“Gilo is not a settlement, nor a settlement outpost. It is a neighborhood which constitutes an integral part of the center of Jerusalem,” a senior Israeli official told Agence France-Presse.
The move, which was signed off by Israel’s interior ministry on Tuesday, drew a sharply worded response from the Palestinian Authority, and a chorus of condemnation from Europe, the US and China.
Gilo lies in the part of Jerusalem which Israel captured along with the West Bank from Jordan during the 1967 Six Day War and later occupied and annexed in a move not recognized by the international community.
Israel considers both halves of the Holy City its “eternal, indivisible” capital.
Waters for Life in Palestine
September 28, 2011 at 12:54 (Holidays)
Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi: Excuse religious soldiers from events where women sing
Rabbi Yona Metzger distributes rulings to rabbis both in Israel and abroad, with a suggestion that they include it in their sermons during the upcoming Jewish holidays
Why the Irvine 11 are true American heroes
For centuries, the philosophy behind higher education has encouraged both students and professors to freely exchange ideas and embark on a quest for truth and a better understanding of the world. Historically, movements which have brought about greater social justice have been grounded in college campuses. Protesting the speeches of Israeli diplomats and political leaders like Michael Oren and Ehud Olmert serve as two more additions to America’s rich history of campus protest.
This philosophy, however, seems to be withering away in American universities, where a student’s ability to express herself or himself, and a professor’s right to academic freedom, have at times been ferociously attacked.
This is exemplified most clearly with regard to speech and expression about Palestine, whether it be professors and students facing backlash for speaking on the displacement of more than 750,000 Palestinians during the Nakba (the wave of ethnic cleansing ahead of Israel’s foundation in the late 1940s); universities and other fora refusing to host conferences or events centered around Palestine, due to pressure from Zionist lobby groups; the retaliation that many have been subjected to after comparing Israel to apartheid-era South Africa; academic departments opting out of hosting events which offer the Palestinian narrative or denounce Israel’s illegal and immoral conduct; and cases (which go unreported out of fear of academic consequences) in which university professors either advise against or refuse to accept papers written from the Palestinian perspective.
As was true during the McCarthy era and that of the civil rights movement, it is becoming increasingly clear that the freedom of speech guaranteed by the first amendment may no longer apply to those fighting for social justice and civil rights. Like the communists and African-American leaders of those eras, Arab and Muslim activists in the West have been approached with an increasing sense of distrust and fear.
The conviction of the Irvine 11 is a testament to the degree that Islamophobia has grown in the West. Moreover, it is a testament to how unwilling the United States has become to question its relationship with Israel. Any means can be used to silence such questioning — even the criminalization of free speech.
The Israel lobby and the US government are working hand-in-hand against efforts to raise awareness about the occupation and human rights abuses perpetrated against the Palestinians. This trial, the FBI raids on Palestine solidarity activists in the Midwest and the undermining of the UN Palestinian statehood bid show it.
What are the implications of the conviction of the Irvine 11 for Palestine solidarity student activists? One can only imagine the worries that now must run through the minds of these young students: Will I be seen as a criminal? Will the Israeli authorities deny me entry to Palestine next year due to my activism, when a cursory Google search can easily show that connection? Am I jeopardizing my future job opportunities as a result of my activism? Am I being, or am I going to be, investigated or targeted by the FBI?
One must keep in mind that these students now living in fear are Americans. Their intentions and passion for social justice is an American value. Yet student activists are now vulnerable to being criminalized This fear of criminalization may even echo into social justice movements which have yet to form, so essentially what the Irvine 11 conviction represents is a campaign to instill fear in anyone seeking to challenge the status quo in American politics.
When I served as president of the Students for Justice in Palestine chapter at the University of Illinois at Chicago, I had the fortunate opportunity to be one of the 25 or so persons who protested Ehud Olmert’s speech at the University of Chicago on 15 October 2009. As we thought about and then carried out the protest, we realized that what we were doing was monumental. We likened our protest to the marches and sit-ins in the 1960s, and felt honored to be able to give a voice to the thousands of people whose voices were stolen at the command of this man.
It could have been me
The feelings and reasoning behind our protest in Chicago are echoed in the statements from the Irvine 11 given after their conviction and sentencing. For me, and other students who have protested in a similar manner, this case is much closer to the heart; the events at the University of Chicago initiated this style of protest, and our actions and motives are no different from those of the Irvine 11. I could have been in the same position, sitting in a court room as a defendant. The level of injustice that Orange County has subjected these youth to is disturbing. This style of protest has since been repeated on a plethora of other campuses and fora nationwide and beyond. None of those protests were deemed illegal, and none of them resulted in protesters on trial.
And now members and alumni of SJP chapters nationwide are organizing, and holding a national conference at Columbia University in less than a month. Rather than giving in to the difficulties posed and obvious attempts to stifle and silence the Palestinian narrative, we are now organizing and connecting more than ever before, making our activism more visible, and voicing our support for the Irvine 11.
The justice system in the US seems to be constructing a strategic precedent with regard to their preferred legal approach to Palestinian solidarity speech and actions that seek to raise awareness of the injustices committed by the Israeli government. The stakes are higher, the consequences apparent, and though we realize that, we will push on, recognizing the importance and the need for the work we do.
Our actions are legal, our motivations moral and our goal is to support greater justice and human rights. The Irvine 11 have only strengthened our resolve, and for that, they are our heroes.
*Sanah Yassin serves on the board of recently-established Coalition for Palestinian Rights, based in Chicago. She is an alumni of the University of Illinois at Chicago, and is an aspiring law student currently teaching high school history.
Last week at the UN, Israel lost America
“Tafasta meruba, lo tafasta,” is a Hebrew saying that means, “If you get too greedy, you end up with nothing,” and it fits well to the arm-twisting job Israel just did on Obama at the UN. By leaning on him too single-handedly to block the Palestinian statehood bid, to pressure countries like Gabon and Bosnia-Herzegovina to go along, and to give a speech that Avigdor Lieberman said he would “sign with both hands,” Israel bent Obama too far, until he just broke. In the eyes of Palestinians, Muslims of the Middle East and probably everybody else in the world, the U.S. president has now assumed the identity of the ultimate Israel lobbyist, of Mr.Hasbara. “He’s not the president of the United States, he’s the president of Israel,” a man in Ramallah said to me the day after the speech, and that’s what Palestinians think today: They flat-out hate Obama. They may hate him more than any other U.S. president in history, including George W. Bush. They thought Obama was on their side, and in the moment of truth he sold them out to the LIkud, to the settlers, to the Republican wackos. Palestinians, and presumably all Muslims, feel toward Obama today how the settlers felt toward Ariel Sharon after he decided to withdraw from Gaza: betrayed.
With Obama’s America now having zero credibility in the Middle East, where does this leave Israel? Alone and vulnerable to an extent that’s unfamiliar to Israelis. Until now, the U.S. held sway with the Palestinians; it doesn’t anymore. It held sway with Egypt, Jordan and Turkey; I wonder how much it has left now. In highly dramatic fashion, the U.S. stood up for the occupation and against Palestinian independence, and the result of this disgrace is that outside of Israel and America, the occupation is more unpopular and Palestinian independence more popular than ever. It’s the Palestinians who have the wind at their back now, and Israel that’s pissing in the wind. And America can’t help us anymore because America has become a spent force around here.
Having gotten no respect from the U.S., the Palestinian Authority shows it none. Abbas’s aide Yasser Abed Rabbo says publicly that the Palestinians will refuse to negotiate with Israel if America is the mediator. The Quartet’s mealy-mouthed proposal for talks about talks gets blown off by the PA. The eminiently mealy-mouthed Tony Blair gets chewed out by Abbas. What leverage does America or its emissaries have over the Palestinians anymore? What can America and Europe do for Israel – threaten to cut off funds to the PA? This is the threat coming from the Netanyahu government and the Republican Party – and Abbas is just daring them to go through with it. If we can’t have independence, he’s telling them, the PA will shut down and Israeli soldiers and money can keep the peace in the refugee camps, villages and cities of the West Bank. U.S. congressmen and most Israeli cabinet ministers are too fat-headed to understand, but this is something like Abbas’s doomsday option.
He has other options, though. He can keep going back to the Security Council time after time and force Obama to embarrass himself again and again. He can launch non-violent “people power” protests across the West Bank. He can give up on the two-state solution and demand the one-state solution: Israeli citizenship for Palestinians. The Palestinians are the darlings of the world, while not only Israel but Israel’s great protector are in the world’s doghouse, or certainly the Middle East’s.
And in all this, what are Israel’s options? What leverage does it have over anybody – except the Obama administration, which, as noted, is a spent force in this neighborhood. Who wants to be Israel’s friend today, aside from Glenn Beck Nation?
Tafasta meruba, Bibi – you were too greedy. You wanted to beat Obama, but you beat him to death, for Israel’s purposes. Effectively, you lost America for this country. When it comes to alliances Israel can count on, you’ve left us with nothing.
Case of Abir Aramin: Dispute between police and B’Tselem (Activestills)
State to pay NIS 1.6 million over killing of Palestinian girl
Abir Aramin was killed in 2007 from a rubber bullet fired by Border Guard officer during dispersion of violent riot in east Jerusalem, now court rules that State must compensate her family
Over a year after it determined that the State was responsible for the death of Palestinian girl Abir Aramin, the Jerusalem District Court, presided by Judge Orit Efal-Gabai, ruled that the state must pay NIS 1.6 million ($430,000) in compensation to the family of Abir Aramin, a Palestinian girl from east Jerusalem who was killed in 2007 from a rubber bullet fired by a Border Guard officer.
The judge said that there was no dispute over the fact that the 10-year-old’s death was due to negligence or that the bullet was fired in violation of orders.
“We are happy that justice has come to light and are still working to award the family compensation for all the suffering it has gone through,” the family’s attorney Lea Tsemel told ynet.
According to Tsemel, “The father is a peace activist whose attitude has not changed since the incident. that is one positive aspect of this story. The whole thing brings color back into the cheeks of anyone who is trying to make the judicial mechanism establish justice for the victims of the police and military.”
In her ruling the judge said that the State must pay NIS 10,000 (about $2,700) for burial expenses and NIS 674,000 (about $182,000) for “lost years”. The judge also ruled that the State would compensate the family to the tune of NIS 900,000 (about $243,000) for the way Aramin was killed, her young age, the circumstances surrounding the case and the customary sum of compensation awarded in similar cases.
Abir was killed in January 2007 near her school in the village of Anta north of Jerusalem, where Border Guard forces were dispersing a violent riot.
Police adamantly claimed that according to the autopsy, the child was killed from a stone – but a week after the incident, her family, with the help of the B’Tselem organization, published a pathologist’s report stating she was hit by a rubber bullet.
In July of this year the High Court rejected a petition demanding that the two Border Guard officers involved in the incident be brought to trial.
Yet at the same time the court also expressed harsh criticism against the police and the State Prosecutor’s Office’s handling of the case and called the investigation “negligent and lacking”. The High court also ruled that the State and the officers must pay NIS 10,000 in costs.
Settlers Hang Posters Calling For Killing Arabs, Palestinians
Racist posters were also placed along the Jerusalem-Hebron road, and around all settlements extending from the southern part of Bethlehem district to the northern part of Hebron.
Some of the posters read “We Will Slaughter All Arabs”, “This is the land of our fathers and forefathers”, and dozens of similar racist posters.
The settlers also camped in Palestinian farmlands and orchards south of Bethlehem, and preventing the residents from reaching their own lands.
Settlers living in the city of Hebron also hung Israeli flags and racist posters threatening to kill the Palestinians and calling for their expulsion.
Meanwhile, Palestinians are REFUSING TO DIE IN SILENCE …
Yesterday in Nabi Saleh, a new campaign was launched ‘Refusing to Die in Silence’, that documents and confronts colonist “settler” attacks on unarmed citizens in the West Bank. The project aims to warn the colonists and make them feel pressured by the presence of media crews ready 24/7 to document the attacks.
President Abbas receives hero’s welcome in West Bank, declares ‘Palestinian Spring’
Thousands gather in Ramallah as Palestinian President returns from New York; Abbas expected to convene top ministers to discuss the Quartet’s proposal for renewing peace talks.
The NYPD didn’t shut it down! It is still there! Lots of people are joining the occupiers today. THERE IS STILL HOPE!
Photo: Muslim students gather with their attorney at the Central Justice Center on Friday after being found guilty of conspiring to disrupt and then disrupting a speech by the Israeli ambassador at UC Irvine last year. Eight of the 10 students were present for the verdict at the center in Santa Ana. The other two had permission by the court to be out of town. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times
More photos HERE
After more than two days of deliberation, an Orange County jury on Friday found 10 Muslim students guilty of two misdemeanors to conspire and then disrupt a February 2010 speech at UC Irvine last year by the Israeli ambassador to the United States.
There was crying as the verdict was read in Superior Court Judge Peter J. Wilson’s courtroom. The students showed no visible emotion, although they hugged each afterward. Some also stormed out.
In a case that garnered national attention over free-speech rights, the trial centered on conflicting views of who was being censored. Prosecutors argued that Ambassador Michael Oren was “shut down” when his speech was interrupted by students who took turns shouting preplanned phrases in a crowded UC Irvine ballroom.
Six defense attorneys argued that the students, seven from UC Irvine and three from UC Riverside, were only following the norm of other college protests and were being singled out.
A guilty verdict, the defense had said during the trial, could chill student activism and the free exchange of ideas at colleges nationwide.
University administrators disciplined some of the students involved and suspended the campus Muslim Student Union, whose members participated in the protest, for an academic quarter. The group is still on probation.
The case also has drawn the attention of a wide range of groups, including Muslim and Jewish organizations and civil libertarians. The trial began Sept. 7.
Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of UC Irvine’s Law School, has said that although freedom of speech is not an absolute right, university sanctions were enough for the students.
But he also added that he believes criminal sanctions go too far.
Chemerinsky told The Times last week that “it makes no sense” to use such resources. “It’s so minor.”
Charges against one defendant were tentatively dismissed pending completion of 40 hours of community service at a local soup kitchen.
But the other 10 went on trial Sept. 11 before packed, at times noisy, crowds in the courtroom.
With ‘friends’ like Obama, you don’t need enemies!
Celebration Photo: Reuters
Kudos Mr. Abbas
By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
Mahmoud Abbas gave a brilliant speech at the United Nations, getting rounds of applause from most of the representatives. I think it demonstrated clearly and unambiguously that the Palestinian leadership has been “unreasonably reasonable” and has instead seen the hopes of peace and of millions of Palestinians suffering for 63 years dashed on the rock of Israeli expansionist, colonial, and apartheid policies. He explained that Israel has been taking one unilateral action after another each resulting in more pain and suffering for our people. Going to the UN, he explained is putting things back where the problems started (he did not use the last two words but I do). He said a word that I think he should defend strongly that no person or country with an iota of logic or conscience should reject the Palestinian state membership in the UN or its formation in the 22% of historic Palestine that is the West Bank and Gaza. I think he took a courageous step and gave a good performance. Now we here on the ground in Palestine hope and will push for additional follow-up steps. From our own perspective, three things are critical:
1) That he and his administration now implement quickly the reconciliation agreement signed by all Palestinian factions most notably the one about creating a representative Palestinian National Council. In his speech he said he hopes this will be done in a few weeks. We hope this will be done quickly and not any longer than four weeks.
2) That he and his administration act quickly and decisively to really promote popular unarmed resistance throughout Palestine and among Palestinians in exile. In forming a new government, the ministry that is now in charge of walls and settlements should be either a) dismantled or b) reconfigured. A new strategy to encourage real nonviolent resistance must be adopted. We must end the practice of holding a few demonstrative actions that do not disturb the occupation and that are used to enrich a few people. We must instead allow the kind of popular resistance that have been effective from our history (see my book that details challenges and opportunities learned from this history and available in Arabic and English). He also said he will pursue this.
3) The Palestinian people are waiting to see clear evidence of change; a new Palestinian Spring as Mr. Abbas called it. This requires seeing visibly what Mr. Abbas talked about: transparency, accountability, democracy, and freedom.
There were those who worried that going to the UN will raise the expectations of the Palestinian people who then may turn to despair and more if they do not see a change on the ground. I say a) it is great to raise the expectations, and b) we, the Palestinian people will never turn to despair but we will revolt if we do not see real changes and stronger steps. I share Abu Mazen’s hope that the international community steps up to the plate. But I also hope that we all go back to our people and take those steps that will ensure our freedom.
I also listened to Netanyahu’s speech and was just amazed at how many lies can be packed in one speech. It is not even worth detailing except to refer you to this link: http://www.qumsiyeh.org/liesandtruths/
In this occasion, it might be worth comparing Israel and the Palestinians.
Population—————-5.5 million Jewish———11 million (7 million refugees or displaced)
Land controlled ———-91.7%———————-8.3% of historic Palestine
Military Personnel——Regular 175,000———–None
—————————Armed settlers————Armed underground forces
Police/other security— 30,000——————–50,000
GDP———————-$195 billion————–$4 billion
Military expenditure—$10 billion—————Negligible (security services)
Casuaties (63 years)—-6000 killed————-75,000 killed
—————————-20,000 injured———300,000 injured
Refugees created———0———————->6 million people
Mr. President, we don’t want a shortcut, we want our freedom by Abir Kopty
Palestinians on statehood: ‘We want action, not votes at the UN’
Villagers who have often been at the sharp end of Palestinian-Israeli relations are sceptical about the UN route
Why is the U.S. so fearful of a nonviolent freedom movement?
Alarming reports indicate the Israeli government is preparing for war as Palestinians prepare a slow push for freedom and statehood in the United Nations Security Council. It is dismaying that Israel interprets nonviolent Palestinian measures – that leave the door open to further negotiations if Israel legitimately freezes settlement activity and provides a real reason to believe these talks will be different from the previous 20 years – as reason to make intensive military preparations.
If the Israeli government is really ready for peace, as it claims, why is it importing horses from Belgium, amassing tear gas, and organizing militias with trained dogs in illegal settlements? These officials seem determined to replay the role of white police officers on horseback and with attack dogs who enforced racial segregation in the American South in the 1960s.
What does the Israeli government think is going to happen? The Palestinian leadership has decided to go to the United Nations because a moribund peace process has brought our people nothing but an entrenching of the occupation. As Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said, “We don’t want to delegitimize Israel. We want to legitimize ourselves.” We are not preparing for war with Israel, but rather to move forward toward our own freedom with the multilateral assistance of scores of U.N. member states supportive of our aspirations.
As we have seen throughout the Arab world, the people will not wait for their leadership and painstakingly slow incremental reform and improvements. I have heard too many people argue that “the time is not ripe.” Such words evoke Martin Luther King Jr.’s frustration with those Americans who claimed in the 1960s the time was not “right” for the achievement of civil rights.
Palestinians have already adopted peaceful, nonviolent actions toward our freedom. The problem is that the Israeli security apparatus’ paranoia allows no space for people simply demanding their human rights. This paranoia leads the Israeli forces toward violence and the expectation of nothing but terrorism from the people they subjugate.
Nonviolence exists in Palestine, and it is growing. Every weekend, residents of Palestinian communities such as Budrus, Nabi Saleh, and Bilin protest against Israel’s separation wall that crisscrosses their land. International and Israeli activists often join the villagers and have helped document their story, including the Israeli government’s routine violence and disproportional reactions to quell protests. Stories abound of residents injured — and even killed — by tear gas and rubber bullets amid the horrible stench of the stink bombs used by the military.
The demonstrations of March 15, May 15 and June 5 were nonviolent, at least on the Palestinian side. Our young people took to the streets to march against the occupation; they went to the borders (and to the occupied Golan Heights) in peaceful protest of Israel’s continual encroachment on our land, human rights and freedom. Israel, for its part, did not respond peacefully or positively. Instead, it used the same exaggerated tactics Palestinians have grown so accustomed to: beatings, tear gas, stink bombs, rubber bullets and live rounds. In fact, one young woman, who was viciously kicked by Israeli soldiers, asserted, “It’s OK, we’re used to it, but it won’t stop us.”
Of course, it’s not OK. And I am afraid that Israel may be all too successful in stopping our youth from demanding their rights by employing overwhelming violence.
I fear, for example, that when our youth protest outside the illegal settlements stealing the land of our future state, they will be met by trigger-happy settlers, who have recently been trained by the Israeli military to respond to such protests. I am afraid of the response to such violence by our youth. While it is from the ability to “turn the other cheek” that the real power of nonviolence stems, I am not sure that our children, who only know Israelis as violent soldiers or settlers, will be able to hold to principled nonviolence when the Israelis instigate violence. We are not Jesus. Our people have suffered, and we are tired of indignities meted out by the Israeli government.
In February 2010, Amos Gilad of the Israeli Ministry of Defense told U.S. government interlocutors, “we don’t do Gandhi very well,” according to a WikiLeaks cable. This has been amply evident during nonviolent demonstrations in the West Bank and in Israel’s violent response to the May 2010 flotilla. The Israeli military’s ham-fisted response to nonviolent demonstrations is exacerbated by the silence of the Obama administration.
In all probability, the Israeli leadership is looking for an excuse to return to a military lockdown as we saw during the second Intifada in the West Bank or as we see today in Gaza. The responsibility of the international community will be enormous, particularly as the United States will be siding with Israel and vetoing Palestinian freedom efforts.
The solution to the pending “crisis” is not, however, to defeat the Palestinian bid at the U.N. or to pressure Palestinians to give up on the U.N. option by threatening to cut aid. No, the solution is to listen to the people protesting. The solution is to end this decades-old occupation and finally show the Palestinian people that international law and human rights conventions include them. The solution is to support Palestinian freedom and self-determination and to allow Palestinians to live a future of hope.
President Obama could do much to advance Palestinian aspirations by not standing in the way of our nonviolent U.N. effort. Instead, he will play domestic politics and do nothing until after the 2012 elections. How many more children will die as a result? For how much longer will he channel the segregationists of yesteryear in saying the time is not ripe?
*Zahi Khouri is founder and chairman of the National Beverage Co., Ramallah, Palestine.