ISRAEL’S ‘BOY PRISONER’ RELEASED WHILE 160 + PALESTINIAN CHILDREN REMAIN BEHIND ISRAELI BARS

“UNICEF calls on the Israeli government to release Palestinian child detainees so that they can be reunited with their families,” said Jean Gough, a UNICEF representative for the West Bank and Gaza. “As stated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the detention of children should be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time,” she said.
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More than 160 Palestinian children remain behind Israeli bars
 

Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip celebrated the recent release of prisoners from Israeli jails, but no imprisoned children were set free. Erica Silverman / IRIN

GAZA CITY – While there have been emotional scenes after the release of 477 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, concerns are being raised about the plight of 164 Palestinian children from the West Bank in Israeli custody.

They were either sentenced or are being detained, mainly for stone-throwing, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) which, along with other international organizations, is appealing to the Israeli government to release all Palestinian children in Israeli military detention.

It is unclear whether the children will be part of the second wave of 550 releases in the coming two months.

“UNICEF calls on the Israeli government to release Palestinian child detainees so that they can be reunited with their families,” said Jean Gough, a UNICEF representative for the West Bank and Gaza. “As stated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the detention of children should be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time,” she said.

The Israeli justice ministry was unable to confirm the number of Palestinian children detained by Israel.

Mother can’t speak to son

Rami Abu Haneieh, aged 14 and from Hebron, was arrested by Israeli forces one month ago for throwing stones. “I have not been permitted to see or speak with him since his arrest,” said his mother, Khloud Abu Haneieh, a primary school teacher. His lawyer was allowed to visit Rami once, said Khloud, adding that her son may be released as part of the second wave of the prisoner swap.

The organization Defence for Children International-Palestine Section (DCI-Palestine) also issued an urgent appeal for the children to be freed.

According to the latest figures released by the Israeli Prison Service and DCI-Palestine, on 1 October there were 164 Palestinian children (aged 12-17) in Israeli detention facilities, including 35 aged 12-15. Seventy-six of these children have been sentenced, while 88 children are being held in pre-trial detention.

The number of Palestinian children detained in Israel fluctuates, said UNICEF spokesperson Catherine Weibel in Jerusalem. In 2010, on average 250 children were in detention each month, and in 2009 the monthly average reached 300, she said.

DCI estimates that each year about 700 Palestinian children aged 12-17 from the West Bank are prosecuted in Israeli military courts after being arrested, interrogated and detained by the Israeli military, police or security agents. According to UNICEF, more than 7,000 Palestinian children were arrested and detained by Israeli authorities over the past 10 years.

Sabri Awad, 16, from Beit Ommar, near Hebron, was arrested and detained by Israeli soldiers three weeks ago. “Our family and his lawyer have not been allowed to see or speak with him,” said his 18-year-old brother, Yousif Awad, unsure why Sabri was arrested.

In 2010 two children were being held in administrative detention (detention without charge or trial authorized by administrative order rather than judicial decree) in violation of international law, reports UNICEF, although there are none at present.

According to Weibel, Palestinian children from East Jerusalem are tried in civil courts administered by the Israeli police, just the same as Israeli children. Palestinian children from elsewhere in the West Bank are tried in military courts.

Palestinians arrested by the Israeli army in the West Bank fall under the jurisdiction of Israeli “military legislation.” This is a separate military court system that applies only to Palestinians, according to the Israeli military.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, UN special representative for children in armed conflict said: “Juvenile justice standards are clear; children should not be tried before military tribunals.”

Since Israel’s “disengagement” from the Gaza Strip in September 2005, Palestinians from Gaza detained by Israeli authorities are generally prosecuted in Israel under civilian security legislation, and not under military law.

It is a violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention to remove children under military occupation from occupied territory, said spokesperson Weibel, thereby prohibiting family visits.

The Israeli army admits that most Palestinian detainees are imprisoned inside Israel, but argues that removing Palestinians from the West Bank is approved by the Israeli high court and is consistent with Israeli law.

Torture persists

According to DCI, reports of torture and ill-treatment during the arrest, transfer and interrogation stages in the system when children may be pressured to sign confessions, have persisted for years.

“Ill-treatment starts at the moment of arrest, when many children report experiencing terrifying night-time raids on the family home, before being tied, often painfully so, and blindfolded,” reports DCI.

Also, children continue to be interrogated in the absence of a lawyer or a parent, and continue to be denied bail in around 90 percent of cases in violation of Article 37(b) of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, according to DCI.

The Israeli Prisons Service was unavailable for comment.

In 2010, there were at least 90 cases documented of the ill-treatment of Palestinian children while detained by Israeli authorities, said Weibel, and in 2009 there were at least 101 cases documented.

Hamas deputy foreign minister Ghazi Hamad, who participated in talks with Israel to broker the prisoner swap deal, said: “Nearly 200 children and medical patients being held prisoner may be part of the second wave [of prisoner releases].”

Source

PHOTO ESSAY OF A DAY IN THE LIFE OF THE WALL STREET ENCAMPMENT

Wall Street has literally become ‘home’ to hundreds of people. A library has been set up as well as a slide show, meals are served, there is music and dancing. Truly a home away from home!
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There’s even an official ‘logo’ welcoming visitors….
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Photos © by Bud Korotzer
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There was even a ‘home visit’ by doctors and other healthcare workers …
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DID YOU KNOW THAT GOD WAS A FASCIST?

Well not really, but His ‘wannabe’ sure sounds like one …
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Rafi Dagan, an Israeli commanding officer, stated “I am the law.  I am God” when asked to explain why he was flouting Israeli law by forcing people to leave Palestinian land under threat of arrest, without any paperwork to show that it was a closed military zone.
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When the Palestinian flag is criminalized by Zionists – Click on photo for more images

As settlers disrupt olive harvest, Israeli officer declares: “I am the law, I am God.”

International Solidarity Movement, West Bank

Intimidation of Palestinians in the Israeli-controlled H2 section of Hebron continued today as the Israeli military and settlers harassed Palestinians and international observers as they attempted to pick olives on their land in Tel Rumeida.

Around 40 students from different Palestinian universities marched onto the land at 11AM Saturday morning and began to pick olives along with local families, activists from Youth Against Settlements (YAS) and international observers.

At 12:30 PM the Israeli police confiscated identity passes for 20 Palestinians and, whilst checking their details, forced the group to stand together and individually filmed their faces.

The police declined to justify their actions, only insisting that they had a right to check the details of those present.  The Israeli military became increasingly belligerent as protesters challenged the legality of the actions and began to push and shove Palestinians and international observers.  After around 20 minutes the police returned the passes and allowed the detained Palestinians to leave.  They then ordered international observers to leave the olive groves or be arrested, claiming that the Palestinian-owned olive grove is “Israeli land” and that it was illegal to be on the land and “illegal to be in a group.”

Rafi Dagan, an Israeli commanding officer, stated “I am the law.  I am God” when asked to explain why he was flouting Israeli law by forcing people to leave Palestinian land under threat of arrest, without any paperwork to show that it was a closed military zone.

Earlier in the day, Israeli soldiers had pushed photographers attempting to document the olive harvest and confiscated an international observer’s passport for several minutes.  Under Israeli law, passports may be shown to the Israeli military but it is illegal for them to be taken away.  The Israeli military also briefly detained a young Palestinian man, apparently for running through the olive groves with a Palestinian flag, although he was released after around 10 minutes.

In addition to intimidation by the military, Israeli settlers arrived on the Palestinian land within minutes of the olive harvest beginning and began to harass people picking olives.  A group of around 10 settlers gathered in the lower olive groves in Tel Rumeida at 11:55am where Palestinians were busy picking olives.  Baruch Marzel, a prominent extremist settler, stood on a Palestinian flag in an obvious attempt to provoke olive harvesters.  The military intervened as anger flared between the two groups and sent settlers back to their settlement.

Badia Dwaik, 38, is the Deputy Coordinator of Youth Against Settlements, a nonviolent Palestinian group campaigning against Israeli settlements.  He stressed that olive harvesting in Tel Rumeida is not just about economic necessity; it is a form of political defiance and a way to “confirm our existence and to encourage the people to resist”.

The Palestinian land in Tel Rumeida is surrounded by four illegal Israeli settlements.  A Palestinian educational centre overlooks steep, dusty terraces to the south which contain around 200 olive trees.  The centre, established in 2006 after the building was reclaimed from Israeli military control, and the olive groves below have been subject to repeated attacks and incursions by settlers in recent years.  Anti-Palestinian graffiti and the Star of David is clearly visible under fresh coats of paint on the walls at the back of the building, only metres away from a settlement.

The olive groves contain around 200 olives trees and olives were picked on around 70 trees today.  Badia Dwaik lamented the poor quality of the olives and the sparse fruit on many of the trees, saying that Palestinians are often unable to tend the land for fear of settler attacks.  There is also a chronic shortage of water in Hebron and the owners of the trees are denied permits to dig the land. For example, the YAS reported having problems with water circulation for three days and discovered today that the water lines had been deliberately cut.

According to Badia Dwaik, the YAS intend to continue picking the olives in the coming weeks as “people are scared to come and pick olives alone.  And it gives a message: we will continue and never give up.”

Source

IF PALESTINE GIVES UP ITS BID FOR STATEHOOD, ISRAEL WILL RELEASE MORE PRISONERS

That’s what I read in the following ….
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Over the last two weeks, the Israeli official said, several of Abbas’ advisors, including his chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, have urged him to disband the PA and hand responsibility for the territories back to Israel. This has strengthened the army’s view that gestures to bolster Abbas are needed.
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Israel mulls freeing Fatah prisoners as gesture to Abbas

Cabinet split over bolstering PA leader or punishing him for UN statehood bid; next month IDF to give government list of recommended goodwill gestures, including releasing additional Palestinian prisoners.

Israel should make a series of gestures to the Palestinian Authority to reduce the damage caused the PA by last week’s deal for the return of Gilad Shalit, the Israel Defense Forces’ General Staff believes. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s advisors vehemently oppose the idea, as do several members of his forum of eight senior ministers, arguing that PA President Mahmoud Abbas “should be punished” for his unilateral bid for UN recognition of a Palestinian state.

“We don’t want the Palestinian Authority to collapse,” one advisor said, “but if it happens, it won’t be the end of the world.”

Next month, the IDF will give the government a list of the gestures it recommends, including releasing additional Palestinian prisoners and perhaps transferring additional parts of the West Bank to Palestinian security control. The army considers this necessary to help Abbas regain the upper hand in his ongoing battle with Hamas for control of the territories, since Israel’s intelligence agencies all concur that the Shalit deal, in which Hamas obtained the release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for one kidnapped soldier, bolstered the Islamic organization at the PA’s expense.

One senior Israeli official told Haaretz that Abbas thinks the deal was deliberately intended to strengthen Hamas and weaken him, in order to punish him for his UN bid.

One of the IDF’s proposals relates to the second stage of the Shalit deal, in which Israel will free another 550 prisoners of its own choosing. While the list has not yet been drawn up, it seems that most will be low-level terrorists belonging to Abbas’ Fatah party, and the army deems the Fatah affiliation critical.

The army also proposes that Israel release additional prisoners beyond these 550 as a gesture to Abbas in honor of Id al-Adha, the Muslim holiday that falls in another two weeks.

Last-minute orders

Another proposal is to transfer part of what is known as Area B – areas of the West Bank that, according to the Oslo Accords, are under Palestinian civilian control but Israeli security control – to Area A, which is under full Palestinian control. Most of the territory the army favors transferring is in the northern West Bank, between Jenin, Nablus and Tul Karm, as this area has few Israeli settlements.

A fourth idea is returning the bodies of slain terrorists to the PA. That was supposed to have happened a few months ago, but was canceled at the last minute on orders from Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Senior PA officials have said in recent days that the principal gesture they want from Israel is the release of Fatah terrorists who have been imprisoned since before the 1993 Oslo Accords. They also said they have had several discussions with Israel recently about transferring additional territory to Area A, but all have gone nowhere.

In the past, Barak has voiced support for far-reaching gestures toward Abbas. But Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has consistently opposed the idea and Netanyahu is unenthusiastic. Thus, when the army proposed gestures to the PA in the run-up to last month’s UN bid, with the goal of calming the atmosphere and preventing an explosion, the government rejected the proposal.

With the Shalit deal concluded, the IDF is hoping the government will be more amenable. But given Jerusalem’s anger at Abbas’ statehood bid, that seems doubtful.

The issue is further complicated by uncertainty over Abbas’ intentions – a question on which both government officials and intelligence professionals are split. Some believe that Abbas has no interest in resuming negotiations with Israel, preferring to pursue his case at the UN and among the international community in the hope of forcing concessions on Israel. Members of this camp see no point in making any gestures to him.

The IDF, in contrast, thinks Israel must make substantial gestures to bolster Abbas. Minor steps – like dismantling unmanned roadblocks or releasing Palestinian prisoners convicted of crimes other than terrorism – won’t suffice, it argues.

The senior Israeli official said the army’s concerns were on full display at a briefing for Barak last week given by Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot, the coordinator of government activities in the territories. Dangot, he said, expressed great concern over the messages he has been getting from senior PA officials recently – namely, that Abbas is depressed and threatening to resign in light of the impasse in negotiations, the boost the Shalit deal gave Hamas and the fear that his UN bid will fail even without an American veto, given his difficulties in recruiting the necessary nine votes in the Security Council.

Over the last two weeks, the Israeli official said, several of Abbas’ advisors, including his chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, have urged him to disband the PA and hand responsibility for the territories back to Israel. This has strengthened the army’s view that gestures to bolster Abbas are needed.

Netanyahu’s advisors, however, don’t take Abbas’ resignation threats seriously, noting that such threats tend to recur frequently. “There’s nothing new in this,” said one. “He threatens all the time.”

Source

12 YEAR OLD CHILD FROM GAZA RESPONDS TO THE CENSORING OF HIS ARTWORK

“It’s my right to draw”
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Gaza child artist responds to the censoring of his artwork

Nora Barrows-Friedman

22ali-gaza-artist-small.jpg

Following last month’s decision by the Museum of Children’s Art (MOCHA) in Oakland, California, to shut down an art exhibition of drawings by Palestinian children in Gaza, one of the child artists included in the exhibit has illustrated his response to being censored.

The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) has posted this new drawing by 12-year-old Ali Hassan al Baba of Deir el Balah in the Gaza Strip, as well as a short interview with him:

Translated from Arabic in Ali’s picture: “The Exhibit is Closed” written across top. “It’s my right to draw” in child’s speech bubble.

What is your name? Ali Hassan Al-Baba

How old are you? 12 years old

Where do you live? Deir El-Balah, Gaza

How many siblings do you have? Four sisters and three brothers

Please tell us about your drawing:
I’ve drawn the gallery featuring Palestinian children’s artwork. The art shows the bad things that Zionists do to Palestinians, but then the Zionists came and shut it down.  

Please tell us about your family:
I am the oldest child of a simple family. My father works and is our only source of financial support. Our home was hit by an air strike but it is now patched up with metallic plates (zingo). It is a small house and the number of my family is big, but I thank God for everything we have.

What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be an engineer so I can rebuild every house that Israel has destroyed.

Even though the original exhibition was shut down — following sustained intimidation from local and national pro-Israel lobby groups — Ali’s artwork, and the artwork of the other children, has found a new home in a gallery space around the corner from MOCHA in downtown Oakland. The exhibit will be open until the end of November, and MECA has all the information on its website.

Source via Uruknet

ZIONIST ATTACKS UNITE STUDENTS FOR JUSTICE IN PALESTINE

Despite the pressure, though, activists vowed to push on with the core of their work: advancing Palestinian rights, principally through BDS campaigns. Divestment campaigns across US college campuses continue to forge ahead — a major concern for groups such as the ADL.
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Despite attacks, national conference unites Students for Justice in Palestine

Alex Kane

Palestine solidarity has become increasingly visible on US campuses through mock checkpoints, walls, die-ins and BDS campaigns. (Andra MIhali / Flickr )

 

Israel was being discussed as a settler-colonial project in one classroom, while in another a workshop about the Arab uprisings and Palestine took place. In the hallways of New York’s Columbia University, activists huddled together and talked about recent travels or the Palestinian Authority’s role in the West Bank. And at night, organizers headed down to the Occupy Wall Street encampment in New York’s financial district to address a general assembly.

This was the scene at Columbia last weekend as 350 student activists from more than a hundred schools across the nation converged for the first-ever Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) national conference. The conference was structured around workshops ranging from “The Economics of Israeli Colonialism” to the “Politics of Women’s Activism” to “How to Effectively Start and Run an SJP Group.” The result of a year of student planning, organizing and fundraising, the SJP gathering comes at a moment when Palestine solidarity activism on college campuses is increasingly scrutinized.

“It’s a huge, huge step for us,” explained Aman Muqeet, a recent graduate of Florida International University who was part of the SJP National Coordinating Committee, an informal group of SJP activists who organized the conference.

The aims of the “Students Confronting Apartheid” conference, activists said, were to strengthen the student movement for Palestinian rights and develop a better political understanding of the situation in Palestine. SJP activists convened in separate “movement building” workshops to create proposals for a national structure to better coordinate and share resources, though activists said individual chapters would remain autonomous.

The proposals are set to be voted on in the coming weeks. A statement by SJP organizers released after the 14-16 October conference said that a national structure for SJP would “mark the beginning of a new era in Palestine solidarity organizing in the United States” (“Student organizations resolve to organize nationally for Palestine,” 18 October 2011).

The hundreds of activists also decided on “points of unity” at their closing session, which mirrored the demands of the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Dina Omar, a Columbia University graduate student and SJP organizer, said that the importance of the conference was in creating a “solid network and apparatus to help and protect students from being systemically targeted by institutional power.”

Those institutional powers, who Omar said smear and target Palestine solidarity activists, were clearly on display in the weeks leading up to the conference.

Students under attack

The conviction of ten Muslim students from the University of California at Irvine for interrupting a speech by Israeli ambassador Michael Oren came three weeks before the SJP conference.

And a week before the gathering at Columbia took place, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) took aim at what they said was the “growing strength” of SJP in a report on “anti-Israel activity” in universities (“Emerging Anti-Israel Trends and Tactics on Campus,” 11 October 2011).

Ironically, it was a 2010 ADL statement calling SJP one of the top 10 “anti-Israel” groups in the US that pushed 67 chapters to come together for the first time.

The ADL report called SJP “the primary organizer of anti-Israel events on campus,” and said that SJP “presents” a “challenge.” The ADL also lauded the US Department of Education’s 2010 decision to expand its interpretation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to “protect” Jewish college students from anti-Semitism, “including anti-Israel and anti-Zionist sentiment that crosses the line into anti-Semitism.”

Palestine solidarity activists, though, say that the charge of anti-Semitism is being used to clamp down on Palestinian rights activism. The Department of Education has opened a number of investigations into alleged campus anti-Semitism, including at Barnard College, which is affiliated with Columbia and the University of California at Santa Cruz.

That the ADL, a powerful organization with tens of millions of dollars, would target grassroots student activists is an indication both of the challenges SJP faces and the promise of SJP’s work.

Omar said that the various Department of Education’s investigations “shed light on how much work we need to do to fight institutional power against suppressing our voices.”

SJP chapters continue to face attacks from a variety of Israel lobby groups. And just days before the conference, New York Democratic Congressman Gary Ackerman, a hardline supporter of Israel, attacked New York University staff who had signed onto an NYU SJP letter calling for divestment (“Ackerman Blasts NYU-Israel Divestment Push,” 12 October 2011).

Some student organizers say they are overwhelmed at times from what Omar described as “constantly having to take 12 steps back, in terms of shuffling through all the misinformation, before you’re able to take one step forward.”

Activists continue to develop and expand divestment campaigns

Despite the pressure, though, activists vowed to push on with the core of their work: advancing Palestinian rights, principally through BDS campaigns. Divestment campaigns across US college campuses continue to forge ahead — a major concern for groups such as the ADL.

The BDS movement, which follows a 2005 Palestinian civil society call to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel until it follows its obligations under international law, was a main focus of the conference. Workshops included implementing a successful divestment campaign, preparing for Israeli Apartheid Week and lessons learned from past BDS campaigns at universities.

“BDS is a really good anchor and an important reference point to have in terms of following the leadership of Palestinians,” said Ilana Rossoff, a SJP coordinator and a recent graduate of Hampshire University. It was Hampshire’s SJP that led the first successful divestment campaign in the US targeting Israel in 2009.

The importance of BDS was also emphasized by speakers at the conference. Bashir Abu-Manneh, a Barnard professor, told attendees at a workshop on potential solutions for Palestine-Israel that “sanctions are the best way to alleviate Palestinian suffering. It is crucial to create a strategy around that in the US: to push the US government to end its military support for Israel and to push American companies to divest from the occupation.” (“A ‘Palestinian Spring?’ Not Yet.,” transcribed on the New Politics blog, 17 October 2011).

Student activists also say that the conference came at an opportune political moment in the US, as various “occupations” of public space sprout up in protest at economic inequality. Many SJP activists headed down to the Occupy Wall Street encampment and participated in weekend protests that saw dozens of arrests. Rossoff, who addressed the general assembly, said the feedback from the Wall Street protesters was positive.

“People are thinking very intelligently about coalition politics — what kind of social movement we need to build to have the political strength such that it can work to our goals,” Max Ajl, a blogger and activist who attended the conference, wrote in an email. “The timing was key — everywhere there was the buzz that we are part of a broader mobilization, the Occupy movement. There is now both the opportunity and the incentive to link these struggles.”

Like many others, Shirien Damra, a veteran SJP organizer from Chicago, came out of the conference energized and hopeful.

“We’re making an impact. We’re making a huge dent,” she said. “It’s inspiring and it’s so new just seeing all these students that are so driven. They’re not [just] Palestinian, they’re not [just] Jewish, a lot of these students are not ethnically connected at all, and they see it as a human movement … it’s amazing.”

 

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PHOTOS, LOVE AND MUSIC AT WALL STREET

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer
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And love …
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I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make this moment in history a part of our story. I love you, Deb Zep. (All ad revenue on this clip is going to the OWS General Assembly fund, so don’t rip and mirror if you don’t wanna get flagged)

I knew a ton of friends and family were gonna watch and probably repost, but I had no idea this would get picked up so fast by so many sites. Just wanna plug http://occupywallst.org and if anyone is hating on what’s going on down there, then I doubt they’ve bothered to actually talk to anyone, or more importantly LISTEN.

Thank you to everyone who can stay down there and hold down the fort for all of us who have jobs and families to keep warm and fed each night. That’s all for now. OCCUPY [YOUR TOWN HERE].

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Video was posted at the New York Times …. see the article HERE
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And Music …
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Also in the Times, after decades of ignoring the People’s Movements and activists, they finally found the following ‘Fit To Print’ …
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Pete Seeger Leads Protesters, on Foot and in Song

By COLIN MOYNIHAN
 
 
Pete Seeger, with canes, joined the Occupy Wall Street protests on Friday night. The 92-year-old marched all the way from 95th Street to Columbus Circle.
Marcus Yam for The New York Times Pete Seeger, with canes, joined the Occupy Wall Street protests on Friday night. The 92-year-old marched from 95th Street to Columbus Circle. Video below.

The Occupy Wall Street protests have drawn their share of musical supporters over the past few weeks. On Friday night, Pete Seeger lent his voice to the cause, though the protesters had to go uptown to hear it.

Mr. Seeger, whose activist credentials go back at least as far as a benefit concert that he and Woody Guthrie did for California migrant workers in 1940 and who wrote or helped write populist ballads like like “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” and “If I Had a Hammer,” had been performing at Symphony Space at Broadway and 95th Street with Arlo Guthrie, Woody Guthrie’s son, and others.

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About 11 p.m., Mr. Seeger, 92, emerged from Symphony Space wearing a red knit cap and carrying two canes. He then set off south, walking at a brisk pace and accompanied by a crowd of about 600, some of them carrying placards declaring support for the self-declared 99 percent that have been occupying Zuccotti Park for five weeks.

The crowd sang as they marched in the October chill, their voices swelling softly and carrying words to songs Mr. Seeger helped popularize, including “Down by the Riverside,” and “We Shall Not Be Moved.”

“He’s a symbol of the peace movement,” said one of the marchers, Larry Manzino, a retired research scientist from Piscataway, N.J. “He’s a guy who never caved, a guy who had integrity, a guy who stood up and said no when he had to.”

Police officers on foot and in vans traveled with the march. People peered out at the crowd from storefronts. At West 79th Street, a man silhouetted in the lighted window of an apartment gave a thumbs up to the marchers below. The crowd began singing Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.”

T.J. Frawls, from Harlem, who said he was in an “apocalyptic punk metal band” called Universal Truth Machine marched along, strumming a guitar.

Despite the difference in their preferred genres, he said he was thrilled to be performing — sort of — with Mr. Seeger.

“He’s an icon of folk music, the people’s music.” Mr. Frawls said.

Shortly before 1 a.m. the crowd streamed into the center of Columbus Circle. There, surrounded by gushing fountains, musicians that included Arlo Guthrie, Tom Chapin and David Amram, joined Mr. Seeger on the base of the Christopher Columbus monument.

The crowd quieted. Guitars began strumming as Mr. Seeger began singing “We Shall Overcome,” a song that he introduced to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Source

NUMBERS SWELL AT WALL STREET AS VERIZON WORKERS JOIN THE FIGHT … IN PHOTOS AND SONG

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Commentary by Chippy Dee
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The Occupation of Wall St. continues to grow in numbers, activities, and spirit.  Last night there was a parent-toddler sleep-over in a padded and secure section of Zuccotti Park.  Toddlers with decorated faces, dressed warmly against the chill, and munching bananas, raisins, and Oreos got ready to settle for the night with a combination of curiosity and excitement.  Meanwhile, a large group of Verizon workers, prepared for a looming strike, marched past the park as occupiers joined them en route to a Verizon facility where they rallied.

 

Life in the park has taken on all the aspects of a thriving community.  There are concerts, religious services, a newspaper is published, there’s a library, food, and rudimentary medical care is given.  Decisions are made at daily assemblies where all are encouraged to speak and vote.

 

The evening ended on New York’s Upper West Side where a group of occupiers met the people leaving a Pete Seeger,  Arlo Guthrie, Clearwater folk concert and all, including Pete, now 92 years old, and Arlo, marched to Columbus Circle about 2 miles away.  Singing all the way, when they reached their destination, about 1,000 strong, they sang a number of songs, some dating back to the struggle for civil rights such as “We Shall Overcome” thereby linking the struggles of the past with the one going on now for democracy and  economic justice.

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer
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The Union Makes Us Strong! …. Click HERE and enjoy
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The Mamas and the Papas …
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A peek at some of the regulars …*
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Occupy Columbus Circle! Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie in 99% Solidarity “This Little Light”
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WATER TO SWIM IN >>>> BUT NOT TO DRINK

Plumbing the Depths of Deception:
Nancy Scola Ignores the H2Occupation of Palestine

Nima Shirazi

An empty Palestinian agricultural reservoir
Jiftlik, Jordan Valley, West Bank, Palestine
© Amnesty International

An Israeli settlement swimming pool
Maaleh Adumim, West Bank, Palestine
© Angela Godfrey-Goldstein

“[It is] of vital importance not only to secure all water resources already feeding the country, but also to control them at their source.”

- Chaim Weizmann, President of the World Zionist Organization and the first President of Israel, at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference

“And when I talk about the importance to Israel’s security, this is not an abstract concept… It means that a housewife in Tel Aviv can open the tap and there’s water running to it, and it’s not been dried up because of a rash decision that handed over control of our aquifers to the wrong hands.”

- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, May 17, 1998

“All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was.”

- Toni Morrison

On October 18, The Atlantic published a lengthy article by Nancy Scola exploring the possible rationale for Texas Governor and terrible GOP Presidential nominee Rick Perry’s deep and abiding affinity for Israel. Scola, after citing potential reasons such as “the religious affinities of a conservative Christian” and “a shared fighting spirit” (in addition to “oil”, which is odd considering there’s no oil in Palestine) for Perry’s affection and admiration, suggests a different explanation:

In 2009, Perry told the Jerusalem Post that part of the Texas-Israel “connection that goes back many years” included the reality that “Israel has a lot we can learn from, especially in the areas of water conservation and semi-arid land.” It raised the possibility that at the root of Perry’s deep commitment and professed connection to Israel doesn’t lie in what Texas has in abundance — oil, faith, orneriness — but what it lacks: water.

Scola goes on to explain that, when he was Texas agriculture commissioner in the 1990′s, “Perry helped to lead the Texas-Israel Exchange, a program that aims to transfer knowledge between the two lands, where farming is a way of life but the water to do it with is often difficult to come by” and draws an environmental and hydrogeological parallel between the two regions. “Texas’ mountain aquifers have their equivalent in Israel’s karst aquifers,” she writes, before quoting UT professor and water expert David Eaton as saying, “Israel doesn’t have enough water, but they’ve figured out how to succeed.”

Among the ways Scola describes Israel’s victory over water scarcity through “a variety of technologies to try to squeeze the maximum possible water from dry land” are “projects focused on water reclamation — that is, using treated waste water, including sewage, to irrigate, cool, or in manufacturing processes.”

What Scola omits – and considering she devotes considerable space (nearly 2,000 words) to this issue, the omission can not be anything but willful and deliberate – is Palestine. In fact, the word itself never appears in the entire article, nor is the 44-year occupation and blockade that controls Palestinian lives each and every day.

The reason this omission is so glaring is because over 60% of Israel’s fresh water supply comes from Palestinian aquifers in the West Bank, illegally seized in 1967 after a conflict instigated by Israel and subsequently controlled exclusively by the Israeli government and military in occupied Palestine.

An October 2009 report by Amnesty International entitled “Troubled Waters – Palestinians Denied Fair Access to Water” notes that, in 1967, “Israel forcibly took control of water resources and imposed significant changes in the area’s water sector. This included extracting large quantities of groundwater and diverting surface water for its own benefit, while preventing access by the local Palestinian population to these same resources.”

In 1982, then-Defense Minister Ariel Sharon transferred all West Bank water systems to the Israeli national water company Mekorot for the nominal price of one shekel. A decade later, the Oslo accords established a (so-called) Joint Water Management Committee, granting Israel a veto over all water resources, facilities and infrastructure in the West Bank.

Amnesty reveals that “[d]uring more than four decades of occupation of the Palestinian territories Israel has overexploited Palestinian water resources, neglected the water and sanitation infrastructure in the OPT, and used the OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territories] as a dumping ground for its waste – causing damage to the groundwater resources and the environment” and that “Israeli policies and practices in the OPT, notably the unlawful destruction and appropriation of property, and the imposition of restrictions and other measures which deny the Palestinians the right to water in the OPT, violate Israel’s obligations under both human rights and humanitarian law.”

The report’s introduction states:

Lack of access to adequate, safe, and clean water has been a longstanding problem for the Palestinian population of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Though exacerbated in recent years by the impact of drought-induced water scarcity, the problem arises principally because of Israeli water policies and practices which discriminate against the Palestinian population of the OPT. This discrimination has resulted in widespread violations of the right to an adequate standard of living, which includes the human rights to water, to adequate food and housing, and the right to work and to health of the Palestinian population.

The inequality in access to water between Israelis and Palestinians is striking. Palestinian consumption in the OPT is about 70 litres a day per person – well below the 100 litres per capita daily recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) – whereas Israeli daily per capita consumption, at about 300 litres, is about four times as much. In some rural communities Palestinians survive on far less than even the average 70 litres, in some cases barely 20 litres per day, the minimum amount recommended by the WHO for emergency situations response.

Access to water resources by Palestinians in the OPT is controlled by Israel and the amount of water available to Palestinians is restricted to a level which does not meet their needs and does not constitute a fair and equitable share of the shared water resources. Israel uses more than 80 per cent of the water from the Mountain Aquifer, the only source of underground water in the OPT, as well as all of the surface water available from the Jordan River of which Palestinians are denied any share.

The stark reality of this inequitable system is that, today, more than 40 years after Israel occupied the West Bank, some 180,000 – 200,000 Palestinians living in rural communities there have no access to running water and even in towns and villages which are connected to the water network, the taps often run dry. Water rationing is common, especially but not only in the summer months, with residents of different neighbourhoods and villages receiving piped water only one day every week or every few weeks. Consequently, many Palestinians have no choice but to purchase additional supplies from mobile water tankers which deliver water at a much higher price and of often dubious quality. As unemployment and poverty have increased in recent years and disposable income has fallen, Palestinian families in the OPT must spend an increasingly high percentage of their income – as much as a quarter or more in some cases – on water.

In the Gaza Strip, the only water resource, the southern end of the Coastal Aquifer, is insufficient for the needs of the population but Israel does not allow the transfer of water from the West Bank to Gaza. The aquifer has been depleted and contaminated by overextraction and by sewage and seawater infiltration, and 90-95 per cent of its water is contaminated and unfit for human consumption. Waterborne diseases are common.

The report also documents how “[s]tringent restrictions imposed in recent years by Israel on the entry into Gaza of material and equipment necessary for the development and repair of infrastructure have caused further deterioration of the water and sanitation situation in Gaza, which has reached crisis point,” causing both “water shortages and poor sanitation services” throughout occupied Palestine.

“Since Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967,” Amnesty reports, “it has denied its Palestinian inhabitants access to the water resources of Jordan River, preventing them from physically accessing the river banks and diverting the river flow upstream into Lake Kinneret/Tiberias/Sea of Galilee.” Furthermore, “As well as depriving the Palestinians of a crucial source of water, the drying up of the Jordan River has had a disastrous impact on the Dead Sea, which has seen the fastest drop in its water level to an unprecedented low.”

Consequently, without access to the Jordan, the Mountain Aquifer is the only remaining source of water for Palestinians in the West Bank. Still, despite having two other main water resources (Lake Kinneret/Tiberias/Sea of Galilee and the Coastal Aquifer), Israel “limits the amount of water annually available to Palestinians from the Mountain Aquifer to no more than 20 per cent, while it has continued to consistently overextract water for its own usage far in excess of the aquifer’s yearly sustainable yield. Moreover, much of Israel’s over-extraction is from the Western Aquifer, which provides both the largest quantity and the best quality of all the shared groundwater resources in Israel-OPT.”

Clearly, the miracle of Israeli ingenuity that so enamors Rick Perry and impresses Nancy Scola is not so much technological advancement as it is illegal military occupation and heavily-armed dominance over Palestinian land and resources.

Yet, Israel not only appropriates and exploits Palestinian water supplies (“regardless of the consequences that this disproportionate and unfair division has for the Palestinian population in the OPT and its impact on Palestinians’ human rights,” says Amnesty) through its past and continual colonization, illegal annexation of land via the Apartheid Wall (which has isolated at least 39 groundwater wells from their Palestinian communities with more wells threatened for demolition in the Wall’s “buffer zone”), and ethnic cleansing of indigenous populations, it also deliberately destroys what resources Palestinians still have.

During Israel’s three-week Gaza massacre in the winter of 2008-9, the Israeli military “destroyed more than 30 kilometres of water networks – the equivalent of more than double the width of the strip at its widest – and 11 water wells,” reports the Emergency Water Sanitation and Hygiene group (EWASH), a coalition of 30 leading humanitarian organizations operating in occupied Palestine.

Israeli forces also “carried out a strike against a wall of one of the raw sewage lagoons of the Gaza wastewater treatment plant, which caused the outflow of more than 200,000 cubic metres of raw sewage onto neighbouring farmland,” reported the UN Fact-Finding Mission. The Goldstone Report continued,

The circumstances of the strike suggest that it was deliberate and premeditated. The Namar wells complex in Jabaliyah consisted of two water wells, pumping machines, a generator, fuel storage, a reservoir chlorination unit, buildings and related equipment. All were destroyed by multiple air strikes on the first day of the Israeli aerial attack. The Mission considers it unlikely that a target the size of the Namar wells could have been hit by multiple strikes in error. It found no grounds to suggest that there was any military advantage to be had by hitting the wells and noted that there was no suggestion that Palestinian armed groups had used the wells for any purpose.

The Mission determined that this assault (“carried out…unlawfully and wantonly”) on water facilities constituted “a violation of the grave breaches provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention,” explaining, “Unlawful and wanton destruction which is not justified by military necessity amounts to a war crime” and that such deliberate destruction “was carried out to deny sustenance to the civilian population, which is a violation of customary international law and may constitute a war crime.”

Nearly three years after the bombardment of Gaza, the consequences of such war crimes are still devastating.

In March 2011, EWASH notes, “the Khuza’a municipality warehouse was hit by an airstrike destroying a large quantity of essential water and sanitation materials and spare parts to the value of over US$ 60 000. In April, the Al-Mintar water reservoir in Al-Quba area of Gaza City was hit leaving 30 000 people in eastern Gaza city with no water for three days.” In mid-July 2011, “an Israeli airstrike destroyed an agricultural well in the eastern part of Beit Hanoun,” injuring seven civilians including four children and three women. “The strike also caused damage to nine water tanks belonging to five households in the adjacent neighbourhood, serving 59 people,” the report continues.

Whereas the destruction of water facilities in Gaza is the result of Israeli policies of deliberate deprivation and collective punishment, Israeli military actions in the continually colonized West Bank serve a different purpose. Amnesty reports, “[t]he Israeli army’s destruction of Palestinian water facilities – rainwater harvesting and storage cisterns, agricultural pools and spring canals – on the grounds that they were constructed without permits from the army is often accompanied by other measures that aim to restrict or eliminate the presence of Palestinians from specific areas of the West Bank.”

In the past two years, EWASH has documented “the destruction of 100 water, sanitation and hygiene structures, 44 cisterns, 20 toilets and sinks, 28 wells. This year alone, 20 cisterns have been destroyed,” The Guardian reports. “Most of this is happening in Area C, which is under full Israeli military control.” Israeli Occupation soldiers often shoot at vitally-needed Palestinian water tanks.

On December 14, 2010, Israeli occupation authorities demolished eleven water cisterns dug by Bedouin in the South Hebron Hills.  Ha’aretz reported that “[t]he move, intended to push Bedouin off IDF firing ranges, left dozens of families in the region with no water for their sheep and livestock.”

In March 2011, AFP reported that “Israeli troops have destroyed three water wells belonging to Palestinian villagers living near a sprawling Jewish settlement outside Hebron.” Later that same month, Israeli authorities destroyed “an ancient water well and reservoir southeast of Bethlehem used by Palestinian Bedouin shepherds as their main sources of water.”

On July 5, 2011, it was reported that “a convoy of Israeli Army, civil administration, and border police arrived in the Palestinian village of Amniyr accompanying a flat bed truck with a front end loader and a backhoe. Israeli settlers having a picnic at the settlement outpost next to the Susiya archaeological site looked on as the army destroyed nine large tanks of water and a tent.” It was the fifth time this year.

Just one week ago, WAFA, the Palestinian News and Info Agency, reported, “The Israeli authorities Thursday handed a number of Palestinian farmers demolition orders of several water wells and green houses and stopped construction work of rehabilitating an agricultural road in an area in Kufr Al-Deek, a town in Salfit,” according the town’s mayor.

Drilling new wells and rehabilitating existing wells is prohibited in the West Bank without the authorized consent of the Israeli occupiers and Mekorot, Israel’s National Water Company, routinely disrupts the flow of water to Palestinian land that relies on irrigation. Meanwhile, as Palestinians are “denied access to an equitable share of the shared water resources and are increasingly affected by the lack of adequate water supplies, Israeli settlers face no such challenges – as indicated by their intensive-irrigation farms, lush gardens and swimming pools. The 450,000 Israeli settlers, who live in the West Bank in violation of international law, use as much or more water than the Palestinian population of some 2.3 million.”

In her Atlantic column, Nancy Scola addresses none of these issues. Instead, she notes that many state governments in the U.S. have business partnerships with the State of Israel, noting that “the exchange between the state of Texas and the state of Israel is generally considered the oldest such relationship, and it is certainly one of the most robust.”

Scola also quotes from a 1996 op-ed Rick Perry wrote for the Austin American-Statesman, in which he “bragged about teaming up with Israel, ‘a country known for using technology to turn a desert into an agricultural oasis of productivity.’” This pernicious myth of “Desert-Bloomism“, articulated by Perry, is allowed to stand on its own, unchallenged, in Scola’s article.

While Scola suggests Rick Perry’s love affair with Israel may be based on a shared lack of water, it is abundantly clear that the common ground between the Texas governor and the Israeli government has far more to do with a shared lack of humanity.

PALESTINIAN PRISONERS ARE KNOWN ONLY BY NUMBER

Western media tries to make Palestinian political prisoners mere numbers while personalizing one Israeli soldier. So let me just give you the names and brief story of two of those released Palestinian political prisoners.
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Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
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Just two prisoners

Just two prisoner stories and the olive harvest
by Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

Western media tries to make Palestinian political prisoners mere numbers while personalizing one Israeli soldier. So let me just give you the names and brief story of two of those released Palestinian political prisoners.

-Chris Bandak, a Palestinian Christian from Bethlehem was just 21 when he was abducted by the Israeli occupation forces.  He was released after spending the last 9 years in Israeli prisons for his resistance activities to the colonial occupation.  But the deal meant moving him to Gaza.  In an interview with Al-Quds, Bandak stated that he has no relatives in Gaza but since he arrived there he felt all of Gaza people are his relatives.  He emphasized that the various resistance groups including Fatah (his group), the left groups, and the Islamic groups all respect and treat Christians and Muslim Palestinians the same as comrades.  He also stated that the occupiers treated natives with the same cruelty regardless of their religion.  He explained how painful it is to leave so many colleagues in Israeli prisons. 

-Ibtisam Al-Eisawi, Palestinian Muslim woman from Jerusalem was kidnapped 10 years ago by the occupation foprces.  She has 6 children. The youngest was only 6 months when her mother was jailed and she cried the most when she was finally able to begin to get to know her mother. Ibtisam’s oldest daughter was married only one week before Ibtisam was released.  The pain of missing her daughter’s wedding, missing seeing her children grow up.  Her name Ibtisam means “Smile” but thuis brave woman had seen few smiles in the last 10 years. Back now in her city of Jerusalem witnessing increased colonial settlement activities and increased efforts to make Jerusalem “Jewish” by ethnically cleansing its native people and importing Europeans and othesr to replace them. She says that she is happy to be out with her family but sad that so many people remain behind and thus the struggle will continue.

From personal experience I know how prison inmates become very close friends and how hard it is to leave people behind. So we must all never forget those his still await the day of freedom (or at least freedom from the small cage to the big cage of the “people warehouses” or bantustans we live in under Israeli apartheid and colonialism.

Action for prisoners (thousands remain in Apartheid prisons): See this exemplary call to act from the UK based Palestine Solidarity Movement

New video on the attemps to Judaize Jerusalem: The story of Shaikh Jarrah and other Jerusalem Onighborhoods .
Just finished harvesting olive trees (my fourth olive harvest season since returning to Palestine from the US).  Body is sore but spirit lifted.  Here is an article on the meaning and value of Palestinian olives‏, the olive harvest, and resistance. I wrote this for the 2009 harvest but it is the same this year including the low yield since 2010 was a good year.

ISRAEL STARTS ‘COLLECTING’ PALESTINIANS FOR FUTURE SWAPS

Image by Skulz Fontaine
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“My husband was kidnapped by Israel”
Shahd Abusalama*

Najiyya Mesleh’s hopes of becoming a mother have been destroyed by Israel’s imprisonment of her husband Salama ( Shahd  Abusalama / The Electronic Intifada )

 

I had a one-hour break at university on Saturday, so I grabbed the chance to visit the Palestinian detainees’ solidarity tent by the Red Cross building. Every day I go, I see the same people, whom I’ve started to feel are a part of me. When one of them is not there, I miss them, as I recently have spent more time with them than my family.

As I arrived at the tent, I felt that there was something strange going on. I asked a friend what had happened earlier. She answered while pointing, “That woman, Najiyya, just fainted when she learned that her husband is not included in the swap deal.” I kept sympathetically following her with my eyes wherever she went. She lifted my spirits up as she walked toward me and sat in an empty chair next to me. She smiled at me, despite her sorrow. I wish she knew how much people like her give me indescribable spiritual power with their incredible strength and steadfastness. Seeing her smile again, while knowing that she was broken inside, brought life to me. I couldn’t help but smile back with a look of admiration and appreciation.

“I waited long enough for him to come back to me; 19 years of forced separation between us. I’ve always fantasized about our unborn child, as the imprisonment of my husband after less than one year of our marriage prevented me from ever having one,” she said after I asked her whether she feels better.

“They broke into our house in October of 1993 and kidnapped him very late at night from inside our home in an excessively violent way,” she continued while tears struggled to fall from her eyes. She looked in a different direction and fell in silence trying to hide that feminine character inside her.

I learned that her husband Salama Mesleh was sentenced for 99 years inside the Israeli prisons. I was amazed at her ability to stay strong and optimistic for a day that would come when she would be united with her husband in a warm house full of love and harmony and bring up their first child.

My sympathy got even deeper for her as I learned that she had been very close to delivering a child. She was 2 months pregnant when the Israeli army attacked her house and turned everything upside down and kidnapped her husband. Her experience was too much to tolerate. The Israeli army didn’t only take her husband away but also killed the fetus growing inside her. If she didn’t go through all these horrific circumstances, maybe this fetus would have turned out to be an 18-year-old man by now who would take care of her while she bravely fights her harsh destiny.

Determined to share pain

My affection for her has been increasing as I knew more of her stories. She is on a hunger strike for the sixth day trying to share with her husband and other Palestinian detainees their battle of empty stomachs. She has refused to break her fast despite all the attempts which people made to persuade her to, especially after she fainted. However, she insisted on going on demonstrating. “Salama, my husband, suffers from more than merely hunger,” she said. “Let me at least feel like I’m living some of his pains even though I know that I’m not even close!”

I suddenly realized that I ran out of time and it was the time to go back to my lecture at university. I had to go there only for the attendance check and be in the class only in body but I knew that my mind would stay with the prisoners and their families. I couldn’t wait till the lecture ended to return to the Red Cross.

I thought that I would go back and see the usual sight of people sitting in the tent chatting while songs for freedom for our detainees are playing. But that wasn’t the case. There was an emergency taking place; people were running inside the Red Cross. An ambulance’s siren was very loud and its red lights were flashing all over the place. My heart skipped a beat as I realized I had missed something during the hour I was at university. My fear of the unknown overcame me.

I was trying to pass through the crowd to discover that the same woman, Najiyya, lost consciousness again. She couldn’t bear the psychological conflict she had inside her — not knowing whether her husband was going to be released or not.

At first, she heard that her spouse was included; and then discovered that he was not. She was swinging between facts and illusions to realize later the fact that her husband will stay jailed inside the dark cells. I learned that she was walking around while talking to herself unconsciously and she suddenly stopped and looked at a big banner that includes the picture of her husband, and then fell down.

I know no matter how strong and how much of a fighter she is, she is a human at the end of the day. The fact that her husband is not going to be free was very hard for her to accept, especially since she was lingering with the hope which the swap deal had brought her.

*Shahd Abusalama is an artist, blogger and English literature student from the Gaza Strip. Her blog is called Palestine from My Eyes.

Source

AN APPEAL FROM THE STUDENTS OF GAZA

Image by Skulz Fontaine
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An Open Letter from Palestinian Students to Their Peers in Europe

“Time Now to Boycott Israeli Apartheid on University Campuses”

Besieged Gaza, Occupied Palestine

 

We Palestinian students of the Gaza Strip wish to send a message to all European student groups in solidarity with the Palestinians to do all they can to increase Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel this academic year.

We also reiterate our support for the recent call by Palestinian Civil Society, of which we are a signatory, to end all collaborative research between European Universities and Israeli universities.[1] Research centers in Israeli academic institutions are actively involved in fuelling Israel’s huge weapons industry and tools of its military occupation and siege. It is this apparatus of violence that makes studying in Gaza so difficult, not to mention the daily toils and tragedy of Israeli apartheid policies. We, therefore, call for an end to this compliance on all campuses with those directly complicit in the war crimes and colonial subjugation of us the Palestinian people in Gaza, the West Bank,‘48 Palestine and throughout the Diaspora.

These are crucial times as we youth in Gaza are seeing glimpses of the kinds of mass international movement that we are certain will one day bring us the liberation, justice and equality expected by others but denied to us for so long. Each university that boycotts, divests and sanctions from Israel’s apartheid regime is standing on the right side of history, just as students played a huge role in boycotting South Africa’s ugly and similarly racist apartheid regime until it fell in 1994.

Yet apartheid against Palestinians since then has only become more entrenched. In response, our call for boycott from over 170 organisations from Palestinian civil society in 2005[2] has been a lightning rod for others who can relate to our plight. When endorsing the successful boycott and ending of ties between the University of Johannesburg and Ben Gurion University (BGU) this year, the first of its kind, Archbishop Desmond Tutu said:

“While Palestinians are not able to access universities and schools, Israeli universities produce the research, technology, arguments and leaders for maintaining the occupation. BGU is no exception. By maintaining links to both the Israeli Defence Forces and the arms industry, BGU structurally supports and facilitates the Israeli occupation.” [3]

There was no negotiating with such oppression based on race – there was only one word: BOYCOTT. Just as students around the world were banning Barclays bank from campuses for their investment in South African Apartheid in the 1980s, this year we call on you to take similar steps to end Israel’s systematic brutality. To say, “We will no longer be complicit!”, in the decades of ethnic cleansing, military occupation, medieval blockade that has lead to so much tragedy and broken dreams for our youth and students.

Our spirits have been raised by the BDS efforts so far in European Universities, exemplified by Kings College where students and academics have begun a campaign against the research collaboration between their university and Ahava, the cosmetics company based in an illegal settlement. Such long term campaigns are what is required, the cutting edge of international resistance. We ask you to do whatever it takes to isolate and hold Israel to account until it abides by international law and accepts basic premises of human rights and equality for all, including us Palestinians.

This year it is in your hands to see that the tide finally turns across the campuses in Western countries that most enable the Israeli regime’s crimes against us to continue. We hope you put BDS at the forefront of your campaigns and join together for the Israeli Apartheid Week[4],, the pinnacle of action across universities worldwide. And while the walls around us stop us from meeting in person, we have many students and youth happy to participate in skype conferences and other collaborations. We give you all our solidarity and send you our dearest wishes to do us proud this year.

[1] http://www.bdsmovement.net/2011/dont-collaborate-with-apartheid-8202#.Tp-H9Vv9oY1

[2] http://www.bdsmovement.net/bdsintro#.Tp-L81v9oY0

[3] http://www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk/articles/africa/1556-israeli-ties-a-chance-to-do-the-right-thing

[4] http://apartheidweek.org/


Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)

GILAD SHALIT: THE REAL STORY

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
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Everybody’s Son
By Uri Avnery

THE MOST sensible – I almost wrote “the only sensible” – sentence uttered this week sprang from the lips of a 5-year old boy.

After the prisoner swap, one of those smart-aleck TV reporters asked him: “Why did we release 1027 Arabs for one Israeli soldier?” He expected, of course, the usual answer: because one Israeli is worth a thousand Arabs.

The little boy replied: “Because we caught many of them and they caught only one.”

FOR MORE than a week, the whole of Israel was in a state of intoxication. Gilad Shalit indeed ruled the country (Shalit means “ruler”). His pictures were plastered all over the place like those of Comrade Kim in North Korea.

It was one of those rare moments, when Israelis could be proud of themselves. Few countries, if any, would have been prepared to exchange 1027 prisoners for one. In most places, including the USA, it would have been politically impossible for a leader to make such a decision.

In a way it is a continuation of the Jewish ghetto tradition. The “Redemption of Prisoners” is a sacred religious duty, born of the circumstances of a persecuted and scattered community. If a Jew from Marseilles was captured by Muslim corsairs to be sold on the market of Alexandria, it was the duty of Jews in Cairo to pay the ransom and “redeem” him.

As the ancient saying goes: “All Israel are guarantors for each other”.

Israelis could (and did) look in the mirror and say “aren’t we wonderful?”

IMMEDIATELY AFTER the Oslo agreement, Gush Shalom, the peace movement to which I belong, proposed releasing all Palestinian prisoners at once. They are prisoners-of-war, we said, and when the fighting ends, PoWs are sent home. This would transmit a powerful human message of peace to every Palestinian town and village. We organized a joint demonstration with the late Jerusalemite Arab leader, Feisal Husseini, in front of Jeneid prison near Nablus. More than ten thousand Palestinians and Israelis took part.

But Israel has never recognized these Palestinians as prisoners-of-war. They are considered common criminals, only worse.

This week, the released prisoners were never referred to as “Palestinian fighters”, or “militants”’ or just “Palestinians”. Every single newspaper and TV program, from the elitist Haaretz to the most primitive tabloid, referred to them exclusively as “murderers”, or, for good measure, “vile murderers”.

One of the worst tyrannies on earth is the tyranny of words. Once a word becomes entrenched, it directs thought and action. As the Bible has it: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21). Releasing a thousand enemy fighters is one thing, releasing a thousand vile murderers is something else.

Some of these prisoners have assisted suicide bombers in killing a lot of people. Some have committed really atrocious acts – like the pretty young Palestinian woman who used the internet to lure a love-sick Israeli boy of 15 into a trap, where he was riddled with bullets. But others were sentenced to life for belonging to an “illegal organization” and possessing arms, or for throwing an ineffectual home made bomb at a bus hurting nobody.

Almost all of them were convicted by military courts. As has been said, military courts have the same relation to real courts as military music does to real music.

All of these prisoners, in Israeli parlance, have “blood on their hands”. But which of us Israelis has no blood on his hands? Sure, a young woman soldier remotely controlling a drone that kills a Palestinian suspect and his entire family has no sticky blood on her hands. Neither has a pilot who drops a bomb on a residential neighborhood and feels only “a slight bump on the wing”, as a former Chief of Staff put it. (A Palestinian once told me: “Give me a tank or a fighter plane, and I shall give up terrorism immediately.”)

The main argument against the swap was that, according to Security Service statistics, 15% of prisoners thus released become active “terrorists” again. Perhaps. But the majority of them become active supporters of peace. Practically all of my Palestinian friends are former prisoners, some of whom were behind bars for 12 years and more. They learned Hebrew in prison, became acquainted with Israeli life by watching television and even began to admire some aspects of Israel, such as our parliamentary democracy. Most prisoners just want to go home, settle down and found a family.

But during the endless hours of waiting for Gilad’s return, all our TV stations showed scenes of the killings in which the prisoners-to-be-released had been involved, such as the young woman who drove a bomber to his destination. It was a continuous tirade of hatred. Our warm admiration for our own virtue was mingled with the chilling feeling that we are again the victims, compelled to release vile murderers who are going to try and kill us again.

Yet all these prisoners fervently believed that they had served their people in its struggle for liberation. Like the famous song: “Shoot me as an Irish soldier / Do not hang me like a dog / For I fought for Ireland’s freedom…” Nelson Mandela, it should be remembered, was an active terrorist who languished in prison for 28 years because he refused to sign a statement condemning terrorism.

Israelis (probably like most peoples) are quite unable to put themselves into the shoes of their adversaries. This makes it practically impossible to pursue an intelligent policy, particularly on this issue.

HOW WAS Binyamin Netanyahu brought to bend?

The hero of the campaign is Noam Shalit, the father. An introverted person, withdrawn and shy of publicity, he came out and fought for his son every single day during these five years and four months. So did the mother. They literally saved his life. They succeeded in raising a mass movement without precedent in the annals of the state.

It helped that Gilad looks like everybody’s son. He is a shy young man with an engaging smile that could be seen on each of the stills and videos from before the capture. He was youngish looking, thin and unassuming. Five years later, this week, he still looked the same, only very pale.

If our intelligence services had been able to locate him, they would have undoubtedly tried to liberate him by force. This could well have been his death sentence, as happened so often in the past. The fact that they could not find him, despite their hundreds of agents in the Gaza Strip, is a remarkable achievement for Hamas. It explains why he was kept in strict isolation and was not allowed to meet anyone.

Israelis were relieved to discover, on his release, that he seemed to be in good condition, healthy and alert. From the few sentences he voiced on his way in Egypt, he had been provided with radio and TV and knew about his parents’ efforts.

From the moment he set foot on Israeli soil, almost nothing about the way he was treated was allowed to come out. Where was he kept? How was the food? Did his captors talk with him? What did he think about them? Did he learn Arabic? Up to now, not a word about that, probably because it might throw some positive light on Hamas. He will certainly be thoroughly briefed before being allowed to speak.

FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS repeatedly asked me this week whether the deal had opened the way to a new peace process. As far as the public mood is concerned, the very opposite is true.

The same journalists asked me if Binyamin Netanyahu had not been disturbed by the fact that the swap was bound to strengthen Hamas and deal a grievous blow to Mahmoud Abbas. They were flabbergasted by my answer: that this was one of its main purposes, if not the main one.

The master stroke was a stroke against Abbas.

Abbas’ moves in the UN have profoundly disturbed our right-wing government. Even if the only practical outcome is a resolution of the General Assembly to recognize the State of Palestine as an observer state, it will be a major step towards a real Palestinian state.

This government, like all our governments since the foundation of Israel – only more so – is dead set against Palestinian statehood. It would put an end to the dream of a Greater Israel up to the Jordan River, compel us to give back a great chunk of the Land-God-Promised-Us and evacuate scores of settlements.

For Netanyahu and Co. this is the real danger. Hamas poses no danger at all. What can they do? Launch a few rockets, kill a few people – so what? In no year has “terrorism” killed as many as half the people dying on our roads. Israel can deal with that. The Hamas regime would probably not be running the Gaza Strip in the first place if Israel had not cut the Strip off from the West Bank, contrary to its solemn undertaking in Oslo to create four safe passages. None was ever opened.

That, by the way, also explains the timing. Why did Netanyahu agree now to something he has violently opposed all his life? Because Abbas, the featherless chicken, has suddenly turned into an eagle.

On the day of the swap, Abbas made a speech. It sounded rather flat. For the average Palestinian, the case was quite simple: Abbas, with all his Israeli and American friends, has got no one released for years. Hamas, using force, has released more than a thousand, including Fatah members. Ergo: “Israel understands only the language of force”.

THE VAST majority of Israelis supported the deal, though convinced that the vile murderers will try again to kill us.

Never were the lines of division as clear as this time: some 25% opposed it. These included all the extreme right-wing, all the settlers and almost all the national-religious. All the others – the huge camp of the center and left, the secular, liberal and moderate religious – supported it.

This is the Israeli mainstream on which the hopes for the future are resting. If Netanyahu had proposed a peace agreement with the Palestinians this week, and if he had been supported by the chiefs of the army, the Mossad and the Security Service (as he was this week), the same majority would have supported him.

As for the prisoners – another 4000 are still held in Israeli prisons, and this number is liable to grow again. The opponents of the deal are quite right in saying that it will provide Palestinian organizations with a strong incentive to renew their efforts to capture Israeli soldiers in order to get more prisoners released.

If all of Israel is drunk with emotion because one boy has been returned to his family – what about 4000 families on the other side? Unfortunately, ordinary Israelis don’t put the question this way. They have got used to seeing the Palestinian prisoners only as bargaining chips.

How to thwart the efforts to capture more soldiers? There is only one alternative: to open a credible way to have them released by agreement.

Such as by peace, if you can excuse the expression.

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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.

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Also see Stuart Littlewood’s essay HERE

Yes, rejoice for precious Shalit. Spare a thought for the 8,000 Palestinian prisoners

GADDAFI: AMERICA’S CONVENIENT TYRANT

Obama celebrated the killing of Gaddafi.  He did not talk about Gaddafi’s cozy relationship with the US and the west for the past 8 years including torturing people for the CIA.
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Hypocrisy knows no limits

By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
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Obama celebrated the killing of Gaddafi.  He did not talk about Gaddafi’s cozy relationship with the US and the west for the past 8 years including torturing people for the CIA**.  On several occasions, the US administration said that revenge should not be practiced yet no western leader said a word about lynching happening daily in Libya.  A Libyan rebel leader told Al-Jazeera that Gaddafi came out and greeted them but was shot anyway.   I spent two months in Libya (studying its fauna) and know how bad the regime was and I am certainly happy that his rule ended.  Congratulations to the Libyan people.  But we must be cautious.  The US government considers this its first victory in getting a government moved from an erratic despotic western stooge to a government that will be (at least they hope) more reliably dominated and subjugated.  My inside information tells me that they hope Syria would be next so that it will be two for two: Egypt and Tunisia changing from pro-US/Israel to perhaps a democracy (which would mean against US and Israeli interests) vs. Libya and Syria changing from unpredictable western allies to more predictable western puppets (not democracies).  Let us not forget that Bashar Assad (and before him his father) and Gaddafi were not bastions of support for Arab causes.   After all, both had close CIA ties and were more than happy to receive and torture prisoners captured by US forces (a process known as rendering which was never stopped under the Obama administration). The Syrian regime was also an ally with the US in the destruction of Iraq (including the genocide of over 1 million civilians).

By US/Israeli calculations, if the Yemeni or Bahraini dictator is toppled first then the score will be 3:1 and they want Syria’s dictator first.  In their chess game, they are also trying to turn the loss of Tunisia and Egypt into a gain. The US and Israeli governments are meddling in Egypt and Tunisia to stop them from having governments that reflect the will of the people (including the people’s will to boycott Israel and stop helping the US/Israeli designs).  I think they underestimate the Arab people.  In Libya, they believe that Abdul Jalil will stay in his self appointed seat and then open the country (like Iraq) for Western oil exploits, for the US military base (closed in 1969), and establish friendly diplomatic ties with Israel (which already met with the so called national transitional council or NTC).  The NTC is talking about elections “maybe in two years” (in other words after they consolidate power and money and can manipulate the system).  US lawmakers in congress (prostituting themselves for their AIPAC masters) are talking about Libya and Iraq paying (financially) for their “liberation” and that they expect these countries  to have friendly relation with Israel!  But there are already voices within Libya and Iraq who say “enough” BS. I think the Arab spring and Arab people will surprise the (Zionist) US foreign policy makers. Democracy is coming. Stay tuned.

PS: A note to my Kurdish friends and people with contacts in Kurdish areas of Iraq and Turkey: you do have a right to freedom and self determination but please do not (continue to) accept the recently offered support of the regimes in Damascus and Tel Aviv (both regimes have no future in the new democratic Middle East). 

** For examples on Gaddafi’s CIA ties see
(Recall Saddam Hussain’s similar CIA ties)

A Living Movement: Toward a World of Peace, Solidarity, and Justice: Joint Conference of the Peace & Justice Studies Association (PJSA) and the Gandhi King Conference. Hosted by the Christian Brothers University, Memphis, TN, October 21-23, 2011

Secret CIA/FBI files of NUMEC nuclear diversions to Israel could aid $170 million toxic cleanup

THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION OF WALL STREET

The following is proof that my mantra of ‘Never Say Never’ is truth…
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Settler Turned Peace Activist Now Occupies Wall Street

Kobi Skolnick Puts Jewish Stamp on Protest, Not Just on Holidays

Major Occupy-er: Jewish settler-turned-peace activist Kobi Skolnick is a key presence at the Occupy Wall Street protest in lower Manhattan.
Claudio Papapietro Major Occupy-er: Jewish settler-turned-peace activist Kobi Skolnick is a key presence at the Occupy Wall Street protest in lower Manhattan.

At the Downtown Manhattan base camp of the Occupy Wall Street protest movement, young Lubavitchers filter through the activist crowd, seeking Jews. But when one approached Kobi Skolnick, a 30-year-old Israeli with a heavy Hebrew accent, Skolnick lied.

“No, I’m Palestinian!” he told the lulav-bearing Lubavitcher.

Skolnick is, in fact, Jewish. And not only that — he’s a onetime Lubavitcher turned right-wing settler turned peace activist, now at the center of the leftist protest movement roiling cities across the United States and the world.

Despite allegations of anti-Semitism at Occupy Wall Street, Jewish activists can be found at the heart of the anti-corporate movement. And though the Jewish protest actions tagged to Yom Kippur and Sukkot observances have drawn the most attention, those religious activists aren’t the only Jews helping shape the movement’s inchoate message.

On October 15, a group gathered in a corner of Zuccotti Park, the downtown plaza “occupied” by the activists, singing “Solidarity Forever” under a banner bearing the name of Camp Kinderland, a Jewish socialist summer camp.

Days later, Skolnick smoked a cigarette as he showed a Forward reporter through the plaza, past a press gaggle gathering around a visiting Rev. Jesse Jackson, past a set of tables marked “Library” and stacked with hundreds of volumes, and past a long buffet of donated food.

The Occupy Wall Street movement prides itself on its nonhierarchical organization that in principle has no leaders. But Skolnick is an active member of three of the working groups helping to direct the protest, including its public relations group and a group that builds relationships with copycat movements cropping up nationally.

“The first thing here is to raise awareness,” Skolnick said. “In that we already won.”

Skolnick has a small tattoo of a peace symbol on his wrist. He got it in 2004, the same day that he was nearly arrested at a major New York City protest. But he wasn’t always a left-wing activist.

Born to a Lubavitch family in Israel, Skolnick grew up in the southern Israeli town of Kiryat Malachi, attending Lubavitch yeshivas. At 14, he chose to leave the ultra-Orthodox school system for a national religious school, a massive cultural leap out of the isolated Haredi community and into the religious Zionist mainstream. He wound up at a yeshiva in Itamar, a West Bank settlement with a radical reputation, where he joined a youth group affiliated with the extreme right-wing Kahanist movement.

“I would go with them to actions in Palestinian cities, throwing rocks at Palestinian cars,” Skolnick said of his time in the youth movement. He and his comrades would enter the Palestinian city of Hebron, attacking Palestinians who approached them.

But after he joined the Israel Defense Forces, Skolnick said, contact with Palestinians and the deaths of many friends led him to a second reappraisal, one that seems to have stuck.

“Since then, I’ve become active intellectually and physically, trying to create different models of dialogue, trying to change the lack of peace,” he said.

Skolnick, who moved to the United States in 2003, now leads workshops on the conflict, often in tandem with a Palestinian named Aziz Abu Sarah. Their presentations have been sponsored by J Street, among other groups.

But he said that he hasn’t spoken much about his past with fellow activists at Occupy Wall Street.

Skolnick dismisses the charge that the Occupy Wall Street movement is broadly anti-Semitic. That allegation was aired recently in a Web video produced by the Emergency Committee for Israel, a Republican-dominated group that highlighted mainstream Democratic support for the protest alongside images of anti-Semitic protesters.

“It does exist, but it’s like three people,” Skolnick said of anti-Semitic rhetoric at Zuccotti Park. “They’re not articulate enough. You bring facts, and they get stressed.”

When one man brought a sign alleging Zionist control of banks, Skolnick said activists simply made a bigger sign and stood next to him.

Skolnick acknowledged that some activists were critical of Israel. “People don’t like the occupation” of the Palestinian territories, he said. “I myself don’t like the occupation.” He said that he tries to explain to activists that there is a diversity of opinion among Israelis.

Skolnick arrived at the protest in mid-September, just a day after it began. He had wanted to fly back to Israel during the tent protests there this past summer, but he didn’t have the money.

“When it started to take place here, I said, okay, I’m jumping in,” Skolnick said.

He soon quit his job at a restaurant in Brooklyn and dedicated himself full time to the movement. He says that he works for Occupy Wall Street 12 to 16 hours a day, going home only to sleep. He is committed to the cause until at least January 2012, when he’s slated to start a master’s program at Columbia University in negotiation and conflict resolution.

Occupying Wall Street is busy work. When Skolnick checked his cell phone after a 20-minute walk through the Zuccotti Park encampment with the Forward, there were 48 new text messages waiting for him. He said that he receives more than 1,000 e-mails a day.

Skolnick said that he thought the Kol Nidre service organized by Jewish activists across the street from Zuccotti Park in support of Occupy Wall Street was “beautiful,” and he briefly attended even though he is no longer religious.

On the night of October 14, police officers asked Jewish activists to take down a tent that the group Jews for Racial and Economic Justice had set up to facilitate a Friday night meal. According to Dan Sieradski, a key organizer of the Jewish religious events at the protest, when the protesters claimed the tent was a sukkah, police pointed out that one couldn’t see stars through the roof.

Source

PEACE OCCUPATION AT LINCOLN CENTER IN PHOTOS

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The Granny Peace Brigade had an occupation of their own the other night at New York’s Lincoln Center. Joined by many Granpas as well, the Grannies stood their ground when security at the scene threatened to call the police. Many of the observers shouted to leave them alone and the police were never called… A silent victory for their silent vigil.
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Photos © by Bud Korotzer
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NEW YORK TIMES FEARS SHALIT DEAL WILL HARM ISRAEL’S SECURITY

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While applauding the fact that Shalit is now home with his family, a picture of gloom is painted regarding the Palestinian prisoners that were released in yesterday’s swap. In today’s editorial, the New York Times makes it clear what their position on Israel is, basically, the hell with Palestine. Their concern for Abbas and his ilk and total negation of the FACT that Hamas was the Party elected by the Palestinian people shows a total disregard for the hopes and aspirations of those people … Now that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has compromised with Hamas, we fear that to prove his toughness he will be even less willing to make the necessary compromises to restart negotiations. And we fear that the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and his Fatah faction, who were cut out of the swap altogether, will be further weakened.
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Perhaps the time has come for the New York Times and other pro zionist news outlets to reexamine the situation and present the facts, rather than their distorted opinions and lies.
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Gilad Shalit’s Release

We share the joy of Israelis over the release of Sgt. First Class Gilad Shalit, who was held by Hamas for five years. We will leave it to the Israeli people to debate whether the deal — which includes the release of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners — will make their country safer or lead to more violence or more abductions of Israeli soldiers or other citizens.

We are already concerned that the deal will further thwart an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, the only real guarantee of lasting security for both sides.

Now that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has compromised with Hamas, we fear that to prove his toughness he will be even less willing to make the necessary compromises to restart negotiations. And we fear that the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and his Fatah faction, who were cut out of the swap altogether, will be further weakened.

Both Mr. Netanyahu and Hamas were looking for a political win after Mr. Abbas grabbed the international spotlight — and saw his popularity soar — when he asked the United Nations last month to grant his undefined country full membership.

Mr. Netanyahu twisted himself in an ideological knot to get this deal. Only five months ago, he wanted to cut off tax remittances to the Palestinian Authority and urged the United States to halt aid because Mr. Abbas tried to forge a unity government with Hamas, which controls Gaza.

One has to ask: If Mr. Netanyahu can negotiate with Hamas — which shoots rockets at Israel, refuses to recognize Israel’s existence and, on Tuesday, vowed to take even more hostages — why won’t he negotiate seriously with the Palestinian Authority, which Israel relies on to help keep the peace in the West Bank?

Mr. Netanyahu’s backers claim that his coalition is so fragile that he can’t make the compromises needed to help revive peace negotiations. But he was strong enough to go against the grief-stricken families of those Israelis killed by the Palestinian prisoners he just freed. “I know that the price is very heavy for you,” he wrote to them. Why can’t he make a similarly impassioned appeal for a settlement freeze for the sake of Israel’s security?

The United States and its partners should keep trying to get negotiations going. Mr. Abbas should see the prisoner swap for what it is — a challenge to his authority and credibility. The best way to bolster his standing is by leading his people in the creation of a Palestinian state, through negotiations. As for Mr. Netanyahu, we saw on Tuesday that the problem is not that he can’t compromise and make tough choices. It’s that he won’t. That won’t make Israel safer.

Source

SHALIT IS HOME …. FOUR THOUSAND PALESTINIANS REMAIN IN PRISON

All eyes in Israel and Palestine were glued to their televisions this morning as Gilad Shalit was released to Israeli authorities after five years. Emotions ran high on both sides of the wall as he and over a thousand Palestinians were reunited with their families.
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Gilad Shalit speaking to his family after his release, Oct. 18, 2011.
Gilad Shalit speaking to his family after his release, Oct. 18, 2011.IDF Spokesman’s Office 
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On the Israeli side there was much joy and much anger at the same time. Moves to stop his ‘trade’ for one thousand Palestinian prisoners were rejected by the High Court here paving the way for the release.
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In Gaza over a million people are expected to take part in celebrations. In the Occupied West Bank Mahmoud Abbas greeted some of those released referring to them as Freedom Fighters, a term quite alien to a man that has done little or nothing to secure the release of those freed today. Four thousand others remain languishing in Israeli prisons. Abbas did refer to them in his welcome home speech;
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“We thank God for your return and your safety,” Abbas said, greeting the prisoners. “You are freedom fighters and holy warriors for the sake of God and the homeland.” He also said that Israel had promised him to free more prisoners following the two-stage swap. It was the first mention of such a release.

“We hope soon to see [Marwan] Barghouti and [Ahmed] Saadat, as well as every prisoner freed,” Abbas told the thousands of cheering supporters and relatives, referring to two high-profile prisoners who Israel had refused to release.

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As we all know, Abbas has a cordial relationship with his Israeli counterparts, so he might know a few things we don’t. I wouldn’t put it past the Israeli authorities to use him as the chief negotiator to release all the prisoners to take the limelight away from Hamas and  securing his ‘place in the sun’ when all of Palestine will be free.

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Netanyahu, as well, seems to have scored more Brownie Points than needed to guarantee his reelection. Anyone that doesn’t see the opportunism involved is either very naive or totally blind to the reality of the situation. Just ask yourselves  ‘why now’? After so many years away from his family Netanyahu negotiates in ‘good faith’ at a time when his personal ratings are at a high point LOW. It’s all a game and Gilad Shalit was just a pawn in it.

HALLUCINATED PEACE

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Illusionary peace negotiations can only lead to a hallucinated peace
By Sam Bahour
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The world seems to be in deep, collective amnesia. We have been here before—at a point where half-baked initiatives and distorted negotiations based on the power imbalance on the ground and non-compliant with international law were touted as “the right formula” and “the way forward”. It’s wake-up time.

Palestinians do not forget so easily. The deep wounds they carry, of dispossession since the violent creation of Israel in 1948, military occupation since 1967 and non-stop institutional discrimination against Palestinians inside Israel, have never had a chance to heal. Yet Palestinians cling to international law as the way out of their conflict with Israel. I often wonder if one-tenth of what has happened, and continues to happen, to Palestinians were to befall the citizens of London, New York, or Melbourne, would those communities, six decades later, still be begging the international community to uphold the body of law that was designed to keep the peace, or would they choose outright violence to free themselves from foreign military domination? Evidently Palestinians are either extremely bad fighters or they have opted for extreme restraint in the face of insurmountable odds. I think it is a mix of both.

The facts on the ground are bitter, very bitter. To end the perpetual turmoil and enable permanent stability and normalcy in the region, an unambiguous frame of reference for negotiations must be acknowledged and adopted before the first word is spoken at the table. This is not rocket science, although some would like us to believe it is.

Consider some examples: when you visit your local department store, the retailer does not unconditionally sell you a product. Both of you agree to terms of purchase, including, for example, your ability to get a refund. If this transaction goes bad for any reason, civil law is your recourse. Likewise, when someone robs a bank and is apprehended, the judicial process does not call the parties to the courtroom for an unconditional, coffee-shop-like chat to solve their grievances. Exactly the opposite: lawyers make a living by maintaining careful positioning of their case within criminal law and precedents, providing the judge and jury with a baseline legal frame of reference to judge the case. Anyone who has ever sat on a jury knows exactly what I refer to; some things spoken in the courtroom are admissible and some are not. The relevant lesson here is that, whether buying a pair of pants or holding a thief accountable, we all need and accept documented reference points so that we can all coexist in this world.

Consider the sad fact that, for the 20 years since the Madrid talks, Palestinians have failed to insist on a proper legal frame of reference for facilitating an end to Israel’s military occupation. Having belatedly rectified that by requesting UN membership, why are Palestinians now seen as unreasonable in calling for a clear frame of reference (ie, no settlement building) for the negotiation process? The truth is, as a former Palestinian diplomat, Afif Safieh, put it, the Palestinians have been “unreasonably reasonable” and I fear that the international community is now expecting them to stay that way forever.

Launching historic peacemaking negotiations is not the same as asking the Palestinians and Israelis to conduct a dialogue. Dialogue can be variously facilitated, although since the construction of Israel’s illegal separation barrier it has been severely hampered. Political negotiations, however, are not “dialogue” and must have a suitable legal foundation. Only the seriously naive or the seriously disingenuous—hoping, perhaps, to discredit the Palestinian side in advance—would promote a resumption of negotiations without a clear and formal frame of reference, especially after the long list of diplomatic failures over the past decades. The only legal framework applicable in this conflict is international law, in all its parts.

Many world leaders unconditionally support a peace process while failing to see that such a process is not, in and of itself, the goal. The goal is a just and sustainable resolution; by focusing on the “process” detached from the framework of applicable international law, they align with the camp still trying to defend the indefensible: dispossession, discrimination and military occupation of another people.

Sixty-four years have served only to change the reference points for borders in a manner cruelly disadvantageous to the Palestinians, so that calls to respect at least the 1949 Armistice line (the 1967 green line) are no longer respected.

Palestinians must expect that remaining on the same path will result in Israel’s gobbling up more land while the international community fumbles the quest for a workable initiative. Meanwhile, the entire two-state paradigm is collapsing. Thus, the real question today is not whether negotiations can serve a two-state solution, but rather, whether a two-state solution is still in the equation. If so, then maybe Palestinians should challenge the legality of UN Partition Plan Resolution 181 instead of seeking membership based upon it.

Written FOR

LET’S SEE WHAT FOXMAN AND BECK HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THIS…..

 Image by Pete Pasho
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The zionist watchdogs have been attacking Occupy Wall Street since day one insisting it is an anti Semitic movement … You can see their rantings on this video….
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BUT….. they ignore the fact that many Jews are involved in the protests proving that there is a difference between anti zionism and anti Semitism …. the following deals with this;
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Occupy-ing Sukkahs, Across the Nation

Less than a week after a Yom Kippur service drew hundreds to the anti-corporate Occupy Wall Street protest in downtown Manhattan, Jewish activists are building sukkahs at Occupy protests in nine American cities.

Activists say that the sukkahs, temporary dwellings in which Jews are commanded to live during the holiday of Sukkot, will bring a visible Jewish presence to the growing protest movement.

At an October 12 ceremony marking the raising of the sukkah at the New York protest camp, onlookers gathered as activist Dan Sieradski, who organized the Occupy Wall Street Yom Kippur service, struggled to keep his tent-like sukkah from collapsing in the wind.

Once the sukkah was reasonably secured, activists sang and recited a blessing over the bread and the wine.

“I think it brings us more power, more momentum,” Sean Ivins, 22, who came from Salt Lake City to sleep in the protester-occupied plaza, said of the religious Jewish presence at the camp.

Though web videos have surfaced of some Occupy Wall Street protesters making anti-Semitic statements, Ivins said that he hadn’t observed anti-Semitism among the Occupy Wall Street activists. When a protester bearing an anti-Semitic sign came to the protesters’ plaza, Ivins said, two protesters had stood next to him with signs ridiculing his message.

The Jewish activists at Occupy Wall Street say they plan to maintain their sukkah until the holiday ends on October 19

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Is Occupy Wall Street anti-Semitic? Of course not, says Jewish organizer

Jewish media activist Daniel Sieradski, left. [Photo: Jared Malsin]

 

The Emergency Committee for Israel, a conservative Republican group dedicated to criticizing President Obama’s Middle East policy, released an ad Thursday accusing the Occupy Wall Street movement of anti-Semitism.

The ad was the latest in a series of accusations from mainly right-wing pundits and organizations alleging bigotry on the part of the economic justice protesters, who have been camped out in New York and across the country for more than three weeks.

New York Times columnist David Brooks noted on Monday that Adbusters magazine, which was involved in the initial organizing of the protest, published in 2004 an article titled “Why Won’t Anyone Say They Are Jewish?” about Jewish neoconservatives in the Bush administration.

Riffing on Brook’s suggestion, right-wing talk radio stalwart Rush Limbaugh went on to suggest that the slogan “We are the 99 percent” was a variation of the anti-Semitic trope that financial system is controlled by Jews.

In New York’s Zuccotti Park (Liberty Plaza), where the main Occupy Wall Street encampment is located, there is no evidence that the handful of anti-Semitic signs and utterances featured in ECI’s ad are anything other than an isolated fringe, spurned by the rest of the protesters. On Wednesday, one man holding a cardboard sign reading “Google: Zionists control Wall St.” was followed around by another protester with his own sign reading “This guy does not represent Occupy Wall Street. à” with an arrow pointing to the offensive demonstrator.

Protesters also note that Jews have participated in the demonstration from day one. One group, Occupy Judaism, has organized religious services at the protest camp during the Jewish high holidays. Organizers say a thousand worshipers turned out to a Yom Kippur service last Friday.

The prime mover behind Occupy Judaism is new media activist Daniel Sieradski, who was at Zuccotti on Thursday, standing outside a tent which served as a Sukkah, a traditional structure erected by Jews on the holiday of Sukkot.

For Sieradski, the allegations of anti-Semitism highlighted what he sees as a double standard. He told me: “I think it’s really despicable that the media, and in particular the conservative media, is going out of it’s way to falsely represent the activities here, which are not at all incongruous from the tea party protests, which they adamantly defended as not being anti-semitic, despite the fact that there were way more people holding up anti-Semitic signs to the tea party protests.”

He added: “You’re going to tell me that we’re antisemites? My mom grew up ultra-orthodox.”

He also said: “We’re people who care about social and economic justice for all Americans. And we’re not clowns.”

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