. On Tuesday, 26 January, the veteran Israeli journalist Akiva Eldar argued that, “only an idiot would say Israel has frozen settlements.”

Recently, Netanyahu has also been encouraged by Obama’s lost Democratic majority in Congress, which the Israeli premier hopes will make it impossible for the US administration to take decisions Israel doesn’t like. Moreover, Obama’s own admission that he had underestimated the hardship of making peace in the Middle East seems to militate in Netanyahu’s favour, as he is interpreting this as a vindication of his policy of “playing it tough”, not only with the Palestinians but also with the Americans.

In a recent interview with Time magazine, Obama admitted that his attempts to break the deadlock in Palestinian-Israeli negotiations by pressuring the Israeli government to end the construction of Jewish colonies have failed. The US president said he raised expectations of a breakthrough too high because he underestimated the obstacles involved.

“This is just really hard. This is as intractable a problem as you get. If we had anticipated some of these political problems on both sides earlier, we might not have raised expectations as high.”

Upset by the belated realisation that Mitchell’s main goal is to “keep the process going”, the Palestinian leadership of PA President Mahmoud Abbas is finding itself at a loss as to what to do in light of Obama’s failure. Reacting to Netanyahu’s remarks about Israel’s intention to annex large chunks of the West Bank, Palestinian officials countered: “This is an unacceptable act that destroys all the efforts being exerted by Senator Mitchell in order to bring the parties back to the negotiating table.”

Nabil Abu Rudeina, an aide to Abbas, added that the PA was still insistent that the resumption of the peace process would have to be preceded by a comprehensive settlement freeze. However, in order to avoid being accused of stonewalling and impeding peace, the PA is demanding that the US steps in and declare the endgame of the process, in which case the suspension of settlement expansion would no longer be a Palestinian pre-condition.

Regardless, only political novices think that a US declaration of the “endgame” would overcome the huge conceptual gap between the two sides, and Israel’s dominant influence over US politics and policies. Hence, most observers believe the Obama administration will merely continue to “manage” the conflict, not resolve it. The Obama administration might also seek a more “malleable” Palestinian leadership — one not answerable to the Palestinian masses, or even Fatah.

Such a scenario would undoubtedly generate a lot of frustration, anger and tension in occupied Palestine and throughout much of the Middle East, and might trigger a new wave of violence against US interests here and beyond. Moreover, the collapse of the peace process, even if kept alive by artificial means, would seriously undermine the credibility and survival of pro-US regimes in the region while bolstering the appeal of resistance groups such as Hamas and Hizbullah.

ISRAEL’S LONG AWAITED RESPONSE TO THE GOLDSTONE REPORT

The long awaited words…..

“All of the soldiers and officers whom we sent to battle need to know that the state of Israel stands behind them even on the day after,” Barak said.

“The Goldstone Report is a distorted, false, and irresponsible report.”


Israel responds to Gaza war report

Barak has promised that individual Israeli soldiers will not be indicted for war crimes [AFP]


Israel has submitted to the United Nations details of the investigations it conducted into war crimes allegations raised in a reports into the 22-day Gaza war, which ended last January.

Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, told reporters in the southern Negev desert on Friday that his report backed the army’s actions during Operation Cast Lead.

“All of the soldiers and officers whom we sent to battle need to know that the state of Israel stands behind them even on the day after,” Barak said.

“The Goldstone Report is a distorted, false, and irresponsible report.”

The 575-page report, compiled by Richard Goldstone, a South African judge, concluded that there was “strong evidence” Israel had committed war crimes during its bombing and shelling of Gaza.

Hamas response

The Palestinian Hamas-run government in Gaza was also accused of war crimes during the conflict that left about 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead.

Hamas said it had prepared a 52-page response to the Goldstone report, which had accused the Palestinian fighters of targeting Israeli civilians by firing hundreds of rockets across the de-facto border. Salah al-Bardaweel, a senior Hamas official, hinted at the content of the report on Thursday.

“The killing of three Israeli civilians as alleged by Israel and as mentioned in the Goldstone report was by mistake and the target was military installations inside the Zionist cities”, al-Bardaweel said.

“Resistance fighters were warned against hitting civilians.”

‘Independent investigations’

The UN General Assembly in a November 5 resolution endorsed the Goldstone report and gave Israel and the Palestinians three months to undertake “independent, credible investigations” into the allegations against them.

That deadline expires on Friday, February 5. But Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, had asked both sides to report to him on the progress made so far so as to enable him to report back to the General Assembly before the February deadline.

With next week’s deadline nearing, Israel is still in the midst of a heated debate as to whether it should heed the General Assembly resolution calling for an independent inquiry.

So far it has had its own military investigate the incidents raised in the Goldstone report, but has not established a probe independent of the army.

Barak and army chief of staff have so far opposed a commission that would expose private soldiers to legal prosecution, because they fear that would compromise combat in the future.

According to the officials quoted in the Yediot Ahronoth newspaper, only higher-ranking officers with the rank of brigadier-general and up, as well as political leaders including former premier Ehud Olmert, would have to appear before the commission being considered by Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli PM.

One government official told Yediot that Israel had “no choice” but to form such a commission if it wanted to escape prosecution at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Source

IS YOUTUBE FINALLY PREPARED TO SHOW THE TRUTH?

An increase in the activities in Occupied East Jerusalem has apparently sparked enough interest throughout the world for YouTube to agree not to pull the videos off the Web. Could we be seeing an end to their zionist censorship? Let’s hope so…..

The (Sheikh Jarrah) revolution will be YouTubed

By ABE SELIG

Social media sites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are playing an increasing role in growing participation of young Israelis in protest rallies.

Social media sites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, along with a slew of blogs, are playing an increasing role in the growing participation of young Israelis in protest rallies in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, activists and journalists familiar with the situation there told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

Activists and journalists both described a situation in which protesters were relying on the Internet to try and affect change on the ground and raise awareness of the arrests made during demonstrations in the neighborhood.

“It’s all Facebook, e-mails and Twitter,” said Didi Remez, a human rights activist, who has become noticeably involved in the Sheikh Jarrah protests as of late. Remez was arrested during a protest there last Friday.

Below is one example of a recent video not pulled from YouTube… (my comment)

Remez also said that distant audiences, like American Jews, who might be deprived of Sheikh Jarrah coverage due to the mainstream media’s lack of interest, were instead staying abreast of the situation via social networking sites.

“The American media is for some reason refusing to cover this,” he said. “Even though it’s becoming a major issue in Israel. And still, despite that, there’s a lot of awareness [of this issue] among Jewish Americans, the reason being that they are increasingly connected through Facebook, Twitter, blogs and so on.”

“They’re getting information on this without The New York Times,” Remez continued. “So, something that hasn’t been covered at all by the [American] mainstream media, is still getting coverage through new media, and I think that’s a statement about the decline of the mainstream media and maybe a larger comment on the shift away from it.”

Others echoed Remez’s comments, but added that another advantage of social media was its ability to counter police statements about Sheikh Jarrah they said the mainstream media often parroted.

“This is an issue that the media hasn’t really been covering, and when they have, they’ve mostly relied on police statements that portrayed the protesters as a handful of extreme leftists or anarchists, which is simply not true,” said Lisa Goldman, a Tel-Aviv based freelance journalist who has used Facebook, Twitter and blogs to follow the Sheikh Jarrah protests.

“What the social media outlets have been able to provide is a direct source of information that isn’t filtered through the mainstream media,” she said, adding that in this vein, the use of new media had been “absolutely crucial.”

Additionally, Goldman added, social media outlets had also served as a tool to awaken the mainstream Left to the goings-on in Sheikh Jarrah, including, but not limited to, the emerging issue of police behavior towards protesters there, which the Jerusalem Magistrate Court has even censured – ruling last week that the arrests of 17 protesters during a rally two weeks ago was illegal.

“The silent Israeli Left is finally waking up,” she said. “And it’s a result of the way some young people are using social media. It’s been very effective in raising awareness among the moderate Left, who are seeing that the police are suppressing free speech.”

Goldman also pointed to the participation in last Friday’s rally of Prof. Moshe Halbertal, who helped draft the IDF code of ethics and who has been active in disputing the United Nation’s Goldstone Report, as an example of figures who would certainly not be considered extreme, but who have joined the Sheikh Jarrah fray.

Hagai El-Ad, the director of the Association for Human Rights in Israel and one of the 17 protesters arrested two weeks ago, added that the use of new media to circumvent the mainstream media, which, he said, was often “reluctant to cover hard issues, or blatantly hostile,” was spreading rapidly.

“However, it’s not just new media [at play in Sheikh Jarrah],” he said. “I think there’s a need to [step back] from the tactics being used there, and zoom in on the core issue, which is the moral outrage of Jerusalemite families being thrown out of their homes and living in tents in the street. That’s the essential injustice here, and I think it’s a fuel of its own.”

Yet El-Ad did concede that the use of new media was a driving force behind the success of the Sheikh Jarrah protest organizers.

“They are a courageous group of young people, who are functioning without any real budget or resources,” he said. “But they are cleverly online, and they’ve been able to translate that into real movement on the ground – it’s not just a Facebook group that people add their names too.”

“Yes, the mobilization happens online,” El-Ad added, “but the end result is the most classic form of civil protest.”

Source

Also see THIS related post about the ongoing demonstrations.

ISRAELI GOVERNMENT STOLE OVER 1 BILLION SHEKELS FROM PALESTINIAN LABOURERS ‘INSURANCE PAYMENTS’

The State denies the following, but in the case of other such scandals, ‘where there is smoke there is fire’….. let’s watch as this develops.

‘BELIEVE IT OR NOT’……. (I believe it)

State siphoned off Palestinian workers’ insurance money’
BY BEN HARTMAN

The government of Israel has siphoned over a billion shekels in money taken from Palestinian laborers for national insurance between 1970-1994, a report released on Wednesday states.

According to the report, compiled by the workers’ rights organization Kav LaOved, between the years 1970-1994 over NIS 1 billion was withheld from Palestinian workers’ salaries in order to pay their national insurance, but in practice, the report states, the money was instead funneled to the Finance Ministry and used to pay National Labor Union fees, even while the workers were not given membership in the union.

Kav LaOved said that during those years, Palestinian workers would receive an invoice with their paycheck that detailed a sum withdrawn for national insurance. According to the report’s findings, only 7.63 percent of the withheld funds went to pay for the workers’ insurance, with the remainder being funneled to the Finance Ministry.

In the report, entitled “State Robbery,” Kav LaOved cites a letter received in 1993 from the Finance Ministry saying that the money withheld went to pay the civilian authorities in the West Bank in order to fund infrastructure programs.

Hannah Zohar, the author of the report and director of Kav LaOved, said she presumes that the infrastructure programs in question had to do with the construction of settlements.

The Finance Ministry has denied the allegations.

The report describes the 1991 legal case in which the Flower Growers Union petitioned the High Court demanding the return of funds that were not used for the national insurance payments as intended. The court ruled in their favor and forced the government to return approximately NIS 4.7 million to employers and their workers.

Zohar told the Post on Thursday that the court case should have set a legal precedent leading to the return of all the money siphoned away from national insurance payments, but instead has been largely forgotten.

The Finance Ministry issued a statement Thursday denying the allegations, adding that the report is based on “confusion over the different roles carried out by separate branches of the government.”

The Histadrut labor federation called the report “full of lies” and “baseless” and accused Kav LaOved of coming to their conclusions before conducting their research, with the findings having “no connection to reality.”

The Government Payments Branch did not respond to the report.

THE CASE TO LEGALISE MEDICAL MARIJUANA

By Carlos Latuff….

Above is a cartoon I made for Jason Lauve, a legal medical marijuana patient in
Colorado and editor of Cannabis Health News Magazine. Lauve faced a
felony marijuana possession charge after police found in his home more
than 17 times the amount of the herb allowed under Colorado law. He
was acquitted by a jury of all charges on August 6, 2009.

Jason is holding the artwork I made specially for him, about the US
war against medical marijuana, at the state Capitol yesterday. The
photo was published, along with an article, on The Denver Post’s website:

Medical marijuana bill gets first OK

Patients Jason Lauve of Louisville, left, and Robert Chase of Denver were at the Capitol today for a vote on regulating medical marijuana. (THE DENVER POST | HYOUNG CHANG)

A bill that would tighten regulations for patients seeking medical marijuana and the doctors approving it for them passed its first test at the state Capitol today.“This is the beginning of the end of the wild west” for Colorado’s medical-marijuana industry, bill sponsor Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver, said.

The 6-1 thumbs-up from the Senate Health and Human Services Committee came with the support of law enforcement groups eager for the state to crack down on what they say are abuses in the state’s medical-marijuana system. But it came over the objections of dozens of medical-marijuana advocates, who packed the committee’s meeting room and argued that the bill would hurt patients for whom marijuana is vital medicine.

“This would be an unprecedented assault on the doctor-patient privilege,” medical-marijuana attorney Rob Corry told lawmakers. “… This would cause human suffering.”

The bill requires that patients seeking medical marijuana have a “bona fide” relationship with the recommending doctor in which the doctor conducts a thorough medical exam and also provides follow-up care. The bill would also prohibit doctors from being paid by dispensaries to write recommendations and would mandate that doctors recommending medical marijuana not have any blemishes on their medical record.

Ned Calonge, the state’s chief medical officer, said the bill would eliminate concerns that some doctors are rubber-stamping recommendations.

“We need to make sure we meet the medical standard of care in running this program,” he said.

The bill is supported by the Colorado Medical Society and law enforcement officials, who said regulation is needed to reign in abuses in the system.

“We have to provide a line between the people in this room who legitimately need medical marijuana and the people who have exploited this program to use and to distribute marijuana,” said Jim Gerhardt, a sergeant with the North Metro Drug Task Force.

But Corry called the bill a solution in search of a problem and said it violated provisions in the state constitution. Numerous patients told lawmakers they worried the bill would drive up costs or make it tougher to obtain their required doctor’s note.

Denver resident William Chengelis said he receives medical care through the Veteran’s Administration but must consult another doctor to get his annual medical-marijuana recommendation because VA doctors aren’t allowed to give such recommendations. Having to consult with the recommending doctor multiple times would add hundreds of dollars to the cost of his care.

“I cannot afford this bill,” he said. “Most indigent patients in this state can’t afford to go outside their basic medical care.”

The bill saw a number of amendments during today’s meeting. One amendment stripped out a provision that would have placed extra requirements on patients under 21 years old seeking medical marijuana.

State Sen. Shawn Mitchell, a Broomfield Republican who was the lone no vote, said he needed a chance to study the amendments more closely before deciding whether he supports the bill as it is now written.

“I wanted to make sure we’re not slamming doors that voters wanted to be open,” he said.

DID HAMAS CARRY OUT A COUP IN GAZA IN 2007? TESTIMONY OF AN EYE WITNESS

Did Hamas carry out a coup in Gaza in 2007?

By Khalid Amayreh

Ellen Rosser, Professor of English and a veteran peace activist, maintained an office in downtown Gaza from September 2006 to June 2007. During that period she was an eyewitness to the events which eventually culminated in the violent clashes between Fatah and Hamas in the summer of 2007, ending with Hamas routing Fatah’s American- armed militias and ousting them from the Gaza Strip.

In a recent testimony on her experience in Gaza, Rosser asked herself the following question: Did Hamas stage a coup, a planned overthrow of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the Gaza Strip? She gave a straightforward answer: “Definitely no.”

Sister Ellen, as she is known, is neither pro-Hamas nor anti-Fatah so her “third party” testimony sheds light on the highly-contentious claims of guilt and innocence made by both groups, claims that continue to have a detrimental effect across Palestinian politics.

When I spoke to her, she didn’t dwell much on the special relationship between Fatah’s former Gaza strongman Muhammed Dahlan and the Bush administration, mainly via US General Keith Dayton. (A thorough expose of Dahlan’s American connection was published in the American magazine Vanity Fair in April, 2008. However, she did point out that it was Dahlan’s men who tried to assassinate Prime Minister Ismael Haniya on 14th December, 2006, as he was returning to the Gaza Strip via the Rafah border crossing. Sister Ellen spoke of bullets flying and people fleeing for their lives. Moreover, her testimony does suggest that certain elements resumed the shooting every time a truce was reached between the two factions. She also shed light on the killing of a PA soldier which Fatah blamed on Hamas.

Here are some excerpts from Sister Ellen’s remarkable testimony:

“Some months later, the next events that I personally was aware of in the tragic series occurred when the Hamas Minister of the Interior, Said Siyam, wanted a video tape showing who had killed a Palestinian Authority soldier and wounded two others. It (the video tape) had been in the possession of Jad, who was killed, and then in the possession of Major Baha Balousha of Fatah, who refused to give it up.

“Subsequently, Major Balousha was threatened, and a few days later his two [actually three] young sons were killed when gunmen opened fire on the car with dark windows in which the children were being driven to school.”

Rosser doesn’t say who threatened Balousha and killed his children. However, it was obvious that whoever did it had an interest in silencing him and preventing him from disclosing the contents of the video. Other sources spoke of Balousha possessing information on CIA money transfer to Fatah leaders in Gaza.

Continuing her testimony, Rosser writes, “I went with a Fatah friend to offer condolences to Major Baha Balousha, and while we were there a man came from Prime Minister Haniyeh, who was waiting at the Rafah border to return from Egypt, and said that the Prime Minister wanted to come to offer his condolences and wanted to know if that would be alright. Major Baha said, ‘Yes.’Hellen Rosser

“In other words, Prime Minister Haniyeh knew nothing about who killed the little boys and wished to express his sorrow at the tragedy. A few days later, however, he may have heard indications that Hamas members were involved, for on television he said that if ‘we [i.e. Hamas] have done anything wrong, we will pay diyya’ (blood money, a traditional Palestinian way of resolving such an issue).

“However, that night when Haniyeh was entering Gaza after being held at the border for eight hours while Egypt decided what to do about the millions of dollars he was bringing with him, there was an assassination attempt on his life by some men who guarded the border, Mohammed Dahlan’s men.

“Haniya was not hit by the bullets shot from the roof of the border crossing terminal, but his son and Ahmed Yusuf , who were next to him, were wounded. Haniyeh did not dwell extensively on the attempt, saying merely on television that he was willing to be a martyr.”

Rosser said she is sure that President Mahmoud Abbas was not aware of the attempted assassination of Haniyeh any more than Haniyeh was aware of who killed Major Balousha’s boys.

Recollecting the nightmarish moments, Rosser said: “I had to wait in my office/apartment until the shooting moved away from my area, then hurry down to the street to go to the nearby bakery and vegetable stores to stock up on food for a few days. Usually an armed man on the corner I never knew whether he would be Hamas or Fatah would look up and down the street for me and then wave me across. Both sides were courteous and helpful to the old, American woman.”


The Dayton connection

Rosser goes on to describe the role played by Gen. Dayton in the mini-civil war in Gaza and how he was pushing constantly for escalation, both by bullying the PA to attack Hamas and also by supplying Muhammed Dahlan’s militia with truckloads of weapons.

“At one point, while the bullets were volleying back and forth down the main streets in Gaza City and elsewhere, the US or more precisely, I’m sure, Gen. Keith Dayton, tried to intervene on behalf of Fatah, by sending in a truckload or more of weapons. Hamas learned of the shipment, however, seized it and used it.

“One night I heard from my office window someone reciting through a very loud speaker what sounded like a poem. But in the middle of it I heard Mohammed Dahlan, Israelian, Americaniya. In other words, Dahlan because of his previous actions was considered to be an Israeli and an American (agent) not a Palestinian nationalist. One wonders what would have happened if Dahlan had not been the Head of Security for the P.A.; would the conflict in Gaza have happened?”

I asked Rosser if she thought Dayton consciously and deliberately pushed for the civil war in Gaza.

“Yes, Gen. Keith Dayton is still getting Fatah police to arrest Hamas affiliates in the West Bank because Hamas is wrongfully called ‘terrorist’ and the roadmap says the PA must root out the ‘terrorist infrastructure’. Obviously Dayton wanted Fatah to eliminate the Hamas influence in Gaza since Hamas is a ‘terrorist organization’ according the lily-white United States.”

Rosser argued that she didn’t think that Hamas planned to overthrow the PA. “I think it was fighting Dahlan and then preventing his men from overthrowing Hamas with the help of Dayton.”

Finally, I asked Rosser why she thought the western media continued to call Hamas’s defensive action “a coup”, thus ignoring the fact that the movement was democratically elected by a majority of Palestinians.

She said that the western media have been very biased against Hamas as they once were against the PLO before 1991. They presented Hamas negatively and unjustly as a “terrorist” organization instead of as the elected government of Palestine.

“If they had known the truth   that Hamas has offered a two-state solution since 2004 and is excellent at observing ceasefires they probably would have protested against the bloodshed. The media have a great responsibility to tell the truth so that the people can act on correct information.”

FLASHBACKS TO HIROSHIMA IN GAZA

For years after the bombing of Hiroshima children were born with birth defects…. now it is starting to happen in Gaza.

Same reasons…. same hatred. WAR IS NOT HEALTHY FOR CHILDREN OR OTHER LIVING THINGS….. NEITHER IS ZIONISM!


Newborn in Gaza with severe defects

28gorellaboy1.jpg

Ramallah. Health professionals have observed a raise of mutations at birth in Gaza, since the Israeli offensive last year.

One of these, is a story of a child born at the Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip. The child was born with severe congenital malformations, such as his face, eyes, short stature, flattened nose, reddish-brownish skin discoloration, short limbs with feet and toes severely curled towards the inside in a similar shape to that in gorillas.

The baby weighed 4 kilos, suggesting that he was in good health. His appearance showed otherwise. His parents left him at the hospital and refuse to go back and claim him as their own child.

The baby, also nicknamed the gorilla baby, is still under the custody of the hospital until his parents return to claim him. The hospital has tried to convince the parents to come and take their child especially that he isn’t in a stable condition and has problems in breathing.

According to various medical reports, there has been an increase in the rates of birth defects in newborn children since 2009, with fifty cases of deformity compared to 30 cases in the years prior.

There has also been a significant increase in the number of miscarriages amongst pregnant woman after the end of the war.

Doctors say such malformations cannot occur for genetic reasons, nor are they related to the mother’s age or other factors. these come as a result of the white phosphorus used during the war. A few months earlier, the hospital was faced with a very similar case to this one , however, the baby died directly after it was born.

White phosphorus (WP) is a material made from a common allotrope of the chemical element phosphorus that is used in smoke, tracer, illumination and incendiary munitions.

As and incendiary weapon, WP burns fiercely and can set cloth, fuel, ammunition and other combustibles on fire. Since, WWII, it has been extensively used as an anti-personnel weapon capable of causing serious burns or death.

The Israeli military used white phosphorus munitions in the Gaza War. The Israeli Occupation Forces repeatedly denied using white phosphorus munitions but acknowledged use after the war ended.

Human Rights Watch said its experts in the region had witnessed the use of white phosphorus. Kenneth Roth, the organization’s executive director, added: “This is a chemical compound that burns structures and burns people. It should not be used in populated areas.”

Amnesty International said a fact-finding team found “indisputable evidence of the widespread use of white phosphorus” in crowded residential areas of Gaza City and elsewhere in the territory.

Donatella Rovera, the head of an Amnesty fact-finding mission to southern Israel and Gaza, said: “Israeli forces used white phosphorus and other weapons supplied by the USA to carry out serious violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes.

Source via Uruknet

WHAT’S REALLY HAPPENING IN OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM?

Why are they really demonstrating in Sheikh Jarrah?

Ir Amin

27sheikh_jarrah_demo.jpg
In the last few weeks, the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah was featured in the headlines in Israel and abroad as a result of weekly demonstrations that take place in protest of the evacuation of Palestinian families from their homes and the entry of Jewish Israeli settlers into their homes. As a result of the hardlined policy that the Jerusalem police have taken towards the demonstrators and the arrest of dozens of them, a significant part of the public discourse about this matter revolves around freedom of expression and the severe harm to the right to demonstrate in a democratic state. Along side this principled and important discussion, this short survey seeks to clarify the historical process of this matter until the issuing of the evacuation order, as well as the current political implications.

Sheikh Jarrah is a Palestinian neighborhood north of the Old City of Jerusalem. On the western side of the neighborhood, is an area of 18 dunams known as the Shimon Hatsadik compound, in name of the great high priest from the Second Temple era, who is buried there according to some traditions. A small Jewish community that settled in the late 19th century around the tomb was dispersed gradually beginning in the 1920s and 1930s and through 1948.

During the Jordanian rule from 1948 to 1967, this area of land passed to the Jordanian government by the Enemy Property Law. In 1956, 28 Palestinian refugee families were settled in this compound by the Jordanian government and the UNRWA, in exchange for giving up their refugee status and payment of symbolic rent.

In 1972, 27 families (one family left on its own accord) received notice that their rent was to be paid to the Sephardic Community Committee and to the Knesset Israel Committee – the owners of the homes whose existence until then was unknown. In the same year, the two committees began a process with the Israel Lands Authority to register the lands in their names, based upon Ottoman documents from the 19th century.

About a decade later, in 1982, the two committees sued 23 families for non-payment of rent. According to the agreement reached between the lawyer of the Palestinian families and the representatives of the committee, the Palestinian families were declared “protected tenants” whose residence in the homes was guaranteed as long as they paid the rent to the committees. Some of the Palestinian families claimed that this agreement was signed without their consent. This decision constitutes the legal basis in the decisions of additional court petitions, as well as in the present cases.

Most of the families refused to pay the rent for various reasons, including the reluctance to recognize the committees as the rightful owners. This refusal to pay rent stands at the basis of the legal proceedings against these families today, concluding with court-issued eviction orders from the disputed homes. These legal processes are not only between the committees and the Palestinian residents. The Nahlat Shimon International, a settler organization that has purchased part of the lands from the Sephardic Committee, has also submitted legal petitions against the residents. Until now, 3 families (al-Kurd, Hannun, and al-Ghawi) have been evicted, and legal proceedings are being held to evict a number of additional families who were not part of the agreement signed in 1982. Moreover, the court has allowed the entry of settlers into another building within the compound, which was built without a permit as an addition to a house where another branch of the al-Kurd family lives. Against the al- Kurd family, legal proceedings are being held, with the aim of bringing their eviction also from the original part of the home where they are living today.

The Shimon haTsadik compound also was subject to another ownership legal case: in 1997 a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem, Suleiman al-Hijazi, petitioned the court, objecting to the ownership claims by the two committees, and claimed that he was the owner of the contended area. His claim was rejected in 2002, as was his appeal to the High Court four years later, while an additional petition to the District Court was rejected on 31 March 2008.

Although the proceedings of this matter took place in the legal sphere, it is important to emphasize that this is not purely a matter of land ownership, but rather a first rate political issue. The settlers’ activity in Sheikh Jarrah constitutes an additional link in the chain of settlements – existing or planned – that aim to surround the historical basin of the Old City with an Israeli-Jewish ring and to create Jewish enclaves in the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods, in order to create a territorial contiguity that will endanger future political agreements in the future. In the Shimon haTsadik compound itself, the Nahlat Shimon International organization plans to destroy the existing buildings and build a new settlement of 200 housing units. Additional building plans of the settlers in Sheikh Jarrah include the Shephard’s Hotel compound, which was purchased by the patron of the settlers, Irving Moskowitz, and the Mufti’s Grove, opposite the hotel, and the Glassman Campus at the south-western part of the neighborhood.

It is important to emphasize: The legal recognition of the rights of Jews to sue for ownership over properties that were theirs before 1948, and in their name to evict Palestinian families living there for decades, constitutes a precedence that is liable to have serious political consequences. Indeed the Israeli law does not recognize the right of Palestinians to sue in a similar manner for the return of their properties within the Green Line from before 1948, but a collective lawsuit – if only symbolic – is liable to place the State of Israel in the most embarrassing situation in both the local and international arenas, in addition to transforming the discussion around solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from discourse around the 1967 borders to one around the 1948 borders. It is doubtful whether a process such as this will serve the interests of the Israeli governments.

Despite their declared obligation to a process of political negotiations, in reality, the governments of Israel in the last decades, together with the settler organizations, have gained control over properties in the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods, transforming them into settler enclaves that enjoy outrageous building rights and exist in the midst of ongoing confrontation with their environment and with the rule of law. Sheikh Jarrah is another link in the process that is transforming East Jerusalem to an arena where extremist organizations do as they please: taking control of properties in dubious ways, administering private police with government funding, and engaging in endless confrontation with the Palestinian population. All this is done with direct and indirect government support, while placing obstacles in the way of the prospects of achieving a resolution in Jerusalem and the region as a whole.

Source

ISRAEL: WHEN THE WORLD IS TALKING GOLDSTONE, WE TALK HOLOCAUST

Israel has once again displayed an arrogance that not even a Jewish mother could love. Basically, ‘nothing that happens today really matters….. we suffered in the past and that’s what counts’.

Cashing in on the Holocaust was always a big business….. but there are limits. Israel seems to disagree as can be seen in the following…..

Wednesday was International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and an Israeli public relations drive like this hasn’t been seen for ages. The timing of the unusual effort – never have so many ministers deployed across the globe – is not coincidental: When the world is talking Goldstone, we talk Holocaust, as if out to blur the impression. When the world talks occupation, we’ll talk Iran as if we wanted them to forget.

A thousand speeches against anti-Semitism will not extinguish the flames ignited by Operation Cast Lead, flames that threaten not only Israel but the entire Jewish world. As long as Gaza is under blockade and Israel sinks into its institutionalized xenophobia, Holocaust speeches will remain hollow. As long as evil is rampant here at home, neither the world nor we will be able to accept our preaching to others, even if they deserve it.

The above is taken from Gideon Levy’s report in todays HaAretz….

Holocaust remembrance is a boon for Israeli propaganda

TURKEY ASSERTING ITSELF AS A LEADING POWER IN THE MIDDLE EAST, BESIDES ISRAEL AND IRAN

Opinion

Rising Turkey Versus Receding Arabs

The Great Chasm

By  Khalid Amayreh

Journalist — Occupied Palestine

Image
While Turkey is rising, Egypt is waning in the Middle East. (Reuters Photo)

While most Arab states are basking in their impotence and bickering amongst themselves over a long list of issues, Turkey is slowly, but definitely, asserting itself as a leading power in the Middle East, besides Israel and Iran. Turkey, especially under the rule of Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been taking, and continues, to take strident steps in expanding its influence eastward, effectively grooming itself for the auspicious title of the leading state in the Sunni Muslim world.

The Turks are filling a certain psychological-strategic vacuum in the Middle East, especially the Arab region.

To be sure, this vacuum was created mostly as a result of the receding influence of traditional Arab powers, such as Egypt, which has become very much a stagnant, non-aspiring entity, thanks to its crippling subservience to the United States.

The continuing aggrandizement of Turkey’s regional status is a real success story, which could be seen as a role model for other countries.

The Rising Sun of Turkey

Indeed, when the AKP came to power in 2002 through the ballot boxes — not political thuggery, as it is often the case in most Arab countries — it sought quietly and wisely to tackle a host of chronic problems besetting the Turkish republic.

Eventually, the successful treatment of these mostly economic ills produced amazing effects and aftereffects, enabling the Turkish economy not only to reel from its erstwhile chronic stagnation, but also to make phenomenal growth, especially in the production and export sectors.

Today, Turkey is the world’s 17th economic power. It is also a country that can proudly stand up and say “No” to Israel and the United States.

Internally, the Turkish government sought to quietly resolve, or at least defuse, the enduring Kurdish problem mainly by acknowledging Kurdish grievances and recognizing the legitimacy of the Kurdish people’s linguistic and cultural rights.

This very much helped stabilizing the domestic arena, and enhancing internal security, an essential requirement for economic prosperity.

Under the Erdogan’s leadership, Turkey succeeded in resolving old problems with Armenia, thus depriving Israel and the American Jewish lobby of a sensitive pressure card that had been used repeatedly against Turkey in order to keep it revolving in the Israeli-American orbit.

Nonetheless, the most remarkable thing about the AKP has been its adamant determination to preserve its free political will especially vis-à-vis the United States and Israel.

Seven years ago, when the United States was about to invade Iraq, the Turkish Government firmly refused to allow American warplanes to use the Incirlik Air Base to attack Iraq.

Prime Minister Erdogan defended the decision, which he said reflected the collective will of the Turkish people.

This happened while most Arab regimes were vying among themselves to please and appease the Bush Administration, which was slaughtering Iraqis in the tens of thousands.

Erdogan did not have to explain anything to the Americans. He just said “No” and that was it.

Maintaining his country’s dignity in a world that looked more like a jungle and less like a civilized human community, Erdogan  did not hesitate to fly in the face of  the world’s special sacrosanct state, Israel, for its manifestly murderous and Nazi-like aggressions against the helpless Palestinian people.

Eventually, while carefully maintaining relations with Israel, for certain practical necessities, Erdogan made it blatantly clear to the leaders of the Israeli regime that the future of Turkey’s relations with the Jewish state would very much depend on Israeli behavior, especially toward Palestinians.

These are serious words coming from the leader of Israel’s erstwhile strategic ally in the Middle East. Israel got the message, but remains at a loss as to how to internalize and come to terms with it.

It is true that non-Arab Turkey is not going to become a pro-active ally of Palestinians in the foreseeable future.

However, one can safely argue that from now on, Turkey will not play deaf and dumb, and it will look the other way if, and when, Israel decides to embark on another Nazi-like, genocidal episode against the people of Gaza or other Palestinians.

At the very least, Turkey will no longer be counted as a strategic asset for Israel as it had been the case for many years  prior to the  AKP’s advent to  power.

The Stagnant Arab World

In contrast to the Turkish success story, the Arab world remains divided against itself, with many Arab states struggling to remain afloat economically while seriously and conspicuously ceding their sovereignty and national dignity to the United States, Israel’s guardian ally. In fact, the collective Arab situation is probably the worst since the collapse of the Ottoman Caliphate, following the World War I. The collective Arab failure to perform a comparatively easy task, such as lifting the crushing blockade of the Gaza Strip, seems to reflect profound impotence and paralysis transcending all levels.

Similarly, the intensive preoccupation of each Arab state, or Sheikhdom, with its internal affairs, is really precluding any concerted Arab effort toward economic and political integration.

The main reason for this enduring political paralysis — this overwhelming calamity —  is the continued prevalence of tribal mentality and dynastic despotism throughout the Arab world.

One of the most solid expressions of this tribal mentality is the fact that the mostly autocratic Arab rulers, irrespective of whether they adopt the royal or republican polity, exist in order to control their people and perpetuate themselves and their sons in power, not to lead their nations and advance their interests.

For example, Egypt is a country of 80 million people that has immense human and other resources at its disposal.

This very important country, which had once been nominated to become an African tiger, has been retreating in every conceivable sphere of life, thanks to the regime’s despotic policies and dismal political management.

Predictably, this state of affair helped breeding and deepening the feelings of collective depression, apathy, and helplessness among ordinary Egyptians, which in turn pushed thousands of professionals to leave the country in search for dignity, respect, and work abroad.

The Gulf States

As to rich Arab countries ruled by ignorant, decadent, and dynastic despots, they are caught in the grip of the same frustrating circle, because the ultimate strategy of the ruling Sheikhs is to remain in power at any price, including succumbing to the will of foreign powers.

Needless to say, these despots are in many instances plainly ignorant, as they have scandalously failed to translate the immense financial resources at their disposal into tangible and durable economic realities.

Some Arab Sheikhdoms are actually so stupid that they have squandered billions of dollars building ostentatious, but economically fruitless, projects, such as high towers to show off their wealth.

However, these tribal chieftains lack the primary means to shield their economies from real financial cries, as we saw recently in Dubai.

It is this destructive tribal mentality that has prevented culturally homogenous countries, such the member states of the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council, from establishing  a real common market or achieving monetary unity.

Nor has it been able to build a credible military force that would shield these countries against a possible foreign aggression.

There is no doubt that the collective Arab situation will continue to deteriorate further until the collective Arab house collapses completely.

This is unless the Arab masses wake up from their dormancy, despair, and apathy, and decide to empower themselves and restore the usurped Arab dignity and freedom.

Arabs are not stupid, and they can, if they want, learn from Turks, our brothers in faith.

However, you can lead the proverbial horse to the water place, but you cannot force it to drink.

It is really sad that in the very country where the Qur’an was revealed unto the Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) while wealthy billionaires are running after their beastly desires and mendaciously claiming to be upholding the rule of Shari`ah.

Well, what is the kind of Shari`ah that allows a decadent prince, for example,  to squander the Umma’s resources on his prurient desires, while millions of Muslims cannot find food to feed their kids?

In the Qur’an, Allah warns such decadent people that their punishment would only be a matter of time.

[If ye turn back (from the Path), He will substitute in your stead another people; then they would not be like you!]( Muhammad, 38)

In the meanwhile, we say to our Turkish brothers, welcome back. We have long missed the Ottomans.

ONLY ISRAEL CAN MAKE FUN OF THE HAITIAN DISASTER

So sad but true….. as can be seen in the ‘comedy’ news report on the earthquake in Haiti….. S I C K !!

HEY …. IT’S OUR HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY, NOT YOURS!

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

Holocaust memorial invite to Palestinian MK raises storm

Nazareth –  An Arab member of the Israeli parliament has sparked controversy among Jews and Arabs in Israel over his decision to join an official Israeli delegation commemorating International Holocaust Day today at a Nazi death camp in Poland.

Mohammed Barakeh will be the only Arab in a contingent of Israeli parliamentarians and government ministers, including Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, at Auschwitz to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the camp’s liberation.

Barakeh has reported receiving a spate of hate mail, including a death threat, since he was invited to the remembrance service by the speaker of the parliament, or Knesset, over the opposition of many right-wing politicians.

Among Israel’s Arab population, meanwhile, commentators and public figures have argued that his involvement in a delegation dominated by rightwing politicians sends the wrong message, especially after Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip a year ago, in which hundreds of Palestinian women and children were killed.

“I have every sympathy with the Jewish people for their horrific suffering in the Holocaust,” said Awad Abdel Fattah, the secretary general of the National Democratic Assembly party.

“But Mohammed Barakeh is participating in a delegation that wants to use the Holocaust as a way to win sympathy not for the Jewish victims but for an Israeli occupation and Zionist settler project that come at the expense of the Palestinian people.”

Barakeh, the leader of the Communist Party, the only joint Jewish-Arab faction in the Knesset, has defended his decision, even while admitting that his involvement can be exploited by Israeli officials.

This month he walked out of a lecture at Yad Vashem, the main Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, after accusing the speaker of blaming modern anti-Semitism on Arabs and left-wingers who opposed Israeli policies.

On Monday Benjamin Netanyahu struck a similar note in an address at Yad Vashem: “There is an evil that can spread and threaten the security of Jews. We know that this just begins with Jews, and then continues on to the rest of the world. There are today new people who hate Jews, with new reasons for [wanting] the destruction of the Jewish state.”

Over the past few weeks a group of right-wing legislators, led by Danny Danon, a member of Mr Netanyahu’s Likud Party, have lobbied unsuccessfully to have Barakeh barred from the commemoration. Danon told a Knesset committee: “Do we want this man representing us at such an important and sensitive ceremony?”

Barakeh, one of 10 Arabs in non-Zionist parties in the 120-member parliament, is reviled by many Israeli Jews because of his opposition to what he calls “racist” government policies, both towards Palestinians under occupation and towards the fifth of Israel’s citizens who are Arab.

A death threat sent to his office this month referred to Arabs as “trash” and contained his photograph with a swastika drawn on his forehead.

A senior member of the Communist Party said in an interview that several of Barakeh’s colleagues questioned him in private over his decision, accusing him of attending with “war criminals.”

Abir Kopty, a Nazareth city councilor in Barakeh’s party, admitted she had doubts. “But after seeing how his participation has shaken up the right wing, I can see there is a positive side. It is important that his attendance at the ceremony challenges the preconceptions and racist attitudes of many Israeli Jews.”

She added that his visit would have a special effect given his image among Israeli Jews as an “extremist.” In December he was charged with using threats and violence against police at four demonstrations since 2005, an indictment he has called “political persecution.”

Barakeh said: “It is my duty to be anywhere I can to demonstrate my very clear position against all forms of racism and genocide. The lesson of the Holocaust, a great tragedy for humanity and the Jews especially, must be that there can be no room for such crimes.”

He added that, although he would join a candlelight march through Auschwitz, he would not take part in symposiums to avoid any danger of colluding with Israeli attempts to manipulate the occasion.

Barakeh’s attendance was backed last week by Ahmed Tibi, an Arab legislator with a rival party.

Other Arab public figures in Israel have been critical. In a commentary, Zuheir Androus, editor of a newspaper in Galilee, reminded Barakeh that his family came from Saffuriya, a Palestinian village close to Nazareth that was ethnically cleansed during the Nakba, the Palestinian name for the 1948 war that founded Israel.

He wrote: “We should be asking Barakeh why he needs to take part in an official Israeli Knesset delegation to the death camp, while other [legislators] in the delegation prevent us, Arab Palestinians, from mentioning the 1948 Nakba.”

Israeli legislators have been seeking to outlaw commemorations of the Nakba.

Abdel Fattah said that, while it was compulsory for Arab children to learn about the Holocaust, the Nakba was excluded from the curriculum in both Arab and Jewish schools.

“The demand from Israel that we recognise Jewish suffering in the Holocaust while we are required to deny our own people?s suffering in the Nakba is just another form of loyalty test,” he said. Far-right parties in the government have proposed that Arab citizens be required to take a loyalty oath or perform national service.

“Barakeh should remember that Israel wants to reshape our political and national identity and is using the Holocaust to do that.”

But Nazir Majali, a journalist who helped to organise a trip of 260 Arabs and Jews to Auschwitz in 2003, at the height of the second intifada, called Barakeh “courageous.” He said the barriers of mutual suspicion between Arabs and Jews needed to be breached.

A poll conducted by Haifa University in the wake of Israel’s attack on Gaza showed that 40% of Israel’s Arab citizens believed that the Holocaust had not happened, up from 28% three years earlier.

Majali said of his own visit to Auschwitz: “I did it for myself, my people and my children, not for the Jews. I don’t expect something back from them because I participated. If it helps them to look at me a bit differently afterwards, that’s great too but it’s now why it was important I went.”

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are ?Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East? (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website iswww.jkcook.net.


EAST JERUSALEM …. A NEVER ENDING STORY

Some of the clips below you might have seen… spread them to those that haven’t. We cannot ignore these people…..  ONLY YOU CAN PUT AN END TO THIS NIGHTMARE

Sheikh Jarrah – A look from within

by Eyal Niv


Taking down the tent in Sheikh Jarrah. Again…

The short video clip was filmed during the summer of 2008, in the houses of Sheikh Jarrah, not long before the eviction of the Al-Kurd family from their home. Two teenagers who knew English became the ambasadors of the entire neigborhood, and gave us a guided tour around it. They tell about the neighbourhood  life before the eviction, in the shadow of settlers’ violence (including violence towards children), which is backed by the Israeli police force. The short clip, filmed by the hands of an amateur, may not offer much new, or particularly groudbreaking, in terms of its narration of political events, facts, or circumstances surrounding eviction and settlement in East Jerusalem.  The clip nevertheless brings forth the vantage point of two Palestinian adolescents, refecting over the everyday reality of living in an occupied territory with a pending eviction order for your home. In this way, the narrative of these two teenagers may offer some depth to the -somewhat exhausted- political slogans of the day.


Part I:

Part II:

And to those who want to understand the simple and cruel story of East Jerusalem, I recommend to watch this two minutes clip:

Source

IN GAZA THE WALLS DO THE TALKING

GAZA WILL NOT GO DOWN
by Flora Nicoletta

Photo by Kelly VanPelt

“Neocolonialism is a new form of slavery”, a Gazan citizen.

The walls of Gaza are the unofficial Gazette of the Strip. On them one can follow what is going on. The walls are covered by scores of posters, pictures of martyrs, murals, slogans, calls, giant portraits of Yasser Arafat by the young artist Mohammad Ed-Derry, announcements…

At the end of the year the external wall of the Esh-Shifa hospital – months ago refreshed with coats of paint color rusty – was covered with more than twenty paintings depicting the Israeli war and the suffering of the people.

In Mustafa Hafez St, a superb mosaic was composed on the wall of the UNRWA HQ, near the main entrance. The mosaic is around 5 m. long and 4 m. large. It represents a group of Palestinians looking toward the sky. At the bottom is written “Gaza Freedom March 31.12.2009″. The master piece is made of bits of stone irregularly cut. With the reflect of the lights in the night, the mosaic become a firework and the small stones shine like thousands of stars or thousands of diamonds.

In Tal El-Hawa, the most elegant district of Gaza City, the compound of ministries, although heavily damages during the Israeli war last winter, is still standing. For a period of time the employees worked in the rubble in large beige tents crowned with small Palestinian flags. Sometime, someone wrote on an external wall: Why??!!…” One year after the Israeli offensive more graffiti have been added on a wall: “Gaza Free, No one can do for me, Only I can change my life”, “Sorry… Gaza”, “T’aime Palestine”, “Coming free Gaza”, “Gaza will not go down”, “27.12.2008”, i.e. the day the “Cast Lead” operation started.

Despite the suffocating siege imposes on the Gaza Strip, the coming of the New Year was celebrated as usual, but only in a few restaurants. On an eatery’s window in Tal El-Hawa is written with cotton wool: “Happy New Year 2010″. Exactly one year ago the Gazans were under smart Israeli bombardments.

On New Year’s Eve a group of 84 foreigners were taken to a cafeteria, The Gallery, where they attended a concert of hip-hop and ‘oud. After immense difficulties the activists were authorized to cross into Gaza, out of a group of more 1.400 stuck in Cairo. They arrived in the Strip late on Wednesday 30 December. Among them were four rabbis from Neturei Karta International, many Jews as well as Palestinians living abroad.

The 24-hour visit permit given by the Egyptians was extended in order to respect the Shabbat of the rabbis. However, the whole visit was spoiled due to a very unusual tight security and a fire which broke out on Shabbat day in the kitchen of the small and practically unknown El-Jazeera cafeteria. For a while there was panic in the hotel. The cafeteria is located on the seashore, just a few meters from the Commodore Gaza Hotel where the internationals were hosted, but also just a few steps from the firemen station. Nevertheless, the foreign activists said new words should be coined because they were unable to express their feelings for being in Gaza. The locals as well couldn’t contain their emotions.

A young American lady from the Freedom March For Gaza had collected around $19.000 in the USA, were telling us her mates. The money was spent in Egypt to buy goods for the besieged Gazans. All the goods were stored in a large hall in the Commodore Hotel and the hall was full. Many packs were still closed. On a table, at the back, there were what seemed to be medicines. Toward the end of the visit the last foreigners still in Gaza finished to fill Egyptian schoolbags with all sorts of stationery, toothbrushes, toothpaste, toys, etc. In addition, were brought from Egypt an amount of orange soda and potato ships.

In the end, the situation turned nasty and the American girl lost her temper because she couldn’t personally give the goods to the recipients of her choice. But really there was no time left. The rabbis said they would be ready to depart at 20:00 on Saturday. All the remaining foreigners should leave by that time. The Government was under heavy pressures from the Egyptian side. The Palestinian security tried all the possible gentile ways to convince the foreigners to leave. It was hard and we understood the desire of the foreigners to remain more in Gaza and their frustrations.

Therefore, the departure of the third bus at around 20:15, on Saturday 2 January, turned into a drama. The departure of the second bus shortly after 15:00 was already problematic: eleven foreigners were missing and those present refused to board the bus. Furthermore, on the bus a lovely Palestinian girl living in the States was weeping and repeating: “This is my country!!”.

When the US girl lost her temper in the Commodore hall, she shouted: “No to Hamas!’, meaning she didn’t want the goods to be taken by the Government; she also shouted to the stoic security men: “Your people is dying from hunger!”.

First of all, we presumed everything was done in good faith by the visiting group. But I was astonished by two facts: why the $19.000 or so were spent in Egypt? The cash money is necessary in Gaza, not in Egypt, and the shopkeepers need to sell. On top of that, why to buy in Egypt what is available in Gaza?

After a few days, on Wednesday 6 January, 482 internationals and 130 vehicles of humanitarian aid arrived from Egypt. The Viva Palestina convoy led by the British MP George Galloway included also Jews and Palestinians living abroad. The first British lady I met gave me the answer to my questions: “In Great Britain, it is said the Gazans are dying from starvation and almost eat rats. Thus you can understand why the goods were brought in Egypt by the previous solidarity group.”

Here, when such international rumors are repeated to the Gazans they are hurt, but they also laugh. Ahed assures that he eats better than in Great Britain… Sometimes, when we read articles and international reports about the Strip we don’t recognize it. There are in fact two different Gazas: one real on the ground and another one fabricated by the enemy propaganda or by inaccurate international reports. In the early 2000s, for instance. Christian Aid, a UK NGO, titled a report: “Gaza like Zimbabwe”. So far Gaza is not yet like Zimbabwe.

There was indeed a period of acute shortages in Gaza. It lasted for several months and was the peak of the crisis. Were lacking cash money, food, candles, small batteries, flour, cigarettes, paper for printing and photocopying, glue, shoes, cardboard boxes, nylon bags and everything one can imagine. But this period is over. It ended at the beginning of 2008 when one night militants demolished the iron wall left by the Israeli master at the border with Egypt, high 8 m. and long several kms. All the population of the besieged Strip invaded peacefully Egypt for around ten days – including newborns and elderly, entrepreneurs and businessmen – and brought home everything they could buy.

They are reports that are objective and depict accurately the real situation on the ground, like those of the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights. Without exaggeration the situation is tragic and is deteriorating day after day. Life is impossible. However, the locals resist, are resilient and innovative, find new ways to remain alive under this form of modern slavery. On the other hand, international and local crocks are interested in making the situation more black than it is for their own benefits and for getting more funds.

For sure they are plenty of poor, jobless, miserable, disabled people and for sure not all of them receive sufficient aid. However, these people keep their dignity and don’t approach the foreigners lying and begging for help. Moreover, some local NGOs which are supposed to help them are well known for sucking the blood of the Palestinian people like vampires, in addition to other entities which are supposed to rescue them. The locals are fed up with all these crocks.

In Gaza nowadays nobody is dying from hunger. Despite the international embargo and the Israeli-imposed siege that has become routine now everything is available: biscuits, chocolate, clothing, toys, cigarettes, mobile phones, lab-tops, lingerie, cosmetics, perfumes, motorcycles, generators, refrigerators, washing machines… Furthermore, a good number of people eat red meat, chicken, turkey, pigeon, fish. The youth say they are doing miracles. The old militants say the Gazan people cannot be defeated. Paradoxically, absolutely everything is lacking in Gaza.

When asked what they need, the Gazans will never tell you they need a WFP bag of flour or USAID Refined Vegetable Oil Vitamin A Fortified. The Gazans will tell you they are hungry indeed, very hungry, but hungry for justice, democracy, freedom, independence. It’s all and it’s enough.

- Flora Nicoletta is an independent French journalist who lives in Gaza. She is currently working on her fourth book on the Palestinian question.

Source

TOON OF THE YEAR ~~ ISRAEL MAKES THE DESERT BLOOM

Image By Bendib…
Click on image to enlarge

PLIGHT OF GAZA STUDENTS CONTINUES TO GROW

Blockade threatens students’ future in Gaza
Transmitted by Ayman Quader in Gaza

Many students in the Gaza Strip aspire to a higher education abroad but the Israeli-Egyptian blockade deprives them of setting out on their journey.

Hundreds of Gaza graduates receive scholarship to attend universities abroad, but they are trapped in the impoverished coastal enclave. They are going to lose their scholarships according to a report by Press TV correspondent

Ayman Quader is one of these students. He has finished his bachelor’s degree and was awarded a scholarship yet he cannot leave Gaza. The first term of his scholarship begins in February.

Quader told our correspondent that he is being prevented from going out by the complete siege of the Gaza Strip. Quader calls on all those who are concerned with humanitarian conditions in Gaza to support him and his peers who seek a brighter future in schools abroad.

Israel has imposed crippling restrictions on the Gaza Strip since 2007, preventing the shipment of food, fuel and other essentials into the populated region, pushing its impoverished population to the verge of starvation.

The condition has been further worsened by Egypt’s refusal to open the Rafah crossing — the only alternative which is a border terminal not controlled by Israel —.

Along with the other residents of the Gaza Strip, students must wait until the next opening of the Rafah crossing. But there are no scheduled openings of the only gate for the 1.5 million Palestinians in the blockaded region.

Academicians in Gaza argue that traveling abroad is one of the fundamental rights of students which must not be violated by political disputes.

“I’m disappointed and frustrated as a teacher because my students are losing golden opportunities to pursue their studies abroad,” said a Gaza University teacher, Akreem Habeeb.

Habeeb expressed regret that many of his students with scholarships from European and American universities lost their chance because they have not been allowed to leave the Gaza Strip.

“These students are living in a great fear of losing their seats and universities,” Gaza Education Minister Ahmad al-Najjar told Press TV, warning “their future is in a great danger.”

Students in the Gaza Strip have held several protests against the enclosure of their homeland, calling upon Egyptian authorities to facilitate their traveling abroad, requests that appear to fall on deaf ears in Cairo.

Report prepared by: Yousif El Helo ( press tv )


Click HERE to sign a petition supporting Ayman

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