HELEN THOMAS: INTEGRITY TILL THE END

Helen had great integrity and believed the media was important to protect and preserve democracy. “Let the people know the facts and the country will be safe,” she would say, quoting Abraham Lincoln.
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Helen Thomas: defender of democracy

Rosemarie M. Esber* 
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Woman writes on notepad as man sits on desk

 Helen Thomas at a White House press conference with President Gerald Ford, 1976.

 (Marion S. Trikosko / Library of Congress)

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Helen Thomas’ life was a relentless search for the truth, without fear or favor. It was her calling, profession and duty.

She loved being a journalist, and she strived daily to deliver accurate news to the American people. “If your mother says she loves you,” she was fond of saying, “get a second opinion.”

Helen burned with outrage at injustice. As the daughter of Lebanese immigrants, she was at the receiving end of racism and discrimination growing up in Detroit.

The memory of slurs hurled at her as a child still stung. She decried the racism and segregation she found in Washington, DC in the 1940s, arriving as a young ambitious reporter.

But she was gratified to eventually witness the civil rights transformation, covering Martin Luther King Jr’s march on Washington, and thrilling to Marion Anderson singing at the Lincoln Memorial.

She pushed fearlessly into the male-dominated press corps, enlisting Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson to help advance women in journalism and government. Unpretentious, Helen encouraged young journalists and supported their careers, remaining approachable with a common touch.

She admired the first ladies as women of character and thought they all served the country well — sometimes better than their husbands.

“Unnecessary war”

Helen questioned ten presidents during her career. They didn’t like it. She didn’t care. When she was moved to the back of the White House pressroom and her questions ignored, she remained tenacious in seeking the truth. She minced no words.

Operation Iraqi Freedom, she wrote in her book Watchdogs of Democracy, was “an unnecessary war that has cost thousands of lives of innocent civilians, American and foreign military, and journalists,” noting that the alleged “weapons of mass destruction were never discovered.”

On television, challenging the president of the United States — the most powerful man in the world — Helen seemed ten feet tall to me. In reality, she was petite. “How tall are you, Helen?” I asked one day. “Five foot three — and a half,” she exclaimed.

“How then did you learn to ask such big questions?” I queried. “I ask big,” she replied, “for the American people.”

Integrity

Helen had great integrity and believed the media was important to protect and preserve democracy. “Let the people know the facts and the country will be safe,” she would say, quoting Abraham Lincoln.

She found the current media’s lack of fight against “the manipulation of government officials who play the fear card” astounding. She lamented that so many “reporters became stenographers instead of interrogators.” Passionately anti-injustice, Helen believed she had to speak for those who had no voice.

For Helen, that meant speaking out about the Middle East conflict. Ironically for someone who had defended the freedom of the press all her life, furor over her poorly worded comments forced her to retire.

In time, however, her critics will find that Helen correctly evaluated the injustice of the conflict, and not because she was biased, but because she was an excellent journalist and had verified the facts.

She knew that Israeli forces expelled the overwhelming majority of the indigenous Palestinians from their homeland during the Nakba — catastrophe — of 1948, and later the 1967 war. She remained outraged at Israel’s ongoing oppression of the Palestinians.

As the dean of the White House press corps, “Thank you, Mr. President,” was Helen’s signature close to presidential press conferences for so many years. America has lost a national treasure, a vigilant watchdog of democracy, a truth seeker, and a proud patriot. Thank you, Ms. Helen Thomas.

You will be well remembered by your profession, by this nation, and throughout the world for your courageous stand for truth and justice. You have fought the good fight, and you have finished the race.

*Rosemarie M. Esber is co-producing a documentary of Helen Thomas’ life.

Editorial AT

PALESTINIAN REFUGEES ~~ BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE

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Half of the almost 500,000 registered Palestine refugees have now been displaced from their homes as shelling and fighting continue to encroach on their areas in Syria, and 44,000 refugee homes have been damaged, UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, said this week.
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“We have become refugees again,” say Palestinians from Syria now in Gaza

 Ali Abunimah
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As Palestine refugees face an increasingly dire situation in Syria, some have made their way to the Gaza Strip, as Yousef Al-Helou finds in this video report for The Real News.

This route to safety is closed off, at least for now, amid the turmoil in Egypt.

Half of the almost 500,000 registered Palestine refugees have now been displaced from their homes as shelling and fighting continue to encroach on their areas in Syria, and 44,000 refugee homes have been damaged, UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, said this week.

Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed, including six in Yarmouk camp near Damascus over the last week, one of whom was the son of an UNRWA staff member.

From Damascus to Gaza, via Egypt

The number of Palestinians who have made it to Gaza is unknown, but Al-Helou cites estimates of around 800 persons.

“We Palestinian refugees have become refugees another time,” Muhammad al-Sheikh, a Palestinian who lived in Syria for 41 years, told Al-Helou. “We were forced to leave our homes due to the destruction and killing in Syria.”

“We know that Gaza often comes under Israeli attacks, so we know that for us the danger is not yet over. But at least we are in our homeland,” al-Sheikh added.

Though all facing the same dangers and dire situation that caused them to flee, Palestinians have strongly divergent views on the situation in Syria, with some opposing and others supporting the uprising against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Al-Helou reported.

Route to Gaza closed off by Egypt upheaval

Al-Sheikh said that refugees typically fly from Damascus to Cairo and then travel by taxi to the Rafah crossing border with Gaza.

But this route appears to be closed off at least for the time being amid the political turmoil in Egypt following the army’s removal of President Muhammad Morsi last week.

The Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza has been closed since the military takeover.

Egypt deports Palestinians

Egyptian authorities have begun deporting and denying entry to even long-time Palestinian residents of Gaza.

Contributor to The Electronic Intifada Yousef Aljamaldeported to the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, is among dozens of Palestinians refused entry to Egypt as they tried to return home.

Egypt has also instructed international airlines not to allow Palestinian Authority passport holders to board flights for Cairo leaving many Palestinians stranded abroad.

Dozens more Palestinians are reported stranded at Cairo airport in deplorable conditions as efforts are made to persuade Egypt to reopen Rafah.

New measures restricting entry of Syrians

Today, Egypt expanded the tough restrictions to include Syrians, announcing that Syrian citizens would require advance visas in order to enter Egypt.

The measures came to light last night when Egyptian authorities deported 276 Syrians who had arrived at Cairo airport on scheduled flights from Beirut and Damascus, according to Egypt’s Ahram Online.

Rumors targeting Palestinians and Syrians

These measures come amid rumors and unsubstantiated accusations by Egyptian military brassin the media and on social media, that Hamas specifically and Palestinians generally – and now Syrians – are interfering in Egypt or assisting the Muslim Brotherhood movement of the deposed president.

In recent days, Egyptian officials have again claimed, without evidence, that Palestinians are responsible for attacks on Egyptian security forces in Sinai attributed to militant groups in the area.

Palestinians and Syrians in Egypt are particularly vulnerable populations who need safety and protection. Instead, in this atmosphere, many will now be feeling a heightened sense of danger.

Report: Rafah crossing may partially re-open on Wednesday

Breaking reports say that Egypt has agreed to partially re-open on the Rafah crossing on Wednesday. The main land exit from Gaza has been closed by Egyptian authorities for five days.

Gaza residents will be allowed to return, but only those with medical permits will be allowed by Egypt to leave Gaza, Palestinian authorities in Gaza have said.

Ban on entry remains for Palestinians

Notwithstanding the news about Rafah, Egyptian authorities issued a decree on 9 July announcing that no holders of Palestinian Authority passports or Jordanian passports that lack a national number will be allowed to enter Egypt without prior clearance from the security services. This means that Egypt remains effectively closed to Palestinians who fit those categories.

 

 

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STILL WAITING FOR THE ARAB SPRING IN PALESTINE

 One day the Palestinian people will rise up against their occupiers. I hope this day comes soon.
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One day, Ramallah will rise up

The events at Tahrir Square will surely be replicated one day in Ramallah’s Manara Square. It is hard now to imagine it happening, but it is even more difficult to imagine that it will not.

By Gideon Levy
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Palestinians demonstrating in Ramallah in 2012.
Palestinians demonstrating in Ramallah in 2012. Photo by AP
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One day the Palestinian people will rise up against their occupiers. I hope this day comes soon.

It’s true that this scenario seems unrealistic right now. The Palestinians are still bleeding from the second intifada, which only brought disaster upon them (and the Israelis). They are divided and torn, with no real leadership and lacking a fighting spirit, and the world has tired of their distress. The Israeli occupation seems as strong and established as ever, the settlements are growing, and the military is in complete control, with all the world’s governments silent and indifferent.

On the other hand, it is impossible to imagine that this scenario will not materialize. To our south, the Egyptian people are struggling over the nature of their regime, in a way that can only inspire awe. To the north, the Syrian people are also doing this, albeit in a much crueler fashion. Could it be that only the Palestinian people will forever bow their heads, submissively and obediently, to the Israeli jackboot? Don’t make the minister of history laugh.

The regimes against which most of the Arab nations are rebelling were generally less brutal than the regime of the Israeli occupation. They were also less corrupt, in the broad sense of the word. Most did not take over the lives of their subjects day and night, did not so drastically restrict their movement and freedom, did not systematically abuse and humiliate them in the manner of the Israeli regime. Moreover, they were not foreign regimes.

Therefore, the events at Tahrir Square will surely be replicated one day in Ramallah’s Manara Square. The masses will flood the Unknown Soldier’s Square in Gaza, push into Police Square in Hebron and storm all the checkpoints along their way. It is hard now to imagine it happening, but it is even more difficult to imagine that it will not.

From Jenin to Rafah, they are enviously watching the wonders of Tahrir Square. Can anyone seriously think these scenes and this spirit will not affect Balata? Not sweep through Jabalya? The first is under Israeli rule, while the other is supposedly controlled by Hamas, and yet residents of the two places cannot even meet with each other. How much longer will they accept this?

Yes, it will happen one day. The masses will rise up against the settlements and checkpoints, against the army barracks and the prisons. And at that point, the Israeli Arabs will no longer stand idly by. They are also watching what’s happening at Tahrir Square and also realize they deserve a different regime and a different country.

It seems to happen when you least expect it. No Military Intelligence report will predict it, and no Shin Bet field coordinator will warn about it. The defense minister will act shocked, the prime minister will convene urgent consultations, and the finance minister will post something on Facebook. The president of the United States will call for calm, and who knows, maybe will send a special envoy. The world’s most powerful and especially most moral military will try to restore order, but the new order will assert its control over the army as well.

As with other unjust and evil regimes, which are always destined to fall, this regime also will fall – it’s just not clear when and how. Sometimes these regimes fall in the wake of terrible bloodshed, as in Syria, and sometimes they fall on their own, like a tall tree whose trunk has rotted, as happened in the Soviet Union, South Africa and Eastern Europe. One day it will happen here, too; there is no other way.

It would be best that this day come soon; too bad it hasn’t come yet. The Israeli public, which didn’t know how to end its occupation regime on its own, will also act surprised, and offended. Again they will say that “there’s no partner,” that “they’re like animals,” but no one will take these statements seriously. Israel will again play the victim, but few will be able to identify with it anymore.

Why is it best that this happens soon? Because as time passes, the damage and rage accumulate. Because there is no chance that Israel will end the occupation voluntarily. Because justice cries out for it to happen. Because whether the solution is one state or two, an Israel that isn’t an occupier, that is just and egalitarian, will be a different and infinitely better place to live. 

 

 

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UN BREAKS THE SILENCE ON PALESTINIAN CHILD ABUSE

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Today, the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child  accused Israeli forces of torturing Palestinian children.
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Israel is accused of abusing Palestinian children– again
 Annie Robbins

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Today, the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child  accused Israeli forces of torturing Palestinian children.

The report (pdf)comes within a year of three other reports: a UNICEF report on children in military detention last winter; a British report of a year ago, Children in Military Custody, which gained wide attention for its assertion that Israel was torturing children by holding them “routinely and for substantial periods in solitary confinement;” and this Breaking the Silence report last summer on Israeli soldiers’ abuses of Palestinian children, which included many reports of children getting beaten “to a pulp.” 

Reuters: Palestinian children tortured, used as shields by Israel: U.N.

A United Nations human rights body accused Israeli forces on Thursday of mistreating Palestinian children, including by torturing those in custody and using others as human shields.

……….

“Palestinian children arrested by (Israeli) military and police are systematically subject to degrading treatment, and often to acts of torture, are interrogated in Hebrew, a language they did not understand, and sign confessions in Hebrew in order to be released,” it said in a report.

……

“If someone simply wants to magnify their political bias and political bashing of Israel not based on a new report, on work on the ground, but simply recycling old stuff, there is no importance in that,” [Israeli Foreign Ministry] spokesman Yigal Palmor said.

The “old stuff” FM spokesperson Yigal Palmor is referencing is the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) February report Children in Israeli Military Detention, Observations and Recommendations (pdf) on the “widespread, systematic and institutionalized” abuse of Palestinian children held in Israeli custody.

After UNICEF released its report, Israel’s Foreign Ministry claimed in March that it would “study the conclusions and…  work to implement them through ongoing cooperation with UNICEF.”

But that didn’t happen. No; instead, in a bizarre twist, a month later UNICEF attempted to sanitize its own findings at a press conference in Jerusalem. 

No doubt Palmor would much rather deal with UNICEF than with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which issued today’s report, since Israel joined UNICEF’s board this year, and UNICEF’s new Jerusalem bureau chief has been very respectful of Israel.

Back to Reuters:

The U.N. committee [OHCHR] regretted Israel’s “persistent refusal” to respond to requests for information on children in the Palestinian territories and occupied Syrian Golan Heights since the last review in 2002.

Today is a good time to be reminding Israel to stop torturing Palestinian children. It’s World Refugee Day, established by the U.N. in December 2000, nearly 50 years after the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.  It is observed every year on June 20th to raise awareness of the plight of refugees.

Palestinian refugees represent the longest suffering and largest refugee population in the world.

 

 

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MEET BIG BROTHER’S LITTLE ISRAELI BROTHERS

The New Big Brother ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
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The recent exposure of National Security Agency monitoring of Americans’ emails, live voice communications and stored data cast suspicion once again on private surveillance contractors linked to Israeli intelligence services. One firm called Narus has provided the NSA with technology for almost a decade that enabled it to obtain and analyze at least 80 percent of communications made by Americans over online and telecom channels. What was Narus’ role in the latest scandal, and how far back does its history of spying go?
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Meet the Israeli-linked firm that sold Big Brother machines to Mubarak, Qaddafi – and Washington

by Max Blumenthal 
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A slide from the National Security Agency powerpoint presentation on the PRISM program. (Image: 
Washington Post)

The recent exposure of National Security Agency monitoring of Americans’ emails, live voice communications and stored data cast suspicion once again on private surveillance contractors linked to Israeli intelligence services. One firm called Narus has provided the NSA with technology for almost a decade that enabled it to obtain and analyze at least 80 percent of communications made by Americans over online and telecom channels. What was Narus’ role in the latest scandal, and how far back does its history of spying go?

Deep Packet Inspection

Back in 2011, when Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak attempted to quell the Tahrir Square uprising by ordering telecommunications companies to shut down the Internet, the Obama administration slammed his regime, demanding that it immediately open up social media channels. The US also took the opportunity to promote the State Department’s $30 million Internet freedom project, which was aimed at providing dissidents with technology to stifle online surveillance in repressive states.

Tim Karr, the campaign director for the online freedom advocacy group Free Press, wondered what tools the Mubarak regime was using to target online dissidents. He discovered that Egypt had purchased Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology from Narus, a Silicon Valley-based high tech firm.

DPI is a computer network packet filtering system that allows administrators to collect any data that passes through an inspection point. Governments around the world rely on it to conduct spying and data mining on a massive level. “[DPI] is often called dual use because it can be used for legitimate purposes, by cops to ID terrorists, or for commercial purposes,” Karr told me. “But in the wrong hands it can be a tool that can be used to suppress online dissent, identify dissidents and even hunt them down.”

The information about Narus’ sales to Egypt was not hard to find; Karr discovered it right on the company’s website. Narus has also boasted about sales of DPI technology to serial human rights violators like the governments of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and telecom subsidiaries of the Chinese government. Through a third party reseller, Narus was in negotiations to provide spying devices to the Qaddafi regime, but the deal fell through when Qaddafi was overthrown by the very people he had sought to monitor.

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A diagram from a Narus demo showing its network management product, which can be used to manage network traffic or provide surveillance over all network activity.
(Image: 
The Berkman Center for Internet & Society)

The exposure this month of the US National Security Agency’s Prism program, which uses DPI technology to monitor the phone and online communications of American citizens, eroded the credibility of US calls for Internet freedom abroad. “The Obama administration has tried to play both sides of this equation and the rhetoric it used during Arab Spring doesn’t square with our practices domestically in spying on our own citizenry,” Karr remarked. “There seems to be a double standard here.”

He added, “When people fear that their communications are being monitored, there is a chilling effect. So this is not just about privacy, it’s a freedom speech issue.”

Room 641A

In 2006, an AT&T technician named Mark Klein discovered a secret room inside the company’s windowless “Folsom Street Facility” in downtown San Francisco that was bristling with Narus machines. The now notorious Room 641A was controlled by the NSA, which was using it to collect AT&T customer data for data mining and real-time analysis. Thanks to the powerful NarusInsight system, the NSA was able to monitor 108 billion emails from AT&T customers per day.

 

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AT&T’s windowless Folsom Street Facility in downtown
San Francisco, the home of Room 641A where the NSA
used Narus machines to spy on millions of Americans.

 

The revelations set off a national scandal, confirming that the US government was spying on millions of citizens, and that major telecom and service providers were complicit. But no one was held accountable. Following a lawsuit filed against AT&T by the Electronic Freedom Foundation, Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act in July 2008, giving retroactive immunity to telecom corporations that assisted the NSA, and relieving them of any consequences for spying on Americans.

Cass Sunstein, an informal advisor to Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign who now heads the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, and who has urgedfederal law enforcement to “cognitively infiltrate” anti-government groups, was anoutspoken supporter of the retroactive immunity bill. With Sunstein by his side, Obama reversed his initial objections to the NSA’s domestic spying operations, voting as a Senator for retroactive immunity.

The vote allowed the NSA to expand its domestic spying operations, clearing the legal hurdles obstructing the creation of PRISM. The stage was set for the second term scandal that would leave Obama reeling.

“You have to demonize the source”

Well before Edward Snowden was a household name, there was William Binney, a high level NSA official who resigned in protest on October 31, 2001 after learning of the birth of a massive, post-9/11 domestic spying operation. I spoke to Binney three days after Snowden revealed himself as the latest NSA whistleblower.

“I couldn’t stay there [at the NSA] and be a party to that collecting data and spying on American citizens,” Binney told me. “And that court order from Verizon [that revealed the PRISM program] is a continuation of that.”

Like Snowden, who has been roundly demonized by pundits and Obama supporters, and may face an extradition order, Binney encountered a severe backlash when he resigned. “They want to avoid facing up to what the government was doing so you have to demonize the source,” Binney said. “We [NSA whistleblowers past and present] were all attacked. They attempted to indict us and frame us, they raided us with the FBI, they attempted to discredit us with all the standard tactics they use. It went nowhere but it allowed them continue doing what they were doing. And that’s the problem – they refused to recognize there even was a problem and now we won’t solve it.”

Binney told me that throughout the United States there are currently as many as 20 NSA black sites like Room 641A. Narus devices, he said, have been placed at fiber-optic convergence points, allowing the NSA to retrieve about 80 percent of data carried through telecom and online service providers. Binney emphasized that the devices do not only retrieve so-called metadata, which only offers general records of data, but that they gather the actual content of emails and calls. (“We can reconstruct all of their e-mails along with attachments, see what web pages they clicked on; we can reconstruct their (Voice Over Internet) calls,” said Steve Bannerman, the marketing director of Narus).

Thanks to PRISM, the NSA bas been able to “fill in the gaps,” Binney explained, gathering bulk data from communications the NSA might have missed with the NarusInsight system, especially those made between Americans and foreign countries.

The Israeli Connection

Binney told me that while he worked at the NSA in 1998, a freebooting agency colleague with pronounced pro-Israel views “shared” DPI technology with Israeli intelligence agencies. At the time, Binney was the chairman of the NSA’s Foreign Relations Advisory Council (FRAC), a board charged with reviewing the transfer of technology to foreign allies. To his chagrin, he was only made aware of the transfer to Israel after the fact.

“Usually when you share things you discuss them and have approval from FRAC – you have an agreement,” Binney said. “I was supposed to know about all the sharing that goes on. So when I found out about this I said, ‘Hey, if we’re gonna share it with Israel we should share it with other allies too and save them the money of having to develop it on their own. I didn’t have a problem with it, and I don’t know how he did it, but we had a process and he circumvented it.”

Enter Narus, the company named for the Latin word for “all knowing.” Founded in the Silicon Valley in 1997 by Israeli expatriates with alleged ties to Israel’s intelligence services, Ori Cohen and Stas Khirman, Narus has been shrouded in mystery since its inception.

A 2006 investigation by Haaretz into Cohen’s background was unable to establish a clear portrait of its subject, concluding that he was “hard to pin down.” Khirman, according to journalist James Bamford, worked in the past for Elta Systems, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries that specialized in advanced eavesdropping systems for Israel’s military-intelligence apparatus. (In 2010, Narus was sold to the Boeing Company, a multinational defense corporation that clearly saw a future in the online surveillance industry).

Sometime around 2002, Narus pioneered state-of-the-art DPI devices. “The timeline shows [DPI technology] was shared with Israel about five years before Narus came out with its devices,” Binney commented. “It certainly was a suspicious timing sequence.”

Another Israeli-linked tech company, Verint, is a subsidiary of the Israeli firm Comverse, which boasts a reputation as “the world’s leading provider… of communications intercept and analysis” technology. Among the many Comverse executives plucked from the ranks of Israeli army intelligence is the company’s founder, Jacob “Kobi” Alexander, an ex-Israeli intelligence agent who cashed in through Israel’s high-tech surveillance industry. Alexander’s lucrative careercollapsed in dramatic fashion when he was arrested for fraud in Namibia in 2006 after an international manhunt, and wound up handing over bank accounts worth $46 million to US authorities.

Just as AT&T relied on Narus systems, Verint’s DPI devices have been used to fulfill NSA requests for data from Verizon’s subscribers. And as Bamford explained in his 2008 book on the NSA, “Shadow Factory,” much of the data Verint and other private Israeli contractors gather from can be remotely accessed from Israel. “The greatest potential beneficiaries of this marriage between the Israeli eavesdroppers and America’s increasingly centralized telecom grid are Israel’s intelligence agencies,” Bamford wrote.

Journalist Christopher Ketcham speculated in a 2008 article that Israeli-linked firms like Verint and Narus could have implanted Trojan spy technology into their devices, providing Israeli intelligence services with a backdoor means of reviewing and analyzing data stored in secure NSA systems. Boaz Guttmann, an Israeli national police cybercrimes investigator, told Ketcham, “Trojan horse espionage is part of the way of life of companies in Israel. It’s a culture of spying.”

However, Binney dismissed the possibility of backdoor Trojan spying. “With any foreign equipment we bought we would make sure that there wasn’t anything planted in it like backdoors,” he told me. “I don’t think backdoors are a problem since they don’t have the bandwidth capacity and if it started happening it would have immediately showed up in service providers records.”

But no matter how much control the NSA exerts over the spying technology it procures from private contractors, there is little guarantee it can control the thousands of people who work in their offices. To understand how acute the problem could be, look no further than Edward Snowden.

 

 

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EVERYDAY ISRAELI APARTHEID … MUCH WORSE THAN YOU THOUGHT

 Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
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No doubt a lot of Jews would say: Israelis have a long history of terror and hatred from Arabs, what do you expect? In return I would say: Arabs have a long history of violent subjugation and hatred from Jews, what do you expect?

But let’s put that duel aside and keep in mind who we’re talking about: Bedouin kids with cancer. Arab youngsters wishing to go to an amusement park. Random Arab adults trying to switch their bank accounts.

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Everyday ‘Apartheid’ and the Liberal Dream

By Larry Derfner

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The following items appeared in the Israeli media this month: Superland, an amusement park outside Tel Aviv, makes a policy of reserving separate days for Israeli Arab high school classes and separate ones for Israeli Jewish classes. A Jewish community pool in the Negev refused to admit a group of Bedouin children with cancer because, in the words of the manager, the patrons have a problem with that “sector.” In a hidden-camera investigation by Channel 10 news, branches of Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s largest bank, refused to allow three out of five Israeli Arab customers to transfer their accounts to a branch in a predominantly Jewish area, while routinely allowing all the Jewish customers to do so.

I have to admit, I am surprised. I didn’t think it was this bad.

I didn’t think the racist practices against Arabs in Israel — not Palestinians in the West Bank, but people who live in “Israel proper” as citizens — were so deeply entrenched. Unless I’m extremely mistaken, this sort of thing doesn’t, couldn’t, go on in the United States, or Canada, or other Western countries that Israel likes to think of as its peers in the democratic world.

No doubt a lot of Jews would say: Israelis have a long history of terror and hatred from Arabs, what do you expect? In return I would say: Arabs have a long history of violent subjugation and hatred from Jews, what do you expect?

But let’s put that duel aside and keep in mind who we’re talking about: Bedouin kids with cancer. Arab youngsters wishing to go to an amusement park. Random Arab adults trying to switch their bank accounts.

There’s a lot more where that comes from, of course — Israeli Arabs looking for jobs, looking for apartments, trying to get into a nightclub, trying to reserve a table at a restaurant. It’s a matter of luck, of which Jew in a position of power they happen to come across.

Two out of the five Arabs at Bank Hapoalim got lucky, the other three didn’t. The five Jews, of course, didn’t need luck.

As the saying goes, it is what it is.

What does this state of affairs say, for instance, about Israel’s blanket defense of “security” in ethnically profiling Arabs (along with all other gentiles) at Ben-Gurion Airport? How much of the true reason for that is security, and how much is straight-up racism? (And – sorry to come back to that old duel – but how much is the security problem responsible for Israeli racism, and how much is Israeli racism responsible for the security problem?)

And what does the past week’s news say about the popular claim that not only isn’t Israel an apartheid country, but that it’s anti-Semitic to even suggest so?

Finally, what does all this say to the liberals? What does it say to those (including me) who want to believe that if this country just ends the occupation, if it allows a Palestinian state to come into being in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, if it goes back to living within its old, pre-Six Day War borders, its spirit will be healed?

Larry Derfner is a journalist in Israel who blogs for +972 Magazine.

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WHY WOULD ROBERT DE NIRO SAY THIS?

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Here’s just one reason …
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Dozens of graduates of a Palestinian medical school gathered outside the Health Ministry in Jerusalem on Thursday to protest their continuing ineligibility to work in Israeli hospitals.
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Palestinian medical school grads protest exclusion from Israeli hospitals

The Al-Quds School of Medicine, east of Jerusalem, is considered neither Israeli nor foreign, leaving its graduates ineligible to take the Israeli licensing exam.

By Nir Hasson
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Al-Quds graduates at the Supreme Court in 2012.
Al-Quds graduates at the Supreme Court in 2012. Photo by Emil Salman
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Dozens of graduates of a Palestinian medical school gathered outside the Health Ministry in Jerusalem on Thursday to protest their continuing ineligibility to work in Israeli hospitals.

The graduates of the Al-Quds School of Medicine in Abu Dis, east of Jerusalem, had hoped new Health Minister Yael German would reverse her predecessors’ policy on the matter.

The policy, which has been in place for seven years, is political. Because part of the Al-Quds University campus – though not the medical school – is located within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, the Health Ministry and Council of Higher Education refuse to allow graduates in medicine and other health professions to sit for their licensing boards as “foreign university” graduates. Nor can they can they take the boards as Israeli graduates, because Al-Quds in not accredited by the council.

As a result, some 60 physicians, a similar number of dentists, and a few hundred lab technicians and physiotherapists who have finished their studies cannot work in the health system, even in East Jerusalem. This flies in the face of the serious shortage of Arabic-speaking health professionals in the capital in general, and East Jerusalem in particular.

Moreover, the Al-Quds School of Medicine is considered a top-notch medical school. In the past, when the Health Ministry allowed Al-Quds graduates to take the licensing exams, they consistently scored higher than the graduates of any other foreign medical school. Graduates of medical schools elsewhere in the territories can take the Israeli exams and work in Israel, even though their training is not as highly regarded.

The Health Ministry admits its policy on the medical school is political and that it was formulated in consultation with diplomats. But what makes the situation even more peculiar is that Al-Quds law graduates and graduates of other departments are allowed to sit for the Israeli Bar Association or other relevant Israeli professional licensing exams.

“It isn’t clear why the health minister has to be the pipeline for exerting diplomatic pressure on the backs of doctors and patients in Jerusalem,” says attorney Shlomo Lecker, who is representing the doctors.

In 2011, Lecker filed suit with the Jerusalem District Court, sitting as the Administrative Affairs Court, against the Health Ministry’s policy. After losing that case in February 2012, he appealed to the Supreme Court, which in July 2012 affirmed the lower court ruling. The justices, however, called on the Council of Higher Education to examine the possibility of splitting the university so that the medical school could be recognized separately as being outside the Jerusalem city limits. Al-Quds University president Sari Nusseibeh and the Council on Higher education have exchanged letters in the past few months, but the state has yet to change its position.

The Health Ministry noted that both the district and high courts had rejected the Al-Quds doctors’ appeals.

“Al-Quds University operates both in the Palestinian Authority territories and within the State of Israel (without CHE approval), and as a result it isn’t possible to recognize this university as a foreign university,” the Health Ministry said in a statement. “A solution was suggested to the university administration, but apparently the good of the students is not the university administration’s highest priority, but some other agenda. The Health Ministry is waiting for the parties to coordinate so that a solution can be found that will enable the graduates to be licensed.”

FATHER’S DAY IN GAZA …. WITHOUT DAD

Image by Skulz Fontaine
gaza-4
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Israel prohibits Gazan children from visiting imprisoned fathers
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Over 500 Gazan men, including 14 minors, are currently being held as prisoners and detainees in Israel. In July 2012, after a five-year hiatus, family visits to Gazan inmates in Israel were resumed. From that time until 22 April 2013, most of the inmates have received visits. Israel permits inmates to be visited by their parents, wives and children under eight years old; children over eight, siblings and grandparents are not allowed to visit. Permission for children under the age of eight to visit their imprisoned fathers was granted only in May 2013. B’Tselem calls upon the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) to allow all first-degree relatives, including children of all ages, to visit Gazans being held in Israel.
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ISRAEL IS THE BIRTHRIGHT OF PALESTINIAN REFUGEES, NOT JEWS FROM BROOKLYN

We are non-Israeli Jews who oppose the program because it promotes and supports Israel’s ongoing colonialism and apartheid policies, and marginalizes Jewish experiences in the diaspora. We are calling for the end of the Birthright program, and encourage individuals to boycott the trips.
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Unfair
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As Jews we say “Birthright” trips must end

Aviva Stahl
Sarah Woolf and 
Sam Elliott Bick
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Elderly woman sits in refugee camp

Israel claims all Jews have a “birthright” to the country, while Palestinian refugees are barred from return.

 (Ashraf Amra / APA images)

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As the summer months approach, thousands of young Jews from more than 60 countries prepare to participate in the Taglit-Birthright program. Since 1999, Birthright has brought 340,000 young Jews to Israel on free ten-day trips. In the midst of the fervor to sign up for this bi-annual program, we have launched the website Renounce Birthright (renouncebirthright.org) with the aim of providing a space for potential participants to engage with critiques of Birthright and of Zionism.

We are non-Israeli Jews who oppose the program because it promotes and supports Israel’s ongoing colonialism and apartheid policies, and marginalizes Jewish experiences in the diaspora. We are calling for the end of the Birthright program, and encourage individuals to boycott the trips.

Birthright was created in response to concerns over increasing rates of intermarriage, the perceived “crisis of continuity” and the weakening of Jewish communal ties. Over the course of the last decade, the program has worked to create and maintain commitment to Zionism and Israel on the part of non-Israeli Jews.

Exclusive ideology

Birthright’s mission, according to the organization, is to “diminish the growing division between Israel and Jewish communities around the world; strengthen the sense of solidarity among world Jewry; and strengthen participants’ personal Jewish identity and connection to the Jewish people.”

The idea of strengthening “solidarity among world Jewry,” “personal Jewish identity,” and Israel’s “connection to the Jewish people” through trips to Israel is based on a conflation ofJudaism with Zionism. Judaism is a religion. Political Zionism is a movement based on the belief that Jews have a right to settle in modern-day Israel, to the exclusion of the indigenous Palestinians.

The term “Birthright” itself is telling. Like its American counterpart, the ideology of manifest destiny, it operates under the premise that all Jewish people have an exclusive “right” to Palestinian land. In both the American and Israeli contexts, the only way to secure that “right” is through violence, land theft and displacement.

Settler-colonialism must be opposed, no matter where it takes place. For non-Israeli Jews living in other settler-colonial countries, we must also be accountable to other processes of de-colonization. No group of people have the right to live anywhere that mandates the explicit exclusion of anyone else.

The establishment of the Israeli state, and the alleged Jewish “birthright,” involved the violent displacement of several hundred thousand indigenous Palestinians, and the destruction of hundreds of Palestinian villages. A Palestinian refugee population of nearly 7 million people is to this day excluded from returning to their lands by Israeli state discrimination.

In contemporary Israel — where approximately one-fifth of the population is Palestinian — the rights of citizenship (ezrahut) and nationality (le’um) are intentionally distinct. Palestinians born within the 1949 armistice line are considered citizens (and not nationals). Meanwhile a Jew born and raised in New York has a “birthright” to the Israeli state in Palestine, is considered a national, and can almost immediately become a citizen upon emigrating.

Maintaining a myth

Birthright in particular — as a part of the Zionist project — relies on the belief that non-Israeli Jews are national-citizens-in-waiting, a reality from which Palestinian refugees are forever excluded.

We would have no “Birthright” without Israeli occupation and apartheid — it is how Zionism sustains the myth of “a land without a people, for a people without a land.”

Birthright has spent more than $600 million since its inception in 1999. The organization has three major sources of funding: the Israeli government (which committed another $100 million to Birthright in 2011), wealthy donors such as Charles Bronfman, and Jewish federations across North America (“The romance of Birthright Israel,” The Nation, 15 June 2011).

In a 2012 speech delivered to Birthright participants, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “So when you go out and people tell you things about Israel, tell them about what you saw. Make sure when you go back home, tell them about the real Israel” (“PM Netanyahu’s speech at Taglit-Birthright Israel mega-event”).

Convincing non-Israeli Jews to defend Netanyahu’s “real Israel” is an integral part of Birthright, and helps explain the government’s investment in the program.

The program’s largest financial supporter, billionaire Sheldon Adelson — who has provided $140 million to the program — was described in The New York Times last year as having “disgust for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” (“What Sheldon Adelson wants,” 23 June 2012).

Beyond individual donors, non-Israeli Jewish community organizations and institutions — such as the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Agency for Israel — support Birthright economically and politically.

Apolitical?

In the name of diasporic Jewish communities, these organizations invest millions of dollars into the promotion of Birthright’s political Zionism, rather than in local projects.

Despite all this, Birthright claims to be apolitical. In 2006, Birthright Director of Marketing Gidi Mark said: “I don’t think it’s political for Jews to support Israel” (“Come, see Palestine!” Salon.com, 5 June 2006).

However, the establishment and maintenance of an exclusively Jewish Israel — through forcible displacement, land theft, occupation, segregation, institutionalized racism and systemic discrimination — is political at its core, and is both supported and reinforced by the Birthright program.

For instance, during the trip, approximately 10,000 Birthright participants visit the Ahavacosmetics factory each year; Ahava is located in the illegally-occupied West Banksettlement of Mitzpe Shalem. Ahava directly profits from the exploitation of Palestinian Dead Sea resources.

Moreover, disturbing accounts of explicit racism have arisen in recent years; former participants often recount how the language used by Birthright personnel demonizes Palestinians. One past attendee said her Birthright tour guide told her group that “Arabs have wanted to kill Jews forever, that they are ‘like mosquitoes’ we must swat away” (“So you’re thinking of Birthright,” Mondoweiss, 20 December 2012).

Zionism is a political project, and Birthright is perhaps the most tangible manifestation of that political project outside Israel. As such, we must recognize our engagements with Birthright as a question of politics, and not just “a free vacation.”

Narrow confines

In reinforcing the belief that what it means to be Jewish is to be Zionist (particularly for non-Israeli Jewish youth), Birthright perpetuates a single narrative about what it means to be Jewish outside of Israel, and who can be a Jew.

Jewish people speak and have spoken an array of languages, live and have lived across the world, and possess different histories that extend beyond the narrow confines of political Zionism and the nation-state of Israel.

It is contemporary political Zionism that has “othered” Mizrahi/Arab-Jews, as New York University professor Ella Shohat explains, by urging Arab Jews “to see their only real identity as Jewish,” such that their “Arabness, the product of millennial cohabitation, is merely a diasporic stain to be ‘cleansed’ through assimilation” (“The invention of the Mizhahim,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Volume 29, No. 1, Autumn 1999).

Further, Israel’s policy towards Ethiopian Jews in recent years demonstrates how the limits of Jewishness are often defined through Zionism. There is a clear tension between Birthright’s claim to promote diasporic life, and the fact that it the program is so deeply rooted in Zionism, an ideology that homogenizes the experiences and identities of Jews.

Our alleged Birthright can only exist through the suppression and erasure of many Jewish identities, histories and experiences.

Liberation in Palestine is a question of land, colonialism and apartheid — not religion. The work of Jewish and Israeli organizations and collectives such as Zochrot, Boycott from Within, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, and Israeli Queers Against Apartheid attests to this fact.

As scholar Judith Butler has explained: “there have always been Jewish traditions that oppose state violence, that affirm multi-cultural co-habitation, and defend principles of equality, and this vital ethical tradition is forgotten or sidelined when any of us accept Israel as the basis of Jewish identification or values” (“Judith Butler responds to attack,” Mondoweiss, 27 August 2012).

No right to apartheid

We have founded Renounce Birthright because Birthright demands our complicity in two intersecting (but distinct) forms of violence: first, the occupation of Palestine and the Israeli government’s brutal regime of apartheid and second, the erasure and suppression of diverse Jewish experiences and communities across the world.

In organizing for Palestinian liberation, we are deeply committed to the belief that Jewish experiences and narratives — particularly North American Jewish experiences, including our own — should not be centered.

As Mezna Qato and Kareem Rabie explained in their recent article for Jacobin magazine: “the left often neglects these anti-colonial principles and seeks out Jewish voices to validate Palestinian claims. In turn, it privileges Jewish discourse, anxieties, and histories in ways that marginalize Palestinians in their own struggle” (“Against the Law,” Spring 2013).

We recognize that our struggles are greatly distinct yet related, and are engaged in this project first and foremost from a position of solidarity.

We call on non-Israeli Jews across the diaspora to join us in renouncing Birthright— and our privileged legal relationship to the Israeli state — because we have no right to apartheid and colonialism.

Aviva Stahl grew up in New Jersey and now lives in London; she is the US researcher for CagePrisoners and a collective member of Bent Bars. She can be followed on Twitter@stahlidarity.

Sarah Woolf is an editorial intern at The Nation magazine. Hailing from Montréal, she currently lives in New York City.

Sam Elliott Bick is from Montreal, Québec. He is a member of the Tadamon! collective, and organizes at the Immigrant Workers Center. He can be followed on Twitter@sam_Bick.

Source

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Also see THIS relevant post

MEDICAL RACISM IN ISRAEL

It’s a “problem” that too many babies are being born to parents from Africa, a leading Israeli medical official has told lawmakers at the Israeli parliament.
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Medical racism: Israel hospital director complains that too many African babies are being born

 by Ali Abunimah
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Israelis chant “Sudanese Back To Sudan” during a right-wing demonstration against African refugees in south Tel Aviv, 30 May 2012.

 (Oren Ziv / ActiveStills)

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It’s a “problem” that too many babies are being born to parents from Africa, a leading Israeli medical official has told lawmakers at the Israeli parliament.

Israel’s Maariv reported yesterday the official’s comments in Hebrew:

“In Tel Aviv, today, there live approximately 80 thousand infiltrators from Africa, who constitute about 15 percent of the city’s population. In the last year about 700 babies were born to Eritrean and Sudanese mothers, and we currently have an average of about two births a day,” thus reported today Professor Gaby Barabash, director of the Ichilov Medical Center, in a hearing the Knesset held by the lobby for returning the infiltrators.

The problem is that they closed down the fence, but they did not close down the natural growth, and the number of Eritreans born here rises from year to year,” said Barabash.

Barabash’s use of the term “infiltrators” as a general term for Africans marks his comments as part of the long-standing campaign of racist incitement by Israeli leaders and officials that has resulted in horrifying demonstrations and pogroms targeting Africans in Israel, many of whom arrive as refugees.

In December, David Sheen profiled Israel’s “racist ringleaders,” the political leaders and public figures most responsible for racist incitement.

Barabash’s comments are also in keeping with the general outlook in Israel where it is socially acceptable to define the births of non-Jewish babies as undesirable or as a “demographic threat” to the so-called “Jewish and democratic state.”

Even more disturbing, Barabash played on common racist tropes of Africans and people of color as bearers of diseases, recognizable from racist discourses in other places and times, including traditional European anti-Semitic rhetoric:

Professor Barabash reported high percentages of intrauterine deaths, and also contagious viral diseases among the delivering mothers: tuberculosis, malaria, and AIDS. The African population constitutes one third of the new cases of AIDS carriers [sic] diagnosed in Israel, and half of the cases of malaria carriers.

All of this testimony was taken at a parliamentary hearing organized by members who voice vocal support for mass expulsions of Africans and for the construction of a desert prison camp to hold them.

Recently, women of Ethiopian origin have accused Israeli officials of forcing them to take long-term contraceptives, allegations that came to light following an investigation into the precipitous drop in births to Ethiopian women in Israel in recent years.

A long tradition of Israeli baby-hatred

Barabash’s shocking comments also recall those made by Dr. Yitzhak Ravid, a senior researcher at the Israeli government’s Armaments Development Authority at the Herzliya Conference in 2003, who called for Israel to “implement a stringent policy of family planning in relation to its Muslim population.”

Ravid added: “the delivery rooms in Soroka Hospital in Beersheba,” an area with a large Bedouin population, “have turned into a factory for the production of a backward population” (“Herzliya conference sees verbal attacks on Israeli Arabs,” Haaretz, 18 December 2003).

Palestine’s indigenous Bedouin population has long been the target of Israeli forced removal from their lands and other racist practices.

And as David Hirst wrote of Prime Minister Golda Meir in his classic book The Gun and the Olive Branch, “The Palestinians’ birth-rate was so much higher than the Jews’ that her sleep was often disturbed, she would say, at the thought of how many Arab babies had been born in the night.”

With thanks to Dena Shunra for translation and analysis.

 

 

Written FOR

ISRAELI BRUTALITY ~~ AP KNOWS, REUTERS KNOWS, DO YOU?

Khalek’s case has garnered coverage in the Associated Press and Reuters.The media outlets are highlighting how Khalek’s case is an example of Palestinian children routinely being locked up in Israeli military jails.
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Palestinian-American boy, 14, locked up in Israeli military jail

 by Alex Kane
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Mohammed Khlaek
14-year-old Mohammed Khalek, a Palestinian-American, was arrested by the Israeli military last week (Image via Defense of Children International–Palestine)
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A Palestinian was arrested last week for allegedly throwing stones and is being held in an Israeli jail, a mundane and daily occurrence in the occupied West Bank. But this case has made headlines–and it’s because the Palestinian is a 14-year-old who also has American citizenship.

New Orleans-born Mohammed Khalek was taken from his home last week by eight rifle-toting Israeli soldiers. He’s accused of throwing stones at Israeli cars near Silwad, northeast of Ramallah. Khalek has yet to be charged, and his detention has been extended until April 14. Addameer advocacy officer Randa Wahbe toldHaaretz that Khlaek “was told by interrogators that if he confessed to rock throwing quickly, he would be released.”

Khalek’s case has garnered coverage in the Associated Press and Reuters.The media outlets are highlighting how Khalek’s case is an example of Palestinian children routinely being locked up in Israeli military jails.

Reuters’ Noah Browning reports that Khalek appeared in jail with “his ankles shackled together just above his running shoes.” Browning also reports that the boy’s father, Abdulwahab Khalek, said that Mohammed “was maltreated and had his braces broken from his teeth during the course of his arrest in the early hours of April 5.”

“The Israeli military’s treatment of Mohammed Khalak is appalling and all too common,” Human Rights Watch’s Bill Van Esveld told Reuters. “There’s no justification for … shackling him for 12 hours and interrogating him while refusing to let him see his father or a lawyer.”

The Associated Press story notes that a United Nations report recently castigated the Israeli military for its abuses of the rights of Palestinian children. 700 Palestinian children a year are arrested by the Israeli military, according to UNICEF. Here’s more from the report:

Ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized…

The pattern of ill-treatment includes the arrests of children at their homes between midnight and 5:00 am by heavily armed soldiers; the practice of blindfolding children and tying their hands with plastic ties; physical and verbal abuse during transfer to an interrogation site, including the use of painful restraints; lack of access to water, food, toilet facilities and medical care; interrogation using physical violence and threats; coerced confessions; and lack of access to lawyers or family members during interrogation.

Treatment inconsistent with child rights continues during court appearances, including shackling of children; denial of bail and imposition of custodial sentences;  and transfer of children outside occupied Palestinian territory to serve their sentences inside Israel. The incarceration isolates them from their families and interrupts their studies.

These practices are in violation of international law that protects all children against ill-treatment when in contact with law enforcement, military and judicial institutions.

The boy’s father lashed out at the American government’s response to his son’s arrest in an interview with Reuters. “The U.S. government is obligated to do something for us, but it doesn’t even care. They’ve lost the issue somewhere in their back pocket,” he told the news outlet.

The indifference is to be expected. American citizens mistreated by the Israeli military are denied adequate help by the U.S. government. For instance, the U.S. government waited three days to contact the family of Furkan Dogan, who was executed at point-blank range on board the Mavi Marmara, the aid ship part of the 2010 flotilla trying to break the blockade of Gaza. Dogan was a U.S. citizen of Turkish descent. The U.S. declined to investigate the death of Dogan, preferring to allow Israel to do so itself.

 

Written FOR

OPEN LETTER TO ISRAELIS FROM A HUNGER STRIKER’S DEATH BED

Hunger Speech by Samer Issawi
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Israelis:
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I am Samer Issawi on hunger strike for eight consecutive months, laying in one of your hospitals called Kaplan. On my body is a medical devise connected to a surveillance room operating 24 hours a day. My heartbeats are slow and quiet and may stop at any minute, and everybody, doctors, officials and intelligence officers are waiting for my setback and my loss of life.
I chose to write to you: intellectuals, writers, lawyers and journalists, associations, and civil society activists. I invite you to visit me, to see a skeleton tied to his hospital bed, and around him three exhausted jailers. Sometimes they have their appetizing food and drinks around me.
The jailers watch my suffering, my loss of weight and my gradual melting. They often look at their watches, asking themselves in surprise: how does this damaged body have an excess of time to live after its time?
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 Israelis:
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 I’m looking for an intellectual who is through    shadowboxing, or talking to his face in mirrors. I want him to stare into my face and observe my coma, to wipe the gunpowder off his pen, and from his mind the sound of bullets, he will then see my features carved deep in his eyes, I’ll see him and he’ll sees me, I’ll see him nervous about the questions of the future, and he’ll see me, a ghost that stays with him and doesn’t leave.
You may receive instructions to write a romantic story about me, and you could do that easily after removing my humanity from me, you will watch a creature with nothing but a ribcage, breathing and choking with hunger, loosing consciousness once in a while.
And, after your cold silence, Mine will be a literary or media story that you add to your curricula, and when your students grow up they will believe that the Palestinian dies of hunger in front of Gilad’s Israeli sword, and you would then rejoice in this funerary ritual and in your cultural and moral superiority.  
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Israelis:
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I am Samer Issawi the young “Arboush” man according to your military terms, the Jerusalemite, whom you arrested without charge, except for leaving Jerusalem to the suburbs of Jerusalem. I, whom will be tried twice for a charge without charge, because it is the military that rules in your country, and the intelligence apparatus that decides, and all other components of Israeli society ever have to do is sit in a trench and hide in the fort that keeps what is called a purity of identity – to avoid the explosion of my suspicious bones.
I have not heard one of you interfere to stop the loud wail of death, it’s as if everyone of you has turned into gravediggers, and everyone wears his military suit: the judge, the writer, the intellectual, the journalist, the merchant, the academic, and the poet. And I cannot believe that a whole society was turned into guards over my death and my life, or guardians over settlers who chase after my dreams and my trees. 
Israelis:
I will die satisfied and having satisfied. I do not accept to be deported out of my homeland. I do not accept your courts and your arbitrary rule. If you had Passed over in Easter to my country and destroyed it in the name of a God of an ancient time, you will not Passover to my elegant soul which has declared disobedience. It has healed and flew and celebrated all the time that you lack. Maybe then you will understand that awareness of freedom is stronger than awareness of death.
Do not listen to those generals and those dusty myths, for the defeated will not remain defeated, and the victor will not remain a victor. History isn’t only measured by battles, massacres and prisons, but by peace with the Other and the self. 
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Israelis:
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Listen to my voice, the voice of our time and yours! Liberate yourselves of the excess of greedy power! Do not remain prisoners of military camps and the iron doors that have shut your minds! I am not waiting for a jailer to release me, I’m waiting for you to be released from my memory.
Originally posted AT

SIX ACTIONS FOR PEACE IN PALESTINE

palestine-peace
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Six Actions for Peace
Actions speak louder than words so here are 6 actions YOU can take to advance peace (at least select three for this week).
Prepared by Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
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We salute and mourn lost comrades.  We mourn the loss of our young friend Mahmoud Al-Teety shot dead by Israeli apartheid forces who invaded his village.*  We mourn President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela who lifted millions out of poverty and showed that governments can serve people needs rather than corporate greed.  We mourn Stephen Hessel, survivor of the genocides committed by the Nazis and a human rights defender who supported Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) on Israel and also helped spread ideas of universal human rights and rejected racist ideas of uniqueness and chosenness. We also commemorate ten years since the murder of our friend Rachel Corrie (US citizen, 23 year old) by Israeli soldiers in Rafah.  May we always remember those who worked for human rights and against tyranny and oppression.
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Mahmoud
Mahmoud
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I just returned from my whirlwind tour of South Africa exhausted but energized.  I met with hundreds of people including leadership of the trade union COSATU.  The BDS movement is picking up steam in South Africa thanks to the effort of hundreds of local activists (facing a few rich racist Zionists). I need to digest some information before I write more about this experience (and already it will be useful for a chapter I am working on that talks about Palestinian future options/strategies).  But in the meantime, actions speak louder than words so here are 6 actions YOU can take (at least select three for this week).
 
Action 1: During Israel Apartheid week kicks off in 250 cities wortldwide.  One of the 95 events in South Africa was hosted by COSATU, and I spoke to labor leaders about the situation on the ground in Palestine.  For more events and information and how you can help, SEE 
 
Action 2: (from Barbara W) It is clear from the number of elected officials who DECLINED to speak this year at the AIPAC convention (including Obama), that the power of their lobby is eroding.  Code Pink built miniature settlements and a replica of the Israeli Apartheid Wall in front of AIPAC’s convention center.   See just a few of the colorful props, street theater, music and humor.  Jewish Voices for Peace posted billboards all over the D.C. metro system saying, “We are proud to be Jewish and AIPAC does not speak for us”.  Obama is coming to the Middle East and he met with Arab Americans in the US ahead of his visit (we would like him to meet with Palestinian Americans living here and see life of dispossessed Palestinians instead of Presidential Compounds in Ramallah).  There is a lot of work to do in the US as Congress is still Israeli occupied territory and even at state level Zionists infiltrated; Ohio (USA) state treasury used taxpayer money to support Apartheid. So US citizens should write and pressure their government officials to respect human righst and not support apartheid.  The Council for National Interest provides resources.
Action 3: Palestinian Agricultural Organizations and Civil Society Networks Call for Ending International Trade with Israeli Agricultural Companies
 
 
Action 5: Please Mark your calendar for Sabeel’s Global Young Adult Festival July 1-6, 2013 
and Sabeel’s 9th International Conference 19 – 25, November 2013 
 
Action 6: Actipedia is an open-access, user-generated database of creative activism. It’s a place to read about, comment upon, and share experiences and examples of how activists and artists are using creative tactics and strategies to challenge power and offer visions of a better society. Actipedia draws case studies from everywhere: original submissions, reprinted news articles, snippets of action reports. We think that by learning from each other we can learn how to better change the world. Join us! Actipedia is a joint project of the Center for Artistic Activism and the Yes Lab.  You can add your events.
  
*Photos of the week: Israel killed a friend/peace activist near Hebron
 
La Luta continua
Stay human

 

JEWS WITH CONSCIENCE URGED TO STAY AWAY FROM ISRAEL

What other ‘Jewish Democracy‘ bars entry to Jews disagreeing with their policies?
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A Jewish-American pro-Palestinian activist who is married to an Israeli woman was not allowed to enter the country with his pregnant wife. An Israeli court rejected his petition to cancel the order against his entry Tuesday, and he is expected to be put on a plane back to the United States Wednesday night.
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adam_shapiro_and_hawaida_arraf_ism-sized
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Israel denies entry to pro-Palestinian American Jew

An Israeli judge ruled the activist, who arrived at the airport with his pregnant Israeli wife, was still subject to a 10-year ban from 2002.

By Amira Hass
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Ben Gurion Airport
Shapiro is expected to be deported Wednesday. Photo by Moti Milrod

A Jewish-American pro-Palestinian activist who is married to an Israeli woman was not allowed to enter the country with his pregnant wife. An Israeli court rejected his petition to cancel the order against his entry Tuesday, and he is expected to be put on a plane back to the United States Wednesday night.

Adam Shapiro, 41, and his wife Huwaida Arraf, 37, are among the founders of the International Solidarity Movement and have worked on behalf of the Palestinian cause for over a decade. Arraf has both American and Israeli citizenship.

In the summer of 2002, Shapiro was arrested during a demonstration near the West Bank city of Nablus and later deported and banned from entering Israel for 10 years. As a result, Shapiro, a documentary film director, and Arraf, a lawyer, have lived separately for much of the period since then. The couple participated in a number of the protest flotillas to Gaza and Shapiro is now involved with the Irish human rights organization Front Line Defenders, which work to protect human rights activists threatened by various regimes, such as the government of Bahrain.

Shapiro was again arrested in Israel in 2009 after the Israel Defense Forces diverted the Gaza-bound ship he was on. He was then deported, while Arraf remained in Israel. She was not investigated or charged at the time. Shapiro and Arraf, who is eight months pregnant, hoped that more than ten years after the original deportation order, the Israeli authorities would allow Shapiro to enter the country – especially since the couple is expecting a child.

Majd Badr, a lawyer, recently looked into Shapiro’s prospects for entry. He was told Shapiro would have to file a visa request with the Israeli consulate – a response he says did little to clarify Shapiro’s status.

Arraf and Shapiro landed at Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport on Tuesday. Shapiro filed a petition with the Central District Court in Lod and was allowed to stay in Israel until Judge Avraham Yaakov ruled Wednesday to uphold the 2009 deportation order, which Shapiro’s lawyer said he was unaware of. Yaakov was not swayed by Shapiro’s offer to refrain from entering the West Bank. He said the only way to appeal a 10-year deportation order and refusal of entry by the Interior Minister is by petitioning the High Court of Justice, Israel’s Supreme Court.

Source

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Detailed report on Mondoweiss …..
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Using secret travel ban, Israel prepares to deport activist Adam Shapiro preventing him from being at the birth of his first child

HUMANITY HAS LOST A DEAR FRIEND WITH THE PASSING OF STÉPHANE HESSEL


A Holocaust survivor who truly lived the mantra Never Again
TO ANYONE!
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 Stéphane Hessel, whose pamphlet Indignez-Vous! sold 4.5m copies in 35 countries
Stéphane Hessel, whose pamphlet Indignez-Vous! sold 4.5m copies in 35 countries. The French president, François Hollande, said of Hessel: ‘He leaves us a lesson, which is to never accept any injustice.’ Photograph: Boris Horvat/AFP/Getty

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Stéphane Hessel, writer and inspiration behind Occupy movement, dies at 95

Hessel, resistance fighter, diplomat, writer of Time for Outrage! and co-author of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, dies
By Kim Willsher for The Guardian
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The story of the French author Stéphane Hessel’s long and extraordinary life reads like a Boy’s Own adventure.

From his childhood in Berlin and then Paris, where he was brought up by his writer and translator father, journalist mother and her lover in an unusual ménage à trois, to his worldwide celebrity at the age of 93, when a political pamphlet he wrote became a bestselling publishing sensation and inspired global protest and the Occupy Wall Street movement.

And then there was everything in between: his escape from two Nazi concentration camps where he had been tortured and sentenced to death, his escapades with the French resistance and his hand in drawing up the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

Sometime between Tuesday and Wednesday, just a week after his last big interview was published, Hessel’s long and extraordinary life came to an end. He was 95 years old, but as one French magazine remarked: “Stéphane Hessel, dead? It’s hard to believe. He seemed to have become eternal, the grand and handsome old man.”

Le Point magazine added that the man with an “old-fashioned politeness and elegance from another age” had “danced” with the best part of a century.

“When one is received by the world in television studios, when one writes bestsellers, when one has baptised an international mobilisation movement, does one still die?” the magazine asked.

In 2010, when most people are winding down and after a long career as a diplomat, Hessel’s life took yet another dramatic turn when his 48-page pamphlet Indignez-Vous!, sold 4.5m copies in 35 countries. It was translated into English as Time for Outrage.

The work was originally written as a speech to commemorate the resistance to Hitler’s occupation of France during the second world war. It served as a rallying cry for those appalled by the gap between the world’s rich and poor.

Hessel said afterwards he aimed to imbue French youth with the same passion and fervour as had existed in the resistance. He compared the 21st-century struggle against what he described as the “international dictatorship of the financial markets” to his generation’s struggle against oppression as a young man during the war.

His wife, Christiane Hessel-Chabry, told France’s AFP news agency on Wednesday, that the writer had died overnight. No other details were given.

The French president, François Hollande, said Hessel was an “a huge figure whose exceptional life was devoted to the defence of human dignity”.

“It was in pursuit of his values that he engaged in the resistance,” he added, concluding: “He leaves us a lesson, which is to never accept any injustice.”

The French prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, also paid tribute to Hessel, whom he described as “a man who was engaged” and who was the incarnation of the “resistance spirit”.

“For all generations he was a source of inspiration, but also a reference. At 95 years, he epitomised the faith in the future of a new century,” Ayrault said.

As a committed European and supporter of the left, he was behind the Socialist François Hollande’s successful presidential election bid last year. On Wednesday after news of his death broke, French politicians lined up to express their admiration, respect and sadness.

Hessel was born into a Jewish family in Berlin in 1917, the son of a journalist and a writer. The family moved to France when Hessel was eight and he took French nationality in the late 1930s, having passed his baccalauréat at the young age of 15.

His parents’ unusual living arrangement was said to have inspired the celebrated François Truffaut film Jules et Jim.

The young Hessel refused to follow Marshal Philippe Pétain’s collaborationist Vichy government and fled to London, where he joined General Charles de Gaulle’s resistance fighters. As a prominent figure in the resistance, he was arrested by the Gestapo in 1944 and deported to Buchenwald and Dora concentration camps, where he suffered waterboarding torture. He escaped being executed at Buchenwald by exchanging identities with a prisoner who had died of typhus, and later escaped from Dora during a transfer to the Bergen-Belsen death camp. After fleeing his German guards, he met advancing American troops.

After the war, he worked with the US first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, in editing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Time for Outrage! argued that the French needed to become as outraged now as his fellow fighters had been during the war. He was highly critical of France’s treatment of illegal immigrants, and Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, and passionate about the environment, a free press and France’s welfare system. His call was for peaceful, non-violent insurrection.

During the eurozone crisis, one of the names given to the protests against austerity programmes and corruption in Spain was Los Indignados, taken from the title of Hessel’s work. These protests, along with the Arab spring uprisings, inspired protests in other countries and the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States.

“The global protest movement does not resemble the Communist movement, which declared that the world had to be overturned according to its viewpoint,” Hessel said in an interview a year ago.

“This is not an ideological revolution. It is driven by an authentic desire to get what you need. From this point of view, the present generation is not asking governments to disappear but to change the way they deal with people’s needs.”

*

On Occupy Wall Street

From Democracy Now

*

*

As the Occupy Wall Street movement expands across the United States, drawing inspiration from the Arab Spring and the protests in Spain, Democracy Now! spoke with former French Resistance fighter, Stéphane Hessel, whose pamphlet-length book, Time for Outrage, helped inspire some of these uprisings. His book has sold more than 3.5 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 10 languages, with several more planned. Hessel, 93 years old, has occupied many positions in his life: immigrant, French Resistance fighter, concentration camp survivor, diplomat, advocate and author. He joined the French Resistance during World War II, was caught by the Gestapo and sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp. He escaped during transfer to Bergen-Belsen and later helped draft the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, then became an honorary “Ambassador of France,” appointed to special government missions. He has since been a fierce advocate of the Palestinians. Democracy Now!’s Juan Gonzalez interviewed Hessel earlier this month. 

“You must find the things that you will not accept, that will outrage you. And these things, you must be able to fight against nonviolently, peacefully, but determinedly,” Hessel says, noting his support for the Occupy Wall Street encampment. “They’re there determined to see that their values are to be respected.”

*
Speaking at the Russell Tribunal in New York City this past October
Photo © by Bud Korotzer
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SONY DSC
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Palestine loses a friend and supporter …
*
The Russell Tribunal on Palestine mourns the passing of Stéphane Hessel

Stéphane Hessel, author of the bestseller « Time for outrage »,
French ambassador, human rights’ advocate and great philosopher, died
last night at the age of 95.


The Russell Tribunal on palestine (RToP) mourns the passing of its
honorary president and huge supporter.


Pierre Galand, RToP general coordinator says :
« The Tribunal has always ben his project, and he was its soul as he
has always inspired us with his ideas and supported us with concrete
gestures. He would have participated in the last session of the
Tribunal, in Brussels on 16 and 17 March, but now that he’s passed
away we will pay him the tribute he deserves. With his death, we loss
a last eye-witness of the drafting of the Human Rights’ declaration.
If the World loses a great personality and a distinguished
intellectual and activist, at a personal level, I will miss him as a
comrade and a friend ». 

In all sessions of the RToP held in Barcelona, London, Cape Town and
New York, Hessel has denounced the outragious  complicity of third
parties in the continuous violation of the Palestinian people’s rights
and the failure by Israel to comply with the international law. He’s
also called on individuals and organisations around the World to put
pressure on the international community so that politicians and
decision-makers adopt all possible measures to reach peace in the
Middle East and enforce the existing sanctions on those countries
which don’t comply with UN resolutions.


On 18 February 2013, Stéphane Hessel gave a last interview on his
involvement in the RToP. The interview will be published in a book by
the French publisher Editions de L’Herne, due out in mid March. You
can read the interview at this link (French only).


DEMOLISHING A PALESTINIAN NEIGHBOURHOOD TO ‘PROTECT’ ITS RESIDENTS

 In 2011 a young Bedouin girl suffered severe injuries after being shot in an incident her family blamed on the Israeli military, which denied involvement at the time. 

In 2007 a Palestinian girl died two days after being shot by a border police officer near Anata.
*
Therefore, the neighbourhood must be demolished ….
Wouldn’t it be better to demolish the military base in question?
*
The Palestinian girl mentioned above was our precious Abir Aramin OBM.
YE0727547-a
*
Israel to demolish Palestinian neighborhood
 
 *
JERUSALEM – Israeli forces on Tuesday delivered demolition notices to all Palestinian families in Fuheidat neighborhood east of Anata village in northeast Jerusalem, residents said.

According to the notices, residents can demur before Feb. 17.

A Ma’an reporter said about 200 Palestinians live in the neighborhood which is located to the west of a large Israeli military base called Anatot.

The Israeli forces plan to remove the neighborhood because it is close to the base.

In 2011 a young Bedouin girl suffered severe injuries after being shot in an incident her family blamed on the Israeli military, which denied involvement at the time.

In 2007 a Palestinian girl died two days after being shot by a border police officer near Anata.

Source

TWENTY FIVE TENTS THAT ROCKED THE FOUNDATIONS OF ZION

The village of Bab Al Shams was established last Friday by Palestinian activists, on privately owned Palestinian lands, in an area between East Jerusalem and the settlement of Maaleh Adumim, which Israel refers to as E1.
* 

The Palestinians  may be moved physically, but Palestinian villages, old and new,  will never die so long as they remain alive in the hearts and minds of the Palestinian people and all their supporters worldwide…

Bab Alshams – We Shall Not Be Moved

 


250 men and women from across Palestine establish this morning
a new Palestinian village named “Bab Alshams” (Gate of the
Sun). Tents were built in what Israel refers to as area E1 and
equipment for long-term living was brought.

The group released the following statement:

We, the sons and daughters of Palestine from all throughout
the land, announce the establishment of Bab Alshams Village
(Gate of the Sun). We the people, without permits from the
occupation, without permission from anyone, sit here today
because this is our land and it is our right to inhabit it.

A few months ago the Israeli government announced its
intention to build about 4000 settlement housing units in the
area Israel refers to as E1. E1 block is an area of about 13
square km that falls on confiscated Palestinian land East of
Jerusalem between Ma’ale Adumim settlement, which lies on
occupied West Bank Palestinian land, and Jerusalem. We will
not remain silent as settlement expansion and confiscation of
our land continues. Therefore we hereby establish the village
of Bab Alshams to proclaim our faith in direct action and
popular resistance. We declare that the village will stand
steadfast until the owners of this land will get their right
to build on their land.

The village’s name is taken from the novel, “Bab Alshams,” by
Lebanese writer Elias Khoury. The book depicts the history of
Palestine through a love story between a Palestinian man,
Younis, and his wife Nahila. Younis leaves his wife to join
the Palestinian resistance in Lebanon while Nahila remains
steadfast in what remains of their village in the Galilee.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Younis smuggles through
Lebanon and back to the Galilee to meet his wife in the “Bab
Alshams” cave, where she gives birth to their children. Younis
returns to the resistance in Lebanon as his wife remains in
Bab Al Shams.

Bab Alshams is the gate to our freedom and steadfastness. Bab
Alshams is our gate to Jerusalem. Bab Alshams is the gate to
our to our return.

For decades, Israel has established facts on the ground as the
International community remained silent in response to these
violations. The time has come now to change the rules of the
game, for us to establish facts on the ground – our own land.
This action involving women and men from the north to the
south is a form of popular resistance. In the coming days we
will hold various discussion groups, educational and artistic
presentations, as well as film screenings on the lands of this
village. The residents of Bab Al Shams invite all the sons and
daughters of our people to participate and join the village in
supporting our resilience.

 

This is what happened…

 

 

 

Although established on privately owned Palestinian lands, Israel forcefully expelled residents of the village in a pre-dawn raid this morning. Six required medical attention Shortly before 3 AM, hundreds of Israeli cops and soldiers staged a raid on the newly founded Palestinian village of Bab Al Shams (Gate of the Sun), violently evicting its 150 inhabitants. Use of police brutality is even more objectionable in light of the passive resistance offered by the residents. No arrests were made, and all persons detained were released shortly after.

In light of harsh international criticism over the plan to expand the Maaleh Adumim settlement, and in an attempt to draw away attention from the case, eviction took place early this morning. Following its arrival at the scene, a massive police force began by removing journalists from the residents’ immediate surroundings and proceeded to drag people away, beating some of them. Six Palestinians later required medical care at the Ramallah Hospital.

Following his release, Mohammed Khatib of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee said, “We will not remain silent as Israel continues to build Jewish-only colonies on our land. Bab Al Shams is no more, but during its short days it gave new life and energy to all who passed through it. Israel continues to act in violation of every imaginable law and human decency. In establishing Bab Al Shams we declare that we have had enough of demanding our rights from the occupier – from now on we shall seize them ourselves.”

Last night the state appealed to the High Court to withdraw an injunction prohibiting the eviction. The state argued, among other things, that the very existence of the village may occasion rioting, despite its remote and isolated location. The state further argued that the village was established by the Committees to Resist the Wall (a body which does not exist), also behind a blockade of Route 443 in October 2012. This claim, backed only by an affidavit signed by an Israeli police chief, has never been supported by any indictments or arrests for the questioning of individuals.

The village of Bab Al Shams was established last Friday by Palestinian activists, on privately owned Palestinian lands, in an area between East Jerusalem and the settlement of Maaleh Adumim, which Israel refers to as E1. After the acceptance of Palestine as a non-member state to the UN, Israel announced the approval of a plan to expand the Maaleh Adumim settlement by building some 4,000 residential units in this area. Such construction would effectively bisect the West Bank and effectively cutting it off from Jerusalem.**

 

 

 

DOES HUMAN RIGHTS INCLUDE EXPOSURE OF ISRAELI ATROCITIES?

 Just one of many crimes committed by Israel…
Stealing of Palestinian land by Israel with the help of the west
*

Should non-governmental organizations (NGOs) criticize governments when the latter fail to uphold democracy and good governance? Should governments be accountable to the private citizens who are affected by their policies?

In democratic frameworks, the answer to these questions should be “yes.” Criticism of governments, whether by media or civil society, is a fundamental human right and an essential element of democracy, and prevents abuse of power. Likewise, democracies are expected to be transparent in their decision-making and operations, with rare exceptions relating to national security and protecting lives. In the age of Wikileaks, some argue that there should be absolutely no barriers to the “public’s right to know” about internal government proceedings.
*
BUT …. criticism of Israel is a no-no!
It’s even anti-Semitic according to some…
*
NGO Monitor is one of those ‘some’ …
*
For years, NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research institute, has requested key documents relating to EU funding of a small group of political NGOs that claim to promote human rights, and which has been exploited for anti-Israel initiatives. For instance, the Gaza-based “Palestinian Center for Human Rights” received a 3-year €300,000 grant and Israeli NGO “Yesh Din” is receiving €150,000 over 2 years for projects that seek to portray Israel and its security forces as guilty of “war crimes” and unaccountable to the rule of law. A different grant to the fringe Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, worth €170,000, was used to press a similar demonization agenda in biasedUnited Nations frameworks.
*
Ynet looks into this today in an Op-ed ….
Irony of EU funding

Op-ed: NGOs claiming to promote human rights use EU funds to promote anti-Israel initiatives

Should non-governmental organizations (NGOs) criticize governments when the latter fail to uphold democracy and good governance? Should governments be accountable to the private citizens who are affected by their policies?

*

In democratic frameworks, the answer to these questions should be “yes.” Criticism of governments, whether by media or civil society, is a fundamental human right and an essential element of democracy, and prevents abuse of power. Likewise, democracies are expected to be transparent in their decision-making and operations, with rare exceptions relating to national security and protecting lives. In the age of Wikileaks, some argue that there should be absolutely no barriers to the “public’s right to know” about internal government proceedings.
*
Yet, it appears that when it comes to funding political advocacy NGOs in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the EU considers itself unconstrained by these basic tenets of democracy.
*
For years, NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research institute, has requested key documents relating to EU funding of a small group of political NGOs that claim to promote human rights, and which has been exploited for anti-Israel initiatives. For instance, the Gaza-based “Palestinian Center for Human Rights” received a 3-year €300,000 grant and Israeli NGO “Yesh Din” is receiving €150,000 over 2 years for projects that seek to portray Israel and its security forces as guilty of “war crimes” and unaccountable to the rule of law. A different grant to the fringe Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, worth €170,000, was used to press a similar demonization agenda in biased United Nations frameworks.
*
And for years, EU officials have refused to provide details about how NGOs are chosen and about the result of project evaluations, under the guise of unspecified “security” concerns. In one instance, in response to a freedom of information request, the EU sent a disk containing a number of documents, but they were heavily redacted and all meaningful details were erased.
*
A recent European Court of Justice decision, denying a petition by NGO Monitor concerning this lack of transparency, confirmed that the EU did not provide the requested documents in a timely fashion. But, the court upheld the non-transparent behavior, permitting the EU to continue to shield its decision making from public scrutiny.
*
And, indeed, the evidence suggests that the EU has something to hide.
*
Secrecy replaces lofty principles

As mentioned above, EU officials either denied our requests for information, or obfuscated and dissembled. In fact, the EU’s impulse to conceal was so great, NGO Monitor later found that some of the redacted information was already available in the public domain.

*

Further evidence is a leaked protocol of an EU meeting on NGO funding from 1999, one of the only uncensored documents dealing with this topic to emerge from EU offices. The protocol shows an explicit and concerted plan to support NGOs in an effort to manipulate Israeli voting patterns. When the founder of NGO Monitor, Prof. Gerald Steinberg, referred to the protocol at a public event, a European diplomat attempted to silence him, claiming that the document was top secret and should not be the subject of public debate.

*
Finally, an independent evaluation of a global EU program on the “Abolition of the Death Penalty” noted the inadequacy of available materials on a funded project carried out by a Palestinian NGO. The evaluators concluded that “there are few substantive documents held (in Brussels) on file…It is impossible to make any useful comment on this project without more information.” In other words, EU secrecy prevented contracted evaluators from effectively reviewing EU funding, and may have kept essential information out of the hands of EU officials in Brussels.
*
The lack of transparency and public accountability that plagues the EU on matters of NGO funding is ironic. Democracy, good governance and strengthening civil society, the very values that the EU has discarded in denying NGO Monitor’s requests, are precisely the rationale and justification given for the EU’s financial support of Israeli and Palestinian NGOs. The groups receive massive EU funding to challenge government policy, increase accountability for alleged violations of democracy standards, and to petition courts on matters of public concern.
*
But, when it comes to the EU’s own activities, institutional secrecy replaces these lofty principles.
Needless to say, this is in direct violation of the EU’s guidelines on transparency, which recognize citizens’ right to demand transparency. They also mandate that “interaction” with NGOs “take place in compliance with the law as well as in due respect of ethical principles, avoiding undue pressure, illegitimate or privileged access to information or to decision makers.”
*
Instead, it appears that the EU is operating outside of accepted diplomatic norms. As opposed to promoting human rights and democracy, the EU is manipulating Israeli political processes by funding advocacy groups to lobby and engage in other forms of political intervention. In lieu of traditional diplomacy with the Israeli government, the EU uses NGOs to advance its policy agendas.
*
Until the EU corrects its transparency deficit, however, Europeans and Israelis who have a clear right to know how and why these funding EU decisions are made, will remain in the dark.

AN APPEAL TO ALL JEWS OF CONSCIENCE

Please read, sign and spread the following …

 

jews_for_palestinian_right_of_return 

  

Thank you for supporting Jews for Palestinian Right of Return. 

 

Now please ask your friends, family and coworkers to join the growing list of supporters below by joining at http://bit.ly/JewsForRoR 

 

Praise for JFPROR

Ali Abunimah (Electronic Intifada): “Beautiful!”

Mezna Qato (US Palestinian Community Network): “Absolutely beautiful.”

Dr. Ghada Karmi, M.D.: “An excellent statement which gets at the heart of the Palestinian cause. All people of conscience must sign it.”

Fatin Jarara (Al Awda-NY: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition): “Thank you, JFPROR, for your support of the right of return for Palestinian refugees to all of Historic Palestine and for the call for a single democratic state, a point that must never be compromised by Palestinians, first and foremost, or their allies.”

Max Blumenthal: ”I was proud to join so many outstanding people in signing.”

Stuart Bramhall (Daily Censored): “Profoundly moving.”

Kevin Ovenden (Palestine solidarity activist, London): “Well done – forwards to peace and justice, without which there can be no peace.”

————-

 

Jews For Palestinian Right of Return

 

“For Palestinians, the right to return home and the right to live in dignity and equality in their own land are not any less important than the right to live free of military occupation.”
Prof. Saree Makdisi

For more than a century, Zionists have sought to construct a “Jewish state” through forced removal of the indigenous Palestinian people.

In 1948, this state was established through the Nakba (Catastrophe): erasure and occupation of more than 500 Palestinian towns and villages, dispossession of over 750,000 Palestinians, and a terror campaign of which the massacre at Deir Yassin is but the most infamous example.

Since 1967, Israel has also occupied and colonized the remainder of historic Palestine. Today, this relentless ethnic cleansing continues — armed and financed by the U.S. and its allies — on both sides of the 1948 “Green Line.”

As a cumulative result, seventy percent of Palestinians are in exile, the world’s largest refugee population.

Nowhere is this clearer than in Gaza, where Israel inflicts particularly brutal collective punishment on 1.7 million people — most of them refugees — for defiantly resisting expulsion from their homes throughout historic Palestine.

“Pick a point, any point, along [Gaza's] 25-mile coastline,” writes Gaza City resident Lara Aburamadan, “and you’re seven or so miles — never more — from the other side. The other side is where my grandparents were born, in a village that has since become someone else’s country, off limits to me. You call it Israel. I call it the place where the bombs come from.”

To hide these crimes and shield itself from their consequences, the Zionist regime officially denies the Nakba, the ethical equivalent of Holocaust denial. It has even authorized legislation to penalize those who memorialize the Nakba — a step toward criminalizing its observance altogether.

As it is for all colonized peoples, liberation means reversing dispossession. “The Palestinian cause,” writes Dr. Haidar Eid in Gaza, “is the right of return for all refugees and nothing less.”

Return — one of the key demands of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign — is affirmed in U.N. resolution 194, but derives from the principle of universal human rights and, as such, cannot be renounced or abandoned by any body or representative; it inalienably attaches to Palestinians, both individually and collectively.

Despite this, even some who criticize Israel’s 1967 occupation claim that Palestinian return is “unrealistic.”

However, solidarity means unconditional support for the just aims of those resisting oppression. As Palestinian journalist-activist Maath Musleh explains: “If you think that [return] is not possible, then you are really not in solidarity with the Palestinian cause.”

Some also object that refugees’ return would mean an end to the “Jewish state.” But supporters of social justice must ask themselves how they can defend a state whose very existence depends on structural denial of Palestinian rights.

Recently, more than a hundred leading Palestinian activists reaffirmed their opposition “to all forms of racism and bigotry, including, but not limited to, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Zionism, and other forms of bigotry directed at anyone, and in particular people of color and indigenous peoples everywhere.”

Such racism and bigotry is reflected precisely in Zionism’s attempt to erase the Palestinian people, a century long campaign that dishonors the memory of Jewish suffering and resistance in Europe.

The moral response is clear: “There is one geopolitical entity in historic Palestine,” writes Palestinian journalist Ali Abunimah. “Israel must not be allowed to continue to entrench its apartheid, racist and colonial rule throughout that land.”

As Jews of conscience, we call on all supporters of social justice to stand up for Palestinian Right of Return and a democratic state throughout historic Palestine — “From the River to the Sea” — with equal rights for all.

The full measure of justice, upon which the hopes of all humanity depends, requires no less.

Initial Signers
(List in formation; affiliations listed for identification only)

Max Ajl, Writer and activist; Cornell Students for Justice in Palestine
Gabriel Ash, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network Switzerland
Max Blumenthal, Journalist and author
Prof. Haim Bresheeth, Filmmaker, photographer and film studies scholar
Lenni Brenner, Author and antiwar activist
Mike Cushman, Convenor, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (UK)
Sonia Fayman, French Jewish Union for Peace; International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network France
Sherna Berger Gluck, Founding member, U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel; Israel Divestment Campaign
Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Coordinator, Fellowship of Reconciliation Peacewalks, Mural Arts in Palestine and Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence
Hector Grad, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network Spain
Abraham Greenhouse, Blogger, Electronic Intifada
Tony Greenstein, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (UK)
Jeff Halper, Director, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)
Stanley Heller, Host of “The Struggle” TV News
Tikva Honig-Parnass, Former member of the Zionist armed forces (1948); author of False Prophets of Peace: Liberal Zionism and the Struggle for Palestine
Adam Horowitz, Co-Editor, Mondoweiss.net
Selma James, Global Women’s Strike; International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network UK
David Klein, Organizing Committee, U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
Dennis Kortheuer, Organizing Committee, U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel; Israel Divestment Campaign; Dump Veolia LA
David Letwin, Activist and writer; Gaza Freedom March
Michael Letwin, Co-Founder, Labor for Palestine; Organizing Committee, U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel; Al-Awda NY: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
Antony Loewenstein, Australian journalist and author
Barbara Lubin, Executive Director, Middle East Children’s Alliance
Mike Marqusee, Author of If I Am Not for Myself: Journey of an Anti-Zionist Jew
Hajo Meyer, Auschwitz survivor; International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Linda Milazzo, Participatory journalist and educator
Prof. Ilan Pappé, Israeli historian and socialist activist
Miko Peled, Author of The General’s Son
Karen Pomer, Granddaughter of Henri B. van Leeuwen, Dutch anti-Zionist leader and Bergen-Belsen survivor
Diana Ralph, Assistant Coordinator, Independent Jewish Voices-Canada
Dorothy Reik, Progressive Democrats of the Santa Monica Mountains
Prof. Dr. Fanny-Michaela Reisin, President, International League for Human Rights (German Section FIDH); Founding member, Jewish Voice for a Just Peace – EJJP Germany
Rachel Roberts, Civil rights attorney and writer
Ilana Rossoff, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Carol K. Smith, Activist and civil rights attorney
Lia Tarachansky, Director, Seven Deadly Myths
Hadas Thier, Contributing author of The Struggle for Palestine; Israeli-born daughter and granddaughter of Nazi Holocaust survivors
Dr. Abraham Weizfeld, Jewish People’s Liberation Organization (Montréal)
Sherry Wolf, Author and public speaker; International Socialist Organization; Adalah-NY
Marcy Winograd, Former Congressional peace candidate; public school teacher
Dr. Roger van Zwanenberg, Non-Executive Director, Pluto Books Ltd.

Additional Signers
(Complete list at: http://jfpror.wordpress.com/2013/01/12/january-12-updated-supporters-jews-for-palestinian-right-of-return/
Affiliations listed for identification only
.)

 

Stephen Aberle, Vancouver, BC, Independent Jewish Voices
Deborah Agre
, Berkeley, CA, Middle East Children’s Alliance
Seymour Alexander
, Slough, Jews for Justice for Palestinians UK
Ruth Bader
Australia, German-Jewish/Australian, daughter of Holocaust survivors
Adam Balsam, Independent Jewish Voices Canada
Moran Barir, Human rights activist, Jerusalem
Ronnie Barkan, Tel-Aviv, Boycott from Within
Nora Barrows-Friedman, Journalist
Dalit Baum, Israeli feminist teacher and activist
Medea Benjamin, Codirector, Codepink
Mark Berman, Playwright
Rima Berns-McGown, Toronto, Writer and Adjunct Faculty, University of Toronto at Mississauga
Elizabeth Block, Toronto, Independent Jewish Voices
Audrey Bomse, National Lawyers Guild, Free Gaza
Dennis Brasky, Professor – Political Science – Rutgers University
Estee Chandler, Founding Member, Jewish Voice for Peace, L.A. Chapter
David Comedi, Tucumán, Argentina
Prof. Roger Dittmann, CSU Fullerton
Mark Elf, Jews sans frontieres
Prof. Sam Farber, NYC
Deborah Fink, UK, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods
Alexei Folger, Jewish Voice for Peace, Bay Area
Maxine Fookson, Portland, Oregon, Jewish Voice for Peace
Racheli Gai, Tucson Women in Black, Jewish Voice for Peace
Kamran Ghasri, Israel Divestment Campaign
Dr. Terri Ginsberg, NYC; film scholar; Committee for Open Discussion of Zionism
Neta Golan, Palestinian Territories, ISM
Nathan Goldbaum, ISO, Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators, Chicago Teachers Union
Steve Goldfield, Ph.D., Oakland, CA, Former chair, Palestine Solidarity Committee, former editor, Palestine Focus
Jean R. Goldman, Miami Beach, Women in Black
Sue Goldstein, Toronto, Women in Solidarity with Palestine
Marty Goodman, NYC, Former Executive Board member, Transport Workers Union Local 100
Heidi Grunebaum, Cape Town
Cathy Gulkin, Toronto, Independent Jewish Voices, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid
Georges Gumpel, Union Juive Française pour la Paix
Freda Guttman, Montreal, Tadamon!
Evelyn Hecht-Galinski, Author and journalist, Germany
Annette Herskovits, Berkeley, Holocaust survivor, writer, and activist
Rebecca Hom, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network-U.S.
Bec Hynek, Sydney, Australia, Socialist Alternative
Jews Opposing Zionism, Not In Our Name – NION (Canada)
Riva Joffe
, London, Jews Against Zionism
Ramsey Judah, Los Angeles activist and Immigration Rights Attorney
Alex Kane, Assistant Editor, Mondoweiss.net and World editor, AlterNet
Dan Kaplan, Executive Secretary, AFT Local 1493, San Mateo, CA Community College Federation of Teachers
Asaf Kedar, Zochrot
Alice Diane Kisch, Emerryville, CA, Jewish Voice for Peace
Bud Korotzer, Brooklyn
Yael Korin, Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid, Southern California
Steve Kowit, American poet, Professor emeritus, Southwestern College
L.A. Jews for Peace
Sylvia Laale
, Ottawa
Stephen Landau, Translator and publisher, White Plains, NY
David Landy, Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Melanie Lazarow, University of Melbourne
Howard Lenow, Sudbury, MA, Union Attorney, Founder American Jews For A Just Peace
Leah Levane, London, Jews for Justice for Palestinians
Daniel Levyne, France, UJFP
Brenda Lewis, Guelph, Ontario, child of Holocaust survivor
Abby Lippman, Montreal, Professor Emerita, McGill University
Jennifer Loewenstein, Madison
Henry Lowi, IDF veteran
Alex Lubin, Professor, American University of Beirut
Helga Mankovitz, Kingston, ON, Independent Jewish Voices
Eli Marcus, Occupied Palestine
Richard Marcuse, West Vancouver, BC, Independent Jewish Voices
Peter Melvyn, Critical Jewish Voice, Vienna
Waldo Mermelstein, Sao Paulo
Gail Miller, NY, Passenger, U. S. Boat to Gaza–The Audacity of Hope
Prof. Hilton Obenzinger
Akiva Orr
, Matzpen
Peter Rachleff, Saint Paul, Professor of History, Macalester College
Zohar Chamberlain Regev, Dúrcal, Granada, Spain
Fanny-Michaela Reisin, Jewish Voice for a Just Peace – EJJP Germany
Ernest Rodker, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, UK
Professor Jonathan Rosenhead, Chair, British Committee for the Universities of Palestine
Martha Roth, Vancouver BC, Independent Jewish Voices
Cheyl A. Rubenberg, Boca Raton, Professor (retired)
Leslie Safran, London
Margot Salom, Brisbane Australia, Just Peace for Palestine
Christiane Schomblond, Brussels, Belgium, professor retired from University of Brussels
Ralph Schoenman, Vallejo, CA., Author: Hidden History of Zionism
Yossi Schwartz, Haifa, Internationalist Socialist League
Amanda Sebestyen, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network UK, JfJfP, JBIG, IJV
Sid Shniad, Vancouver, BC, National Steering Committee, Independent Jewish Voices
Mya Shone, Author, The Hidden History of Zionism and other works
Abba A. Solomon, Author of 
The Speech, and Its Context
Peter Sporn, Oak Park, Illinois, Arab Jewish Partnership for Peace and Justice in the Middle East
Marsha Steinberg, BDS LA for Justice in Palestine
Cy & Lois Swartz, Philadelphia, Grandparents for Peace in the Middle East
Prof. Barry Trachtenberg
Matthew Taylor
, Berkeley, founding member, Young Jewish and Proud group within Jewish Voice for Peace
Steve Terry, Criminal defense attorney, Brooklyn
Lily van den Bergh, Documentary filmmaker & organiser, Women in Black  The Netherlands
Dominique Ventre, French Jewish Union for Peace; International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network France
Judith Weisman, Toronto, Independent Jewish Voices, Not in Our Name
Suzanne Weiss, Toronto
Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Founder member, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods
Tamar Yaron, Kibbutz Hazorea, Israel, founder & moderator: Encounter-EMEM for international Israel-Palestine peace activities

NO LAW OF RETURN FOR PALESTINIANS BECAUSE THERE AREN’T ANY

anna-baltzer-and-haithem-el-zabri
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“There was no Palestinian people.” So said American hedge fund manager Michael Steinhardt one of the biggest donors to Birthright Israel, a program that doles out free 10-day trips to Israel in an attempt to entice Jews to leave their homelands around the world and settle in Israel and the 1967 occupied territories.
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Under Israel’s racist “Law of Return,” Jews, as defined by Israel, from anywhere in the world are instantly given citizenship, while Palestinian refugees, born in historic Palestine, or directly descended from parents who were, are not allowed to return home solely because they are not Jews.
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 “There was no Palestinian people,” big donor to Birthright Israel tells Max Blumenthal

Submitted by Ali Abunimah
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*

“There was no Palestinian people.” So said American hedge fund manager Michael Steinhardt one of the biggest donors to Birthright Israel, a program that doles out free 10-day trips to Israel in an attempt to entice Jews to leave their homelands around the world and settle in Israel and the 1967 occupied territories.

Steinhardt spoke to journalist Max Blumenthal at a Birthright Israel rally and dance rave that was addressed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu told the international gathering of youth that “Israel” was their “birthright” and “homeland.”

Blumenthal’s video report, with Lia Tarachansky, for The Real News, said that the Israeli government has pledged $100 million to support the program. This means – since Israel receives so much aid from the US – that US taxpayer funds could indirectly be subsidizing a blatantly discriminatory and sectarian program. Birthright Israel targets American youth in particular, but only Jews.

A more or less open, but often unspoken goal of Birthright Israel, is to encourage young Jews to marry and increase the Jewish birthrate, something Steinhardt acknowledges.

Under Israel’s racist “Law of Return,” Jews, as defined by Israel, from anywhere in the world are instantly given citizenship, while Palestinian refugees, born in historic Palestine, or directly descended from parents who were, are not allowed to return home solely because they are not Jews.

Easier to be a Zionist in Manhattan than in Tel Aviv

But while Steinhardt is eager for young Americans to leave home and join a foreign state and army, he’s not so keen on doing so himself. Steinhardt said of Israel in 2010:

“Its politicians are, writ large, awful; its businessmen are of less than glorious quality; and when you walk down Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv and you look around at these people and you say, ‘This is who you admire?’ I often say it’s easier to be a Zionist in Manhattan than it is in Tel Aviv.”

Other big donors to Birthright Israel include Israel firster and Casino-billionaire Sheldon Adelson who bankrolled the Republican campaign in the 2012 US elections.

“High on Zion”

As the youth dance, they tell Blumenthal about their impressions, one young American speaking of his excitement to join the Israeli army. Another speaks of being “high on Zion.” When Blumenthal suggests “Ziocaine,” the young man responds, “Zionjuana.”

As young women bop, they tell Blumenthal they want to see the “real Israel” meaning the settlements in the occupied West Bank.

This ultra-nationalist and sectarian rally, aimed at enticing American teens to leave their country, has to be seen against the cold, hard reality of millions of young Palestinians who cannot even enter their homeland just because they are not Jews, and of those who are there, like Muhammad al-Salaymeh, who can be shot dead walking in their own streets, with total impunity.

 

Written FOR

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