THE TIME HAS COME TO RESET PALESTINE’S POLITICAL SYSTEM

We have all spent far too much time massaging a reality that we all see and acknowledge as strategically troubling, indeed catastrophic. Repairing the Palestinian political system cannot wait any longer. The most just cause in modern history is at stake.

Resetting Palestine’s political system

Repairing the Palestinian political system cannot wait any longer.

Separation wall in Bethany. Separation wall in Bethany. Mahmoud illean/Demotix, All rights reserved

Today, Palestinian political strategy is being driven in the total absence of a functioning political system. Israel’s forced fragmentation of our geographic reality mixed with internal political party divisions, disgust, despair and incompetence, the status quo tears apart Palestine’s societal fabric. If it remains on its current course, the train of national liberation is bound to derail, resulting in serious, if not permanent, damage to our bid for freedom and independence

Repairing the Palestinian political system cannot wait any longer.

Almost every week in Palestine a political personality or think tank invites a group of thinkers to hash out what can be done to halt the imminent crash of our political project. Efforts to bring us together when so many powers are trying to keep us in permanent disarray are of course welcome.

However, unlike many of those who take joy in merely being in the presence of leadership, I have been walking away from these never-ending discussions with serious concerns. Given the years of experience and high caliber of those sitting around the table, I’d be surprised if any of them was unaware of any piece of insight shared in the discussions. The thought that these meetings really launch any kind of strategic process to reverse the political deterioration is rather far-fetched.

Priorities for a real strategic track

Here are a few priorities we need to get us on a strategic track that is worthy of the time and effort being exerted. They relate directly to the need to repair the Palestinian political system as well as our national liberation movement.

Applying accountability – It is no longer acceptable that those responsible, politically or otherwise, for our current state of affairs should still be put forward as our saviors. Until the public sees more than a public relations effort to expose failed or criminal elements in our society, then whatever political strategy is chosen will have little legitimacy.

Addressing governance – This is the issue everyone speaks about but no one addresses. How can we seriously move forward with no political system in place? The gatherings organized every week by well-meaning community catalysts may have their place, but they cannot be a substitute for a functioning political system. The successful round of municipal elections that were held in the West Bank were a baby step forward and they must continue, where possible, until all municipal governments are not only elected, but also respect their terms in office.

However, municipal level government is not the arena where political strategy emerges. Every Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) level of leadership, every PLO organ, every Palestinian Authority governing unit must regain its credibility before the people, inside Palestine and abroad.

Elections may serve a purpose, but they are not a silver bullet. To drive this point home, I urge all Palestinians to watch a TED talk by the venture capitalist and political scientist, Eric X Li, who argues that China will “morally challenge” the universality claim of western democratic systems. The point is that there are many ways to reach collective leadership at every level of governance; what are we waiting for?

Building capacity for the UN battle – Entering the International Criminal Court (ICC) was a bold and long overdue step, but this is bound to be a long and hard process. The real impact of the new state tools available to us is how to bring the challenge to occupation down to an operational level in strategically chosen international venues. For that to happen, we need dedicated, trained and committed human resources. The quality of our current diplomatic corps leaves much to be desired. The public threat to enter 500+ international treaties and organizations rings hollow to those who know the current state of our human resources. This is a dangerous illusion. Let us take statehood seriously and mobilize human resources to rise to the occasion.

Only when we work on the three imperatives outlined above will we really be prepared to enter into a strategic planning exercise to chart our path to freedom and independence.

In the meantime, why do we waste time in dwelling on the need to choose forms of resistance? Can we not at least agree that all internationally and morally accepted forms of resistance should be supported? These include diplomatic efforts, economic resistance, civil disobedience, the ICC, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), etc. These are all tactics, not a political strategy. Once the political strategic direction is defined, then the intensity of any or all of these tactics can be revisited. But until a political strategy is defined, who is to say which tactic of resistance is valid or invalid?

The basics for a political strategy

We must go back to basics, and ask the political parties as well as the PLO leadership a few questions to be used as starting points for a new political program. For example, in 2015, do we:

  1. Accept international law and UN resolutions as our political frame of reference?
  2. Recognize the State of Israel? Not the undefinable ‘Jewish’ state, but rather the state that sits in the UN?
  3. Recognize the new State of Palestine (it’s unfortunate that we did not call it new in the UN bid for statehood, so the political distinction would be clear)? Not the State of Palestine of 1948, the state in our hearts and poetry, but rather the political state that has sat in the UN as a non-member observer state since November 29, 2012?

Seeing the answer to these and other questions, in writing, from the PLO and all the political parties would speak volumes. It would at the very least let the Palestinian people know where we are.

In addition, there are some practical steps that could immediately help restart our national liberation movement.

First, President Abbas must travel to Gaza and stay there until the reconciliation agreement is implemented. Before he goes, it is imperative that he appoint a Vice President. The issue of appointing a deputy is long overdue, but to understand the urgent need for this I urge all to read the article written by Atty. Haytham Zubi that was published in Al-Quds Newspaper on July 20, 2013 “Calm Constitutional Advice to the President” (مشورة دستورية هادئة الى سيادة الرئيس الفلسطيني).

Secondly, a PLO decision and Presidential decree must broaden the scope of the Central Elections Commission to allow them to begin the long and tedious process of registering Palestinians worldwide. It is unacceptable that there has been no serious effort to create a Population Registry of all Palestinians, not only those under occupation.

Third, a PLO decision and Presidential decree must activate a new and progressive Political Party Law to allow new political groupings to come together and legitimately enter the Palestinian political stage. We are deluding ourselves when we continue to speak of the traditional political parties as if they are all alive and well, or even exist in any meaningful way today. If political thought is not permitted to legitimately assemble and become part of Palestinians’ political tapestry, one can only expect the excluded to tear the tapestry apart.

We have all spent far too much time massaging a reality that we all see and acknowledge as strategically troubling, indeed catastrophic. Repairing the Palestinian political system cannot wait any longer. The most just cause in modern history is at stake.

The above is from Open Democracy

Read in Arabic HERE

BETWEEN STORYTELLING AND REPORTING A STORY ~~ A LONG BUT MUST READ

In oppressed communities, such as ours, stories play a crucial role in transmitting from one generation to the next a people’s history, as well as the history of their struggle for freedom. We do storytelling well.

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Between storytelling and reporting a story
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بين رواية الخبر ونقله

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By Sam Bahour

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Every culture has stories, whether for entertainment, education, cultural preservation, or instilling moral values. Many times, stories address more than one goal simultaneously. These stories are sometimes repeated so often in a family or community that they take on the characteristics of a fairy tale, but not without retaining a hint of the underlying truths. The life cycle of a story from fact to fiction is a discussion for another time, but let’s bear in mind that when a story’s main medium of travel is oral, a mix of fact, improvisation and embellishment are usually present in the final result.

News, on the other hand, is a special form of storytelling. News is an industry based on multiple professions working in tandem to produce news stories that inevitably and regrettably are filtered through a particular lens in the service of a particular set of values. Moreover, the news biz in today’s high-speed and hyper-connected digital world is more specialized than ever with deeply embedded, mutually competing agendas, whether the media sector wants to admit this or not. Objectivity in journalism is a relic of past times, rarely found and often not even sought in the production and presentation of today’s news offerings.

READ ON AT:

ENGLISH (PDF): http://bit.ly/story-AlHal-En
(for full English edition click here)

ARABIC: http://bit.ly/story-AlHal-Ar
(for full Arabic edition click here)

IS OBAMA BEING SINCERELY IGNORANT OR KNOWINGLY MALICIOUS?

My impression is that President Obama is not truly interested in telling the truth, all the truth, and nothing but the truth. Instead he, like most politicians, is interested in navigating his boat in safe water.

 

As visioned by Carlos Latuff

As visioned by Carlos Latuff

 

Is Obama being sincerely ignorant or knowingly malicious?

By Khalid Amayreh in Occupied East Jerusalem
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When President Obama spoke at last week’s White House Conference on terrorism, he actually regurgitated the same platitudes that we have been hearing from American officials time after time after time.Luckily, Obama highlighted the need for making a careful distinction between what a given religion says and what some of its followers do.

He was also correct in pointing out that that the so-called Jihadists were actually harming rather than serving Islam. So far so good.

But then in his analysis of the Jihadists’ violence, honesty was not Obama’s shield nor was truth part of his ammunition.

Indeed, in his analysis of the IS phenomenon, he utterly failed to present a convincing argument explaining what makes these violent people do what they do.

My impression is that President Obama is not truly interested in telling the truth, all the truth, and nothing but the truth. Instead he, like most politicians, is interested in navigating his boat in safe water.

Obama is not ignorant. He knows the truth about how the IS came into being. His myriad of intelligence services brief him, almost on real time, on every everything in this world.

In fact, one doesn’t have to be a great political scientist to know that the Da’esh violence, shocking and traumatic as it is, is in fact a mere boomerang effect of even the more shocking terror carried out against Muslims by the U.S., its allies and its puppet regimes, especially in the Middle East.

True, many people, including civilians, have been killed, burned and beheaded by Da’esh and like-minded groups.

However, we must have the intellectual honesty and moral courage to admit that the American war machine has killed far more innocent people than has the IS and al-Qa’eda.

So is using “hell-fire missiles” dropped from high altitudes, to reduce people on the ground to charred skeletal remains a more civilized tactic than that the gruesome images we occasionally see coming from Iraq, Syria and Libya.

But then what about the far more pornographic death and destruction in Gaza? Are Palestinian Gazans children of a lesser God?

But then what makes IS woo recruits?

I have repeatedly argued that extremist groups such as Da’esh and al-Qaeda represent the other face of tyrannical Arab regimes.

The so-called Arab spring initially gave millions of disillusioned Arab youth a hope for a better tomorrow. Some Arab and western intellectuals had predicted then  that the Tahrir Square in Cairo would eventually spell the death certificate of al-Qaeda and its sisters.

But then came Sissi, who massacred thousands at Raba’a, carried out a bloody coup against the only democratically-elected president in Egypt’s entire history, shut off all non-conformist media outlets and fabricated a “constitution” which allowed everyone – from atheists to Marxists- to take part in political life, while outlawing Muslims. This is while the Muslim Brothers, which had just won several elections, was abruptly outlawed and declared a terrorist organization.

The West, including the U.S., looked on, refusing to condemn and boycott the coup. Instead, the Obama administration helped the criminal junta attain legitimacy despite the overwhelming rejection of that junta by the Egyptian people.

And what about the Syrian scandal? Does Barack Obama really expect the slow-motion holocaust in Syria to have no ramifications and repercussions on people, especially those directly affected?

Can we really expect someone who has seen his entire family systematically slaughtered by sectarian soldiers, or exterminated by crude barrel bombs dropped on Sunni neighborhoods to display moderation?

Once again, I hope Obama will for once be honest.

The Islamist extremists, whether we like it or not, are the inevitable side-effect of the Nazi-like secular Arab regimes who have demonstrated their willingness to destroy their own countries and murder their own people in order to remain in power. This is why the IS and her sisters will not go away as long as democracy is crushed, peaceful protesters are slaughtered en masse and declared terrorists, as long as Muslims, especially moderate Muslims are not only barred from public life but imprisoned, and murdered on concocted charges.

In this case, many young Muslims, who otherwise wouldn’t be attracted to extremism, will find IS the more honorable and morally correct choice to follow. Frankly, I don’t blame them.

AMERICAN MEDIA GUILTY OF MURDER BY COMPLICITY

Western, especially American, reactions to this week’s cold-blooded murder of three innocent Muslim college students in North Carolina have been grossly inadequate.
 
Major American news networks, have, more or less, treated the monstrous crime as a passing banality. Critical questions that ought to be asked were never asked, which means the stage is set for the perpetration of the next act of murder targeting Muslims.

The media is also culprit  in the N. Carolina Triple murder

By Khalid Amayreh in Occupied Palestine
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Western, especially American, reactions to this week’s cold-blooded murder of three innocent Muslim college students in North Carolina have been grossly inadequate.

Major American news networks, have, more or less, treated the monstrous crime as a passing banality. Critical questions that ought to be asked were never asked, which means the stage is set for the perpetration of the next act of murder targeting Muslims.

True, the alleged murderer was detained by the police. However, the American media was also culprit in this crime and bears an important part of the blame for its occurrence.

The unrelenting Islamphobic discourse, that we keep hearing and watching in the U.S., does make the perpetration of such a crime inevitable. It would be dishonest to claim otherwise.

This is not a far-fetched analysis of an “isolated incident” as some pundits might be prompted to argue. In the final analysis, anti-Muslim racism in the United States has assumed phenomenal proportions due to the constant defamation of Islam and Muslims by a brashly hostile media.

Needless to say, this hate-mongering has caused many Americans to lump all Muslims in one basket. Thus, all Muslims, near and distant, are portrayed as carbon copies or at least potential carbon copies or prototypes of Osama Bin Laden or Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi.

But this portrayal is actually incorrect. The vast majority of Muslims, I would say 99.99% are normal and peaceful people who are, like most Americans, busy making a decent living, raising their kids, supporting their families, and trying to make ends meet.

I strongly believe that this fact is well known to most media editors who probably choose to ignore it for reasons having to do with cultural bigotry  against Muslims.

In other words, this is not an expression of ignorance of the truth but rather a malicious and reckless disregard of it. Yes, it is an expression of willful dishonesty by much of the American media. And that is a real problem.

Of course, we cannot lump all American media in one negative category. Newspapers such as the Christian Science Monitor can’t be considered a carbon copy of the New York post or the New Republic.

But, unfortunately, the level-headed press has been reduced to a faint voice in a deep valley in a jungle of gung-ho media outlets where the dearth of honesty is conspicuous.

None the less, being “ignorantly dishonest” is not an excuse. In the final analysis, maligning a religious or ethnic community will sooner or later lead to murder or mass murder. We don’t have to go back many decades to demonstrate the evil power of incitement, especially when the targeted audience is uninformed, misinformed or dis-informed.

The recent genocidal episodes in Mynamar and the Republic of Central Africa are hair-raising examples of what public incitement could do. The same thing can be said about Bosnia.

We also do know that the holocaust didn’t start with Auschwitz or other concentration camps. It rather started with Mein Kampf and other expressions of hatred for Jews.

Where is the outrage?

The murderous killing of three young,  innocent American Muslims is by no means an isolated incident or thunder on a clear day. It is rather the inevitable effect of an undeniable cause and the cause is the affronting anti-Islamic messages that we keep watching on Fox News and so-called “Christian” TV programs.

That is why responsibility for spilling the blood of the three innocent victims in North Carolina doesn’t solely lie with the direct killer, but also with a morally callous media that made the killing inevitable.

I am not auggesting that press freedom ought to be restricted. However, a free press must also be a responsible press.

But a responsible press can’t be truly responsible unless it is well-informed and well-aware of the facts. Otherwise, the press, whether knowingly or unknowingly, would succumb to the Steve Emerson syndrom  whereby citizens are spoon-fed half-truths, disinformation and pure lies by charlatans presented as “experts” on Islam.

As a Muslim and journalist who, by  the way, studied and lived long in the United States, I am appalled by the lack of western indignation at crimes against Muslims in general, whether in the West itself, or indeed, in Palestine and other places.

This is moral hypocrisy in broad daylight. It is outrageous and therefore unacceptable. We are all human beings, created by the same God. We should be equal. Our blood should be equal. Our lives should be equal.

The fact that we are not equal in reality is not the result of an ineluctable fate. It is rather the result of the prevalence of an evil minset  which keeps pushing our world to the abyss.

Will we wake up before it is too late?

PALESTINE ~~ STAGE OF A MODERN DAY GREEK TRAGEDY

Life rolls on not in any monotony but in the crazy waves of ups and downs and scenarios reminiscent of ancient Greek tragedies.  We take the punches, resist the evil acts of some, act to help where we can, accept the things we cannot change and try to change those we can.  That is life.

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Greek Tragedies

Mazin Qumsiyah, PhD

Life rolls on not in any monotony but in the crazy waves of ups and downs and scenarios reminiscent of ancient Greek tragedies.  We take the punches, resist the evil acts of some, act to help where we can, accept the things we cannot change and try to change those we can.  That is life.  This week we lost several friends and neighbors (Advocate Judeh Shahwan, Professor Naseer Aruri,  Human Rights activist Kayla Mueller, Ihab Rishmawi) and we mourned atrocities committed in the US, Syria and Iraq .  The racist Zionist Debbie Schlussel wrote that she has no sympathy for our friend Kayla for being “anti-American” (actually anti-Zionist control of American Foreign policy) and called  Kayla other names so obscene to be mentioned here.  A brief on Naseer Aruri just to show you the quality of the many we mourn (all of them are candles in the darkness and remain so even after death; truly inspirational)

We were not surprised that the highest court in the apartheid regime rejected the well-documented evidence of the murder of Rachel Corrie and accepted the fascist soldier’s version that it was an “accident.” Western media ignored this travesty of justice. Time for the international criminal court.  In other news in the last few days, a hate-filled criminal terrorist killed three young Muslim students in North Carolina.  That is where I lived and worked for six years and knew intimately the Muslim and Arab community and I recognized many of the faces of the mourners at the funeral videos.  After significant protest, Mr. Obama made a brief statement but it was not even close to his statement about the Paris killings.  The media was even more hypocritical either ignoring the story or calling the executions as a parking altercation! (yes I know it is unbelievable).  See these videos about this incidence

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We find the mainstream media so distorted, so biased; they are either run by Zionist racists or afraid of backlash from Zionist racists if they tell the truth.  Otherwise how does one explain the discrepancy of extensive almost round-the-clock coverage by American media of the hate crimes committed in Paris but little or no coverage of the crime in North Carolina.  What little coverage they did was distorted claiming the guy killed those three innocent young Muslims because of a “parking space” issue!  How else can we see that a story like the French police catching a Jewish Zionist who was spray painting cars of Jews as a false flag operation to increase emigration of French Jews to Palestine (transformed to the Jewish state of Israel). Why coverage mentioning this is in some obscure website not on mainstream media?  Here is a report mentioning this.

But here is the Times of Israel interested in getting Jews to migrate out of France telling us the police arrested the guy but not saying he is Jewish and that Israel expects 10,000 Jewish French to come join the land thieves.

Such hypocrisy, such lies and countless false flag operations (billions spent on psy-ops to brainwash common people), and such evil forces are all around us.  But then again I think of goodness.  I think of those who organized vigils in Bethlehem and other towns for victims like the Jordanian pilot.

I think of 14-year-old Malak (english Angel) Alkhatib.  She is a true angel who was incarcerated in Israeli gulags (fascist prisons).  She was finally released and the video of her reunion with family and supporters is touching.

IN PHOTOS ~~ GRANNY PEACE BRIGADE Vs NYC COUNCIL

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On Abraham Lincoln’s birthday-2/12/15, a cold snow shower day,  the NYC Grannies Peace Brigade demonstrated in front of NYC Hall protesting 15 members of the City Council, going to Israel in February, on an all -expenses paid junket sponsored by Zionist groups. Banners were displayed and leaflets distributed  to passerby’s explaining the protest.

Photos and commentary © by Bud Korotzer

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ETHNIC CLEANSING: ISRAEL’S ULTIMATE STRATEGY TOWARD THE PALESTINIANS

The ubiquitous proliferation of Jewish settlements in the West Banks has simply made the establishment of a Palestinian state, one that is worthy of the name, quite impossible.

Ethnic cleansing: Israel’s ultimate strategy toward the Palestinians

By Khalid Amayreh in Occupied Palestine

In a farewell speech, outgoing UN Special Coordinator for the so-called “Middle East peace process” Robert Serry has warned the apartheid state of Israel that continued settlement building in the West Bank was killing any remaining chances for the two-state solution.

Serry said the killing of the two-state solution strategy would transform Israel into a bi-national state.

Israeli leaders, with the exception of some isolated voices, scoffed at Serry’s remarks, with some spokespersons calling these remarks “stale and stupid.”

It is widely believed that Israel has already killed any remaining chances for the establishment of a viable Palestinian state, especially one with Jerusalem as its capital.

The ubiquitous proliferation of Jewish settlements in the West Banks has simply made the establishment of a Palestinian state, one that is worthy of the name, quite impossible.

PA leader Mahmoud Abbas has met virtually all Israeli demands, including putting tens of thousands of Palestinian security personnel in the service of Israeli security whims.

Moreover, Abbas’s Gendarme has killed, tormented and repressed Palestinian citizens on Israel’s behalf. Moreover, PA security agencies seriously violated Palestinians’ human rights and civil liberties in order to receive a certificate of good conduct from Israel and her guardian-ally, the United States.

In fact, on numerous occasions, Abbas humiliated himself and his people by pandering to Israeli insolence and arrogance, in the hope that this would make Israel relent and come to terms with legitimate Palestinian rights.

However, every time Abbas made a concession to Israel, without any Israeli reciprocation, of course, the Israelis would humiliate him even further.

For example, for many weeks now, Israel has adamantly refused to transfer to the PA coffers hundreds of millions of dollars of Palestinian customs’ revenues levied by Israel pursuant to the hapless Paris Protocol of 1994, which effectively enabled Israel to hold the Palestinian economy hostage to Israeli whims and blackmail.

As a result, more than a hundred thousand Palestinians have not received their meager salaries for the third consecutive months, causing a virtual widespread suffering to tens of thousands of Palestinian households.

The Israeli message to Abbas and his people is amply clear: Either you do what we order you to do or else you will suffer, you will starve.

For their part, the Americans know the facts very well. But they feel too week to even rebuke Israel, thanks to the overwhelming domination of the Jewish lobby over the American government, especially Congress.

One Israeli commentator told this writer recently that Binyamin Netanyahu had more clout in Washington D.C. than did Barack Obama.

Ethnic cleansing

A few days ago during an acrimonious Tel Aviv debate involving Israeli intellectuals on the various platforms presented by Israeli political parties contesting the upcoming elections, slated to take place on 17 March, a leftist college professor tried to challenge the mostly right-wing audience on the issue of bi-national statehood. One right-wing leader from a settlement near Hebron in the West Bank responded to the leftist’s remarks. And without patting an eyelash, he said Israel would eventually expel the Arabs.

“We will expel them when the time for that comes. We will never allow the perceived Arab demographic advantage to destroy Zionism. Call this apartheid or even Nazism, I don’t care.”

“Do you think the world would allow you to get away with this,” retorted the leftist.

“The world would be furious initially, but eventually it would come to terms with reality. The world is hypocritical. Eventually, the world would side with the strong, and we are the stronger side in this conflict.”

I believe I wouldn’t exaggerate much if I claimed that the settler leader’s remarks more or less encapsulate the ideology and political program of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Yes, Netanyahu doesn’t spell out his views publicly. But all his actions and behaviors, including the seizure of huge areas of West Bank territory, vindicate the view that Netanyahu and peace are an eternal oxymoron.

As a Palestinian who has been observing Israeli conduct since 1967, I am inclined to believe the above-mentioned settler leader rather than the leftist intellectual.

Yes, the world probably wouldn’t move to rein in Israeli Nazism. Yes, it might issue strong-worded condemnations, but it wouldn’t go any further.

As to the US, the most it would probably do is to call on the two sides to show self-restraint.

PALESTINIANS HAVE A VOICE BUT NOT A VOTE

Jewish Israelis living in perpetual denial should take note when they head to their polling booths this March, for their sake if not for ours. The looming fork in the road for us is signposted “Palestinian Statehood” or “Civil Rights for All.” While the idea of the former is dispensable, the coming of the latter is inevitable.

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NO CHOICE:

THE PEOPLE WHO CANNOT VOTE SPEAK

Israel pretends its society is a normal, US-style melting pot, but there are only two problems – there is nothing remotely “normal” about Israeli’s societal composition and, furthermore, the pot’s ingredients, by policy design, have yet to melt. The destructive societal divisions amongst Israel’s population shines through during every election; this time around is no different. While Israel’s nearly five-decade military occupation of Palestinians is slowly, but surely, ripping Israel out of its global comfort zone, not one electoral contender has peeped a word about how the occupation will come to an end.

Likewise, while racism inside Israel against Christian and Muslim Palestinians—full Israeli citizens—has reached levels provoking even some Jewish Israelis to call it fascism, Israel’s political parties are acting as if it’s business-as-usual. The only bold and somewhat refreshing electoral move, thus far, is Avraham Burg’s joining of the Hadash Political Party, and even there the debate immediately focused around Palestinian political parties running in a single slate, or not, instead of the seismic shift that Burg’s move represents amongst Israel’s Zionist personalities.

Bottom line for us Palestinians ‘living’ under Israel’s boot of occupation: Historically, in the USA and many other places, when a population is long disenfranchised, unrest ensues, forcing greater equality.

Jewish Israelis living in perpetual denial should take note when they head to their polling booths this March, for their sake if not for ours. The looming fork in the road for us is signposted “Palestinian Statehood” or “Civil Rights for All.” While the idea of the former is dispensable, the coming of the latter is inevitable.

~Sam Bahour

Originally appeared in Hebrew AT

LATUFF’S SPOOF ON ISRAELI BOTTLEGATE SCANDAL

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

Read about it in THIS post

Read about it in THIS post

IN PHOTOS ~~ REMEMBERING THE STOLEN DREAMS ON MLK DAY

There were several marches – the one we went on had about 2,000 people.  Then we went to Grand Central Station where about 200 of us held up the names of unarmed Black citizens, mostly young men, who were killed by the police.  People read about them, who they were, how they died.  After each story people said their name, all together, and raised their fist in the air.  People passing through stopped to listen.  Some family members of those killed were there.  After 3 hours someone read King’s last speech and we repeated it, one line at a time (Occupy style) and then everyone sang We Shall Overcome and Keep Your Eyes on the Prize, Hold On.  Actually, we did the same thing for 24 hours last week.  It is a very powerful experience.

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We’ve come a long way, but we’re not there yet …

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer, Commentary by Chippy Dee

Marching through the streets …

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At Grand Central …

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FINALLY A VOICE OF REASON FROM THE POPE

In short, We Muslims cannot and don’t understand why questioning the holocaust or castigating Israeli crimes is anti-Semitism whereas mocking the Prophet of Islam is freedom of speech.

A voice of reason from the Pope

By Khalid Amayreh in Occupied Palestine

On Thursday, 15 January, the Associated Press quoted Pope Francis as saying that there are limits to freedom of expression, especially when it insults or ridicules someone’s faith.

Francis spoke about the Paris terror attacks while en route to the Philippines, defending free speech as not only a fundamental human right but a duty to speak one’s mind for the sake of the common good.

However, the Pope said there were limits to freedom of speech.

By way of example, he referred to Alberto Gasparri, who organizes papal trips and was standing by his side aboard the papal plane. “If my good friend Dr. Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch,” Francis said, throwing a pretend punch his way. “It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”

The Pope’s words show that Muslims are not being unreasonable when they demand respect for their religious symbols, especially the Prophet of Islam, Muhammed (May peace and blessing be upon him).

As an American-educated journalist who is thoroughly versed in western liberal heritage, from Milton’s Areopagitica to the American First Amendment, I really fail to understand why some circles in the West are hell-bent on embracing the misleading notion that insulting Islam (but not Talmudic Judaism for example) is an indispensable aspect of freedom of speech. (I mentioned Talmudic or Orthodox Judaism because it doesn’t even ascribe mere humanity to non-Jews).

In Matthew 5:29, it is related that “if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee.” I know there is a strong metaphorical dimension in this verse. However, we all know that allegories do communicate certain messages that we are called upon to implement or live by in our life.

It is therefore hard to buy the concept that provoking people by offending their religious sensibilities is the right way to achieve peace and human fraternity.

On the contrary, provocation breeds alienation and alienation produces conflict…and conflicts do kill.

Western intellectuals, especially those exercising some rectitude, don’t lack the brain power to understand these timeless truths.

But, unfortunately, many in the West are guided not by moral honesty or even reason in their approach to Islam and Muslims. Their guiding motive is rather malice and ill-will. I also suspect that the freedom-of-speech they invoke is only a mendacious mantra used to mask their real morbid intentions.

No one is demanding to limit freedom of expression anywhere. In fact, no people under the sun are suffering the disastrous effects of the absence of human rights and civil liberties more than Muslims. In some parts of the Muslim world, such as Egypt and Syria, practicing one’s right to freedom of expression could end up with receiving the death penalty by a judge that is always at the tyrant’s beck and call.

Unfortunately, this happens, to a large extent, thanks to a malicious western interference in the Muslim world.

Muslims are not going to apologize for defending their faith and Prophet. Yes, it is wrong to have protests marred with violence and bloodshed. But we will continue to insist on mutual respect. Mutual respect is the simple yet magical tool to achieve peace amongst individuals, nations and cultures.

Finally, I don’t really believe that freedom of speech is the real issue at hand. Indeed, if it were, magazines like Charlie Hebdo wouldn’t have fired cartoonists depicting the holocaust and other “taboos” pertaining to Jews.

In short, We Muslims cannot and don’t understand why questioning the holocaust or castigating Israeli crimes is anti-Semitism whereas mocking the Prophet of Islam is freedom of speech.

We also don’t understand why writers and journalists critical of Israel’s genocidal criminality are hounded and promptly fired from their jobs whereas notorious haters of Islam, such as Steve Emerson, can make disparaging lies about Muslims without being even rebuked.

This is a plain abuse of the very concept of freedom of speech, which should be rectified.

I do believe that offending religious symbols should be regarded as acts of terror. Yes, people don’t get killed in the act itself. However, offending the religious sensibilities of 1.6 billion people can and often does lead to people getting killed.

To conclude, I urge western intellectuals, including media circles, to strike a balance between freedom of speech and expression on the one hand and sensitivity to offending people’s faiths and religious symbols.

This is not asking for the impossible. All you have to do is to exercise a modicum of respect for others. In the final analysis, just as you do have the right to freedom of speech and expression, others do have an equal right not to be offended.

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The zionists don’t see the Pope’s statement the same way as we do …

click on link to see their report.

Did the Pope Justify the Charlie Hebdo Massacre?

 

#NoToVisitingApartheid ~~ IN PHOTOS

 

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A coalition of more than 40 New York City community groups held a press conference outside City Hall on Monday calling for the City Council to cancel a planned delegation to Israel. A diverse group of speakers addressed the city’s progressive politicians, asking how they could reconcile their opposition to racism and state violence at home with support for Israel’s policies against the Palestinians.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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And the Report FROM

Coalition of more than 40 NYC community groups calls on City Council to cancel delegation to Israel

Eamon Murphy

A coalition of more than 40 New York City community groups held a press conference outside City Hall on Monday calling for the City Council to cancel a planned delegation to Israel. A diverse group of speakers addressed the city’s progressive politicians, asking how they could reconcile their opposition to racism and state violence at home with support for Israel’s policies against the Palestinians.

Around 50 people gathered in the near-freezing rain for the event, which was introduced by Brandon Davis of Jewish Voice for Peace. Davis denounced the “flagrant disregard for justice” displayed by the delegation, “in our streets” as well as in Palestine. A recurring theme of the remarks that followed was the link between the current movement to end racist policing in U.S. cities and the struggle against Israel’s apartheid in Palestine. Connections were mentioned between the New York Police Department and the Israeli security establishment, including the opening of an NYPD branch in the Sharon District police headquarters at Kfar Saba.

Organizations that have joined the campaign include the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, the Direct Action Front for Palestine, and Jews Against Islamophobia. The Council’s nine-day trip, scheduled to begin on February 15, is sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) Federation of New York.

City Council members participating in the delegation to Israel are Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Mark Treyger, Brad Lander, Antonio Reynoso, David Greenfield, Rafael Espinal, Darlene Mealy, Mark Levine, Helen Rosenthal, Corey Johnson, Ritchie Torres, Andrew Cohen, Donovan Richards, Eric Ulrich, and James Van Bramer. The trip would be Mark-Viverito’s second such junket, the speaker having made a JCRC-funded visit to Israel in 2012. “New York City and Israel share many cultural, business, and educational ties and this trip with members of the Council will help strengthen them,” Mark-Viverito told The New York Daily News. “We’re looking forward to a productive and informative trip.”

Fatin Jarara of Al-Awda New York, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, speaks at the rally. (Photo: Eamon Murphy)

Speakers at the press conference wondered how informative such a visit could really be. Would the Council tour the West Bank separation barrier, asked criminal defense attorney Bina Ahmad, or Gaza’s ruined homes and schools? How could those who have taken a stance against domestic discrimination, she demanded to know, go on to contribute to normalizing systematic racism against an entire people — “gross hypocrisy,” in her words. Ahmad, who works with the Legal Aid Society in Staten Island and represented police chokehold victim Eric Garner, analogized Israel’s occupation of Palestine to the NYPD’s presence in communities of color.

Donna Nevel of Jews Against Islamophobia criticized Council members for publicly opposing anti-Muslim discrimination and then visiting Israel under the auspices of the JCRC, which fervently backed Police Comissioner Ray Kelly after the revelation of NYPD spying on Muslim communities. “It is clear that the JCRC has helped undermine the basic civil rights and liberties of our city’s Muslim residents,” according to a letter from the anti-Islamophobia coalition to the Council, “and we hope that you agree with us that it is a most inappropriate organization to lead such a trip.”

Other speakers emphasized the unprogressive nature of a trip that would entail crossing an international picket line. CUNY activist Conor Tomás Reed mentioned labor groups around the world that have heeded Palestinian civil society’s call for a boycott. An official visit to Israel, with its segregated workforce and wage discrimination along ethnoreligious lines, amounts to an anti-labor stand, he suggested.

Last to speak was David Galarza, a Puerto Rican activist who helped create the solidarity group Boricuas for Palestine during last summer’s assault on Gaza. Galarza warmed up the freezing crowd with a chant “to get the blood flowing” — Puerto Rico, Palestine, / occupation is a crime — before delivering a forceful challenge to Mark-Viverito, who before her speakership was a committed activist against the U.S. Navy’s bombing of Vieques: “What has changed?” Galarza likened the four boys killed on the beach in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge to the four girls who died in the bombing of a black church in Birmingham, Alabama; where, he wondered, was Charlie Hebdo-style solidarity in the case of the murdered Baker children? Photographs of the two bombings were held up as Galarza declared his identification with the eight victims, alternating Palestinian and African-American names.

The event concluded with Brandon Davis reading a statement from New York-based participants on a solidarity delegation in Palestine, organized by the national anti-racist organization Dream Defenders (full text at the end of this article). During the q-and-a, a man who identified himself as a freelance photojournalist asked Davis about Hamas’s killing of innocent Israelis, and Mahmoud Abbas’s declaration that no Jews will live in a future Palestinian state (not Abbas’s actual position). “Which is the real apartheid state?” the man demanded. After the event was over, he approached Galarza and declared that, as an experienced and well-sourced reporter who has worked in the Middle East, he knew the deaths of four boys on the beach in Gaza were staged.

The press conference began around noon and lasted until 12:30. As I left City Hall at 12:45, two dozen people were still standing and talking in the cold and the rain.

Statement from New York-based members of the Dream Defenders delegation:

For the last 10 days over a dozen artists, activists, educators, and organizers have been traveling across Palestine witnessing power, heartbreak, apartheid, occupation, state violence and grief. It is a binding grief, due to parallel experiences with state violence, that brought us to Palestine. It is also this binding grief that makes the New Yorkers on this historical delegation concerned about the nature, scope, and intent of some New York City Council member’s planned trip to Israel.

We stand in support of Palestine, in support of the international BDS movement, and against Zionist beliefs. We believe this City Council trip would be a dangerous symbolic gesture of normalizing Israeli’s apartheid state. We were able to witness this first hand at the check points in Ramallah, and in the settlements surrounding Bethlehem. It is not completely unfamiliar to us to live in a country where you can be profiled and denied humanity. We know Israeli training forces have a long mentoring relationship with NYPD, and if you stand with oppressed people and against police brutality here at home, you must stand with oppressed people and against state violence abroad.

Cherrell Brown
Carmen Perez
Aja Monet
Marc Lamont Hill

- See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/01/coalition-community-delegation#sthash.Rb7Anslv.dpuf

ALL OF FRANCE MUST SHARE THE GUILT

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I must view with utter contempt the claim that the Paris incident was an attack against press freedom and freedom of expression. We all know that the attack was actually a revenge for France’s military aggression against Muslims. Calling it an attack on press freedom and western liberalism is therefore childish and stupid.

I am against the Paris incident,

but France

is not innocent

By Khalid Amayreh

To begin with, I unhesitatingly condemn the attack on the Charlie Hebdo Satirical weekly magazine in Paris. I believe it is always wrong and unforgivable to kill innocent people. Moreover, this sort of actions, besides being morally wrong, also harms French and other Western Muslims enormously

True, the act of mocking the Prophet of Islam is not a cause worth defending. It did hurt the feelings of hundreds of millions around the world.

However, murdering people is not exactly the right response to the French magazine’s blasphemy. In the final analysis, one can’t fight a crime by committing a greater crime. It is also never sufficient to have a rightful cause to respond in an uncalculated manner. It is never enough to be right; one has to be wise as well, especially in this complex world.

I realize that many writers are under an immense pressure to go with the flow, namely denounce “the evil terrorists” while expressing empathy and solidarity with France. I do sympathize with the families of the victims, but I admit I have no sympathy with the French government. In the final analysis, one must be faithful to one’s conscience and intellectual honesty and France is never innocent especially in its approach to Muslims, past and present.

In fact, I dare claim that French behavior has made this terrorist act inevitable, however outrageous it may be.

France, after all, has been murdering Muslims in droves since time immemorial.

France killed at least two million Muslims in North Africa and a third million in Sub-Saharan Africa. France, which is now complaining about beheadings by IS, beheaded thousands of Moroccans between 1920-and WWII.

In recent months, France effectively enabled barbarian Christians to carry out a shocking ethnic cleansing genocide in Central Africa.

About two decades ago, France collaborated with the Algerian military to decapitate the country’s nascent democracy, triggering a protracted reign of terror that claimed hundreds of thousands of innocent Algerians. Unfortunately, this reign of terror is yet to come to an end.

In the mid-1950s, France gave Israel the Dimona atomic reactor which enable the Nazi-like Zionist entity to manufacture numerous nuclear bombs and warheads and therefore hold the entire Middle East hostage as well as pursue a policy based on lebensraum vis-à-vis the Palestinians and other peoples of the Middle East.

Indeed, it was mainly French weapons that enabled Israel to occupy the rest of Palestine as well as the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula in 1967.

Now, as I write these words, French warplanes are raining death on Muslims in Syria and Iraq, while allowing murderous Iran-backed militias to annihilate Muslims villages.

Despite all this evil legacy, the vast majority (99%) of   Muslims are still against terror in the name of Islam or in any other name.

Today, Muslims are more or less the premier victims of terror and mass murder. They are being murdered every hour, every day, every week and all year long because they want to be free.

They are being murdered in Palestine, Myanmar, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. And when some stray Muslims carry out a terrorist act here or there out of desperation, the entire west loses its composure, ignores its own mega terror against Muslims, and starts making its usual hypocritical outcries, very much like Binyamin Netanyahu does, when he calls Palestinian freedom-fighters “terrorists and murderers”, while forgetting what his own shitty country did and is doing to them.

Do not get me wrong. I am against all acts of violence and terror, especially those targeting innocent people.

However, it is an expression of utter hypocrisy and dishonesty for the French and other westerners to claim a higher moral-ground in comparison to al-Qaeda or IS, or indeed mainstream Muslims.

Nay, you have been far more evil and diabolical. You have destroyed nations and killed millions.

The Americans, who murdered 15 million native Americans in north America and called the genocide “Manifest Destiny” didn’t content themselves with murdering two million Iraqis, they saturated the Iraqi environment with depleted uranium that will continue to kill Iraqis, young and old, and even the yet-to-be be born, for 50,000 years to come.

So, please! We have had enough of your hypocrisy and mendacity.

A final word; I must view with utter contempt the claim that the Paris incident was an attack against press freedom and freedom of expression. We all know that the attack was actually a revenge for France’s military aggression against Muslims. Calling it an attack on press freedom and western liberalism is therefore childish and stupid.

Besides, since when did the West really care about human rights and civil liberties, including press freedom.

Doesn’t the West, with all its strength, stand behind states that deny their people even the most elementary human rights and freedoms?

Even in the West itself, we are very familiar with the scandalous double standards related to this false mantra.

Thus, mocking the Prophet of Islam is considered part of the sacred traditions of press freedom.

However, questioning the authenticity of Holocaust narratives or criticizing Israel’s Nazi-like crimes against the helpless Palestinians is an expression of virulent anti-Semitism, the practitioner of which must be hounded like pariahs, imprisoned or forced to resign from his job.

Well, there are always people on the Muslim side who would argue rather convincingly that if the West has the right to be enslaved by the Golem of Anti-Semitism, Muslims worldwide likewise have at least an equal right to defend their religious symbols.

Well, how about mutual respect?

INDIA/PAKISTAN BORDER CROSSING SPOOF

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

Fighting intensifies before Obama/Kerry visit

Fighting intensifies before Obama/Kerry visit

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India, Pakistan

border fighting

intensifies before

Obama visit

THE COST OF PALESTINIAN JUSTICE ~~ IN TOONS

Images ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

 

Israel will stop you by hook or by crook!

Israel will stop you by hook or by crook!

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Nobody will touch or war criminals!

Nobody will touch our war criminals!

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Israel freezes Palestine tax funds over ICC bid

UPDATED ~~ 1st AND 2nd DEMOS OF THE YEAR IN NEW YORK ~~ IN PHOTOS

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‘SING IN’ At Grand Central Station

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On New Year’s Day 50+ people gathered in New York City’s Grand Central Station for a “sing” to protest the police  killings of Black citizens  in New York  City and nationally. The song began with “ I can hear my brother crying ‘I can’t breathe’”  it was sung eleven times, the number of times Staten Islander Eric Gardner cried out as he was killed by a police choke hold. The only person   arrested that day  had  made a video of  the event which had gone viral.   The protesters noted that District Attorneys have  not indicted any police officer engaged in the racial shooting of Blacks.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer, Commentary by Chippy Dee

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And on January 2nd ….

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At the Federal Building on Wall Street, people assembled to protest the wanton  racist shooting of Black citizens and send a loud clear message  that “ Black Lives Matter”. This location is very significant. It was here that George Washington took the oath, as the first President (1789) to the new Constitution of the United States. Just a short distance from here there were then active slave auction blocks. New York City did not fully abolish slavery until 1827. Also nearby is the  slave cemetery. One can  imagine  the spirits of these buried slaves raising from their internment listening to the now voices resounding in the cold  night air that “Black Lives Matter”.  Hundreds of  years after them the struggle has not been abandoned.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer, Commentary by Chippy Dee

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SPOOF OF THE FRENCH PARLIAMENT

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

French parliament votes for recognition of Palestinian state…now what?

French parliament votes for recognition of Palestinian state…now what?

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 2014, Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

2014, Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

1st DEMO OF THE YEAR IN NEW YORK ~~ IN PHOTOS

‘SING IN’ At Grand Central Station

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On New Year’s Day 50+ people gathered in New York City’s Grand Central Station for a “sing” to protest the police  killings of Black citizens  in New York  City and nationally. The song began with “ I can hear my brother crying ‘I can’t breathe’”  it was sung eleven times, the number of times Staten Islander Eric Gardner cried out as he was killed by a police choke hold. The only person   arrested that day  had  made a video of  the event which had gone viral.   The protesters noted that District Attorneys have  not indicted any police officer engaged in the racial shooting of Blacks.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer, Commentary by Chippy Dee

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NEW YEAR SPOOFS

All images ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

Despite all the carnage committed by Israel, Palestine will live to fight again!

Despite all the carnage committed by Israel, Palestine will live to fight again!

 

 

I can’t make any prediction for 2015…EXCEPT that the struggle in Palestine will continue!

I can’t make any prediction for 2015…EXCEPT that the struggle in Palestine will continue!

 

Happy New WHAT?! #Syria #Iraq #Ukraine #Gaza #Afghanistan

Happy New WHAT?! #Syria #Iraq #Ukraine #Gaza #Afghanistan

 

ANOTHER LETTER THE NEW YORK TIMES WOULD SURELY DEEM UNFIT TO PRINT

Be sure to read Sam’s unpublished letter to the NYT which I posted yesterday

I started writing this as a Letter to the Editor, but my anger could not be conveyed in only 150 words, so I am posting this open letter instead

Open Letter to the Editors of the New York Times 

By Sam Bahour

A view of Gaza City

Re “Gaza Is Nowhere” (By Roger Cohen, Dec. 30, 2014):

I started writing this as a Letter to the Editor, but my anger could not be conveyed in only 150 words, so I am posting this open letter instead:

Readers expect greater accuracy from New York Times columnists.

How dare Mr. Roger Cohen suggest that Gaza, a part of my homeland, is “nowhere!”

If Mr. Cohen is at a loss to know where Gaza lies, allow me to guide him. The Gaza Strip, as well as Gaza City, were both part and parcel of Historic Palestine, between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Following the colossal injustice that resulted in the displacement of more than half of the Palestinian people, and then the creation of what we know today as the state of Israel, and the subsequent military occupation of the remaining Palestinian lands of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the Gaza Strip become part and parcel of an Israeli-militarily-occupied territory. It is this military occupation under which many of my friends and colleagues were born and live to this day.

Despite the bitter life Gazan Palestinians face, they know exactly where they are and who they are. To Mr. Cohen’s possible disappointment, I will not sugar-coat reality with euphemisms or attempt to bury the international community’s disgraceful failures by dwelling on internal Palestinian political dynamics.

What Mr. Cohen terms a “high-tech Israeli facility,” is, in reality, an Israeli military garrison and checkpoint that is equipped with U.S. technology aimed to keep Palestinians locked into the world’s largest open-air prison called Gaza.

The Palestinian road worker who impressed Mr. Cohen is not “among the more productively employed of Gaza’s 1.8 million citizens.” The Gaza community is alive, albeit not well. If he had taken the time to look again without his biased lens, he would have seen an entire society struggling to be productive in a reality where electricity is a luxury, clean water is a distant thought, and having the ability to travel freely is a foreign concept to yet another generation of Palestinians.

Mr. Cohen claims that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is “the only dust-free environment” in Gaza. Spare me, please. Has he forgotten that Gaza has been on the receiving end of three major Israeli military operations within the past six years, which left scores dead and wounded and the rest traumatized for life. If he had only taken the time to visit Palestinian homes he would have found other “dust-free environments,” if dust was of such major concern to him. He would have experienced the generosity of a people battered for decades yet miraculously finding a way to go on educating their war-affected children, sustaining themselves economically, continuing to love, and stubbornly maintaining hope for a better tomorrow, even as they are forced to live in imposed darkness. Indeed, as retired Palestinian diplomat Afif Safieh has famously said, Palestinians have been “unreasonably reasonable” given what has fallen upon them.

To add insult to injury, Mr. Cohen assumes the role of spokesperson for Palestinians, claiming the utmost urgent matter in Palestinian lives is the need “to end the lockdown of Gaza.” Lockdown, Mr. Cohen, is a move used to keep prisoners in their cells. Ending the lockdown is allowing the prisoners to interact among themselves and visit the prison yard. Thank you Mr. Cohen, but no thank you. We have the right to be free from the prison imposed on us by Israel and bankrolled by your country. Our utmost urgent matter is that Israel end its nearly five-decade-long military occupation and allow Palestinians to return to their homes, after which we will take care of ourselves.

I can go on, but you are not interested in Palestine or Palestinians. Your career requires you to feed the stereotypes about my home, me, and my people, and for that, you are part of the problem, not the solution. That, Mr. Cohen, is what is truly “shameful.”

Sincerely,
Sam Bahour
Al-Bireh/Ramallah, Palestine
www.ePalestine.com

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