LATEST ROUND OF LAND GRABBING, MUSLIM HATRED AND WALLS

During the radical change in the USA, where after the US presidential election the whole world just looks at decrees and tweets by the narcissistic “national socialist” Trump, the Netanyahu regime masterfully knew how to press ahead with Zionist raids, racist laws, and the Judaisation of Palestine.

Image by Carlos Latuff

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When land grabbing, wall construction, expulsion, and Muslim hatred become reason of state!

By Evelyn Hecht-Galinski,English Translation by Milena Rampoldi

It cannot be said more appropriately than it was expressed by the right-wing Likud Member of Parliament and Minister of Science Ofir Akunis to describe Zionist politics: “Whole Israel is ours, undivided, this is beyond dispute.” (1)
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With the unjust law adopted by the Knesset last week the Zionist State wants retroactively tolegalise 4.000 settlers’ apartments built on stolen Palestinian land. This will pave the way to avoid evacuation of “illegal wild” settlements and outposts. If we consider that in reality all Jewish settlements in Palestine are illegal! In the meantime, the liberal  Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that the illegal and just evacuated outposts Amona and Migron was financed by a Netanyahu regime fund of more than 1 million US dollars,”lent” to the extremist Aman Settlers’ Organization! For years, Amana has been one of the most dangerous and active settlers’ movement, developed from the Gush Emunim movement founded in 1978, and is behind the foundations of the “illegal outposts”. This way, the “Jewish State” purposely supports these “wild illegal” settlers. Also the Palestinian shepherds and farmers are regularly attacked and injured by Jewish settlers of the outpost, under the watchful eyes of the “Jewish Defence Army”. No Palestinian is safe from these Judaic extremists (2) (3) (4).
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With this law, the colonisation and annexation of the complete illegally occupied West Bank is definitively initiated as final solution of the Judaisation. And it is also more than beyond belief if the hypocrital community of states, including the USA, criticise the construction of settlements, but do nothing to stop this Zionist plunder. Since Trump’s inauguration as US president, more than 5000 new illegal Jewish settlers’ apartments have already been authorised. And almost every day new settlement units are planned. Apparently before this week’s trip to Washington Netanyahu wants to compete with the real estate mogul Trump to see how far he can go with Trump and Kushner, Bannon and Co. (5)
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The same can be said about the racist “Muezzin Law” rapidly adopted by the Netanyahu regime and openly opposed to Muslims and Islam while discriminating against them. Between 11 PM and 7 AM no muezzin calls from the mosques are allowed. The new provocation shows how it is about religious freedom in the “Jewish State”. However, as the Palestinian-Israeli Deputy Aiman Odeh says: “The muezzin call has been heard for a long time before the racist government of the Netanyahu, and will continue to be heard for a long time”. (6)
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Similar to the provocations of Jewish extremists and Knesset Deputies on the Haram-al- Sharif or the arbitrary prohibition by Jewish occupiers against Palestinian men who were not allowed to pray at the al-Aqsa mosque! (7) (8)
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This racism of the Netanyahu regime and its laws fit seamlessly into the desires of the right-wing populist Geert Wilder who asked for a prohibition of Islam, the Quran and for the shut-down of mosques in the Netherlands. (9)
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Another significant story: At the new inauguration of the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and the Fishes in the Benedictine Abbey in Tabgha at the Genezareth Lake, destroyed by an arson of young Jewish extremists, Christians and Jews met. Cardinal Woelki came from Cologne, and also the President of Israel, Rivlin, was there. A shame that the German ambassador in Israel, von Goetze, thanked the Israeli Authorities for their good protection of the Holy Sites! 
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Five perpetuators were arrested after the murderous attack. Three were released. The costs of the damage was of approximately 1,5 million Euros. The “Jewish State” paid only 370.000 Euros. 400.000 Euros were paid by the Archdiocese in Cologne, and 500.000 came from private donors. It is unbelievable, that no imam was invited because it was not part of the protocol. However, it was exactly the Muslims who provided food to the abbey after the arson, and gave money for the reconstruction! (10)
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And in Berlin the situation is similar. For the election of the new German President before the election there was a “closed” church service in the St. Hedwig Cathedral, but without Jews and Muslims. A protected church service for the Christian political elite; so much for the democratic understanding of Presidential Elections and “Berlin Values”! (11)
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So if today Trump and Netanyahu meet, we have to wonder about the meeting of these two alpha animals.
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For what concerns missing credibility, Trump and Netanyahu are very closed one to another. This makes their politics so dangerous because they recklessly present themselves to achieve their objectives. While Netanyahu’s objectives are well-known (“Eretz Israel”, combined with a bit of corruption and hunger for power), Trump has more diffused, overlapping goals. Between “America First”, self-promotion, megalomania, and his companies and the desire to promote Wall Street, this president is driven between twitter and the attempt to make world politics. And at the moment, as the prize winner and psychiatrist Paul Krugman says, this “mentally ill” president does not seem to really succeed in it. (12)
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Trump’s wall construction at the Mexican border, the ban for citizens from seven Muslim countries, and the isolation of immigrants, are rightly criticised all over the world. Drone attacks against civilians and preventive murders are executed day by day by the USA, the “Jewish State” and many “values alliances”. But for the “Jewish State” the situation is different. Even if Netanyahu constantly rebuilds the illegal Apartheid wall of more than 9 metres high cutting deeply through the illegally occupied Palestinian land, and it was even subterraneously extended to the concentration camp in Gaza, there is not open criticism. Although the “Jewish State” since its foundation has been applying the “Muslim Ban” as state policy, a Muslim/Palestinian is banned from entering the country, violations of the international and human rights laws, the genocide in Gaza and targeted assassinations and attacks against a sovereign state are execused, the “Jewish State” is part of the Christian-Jewish community of values. (13)
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For sure, Netanyahu during his visit will focus on Iran by trying to convince Trump to revoke the nuclear agreement with Iran, in particular after the recent missile test. He will present Iran as the most aggressive and dangerous country and will bring into play his favourite lie, the imminent Holocaust.  Let us hope that he will not succeed! 
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So when Trump and Netanyahu meets on 15 February, we have to be curious how they will deal with matters such as the settlements policy, the provocation of the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, or the dying Gaza, the concentration camp forgotten by the hypocritical world community. It is to be feared that neither Trump nor Netanyahu will care about Palestinians as their ethnic cleansing is being executed with impunity by the Netanyahu regime violating Palestine more and more.
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In fact, all states represented at the UN should have immediately opposed the incredible interference of the incompetent general secretary. Since the UN general secretary Guterres should not depend on the US Trump’s mercy. His proposal to nominate the former Palestinian Premier Salam Fayyad as new UN envoy to Libya, as successor of the German Martin Kohler, which is a better choice must not be destroyed! Fayyad  was chosen because of his competency and not as representative of Palestine. And here the US envoy to the UN Haley is wrong. In the meantime it is rumoured that the former Israeli Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni, against whom in Belgium a warrant was issued because of war crimes, will be compensated with a high UN office for Israel. Incredible! (14) (15)
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While the holocaust is more and more used to justify the politics of the “Jewish State” and to distract from its own racist politics, by committing  crimes and by violating victims, Palestinians and the Nakba are more and more discredited. Norman Finkelstein, himself son of Holocaust victims, and author of the book “The Holocaust-Industry” who at the end of January gave a considerable seminar at the Max Planck Institute in Halle, described this phenomenon in a most peculiar way. And as many Israel critics he is denigrated by the Israel lobby and its Christian-Zionist supporters. In particular by the eternal “green agitators” Volker Beck and the Springer Press. (16) (17)
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The activities of the “Israel lobby and its willing sayanim become more and more bolder. This hasbara trace slashes right through the country, from Hildesheim, Halle, Göttingen, Freiburg and now also against the well-known liberation theologian and Islam expert Farid Esack, as guest professor in Hamburg. And again Volker Beck is at the Israel frontline and defends the occupiers state by protecting it from any critics. I really ask myself why the Green Party has not already initiated a party exclusion procedure against this moraliser, while the percentages in the surveys are continuously going down. In contrast to the punishable drug consumption, the authorisation of sex with minors and paedophelia, Israel critic is still exempt from punishment! (18) (19) (20)
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However, what can you expect from a “Jewish State” whose morality has sunk so deep, that even the dead body of assassinated Palestinians who died resisting the illegal occupation, are used as “negotiation mass” against any Geneva Convention? When has this occupiers’ state complied with any convention, law, or resolution? (21)
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If land grabbing, wall construction, expulsion, and anti-Muslim hatred become state policy, then it is time that the BDS campaign is supported also by the official politics to get justice in a free Palestine!
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P.S. In fact, the high EU representative Federica Mogherini declares that BDS is legal and that the freedom of expression is a precious value. (22
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Written FOR

PALESTINE ~~ THE RIGHT FOR JUSTICE

“Palestine First” should be the new solution for the Middle East. Since the 1948 establishment of the “Jewish State,” and the contemporaneous nakba — the catastrophic displacement of the Palestinian people — illegally occupied Palestine has been crying for justice. This is more so in this year of 2017 which marks the 50th year of the injustice committed against the illegally ceased territories in 1967.   

Image by Carlos Latuff

Netanyahu, the Thief of Tel Aviv

Netanyahu, the Thief of Tel Aviv

Palestine: Right for Justice!

by Evelyn Hecht-Galinski. English Translation by Milena Rampoldi

Since then the Zionist regime has continuously maintained its Judaisation policy with illegal settlement expansion by offering all possible incentives to Jewish settlers who planted themselves like grubs in the “kosher” speck with an incredibly luxurious lifestyle with all imaginable advantages including swimming pools, separate streets for “Jews only, “ and a security system separating them from the Palestinian environment.

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How hard-nosed must someone be to live on stolen Palestinian land without empathy for the impoverished indigenous population enduring the occupation hardships of minimum electricity and water. How small-minded must someone be not to be aware of the misery caused to Palestinians by illegal colonisers who believe they were “chosen” by God who promised Palestine. If there was a God, how could He have even wanted such a thing? No way. This Judaism has lost all sense humanity while languishing in the amoral swamp of Judaism’s “Judea and Samaria.”

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In the meantime the West Bank is host to more than 600.000 illegal Jewish settlers have spread their tentacles over stolen Palestinian land where — in the terminology of the Old Testament — they are the 11th  plight. Meanwhile, these illegal Jewish settlers are involved in the essential decisions regarding the ethnic cleansing policies of Palestine. They literally siphon off Palestinian water; they murder innocent Palestinians with impunity; and they perpetrate the terror watched over by the Jewish “Defence Force.” Such terror is particularly brutal in Hebron where a couple of hundred hard-core settlers terrorise hundreds pf thousands of Palestinians.


According to the Israeli human rights organisation “Breaking the Silence,” extremist settler civil security leaders also legally hold positions of influence within the Jewish “Defence Force.” Thanks to this notorious collaboration between the military forces and the Jewish extremist settlers, the latter are able to assume their own responsibility for security in the illegally occupied territories. This incredulous situation enables the occupation army to facilitate the settlers‘ inconceivable terror against innocent Palestinians. Such barbaric cooperation between the military and extremist Jewish civilians has become unique in the world where its injustice  and brutality has in the meantime become the norm.

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This ethnocratic “Jewish State” is not constitutional and all that can be said about it is that responsible for administrative detentions, extrajudicial killings, and continuous land expropriation through ethnic cleansing with illegal house demolitions and the destruction of infrastructure, olive trees, and harvests without regard to the norms of legality or justice.

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The fifty years illegal occupation has left an indelible mark on Palestine with its nine-metre high Apartheid wall stretching for more than 750 km across stolen and occupied Palestinian land separating, and oppressing Palestinian families; restricting movement with checkpoints protected by U.S. and European security technology; and dehumanising the already demoralized Palestinians. While such barbaric policies have been condemned, the rest of the world has, however, come to accept such conduct as the Israeli undemocratic norm.

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A network of paid Jewish Sayanim — the worldwide network of so called “Jewish State” helpers – along with Jewish diaspora brigades, are like a spider’s web spread over the world and the illegally occupied Palestine. This dedicated network creates mistrust and spreads Israeli hasbara propaganda where it has been painfully felt – by professors, students, and activists in universities — particularly in U.S., Germany, and Great Britain. Such organised support has served to the silence criticism of Israel for its violations with impunity. The freedom of opinion and the freedom of teaching which are a high good, and have not to be destroyed by these dangerous lobbyists. Nip things in the bud!

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And if the Parliament of the “Jewish State” which violates Israeli and natural international law also enforces the law for the retroactive legalization of thousands of apartments built on private Palestinian land, then the “only Democracy’ in the Middle East with this Predation policies will perpetuate the ethnic cleansing and Judaisation of Palestine as a means of achieving an “Eretz Israel.”

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In fact, the inhuman and unjust law of the prohibiting Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip from accessing other territories, even within the illegally occupied Palestine, makes them an errant people without rights, breaks up their families, and makes normal family life impossible. Meanwhile the hypocritical international community despite of being aware of such violations, remains tolerant and keeps silent.

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The Palestinians in the illegally occupied West Bank are without rights, but not without justice, even if the representatives of the Knesset are not allowed to vote about these occupied people. This new and severe violation against international law represents another increase of the lawlessness. If this law was adopted, it would be time to bring all perpetuators to the International Court in The Hague, and to sentence all involved politicians of the “Jewish State” as international law criminals, Gaza genociders, war criminals, and land grabbers of the worst kind.

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The International Penal Court the German government puts at disposal more than 135 million Euros is an important institution Palestine should refer to. However, what does Germany and some EU states – all Nobel Peace Prize laureates do? They want by all means to prevent Palestine becoming a Member of the International Criminal Court. You can imagine the reason. Because of its “particular” relationship to the “Jewish State”? Or because the Zionist occupiers‘ regime threatens again and again to stop the non-existing peace talks? However, because the world keeps silent about this blackmailing, the “Jewish State” is encouraged to commit illegal occupation, human rights violations, and war crimes.

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Now the hypocritical world community is challenged. How long will it continue to look at this situation without opposing it and even by financially supporting it? The politics of the Netanyahu regime repeatedly resorts to scaremongering and agitation against other countries such the “destroyer” Iran so as to distract from their own crimes, scandals, and attacks.

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The “Jewish State” employs resentment politics and has found an engaged friend and helper in the new US president. The Zionist occupiers regime has already passed all red lines, without any consequence. How long can this continue with impunity?

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In the actual constellation with US president Trump who seems to be willing to create a new world order according its daily changing inspirations without any political understanding, the perspectives of a future peace and international understanding are more than sombre. With this President, there will be no state.

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Netanyahu and Trump employ the same methods of scaremongering and agitation which fall on fertile ground with populists along with the traumatized, the isolated, and the unsatisfied. It is a horrifying phenomenon while in the meantime the cost for the arms race increases without any proportion because of invented threatening, a brutal “value hypocrisy,” regime change and drone politics. If US president Trump, Merkel, Gauck, and von der Leyen, and the EU supports this aggressive expansion politics, there is danger ahead. Not just the “bad Russian,” but also the cold and perhaps even real war are ahead. It is a horrifying NATO strategy pursuing one objective connected with the “Christian-Jewish community of values”: the maintenance of power by the so called anti-terror alliance spreading terrorism by itself. However, this “terror” is always for the “good”; and all this has been pursued by the regime of the “Jewish State” with impunity since decades through its occupation, expansion, and oppression politics. Why should something change with the US-politics started under Trump and his Jewish consultants and Wall street billionaires?

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Trump is a dangerous narcissist who believes he has reached his destination and has discovered the U.S. as game of his longings. All his promises are insubstantial and “his people,” almost 30% of U.S. citizens, who were taken in by him and his cheap, misogynist, racist, and islamophobic election campaign slogans and elected him, will wake up one day and have a bad surprise. To say nothing of us who saw through him from the beginning and would have never voted for him.

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The right for justice for Palestine for me seems to move further and further, but exactly in belligerent Trump times this campaign for a free Palestine should be conducted always more urgently.

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Originally written FOR

ISRAEL HAS HAD A ‘MUSLIM BAN’ FOR SEVEN DECADES

We’re experts in bans. We’ve banned Palestinians, who we said didn’t even exist, from returning to their homes, for 7 decades.

Where there is no wall there is a barbed wire fence

Where there is no wall there is a barbed wire fence

Israel has had a ‘Muslim ban’ from the start

Jonathan Ofir FOR

Israel has had a ‘Muslim ban’ from the start.

Sure, we didn’t say ‘Palestinian ban,’ just like Trump didn’t say ‘Muslims’. But it meant what it meant, and it still does. Just like Trump offered a certain preference for the Christians, we tended to prefer them for cynical alliances. In Lebanon we used this alliance to wreak havoc and massacre Palestinians.

Now we’re even on steroids with these bans. Since 2003 our ‘equal citizens’ can’t even marry someone from those occupied or ‘enemy’ territories or states. That family unification ban , which prevents Palestinian citizens from marrying and uniting with people from West Bank, Gaza and other ‘enemy’ states, was also ostensibly about preventing ‘terror’– just like the Trump ban. But in 2005, then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, spilled the beans and said it was just about a preserving a ‘Jewish State’. He said “There is no need to hide behind security arguments. There is a need for the existence of a Jewish state”.    

That ban was also ‘temporary’, but we’ve been renewing it, every single year.

We’re experts in bans. We’ve banned Palestinians, who we said didn’t even exist, from returning to their homes, for 7 decades. We just had to. Jewish State, you know.

And yes, we have the ‘Israeli Arabs’ (2/3 of them already define themselves as Palestinians), just like you have your American Muslims. We’ve tried it all, we know exactly what to say when they question our ‘Jewish democracy’. We even have a ministry of Propaganda to take care of that, I kid you not, the Ministry of Hasbara led by Gilad Erdan. Hardly anyone in the world knows this, because we mostly only call it ‘Ministry of Strategic Affairs’ and omit the Hasbara, but it’s official: Ministry of Strategic affairs and Hasbara. You’ll hardly find this mentioning, but when it does appear in the very odd case, ‘Hasbara’ will be translated as ‘public diplomacy’, and Hasbara put in brackets, as here . When you go to the Israeli Government site and look for government offices, in Hebrew it says ‘Ministry of Strategic affairs and Hasbara’, but the English version just says ‘Minister of Strategic affairs.’ How convenient. The world doesn’t need to know.

There’s so much Trump and USA could still learn from us – and they do. We are masters of deception, and we can turn exclusivist nation-states into ‘enlightened democracies’ by the sheer power of our Hasbara propaganda. So Netanyahu congratulates Trump for the wall: “Great success”, “Great idea”. It’s already success because it’s not an ordinary wall, it’s a racist wall, like ours. It’s a great idea because walls are our thing.

And we call the ‘other’ refugees ‘infiltrators’. Actually, our deputy Defense minister Eli Ben Dahan says that “they don’t need to be extended a helping hand or be pulled out of the sea and saved from drowning.”  Yes, he’s an orthodox Jew you see, he knows what Jewish values are.

But now the ‘liberal Zionists’ are protesting against Trump. This doesn’t look good, he’s gone too far. So now J Street, Americans for Peace Now and many other organizations who are ideologically against the Palestinian refugees’ right to return, are shedding crocodile tears. 

And across the Atlantic, the head of the UK Jewish Labour Movement Ella Rose tweets straight from the anti-Trump Ban: “we were all refugees once.” How touching. But other times, Ella Rose is not so soft and kind. When Asa Winstanley exposed the fact last year that Rose had stepped into the JLM outfit straight out from her Public Relations office at the Israeli Embassy , Rose wanted him to “die in a hole” and vowed to use “Krav Maga” –Israeli hand-combat techniques–  to take down Jackie Walker, a leading critic and member of Labour. 

Trump is no wake-up call for ‘liberal Zionists’. They simply exploit the mainstream outrage in order TO BE in the mainstream, in order to whitewash their racism, in order to obscure the fact, that their darling Jewish State is far ahead of Trump in so many ways, and they have been supporting it all along. Maybe they don’t even realize that themselves. And you couldn’t really blame them that much, because, as Israeli former head of Military Intelligence, Major General Shlomo Gazit once said, “The trouble with us Israelis is that we’ve become the victims of our own propaganda.” 

#NotMyPresident ~~ ON WALLS

Philosophically and morally, I find walls repugnant. Some who support them
say you have to be realistic and accept our divisive human nature and look
to protect "our country". But history tells us that nationalism and
protectionism lead to catastrophe.

8e619f2d6a15c3ca99daf87ad4529dfaON WALLS

By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD


Donald Trump in explaining how effective “the wall” between Mexico and the
US would be said to “ask Israel”. This is one liar asking us to ask another
liar! The facts are very clear:

-After most of the residents were ethnically cleansed, a temporary wall of
fences was built around remaining 3500 Palestinians in Al-Majdal to starve
them until they agreed to leave ‘voluntarily’ in 1951 (long after the end
of the 1948 war).  The city was renamed Ashqelon
-The wall around Gaza was completed before even the first Palestinian
suicide bombings started and it was a clear failure. Hundreds of tunnels
were dug underneath and used to transport everything from people to camels
to cars.
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-The wall in the West Bank was less than 25% complete when Hamas made a
political decision to stop bombings and run for elections in 2006.  Hamas
held to its end of this even though they were not allowed to govern after
being elected.
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-The International Court of Justice ruled the wall illegal since it is
built in the occupied areas (just like the Israeli colonies are illegal and
subject to 4th Geneva convention)
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-Even today in 2017, the wall is actually less than 70% complete; nearly
10,000 Palestinians cross to the Israeli side without Israeli permission to
work DAILY and so any person interested in doing violence could do it
-The wall zigzags in ways clearly intended to capture maximum agricultural
lands and natural resources instead of being more secure straighter lines
in most of its currently built course. (what Zionists call ‘maximum
geography with minimum demography’)
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-The Israeli wall was slated to cost $2.5 billion and be finished in three
years and here we are 14 years later and it cost $8 billion and is not even
finished yet! Imagine the US wall (expected to cost $15-20 billion but will
cost 3-4 times more). US taxpayers are already burdened with $20 trillion
public debt (roughly $60,000 for each of us)
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-There are Palestinians on both sides of the wall (hundreds of thousands on
the so called "Israeli side"). There are also Israelis on both sides of it.
Thus, it cannot be a security issue.
- See also

From The Sunday Times

From The Sunday Times



Philosophically and morally, I find walls repugnant. Some who support them
say you have to be realistic and accept our divisive human nature and look
to protect "our country". But history tells us that nationalism and
protectionism lead to catastrophe. You cannot have it both ways: think of
your-self as morally superior while also thinking of 'countries' and
'nations' as fighting in a zero sum game. Actually the competition itself
maybe the only zero-sum when you are thinking of sates. The latest spat
created by Trump with Mexico will hurt both countries. Trump and his
Zionist handlers are also trying to prop-up India (as a balance to Islamic
countries); see appointment of the only Indian-American in Trump's cabinet
(Nikki Haley, ardent Israeli apologist). This will surely also backfire
hurting India, USA, and Islamic countries (opening more roads to Daesh and
its like minded terror groups to recruit).  It is exactly like when
Zionists pushed for the US war on Iraq that damaged Iraq but also damaged
the US ($3 trillion cost and thousands of American lives) and Israel
(because removing Saddam strengthened Lebanon, Hizbollah, Syria, and Iran).
China will come out a winner because it is working to keep good relations
with everyone.

#NotMyPresident ~~ NO BAN, NO WALL! ~~ IN PHOTOS

Image by Latuff

Trump's Muslim ban

Trump’s Muslim ban

 

   NO BAN, NO WALL,  NEW YORK IS FOR ALL

          SAY IT LOUD, SAY IT CLEAR, REFUGEES ARE WELCOME HERE

          DON’T GIVE IN TO RACIST FEAR, IMMIGRANTS ARE WELCOME HERE

 

These words were chanted frequently the evening of January 25th at a rally organized by CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) in Washington Square Park in NYC and attended by many thousands.  This was a response to Trump’s executive orders that called for a wall to keep out Mexicans, closing our doors to Syrian refugees, and a suspension of visitors from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Sudan & Somilia.  People spoke from many organizations, all expressing outrage.  One said his family was on a ship filled with Jews escaping Hitler and they were not allowed to enter the US.  The ship went from port-to-port never being allowed in anywhere.  It had to return to Germany where many perished.

Several speakers were part of the NYC government.  They all urged resistance and said that they would not allow anything to happen to the population here.  NYC has been declared a “Sanctuary City” meaning that they will not allow  families to be torn apart or children to be left without parents.  City personnel will not arrest or detain residents for Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE).  The only thing the federal government can do is retaliate by withholding federal funds from the city.

It was a beautiful clear, balmy winter night.  The park was filled to capacity with a very mixed group of people.  The podium was placed under the iconic arch and the voices of the speakers sometimes echoed.  The speeches were both emphatic and militant.  Immigrants are on the firing line in this administration.  At one point everyone raised their arm and made a pledge to support their foreign born friends and neighbors.  It is hoped that some went home feeling less alone, less vulnerable.

On his Facebook page Steven Goldstein, Executive Director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect wrote,

“As President Trump prepares orders to wall out Mexicans and shut out refugees from America, today marks one of the most hateful days in our nation’s history, Donald Trump is retracting the promise of freedom to an extent we have not seen from a president since Franklin Roosevelt forced Japanese Americans into internment camps during World War II.   Today the Statue of Liberty weeps over President Trump’s discrimination.”

Photos © by Bud Korotzer, Report by Chippy Dee

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Finally some Judicial Justice

Total madness going on here.  Thousands are demonstrating at airports all over the country and people who were cleared to come into the US are being put on planes to go back to where they came from.  And the vicious moron says it is working “nicely”.  A judge in Brooklyn just signed an order to stop the deportations.  Demo tomorrow @ Battery Park, where it should be freezing by the water, and then a march to border control offices at the new WTC. Everyone’s adrenaline is pumping non-stop.

(Click on link to see NYT Report)

Judge Blocks Trump Order on Refugees Amid Chaos and Outcry Worldwide

HARD TO STAY HUMAN IN A SEA OF HATE

An international world order that does not see the centrality or
urgency for the Palestinian issue and is complicit in the crime.

humans_respect_humans_by_rbeloniojr-d4y9ceu

SAY HUMAN/MENSCH BLIEBEN!

By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

11 homes were demolished by the Israeli occupation authorities in one day
in the village of Qalanswe (occupied in 1948). The pace of home demolitions 
accelerated recently and are expected to accelerate more as Israel 
violates human rights and international law with
international impunity. Donald Trump will follow on the heels of Obama in
giving a green light for further ethnic cleansing. The conditions for
revolution are there just like they were in 1936 and 1987:

1) Political factional leadership disconnected from the people’s needs or
thoughts and the natives who dislike the existing political factions and
want serious change.

2) Most people have given up on political structures and the so called
“peace process” (an industry of talk and profit for elites).

3) A colonizer-occupier so self-assured that they have things under
“control” they actually do things like killing unarmed demonstrators or
demoliting homes or collective punishment. Israel just decided to deport
from Jerusalem 12 family members of a Palestinians who killed four soldiers
who illegally occupy East Jerusalem (International law recognizes such acts
as legitimate forms of resistance). This cockiness can accelerate the
arrival of uprisings.

4)  An international world order that does not see the centrality or
urgency for the Palestinian issue and is complicit in the crime (even
projecting Israeli flags on state buildings in Europe last week and
instituting laws that attack freedom of speech).

These conditions were present before every one of the uprisings (1881,
1904, 1912, 1921, 1929, 1936, etc). In South Africa under apartheid there
was also 14 or 15 uprisings before apartheid ended. Let us hope that this
coming one in Palestine will be the last. Netanyahu just sent his jets
attacking Syria (a violation of International law). Obama dropped 26,000
bombs in 2016 on seven countries.  We do not expect Trump to do any better!
Local leaders also do not give us chance for optimism. Abbas believes in
talking and the King of “Saudi Arabia” believes in bombing hospitals and
schools in Yemen to serve Israeli interests and keep his throne.  And as
JFK once said: once you make a peaceful revolution impossible you make a
violent revolution inevitable. It is time to think globally and act locally.

Aِِcting locally, we at the Palestine Museum of Natural History and
Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability are working hard. 
It has been another busy and productive week for us
locally. Two manuscripts were accepted for publication. We received good
news on one grant and submitted two more grant proposals. Israel gave a
permission to Prof. Zuhair Amr from Jordan to come spend two weeks with us
in Bethlehem  working on research (on land snails, shrews, geckos and
,more). The video of my denial of entry to Jerusalem revceived 5000 views
on facebook and over 2000 views on youtube (https://youtu.be/r0IIvCaxaKo).
We attended a workshop on Palestine Future (trends to 2030) and agreed to
take some action plans. We formed a committee to prepare for a national
network of museums. We received and rejected two offers of large funding
that required us to collaborate with Israeli institutions (violating BDS
rules). Even though our financial situation is difficult, our motto in the
museum continues to be RESPECT (for one self, for others, for nature).

The coming week promises even more: we are expecting more volunteers (local
and internationals), we expect three international delegations (visitors),
we expect to make two field trips, and to finish two more research
manuscripts. Please join us because we are the people we have been waiting
for! In other words change comes from us working together.
A poem about life by Mazin Qumsiyeh in English and German

‘James Bond’ of Philanthropy gives away the last of his fortune. “His name
does not appear in gilded letters, chiseled marble or other forms of
writing anywhere on the 1,000 buildings across five continents that $2.7
billion of his money paid for”

Stay Human/ Mensch Bleiben

ZIONIST OCCUPATION TAKES ITS TOLLS

When  an occupation becomes an Israeli right, Palestinian resistance becomes an essential obligation! 

voltaire-zion

Zionist Occupation and Expulsion Take Their Tolls!

by Evelyn Hecht-Galinski, translated by Milena Rampoldi,  edited by author William Hanna
*
Netanyahu and his regime reacted with customary “outrage” to the attack in Jerusalem where Netanyahu with immediate instinctiveness appeared centre stage to invent a connection between the Islamic State and the Palestinian perpetrator, Fadi al Hanbar, a 28-year-old father from Dschaba, an illegally occupied part of East Jerusalem. It is absolutely mysterious how Netanyahu arrived at this conclusion without any apparent evidence: especially since the Israeli-Palestinian problem is not due to the Islamic State, but to the decades-long illegal occupation of Palestine and the expulsion of Palestinians.
*
Was this young Palestinian “attacker” not himself a victim? He had been just released from an Israeli prison, where – of course – he was detained as a “terrorist suspect” rather than a brave “resistance fighter” as was the case for those Europeans who during the Second World War fought against Nazi occupations. Currently more than 6,000 Palestinians are detained indefinitely and without trial in Israeli prisons under Administrative Detention Orders. Almost all Palestinian families at one time or another had family members who were detained or are still being detained without knowing when or if they will ever be released. Men and women, old and young, are brutally tortured and kept in unacceptable, inhumane conditions that contravene the Geneva Convention. The Apartheid regime illegally occupying Palestine does not hesitate to use its infamous secret services Shin Bet and Mossad – along with their renowned superpower ally – perpetrate murderous crimes on a global scale. Extra-judicial executions by the “Jewish Defence Forces”; barbaric attacks by illegal Jewish settlers; and targeted killings by Mossad are carried out with impunity everywhere because the “Jewish State” has granted itself the licence to kill.
*
Should there be astonishment at such attacks and explicitly against soldiers who were ironically on a bus tour through Jerusalem. Furthermore, these officer cadets have been trained to go to places where they are particularly needed, and where they have to execute reprisals and operations against Palestinians. In the occupied East Jerusalem the atmosphere is tense with Palestinians fearing that after January 20 – when Trump is inaugurated as U.S. President – matters will only get worse. Will Trump for example make good on his statement that under his presidency – with help of David Friedman, the orthodox Jew, right-wing settlement supporter, and the future U.S. ambassador to the “Jewish State” – the U.S. embassy would be relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem thereby violating international law? This would be a provocation of the worst kind, cemented by the illegitimate claim of Jewish Zionist-fascist hardliners and their illusion of an “eternal and undivided Jerusalem” as capital of the “Jewish State”.  
*
How can the Palestinians be blamed? They have for decades been forced to live under brutal conditions and are now faced with the threat of extremist Jews with Netanyahu regime support of having a new Jewish Temple built on Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount), the Islamic holy site (“the Noble Sanctuary”) where the al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock have stood for over 1,300 years. Directly after the recent attack, the Netanyahu regime decided to arrest the IS followers in the “Jewish State” without due legal process under the notorious Administrative Detention Orders that had for decades been routinely used against “troublesome” Palestinians whose illegal detention without trial has been condemned by human rights organisations such as Amnesty International, B`Tselem, and Human Rights Watch to no avail while the international community with its core “values” maintained a cowardly silence!
*
Five family members of the attacker have already been arrested, his house scheduled for destruction, and his body due to be buried in secret without being returned to his family whose applications for reunification with the inhabitants in the Gaza Strip have been refused by the Security Cabinet.
*
Ethnic detention and illegal house demolitions – injustices tolerated by Western state communities – with even Germany always insisting on responsibility for remembrance of the past as justification for a “Jewish State,” failing to meet the responsibilities of the present for universal justice and human rights.
*
Rather than continually promoting the illegal Jewish occupation of Palestine, Merkel and Steinmeier should instead denounce the fascist crimes against humanity and stop the colonial terrorist zeal of their “Jewish friends”. There are no protests from Germany, the U.S. or the EU, who while expressing condolences for the attack on Israel, regard justified Palestinian resistance to persecution as being acts of terrorism.
*
Because of this blatant double standard injustice there will never be peace. Only when the hypocritical “community of values” under “Christian-Jewish” leadership begins to perceive the illegal occupation as the main cause of legitimate Palestinian resistance, will there be tranquillity.
*
Why should this resistance against the illegal occupation of Palestine be considered as an act of terrorism as compared with resistance to Nazi Germany’s terror! The application of double standards is always inadvisable because it will only fail at a political level. While Netanyahu – who is bogged down in the quagmire of a brutal occupation – is constantly looking for any opportunity to divert responsibility away from himself, the community of states should resist participation in, and support for this denigrating game.  
*
This is a Zionist regime of a country drowning in a moral swamp – where a soldier’s cold- blood murder of an injured Palestinian lying on the ground – is celebrated by the majority of the population with even Netanyahu recognising him as a hero and brave opponent of terrorism. By reacting in this manner, Israel’s Zionist regime has forfeited any right to claims of being a democracy. Incomprehensibly, the military court has just condemned the soldier to only Second Degree murder and not to assassination. A further outrageous injustice would be if this murderer-soldier Azaria, was to be pardoned!
*
Despite what Netanyahu and Western politicians want us to believe, this attack had absolutely nothing to do with Paris, Nice, Berlin, or anywhere else. The fact is that in the decades-long illegally occupied Palestinian Territories the injustice of the occupation has created a fertile ground for such resistance attacks by a hapless, denigrated, and desperate people, who have absolutely nothing to lose.  
*
Meanwhile Netanyahu simply pursues self-serving policies that retain his power base by directing attention towards Iran, the Hezbollah, and Hamas. Furthermore he stokes the fire in Syria by supporting the terrorists of al-Nusra and taking the opportunity to reconnect with ISIS – which does not even operate in the “Jewish State” – so as to delegitimise the Palestinians and portray himself as the hero supporting the war against terrorism.
*
This infamous conduct becomes even more so when Western politicians like French Prime Minister Hollande officially authorise targeted killings with drone attacks in Africa and the Middle East since 2013. On the list containing 17 names of those to be killed, 13 are still pending! Welcome to the club of those who have the licence to kill! With such policies, conscientiously supported by Germany and other Western alliance partners who promote such bombing, the real reason behind the “War on Terror” becomes apparent.
*
This is not a Clash of Civilizations between the saviour “Judaeo-Christian values” and extremist Islamic terror, as they would have us believe, but a deliberate attempt to “Zionise” Western democracies into accepting the illegal occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine. To this end, the Brandenberg Gate was illuminated in the flag colours of the Star of David which is a symbol of Israel’s illegal occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine!

*

When such an occupation becomes an Israeli right, Palestinian resistance becomes an essential obligation! 
*
Originally written FOR
*
Image by Carlos Latuff
In the first week of 2017 Israel demolished the homes of 151 Palestinians

In the first week of 2017 Israel demolished the homes of 151 Palestinians

“NO CHRISTMAS IN JERUSALEM FOR YOU!”

Here is what happened  in video and why even this short encounter reveals at least six violations of International law.

NO CHRISTMAS IN JERUSALEM FOR YOU

By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

January 7th is Christmas for my family (Eastern Christian traditions). After we had our large gathering of a few hundred members of the Qumsiyeh clan, and paying visits to my sisters and the older people in my family, I tried unsuccessfully to visit Jerusalem (both with my US passport and with my Palestinian ID). The idea was to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and have dinner in Jerusalem.

I used to be a high school teacher in Jerusalem. Bethlehem is only 4 miles away and is a suburb of Jerusalem. The economies were/are inter-dependent and for five thousand years were inseparable. That is until Israel decided to separate us after they signed the Oslo agreements in 1994 (one of many reasons why these sell-out agreements entrenched apartheid and colonization). I am not allowed to enter Jerusalem on my American passport because I am a Palestinian who does not get a visitor visa on my US passport (I hold green card resident ID in my own country). Most Palestinians are not allowed to their own city of Jerusalem except with special permits. On occasions (like Muslim and Christian holidays, Palestinians above a certain age (males over 55) are allowed. In this case they claimed that Shabak (Israel Internal Security) said that even if I was above 55 I am not allowed and that if I try to come through again I would be jailed (lack of due process not withstanding). While I was questioned, the bus from Bethlehem had left and we were forced to then walk back in the cold weather.

The Israeli policies of separating Bethlehem from Jerusalem and denying us entry are violations of International law and many are considered war crimes. Here are the violations that these soldiers and the Israeli government are guilty of based on International law:

1) Israel’s changes to borders of the municipality of Jerusalem to include parts of Bethlehem (illegal for occupiers, several UN resolutions),

2) Israel’s annexation of east Jerusalem (both West Jerusalem and East Jerusalem are not Israeli per the UN resolutions that Israel itself agreed to implement when they became members of the UN),

3) Israel’s establishment of 23 Jewish only settlements/colonies in Bethlehem is a war crime and the fact that such Jewish settlers cross over without requiring tasrih (permit) is racist,

4) Israel cannot prevent freedom of movement between one occupied town (Bethlehem) and another occupied town (Jerusalem),

5) Building walls and fences inside the 1967 occupied areas is also illegal (International Criminal Court Ruling 2004),

6) That the “shabak” can give direction to prevent people like me from crossing simply because we advocate non-violent resistance (I wrote a book on the subject) is contrary to both local law (supposed freedom of speech, due process) and International law (e.g. violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights).

These colonization tactics are nothing short of state terrorism. This indignity was a disappointment in Christmas but we have the peace of Christmas in our hearts and the silver lining is that this provides another motivation for us to redouble our efforts to end the ongoing crimes against humanity. Others suffer and even get injured, jailed or tortured so we are still grateful. May 2017 bring us closer to ending this nightmare of apartheid, close to return of Palestinian refugees, closer to justice, and closer to peace.

Stay Human!

original

IMAGE OF THE DAY ~~ HUNGER IN GAZA

A ‘meal’ you definitely wouldn’t want to be invited to …

Because of extreme poverty Palestinian family in Gaza cooks chicken feet & toes 💔

Because of extreme poverty a Palestinian family in Gaza cooks chicken feet & toes 💔

O HORRIBLE, ILLEGAL OCCUPATION TIME

To all Christian friends and readers I would like to wish a peaceful and contemplative Christmas, also thinking about the freedom of Palestine. Merry Christmas!

I also would like to encourage all Jewish friends engaging in the struggle for a Free Palestine by wishing them a Happy Hanukkah!

Image by Carlos Latuff

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O horrible, illegal Jewish occupation time!

By Evelyn Hecht-Galinski,English Translation by Milena Rampoldi, ProMosaik.

Last year, I wrote down my thoughts on Jesus in illegally occupied Palestine. (1) However, today I will formulate my sentence about the Palestinian Jesus in a different way by saying that today as a Palestinian under occupation he would certainly resist the illegal Jewish occupiers, and his apostles would probably have not established a new religion but a Palestinian resistance movement as a consequence of the illegal Jewish occupation of Palestine.

Palestinian Christians have a daily first-hand experience of what occupation means with the Jewish settlements that surround them making life intolerable. Yes, the misery and injustice of the illegal Jewish occupation of Palestine doesn’t stop even in front of Christians! The Christian and Muslim Palestinians have been sitting together in an occupation boat since decades now, with the only change being that conditions are getting worse from year to year. Together they endure endless humiliation,  countless checkpoints and other forms of illegal settlers’ subterfuge designed to expel the indigenous people from their homeland. Of some million Palestinian Christians only 20% remain in the illegally occupied Palestine and in the “Jewish State”. Desperate conditions and the unemployment force many young people to emigrate with the consequence that both Christians and Muslims are victims of Palestine’s ethnic cleansing. (2)

Despite that, neither the Pope nor German politicians – especially the ones starting with a big C, as for example the President of the CDU/CSU fraction Kauder who is in the frontline when “persecutions of Christians” in Arab countries occur – have condemned this screaming injustice being perpetrated against their Palestinian brethren in faith. When Palestinians are concerned, Mr Kauder keeps silent! Also the pastor’s daughter and Christian Zionist Merkel expresses her solidarity with the Jewish occupiers and land predators rather than with the Christian Palestinians and the Christians in Palestine/Israel suffering from the occupation. Why did Kauder, Merkel and Co. and all the Christian dignitaries up to now only speak at pro-Israeli rallies but never at rallies organized by Palestinians against the illegal occupation of Palestine? Is this a Christian attitude? (3) (4)

Nonetheless, there are still many Christians who do not close their eyes towards the injustice of Palestine’s occupation, like Christoph Reuhs who wrote a very informative field report from Palestine. (5)

What did change this year for the illegally occupied Palestine? A lot, but nothing positive, only that there are more right-wing Jews ruling the “Jewish State” and more and more settlements threatening the existence of Palestine. The strategic Israeli land grabbing of Palestinian land, the occupation of the hills is used by the “Jewish Defence Army” to guarantee its military predominance, and the settlers apply this way of thinking. It is a farce, when Amona, a so called illegal external outpost founded 20 years ago, now should be evacuated according to the court decision of 25 December because it was built on “private” Palestinian property. This is just to show to the world that the “Jewish State” is a functioning democracy.

However, is not the whole illegally occupied Palestine a Palestinian property? Why does the international world community not act if all Israeli settlements are illegal according to international law? Why does this community of hypocrites accept this violation of international law of the worst kind, without imposing sanctions and without stopping any financial support to the Jewish occupiers?

Amona is one of the most untruthful symbols of the legalization of illegal settlements by all Jewish governments to date. Were these accommodation containers not always supplied by the near settlement of Ofra deep in the illegally occupied West Bank? Exactly Ofra was one of the first illegal settlements, built in 1975 on conquered land. Only by the intervention of President Peres, who died some time ago, and was eulogised all over the world as the “Angle of Peace”, this settlement could be built. In 1977 the ex Likud Prime Minister Begin recognised the settlement as legal. So the uninhibited settling on stolen Palestinian land goes on. Sharon, the slaughterer of Lebanon, Construction Minister in the 90ies, and then Prime Minister, allowed the building of asphalt roads, of the installation of sewage systems, and electricity and encouraged the settler of Ofra during a visit to build outposts. And those right-wing Jewish settlers accepted such encouragement with pleasure. Today Ofra is a small city of 3.500 inhabitants, with embellished houses with red roofs, kindergartens, a school, a petrol station, and a perfect infrastructure the illegally occupied Palestinians can just dream about. These Jewish settlers feel strong thanks to politicians and rabbis, they are paid court to by the Netanyahu regime, like the right-wing rabbi Shmuel Elijahu, who had encouraged Israeli citizens not to sell any land to Palestinians and had claimed to totally destroy the Gaza Strip by an area bombing and had called for the execution of Palestinians to guarantee the security of the “Jewish State”. And these are just a couple of samples of this “Judaic Humanism”. (6)

So this Judaic thought, on which the whole jurisprudence of the “Jewish State” and the Zionist ideology are based, became all-day reality before the beginning of the Six-Day War in 1967 with the notorious questions made by the right-wing rabbi Zwi Yehuda Kook, a spiritual and religious mentor of the settlers‘ movement Gus Emunim. He said: “Where is our Nablus? Where is out Jericho? Where is our Kingdom of Israel? Where is the House of God?” It took only one month for the “Jewish Defence Forces” to conquer and occupy the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and East Jerusalem. Zwi Yehuda’s father, Rabbi Abraham Yitzhak Kook, had already been one of the main enablers of religious Zionism in Palestine giving rise to the future crimes of the settlers movement Gush Emunim. He had affirmed: “First we will bring the salvation of the country, then the salvation of the people, and in the end the salvation of the world!” (7)

Such horrifying examples of right-wing rabbis would fill pages: from the infamous sheriff of Hebron, Moshe Levinger, to the racist Dov Lior and the rabbi Meir Kahane, the founder of the infamous Kach Party, and of the murderous Jewish Defence League. The Biblical Racism has become a mass movement in the “Jewish State” and also struggles against Christians in the “Holy Land”. (8)

In fact, by this illegal biblical-Zionist occupation politics, up to now there are more than 120 legalized settlements (which are de facto illegal!) and approximately 100 non-legalised outposts in the illegally occupied West Bank, where in the meantime, with a rising trend, more than 400.000 Jewish settlers live among approximately 2,5 million Palestinians, the legal owner of the stolen Palestine. This condition has only become possible because the hypocrite international community does not really act, apart from showing its reluctant disapproval. So occupation is perpetuated. This illegal and unique Jewish occupation would have been ended a long time ago, if we had wanted. Since, as a German proverb pointedly says: When there is a will, there is a way!

After the unspeakable Trump election as the future US president the forecast or Palestine and the Middle East are significantly bleaker when compared to Israel, the State where the sun rises. With Trump the illegal Jewish occupiers  have found their champion and they sing in harmony: “We are the Champions!” (10)

This Judaic zealotry is overwhelmingly financially supported by Trump, the Jewish fundamentalist US-citizens, and Christian Zionists. This becomes particularly evident if you consider the financial support of this clan to settlements in the illegally occupied West Bank, and in particular to the settlement Bet El. A fund of the future US ambassador David Friedman and of Trump’s daughter’s Ivanka parents-in-law (Ivanka converted to Judaism and is married to Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and political whispering advisor). If we look at this Trump team, the worst nightmares become true. One among many other affronts from Trump towards the Palestinians and all people who engage for freedom and the end of the illegal occupation, is the appointment of such a right-wing orthodox Jews and settlers‘ supporter like Friedman. Friedman is the one always opposed to the two-state-solution and authorising Jews in Israel to settle wherever. Friedman is the one who claims for Jerusalem as the eternally unseparated capital of the “Jewish State”. And Friedman is the one who wants to move the US-embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in cooperation with Trump. According to Netanyahu’s will, Trump is also the one boycotting the nuclear deal with Iran which I hope will not be cancelled. In 2011, Trump was the one who wanted to take the whole Iraqi oil, according to his actual credo “US First”! Let us beware of this “great America”! (11) (12)

This year too Palestine will live again a colonized Christmas under the illegal Jewish occupation. About it I would like to recommend a wonderful text of my friend and highly respected peace struggler Ellen Rohlfs. Her new book is something I would like to recommend warmly to all my readers. It should not be missed under any Christmas tree or as Christmas present. In addition this book is for all people who engage for the end of occupation in Palestine and for the freedom and justice, a wonderful proof of a strong woman always engaging for human rights and for true humanism combatively and poetically! (13)

I do not know if we will ever see the end of the illegal occupation of Palestine. The Palestinian poet and writer Mahmoud Darwish, the lover from Palestine was not allowed to see this longed-for dream become reality. With his impressing poem I would like to say hello to all Palestinians suffering from the illegal Jewish occupation.

PASSPORT

They did not recognize me in the shadows
That suck away my colour in this Passport
And to them my wound was an exhibit
For a tourist Who loves to collect photographs
They did not recognize me,
Ah… Don’t leave
The palm of my hand without the sun
Because the trees recognize me
Don’t leave me pale like the moon!

All the birds that followed my palm
To the door of the distant airport
All the wheat fields
All the prisons
All the white tombstones
All the barbed Boundaries
All the waving handkerchiefs
All the eyes
were with me,
But they dropped them from my passport

Stripped of my name and identity?
On soil I nourished with my own hands?
Today Job cried out
Filling the sky:
Don’t make an example of me again!
Oh, gentlemen, Prophets,
Don’t ask the trees for their names
Don’t ask the valleys who their mother is
From my forehead bursts the sward of light
And from my hand springs the water of the river
All the hearts of the people are my identity
So take away my passport!

To all Christian friends and readers I would like to wish a peaceful and contemplative Christmas, also thinking about the freedom of Palestine. Merry Christmas!

I also would like to encourage all Jewish friends engaging in the struggle for a Free Palestine by wishing them a Happy Hanukkah!

#RacismInIsrael~~ FIRST THEY SILENCED THE MOSQUES, THEN THEY SILENCED THE BUSES

The Israeli Ministry of Transportation ordered that an Israeli bus company stop broadcasting announcements in Arabic in the city of Beersheba.

'They never announced my stop so I fell asleep :( )

They never announced my stop so I fell asleep 😦 

The Israeli Ministry of Transportation ordered that an Israeli bus company stop broadcasting announcements in Arabic in the city of Beersheba, a spokesperson for Dan Bus Company told Ma’an on Thursday.

The spokesperson said to Ma’an that the company had been asked by the Israeli Ministry of Transportation to cease broadcasting announcements in Arabic on Tuesday, only four days after opening its new bus line in Beersheba.

They said that “many, many people complained to the municipality,” which in turn took the matter to the Ministry of Transportation.

The Dan spokesman stated that the company was “not comfortable” with the request to stop the Arabic announcements, adding that “40 percent of our drivers are Muslim,” but that it would comply with directives from the Ministry.

They went on to add that this was the first time that the company was broadcasting these announcements in both Arabic and Hebrew, but that signs remained written in both languages.

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Transportation did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Ma’an on the legality of the decision given Arabic’s status as one of Israel’s official languages.

The director of the Coalition Against Racism in Israel, Nidal Othman, said that the ban was symbolic of Israeli authorities submitting to racism which it should stop at every level, adding that the bus company’s response was unacceptable and showed an agreement on racism between governmental and public institutions.

Othman went on to call the decision a “very dangerous escalation” which could prove to become a slippery slope from racist political statements to racist actions.

“A minority of society refuses coexistence (between Israeli Jews and Palestinians with Israeli citizenship), but they have loud voices, while the majority is silent,” Othman said.

He added that the continued presence of the Arabic language in Israel was the product of efforts conducted by human right organizations, and must be protected from the “racist minority” in Beersheba which seeks to make Arabic disappear from the public sphere.

Palestinians with Israeli citizenship constitute 20 percent of the population of Israel, and have long been targeted by discriminatory Israeli policies, whether through fewer resources allocated to Palestinian-majority communities in Israel, “divide and conquer” tactics, attempts at forcibly displacing Bedouin communities, and what have been denounced as policies of “Judaization” at the expense of other religious communities.

The bus announcement ban also comes right as the Israeli Knesset is discussing a bill which would ban the use of loudspeakers to broadcast the Muslim call to prayer (adhan) from mosques in Israel.

Despite the bill not yet being voted into law, a mosque in the town of al-Ludd was fined in late November for broadcasting the adhan, sparking uproar.

 

 

FROM

#InPalestine ~~ ALARM CLOCKS AND PHONE APPS CAN REPLACE THE CALL TO PRAYER

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared his support this month for the so-called “muezzin bill”, claiming it was urgently needed to stop the dawn call to prayer from mosques ruining the Israeli public’s sleep. A vote in the parliament is due this week. The use of loudspeakers by muezzins was unnecessarily disruptive, Mr Netanyahu argued, in an age of alarm clocks and phone apps. 

Image by Carlos Latuff

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The link between Israel’s forest fires and the ‘muezzin bill’

Jonathan Cook

Israeli legislation ostensibly intended to tackle noise pollution from Muslim houses of worship has, paradoxically, served chiefly to provoke a cacophony of indignation across much of the Middle East.

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared his support this month for the so-called “muezzin bill”, claiming it was urgently needed to stop the dawn call to prayer from mosques ruining the Israeli public’s sleep. A vote in the parliament is due this week. The use of loudspeakers by muezzins was unnecessarily disruptive, Mr Netanyahu argued, in an age of alarm clocks and phone apps.

But the one in five of Israel’s population who are Palestinian, most of them Muslim, and a further 300,000 living under occupation in East Jerusalem, say the legislation is grossly discriminatory. The bill’s environmental rationale is bogus, they note. Moti Yogev, a settler leader who drafted the bill, originally wanted the loudspeaker ban to curb the broadcasting of sermons supposedly full of “incitement” against Israel.

And last week, after the Jewish ultra-Orthodox lobby began to fear the bill might also apply to sirens welcoming in the Sabbath, the government hurriedly introduced an exemption for synagogues.

The “muezzin bill” does not arrive in a politically neutral context. The extremist wing of the settler movement championing it has been vandalizing and torching mosques in Israel and the occupied territories for years.

The new bill follows hot on the heels of a government-sponsored expulsion law that allows Jewish legislators to oust from the parliament the Palestinian minority’s representatives if they voice unpopular views.

Palestinian leaders in Israel are rarely invited on TV, unless it is to defend themselves against accusations of treasonous behavior.

And this month a branch of a major restaurant chain in the northern city of Haifa, where many Palestinian citizens live, banned staff from speaking Arabic to avoid Jewish customers’ suspicions that they were being covertly derided.

Incrementally, Israel’s Palestinian minority has found itself squeezed out of the public sphere. The “muezzin bill” is just the latest step in making them inaudible as well as invisible.

Notably, Basel Ghattas, a Palestinian Christian legislator from the Galilee, denounced the bill too. Churches in Nazareth, Jerusalem, and Haifa, he vowed, would broadcast the muezzin’s call to prayer if mosques were muzzled.

For Ghattas and others, the bill is as much an assault on the community’s beleaguered Palestinian identity as it is on its Muslim character. Netanyahu, on the other hand, has dismissed criticism by comparing the proposed restrictions to measures adopted in countries like France and Switzerland. What is good for Europe, he argues, is good for Israel.

Except Israel, it hardly needs pointing out, is not in Europe. And its Palestinians are the native population, not immigrants.

Haneen Zoabi, another lawmaker, observed that the legislation was not about “the noise in [Israeli Jews’] ears but the noise in their minds”. Their colonial fears, she said, were evoked by the Palestinians’ continuing vibrant presence in Israel – a presence that was supposed to have been extinguished in 1948 with the Nakba, the creation of a Jewish state on the ruins of the Palestinians’ homeland.

That point was illustrated inadvertently over the weekend by dozens of fires that ravaged pine forests and neighboring homes across Israel, fuelled by high winds and months of drought.

Some posting on social media relished the fires as God’s punishment for the “muezzin bill”.

With almost as little evidence, Netanyahu accused Palestinians of setting “terrorist” fires to burn down the Israeli state. The Israeli prime minister needs to distract attention from his failure to heed warnings six years ago, when similar blazes struck, that Israel’s densely packed forests pose a fire hazard.

If it turns out that some of the fires were set on purpose, Netanyahu will have no interest in explaining why.

Many of the forests were planted decades ago by Israel to conceal the destruction of hundreds of Palestinian villages, after 80 percent of the Palestinian population – some 750,000 – were expelled outside Israel’s new borders in 1948. Today they live in refugee camps, including in the West Bank and Gaza.

According to Israeli scholars, the country’s European founders turned the pine tree into a “weapon of war”, using it to erase any trace of the Palestinians. The Israeli historian Ilan Pappe calls this policy “memoricide”.

Olive trees and other native species like carob, pomegranate and citrus were also uprooted in favor of the pine. Importing the landscape of Europe was a way to ensure Jewish immigrants would not feel homesick.

Today, for many Israeli Jews, only the muezzin threatens this contrived idyll. His intermittent call to prayer emanates from the dozens of Palestinian communities that survived 1948’s mass expulsions and were not replaced with pine trees.

Like an unwelcome ghost, the sound now haunts neighboring Jewish towns.

The “muezzin bill” aims to eradicate the aural remnants of Palestine as completely as Israel’s forests obliterated its visible parts – and reassure Israelis that they live in Europe rather than the Middle East.

A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.

HOW THE ‘SUPER MOON’ AFFECTED THE SUPER LUNATICS IN ISRAEL

Olive harvest time is a traditional season for pogroms in the West Bank, but this was one of the most violent.

Image by Carlos Latuff

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 Israel’s #1 Lunatic

Image by Amos Biderman

Image by Amos Biderman

A Pogrom Shakes a Palestinian Village Strangled by Israeli Settlements

A dozen masked settlers wielding knives and clubs and yelling ‘death to Arabs’ attacked five Palestinian farmers who were harvesting olives; ‘They came to kill,’ one victim says.

Gideon Levy and Alex Levac

It was a pogrom.

The survivors are five congenial Palestinian farmers who speak broken Hebrew and work in construction in Israel, with valid entry permits. On weekends they cultivate what is left of their lands, most of which were plundered for the benefit of the settlements that choke their village, Janiya, outside Ramallah. They are convinced that they survived last Saturday’s attack only by a miracle.

“Pogrom” really is the only word that describes what they endured. “We will kill you!” the assailants shouted, as they beat the men over the head and on their bodies with clubs and iron pipes, and brandished serrated knives. The only “crime” of the Palestinians, who were in the midst of harvesting their olives when the settlers swooped down on them, was that they were Palestinians who had the temerity to work their land.

Olive harvest time is a traditional season for pogroms in the West Bank, but this was one of the most violent. No Israeli official condemned the assault, no one got upset. One victim needed 20 stitches in his head, another suffered a broken arm and shoulder, a third is limping, a fourth lost his front teeth. Only one managed to get away from the attackers, but he was also hobbled, when he injured his leg on the rocky terrain as he fled.

The farmers, who days later were still in shock from the experience, were evacuated by fellow villagers; the olives remain scattered on the ground. Now they are afraid to go back to the groves. This weekend, they promised themselves, they will send young people from Janiya to collect what was harvested and to complete the work. They themselves, their bodies and spirits battered, say they are incapable of doing anything.

The assailants, about a dozen masked settlers, are seen in a video taken by a local resident, Ahmed al-Mazlim, as they – apparently flushed with the excitement of their act – made their way back to their huts, which are scattered below the settlement of Neria, also known as North Talmon, between Modi’in and Ramallah. This was their “oneg Shabbat,” their Sabbath joy: descending into the valley and beating up people who were working their land, as innocent as they were helpless – possibly even with intent to kill. A peaceful weekend.

The settlers are seen climbing slowly back up to the huts of their unauthorized outpost, which is planted on the hillside below Neria. They are not in any hurry – after all, no one is going to catch them. Finally they sit down on the porch of one of the huts to quench their thirst with a canteen.

I’ve never before seen criminals leaving the scene of the crime with such indifference. Maybe they were exhausted from their labors – thrashing Arabs – tired but happy. Yotam Berger, the Haaretz reporter who was the first to publish the video, visited the huts the day after the pogrom. It was clear to him that settlers lived there, even though the structures were empty when he arrived. No arrests have been made so far, and past experience suggests that none will be made. The police are investigating.

Janiya, a small village of 1,400 souls in the central West Bank, made a living from its lands until most of them were grabbed by the nearby settlements, beginning in the late 1980s. Few regions are as dense with settlers as this one; few villages have had as much of their land plundered as Janiya. Of the original 50,000-60,000 dunams (12,500-15,000 acres) owned by its residents, only 7,000 remain in their hands. The village is being suffocated.

From a vantage point at its edge, we can view the valley in which the assault was perpetrated, and the nearby settlements. Our guide is Iyad Hadad, a field researcher for the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. Beneath us, the homes of Talmon A abut Janiya’s remaining lands, quite close to the villagers’ houses. Just stretch out your hand and touch them; one more expansion project and they’re inside Janiya.

To the right – southeast – is the settlement of Dolev, on behalf of whose residents Israel blocked the main road to Ramallah for years. Perched on the hill opposite is Talmon B; next to it is Talmon C; and there, on the horizon, lies Talmon D. An Israel Defense Forces base stands on the top of the hill, at a distance.

Every hilltop here poses another threat to the quiet village. Neria overlooks the olive grove belonging to the Abu Fuheida family and the terraced slopes leading down to it. The dwellings of the “hilltop youths” are scattered across the whole expanse, beneath the Talmons, dozens of meters apart from each other.

It’s quiet in the valley. Some of Janiya’s olive groves now lie on property owned by the settlements; when they are harvested, it’s done in coordination with the Israel Defense Forces. For example, olives were picked in Palestinian-tended parts of Talmon A last week. But the attack by the settlers was perpetrated in a location where coordination isn’t required, because it’s not on the property of any settlement.

This is the end of the harvesting season, and this is a wadi called Natashath. It’s Saturday morning, a beautiful day, and five members of the Abu Fuheida family – Sa’il, Hassan, Sabar, Sa’ad and Mohammed – descend to their family grove, where they have about 70 olive trees. It’s about 8:30; there are no other farmers around. They carry bags (“No knives,” one of them quickly makes clear) that are spread out on the ground to catch the fallen olives, along with a bottle of Coca-Cola, tomatoes, pita and cold cuts. This is not a good year for olives – the harvest has been meager.

They work until midday, sit down to eat and go back to the ladders. Their plan is to complete the harvest by evening. But then the assailants sweep down out of nowhere; the harvesters, up on ladders, heads amid the branches, don’t see them. Only Sa’il, at 57 the eldest of the group and the only one not on a ladder, is able to get away, only to be injured in the course of his panicky flight.

According to Sa’il and to his wounded brother Hassan, there were 10, perhaps 15 attackers. They looked young and robust. One of the four who assaulted Hassan wore glasses; Hassan saw only his eyes. He was the one who gave him the worst pummeling, adds Hassan. All were holding pipes, clubs, sticks or knives. There was also one who seemed to be a lookout: He stood atop the hill next to Neria, armed with a rifle, apparently observing the goings-on. “Kill the Arabs! Kill the Arabs!” the attackers shouted. “We will kill you, you sluts.”

Sa’il: “They were aggressive, violent, I’ve never seen an attack like it. They came to kill.”

The villagers scampered down from the ladders, straight into the hands of the attackers, who grabbed Sabar first, then Hassan, surrounding them – a few settlers for every Palestinian – and walloping them. Sabar was the first to lose consciousness, Hassan says he also passed out. The pogromists tried to hit them on the head, but Hassan protected his with his hands. His right hand is now bandaged, stitched up and in a sling, four of his teeth were knocked out and his lip was cut, too. He is barely functioning and his speech is slurred.

The attack went on for between five and 10 minutes. One of the cousins, Mohammed, managed to flee at one stage, after being slightly wounded, and he summoned help from the village. When the assailants left, the wounded were taken in ambulances and private cars to the Ramallah Government Hospital. Hassan relates that he regained consciousness in his brother’s house, where he had been taken by villagers before being evacuated to the hospital. He gets dizzy when he stands up. He was certain he was going to die, says Hassan, a construction worker in Rishon Letzion (“with a proper permit”).

Only Hassan and Sa’il were in the village when we visited this week (the other three victims had gone to Binyamin Region headquarters, to give testimony to the police.) Their home was packed with visitors offering words of comfort to the victims. The assailants are insane, their cousin Sahar tells us: “They hate the Arabs, they hate the smell of Arabs, they see an Arab and want to trample him underfoot. They want to kill us. They don’t want Arabs here. And they do whatever they feel like.”

We sat in the shade of the bougainvillea in the yard of the family house. I asked Hassan what he thought about what happened. A faint smile crossed his wounded lips, as he replied, “I don’t know what to think. This happens every year.”

Source and photos AT

SILENCING OF THE LAMBS IN JERUSALEM

The latest attempt to erase Palestine from the map was to silence the call for morning prayers in Jerusalem ….

This is what some Israelis found offensive …. simply meaning that God is great.

Islamic Call to Prayer at Dawn

Israeli authorities ban Muslim call for dawn prayer from 3 mosques in Jerusalem town

Israeli authorities reportedly banned the Muslim call to dawn prayer from being projected over loudspeakers in three different mosques in the Jerusalem district town of Abu Dis on Friday, according to local sources.

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Lawyer Bassam Bahr, head of a local committee in Abu Dis, told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided the town just before the dawn prayer on Friday.

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According to Bahr, Israeli forces raided the al-Rahman, al-Taybeh and al-Jamia mosques in the town, and informed the muezzins, the men responsible for the call to prayer that the call for dawn prayer through the loudspeakers was banned.
Bahr added that the forces did not provide any reason for the ban, and also prevented locals living in the eastern part of the town from reaching the Salah al-Din mosque for dawn prayers.
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Bahr condemned the “unjustified ban,” saying that “Israel attacks Palestinians in all aspects of their lives,” in the form of limiting free movement through the use of checkpoints, and through the disruption of daily life in the form of nightly detention raids.
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The events in Abu Dis came a day after a number of Israeli settlers from illegal settlement of Pisgat Zeev protested in front of the house of Israeli Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barakat over the ‘noise pollution’ caused by the Muslim call to prayer.
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A spokesperson for the Jerusalem municipality told Ma’an that Barkat, “in collaboration with the Jerusalem District police chief and local Muslim leadership, has developed a plan to protect the religious freedom of Muslim muezzin to announce the call to prayer, while ensuring reasonable quiet in Jerusalem’s residential areas.”
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The spokesperson went on to add that the municipality guidelines would include “increased instructions for muezzin operators regarding technical guidelines for optimal playback and sound amplification, increased mapping of city mosques, and continuous dialogue with local Muslim leadership.”
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Adnan al-Husseini, the Palestinian Authority (PA)-appointed governor of Jerusalem, told Ma’an at the time that the call to prayer — also known as the adhan, which is broadcast five times a day from mosques — was one of the main Muslim religious rituals and an integral part of Jerusalem’s identity. He said that Israeli demands to lower the sound of the adhan was a threat which had been issued several times before in Jerusalem.
Al-Husseini said that the sound of the adhan doesn’t rise above an agreed-upon decibel level, adding that Israeli settlers were not annoyed by the noise, but by the call to prayer as a reminder of Palestinian presence in Jerusalem.
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Meanwhile, Hatem Abd Al-Qader, a Fatah official in Charge of Jerusalem affairs, told Ma’an that Israel aimed to provoke Muslims by attempting to ban the call to prayer.
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Abd al-Qader said that the Israeli settlers’ protest against the adhan came amid constant violations and raids of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem’s Old City, and demolition of Muslim graves in Jerusalem, which he said were part of a broader Israeli plan to destroy the Palestinian Muslim and Christian identities of Jerusalem and replace them with a Jewish one, turning the Israeli-Palestinian political conflict into a religious one.
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Palestinian communities in occupied East Jerusalem — within the municipal boundaries and also beyond the wall in the occupied West Bank — and the larger Jerusalem district, have long been targeted by Israeli authorities in what has been denounced as a policy of “Judaization” of the holy city at the expense of other religious communities.
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This “Judaization” has been characterized by the continuous expansion of illegal Jewish-only settlements and a large-scale policy of demolition of Palestinian homes.
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The Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound has also been the stage of numerous tensions over the years, with Israeli forces imposing tight restrictions on Palestinian worshipers at the site.
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Many Palestinians fear that right-wing Israelis are attempting to reclaim the holy site, as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood.
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SOURCE

HOW BALFOUR’S ‘PROMISE’ AND BRITAIN DESTROYED PALESTINE

Ninety-nine years later, the British government is yet to possess the moral courage to take responsibility for what their government has done to the Palestinian people.  

Ninety-nine years later, Palestinians insist that their rights in Palestine cannot be dismissed, neither by Balfour, nor by his modern peers in “Her Majesty’s Government”.

"The Zionists claimed Palestine and renamed it 'Israel'" [Getty Images]

“The Zionists claimed Palestine and renamed it ‘Israel'” [Getty Images]

How Britain Destroyed the Palestinian Homeland

Ninety-nine years since Balfour’s “promise”, Palestinians insist that their rights in Palestine cannot be dismissed.

Ramzy Baroud

When I was a child growing up in a Gaza refugee camp, I looked forward to November 2. On that day, every year, thousands of students and camp residents would descend upon the main square of the camp, carrying Palestinian flags and placards, to denounce the Balfour Declaration.

Truthfully, my giddiness then was motivated largely by the fact that schools would inevitably shut down and, following a brief but bloody confrontation with the Israeli army, I would go home early to the loving embrace of my mother, where I would eat a snack and watch cartoons. 

At the time, I had no idea who Balfour actually was, and how his “declaration” all those years ago had altered the destiny of my family and, by extension, my life and the lives of my children as well.

All I knew was that he was a bad person and, because of his terrible deed, we subsisted in a refugee camp, encircled by a violent army and by an ever-expanding graveyard filled with “martyrs”.  

Decades later, destiny would lead me to visit the Whittingehame Church, a small parish in which Arthur James Balfour is now buried.  

While my parents and grandparents are buried in a refugee camp, an ever-shrinking space under a perpetual siege and immeasurable hardship, Balfour’s resting place is an oasis of peace and calmness. The empty meadow all around the church is large enough to host all the refugees in my camp.

Finally, I became fully aware of why Balfour was a “bad person”.   

Once Britain’s Prime Minister, then the Foreign Secretary from late 1916, Balfour had pledged my homeland to another people. That promise was made on November 2, 1917, on behalf of the British government in the form of a letter sent to the leader of the Jewish community in Britain, Walter Rothschild.  

At the time, Britain was not even in control of Palestine, which was still part of the Ottoman Empire. Either way, my homeland  was never Balfour’s to so casually transfer to anyone else. His letter read: 

“His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”  

He concluded, “I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.”  

Ironically, members of the British parliament have declared that the use of the term “Zionist” is both anti-Semitic and abusive.

The British government remains unrepentant after all these years. It has yet to take any measure of moral responsibility, however symbolic, for what it has done to the Palestinians. Worse, it is now busy attempting to control the very language used by Palestinians to identify those who have deprived them of their land and freedom.  

But the truth is, not only was Rothschild a Zionist, Balfour was, too. Zionism, then, before it deservedly became a swearword, was a political notion that Europeans prided themselves to be associated with.

In fact, just before he became Prime Minister, David Cameron declared, before the Conservative Friends of Israel meeting, that  he, too, was a Zionist. To some extent, being a Zionist remains a rite of passage for some Western leaders.  

Balfour was hardly acting on his own. True, the Declaration bears his name, yet, in reality, he was a loyal agent of an empire with massive geopolitical designs, not only concerning Palestine alone, but with Palestine as part of a larger Arab landscape.  

Just a year earlier, another sinister document was introduced, albeit secretly. It was endorsed by another top British diplomat, Mark Sykes and, on behalf of France, by François Georges-Picot. The Russians were informed of the agreement, as they too had received a piece of the Ottoman cake.  

The document indicated that, once the Ottomans were soundly defeated, their territories, including Palestine, would be split among the prospective victorious parties.  

The Sykes-Picot Agreement, also known as the Asia Minor Agreement, was signed in secret 100 years ago, two years into World War I. It signified the brutal nature of colonial powers that rarely associated land and resources with people that lived upon the land and owned those resources.  

The centrepiece of the agreement was a map that was marked with straight lines by a china graph pencil. The map largely determined the fate of the Arabs, dividing them in accordance with various haphazard assumptions of tribal and sectarian lines.  

Once the war was over, the loot was to be divided into spheres of influence:  

– France would receive areas marked (a), which included: the region of south-eastern Turkey, northern Iraq – including Mosel, most of Syria and Lebanon. 

– British-controlled areas were marked with the letter (b), which included: Jordan, southern Iraq, Haifa and Acre in Palestine and a coastal strip between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan. 

– Russia would be granted Istanbul, Armenia and the strategic Turkish Straits.  

The improvised map consisted not only of lines but also colours, along with language that attested to the fact that the two countries viewed the Arab region purely on materialistic terms, without paying the slightest attention to the possible repercussions of slicing up entire civilizations with a multifarious history of co-operation and conflict.

The agreement read, partly:  

“… in the blue area France, and in the red area Great Britain, shall be allowed to establish such direct or indirect administration or control as they desire and as they may think fit to arrange with the Arab state or confederation of Arab states.”  

The brown area, however, was designated as an international administration, the nature of which was to be decided upon after further consultation among Britain, France and Russia.  The Sykes-Picot negotiations finished in March 1916 and were official, although secretly signed on May 19, 1916. World War I concluded on November 11, 1918, after which the division of the Ottoman Empire began in earnest.

British and French mandates were extended over divided Arab entities, while Palestine was granted to the Zionist movement a year later, when Balfour conveyed the British government’s promise, sealing the fate of Palestine to live in perpetual war and turmoil. 

INTERACTIVE: A century on – Why Arabs resent Sykes-Picot

The idea of Western “peacemakers” and “honest-brokers”, who are very much a party in every Middle Eastern conflict, is not new. British betrayal of Arab aspirations goes back many decades. They used the Arabs as pawns in their Great Game against other colonial contenders, only to betray them later on, while still casting themselves as friends bearing gifts.

Nowhere else was this hypocrisy on full display as was in the case of Palestine. Starting with the first wave of Zionist Jewish migration to Palestine in 1882, European countries helped to facilitate the movement of illegal settlers and resources, where the establishment of many colonies, large and small, was afoot.    

So when Balfour sent his letter to Rothschild, the idea of a Jewish homeland in Palestine was very much plausible.

Still, many supercilious promises were being made to the Arabs during the Great War years, as self-imposed Arab leadership sided with the British in their war against the Ottoman Empire. Arabs were promised instant independence, including that of the Palestinians.  

The understanding among Arab leaders was that Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations was to apply to Arab provinces that were ruled by the Ottomans. Arabs were told that they were to be respected as “a sacred trust of civilization”, and their communities were to be recognised as “independent nations”.  

Palestinians wanted to believe that they were also included in that civilization sacredness, and were deserving of independence, too. Their conduct in support of the Pan-Arab Congress, as voting delegates in July 1919, which elected Faisal as a King of a state comprising Palestine, Lebanon, Transjordan and Syria, and their continued support of Sharif Hussein of Mecca, were all expressions of their desire for the long-coveted sovereignty.

When the intentions of the British and their rapport with the Zionists became too apparent, Palestinians rebelled, a rebellion that has never ceased, 99 years later, for the horrific consequences of British colonialism and the eventual complete Zionist takeover of Palestine are still felt after all these years.  

Paltry attempts to pacify Palestinian anger were to no avail, especially after the League of Nations Council in July 1922 approved the terms of the British Mandate over Palestine – which was originally granted to Britain in April 1920 – without consulting the Palestinians at all, who would disappear from the British and international radar, only to reappear as negligible rioters, troublemakers, and obstacles to the joint British-Zionist colonial concoctions.  

Despite occasional assurances to the contrary, the British intention of ensuring the establishment of an exclusively Jewish state in Palestine was becoming clearer with time.

The Balfour Declaration was hardly an aberration, but had, indeed, set the stage for the full-scale ethnic cleansing that followed, three decades later. 

In his book, Before Their Diaspora, Palestinian scholar Walid Khalidi captured the true collective understanding among Palestinians regarding what had befallen their homeland nearly a century ago: 

“The Mandate, as a whole, was seen by the Palestinians as an Anglo-Zionist condominium and its terms as instrument for the implementation of the Zionist programme; it had been imposed on them by force, and they considered it to be both morally and legally invalid. The Palestinians constituted the vast majority of the population and owned the bulk of the land. Inevitably, the ensuing struggle centreed on this status quo. The British and the Zionists were determined to subvert and revolutionise it, the Palestinians to defend and preserve it.”  

In fact, that history remains in constant replay: The Zionists claimed Palestine and renamed it “Israel”; the British continue to support them, although never ceasing to pay lip service to the Arabs; the Palestinian people remain a nation that is geographically fragmented between refugee camps, in the diaspora, militarily occupied, or treated as second-class citizens in a country upon which their ancestors dwelt since time immemorial.  

While Balfour cannot be blamed for all the misfortunes that have befallen Palestinians since he communicated his brief but infamous letter, the notion that his “promise” embodied – that of complete disregard of the aspirations of the Palestinian Arab people – is handed from one generation of British diplomats to the next, the same way that Palestinian resistance to colonialism is also spread across generations.

In his essay in the Al-Ahram Weekly, entitled “Truth and Reconciliation“, the late Professor Edward Said wrote: “Neither the Balfour Declaration nor the Mandate ever specifically concede that Palestinians had political, as opposed to civil and religious, rights in Palestine.

The idea of inequality between Jews and Arabs was, therefore, built into British – and, subsequently, Israeli and US – policy from the start.”

That inequality continues, thus the perpetuation of the conflict. What the British, the early Zionists, the Americans and subsequent Israeli governments failed to understand, and continue to ignore at their own peril, is that there can be no peace without justice and equality in Palestine; and that Palestinians will continue to resist, as long as the reasons that inspired their rebellion nearly a century ago, remain in place.  

Ninety-nine years later, the British government is yet to possess the moral courage to take responsibility for what their government has done to the Palestinian people.  

Ninety-nine years later, Palestinians insist that their rights in Palestine cannot be dismissed, neither by Balfour, nor by his modern peers in “Her Majesty’s Government”.

More photos and videos at SOURCE

60th ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF PALESTINE

Sixty years is a long time to mourn a death, even a cold-blooded murder. It is even longer when you must live among those, and under the system of those, who murdered your loved ones. Had this been merely an isolated incident of the Israeli military machine killing Palestinians, one may have already regulated it to the history books. But it was and is not.

Photographs of the victims are displayed at the Kafr Qassem Massacre Museum. (Photo credit: Dylan Collins)

Photographs of the victims are displayed at the Kafr Qassem Massacre Museum. (Photo credit: Dylan Collins)

The Almighty Military Order

Forty-eight civilians, 1 fetus and 10 pennies

By Sam Bahour

If your Palestinian neighbors and friends seem slightly on edge today, please excuse them. October 29th brings back horrific memories to Palestinians everywhere, young and old. It was 60 years ago today that a scene of cold-blooded murder fell upon the hill-top Palestinian village of Kafr Qassem (also written Kfar Kassim), located in Israel about 20 km east of Tel Aviv, near the Green Line (1949 Armistice Agreement’s demarcation line) separating Israel and the West Bank. It was in Kafr Qassem on this day in 1956 where the Israeli military literally mowed down in cold blood 48 innocent civilians, one being a pregnant woman whose fetus is counted as the 49th victim. It was said that all of this was done in the service of the almighty Israeli “military order,” which no one dared to challenge.

Sixty years is a long time to mourn a death, even a cold-blooded murder. It is even longer when you must live among those, and under the system of those, who murdered your loved ones. Had this been merely an isolated incident of the Israeli military machine killing Palestinians, one may have already regulated it to the history books. But it was and is not.

There were other massacres prior to Kafr Qasssem, such as the case of Deir Yassin in 1948. Since that dark day in Kafr Qassem there have been numerous other incidents, too many to list. One that comes to mind is 13-year old Iman al-Homs who, in October 2004, was walking home from school in Gaza when an Israeli soldier emptied his magazine into her after she was wounded and lay on the ground. The soldier was caught on radio communications saying he was “confirming the kill.” The most recent example that comes to mind is the Israeli soldier caught on camera in Hebron this past March as he executed a wounded and immobilized Palestinian man lying on the ground by firing a bullet into his head as his fellow soldiers casually watched on.

Unlike today, decades ago Israel did undertake more serious investigations of actions of its military. This is not to say that justice was ever served—it rarely is. Such a landmark investigation was the Israeli Kahan Commission, established by the Israeli government on September 28, 1982, to investigate the Sabra and Shatila massacre (September 16–18, 1982) where 1,000-3,000 (exact number is disputed) Palestinians were slaughtered over three days.

The Kahan Commission was chaired by the Israeli President of the Supreme Court, Yitzhak Kahan. Its other two members were Israeli Supreme Court Judge Aharon Barak and Major general (res.) Yona Efrat. The Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon was found to bear personal responsibility. Sharon’s negligence in protecting the civilian population of Beirut, which had come under Israeli control, resulted in a recommendation that Sharon be dismissed as Defense Minister. Although Sharon grudgingly resigned as Defense Minister, he remained in the Cabinet as a Minister without Portfolio. Years later, Sharon would be elected Israel’s Prime Minister.

Back to Kafr Qassem.

The Israeli English newspaper, Haaretz, reported in a story by correspondent Ofer Aderet (60 years after massacre, Kafr Qasem doesn’t want an apology from the Israeli government, October 28, 2016) that, “In the 60 years since the [Kafr Qasem] carnage Israel’s attitude has been complicated. Those involved in it were court martialed, convicted and some sentenced at first to long prison terms [these “long terms” were less than what the law stipulated for premeditated murder]. [Israeli] Judge Benjamin Halevy coined the phrase “a blatantly illegal order” in his verdict. The instruction to Israel Defense Forces soldiers that they are obliged to refuse an order “that has a black flag flying over it” has become part of the Kafr Qasem legacy.”

The Haaretz story goes on, “But the convicted parties’ sentence was soon commuted by the chief of staff, they were pardoned by the president and released from jail. The most senior defendant, Col. Issachar Shadmi, commander of the brigade in charge of the area, was sentenced to a symbolic fine of 10 pennies for exceeding authority. Major Shmuel Malinki, commander of the Border Patrol battalion, testified at the trial that Shadmi had ordered him to enforce the curfew with gunshots. Asked what would happen to those who return to the village after the curfew, Kedmi said Shadmi had said “may God have mercy on their soul.””

And maybe most shocking of all coming from an Israeli newspaper is that, “The comparison between the Kafr Qasem massacre and the Holocaust was first made at the trial, when the [Israeli] judge asked one of the defendants if he would have justified a Nazi soldier who was obeying orders.” The Haaretz correspondent continues, “In 1986, 30 years after the massacre, Shalom Ofer, one of the convicted soldiers, said in an interview to Ha’ir: “We were like the Germans. They stopped trucks, took the Jews off and shot them. What we did is the same. We were obeying orders like a German soldier during the war, when he was ordered to slaughter Jews.””

Many, especially those in the Jewish community in Israel and abroad, will rightfully find the above words hard to swallow. I don’t blame them. This horrendous act was revolting and when undertaken in “your” name it makes one sick to their stomach.

Aderet’s article offers but a glimpse into the legal proceedings surrounding Kafr Qassem. One of the first people to document those proceedings wasattorney Sabri Jiryis in his landmark book, The Arabs in Israel, published in Haifa in Hebrew in 1966. A fuller account of the testimonies recorded by the Israeli commanders and soldiers who took part in this killing spree can be found printed here [with the author’s permission] in English. Warning: it’s a disturbing read.

And this, my friends, is the buried past and not so buried present, of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), “the most moral army in the world.” It is imperative that we all redouble our efforts to not make it its future as well, military order or not.

 

Originally posted AT

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Commemorating Kafr Qasim Massacre at its 60th Anniversary

THE DEAL TO ERASE PALESTINE COMPLETELY

The clearest message from Israel’s new aid package is one delivered to the Palestinians: Washington sees no pressing strategic interest in ending the occupation. It stood up to Netanyahu over the Iran deal but will not risk a damaging clash with Israel and its loyalists in Congress over Palestinian statehood.

Image by Carlos Latuff

Clearest message from new Israel aid package is that US sees no pressing strategic interest in ending the occupation

Clearest message from new Israel aid package is that US sees no pressing strategic interest in ending the occupation

US aid deal gives green light to Israel’s erasure of Palestine

The announcement last week by the United States of the largest military aid package in its history – to Israel – was a win for both sides.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu could boast that his lobbying had boosted aid from $3.1 billion to $3.8bn a year – a 22 per cent increase – for a decade starting in 2019.

Netanyahu has presented this as a rebuff to those who accuse him of jeopardising Israeli security interests with his government’s repeated affronts to the White House.

In the past weeks alone, defence minister Avigdor Lieberman has compared last year’s nuclear deal between Washington and Iran with the 1938 Munich pact, which bolstered Hitler; and Netanyahu has implied that US opposition to settlement expansion is the same as support for the “ethnic cleansing” of Jews.

American president Barack Obama, meanwhile, hopes to stifle his own critics who insinuate that he is anti-Israel. The deal should serve as a fillip too for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic party’s candidate to succeed Obama in November’s election.

In reality, however, the Obama administration has quietly punished Netanyahu for his misbehaviour. Israeli expectations of a $4.5bn-a-year deal were whittled down after Netanyahu stalled negotiations last year as he sought to recruit Congress to his battle against the Iran deal.

In fact, Israel already receives roughly $3.8bn – if Congress’s assistance on developing missile defence programmes is factored in. Notably, Israel has been forced to promise not to approach Congress for extra funds.

Netanyahu’s agreement to such terms has incensed Israeli loyalists in Congress such as Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who had been fighting Netanyahu’s corner to win an even larger aid handout from US taxpayers. He accused the Israeli prime minister on Friday of having “pulled the rug from under us”.

As Ehud Barak, Netanyahu’s former defence minister, also pointed out in a series of TV interviews in Israel, the deal fails to take into account either inflation or the dollar’s depreciation against the shekel.

A bigger blow still is the White House’s demand to phase out a special exemption that allowed Israel to spend nearly 40 per cent of aid locally on weapon and fuel purchases. Israel will soon have to buy all its armaments from the US, ending what amounted to a subsidy to its own arms industry.

Netanyahu preferred to sign the deal now rather than wait till the next president is installed, even though Clinton and her Republican challenger, Donald Trump, are expected to be even more craven towards Israel. That appears to reflect Netanyahu’s fear that the US political environment will be more uncertain after the election and could lead to long delays in an agreement, and apprehension about the implications for Israel of Trump’s general opposition to foreign aid.

Nonetheless, Washington’s renewed military largesse – in the face of almost continual insults – inevitably fuels claims that the Israeli tail is wagging the US dog. Even the New York Times has described the aid package as “too big”.

Since the 1973 war, Israel has received at least $100bn in military aid, with more assistance hidden from view. Back in the 1970s, Washington paid half of Israel’s military budget. Today it still foots a fifth of the bill, despite Israel’s economic success.

But the US expects a return on its massive investment. As the late Israeli politician-general Ariel Sharon once observed, Israel has been a US “aircraft carrier” in the Middle East, acting as the regional bully and carrying out operations that benefit Washington.

Almost no one implicates the US in Israeli attacks that wiped out Iraq and Syria’s nuclear programmes. A nuclear-armed Iraq or Syria, however, would have deterred later US-backed moves at regime overthrow, as well as countering the strategic advantage Israel derives from its own large nuclear arsenal.

In addition, Israel’s US-sponsored military prowess is a triple boon to the US weapons industry, the country’s most powerful lobby. Public funds are siphoned off to let Israel buy goodies from American arms makers. That, in turn, serves as a shop window for other customers and spurs an endless and lucrative game of catch-up in the rest of the Middle East.

The first F-35 fighter jets to arrive in Israel in December – their various components produced in 46 US states – will increase the clamour for the cutting-edge warplane.

Israel is also a “front-line laboratory”, as former Israeli army negotiator Eival Gilady admitted at the weekend, that develops and field-tests new technology Washington can later use itself.

The US is planning to buy back the missile interception system Iron Dome – which neutralises battlefield threats of retaliation – it largely paid for. Israel works closely too with the US in developing cyber­warfare, such as the Stuxnet worm that damaged Iran’s civilian nuclear programme.

But the clearest message from Israel’s new aid package is one delivered to the Palestinians: Washington sees no pressing strategic interest in ending the occupation. It stood up to Netanyahu over the Iran deal but will not risk a damaging clash with Israel and its loyalists in Congress over Palestinian statehood.

Some believe that Obama signed the aid agreement to win the credibility necessary to overcome his domestic Israel lobby and pull a rabbit from the hat: an initiative, unveiled shortly before he leaves office, that corners Netanyahu into making peace.

Hopes have been raised by an expected meeting at the United Nations in New York on Wednesday. But their first talks in 10 months are planned only to demonstrate the unity necessary to confound critics of the aid deal.

If Obama really wanted to pressure Netanyahu, he would have used the aid agreement as leverage. Now Netanyahu need not fear US financial retaliation, even as he intensifies effective annexation of the West Bank.

Netanyahu has drawn the right lesson from the aid deal – he can act again the Palestinians with continuing impunity and lots of US military hardware.

#InGaza ~~ A POEM TO MAKE YOU WEEP

This poem was written by a German friend, Christopher Ben Kushka, a courageous activist for human rights and Palestinian liberation . It is not easy to speak out for Palestine in Germany. He is a teacher who is having a very hard time , threatened by Benjamin Weinthal and the lunatics and ideologues trying to harm him. He writes that 85% of Germans are indifferent or think it is a 50:50 conflict. Like me, he has been dropped like a hot potato for his views considered extreme.  He is also shut down from taking part in public discourse.

Bansky graffiti

Bansky graffiti

Here is a heartbreaking poem Christopher wrote at the height of the Gaza massacre in 2014

I want Palestinians to die

I want Palestinians to worry
about
which career to choose?
where to go on vacation, which country to travel to first?

I want Palestinians to despair
over the sun having set already
when they arrive at the beach to BBQ with family and friends

I want Palestinians toddlers and kids to cry
over a broken toy
and then to stroll on to another day full of adventures

I want Palestinians to battle
the challenges inside their own society
in a country based on justice and rights and peace
with none of us well-meaning friends interfering

I want Palestinians to die
a calm death
after a fullfilled and dignified life
after doing the deeds and praying the prayers
and working the work and
watching the next generations grow and prosper

a calm death they shall die
with a smile on their face
and an Alhamdulillah! on their lips

Click HERE to see a report written by the poet for Mondoweiss

CAUGHT ON VIDEO ~~ LINEUP OF PALESTINIAN CHILDREN

An Israeli soldier searches a 15 year old boy in Hebron. One of the many incidents that takes place in Hebron that many Israelis don't know about.

An Israeli soldier searches a 15 year old boy in Hebron. One of the many incidents that takes place in Hebron that many Israelis don’t know about.

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This video shows Israeli occupation forces raiding the home of Karam Maswadeh in the West Bank city of Hebron.

Combatants from the Israeli Border Police enter the house and demand the whereabouts of Maswadeh’s son. Unable to find the child, the soldiers seize two other boys, aged 11 and 12.

Israeli soldiers raid house looking for 8-year-old

Ali Abunimah

This video shows Israeli occupation forces raiding  the home of Karam Maswadeh in the West Bank city of Hebron.

It was filmed on 10 August by an international volunteer and published by the human rights group B’Tselem on Monday.

Combatants from the Israeli Border Police enter the house and demand the whereabouts of Maswadeh’s son. Unable to find the child, the soldiers seize two other boys, aged 11 and 12.

The boys are then marched over to a checkpoint where an Israeli settler armed with a rifle is waiting with his son.

The Border Police commander asks the settler and his son if they recognize the Palestinian boys. When they say they do not, the boys are released.

According to B’Tselem, occupation forces later picked up three other Palestinian children, aged 8, 11 and 13, and repeated the same procedure.

This was in connection with a fight that reportedly took place earlier that day between Palestinian children and Israeli settlers.

“Fights between Palestinian and settler children are commonplace in downtown Hebron, where Israel imposes a regime of segregation, causing systematic and extensive harm to the Palestinian population,” B’Tselem states.

Settlers in Hebron habitually harass and assault Palestinians with impunity, often under army protection.

In July, an Israeli soldier was filmed assaulting a Palestinian girl and confiscating her bicycle apparently because she was playing on a street that Israel has designated for the exclusive use of Jews.

According to Maswadeh’s testimony to B’Tselem, the Israeli soldiers later came back to his house at 2am to arrest his 8-year-old son. The father and son were then driven to the nearby settlement of Kiryat Arba where occupation forces wanted to interrogate the boy without his father present. Maswadeh said he refused.

“The video footage – showing Israeli security forces working in the service of the Hebron settlers and launching a night-time raid to locate an 8-year-old boy – highlights the disregard shown by Israeli authorities for the legal rights afforded to minors,” B’Tselem states. “Children below the age of criminal responsibility must not be detained for questioning, and certainly not in the middle of the night.”

The group also condemned Israel’s attempt to interrogate Maswadeh’s son without his parents present.

Sharp contrast

B’Tselem adds: “The immense efforts mounted to locate Palestinians suspected of harming settlers contrast sharply with the near absence of action to protect Palestinians from violence by settlers, be they minors or adults, or to uphold the rights of Palestinian children below the age of criminal responsibility.”

Recently, B’Tselem announced it would no longer cooperate with Israeli investigations into attacks by its soldiers and settlers on Palestinians, calling the military law enforcement system a sham.

“As of today,” B’Tselem executive director Hagai El-Ad wrote on 25 May, “we will no longer refer complaints to this system, and we will call on the Palestinian public not to do so either.”

“We will no longer aid a system that whitewashes investigations and serves as a fig leaf for the occupation.”

Abuse of children

The raid into a family home seen in the video above is routine in Hebron, as are night raids.

Harrowing video filmed last year shows Israeli soldiers raiding the bedrooms of Palestinian children in the middle of the night.

After forcing the children – at least one as young as four – out of their beds, the video shows the soldiers in full combat gear, armed with rifles and hand grenades, photographing and interrogating them.

Former Israeli soldiers have revealed that such raids in villages around the West Bank are often part of “mapping missions.”

Armed soldiers surround a Palestinian family’s home in the dead of night. A squad bangs on the front door, waking everyone up. Once inside, the soldiers gather the residents into a single room.

The family’s ID cards are inspected and recorded, as is how everyone is related, and their phone numbers.

These tactics rarely make headlines, but they are part of the fabric of a regime of seemingly permanent Israeli military rule over millions of Palestinians.

These kinds of abuses against children prompted 20 members of Congress to write to President Barack Obama earlier this year urging him to hold Israel accountable.

The lawmakers wrote of their “profound concern” regarding Israel’s ongoing abuse of Palestinian children, especially during their arrest, interrogation and imprisonment, adding that “ignoring the trauma being inflicted on millions of Palestinian children undermines our American values.”

#InPalestine ~~ THE POLITICS OF WATER AND SEWAGE

The lack of adequate sewage treatment poses a serious risk to public health. During the winter rains, wastewater overflows its containment pipes, creating a higher risk of contaminating groundwater.

A Palestinian woman walks next to sewage water flowing from Israeli settlements in the West Bank village of Kafr Thulth, near Qalqilya, December 2012. (Ahmad Al-Bazz ActiveStills)

A Palestinian woman walks next to sewage water flowing from Israeli settlements in the West Bank village of Kafr Thulth, near Qalqilya, December 2012. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/ ActiveStills)

West Bank villagers suffer from sewer politics

Abu Mazen Square has become a bit of a joke for Palestinian residents in the occupied West Bank town of Bruqin.

To understand why, it is imperative to delve into recent history.

Two years ago, the site of what is now a public square was an open cesspool. Wastewater pumped out of the nearby Israeli settlement Ariel, one of the largest in the West Bank. This wastewater mingled with overflow from nearby Salfit.

Salfit, a town of some 9,000 Palestinians, has spent the past 22 years trying to update its sewage management system, according to chief municipal engineer Saleh Afaneh, but has not been able to get the necessary permits from the Israeli military authorities. Consequently, wastewater has been flowing down freely, joining the natural stream that runs through Bruqin village.

The Salfit government has little power to reduce the amount of sewage entering Bruqin and the neighboring Palestinian village Kufr al-Dik, but it has supplied a few kilometers of pipeline to keep the mess underground in the most densely populated parts of the two towns.

While only four out of 15 planned kilometers of pipeline have been built so far, the Palestinian Authority took the opportunity to build a lavishly decorated new town square, dedicated to Mahmoud Abbas, the PA president, directly over the line, giving Bruqin’s local residents Abu Mazen Square. A kilometer away, the sewage continues to flow openly.

The story of Abu Mazen Square is an execrable reminder for many in Bruqin that their problems are being glossed over by the Palestinian Authority. While sewage leaks have plagued the village for years, the PA and its Ministry of Health have offered a minimal amount of relief, and have abandoned attempts to advocate for rural communities suffering from wastewater mismanagement.

The PA might claim that all is well, but beneath the surface the situation stinks.

Sewer politics

Wastewater management is a problem in the West Bank.

Approximately half of Israel’s environmental regulations do not apply in the occupied territory. With such lax legislation, companies producing metals, chemicals and plastics flock to settlement industrial zones, such as West Ariel and Barkan. Both Israeli and international companies are drawn to areas where they can pollute more freely, often at the expense of surrounding Palestinian communities.

The Oslo accords signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in the mid-1990s saw the West Bank carved up into areas A, B and C with the Palestinian Authority exercising a diminishing level of control over the internal affairs of Palestinian communities in those areas.

For project approval in Area C — the some 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli civilian and military control — Palestinian towns and villages must apply to the Israeli body which oversees civilian affairs in occupied territory.

It is the Israeli military that ultimately decides whether Palestinians can build new sewage infrastructure and wastewater treatment plants in places like Salfit where, according to Afaneh, there is no available land in areas A and B, where the Palestinian Authority exercises civilian control, for such projects.

But the Israeli authorities refuse the vast majority of applications. Making matters worse, since the beginning of 2016, the Israeli military has demolished more than 50 water and sanitation structures in Area C.

The lack of adequate sewage treatment poses a serious risk to public health. During the winter rains, wastewater overflows its containment pipes, creating a higher risk of contaminating groundwater.

In the summer, when the West Bank faces massive water cuts imposed by Mekorot, Israel’s national water company, Palestinians are forced to turn to polluted water sources to meet needs.

Farmers and herders in the area also report that free-flowing sewage damages crops and can poison animals, undermining livelihoods and negatively affecting the quality of food available in rural communities.

Crisis? What crisis?

One wouldn’t know any of this, however, from talking to Palestinian Authority officials.

Haytham Mansour is director of the Ministry of Health in the Salfit region. Mansour refused to be drawn out on whether there is a water crisis in the area. While he acknowledged both water cuts and sewage leaks, he was adamant that both were under control and did not cause undue suffering in the Salfit region.

He insisted that his department tests local water on a weekly or monthly basis. Yet he would not share the findings of those reports or even confirm that the ministry kept records on water quality.

Mansour did concede that the overflow of sewage, combined with the lack of access to potable water, could hypothetically put communities at risk from anything from scabies to Hepatitis A, but maintained that the Salfit region had not seen any significant increase in those maladies.

But his denials, and those of his deputies, seem to fly in the face of evidence collected independently.

Mohammad Bishr, a doctor with the Palestinian Medical Relief Society’s Salfit branch, is concerned. As a participant in a mobile clinic program, he regularly visits both Kufr al-Dik and Bruqin to offer free consultation and primary health care services to underserved communities.

In an interview with The Electronic Intifada, Bishr said that since the beginning of June, the nongovernmental organization has noted an increase in the number of patients with scabies, gastroenteritis and gastrointestinal amebiasis, a miniature epidemic that repeats itself every summer. He attributed this pattern to a lack of proper sanitation and the domestic use of polluted drinking water.

Bishr also noted that patients were concerned over the size and frequency of mosquito bites they sustained in recent years. Small pools of sewage provide optimal breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

“We’ve started to see this every time the water goes [out],” noted Bishr. “Every summer, it gets worse.”

Bassam Madi, another doctor with the Palestinian Medical Relief Society mobile clinic program, worries that if the sewage crisis is not adequately addressed, there will be further increases in communicable diseases.

Crucial evidence

But to address a problem, it first needs to be acknowledged.

With no access to water quality reports from the Ministry of Health, local clinicians and public health officials are at a disadvantage. The Palestinian Medical Relief Society and local government officials have access to just a single independent report, obtained after an Israeli activist sent samples of water from polluted streams outside the Ariel settlement and the Barkan Industrial Zone to Aminolab in Israel.

Some samples showed high levels of organic waste, consistent with untreated industrial waste. Others showed waste consistent with unrestricted dumping. Additional samples showed evidence of intermittent filtration.

Aminolab noted in its report, seen by The Electronic Intifada, that this level of contamination in certain areas deviates from the Inbar standards, the Israeli regulations on water quality. While the report is not comprehensive, it includes enough detail to confirm that industrial pollutants from settlements are entering water used for agricultural and household purposes by thousands of Palestinians in the Salfit district.

The mayors of Bruqin and Kufr al-Dik have been equally dependent on the lone water quality report from Aminolab and confirmed to The Electronic Intifada that the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health had taken almost no measures to address the wastewater problem in their towns.

Jamal al-Dik, the mayor of Kufr al-Dik, said that in 30 months of construction, the PA had only completed a little more than a quarter of the planned 15 kilometers of the sewage diversion pipeline that gave rise to Abu Mazen Square. Currently, this pipeline is only keeping sewage at bay in the most heavily populated areas.

The mayor did say that the ministry this year had supplied Kufr al-Dik with a small shipment of mosquito spray, though not enough to supply every household. The health ministry, he said, had been ignoring the escalating public health threat for years.

“This is an old story, but also our future,” the mayor added.

After years of trying to hold a public health crisis at bay with minimal assistance from the ministry, local residents and health workers are losing confidence in finding a solution to the sewage crisis, and losing confidence in their government.

Politics of water

The politicization of water in the West Bank is nothing new.

Under the Oslo accords, a Joint Water Committee, with equal numbers of Palestinians and Israelis, was established to oversee water and sanitation issues in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. While representation within the committee was hypothetically equal, Israel’s military control over Area C gave Israel effective veto power over the committee’s decisions. As a result, almost no Palestinian proposals to the joint committee ever came to fruition.

In 2010, Palestinian Authority representatives stopped giving their approval to Israeli proposals at the joint committee in protest. The Palestinian delegation failed, however, to combine their protest with any strategy to mitigate the effects of stressed water infrastructure for the Palestinian population.

The Israeli military occupation puts a burden on the Palestinian Authority’s health ministry as well. The World Health Organization estimates that in 2015 the ministry was unable to procure an estimated 30 percent of essential medicines, and 25 to 30 percent of medical equipment and laboratory supplies, due to budget shortfalls as well as Israeli restrictions on movement, which limit the flow of medical goods and personnel.

In addition to restricting access to medical supplies, the violence of the military occupation mean hospital beds are filled with those who have been injured by Israeli soldiers and settlers. The restricted access to potable water simply adds more pressure on already overstressed Palestinian public health institutions.

The Ministry of Health could face political consequences for protesting the causes of the sewage crisis. The ministry’s budget for 2015 was some $323 million, according to the World Health Organization. During the same year, the US government agency USAID donated $7.6 million to the Palestinian Authority for basic health projects and $45 million for water and sanitation.

The health ministry remains caught between acknowledging the overtly political causes of a public health crisis, and the political risk of taking concrete action against the occupation.The US government has previously set a precedent in using aid as a bargaining chip against the PA as possible punishment for state-building activities.

The Palestinian Medical Relief Society’s Bassam Madi believes that the problem of a lack of access to potable water will be solved when the PA, and its donors, are ready to address the matter as a public health crisis, not as a political issue.

“Let’s address the human issue, let’s address the environmental issue,” he said during a break from his work with the mobile clinic.

But, if Abu Mazen Square is any indication, the PA seems more interested in keeping up political appearances, whatever the underlying reality. The needs of vulnerable villagers in the Salfit district do not compete with this priority.

At present, the Palestinian Authority is addressing neither the “human issue” described by Madi nor the underlying political reality of Israeli control and abuse of the environment.

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