AN AFRO-AMERICAN RELIVES SEGREGATION ON A VISIT TO ISRAEL/PALESTINE

When I first visited Occupied Palestine, in 2011, there was something about the experience that seemed very familiar. It was not only the sense of the racist oppression the Palestinians were experiencing; it was something else. When I returned home I realized what it was.

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Traveling Through Palestine While Black: A Firsthand Look at a Slow-Moving Annexation

Witnessing a brutal occupation, where permanent insecurity and maximum humiliation are the norm.
By Bill Fletcher, Jr.*
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A Palestinian boy and Israeli soldier in front of the Israeli West Bank separation barrier.
Photo Credit: Justin McIntosh/Wikimedia Commons

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In the first several days after returning from Israel and Occupied Palestine, I dreamed of Palestine each night. It was never a pleasant dream. While I cannot remember the details, I was always left with a feeling of anxiety and insecurity. In that sense the dreams matched the realities of the Palestinians, be they citizens of Israel or residents of the Occupied Territories. It also corresponded to the emotions raised in a recent trip in which I participated.

Prison

It has become almost a cliché to speak of Gaza, the Palestinian territories on the Mediterranean controlled by Hamas and blockaded by Israel, as the largest open-air prison on the planet. Yet I am not sure I will any longer agree with the limits of that characterization. The Palestinians are all in prison. While Gaza may be a maximum security facility, the West Bank is nevertheless a prison. So little is actually controlled by Palestinians despite the formal notion of autonomy. Israeli military incursions can and do happen at any time convenient for the Israeli government and its military occupation. Palestinians are prohibited from using certain roads. The ominous and illegal separation wall, better known as the apartheid wall, spreads like a disease across the land, dividing the Palestinians not as much from the Israelis as from their own land.

For all of that, it is the sense of permanent insecurity and maximum humiliation that reinforces the feeling one gets of being in a prison. There are checkpoints at seemingly every turn; one is subjected to being stopped at any time. There is an attitude of arrogance and contempt on the part of most of the Israeli military personnel. With their submachine guns and their insistence on using Hebrew in communicating with the Arabic-speaking Palestinians, they invade the space of the indigenous population, always reminding them that there is no such thing as privacy in the Occupied Territories.

An African-American delegation

Within black America there has for decades been an amorphous constituency that, at a minimum, has been interested in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and in many cases has been supportive of Palestinians and their fight for national self-determination and democracy. Yet the issue of Palestine has rarely been one around which African Americans, in any great numbers, have organized and mobilized, or for that matter even spoken out.

It has nevertheless been the case that since the June 1967 Six Day War between Israel and its Arab neighbors, there have been African Americans who have raised questions about the objectives of Israel in its occupation of Palestinian territories and its treatment of its own Palestinian minority. The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) offered an historic condemnation of Israel in the aftermath of the June 1967 war, resulting in SNCC losing a significant portion of its white support in the USA. The black radical movement, of which SNCC was part[during the course of the 1970s], frequently linked the cause of the Palestinians with the struggles against colonialism and white minority rule in Africa. And during the 1970s and 1980s, center-left political figures such as Rev. Jesse Jackson began pushing the US mainstream consensus around the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, insisting on the legitimacy of the demands of the Palestinian people.

The small African-American delegation of which I was a part of in many ways reflected this internationalist tradition. Though broadly speaking progressive, most of the members of the delegation were under 45 and had little background in the Palestinian liberation struggle. Comprised largely of artists, the members of the delegation were individuals cognizant of but not immersed in international issues at the level of organizing and mobilizing.

Almost universally, delegation members were unprepared for the in-your-face brutality of the Occupation. While it may seem melodramatic, the visit was potentially life-changing for each member of the delegation. The question is whether the overwhelming sense of the criminality of the Occupation will be suppressed inside each of us over time since such feelings compel one to ask several questions, not the least being, how can the USA be so complicit in this horror?

The Middle East’s One True Democracy?

It is clear that it is more than possible to visit Israel and have no sense of the apartheid system that operates both within its borders as well as in the Occupied Territories. Such visits happen all the time. It is not possible, however, to visit the Occupied Territories and walk away with such ignorance intact unless, perhaps, one goes directly from Jerusalem to a settlement in the dead of night and fails to leave the settlement’s confines.

Israel has been an explicit occupying power—by international standards—since the June 1967 war when it seized the West Bank from Jordan, the Golan Heights from Syria and the Sinai from Egypt.1 Almost immediately after the commencement of the Occupation, Israel began to construct a system and program of settlements in the Occupied Territories. What too many people in the USA fail to understand—or do not wish to understand—is that settlements on occupied territory represent a violation of international law. Both Israel and Morocco (in the latter’s occupation of the Western Sahara) are explicitly in violation of international law through their respective colonization projects. The United Nations has been quite clear that Israel should stop settlements, but in large part due to the refusal of the United States to take a serious stand against this practice, Israel has snubbed its nose at the UN and at most of the rest of the world.2

The term “settlement” does not properly convey what one sees in the Occupied Territories. What strikes any first-time visitor is that the settlements can better be described as suburban communities, not unlike the communities of stucco-tiled homes that line the hills along the coast of southern California. The word settlements brings to mind tent cities or other impermanent housing arrangements with neither water nor sewer service out in the middle of nowhere. That is not what one sees in the West Bank.

Much as they did within Israel proper, the Israeli authorities have seized lands owned by Palestinians in order to create, in this case, settlements on the West Bank. This land has been seized in the name of security in some instances, and has been seized in other instances because the Palestinians have allegedly abandoned it. In still other cases, land has been seized because Israeli authorities have proclaimed an archeological find located in the territory inhabited by Palestinians, thus justifying land theft and the removal of Palestinians. There are a host of reasons that are offered, with desperate attempts to find justification within an alleged legal framework.

But here is where the trick unfolds. The Israeli authorities make and then enforce respect for the laws that they need in order to advance their own objectives. Even in situations such as Hebron where the Israeli court has agreed that certain territory should be returned to the Palestinians, the Israeli military refuses to comply and nothing has been done about it.3

The “settlements” begin with what look like camps. Indeed, some of them are called outposts if they’re originally built without explicit government approval. They seem innocuous at first, but what is striking is that they are each designed as part of a process of surrounding Palestinian cities. While, for instance, the city of Bethlehem is Palestinian, Israeli settlements have been established around Bethlehem which, in conjunction with the refusal of the Israeli authorities to allow Palestinian expansion, essentially chokes the city itself.

So, for a moment, think about a nice suburban community in the USA. Now, think about several such communities being located on hilltops surrounding a central community inhabited by a different ethnic group that is not allowed to partake in any of the resources of those suburban communities. In fact, residents of that central community are not permitted to use the same roads as the settlers and are not even guaranteed water. It was pointed out that one can tell the difference between Israeli settlements and Palestinian communities by who has water tanks on their roofs. Why? Because the settlers are guaranteed access to water pumped into their homes. Palestinians have to rely on water that is collected over time and stored in water tanks on their roofs.

The West Bank is divided into three zones: A, B and C. “A” are those zones under Palestinian control. “B” is under Palestinian administrative control, but the Israeli military has the final word. “C” is under Israeli military control. Sixty percent of the West Bank is classified as Zone C. These designations, which arose out of the fateful Oslo Peace Accords, have resulted in the interminable squeezing of the Palestinian population. There is no room for their expansion, they control no water and there is the ominous separation wall which disrespects international law by its very existence, cutting through the West Bank and cutting off entire communities from the land that they farm. As one Palestinian explained to me, the Palestinian experience is akin to the legendary Chinese water torture, with the drops of water falling on one’s forehead, slowly driving the person insane. In this case, each drop—each micro- and macro-aggression—is aimed at making the situation so intolerable for the Palestinians that they will abandon their homeland.

You Cannot Run Away From Race

Israel and the Occupied Territories exist within the framework of a particular and peculiar racial hierarchy. During the first three decades of its existence, the world was led to believe that race was not a factor in Israel, discounting, of course, the treatment of the Palestinians. With the appearance of the Israeli Black Panther movement in the early 1970s, all of that changed, and actually introduced complications.

The Israeli Black Panthers originated in the Mizrahi community, that is, Jews from the Middle East and North Africa. They emerged as a militant protest movement challenging an Israeli establishment that was dominated by Ashkenazis (Jews from Europe). Though the movement borrowed the name from the US-based Black Panther Party, in reality the movements had little in common other than addressing, to varying degrees, race. The Israeli Black Panthers were not a particularly left-wing formation and they were not at all sympathetic to the Palestinian people. Instead, they were a movement that challenged racial discrimination and privilege within the Jewish Israeli bloc, but in no way suggested that the very existence of an Israel that marginalized and oppressed Palestinians undermined any intentions or efforts to eradicate racial discrimination.

Thus, the Israeli racial hierarchy exists with the Ashkenazi Jews largely at the top; then the Mizrahi. At that point the hierarchy reformats given that outside of the Jewish Israeli bloc there are three very separate groups: the Palestinians, the Druze (an ethno-religious community), and most recently, African migrants.

There are many people who have been involved with the issue of Palestine who refrain from references to “race” when it comes to describing or analyzing the situation of the Palestinians. Instead, they focus on the “national” aspect of the oppression and the generalized denial of human rights. Yet in walking the streets of Occupied Palestine, and also in walking through Israel-proper, members of our African-American delegation could not escape the feeling that we had seen this before.

The United Nations definition of the “crime of apartheid” from 1973 reads in part: “Inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.” This definition is of critical importance for several reasons, not the least being that it is not limited to the South African or even Southern African context. In other words, as far as the international community is concerned, “apartheid,” as a system, is a category of racist oppression that can exist outside of Southern Africa, though the term itself was coined in South Africa.

The stench of race and the racism perpetrated against the Palestinians is evident throughout Israel and the Occupied Territories, manifesting itself in various forms. The most obvious form surrounds the matter of the “right of return.” Jews, regardless of nationality, are guaranteed a home in Israel. Palestinians, irrespective of whether their families inhabited a piece of land for generations, are not guaranteed the right to return to their lands in Israel if the Israeli state has declared that they have abandoned the land. This is once again in contravention to United Nations resolutions and Geneva Conventions.

Palestinians, regardless of their country of residence, are subject to humiliating harassment when they attempt to enter or leave Israel. Palestinian citizens of Israel find themselves subject to full body searches at airports and other exit points, not to mention extensive interrogations.

As noted earlier, there are certain roads on which Palestinians are prohibited. This was a matter that our delegation directly experienced. The van we were using was authorized to travel on settler-only roads, but our Palestinian guide could only travel with special permission. Yet these “settler-only” roads often run under or through Palestinian land. The inability of Palestinians to use these roads means that travel between various points within the West Bank is nothing short of onerous. A trip that would normally take 30 minutes can end up taking 90 minutes or more.

An additional feature to “race” in Israel and the Occupied Territories is something that can perhaps be described as ecological racism. It concerns trees—specifically, pine trees. In the vicinity of many of the Israeli settlements one finds pine trees. They are very beautiful but there is a problem. These pine trees are not native to Israel/Palestine. They have been brought to the region by Europeans. The planting of these pine trees is as ecologically catastrophic as it is offensive to the Palestinians. There are pine trees that are native to the region, but the settlers have decided to ignore that reality and bring in alien vegetation that is harmful to the land and the water table.4 The settlers have made a practice of planting these European pine trees on the locations of Palestinian villages in the Occupied Territories that were destroyed in order to make way for the Israeli settlements.

In order to understand race, one must appreciate the notion of arbitrariness. Anyone who has directly experienced racism realizes that it is the insecurity and the notion that at any moment matters can be taken out of your hands that makes the racist oppression ever-present and very real. In the case of an African American in the USA, the idea that one can be stopped by the police when driving through a white neighborhood, or in a different scenario, shot and killed by a white homeowner if you happen to knock on his door, that emphasizes the perpetual vulnerability that one experiences.

This is very much the same with Palestinians. A former Israeli soldier, offering insight into the workings of the Occupation, noted that Israeli soldiers are trained and encouraged to engage in random, violent acts against the Palestinians, for example, through invading the homes of Palestinians for no apparent reason. The idea behind such psychological warfare is to keep the Palestinian people perpetually unstable and uneasy.

Violence perpetrated against Palestinians, particularly by settlers, is rarely punished by the Israeli state. Yet any violence by Palestinians against settlers earns the wrath of the settlers and the Israeli military. Again, despite the pretense of a system governed by laws, the Israeli domination of the Palestinians—whether in Israel or in the Occupied Territories—is outside the law. To borrow from the Dred Scott decision in the US, the Palestinians have few, if any rights, that Israelis are bound to respect. Though this is frequently covered in religious and semi-religious rhetoric, the basic fact remains that the Palestinians exist as a subordinate species as far as most Israelis are concerned.

This sense of violence surrounded our experience as a delegation. We never feared a terrorist attack or armed assault by Palestinians. Yet every day, it is fair to say, we approached our activities with caution vis-a-vis the Israelis. One never knew, from one moment to the next, whether we would be held and interrogated, or whether our Palestinian guide would at some point be whisked away from us for allegedly breaking any of the myriad restrictions imposed on the Palestinians by the Israeli establishment.

But the sense of violence was concrete in a different manner. At one point, in a tour of the South Hebron Hills, our van stopped and a guide, who happened to be a former Israeli soldier, had us outside while he was explaining the Israeli system of outposts and settlements. Several settlers drove by, slowly, watching us. In one case a settler, who as it turned out had been implicated in physical assaults on Palestinians, drove by twice, the second time stopping his vehicle immediately behind us where he just sat for several minutes, glowering. Although our Israeli guide was not particularly worried, our delegation, keenly aware of African-American history and black experience at the hands of white vigilantes, was less than sanguine about sitting out in the middle of nowhere. At the end of the day, we all knew that there existed scant (no) justice (system) in the Occupied Territories for people like us.

Race has taken on a newer form in Israel with the introduction of African migrants. There are actually two sets of African migrants. First, the Ethiopian Jews (Falasha), many of whom were brought to Israel in a mass retrieval. The Israeli establishment, irrespective of their rhetoric, has never been entirely comfortable with this population, and Israeli right-wing and semi-fascists are even less so. A recent incident whereby a Falasha, who is an elected member of the Knesset, was not allowed to donate blood highlights the point. Nevertheless, this segment of the population is considered, officially at least, to be legitimate. They are found in the Israel Defense Forces and elsewhere.

Separate and apart from the Falasha are the African migrants who have traveled to Israel as political refugees. Described by none other than Prime Minister Netanyahu as “infiltrators”—a term which I only recently learned had originally been coined to describe expelled Palestinians who crossed back into Israel—this population has grown over the last decade. A significant percentage of these migrants are from Eritrea and Sudan. Their likelihood of gaining citizenship or a legal status is slim to none. Yet, as with migrants in so many other parts of the world—including but not limited to the US—the Israeli economy finds such migrants quite useful as a productive and vulnerable workforce, even if the Israeli political Right wishes them expelled.

Walking through the streets of South Tel Aviv on a Saturday afternoon is a surreal experience. Our delegation saw a huge wedding party of East Africans. A park became the home for hundreds of African men, socializing or simply hanging out. This migrant population has become an unstable element in Israel. The political establishment has shown no interest in offering asylum—temporary or permanent—to these migrants, so many of whom have sought freedom from hunger, repression and war. Instead they have been locked up or are living lives in the shadows. In the recent past they have begun to organize and mobilize, insisting upon their human rights. In fact, our delegation spoke with Israeli supporters of the migrants who informed us that the loose organization of migrants wishes to take their case to the United Nations if the Israeli government continues to refuse to recognize their rights as legitimate refugees.

In the case of both the Palestinians and the African undocumented migrants there is a demographic concern that eats away at the Israeli political establishment. They are actually quite open about this concern. Contrary to the international notion of an ethnically pluralist democracy, the Israeli establishment believes that they, and they alone, have the right to an ethnically/religiously pure nation-state. However, they face four problems: the existence of Palestinian citizens of Israel who represent approximately 20% of the state of Israel and are growing; the Palestinians in the West Bank; a Palestinian Diaspora that insists upon its internationally recognized right to return to the land that they believed that they temporarily vacated in 1948, and later in 1967; and the undocumented Africans.

For the Israeli establishment the sum total of these problems is a demographic threat to Israel. Specifically, the Israeli establishment is deeply worried that they will quickly become another apartheid South Africa or white minority Rhodesia, wherein the Jewish population ends up constituting a minority and is swamped by non-Jews.5 Although publicly cast in religious terms, the problem really comes down to cold demographics, in that sense so very similar to the US Southwest in the period after the US war against Mexico and the white expansion into lands populated by Mexicans and those populated by Native Americans.

Since We Are Talking About Race…

There is another side to race in Israel and Palestine that gained the attention of our delegation: race within the Palestinian community.

Among Arabs, race is a very complicated matter that cannot be distilled down to skin tone or hair texture. The Arabic word that is frequently used for “blacks” is the same word that is used for “slaves” (Abeed or Abid). Yet, some who use that term—as in the case of Northern Sudanese—would be described as black in a US context.6 It is also worth noting that there has been struggle around the very usage of the term, much as there has been in the USA around terms such as “Oriental.”

One can get different signals from within both Arab and Muslim history regarding race. One of the most important people in Islamic history was an Ethiopian slave liberated by the Prophet Muhammad, named Bilal ibn Rabah. And certainly a “black” presence can be seen throughout the Arab world and Arab history, e.g., in the recent past, Egypt’s Nasser and Sadat. At the same time there was the Arab-run slave trade and in various parts of the Arab World biases against those seen or described as black.

Arabs who migrated to the USA (pre-1980) by and large developed a relationship with African Americans that was less than solidaristic. Arab/African American tensions in the US in part reflected the economic niche that many Arabs came to occupy, that is, store owners in African-American neighborhoods, and otherwise having little constructive contact. This was compounded by attempts by Arab immigrants to assimilate into white America, attempts which grew in complexity in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.

The problematic side to the relationship between Arabs and African Americans in the US contrasts with the emergence of a significant Muslim trend within black America and also with the attention that the Arab world received within progressive political circles in black America in the context of the anti-colonial struggles of the 20th century. For example, the Egyptian Revolution and the Algerian Revolution were discussed in African-American political movements and frequently served as points of inspiration. The favorable feeling toward the Arab world in much of black America was aided by the outstanding assistance that Arab nations, such as Egypt and Algeria, offered to anti-colonial struggles in other parts of Africa.

The Palestinian movement, as it moved to the Left and became more radical in its analysis and approach, also saw itself as aligned with other anti-colonial and national liberation movements. This included attention to the African-American people’s movement in the US. The Left within the Palestinian movement had an appreciation of the African-American struggle, but the global solidarity work of the Palestine Liberation Organization never matched that of South Africa’s African National Congress or Pan African Congress of Azania in terms of building a breadth of organized support.

Nevertheless, certainly by the time of the Oslo Accords (1993), the PLO/Palestinian Authority adopted a different and more insular view. Much like Ireland’s Sinn Fein, which in the aftermath of the cease fire in the north of Ireland slowly but surely abandoned many of the broader international relationships it had cultivated, the Palestinian Authority turned in on itself, ignoring many of its global supporters, and sadly, ignoring many from the global Palestinian Diaspora as well. As such, connections that seemed to have existed between the Palestinian movement and black America dried up.

Attention to the matter of racism among Arabs reemerged in the context of the civil war that took place in the Sudan (between the North and the South), and subsequently, the war in Darfur and the genocide that unfolded. As a result of the fact that so many countries of the Arab world united behind Sudanese President Al Bashir in both internal conflicts (claiming that the West was attempting to dismantle the Sudan), and ignored the plight of those who suffered at the hands of his and prior regimes, sensitivity to this issue has grown within segments of black America.

Our delegation was not immune to that sensitivity. Thus, it was fascinating to have begun the trip with a discussion with Afro-Palestinians. There is a lengthy African presence within and among the Palestinian people. While there are those who can trace their ancestry back 1,000 years, over the last 100 years migrants from various parts of Africa settled in Palestine (what is now Israel as well as the Occupied Territories) and were absorbed into the larger Palestinian community. This community sees itself as Palestinian and there has been much intermarriage with other segments of the Palestinian community. Yet, shades of color and the legacy of the Arab slave trade remain a component of the Arab reality, compounded by the impact of European colonialism and its modification of the ignominious color line.

The biases we occasionally encountered were not surprising, any more than unpleasant encounters between an Arab delegation and some African Americans, if the former were visiting the US. The critical matter that confronted us, as a delegation, was the attitude of leading elements of the Palestinian movement toward race both within and among the Palestinian people, but also vis-à-vis the Arab relationship within and toward the larger African world.7 It was here that we began a constructive dialogue that can be mutually beneficial. Among other things it reminded the African Americans that race does not play itself out identically around the world. Our experience with white supremacy in the US, for instance, is quite different from the rationale and operation of race among Arabs, a formerly colonized people. Our experience with white supremacy, however, shares a great deal in common with the Palestinian experience with Israeli apartheid in both the state of Israel and the Occupied Territories.

Time Running Out

When I first visited Occupied Palestine, in 2011, there was something about the experience that seemed very familiar. It was not only the sense of the racist oppression the Palestinians were experiencing; it was something else. When I returned home I realized what it was.

In 2005 I drove with my family from Los Angeles to Boulder, CO. We drove through a Navaho area. There was a sense of depression, if not despair, from the Navaho we encountered and the realization that this proud people had been relegated by a conqueror to less than perfect lands where they were to remain. Some Native Americans were not so “lucky.” They are only remembered by the names of some rivers and towns, having been annihilated in the process of the European expansion westward.

There was a moment in the early 19th century when the demographic balance of North America was not so unbalanced that it might have been possible for Native Americans to have constructed a different outcome. This was the principal focus of the Shawnee leader Tecumseh, but there were others who also recognized the nature of the challenge. Unfortunately, by the time of the US war against Mexico, the balance was clearly against Native Americans. Immigrants from Europe were flooding into North America, and combined with technology (including military technology), the Native Americans were defeated and ultimately marginalized.

While Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. may have been correct in affirming that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice, this does not mean that every morally just struggle wins, at least in the short-term. There is something about timing, which is linked to organization and the extent of support any cause has within both a nation-state context and globally.

As our delegation rode through Israel and the Occupied Territories I could not help but wonder how much time remained for the Palestinians. I do not mean to suggest that they face physical annihilation, in the sense of extermination through mass executions.8 They do face the possibility of a different sort of annihilation. If their land continues to be seized; if they cannot build; if they remain cornered like rats in a maze; they will cease to exist. They will find themselves without their homeland, and much like Native Americans in North America, relocated to some other territory or simply dispersed onto the winds.

Much of the Israeli political establishment believes that Palestinians should be evicted and moved to Jordan. In that sense the Israeli strategy for a slow-moving annexation of the West Bank, as criminal as it is, is nevertheless quite understandable. They want to turn the conditions in the Occupied Territories, along with the conditions for Palestinian citizens of Israel, into something so inhospitable, that there is no choice but to move.

Our delegation certainly was moved to speak out against this abomination. Yet so much more is necessary. Insofar as the leadership of the Palestinian Authority is prepared to make serial and humiliating concessions to the demands of Israel and its US sponsors, the future of the Palestinians will resemble the reality of today’s Native American nations in North America. In the alternative, the extent to which the global community is moved to counter the current denial of Palestinian rights, appropriation of Palestinian lands, and displacement of Palestinian people—as occurred with regard to colonialism and white minority rule in Africa—is the extent to which Dr. King’s arc will bend toward justice.

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1 Some in the Palestinian movement have taken the position that the entire area of historic Palestine is occupied. They base this claim on the manner in which the United Nations divided up the then-British-controlled “Palestine Mandate” into Jewish zones and Arab zones (and Jerusalem as an international city) without the input or approval of any Arabs, not the least being the exclusion of the Palestinians themselves. In the text of this essay, however, the use of the term “occupied” makes reference to territories seized by Israel through the June 1967 war.

2 Morocco, in part due to its alliance with France and the US, has done much the same.

3 For more on the situation in Hebron, see: Allison Deger, “Palestinians in Hebron demand Israel ‘Open Shuhada Street’ and protest 20th anniversary of Ibrahimi Mosque massacre,” Feb. 24, 2014, mondoweiss.net/2014/02/palestinians-twentieth-anniversary.html. Additionally, see: Alternative Information Center, “Settler Aggression Against Palestinian Children in Hebron,” Institute for Middle East Understanding, April 14, 2011, at imeu.net/news/printer0020752.shtml.

4 It is interesting to note that European settlers did much the same thing in South Africa. The post-apartheid government began taking steps to remove the alien vegetation due to its impact on the environment.

5 A close examination of the current numbers, if one were to look at the Gaza, West Bank, and Palestinian citizens of Israel, points to the basis for the demographic unease within the Israeli establishment. This helps to explain the xenophobic tendencies within the right-wing of the Israeli establishment that would actually like to envision a wholesale population “swap.”

6 Look at a picture of Sudan President Al Bashir, for instance.

7 The wording of this challenge is complicated by many factors. “Arab” represents a culture and Arabic is a language. Arabs are themselves quite diverse. In fact, there is an overlap between Arabs and other ethnic groups in North Africa especially, e.g., the Berbers. Arabs are part of Africa (and Asia) and the broader African world, while at the same constituting their own Arab world. Neither is monolithic. The Maghreb, or the Arab world to the west of Egypt, includes various tribes and ethnicities as far west as the Western Sahara and Mauritania.

8 The Deir Yassin massacre is among the most well-known of the ethnic cleansings carried out against Palestinians between 1946-’49 at the hands of Zionist military units.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a racial justice, labor and international writer and activist. He is a senior scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum, an editorial board member of BlackCommentator.com, and the co-author of Solidarity Divided.

 

Related Links

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ROSA PARKS

 

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Rosa is 104 today

Rosa

By Tom Karlson

She is supported  yes

Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Mother Jones, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Lucy Parsons,

and la rage des oublies

She stands, then sits and fifty thousand walk

(three hundred and eighty days)

CNN wants us to believe

this small framed seamstress…chosen by god…mother of the civil rights movement… humble… meek…tired

YES TIRED of Jim Crow, racism, lynching

yes tired

but this is no stripped down fox-murdock retelling

her’s is no spur of the moment

forty-two years of forged steel

and three hundred years of chained ghosts

this is the time

of

Emmet Till

joe mccarthy-j edgar hoover

and the Highlander Center

where Marx and Gandhi sing songs of struggle

and students, auto workers, and coal miners

are schooled on integration, sit-ins, boycotts and strikes

as the NAACP and A Phillip Randolph fight for freedom

half a century later

Rosa lies in state

and brings honor to the Rotunda

a smile to the great liberator

(where twenty three years before j edgar was deposited briefly before burial)


THERE WILL NOT BE PEACE IN ISRAEL UNTIL …

There can be no talk of peace in the current climate. The struggle faced by the Palestinians in Israel is for full civil rights and an end to discrimination, as the struggle faced by their brethren in the Palestinian territory is to end the 46-year-long occupation. Both will continue to fight for these human rights, because they can’t be trampled on forever.

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Palestinians in Israel The Struggle for Rights

By Fida Jiryis *


“In fact, in the ‘sovereign state of the Jewish people’ there is little hope that Arab citizens will gain equal rights. For the Jewish majority, Israel is comparable in its civil liberties and inequities to Western democracies. But Arabs have no place in the Jewish state, except as a tolerated but essentially foreign element […] There is no substantial segment of Israeli society that opposes or seriously questions the fundamental principle of discrimination.”i
Few situations are as complex or riddled with contradiction as that of the Palestinian citizens of Israel. While many other minorities in the world suffer from discrimination and animosity, few are seen so blatantly as an enemy who must be treated with systematic oppression, with the hope that it would somehow disappear. A ludicrous notion, yes, but one that is deeply entrenched in the Israeli psyche and that will take a long process of understanding to reverse.Sadly, that process has not begun. Israel’s Palestinian minority is treated with mounting animosity and suspicion, targeted by a system of institutionalised, state-condoned discrimination and racist laws. In the “only democracy in the Middle East,” it has become commonplace to speak of a Jewish-only state, oaths of allegiance to such a state, and the threat of revoking citizenship from any dissidents – which is unparalleled worldwide and is against human rights – whose “crimes” may amount to no more than speaking out against injustice. In fact, the state goes far beyond this: it refers to its Palestinian citizens as a “demographic problem,” and its politicians frequently speak on policies of “transferring” them to the Palestinian territories, as though these “citizens” are pawns to be moved at will. In short, Israel defines itself as a Jewish state, and those Palestinians who live in it – about 1.5 million people, or a fifth of its population – are a thorn in its side. It wants to be rid of them to fully practice being its exclusionist self.

While these Palestinians are, on paper, free and equal citizens of the state, in reality, this citizenship is far from equal. I have only to travel through Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, for example, to be reminded of this. The infamous search process there has been described by many, and I’ve met one or two foreigners who, after having experienced it, have sworn never to come back. As soon as I line up at the check-in, an army of security personnel pounces. They see my passport, recognise me as Palestinian, and immediately give me a sticker that indicates that I must be searched. I’m then subjected to long, detailed questioning about where I’m going and for what purpose, and an equally harrowing baggage search, which is done slowly and manually, as though the x-ray machines wouldn’t pick up objects of suspicion. People’s reaction to this treatment is varied; some are frightened and intimidated, but most are humiliated and furious; many a voice rises in these halls.

Well, one does not travel every day. More pressing are the questions of daily life and work. For Palestinians to actually get jobs in the Israeli system is an exercise in itself. When I arrived in the Galilee in 1995, fresh out of Lancaster University in England with a BSc in computer science and some work experience, numerous interviewers in Israeli hi-tech companies demanded my army number. I was unable to provide it. Palestinians are exempt from serving in the Israeli army that oppresses their fellow Palestinians in the occupied territories. I was thanked and told that the companies would “call me.” No such calls came. In fact, as I discovered, this is the state’s way of discriminating against Palestinians in employment without appearing to do so outright. In the few instances when I found a job, it was in smaller companies with less rigid hiring procedures that were usually desperate for someone who knew English, since neither Arabs nor Jews in Israel are especially fluent in English. Twice, I found myself the only Arab among thirty or more Israeli employees.

The state has put in place an almost mind-boggling array of discrimination tools, such that one almost wonders at the ingenuity with which a people can practice systematic oppression of another.

In every Arab community, and in the five mixed cities where both Jews and Arabs live, de facto discrimination is readily apparent. Israel’s 1.37 million Arab citizens vote, pay taxes, and speak Hebrew, yet they suffer pervasive discrimination, unequal allocation of resources and violation of their legal rights. Housing, education, and income all substantially lag behind those of the Jewish majority. Only 3 percent of the land in Israel proper is owned by Arabs; permits are rarely granted to Arab families to expand their housing; and most Jewish towns and neighbourhoods remain off-limits.ii

Even more alarming, Israeli society is tending more towards right-wing ideology and racism. A 2012 surveyiii found that most Israelis believe that the state practices “apartheid” against Palestinians, and they are in favour of this. One-third to one-half of Jewish Israelis, according to the survey results, want to live in a state that practices formal, open discrimination against its Arab citizens.

The majority of the Jewish public, 59 percent, wants preference for Jews over Arabs in admission to jobs in government ministries. Almost half the Jews, 49 percent, want the state to treat Jewish citizens better than Arab citizens; 42 percent don’t want to live in the same building with Arabs and 42 percent don’t want their children in the same class with Arab children.

A third of the Jewish public wants a law barring Israeli Arabs from voting for the Knesset and a large majority of 69 percent objects to giving 2.5 million Palestinians the right to vote if Israel annexes the West Bank.

A sweeping 74 percent majority is in favour of separate roads for Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank.

The findings “reflect the widespread notion that Israel, as a Jewish State, should be a state that favours Jews,” wrote Noam Sheizaf, an Israeli journalist and blogger. “They are also the result of the occupation … After almost half a century of dominating another people, it’s no surprise that most Israelis don’t think Arabs deserve the same rights.”

Far from building bridges and attempting to negotiate a peaceful reconciliation, we live at the opposite end of the spectrum.

What do people do? Well, what they do everywhere else: they get up, send their children to school, and go out to battle the odds for survival every day. Some attend Israeli universities, get degrees, then usually find themselves in lower paying jobs that they’re just glad to have. Others finish school and, with difficult financial conditions being prevalent among the Arab population and their not being eligible for any government student loans, find themselves out of education and in the workforce. A large number of Israel’s Palestinians thus work in construction, factories, and other forms of manual labour simply because of lack of opportunity. Many university graduates also join these ranks after spending years looking for a professional job to no avail.

But Palestinians are highly resilient, because they’ve simply had to be. So they keep their culture, speak their language, albeit with a lot of Hebrew influence, and practice their customs. They protect as much as they can of their heritage and push forth for a decent life in this state that was forced on them. And, at the end of the day, they’re not going anywhere.

In recent years, also, youth have become fed up with the system and are more forthcoming in voicing their dissent. Their parents and grandparents grew up in a culture of military rule; today’s generation is far from being intimidated. It is getting more education and is realising, as it sees itself within the world and looks at other countries, that it is living in a system of apartheid. There is increasing awareness among Palestinians, even the poorest and least educated, that they are not being treated fairly and that discrimination is a yoke on their backs.

There can be no talk of peace in the current climate. The struggle faced by the Palestinians in Israel is for full civil rights and an end to discrimination, as the struggle faced by their brethren in the Palestinian territory is to end the 46-year-long occupation. Both will continue to fight for these human rights, because they can’t be trampled on forever.

*Fida Jiryis is a Palestinian writer, editor, and author of Hayatuna Elsagheera (Our Small Life), 2011, and Al-Khawaja, 2013, two collections of Arabic short stories depicting village life in the Galilee. 


i The Arabs in Israel, Sabri Jiryis, Monthly Review Press, USA, 1976, p. xi.
ii The Paradox of Ethnicity and Citizenship, New Israel Fund, 2011, http://www.nif.org/issue-areas/israeli-arabs/
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iii The new Israeli apartheid: Poll reveals widespread Jewish support for policy of discrimination against Arab minority, Catrina Stewart, The Independent, Tuesday October 23, 2012; Survey: Most Israeli Jews wouldn’t give Palestinians vote if West Bank was annexed, Gideon Levy, Haaretz, October 23, 2012.

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MARTIN LUTHER KING JR’s DREAM HAS BECOME OUR NIGHTMARE

SPECIAL IMAGES IN HONOUR OF MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. 

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This is what it all really boils down to …
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DON’T LET BAD SANTA GET HIS CLAWS ON YOU

More on NSA’S latest attempt to destroy America …

 

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Click HERE to see more and to do something about it. The bad Santa must be stopped in his tracks!

MAKE SURE IT’S THE REAL SANTA CLAUS

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‘THE NSA IS COMING TO TOWN’

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TAKE ACTION NOW WHILE YOU STILL CAN!

CLICK HERE

CRITICISM OF ISRAEL WILL NOW COST DEARLY

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

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The bill proposes a 45% tax charged on nonprofit foundations and organizations that receive foreign donations and that take part in the following activities:

  • Advocating the boycott, divestment, or sanctioning of Israel or its citizens.
  • Calling for the trial of IDF soldiers in international courts.
  • Denying Israel’s existence as a Jewish and democratic state.
  • Inciting to racism.
  • Supporting armed struggle against the State of Israel by an enemy state or terror organization.
NGO bill approved by ministers despite controversy

Habayit Hayehudi proposal to heavily tax foreign donations to NGOs that are critical of government passes ministerial committee. Opposition response: Dangerous, dictatorial decree

Ministers approved the controversial NGO bill proposed by Knesset members Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) and Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beiteinu) on Sunday. The bill passed a vote of the Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs, with the support of ministers from Shaked’s party and from Likud-Beiteinu.

Representatives of the left slammed the proposal, calling it “dangerous and dictatorial,” noting the bill was intended to silence any one who dares to criticize the administration and think differently. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said she intended to appeal the proposed legislation.

The bill proposes a 45% tax charged on nonprofit foundations and organizations that receive foreign donations and that take part in the following activities:

  • Advocating the boycott, divestment, or sanctioning ofIsrael or its citizens.
  • Calling for the trial of IDF soldiers in international courts.
  • Denying Israel’s existence as a Jewish and democratic state.
  • Inciting to racism.
  • Supporting armed struggle against the State of Israel by an enemy state or terror organization.

Habayit Hayehudi welcomed the approval of the bill, saying: “The bill will help defend IDF soldiers from perverse lawsuits funded by foreign actors. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni’s appeal against the bill is an irresponsible move.”

The statement added: “Every day in which the bill does not become law, IDF soldiers are in danger and their operational ability is damaged. Minister Livni would do well do put aside political considerations and stop delaying this bill.”

‘Narrow-minded, anti-democratic decision’

Minister Livni said during the discussion that being patriotic means not passing anti-democratic legislation: “The State of Israel wants to protect IDF soldiers in international tribunals and the rule of law in Israel affects the decisions of these tribunals.”

She added that “Habayit Hayehudi’s proposal will harm IDF soldiers, not protect them. This is a populist proposal under the guise of patriotism, which will hurts Israel’s ability to defend IDF soldiers.”

Yesh Atid ministers joined Livni in opposing the bill.

Chairman of the opposition, Isaac Herzog said: “The decision of the ministerial committee in the name of the Israeli government is narrow-minded, anti-democratic and shuts down any one who dares not emulate her thinking. The next stage of this bill’s implementation is forming a thought police that will determine who pays fines for an opinions and who doesn’t, who is blacklisted politically and who isn’t.”

According to Herzog, “Israel is becoming less and less democratic. Everyone who loves the country and holds it dear must oppose this law with all their might. It is up to the prime minister and the Knesset plenum to cancel the decision of the ministerial committee.”

The left said the proposal is a witch hunt of those who dare oppose the government. Before the committee’s discussion,Meretz chairwoman, Zahava Gal-On said: “Woe to the administration that supports it.”

On Friday, the Justice Ministry announced that Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein opposed the proposal. In the opinion presented to the committee it was noted that Weinstein thinks the bill is unconstitutional and is meant as a means of punishment to foundations, which will thwart donations to them and hurt the public dialogue in Israel.

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Related Report

ESSAY OF IMAGES ~~ WHAT DEMOCRACY IS (NOT)

As Thanksgiving approaches, we reflect on what we were once thankful for …

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POWER TO THE SHEEPLE! ~~ IMAGE AND VIDEO

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THE KOSHER KLANSMEN OF ISRAEL

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They seem to have forgotten what they were ‘never to forget’
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“If we blur this message and say this is a country for all its citizens,” he warned, “and the other automatically becomes a citizen with equal rights, and you don’t have any special privileges just because you are a Jew, unfortunately, in moral terms, that’s like scoring a goal against your own team.”
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Rabbi patrols Israeli town to drive away Africans: video

 Ali Abunimah
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When Senator Barack Obama visited the Israeli town of Sderot, as part of his presidential election campaign in June 2008, he received an enthusiastic welcome despite the fact that his father was from Kenya.

But migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers from African countries arriving in the town today receive a very different welcome, as local rabbi Ariel Bareli works to drive them away.

Journalist and videographer David Sheen caught Bareli on video explaining his tactics “to convince people to not rent them apartments.”

Proud to have shut down church, community center

“We pressured people in various ways, talking to people in the community,” Bareli said, “and we patrolled to try to make things hard for them.”

“We had a battle here when they began to create communal institutions, and especially a church and a community center,” Bareli added. “We fought against it, and eventually the Sderot city council shut the place down.”

“It’s very important to me that in Sderot the people in my community won’t have to deal with Sudanese people who pray in churches, because that’s how Sderot begins to change.”

Bareli, who said he has lived in Sderot for 15 years, identified himself as the rabbi of a synagogue called “Demanding Good.”

Bareli’s anti-African campaign is reminiscent of a call by hundreds of Israel’s state-financed rabbis urging landlords in cities across the country to refuse to rent homes to Palestinian citizens of Israel.

It also comes amid an intensified atmosphere of racism and incitement against Africansencouraged by top Israeli government officials and politicians.

Defending Jewish supremacy

Bareli defended the idea of Israel being a “Jewish state” in which one group has superior rights.

“If we blur this message and say this is a country for all its citizens,” he warned, “and the other automatically becomes a citizen with equal rights, and you don’t have any special privileges just because you are a Jew, unfortunately, in moral terms, that’s like scoring a goal against your own team.”

“Why bother fighting … killing people?” asks the Israeli rabbi, in defense of inferior rights for non-Jews.

Bareli accused Sudanese people in particular of causing a “demographic problem” and urged the government to pay them to leave the country.

Following the success of his anti-African campaign in Sderot, Bareli is now moving to Tel Aviv to set up a similar effort there, which was inaugurated by Israel’s deputy minister for religious affairs.

Background: Sderot in Israeli propaganda

Sderot is a small town in present-day Israel located a few miles from Gaza. It has featured prominently in Israeli propaganda in recent years, due to the frequency with which it was hit by rockets, fired at Israel by resistance groups in Gaza, resulting in several deaths and injuries of Israeli noncombatants as well as property damage over the years.

Palestinian resistance groups have said that the rocket fire was aimed at deterring frequent Israeli attacks on the civilian population in Gaza.

However, the 2009 UN-commissioned Goldstone report found that because the rockets are “uncontrolled and uncontrollable,” their firing amounts to “the commission of an indiscriminate attack on the civilian population … a war crime, and may amount to crimes against humanity.”

Obama’s 2008 visit came as Sderot became an obligatory stop for politicians to declare limitless sympathy and support for Israel, while ignoring the utter devastation and mass killing regularly wrought by Israel in Gaza just a few short miles away, usually when Israel breached an effective ceasefire.

 

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PALESTINIAN YOUTH TAKE BACK THE NIGHT

After watching their land being raped for over 65 years, Palestinian youth are attempting to take back the night …
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The new wave of movements which have gained prominence this summer can be traced back partly to a group of third generation, internally displaced youth from the village of Iqrit, who in August 2012 decided that they would take matters into their own hands and return to their ancestral village.
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Palestinian youth assert right of return with direct action

Nadim Nashef*
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Summer camps aim to reconnect Palestinian youth to their ancestral villages. (Photograph courtesy of Baladna)

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During the summer of 2013 a new grassroots movement burst onto the scene and announced itself as a major development in the long struggle for the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

Activities occurring throughout the Galilee region of present-day Israel have been held which reaffirm the connection of the younger generation of internally displaced Palestinians to their ancestral villages. Events and projects simultaneously take practical steps to realize this long-denied, fundamental right.

The right of return is one of the most evocative and central issues for Palestinians ever since the Nakba (catastrophe) of 1948, which saw the destruction of more than 530 Arab villages and the displacement of approximately 800,000 Palestinians. The majority of them ended up as refugees in neighboring Arab states, or in those parts of Palestine which initially remained outside of Israeli control, namely the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Between 30,000 and 40,000 managed to remain inside the new state of Israel, however, finding refuge in nearby towns which had survived the ethnic cleansing of the majority of Palestine’s villages.

Brutal Israel

Attempts by the original inhabitants to return to their villages in the immediate aftermath of the Nakba were fought against by the new state, which used all the means at its disposal, often brutally.

Dispersed villagers attempting to return from outside the borders of the new state were often shot dead on sight by the Israeli army. Meanwhile, villagers attempting to return who had managed to remain within the borders of the new state were routinely rounded up and deported as “infiltrators.” Legislation such as the Absentees Property Law enabled the confiscation of property of those Palestinians who had been made into internally displaced persons, while denying their rights to live there or even to enter the site of their ancestral lands.

Between 1948 and 1955, the majority of these villages were destroyed by the Israeli army and covered either with pine forests or new Jewish-only settlements. In many cases, a cemetery, mosque or church was the only remaining evidence of a village’s existence.

The new wave of movements which have gained prominence this summer can be traced back partly to a group of third generation, internally displaced youth from the village of Iqrit, who in August 2012 decided that they would take matters into their own hands and return to their ancestral village.

Iqrit’s residents were originally ordered out of their village for two weeks shortly after the Nakba for so-called security reasons. Exceptionally, three years later they obtained Israeli high court approval to return, and received information that they would be able to return on Christmas Day, especially symbolic for the Christian community.

On that day in 1951, as the villagers waited to return, the Israeli army razed the village to the ground.

Potent symbol

Now living in two small rooms built as extensions of the still-standing church, Iqrit’s youth activists today sleep in the village in shifts in order to maintain a permanent presence there. This summer a small football stadium was also built, a potent symbol of the will and permanence of their return.

Iqrit’s community has been organizing summer camps for its younger members annually since 1996; this year approximately 200 youth between the ages of 8 and 16 attended. The aim of the camp was to help the youth develop their identity by teaching them about their own history, and connecting this to the wider Palestinian history before 1948.

In addition to the summer camp and the newly permanent presence, villagers hold religious celebrations during Easter and Christmas in the local church. The village’s cemetery is also still in use.

The youth-led, grassroots approach of Iqrit is very much indicative of the movement as a whole. Youth took the lead in 2013’s “Summer of Return,” ensuring that demands for the right of return find a renewed voice among the latest generation of the dispossessed.

One village which has adopted Iqrit’s strategy of youth-based return is Kufr Birim. Located close to the boundary between Israel and Lebanon — not far from Iqrit — for the past few years Kufir Birim has played host to summer camps for children.

This summer, people with family connections to Kufir Birim have also decided to maintain a permanent presence in the village, centered around the old community’s surviving church. However, their initiative has not been without obstacles.

Refusing to leave

In August, the Israel Lands Authority told the camp’s members that they had to leave within a week or they would be removed by force (“Authorities threaten displaced community’s return to village,” +972 Magazine, 22 August 2013).

On 28 August, Iqrit also received a visit by inspectors from the Israel Lands Authority, accompanied by border policemen. They came during the morning and confiscated tents and beds, uprooted the small garden, removed signs and destroyed property, including the new football stadium.

However, as in Kufr Birim, the youth are not willing to leave their ancestral land.

This summer has also witnessed a very successful summer camp in the village of Ghabisiya, while Baladna (the Assocation for Arab Youth) and a number of other groups initiated the Udna (Our Return) project with the participation of five ethnically cleansed villages: Saffuriyya, Miar, Maalul, Lajjun and Iqrit, with one youth group in each village.

The project aims to educate the new generation with family connections to these villages of their history and rights, with film screenings and storytelling featuring residents who survived the expulsion. Practical approaches to the issue of return such as town planning and logistics were also explored, while musical events by local artists added a cultural feature.

Iqrit, Kufr Birim, Ghabisiya, Saffuriyya, Miar, Malul, Lajjun. These are just seven of the Palestinians towns and villages which were destroyed and whose inhabitants were displaced during the Nakba.

Yet the combined activities of these villages during the summer of 2013 represent the most significant movement in the struggle for return since the years following the Nakba. Far from forgetting their roots and historical injustices, the latest generation of Palestinians inside Israel are showing their dedication to their right of return.

This, combined with the youth’s energy, enthusiasm and innovative approaches, has resulted in a grassroots, youth-led movement unprecedented in the history of activism for the right to return. Whatever the immediate reaction of Israeli authorities to the return of villagers in Iqrit and Kufr Birim, these movements have captured the imagination of people across historic Palestine, young and old.

And while the future of the movement is full of uncertainty, the determination and energy of our youth alone is reason for optimism.

*Nadim Nashef is is the director of the Haifa-based Association for Arab Youth-Baladna.

 

 

Written FOR

JIM CROW ALIVE AND WELL ON THE ROAD TO WASHINGTON

Based upon the speeches during the main portion of today’s events there can be little doubt that the Dr. King who was murdered in Memphis in 1968 would not have been allowed to speak at this fiftieth-anniversary commemoration of his life.
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Seeing ‘New Jim Crow’ Placards Seized by Police & More From the March on Washington

Dave Zirin
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Marchers carry signs in remembrance of Trayvon Martin during the 50th anniversary commemoration of the March on Washington August 24, 2013. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan
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I spent eight hours today amongst thousands at the March on Washington, and the people present were some of the most remarkable, resilient people I have ever had the privilege to be around. The number-one face on T-shirts, placards, and even homemade drawings was not President Obama or even Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was Trayvon Martin. I also witnessed homemade signs calling for jobs programs, speaking out against the school closures and in solidarity with those overseas victimized by US militarism. The people at this march are the face of resistance to what Dr. King called the “evil triplets of militarism, materialism and racism.”

The main speakers at the march, however, did not match the politics and urgency of those who gathered in the Saturday heat. Even more frustrating is that few tried. I expect to get all kinds of hate mail for what I’m about to write, but not to write it would be an act of duplicity based on what I saw and what I heard. I saw the great Julian Bond get only two minutes to say his piece before being shuttled from the stage. I saw Reverend Jesse Jackson, who has done remarkable work in recent years against the banks and Chicago school closures, also get less time than a pop song. I saw Reverend Lennox Yearwood, who is doing some of the most important work in the country connecting climate change to racism, get ninety seconds before being cut off. There was one speaker at the 8 am pre-rally who said the word “drones,” and that was it for any discussion of US foreign policy.

Based upon the speeches during the main portion of today’s events there can be little doubt that the Dr. King who was murdered in Memphis in 1968 would not have been allowed to speak at this fiftieth-anniversary commemoration of his life. There was no discussion of the “evil triplets.” Instead, we had far too many speakers pay homage to the narrowest possible liberal agenda in broad abstractions with none of the searing material truths that make Dr. King’s speeches so bracing even today.

As Representative Nancy Pelosi spoke, it was difficult to not think of her defense of the NSA spying program or her vote against cutting funding to stop the mass monitoring of phone calls.

As future New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, Wall Street’s best friend, spoke at the front of this March, it was difficult to not think of the Dr. King who said, “The profit motive, when it is the sole basis of an economic system, encourages a cutthroat competition and selfish ambition that inspires men to be more concerned about making a living than making a life.”

As Attorney General Eric Holder, the person who is not bringing federal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman, was allotted 30 minutes—fifteen times that of Julian Bond—to speak from the front stage, it was difficult to not think about the fact that it has taken five years for him to say anything about mass incarceration in this country. The late Bayard Rustin insisted, as the lead organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, that no politicians or political appointees be allowed to speak. Clearly, there were different principles at work today.

Yes it was profoundly moving to see Representative John Lewis, the only living speaker from the 1963 March on Washington. Yes, it was right on time for the march organizers to give the incredible Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, time to speak – albeit far too briefly. But the closest thing to an administration critic was 9-year-old Asean Johnson, who has been on the front lines fighting school closures in Chicago, bringing the fire to both President Obama’s confidante Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and the education agenda of Arne Duncan. I love Asean Johnson, but given the problems we face, far more was needed.

The day was symbolized for me on multiple levels by seeing DC Park police seize 200 professionally printed placards from activists that were distributing them for free. The placards read, “Stop Mass Incarceration. Stop the new Jim Crow.” Police said that it was “unlawful solicitation”, even though organizers were clearly giving them away. When those having their signs seized complained, they were threatened with fines or arrest. I heard one DC police officer say, “Hey, you can get them back at the end of the day. On second thought, given your attitude you cannot. “

I have never seen free placards confiscated at a national gathering by DC police. Then again, I’ve also never seen a demonstration so thickly monitored, with park police, the Department of Homeland Security and the military on every corner.

Today, those “triplets of evil” King warned us about 1967 still strangle this country. If we are not talking about the New Jim Crow, Wall Street and militarism, then what are we doing? King said, “If an American is concerned only about his nation, he will not be concerned about the peoples of Asia, Africa, or South America. Is this not why nations engage in the madness of war without the slightest sense of penitence? Is this not why the murder of a citizen of your own nation is a crime, but the murder of citizens of another nation in war is an act of heroic virtue?” Given US foreign policy, how can one say that they stand in King’s legacy and not raise these issues?

I would ask those who find this objectionable to ask themselves, “What would Dr. King/Ella Baker/Fannie Lou Hamer/Malcolm X think about today’s march?” I don’t presume to know the answer to that question, but I know that we only honor their memory by asking it.

For more from the March on Washington, Ari Berman reports on the new civil rights movement and the most important speakers at the march.

 

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PHOTO OF THE MONTH AND CALL TO ACTION

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 What is the Prawer Plan? 
On 24 June 2013, the Israeli Knesset approved the discriminatory Prawer-Begin Bill, with 43 votes for and 40 votes against, for the mass expulsion of the Arab Bedouin community in the Naqab (Negev) desert in the south of Israel. If fully implemented, the Prawer-Begin Plan will result in the destruction of 35 “unrecognized”Arab Bedouin villages, the forced displacement of up to 70,000 Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel, and the dispossession of their historical lands in the Naqab. Despite the Arab Bedouin community’s complete rejection of the plan and strong disapproval from the international community and human rights groups, the Prawer Plan is happening now.
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The Prawer-Begin Bill is an unacceptable proposition that entrenches the state’s historic injustice against its Bedouin citizens. Adalah and our NGO partners have been challenging the Prawer Plan before courts, government authorities and the international community, but we need your help to stop what would be the largest single act of forced displacement of Arab citizens of Israel since the 1950s!
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Please sign our petition and visit our Facebook page to find out what you can do to Stop the Prawer Plan!
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What is the Prawer Plan?
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Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel, inhabitants of the Naqab (Negev) desert since the seventh century, are the most vulnerable community in Israel. For over 60 years, the indigenous Arab Bedouin have faced a state policy of displacement, home demolitions and dispossession of their ancestral land. Today, 70,000 Arab Bedouin citizens live in 35 villages that either predate the establishment of the State in 1948, or were created by Israeli military order in the early 1950s. The State of Israel considers the villages “unrecognized” and the inhabitants “trespassers on State land,” so it denies the citizens access to state infrastructure like water, electricity, sewage, education, health care and roads. The state deliberately withholds basic services from these villages to “encourage” the Arab Bedouin citizens to give up their ancestral land. If Israel applied the same criteria for planning and development that exist in the Jewish rural sector, all 35 unrecognized villages would be recognized where they are.
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In September 2011, the Israeli government approved the Prawer Plan, the brainchild of former Deputy Chair of the National Security Council, Mr. Ehud Prawer. The Prawer Plan will result in the destruction of the unrecognized villages and the forced displacement of up to 70,000 Arab Bedouin citizens. This plan was completed without consultation of the local community, and is a gross violation of the constitutional rights of the Arab Bedouin citizens to property, dignity, equality, adequate housing, and freedom to choose their own residence.
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Prawer is Happening Now
Despite complete rejection of the plan by the Arab Bedouin, and strong disapproval from the international community, Prawer is happening now. More than 1,000 houses were demolished in 2011 alone, and civil society observed the same practices in 2012.  Since Prawer was announced, the government announced plans that will displace over 10,000 people and plant forests, build military centers, and establish new Jewish settlements in their place.
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The Prawer Plan is today being turned into an Israeli law. On 6 May 2013, the Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved the proposed “Law for the Regulation of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev – 2013” (“the Prawer-Begin Bill”, after recommendations by Minister Benny Begin were included). On 24 June 2013, the Knesset approved the Prawer-Begin Bill with 43 votes for and 40 votes against. The bill will now be sent to the Committee for Interior Affairs and Environment to be prepared for the second and third readings.
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The international community has repeatedly expressed its opposition to the Prawer Plan. In March 2012, the UN Committee on the Elimination for Racial Discrimination called on Israel to withdraw the proposed implementing legislation of the Prawer Plan, on the grounds that it was discriminatory. In July 2012, the European Parliament passed a historic resolution calling on Israel to Stop the Prawer Plan and its policies of displacement, eviction, and dispossession. 
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50 YEARS AFTER ‘THE DREAM’, THE NIGHTMARE CONTINUES

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WHITE SKIN AMERICA
By Tom Karlson
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That White Skin

Another man gone done

He could not stand his ground                

Another man gone

Ah those riflin’

Standin’ your ground

Hoodie baitin’

Black skin huntin’

Legal lynchin’

Terrorizin’

White skinned privileged motherfucker

Judged prosecuted defended juried

Tag teamin’

three card Monty playin’

Strange fruit swingin’

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A shot to the heart

The dead man’s on trial

The shooter whines

Feared for his life

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The heads talk

And talk of

Post racial America

A black presidented America

A beyond reasonable doubt America

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Not a murmur

Of a million stop and frisks

A thousand legal lynchings

The 21st century Jim Crowed prison complex

And never not ever

0f white skin privileged America

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Another man done gone

He could not stand his ground

Another man done gone

Another man done gone

PHOTO ESSAY ~~ NEW YORKERS MARCH FOR TRAYVON

 This week thousands of angry New Yorkers marched through the streets ….
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Photos © by Bud Korotzer
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TIMELY TOON ~~ MURDERING TRAYVON MARTIN TWICE

 Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
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See yesterday’s post

GETTING LOST ON THE WAY TO FREEDOM ~~ TWO POEMS FOR TRAYVON MARTIN

For Trayvon Martin (click)

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So many seem to be lost along the way….

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maya-angelou

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Still I Rise

Maya Angelou

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You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

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We still have such a long way to go …

Let America be America Again

Langston Hughes
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Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed–
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek–
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean–
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today–O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home–
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay–
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again–
The land that never has been yet–
And yet must be–the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine–the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME–
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose–
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath–
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain–
All, all the stretch of these great green states–
And make America again!

Source of both poems

BETTER NO CHIEF RABBI THAN A RACIST ONE

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Artists say no to Eliyahu as chief rabbi

Israel Prize laureates, artists and intellectuals sign petition claiming ‘racist rabbi who incited against Arabs’ cannot become one of State’s symbols. Habayit Hayehudi party must be removed from government for backing his nomination, they add

Kobi Nachshoni

Dozens of artists and intellectuals, including several Israel Prize Laureates, have issued a manifesto against the nomination of Safed’s Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu as Israel‘s Sephardic chief rabbi, arguing that he is a racist man who incited against Arabs and contributed to acts of violence against them.
The support voiced by some members of Habayit Hayehudi party for Eliyahu’s nomination is seen by the petition’s signatories as a “black flag.”

Referring in their statement to a series of halachic rulings and responses issued by Rabbi Eliyahu in recent years, the artist determine that “he is the rabbi of incitement from Safed, the one who ruled that apartments must not be sold or rented to Arabs, the one who has been inciting for years against Arabs and non-Jews in general – incitement which led to racist riots in Safed, the one who organized the inciting rabbis’ letters, the one who incites against sexual relations with Arabs.”

‘They want to make him the State’s symbol’

The manifesto was drafted by writer Sefi Rachlevsky and has so far been signed by 30 men and women: Sculptor Micha Ullman, Prof. Yehuda Bauer, author Hanoch Bartov, Prof. David Harel, Cinematheque founder Lia van Leer, graphic designer David Tartakover, photojournalist Alex Levac, actress Hanna Maron, contemporary dancer and choreographer Ohad Naharin, Prof. Gavriel Salomon, sculptor Dani Karavan, composer Arik Shapira and former Knesset Member Yael Dayan.

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חתומה על המכתב. אחינועם ניני (צילום: ירון ברנר)

Singer Achinoam Nini. Signed letter (Photo: Yaron Brener)

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Other signatories include Prof. Rachel Erhard, Prof. Avner Ben-Amos, Prof. Helena Syna Desivilya, Prof. Daniel Bar-Tal, artist Yair Garbuz, Prof. Zvi Tauber, Prof. Danny Jacobson, Dr. Shlomo Cohen, Prof. Avner Katz, author Hadara Lazar, conductor Uri Segal, playwright Joshua Sobol, singer Achinoam Nini, artist Izhar Patkin and Prof. David Shulman.

The petition notes that Rabbi Eliyahu had been indicted in the past for incitement to racism, although according to the signatories the State Prosecutor’s Office is usually “weak and paralyzed in the face of the forces of religion.”

This didn’t prevent Housing Minister Uri Ariel from holding a meeting with Safed’s rabbi recently and expressing support for his nomination as Israel’s Sephardic chief rabbi, they say.

“The housing minister, who is responsible for selling and renting apartments to citizens, supports a person who forbids selling and renting to Arabs!” they argue. “He (the rabbi) who demanded revenge against seculars. He who mocked the ‘moderates’ who will oppose the concentration camps we’ll set up in the future – he is the person who ministers in Israel want to appoint as the State’s symbol.”

‘Treat Habayit Hayehudi like Haider’s party’

The petition also calls on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to remove Habayit Hayehudi from his government and boycott the national-religious party.

“It must be treated like we demanded Austria to treat Jörg Haider’s party. It must be treated like the Knesset treated Meir Kahane’s party. Complete denouncement. No contact. Walking out of the Knesset plenum when one of the members of the party supporting incitement to racism speaks.

“Every minute this is not being done is a black stain on the State of Israel. Every moment Habayit Hayehudi party sits in the government is complete contempt toward the victims of racism in Israel, in the world and in the history of the Jewish people, which is filled with victims of racial persecutions.

“Every moment that the leaders of the coalition parties – Benjamin Netanyahu, Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni – cooperate with Minister Ariel and Habayit Hayehudi in the government, makes them responsible and stains them with serious racism. This cooperation make Netanyahu, Lapid and Livni, as well as the members of their parties, worthy of complete denouncement. They are guilty of contempt towards the victims of history’s racial persecutions.”

Rabbi Eliyahu invites intellectuals to meeting

The petition concludes by saying that the question whether Rabbi Eliyahu will be allowed to compete or will be elected is marginal, as “the entire Rabbinate institution is false,” but that his supporters must be censured.

“This isn’t a slip of the tongue, this isn’t even shrapnel in the rear end, it’s an essence – a horrifying essence. The Israeli government is being put to a major test. Whoever fails will be responsible for the most serious delinquency against the memory of the history which led to the State of Israel.”

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גם הוא נגד הרב אליהו. אוהד נהרין  (צילום: ירון ברנר)

Choreographer Ohad Naharin. Signed too (Photo: Yaron Brener)

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Rabbi Eliyahu said in response that he saw his possible election as Israel’s chief rabbi with great respect, and had taken upon himself to respect every man’s way – including criticism from intellectuals.

According to a statement issued on behalf of the rabbi, “Intellectuals supporting tolerance, attentiveness and respect for fellowman should be expected to accept the rabbi’s invitation to meet with him and listen to his views without any mediators and distortions, but in a direct and honorable manner.

“Many of the remarks attributed to the rabbi were never said, and are a radicalized and distorted interpretation. The rabbi is a Jewish and Israeli patriot, who supports the way of Torah and the sanctity of the land.”

‘Perhaps they should condemn Ariel boycott’

Habayit Hayehudi party offered the following statement in response: “The involvement of left-wing intellectuals in the Chief Rabbinate elections is extremely moving. Habayit Hayehudi has only announced its support for Rabbi David Stav as Israel’s chief rabbi.”

The national-religious party invited the petition’s signatories to “draft a letter of support for Rabbi Stav in light of the harsh attackhe is subject to these days. They may also take this opportunity to condemn boycotts against the residents of Ariel like the one we saw last week, and in general we would be happy to suggest some ideas for additional letters, if they’re already at it.”

Eliyahu’s nomination for Sephardic chief rabbi (also known as the “Rishon LeZion”) has been criticized due to racist remarks he allegedly made in the past, including calling on Safed residents not to rent their apartments to Arabs, as one of the initiators of the 2010 “rabbis’ letter.”

The police even launched a criminal investigation into those statements, but eventually decided to drop the case against the rabbi due to “lack of evidence.”

About a week ago, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein decided tosummon the rabbi for a hearing before making a final decision on the matter, after receiving requests in to disqualify Eliyahu’s candidacy over his past statements.
In closed forums, Weinstein voiced his opinion that Eliyahu’s candidacy was inappropriate in light of the rabbi’s racist statements and the national nature of the position.
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Related article

RACISM THEN AND NOW ~~ THERE AND HERE

Afterwards, we all gathered at a nargila bar to sit and relax after this terrible event.  One of my friends sat at the table next to me.  She looked very troubled and she started to speak. “This is the same reaction my grandmother faced in Germany when the Nazis would stop Germans from walking with her, because she was Jewish.” 

*Attack in Tel Aviv: ‘Jewish girls do not go out with Blacks!’

David Sheen

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An African refugee watches an anti-refugee demonstration held by right-wing activists in south Tel Aviv on December 31, 2012. (Photo: Oren Ziv/ Activestills.org)
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A year has elapsed since the May 23, 2012 anti-African pogrom in Tel Aviv, and though there have been no other full-scale race riots since, the city continues to witness low-level anti-African attacks on a regular basis. Their occurrence is so commonplace that they rarely merit any mention in the media, but by North American standards, any one of these incidents would be considered scandalous. 

On Friday, I received an email from a fellow native of Toronto, Canada, who is currently living in Israel, detailing such an attack. In her letter, 27-year-old international development researcher Leah McDonnell describes how she was accosted the night previous [June 27], while out walking with a group of friends, as the city celebrated an outdoor art festival into the early hours of the morning. Without any provocation, two men who presented themselves as religious Jews and members of some kind of security force berated the group for befriending an African man and physically assaulted their dark-skinned friend.

It is important to understand the context in which these regular racist attacks occur. For the past several years, high-level Israeli politicians have competed with one another to vilify Africans in the most dehumanizing language possible, casting them as diseased, criminals and terrorists. In the last two years, the government has built both a desert fence to prevent any more Africans from crossing Israel’s border to seek asylum, and a series of desert jails to indefinitely hold without trial any others who arrive and increasing numbers who are pulled off the streets. In recent months, it has secretly deported thousands of Africans back to the countries they fled from, and is trying to bribe other African nations with arms shipments to convince them to take in all the other non-Jewish Africans living in Israel, 55,000 in number.

Although the government is considering proposals to sweep all the Africans off the city streets and into jails and out of the country, it has refrained from doing so on a large scale as yet, knowing that this will not photograph well. But its official policy, as publicly expressed by former Interior Minister Eli Yishai and never disavowed since, is to “make their lives miserable“, so that the Africans will pick up and leave of their own volition. With the blessing of the government, gangs of Jews continue to prey upon any African they can get their hands on, to add to the misery-making.

I include below McDonnell’s letter in full.

Myself and several of my friends (6 of us in total, one being African) were out to celebrate Laila Lavan, or the “White Night”. As we were on out way back home, our night took a very dark turn.  We were walking to the South and were at the corner of Ha Aliya and Levinski when we were approached by two young men wearing matching black security uniforms and kippas [skullcaps].  They first asked, “Is the kushi [nigger] with you?” 

A conversation between my friend and the aggressors went as follows: 

My friend:  “He is my boyfriend, leave us alone.”

Aggressor: “In that case we have a few questions for you.”

My friend: “I am not interested in your questions.”

Aggressor: “Why? Are you an idiot? We are from the security!” 

At this point they started to scream at us, demanding to know if we were Jewish, then if we spoke Hebrew.  My African friend tried to say, “What happened?”, in honest and utter confusion of the events taking place.  One of the young men answered by putting his finger to my friend’s face and angrily told him, “You don’t talk”.  The other started to scream, “What happened? What happened?”, as if he had been personally offended – he then started to brandish pepper spray in a threatening way and yelled, “Jewish girls do not go with Blacks!”. We tried to separate these aggressors from our friend, putting our bodies in between theirs, yelling, “No, stop, go away!”.  

The men kept tugging at our friend, trying to push him and us out of their way.  We started to walk, trying to evade them.  They followed us down the street.  One of the men tried to punch our friend, but was held back by his accomplice; we can only assume that, as we were in front of a store, they did not want to attract any further attention.  

They both continued to follow us while trying to grab our friend, attempting to push us out of the way.  Three of my friends managed to distract the men, blocking them from our African friend.  The other three of us ran down the street, then turned onto a side-street, leading us away. 

 I then ran back to meet my friends who stayed to distract these attackers.  When I reached them the men had vanished.  They told me they yelled very loudly, “I don’t know you” and a couple passing by on a scooter stopped and yelled, “Do you want us to call the police?”.  The men then dispersed.  I am so thankful the couple stopped and offered their assistance. 

Afterwards, we all gathered at a nargila bar to sit and relax after this terrible event.  One of my friends sat at the table next to me.  She looked very troubled and she started to speak. “This is the same reaction my grandmother faced in Germany when the Nazis would stop Germans from walking with her, because she was Jewish.” 

 

 

Written FOR

HELP US STOP A HUMAN RIGHTS DISASTER IN THE MAKING

Act Now to Stop the Prawer Plan: A Human Rights Disaster in the Making
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The Prawer Plan is an attack on Bedouin People, and on universal human rights

Click here to take a stand!

photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org

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Late yesterday in Israel, the Knesset approved the first reading of the infamous Prawer Plan – a blueprint for removing 40,000 Bedouin people from their ancestral homeland.This massive violation of human rights just got a big step closer to reality. But it’s not too late to stop it: if we act now, we can make a difference.

So we’re asking you to send a message to Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren: we are appalled by the Prawer Plan, and all it represents.

From the years I lived in Israel, I remember visiting “unrecognized” Bedouin villages in the Negev that had been destroyed multiple times.I remember children and grandmothers sitting near the rubble of their homes, and especially the young man who had been called to serve in the Israeli Army – on the very day his home had been destroyed.

The Prawer Plan threatens that level of destruction on an unprecedented scale.

It is appalling that transfer based on nothing more than ethnic identity is even under consideration.

And if our government is going to offer unconditional support to Israel, we need to send that message to Ambassador Oren, Israel’s official representative to the U.S.

Click here to send an email now – and stand up for universal human rights and equality.

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Send email to ….

Ambassador Michael Oren

Email: info@washington.mfa.gov.il
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Suggested letter;
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Dear Ambassador Oren,
The passing of the first reading of the Prawer Plan threatens disaster for the Bedouin people, and is a sad day for all who believe in justice, equality, and human rights.
I urge you to use your influence to warn Knesset members from taking further steps forward, while there is still time to avoid this human rights catastrophe.
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Above written by:

Rebecca Vilkomerson
Executive Director, Jewish Voice for Peace

 

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