GAZA ~~ THE AFTERMATH // IN PHOTOS

Spoof by Latuff

Spoof by Latuff

As Israel continues to whine about the prospects of peace with Iran, the people of Gaza continue to suffer from the war last summer ….

A shoe belonging to Hala Bassam Madi, 3, lies in the ruins of her home in Rafah, southern Gaza, on 19 November 2014. The girl died in an Israeli air strike on 1 August 2014 that also killed her father Bassam, her mother Eman and her 2-year-old sister Jana. Her 3-year-old cousin Yousef was also killed, and a great-uncle later died of his wounds. Today, many of the ruins of destroyed homes have not been cleared and personal belongings remain scattered in the ruins.

A shoe belonging to Hala Bassam Madi, 3, lies in the ruins of her home in Rafah, southern Gaza, on 19 November 2014. The girl died in an Israeli air strike on 1 August 2014 that also killed her father Bassam, her mother Eman and her 2-year-old sister Jana. Her 3-year-old cousin Yousef was also killed, and a great-uncle later died of his wounds. Today, many of the ruins of destroyed homes have not been cleared and personal belongings remain scattered in the ruins.

Remembering Gaza’s victims

Documenting Israel’s military assault on Gaza last summer, I witnessed what can only be called atrocities: hospitals and morgues, overwhelmed by the constant flow of casualties; nights of terror under widespread and indiscriminate bombing; attacks on hospitals, ambulances and United Nations schools used as shelters; entire neighborhoods destroyed.

Of all the horrifying statistics, one is particularly shocking: 142 families lost three members or more in single Israeli strikes. I started the project #ObliteratedFamilies — now available for download and exhibitioning all over the world — to document such loss. It began as a project about the victims, but soon became also a project about the survivors. How can one cope with loss on this scale?

With the support of the Gaza-based human rights group Al Mezan, I met more than 50 families profoundly affected by Israel’s deadly attacks. I have never been exposed to such pain. Months after the end of the attacks, many Palestinians I met were still traumatized and in deep grief. Many also expressed their doubt of any prospect for justice for the crimes committed against their loved ones.

Some broke down and cried during our interview, others expressed their anger or were still in shock and unable to comprehend what had happened to them.

When I visited the homes of these mourning families, the memory of their lost kin was always present, though in varying ways. In some homes, their photos were displayed atop TV sets or on the walls. Sometimes, the victims’ clothes and belongings were as they left them, months after their death, as if they would soon return. In other homes, family members constantly looked at photos and videos of their loved ones on their mobile phones.

This collection of photographs contributes to the effort to remember Gaza’s victims, and to promote the calls for justice of the survivors.

Anne Paq is a French freelance photographer and member of the photography collective ActiveStills.

A poster honors the memory of Abbas Helmi Abu Rijeila, 20, seen in the street of Khuzaa, southern Gaza, on 16 November 2014. The business student was killed along with his father and sister in an Israeli missile attack on their home on 27 July 2014. Abbas was killed immediately; his sister Nehad was evacuated on a donkey cart as the ambulance could not reach them. She died a few day later in an Egyptian hospital.

A poster honors the memory of Abbas Helmi Abu Rijeila, 20, seen in the street of Khuzaa, southern Gaza, on 16 November 2014. The business student was killed along with his father and sister in an Israeli missile attack on their home on 27 July 2014. Abbas was killed immediately; his sister Nehad was evacuated on a donkey cart as the ambulance could not reach them. She died a few day later in an Egyptian hospital.

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A photo of Afnan Wesam Shuhaibar, 8, in her Gaza City room on 17 November 2014. Afnan was killed together with two of her cousins, aged 8 and 11, when they were feeding the pigeons on the roof on 17 July 2014. Wesam, her father, says that she was an excellent pupil.

A photo of Afnan Wesam Shuhaibar, 8, in her Gaza City room on 17 November 2014. Afnan was killed together with two of her cousins, aged 8 and 11, when they were feeding the pigeons on the roof on 17 July 2014. Wesam, her father, says that she was an excellent pupil.

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A photo stored on a mobile phone shows members of the al-Najjar family in the Bani Suheila, Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, on 19 November 2014. Nineteen members of the family, including 10 children, were killed in an Israeli attack on the night of 26 July 2014.

A photo stored on a mobile phone shows members of the al-Najjar family in the Bani Suheila, Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, on 19 November 2014. Nineteen members of the family, including 10 children, were killed in an Israeli attack on the night of 26 July 2014.

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The office of Ibrahim Deeb Kilani in his home in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza, on 19 November 2014. Ibrahim, his wife Taghrid and their five young children were killed in a single Israeli air strike on a Gaza City residential tower on 21 July 2014.  They had fled their home after Israel dropped leaflets on Beit Lahiya warning residents to evacuate and go to Gaza City. Ibrahim was an architect who had lived in Germany for more 20 years and some of his buildings can be found in Köln. He and his children held German passports. As of November 2014, their home remained untouched with all their belongings inside.

The office of Ibrahim Deeb Kilani in his home in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza, on 19 November 2014. Ibrahim, his wife Taghrid and their five young children were killed in a single Israeli air strike on a Gaza City residential tower on 21 July 2014. They had fled their home after Israel dropped leaflets on Beit Lahiya warning residents to evacuate and go to Gaza City. Ibrahim was an architect who had lived in Germany for more 20 years and some of his buildings can be found in Köln. He and his children held German passports. As of November 2014, their home remained untouched with all their belongings inside.

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Delo, the nickname of Hadeel Abd al-Kareem Balata, 17, is seen written on the wall of her room which was destroyed during an Israeli strike on 29 July 2014 which killed the girl and 10 other members of the family in the Jabaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza, 14 September 2014. According to her surviving father, Hadeel was really gifted at school and wanted to be a doctor.

Delo, the nickname of Hadeel Abd al-Kareem Balata, 17, is seen written on the wall of her room which was destroyed during an Israeli strike on 29 July 2014 which killed the girl and 10 other members of the family in the Jabaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza, 14 September 2014. According to her surviving father, Hadeel was really gifted at school and wanted to be a doctor.

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Sharifa Mustafa Baker clings to a shirt belonging to her son, 10-year-old Zakaria Ahed Baker, in her home in al-Shati refugee camp on 19 July 2014. Zakaria was killed along with with three of his cousins by a missile fired by the Israeli navy as they were playing on a Gaza City beach on 16 July 2014. The attack was caught on video as it occurred near the hotels where many foreign journalists were staying. The Israeli military exonerated itself of responsibility for the children’s deaths this June.

Sharifa Mustafa Baker clings to a shirt belonging to her son, 10-year-old Zakaria Ahed Baker, in her home in al-Shati refugee camp on 19 July 2014. Zakaria was killed along with with three of his cousins by a missile fired by the Israeli navy as they were playing on a Gaza City beach on 16 July 2014. The attack was caught on video as it occurred near the hotels where many foreign journalists were staying. The Israeli military exonerated itself of responsibility for the children’s deaths this June.

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A photo of Issam Khalil Ammar, 4, is seen on the television in his parents’ Gaza City apartment, 25 February 2015. Issam was killed with his sister, Eman (9) and brother Ibrahim (13) during an attack on a residential building on 20 July 2014. Eleven persons were killed in the building, including six members from the Hallaq family. The Ammar family still lives in the same building and their flat is full of the photos of the three children who were killed there.

A photo of Issam Khalil Ammar, 4, is seen on the television in his parents’ Gaza City apartment, 25 February 2015. Issam was killed with his sister, Eman (9) and brother Ibrahim (13) during an attack on a residential building on 20 July 2014. Eleven persons were killed in the building, including six members from the Hallaq family. The Ammar family still lives in the same building and their flat is full of the photos of the three children who were killed there.

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Mahmoud Ashraf al-Khalili’s Gaza City bedroom, 12 November 2014. The 7-year-old boy survived the 30 July 2014 attack on his family’s home was conscious when he arrived at the hospital. But he fell into a coma and died a few days later. His father Ashraf, his mother Nida and his siblings Dima (4) and Ziyad (4) were killed. His uncle was also killed along with his wife and 4-year-old daughter. The extended family was sitting in front of the home and waiting to be evacuated when the attack occurred. The surviving family members still live in the same home. A factory belonging to the family was destroyed in the fire caused by the strike.

Mahmoud Ashraf al-Khalili’s Gaza City bedroom, 12 November 2014. The 7-year-old boy survived the 30 July 2014 attack on his family’s home was conscious when he arrived at the hospital. But he fell into a coma and died a few days later. His father Ashraf, his mother Nida and his siblings Dima (4) and Ziyad (4) were killed. His uncle was also killed along with his wife and 4-year-old daughter. The extended family was sitting in front of the home and waiting to be evacuated when the attack occurred. The surviving family members still live in the same home. A factory belonging to the family was destroyed in the fire caused by the strike.

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A portrait of Yousef Nasser Hussein Kullab, 15, drawn by one of his friends, is shown on a mobile phone in Rafah, southern Gaza, on 25 March 2015. Yousef was killed along with three members of his family, including two other children, in an Israeli attack on his home on 21 August  2014.

A portrait of Yousef Nasser Hussein Kullab, 15, drawn by one of his friends, is shown on a mobile phone in Rafah, southern Gaza, on 25 March 2015. Yousef was killed along with three members of his family, including two other children, in an Israeli attack on his home on 21 August 2014.

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Wafa al-Louh holds a photo of her daughter Eman and her secondary school examination certificate in her home in the central Gaza town of Deir al-Balah on 16 September 2014. Eman was killed in an airstrike on her uncle’s nearby home; she was struck in the head by a block of concrete while she was praying next to her bed. Her uncle Mustafa’s home, 100 meters from her own, was attacked on 20 August 2014. Eight family members were killed.

Wafa al-Louh holds a photo of her daughter Eman and her secondary school examination certificate in her home in the central Gaza town of Deir al-Balah on 16 September 2014. Eman was killed in an airstrike on her uncle’s nearby home; she was struck in the head by a block of concrete while she was praying next to her bed. Her uncle Mustafa’s home, 100 meters from her own, was attacked on 20 August 2014. Eight family members were killed.

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A letter written by 16-year-old Shireen Abu Madi mourning her father on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, the holiday at the end of Ramadan, is glued to a poster commemorating the six members of her family killed in an Israeli attack in al-Nuseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, 17 March 2015. Shireen lost her father and three brothers in the 2 August 2014 attack, as well as a 6-year-old nephew and 2-week-old niece.

A letter written by 16-year-old Shireen Abu Madi mourning her father on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, the holiday at the end of Ramadan, is glued to a poster commemorating the six members of her family killed in an Israeli attack in al-Nuseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, 17 March 2015. Shireen lost her father and three brothers in the 2 August 2014 attack, as well as a 6-year-old nephew and 2-week-old niece.

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Kites made by 13-year-old Muhammad Amjad Abd al-Aziz Uwaida rest on his bed in Rafah, southern Gaza, 17 February 2015. The boy was killed along with his 5-year-old sister Amal on 5 August 2014 when they were on the roof to feed their pigeons. According to their mother, Tahrir, Muhammad was skilled at making things with his own hands and his parents keep the objects that he made, including the kites.

Kites made by 13-year-old Muhammad Amjad Abd al-Aziz Uwaida rest on his bed in Rafah, southern Gaza, 17 February 2015. The boy was killed along with his 5-year-old sister Amal on 5 August 2014 when they were on the roof to feed their pigeons. According to their mother, Tahrir, Muhammad was skilled at making things with his own hands and his parents keep the objects that he made, including the kites.

LINEAR VIEWS OF THE WAR IN GAZA

The artist drew delicate lines over 50 photographs selected from the deluge of horrific news images of Gaza that flooded social media during Israel’s war last summer. With Scholnick’s intervention, the images are slightly abstracted, but also given further depth.

gaza2

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Full report and more images HERE

GAZA ~~ A WINDOW TO HELL

A destroyed home in Khuzaa, September 2014. (Anne Paq /ActiveStills)

A destroyed home in Khuzaa, September 2014. (Anne Paq /ActiveStills)

A window to hell in Gaza

Spending the day of 17 August in Khuzaa was like peering through a window to hell. But what we witnessed in the landscape of apocalyptic oblivion paled in comparison to the experience described to me by two Palestine Red Crescent volunteers who had attempted to break through the Israeli military cordon during the siege of the town.

Twenty-five-year-old Ahmed Awad and 24-year-old Ala’a Alkusofi arrived at the edge of Khuzaa at a time when Red Cross ambulance crews refused to travel anywhere near the town. They said they had come to collect the body of a man whom soldiers had lashed to a tree by both arms and shot in the leg. When they arrived at the site, the soldiers ordered the driver of their ambulance, Muhammed Abadla, to exit the vehicle. When he obliged, they told him to walk five meters forward and switch on a flashlight. As soon as he flicked the light on, the soldiers shot him in the chest and killed him.

“It was something I’ll never forget,” Awad recalled, “seeing a colleague killed like that in front of me. I couldn’t believe what I witnessed.”

The two Red Crescent volunteers told me they later found a man in Khuzaa with rigor mortis, holding both hands over his head in surrender, his body filled with bullets. Deeper in the town, they discovered an entire family so badly decomposed they had to be shoveled with a bulldozer into a mass grave. In a field on the other side of town, Awad and Alkusofi found a shell-shocked woman at least 80 years of age hiding in a chicken coop. She had taken shelter there for nine days during the siege, living off of nothing but chicken feed and rain water. “She couldn’t believe it when we found her,” said Alkusofi. “She was sure she would die with the chickens.”

Horror stories

In nearly every shattered home I entered in Khuzaa, on every bomb-cratered street, in destroyed mosques and vandalized schools, I heard horror stories like this. Every resident I met in this town was touched by the violence in one way or another. While visiting the town, I wandered into the courtyard of a rehabilitation clinic for women and children afflicted with Continuous Traumatic Stress Disorder — a condition that affects a solid majority of youth in Gaza.

Located on a street lined with four-story apartments pockmarked with bullets and tank shells, the school was completely empty, but the signs of an Israeli presence were everywhere. As we entered, we found Stars of David spray painted by soldiers across the walls, right below colorful heart-shaped paper cut-outs bearing the names of students. In the closet of an administrative office that was neatly kept except for a few scattered papers, I found a spent M72 Light Anti-Tank Weapon. It was one of the shoulder-mounted launching tubes manufactured in Mesa, Arizona, by the Norwegian-owned Nammo arms corporation. The weapon had been used by the Israelis to rocket civilian homes across Gaza’s boundary regions.

In a classroom across the courtyard, sunrays burst through a gaping hole in the wall about the size of a 120mm tank shell. They shone light on a series of colorful posters decorated with matching ribbons that contained motivational messages. They read:

It always seems impossible until it’s done

Stay alive

Look to the future

No negative thoughts allowed

We wandered around the corner, past a group of children filling a jug of water from a truck that replaced the water tower Israeli forces detonated, past the giant dome of the Ebad al-Rahman mosque, which now sat on a pile of rubble next to the toppled water tower like the ancient ruins of some bygone empire. Nearby, we entered a small courtyard surrounded by a warren of shattered homes. At the edge of the yard, a small boy lay impassively in his bed in a room with no walls. A ceiling fan that looked as though it had been melted dangled above his head. In the center of the yard sat a gigantic olive green barrel. It was a spent Giant Viper round — one of the C4-packed mine clearing devices the Israelis fired into the center of Khuzaa during the assault on the town. A hen flapped its wings next to the barrel and chased after baby chicks bouncing through the rubble.

“Where are you from?” an old man called out to me from the road. He wore large spectacles and a morning robe, his front pocket stuffed with paper notepads, various cards and a glasses holder. He reminded me of my older Jewish relatives who came of age before the digital era and grew accustomed to carrying stacks of business cards, coupons and handwritten reminders in their shirt and coat pockets along with assorted mints and pens.

“I’m from America,” I told the man, readying for an indignant response.

“Ahhhh, Amreeka,” he grumbled. “I want to thank the American people,” the man continued, advancing to within two feet of me. “They are nice people, they give us food and bread and they give the Israelis weapons to kill us. They have different standards. It would be nice if they treated us all as humans.”

“We love life”

He introduced himself as Ali Ahmed Qudeh, the father of Kamal Qudeh, the doctor who treated the town’s wounded under heavy bombardment and in spite of being injured himself. Like his son, Ali Ahmed was a supporter of Fatah, the rivals of Hamas. And like virtually everyone I met in Gaza, he was an ardent supporter of the armed resistance of the Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ armed wing. “Our weapons are not terrorist weapons, our weapons are [for] self-defense,” he insisted. “Our weapons are to free our land. We are dignified people, we love life. We don’t hate life like they say. But we’ll die for our land.”

As a group of small children gathered in the courtyard, Ali Ahmed detailed to me how many family members each child lost in the assault on Khuzaa. Pointing at the little boy lying in bed, he suggested that the most devastating consequence of the war was not the death toll, but the psychological impact on the youngest members of his community.

“That kid wants to make an atomic bomb and obliterate Israel!” he roared. “Why? Because he saw his family members die in front of him! How can you raise kids who want to make bombs?”

When I made my way back into the road, I heard Ali Ahmed call after me again. He was rushing forward through the rubble with a tray of sweets. “I don’t mean to say that all Americans are bad,” he said, urging me to take a freshly baked cookie. “It’s the government that’s the problem, not the people.”

Just then, an Israeli squadron of American-made F-16s roared through the sky. A small girl standing beside me ducked reflexively at the sound of the jets, bracing for another missile strike. The war was far from over.

This essay is excerpted from Max Blumenthal’s new book, The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gazapublished by Nation Books.

WHO SAID THE WAR IN GAZA WAS OVER?

And while Israel’s war on Gaza was declared over, the residents of Khuzaa remain under fire.

Israeli soldiers shot 16-year-old Islam Samir Tawfiq Abu Reda in the leg. (Ezz Zanoun)

Israeli soldiers shot 16-year-old Islam Samir Tawfiq Abu Reda in the leg. (Ezz Zanoun)

Israel shoots four boys enjoying evening walk in Gaza

On Monday, 22 June, Israeli soldiers fired on a group of four boys aged 16 to 17 in the southern Gaza Stripvillage of Khuzaa. Two of the boys were hit in the legs and one was critically injured.

The four friends had walked out to the edge of the village to spend the final hour of their fast for Ramadan.

“We were there to waste time before iftar [the meal that breaks the fast],” Muhammad Sami Abu Reda, 17, told The Electronic Intifada. Muhammad was one of the two boys who escaped injury on Monday.

“It’s a very nice area. You can see the fields and farms, and we go there because it used to be closed off but now they told us we can go there,” he explained.

Severe injuries

Last month, the Hamas-led government in Gaza announced the opening of a road that runs alongside the “buffer zone,” the no-go area imposed by Israel which covers a wide swath of land on the Gaza side of the boundary with Israel, in the east and north.

The “buffer zone” was supposed to be reduced in size under the terms of last August’s ceasefire between Hamas and Israel following Israel’s 51-day attack. However, it remains unclear just where Palestinians can safely walk, drive or farm.

In the month of May alone, Israeli soldiers fired on 14 people who were close to the boundary, leaving six Palestinians injured, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR).

Islam Samir Tawfiq Abu Reda, 16, is one of the boys shot on Monday. Lying on his hospital bed, he told The Electronic Intifada that “everyone went to the road since it was announced on the news that it had been opened.”

Islam’s calf was struck by a bullet. While his wound required more than a dozen stitches, he is healing well.

But the other youth, Ibrahim Abu Reda, remains in intensive care. The outcome of his far more severe injuries is uncertain. Two bullets entered his right leg, one near the ankle and another below the knee, shattering his shinbone and severing veins and arteries.

The night he was shot, Ibrahim was treated by Dr. Qasim Kamel in a six-hour surgery at the European Hospital near Rafah, a city in southern Gaza. Kamel told The Electronic Intifada he hopes that he will not need to amputate the teenager’s leg.

In Ibrahim’s home, his parents showed this reporter photographs of the boy lifting weights and playing sports. His father, Jamal Ahmad Abu Reda, said Ibrahim was in Khuzaa’s soccer club and loved to go to the gym. He struggled not to cry as he described his son.

With tears streaming down her face, Safaa Abu Reda, Ibrahim’s mother, said “It’s my right to see my son walking.”

She is desperately worried that her son will not be able to receive adequate treatment in Gaza and wants him to be transferred to Israel. Doctors have told her that the likelihood that Ibrahim will be able to walk again is a slim 15 percent. She believes the odds would be higher if he could get treatment in Israel.

“Why are they doing this to my son? He had no weapons,” she said. “He just went there to walk and have fun, like everyone.”

Ibrahim is the younger brother of Ahmed Abu Reda, 18, who was used as a human shield by Israeli soldiers for five days during last summer’s war, as documented by the recent UN Human Rights Council’s independent investigation of Israel’s assault on Gaza as well as by other independent observers.

Ahmed was detained by Israeli soldiers on 23 July while attempting to flee Khuzaa with the rest of his family during Israel’s 11-day ground invasion of the small village.

“Buffer zone”

Before one reaches Khuzaa’s boundary with Israel, one must drive through cultivated farmland and greenhouses where farmers grow tomatoes, melons, peppers and zucchini on plots of land demarcated with thickets of crawling cactus.

As one approaches Israel, an inconspicuous fence appears. An Israeli watchtower stands behind. This is the boundary.

Since 2005, Israel has guarded the so-called “buffer zone” here, preventing farmers from safely accessing their lands that lie within it.

While initially the zone stretched 150 meters wide into tiny Gaza, Israel has expanded it over time. In 2010 the buffer zone grew to a 300-meter-wide area that runs alongside the boundary wall.

While the area was supposed to be reduced to 100 meters following the ceasefire, Hamdi Shaqqura, deputy director of PCHR, told The Electronic Intifada that people are fired on as far away as 500 meters from the border. “There is no guarantee from Israel or the international community that Palestinians will have access to their land,” he said.

At the beginning of this year, Gisha, an Israeli organization that monitors Palestinians’ ability to move freely in and out of Gaza, sent an information request to the Israeli military regarding its policy toward the buffer zone following the ceasefire.

Like PCHR, their data also shows that the ban was enforced on a larger area than was officially declared. They have yet to receive a response from the military.

“Silent gunshots”

At the hospital, The Electronic Intifada met the two other boys who were with Ibrahim and Islam when they were shot. Muhammad Sami Abu Reda, 17, said there was no sign that any Israeli soldiers were around. The boys had just paused for a moment while taking their walk when Islam suddenly fell to the ground. Then Ibrahim. Muhammad said the gunshots were silent.

“There were no warning shots,” Muhammad explained.

Muhammad and the other youth, Hisham Abu Mutliq, 17, tried to pick their friends up off the ground, but more shots were fired toward them.

“We ran behind a sand hill to take cover, but the Israelis kept shooting,” Hisham said.

The boys were able to use their mobile phones to call an ambulance, but help did not arrive for 15 minutes. The injured boys lay bleeding on the ground.

Kamel is hopeful that Ibrahim’s leg will heal after the surgery. When The Electronic Intifada visited him at the hospital, Ibrahim was in a deep sleep, but Kamel said he has been lucid and talking in between resting.

There has been a partial clearing of the rubble in Khuzaa, restoring a semblance of normalcy. The ruins of many of the demolished homes, of which nearly 400 were completely destroyed, have been swept into neat mounds, though some remain standing with their roofs sunken through to the ground.

The least destroyed of homes still show walls riddled with bullet holes. The molding on the minaret of a mosque in the center of the village is nearly entirely blown off.

And while Israel’s war on Gaza was declared over, the residents of Khuzaa remain under fire.

ZIO BEX ~~ IF IT WASN’T A HOLOCAUST IN GAZA, WHAT WAS IT?

Words that upset are not nearly as bad as the crimes that were committed …

“The continuation of the extermination of the Assyrians by the jihadists, the invasion and occupation in northern Cyprus, the Kurdish issue, the blockade of Gaza, the genocidal dismemberment of Yugoslavia, and the Ukraine crisis.” 

Stop the Holocaust in Gaza: A pro-Palestinian protester at a Berlin rally Friday, July 18, 2014. (Micki Weinberg/The Times of Israel)

Stop the Holocaust in Gaza: A pro-Palestinian protester at a Berlin rally Friday, July 18, 2014. (Micki Weinberg/The Times of Israel)

Greek Official Slammed for Comparing Gaza to Holocaust

A Greek official is accused of abusing the memory of the Holocaust by mentioning Gaza during a speech about the genocide, and saying that “victims become bullies.”

The criticism by The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a watchdog group, was over a speech that Panagiotis Sgouridis, a deputy minister of rural development, gave on June 7 in the northern city of Kavala during the unveiling ceremony for a monument in memory of the area’s murdered Jews.

Noting that atrocities continue today despite the lessons of the Holocaust, Sgouridis listed “the continuation of the extermination of the Assyrians by the jihadists, the invasion and occupation in northern Cyprus, the Kurdish issue, the blockade of Gaza, the genocidal dismemberment of Yugoslavia,” and the Ukraine crisis as examples.

He concluded his speech by saying that monuments like the one unveiled at Kavala are important “because unfortunately many times the roles switch and the victims become bullies.” Shimon Samuels, the Wiesenthal Center’s director for international relations, said that Sgouridis’ speech was “not only an inversion of the Holocaust by listing it alongside the blockade on Gaza, but also served to banalize it.”

The Kavala unveiling was preceded by an international uproar over reports that the city’s mayor objected to the incorporation of a Star of David in its design, though she denied this. The monument that was unveiled features that symbol.

Public discourse in Greece about Jews and Israel has become “more toxic,” said the center, amid a financial crisis and the rise of Golden Dawn, a neo-Nazi party that became Greece’s third-largest following the 2015 legislative election.

Sgouridis’ party, the rightist Independent Greeks, has called on Germany to pay Greece reparations for its invasion and occupation of the Balkan country.

“The speech, the place, the time and the back story all combine to make Sgouridis’ speech inappropriate,” Samuels said.

MY FAMILY’S JOURNEY FROM BARCELONA TO AUSCHWITZ ~~ AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PARLIAMENT OF SPAIN

News such as the following was on the front pages of  every Israeli newspaper over the weekend … (Click on link to see report)

Spain passes law of return for Sephardic Jews

Applicants to be vetted by local Jewish community, face language and history tests before securing new passport

My response, as one of those descendants follows …

Descendents of Sephardic Jews expelled in 1492 can now apply for Spanish nationality

Descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled in 1492 can now apply for Spanish nationality

Open Letter to the Parliament of Spain

It was of much interest to see that your government has passed legislation granting citizenship to the descendants of the Jews expelled from your country in 1492.

Jews leaving Spain in 1492

Jews leaving Spain in 1492

Allow me to fill you in on the ‘journey’ of my own family after the expulsion; Rather than going to one of the Muslim countries in North Africa, as many others did, they chose to go to Turkey. Those that went to North Africa received a much warmer welcome, which resulted in my family eventually going on to a new situation in Holland.

They found there that in order to succeed economically they would have to assimilate with the Eastern European Jewish Community (Ashkenazim), a fate much less severe than the forced conversions to Catholicism for those who remained in Spain.

Again, after a number of years they once again moved on, this time splitting up, some going to Slovakia, the others to Hungary. Many of those in Hungary pursued their Jewish educations and became prominent members of the rabbinical community, included was Rabbi Shlomo Gantzfried, co-author of The Code of Jewish Law.

Those in Slovakia basically worked the fields to survive. My grandfather, Yisrael Mayer, whose name I bear, was a cobbler.

In both cases, in Hungary and Slovakia, the Jewish community was rounded up and sent to various labour camps. My family wound up in Auschwitz where they were brutally slaughtered by the nazi beast, with the blessings of your Francisco Franco and your Pope, Pius Xll.

My father was spared these horrors as he immigrated to the United States when he was still in his teens. Hence, I am here today to tell this saga.

I have one question of you before I continue, Why was this ‘offer’ not granted to the descendants Of the Muslim community who were also expelled by King Ferdinand?

In 1492, simultaneous to the discovery of the New World was the start of the Spanish Inquisition, a massive expulsion of Jews and Muslims.

In 1492, simultaneous to the discovery of the New World was the start of the Spanish Inquisition, a massive expulsion of Jews and Muslims.

Today, I reside in Israel, a country which in 1948 employed the same tactics against the Palestinian population when the zionist regime stole much of their lands. Close to a million people were forced to leave their homes and country. Over a million of their descendants still languish to this day in refugee camps.

Will they have to wait 500 years for an offer to return to their land as well?

Does this look familiar? See image posted earlier.

Does this look familiar? See image posted earlier.

Fortunately, that will not be the case. A growing number of Jews, both in Israel and in the Diaspora are involved in movements which daily expose the crimes committed by the Israeli government against the Palestinians. Their day to day work in these matters will usher in changes much sooner than your government did.

There are many Jews of conscious throughout the world

There are many Jews of conscious throughout the world

Now, as for your ‘offer’, I will try to be as diplomatic as possible. Simply stated,this gesture is much too little and comes much too late. Therefore, I personally do not accept it.

Yours Sincerely,

Steve Amsel (Yisrael Mayer)

PS …. despite all of the above, or perhaps because of it, ‘my thoughts remain free’ …..

SEPARATE ~~ BUT NOT EQUAL

Statistics released this week by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel paint a devastating picture of neglect, urban blight and underdevelopment in East Jerusalem, the historic heart of Palestinian life, all a result of nearly five decades of Israeli policies, with over 75 percent of Palestinians living below the poverty line compared to the national Israeli average of 21.8 percent.

israel_wall_tower_2_UFNlj_3868

Decades of neglect leave East Jerusalem mired in poverty, violence

By: Charlie Hoyle FOR

Decades of chronic under-funding, discriminatory planning rights, and unequal access to services have left the Palestinian community in Jerusalem mired in poverty, according to statistics published by a civil rights group, with youths subject to increased police brutality and arrests since last summer’s demonstrations in the city.

Statistics released this week by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel paint a devastating picture of neglect, urban blight and underdevelopment in East Jerusalem, the historic heart of Palestinian life, all a result of nearly five decades of Israeli policies, with over 75 percent of Palestinians living below the poverty line compared to the national Israeli average of 21.8 percent.

The group released the statistics —taken from the Jerusalem Municipality, Israeli Police, the Central Bureau of Statistics, and other official agencies — to coincide with Jerusalem Day, a largely right-wing Israeli national holiday to celebrate the “liberation” and “reunification” of the city following what is internationally recognized as the illegal occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967.

For Palestinians, the day is a painful reminder of their historic loss, displacement, and on going marginalization.

Despite having lived under Israeli rule for 48 years, Palestinians are classified as permanent residents, not citizens, and lack political representation at a national level. The community largely chooses to boycott local municipal elections — in 2013 around 1 percent of Palestinians voted — and are essentially political orphans, with no Israeli or Palestinian political body representing their interests.

The result is recurring neglect of the 300,200 Palestinians in East Jerusalem, who form 36.8 percent of the city’s total population.

“These (Palestinian neighborhoods) are places where roads haven’t been repaired for years, where schools haven’t been built, where there is crime and garbage. In that sense you do wonder what the municipality thinks is the future (for East Jerusalem),”Ronit Sela,Director of ACRI’s Human Rights in East Jerusalem Project, told Ma’an.

In terms of public services, 36 percent of Palestinian households are not connected to the water network,43 percent of the classrooms in the municipal system are defined as inadequate, and there is a shortage of 30 kilometers of sewage pipes in Palestinian neighborhoods.

There are only eight post offices in East Jerusalem, compared to 40 in West Jerusalem. Furthermore, Palestinians can access only 9 infant healthcare centers in the city compared to 26 for Israelis, and poverty rates for children are 53 percent higher for Palestinian children, with 8,501 defined as “at risk.”

The dropout rate for Palestinian students in East Jerusalem in 12th grade — where students are 18 years old — is 33 percent, nearly 24 times higher than the dropout rate in the Hebrew education system, which stands at 1.4 percent, and despite forming 36.8 percent of the population — and paying residential and commercial taxes — only 10-13 percent of the overall municipal budget is invested in East Jerusalem,according to rights group Ir Amim.

“Palestinians in Jerusalem suffer first and foremost from the fact there is an on going conflict and Israeli authorities control every aspect of their lives,” Sela says.

Social workers in East Jerusalem say that the myriad of social and political problems can often affect individual Palestinian families directly, with many suffering from having one son in prison and another dropping out of school without qualifications, amid a backdrop of economic marginalization.

“East Jerusalem is not a tiny piece of land or territory, but Israeli policies have been to limit the space where Palestinians can reside, to limit the space where Palestinians can have commercial life or industry and, with the separation barrier, fragment the areas where Palestinians are living and where the center of the community is,” Sela says.

Police brutality, arbitrary law enforcement
 *
Alongside chronic poverty and economic marginalization, one of the major changes since ACRI’s 2014 report on East Jerusalem are the increasingly draconian police and municipal measures introduced against Palestinians following months of clashes following the murder of 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir last July by Israeli extremists.
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In the second half of 2014, ACRI reported that over 1,184 Palestinians were detained in East Jerusalem, including 406 children, with indictments submitted against 338 of those arrested.
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“Police violence is harsher and the state prosecution is asking for minors to be put under arrest for longer periods of time even before indictments. They keep them in prison custody for longer,” Sela says.
 *
Around 314 of the 338 Palestinians served with indictments — including 122 children — have been imprisoned since their detention as the charges for “disruption of public order” and riot-related offenses are processed, which adds up to months in jail before a sentence has even been passed.
 *
Israeli police forces have also provided the Jerusalem municipality with the names of hundreds of suspects wanted for alleged involvement in the demonstrations in order to increase enforcement measures against them, ACRI says, essentially a way of blacklisting Palestinian residents in civilian life.
 *
Some of the enforcement measures are childishly arbitrary, with ACRI reporting one example of municipal inspectors issuing a fine for the negligible offense of littering the streets with sunflower seeds.
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Other measures, however, are much more serious, with municipal officers issuing demolition orders and fines to Palestinian businesses and homes.
The Hagihon water company, theTax Authority and the National Insurance Institute are also all involved in enforcing arbitrary measures against Palestinian suspects, which were described by ACRI as “collective punishment” and the “abuse of the municipality’s enforcement powers.”
 *
In addition to the mass arrests — the largest number in East Jerusalem since the Second Intifada — police tactics have become notably more aggressive since last summer’s demonstrations, with the increased use of black sponge-tipped bullets since the summer, a harder, heavier, and more dangerous variant of the blue sponge-tipped bullet, which had been used almost exclusively before last year’s unrest.
 *
Use of the black variety of the bullets has been responsible for the loss of vision in at least one eye of five Palestinian children during the end of 2014, the youngest of whom was six-years-old.
 *
One youth, 16-year-old Muhammad Abd Al-Majid Sunuqrut, was killed in September after being struck with the riot control measure in East Jerusalem, which is used almost exclusively against Palestinians.
 *
ACRI also reported that at least three journalists clearly identified as media workers were hit in the head, face and shoulder by sponge bullets during demonstrations, in contravention against orders prohibiting aiming at the upper body, or children.
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The police tactic has also caused arm fractures, jaw fractures and internal injuries such as spleen tears, with one 30-year-old Palestinian born blind since childhood in one eye left completely blind after being shot with a sponge-tipped bullet.
 *
Directives for use of the more dangerous black bullet were only drafted in January 2015 after a request from ACRI, a full six months after their regular use against Palestinians.
 *
Israeli police also regularly used “Skunk” water in Palestinian neighborhoods, spraying the putrid-smelling liquid into houses, restaurants, and cars, with many residents having to temporarily evacuate their homes until the smell subsides.
 *
In October and November, Israeli forces blocked the main entrances to three major Palestinian neighborhoods — almost unthinkable in the West Jerusalem neighborhoods of Rehavia or the German Colony — restricting the movement of 50,000 Palestinians.
 *
In April, Israeli police then used cement blocks to seal the neighborhood of al-Tur following clashes, preventing the movement of residents and hindering crucial services such as ambulances and school buses.
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Struggling to stay in the city
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Alongside chronic poverty and punitive police and municipality tactics looms the constant threat of displacement, with Palestinians struggling to remain in the city amid legislation which prohibits planning and building, and punishes violations with eviction and demolitions.
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In 2014, 98 structures were demolished and 208 Palestinians were forcibly displaced, ACRI says.Since 2004, over 2,115 Palestinians have been left homeless by demolitions in East Jerusalem.
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Around 20,000 houses — accounting for 39 percent of East Jerusalem homes — lack a building permit and therefore could be issued a demolition order by the municipality at any point, leaving Palestinian families vulnerable and unable to plan for the future.
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The residency status of 107 Palestinian residents of Jerusalem was also revoked in 2014, adding to the 14,309 since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the city, meaning Palestinians whose families date back centuries in the city are no longer allowed to return.
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Despite five decades of Israeli polices designed to slowly displace Palestinians in Jerusalem, the community forms nearly 40 percent of the city’s population,leaving it unclear as to what the municipality, and indeed the government, has planned, considering that it will unlikely ever concede political control of the Old City.
 *
In 2014, Israel’s government approved for the first time in history a five year plan for East Jerusalem with a budget of 300 million shekels ($78 million).
 *
However, a third of the budget was to be allocated to “security,” with the remaining 200 million not nearly enough to reverse decades of deliberate neglect.
 *
“In order for real and meaningful changes to transpire, a fundamental change of attitude must take place among Israeli authorities,” ACRI said in the report.
 *
“They need to see the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem as human beings whose dignity must be maintained, whose lives must be protected and whose human rights must be promoted, even as the conflict continues to bleed on the streets of Jerusalem.”

THE ‘OTHER’ DEMOCRACY IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Israel shares its ‘special status’ with Egypt

El-Sisi's Scales of Justice by Latuff

El-Sisi’s Scales of Justice by Latuff

 

Related ….

US ‘deeply concerned’ by Morsi death sentence in Egypt

The United States expressed “deep concern” Sunday after an Egyptian court sentenced deposed president Muhammad Morsi and more than 100 others to death for their role in a mass jailbreak during the 2011 uprising.

“We have consistently spoken out against the practice of mass trials and sentences, which are conducted in a manner that is inconsistent with Egypt’s international obligations and the rule of law,” a State Department official said.

Noting that they were preliminary sentences, the official added: “We continue to stress the need for due process and individualized judicial processes for all Egyptians in the interests of justice.

“Many of those sentenced on Saturday were tried in absentia. The court will pronounce its final decision on June 2, since under Egyptian law, death sentences are referred to the mufti, the government’s interpreter of Islamic law, who plays an advisory role.

Defendants can still appeal even after the mufti’s recommendation.

Morsi, elected president in 2012, ruled for only a year before mass protests spurred the military to overthrow him in July 2013.

He was among dozens of Muslim Brotherhood leaders detained amid a crackdown that left hundreds of Morsi supporters dead.

Morsi, sitting in a caged dock in the blue uniform of convicts having already been sentenced to 20 years for inciting violence, raised his fists defiantly when the verdict was read.

Hours after the ruling, gunmen shot dead two judges, a prosecutor and their driver in the strife-torn Sinai Peninsula, in the first such attack on the judiciary in the region.

The US State Department official said they had been “senselessly murdered.”

“We reiterate our steadfast commitment to Egypt’s security,” the official added.

 

From

More from Latuff

Collective death sentence

Collective death sentence

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Sisi's Way: on Egypt's prisons

Sisi’s Way: on Egypt’s prisons

APARTHEID UPDATED ~~ AND REVISED

Defense Ministry decides on separate transport for Arab workers and Jewish residents, to combat overload and friction.

See reversal of decision below

Bus in Samaria (illustration).Hezki Ezra

Bus in Samaria (illustration).Hezki Ezra

Leftist Anger as Arab Workers Banned from Judea-Samaria Buses

MK Moti Yogev (Jewish Home) congratulated Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon Wednesday after the minister announced that Jews and Arabs would go back to riding separate public buses to and from Judea and Samaria, and within these territories.

The decision, two years ago, to allow Arabs on the buses that served Jews “created a situation in which tens of thousands of Palestinian laborers, including thousands of illegal infiltrators, filled the bus lines, and made it impossible for the residents of Judea and Samaria communities who require public transport to return to their homes.”

The policy also brought about a situation rife with sexual harassment, theft, and a feeling of insecurity, charged Yogev – and mostly, great overcrowding that made it impossible for people to go from and to their homes.

Yogev acused opponents of the latest decision of “hypocrisy, lies and irresponsibility.”

Labor leader MK Yitzhak Herzog attacked Yaalon’s decision and said that separation between Arabs and Jews on public transport is “an unnecessary humiliation and a stain on the faces of the state and its citizens. Unneeded fuel on the fire of hatred toward Israel worldwide.”

“This is another mistake by a prime minister who assists and surrenders to a woeful decision that has nothing to do with state security. It would bebest to avoid, at this time, steps that cause unnecessary damage to the reputation and image of the state of Israel, at such a sensitive time,” he added.

 

 

Source

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Israel cancels controversial travel ban for Palestinians after Left screams apartheid

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Prime Minister  Benjamin Netanyahu have agreed to suspend a controversial pilot program, which in its execution, would have prevented Palestinian workers from traveling home on Israeli buses in the West Bank after working in Israel.

Under the edict of the three-month pilot program, Palestinians were not banned from traveling on Israeli buses.

But the program would have mandated that many Palestinians who live in the West Bank and who enter Israel in the morning through passages in the security barrier, would have to return home through those same crossings, which lack Israeli bus lines.

The pilot program would not have effected all Palestinians and was limited to four checkpoints in the center of the country.

At present Palestinians who enter Israel through those passageways take Israeli buses homes, because they allow for easier travel routes.

The impact of the program which would have separated Palestinians from Israelis on a number of central West Bank Israeli bus lines, had drawn sharp protests from Left-wing politicians and activists.

“This is what apartheid looks like,” Meretz Party head Zahava Gal-On said in response. “No there is no other polite definition that would fall more pleasantly on one’s ears.”

“Separate bus lines for Palestinians and Jews proves that democracy and occupation can not co-exist,” she said.

The Defense Ministry had already said in October that it would execute such a program, but until Wednesday, had taken no action on the matter. It did so following complaints by the Samaria Regional Council and its local community leaders who had argued the Palestinians on the buses presented a security threat to the passengers.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog, who heads the Zionist Union party, said, “the separation of Palestinians and Israelis from public bus lines is an unnecessary humiliation. It is also a stain on the face of the state of Israel and its citizens.”

He added that at “this sensitive time it would be better to avoid steps which tarnish Israel’s name and reputation.”

“It only adds fat to the fire of hate against Israel in the world,” Herzog said. “This is yet another mistake by the prime minister who lent his hand to this unfortunate decision, which has no bearing on the country’s security.”

MK Shelly Yacimovich (Zionist Union) said the implementation was “chilling” and “there was no explanation that can erase its stain on Israel.”

“Dealing with security challenges is hard, but such blatant segregation between Jews and Arabs breaches all international moral norms and will cause the state great damage,” she added.

 

Source

WHAT DO ISRAELIS REALLY KNOW ABOUT THE NAKBA?

What do Israelis really know about the Nakba? What do they think about the right of return of the Palestinian refugees?
De-Colonizer went out to meet and asked them…

Mazin Qumsiyah, PhD adds the following ….

On the eve of the 67th year anniversary of the Nakba (the catastrophic
ethnic cleansing of Palestine), Benjamin Netanyahu finally formed a
“coalition government” a group of ministers who are honest about their
racist and genocidal tendencies (see article by Gideon Levy below). It
includes a “Justice” who called for murdering Palestinian mothers so that
they do not bring out more “snakes”. It includes the head of “civil
administration” who openly supports ethnic cleansing and genocide. A
government more right wing in its composition than Germany was in 1933-1939
or South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s but an honest one indeed without
double talk or hypocrisy. What is disappointing is not the make-up of the
government but the hypocritical response to it. Words from the “Palestinian
Authority” wining about the new government were accompanied by continuing
security coordination with Israel and the PA arrest of dozens of
Palestinians simply for having different political affiliation (e.g.
students who against all odds were voted to student councils at Palestinian
Universities). Geopolitically, there are now two choices: US/Israel that
attempt to dominate the Arab World and Western Asia through a class of
puppet dictators (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Egypt) and the axis of Russia,
China, Iran, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon (led by Hizbollah) and large segments of
Iraqi society. It would be nice to have a third axis (like the non-aligned
movement led by Egypt and India in the 1960s) but it does not currently
seem possible.

Yasser Arafat managed to steer the PLO leadership to semi-neutrality or at
least flexibility in building alliances as need arose. But even acting as a
good honest broker to solve some regional disputes many times by asking
people to put the interests of their people ahead of their superpower
sponsors (then it was Soviet Union and the USA/NATO). In the time of Abu
Mazen, we see more a definitive side-taking (e.g. with Saudi Arabia against
Yemen) in a fashion that actually weakened the Palestinian cause
dramatically. The black and white attitude was applied in a way that is
like George Bush “you are either with us (USA right wing government) or
with the terrorists. In this case you are either with us (Fatah) or with
the terrorist Hamas.  There seems no room left for nuances or indeed for
diplomacy. From the agreement with Hamas, there is only the part about
holding elections for the PA that Abbas wants to implement. Other parts of
the agreement (holding elections for the PLO, economic issues etc) were
supposed to happen synchronously but they are now off the table. Meanwhile
Gaza was devastated and is still under siege (civil society is responding
and a flotilla of ships is moving to break the siege). Last time this
happened, there were martyrs and some high level PA officials ridiculed the
Free Gaza movement. Instead, it would have been nice to see PA officials
join Haneen Zoabi and Raed Salah on the boats. Alas wishful thinking for
change.

The old definition of madness still apply: repeating the same (failed)
tasks and expecting different results. And we live in a mad, very mad
world. US/Israel still fund terrorists, support dictators, and support
ethnic cleansing. Those who bet on them to help them achieve “independence”
still do not understand and still hope somehow magically, things will
change. They would be wise to listen to Russian President Putin. He was
speaking at the 70th anniversary of the win over Nazi Germany (26 million
Russian lives were lost) and was flanked by other world leaders including
China (though noticeably absent where key NATO leaders). He said, the
attempt at creating a unipolar world is failing and that we should look
towards a new system. Iran, China, most of Latin America and other
countries which long suffered from Western Colonialism agreed. President
Abbas was there but had no comment. I was reminded of Naji Al-Ali 1964. I
was reminded of Orwell 1984. I was reminded of the book Majanin Beit Lahmem
(the crazy people of Bethlehem) published 2014.

Life goes on in occupied Palestine. A Palestinian community (Susya) is
about to be uprooted. Colonial settlers and soldiers still attack native
Palestinians with impunity. Corruption and heroism happen, poverty and
greed happen, cooperation and collaboration happen, resistance and
normalization happen. Poor people struggle and rich get richer. It is hard
to cope sometimes but we keep going against all odds.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the wall….*

Stop whining. Long live Israel’s new and honest government

Israel’s new government won’t spout hollow slogans about peace, human rights, and justice. The truth will be thrust in the faces of Israelis – and the world.

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The 34th government will deserve Israel; Israel will deserve the 34th government. This is an authentic and representative government, the true manifestation of the spirit of the times and the deepest feelings of most Israelis. It will be a true government, without pretense, without makeup and without self-justification. What we’ll see is what we’ll get. Welcome to the fourth Benjamin Netanyahu government.

They won’t talk haughtily and they won’t spout hollow slogans. Not about peace and not about human rights; not about two states and not about negotiations; not about international law, justice or equality. The truth will be thrust in the faces of Israelis and the world. And the truth is this: The two-state solution is dead (it was never born), the Palestinian state will not arise, international law does not apply to Israel, the occupation will continue to crawl quickly toward annexation, annexation will continue to crawl quickly toward an apartheid state; “Jewish” supersedes “democratic,” nationalism and racism will get the government stamp of approval, but they’re already here and have been for a long time.

Neither Netanyahu, nor Habayit Hayehudi’s chairman MK Naftali Bennett nor that party’s faction members MK Ayelet Shaked and MK Eli Ben-Dahan, started this whole thing. They only expedited things. And there should be no shock or outrage, no bewailing the bitterness of fate. This government is a government of continuation, not a government of change.

True, some of its members are more extreme than their predecessors, but that is mainly about rhetorical differences. Even the most inflammatory appointment, of Shaked as justice minister, which reverberated throughout the world over the weekend, is less revolutionary than it seems. Shaked is blunt and violent, whereas Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni, her predecessor, was delicate and proper. But Justice Minister Shaked will not have to work hard to break open cracks in our democracy; they opened a long time ago.

The best test of the nature of the regime in Israel is the test of the occupation and the war crimes: the foundations of apartheid are already deep and the war crimes remain uninvestigated. From her office in the heart of occupied Jerusalem, Livni has not made Israel more just in that respect. True, Shaked’s ideas are more nationalistic and her understanding of the essence of democracy is nil. True, many in the world were shocked that a person who identified with one of the most violent articles ever written here against the Palestinian people (by Uri Elitzur), was appointed minister of Israeli justice. But there’s no place for such sanctimoniousness. Elitzur expressed what many people are thinking.

The appointment of another racist, Eli Ben-Dahan, as deputy defense minister, responsible for the Civil Administration, should not be earth-shattering either. True, Ben-Dahan said that “the Palestinians are animals, they are not human, they are not entitled to live” – but don’t these statements reflect the true attitude of many Israelis? Ben-Dahan will speak for them. That is how Israel has been treating the Palestinians for almost 50 years; Ben-Dahan is only saying things overtly. Now he will be responsible for the Civil Administration and the whole system of “humanitarian gestures” will be torn up. Ben-Dahan is the right man in the right place at the right time. An excellent appointment.

A person who proudly says “I killed masses of Arabs” and calls them “shrapnel in the buttocks” will be education minister – and who in Israel doesn’t think that? The general of Operation Cast Lead, with its crimes, the man who contravened building restrictions, Yoav Galant, will be construction minister. Is that not a fine appointment? MK Uri Maklev of United Torah Judaism is to head the Knesset Science Committee? Does that not correctly reflect the attitude of some Israelis to science?

Stop whining. Maybe Israel’s shadow government should be more enlightened, but not its real government. It is what the Israelis chose, it reflects their true stands. And so, long live the new government.

ZIOLOGIC ~~ ‘YOUR RACISM IS WORSE THAN OURS’

Image 'Copyleft' by Carlos Latuff

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

So say some apologetic zionists …. who had the same to say about South African Apartheid …. ‘their’s was worse than ours is …’

Twisted ziologic!

“What we’re doing now has nothing to do with what’s going on in Baltimore,” Maya Tzagay, a 19-year-old Ethiopian-Israeli protester and soldier told Haaretz. “They have their issues. We have ours. But we understand them — we both suffer from racism. There, it’s more extreme.”

Another protester, 46-year old Zemene Melesse, also told Haaretz, “What’s happening here today has nothing to do with what’s happening in Baltimore, but as a black man, I identify with them.”

Stop Comparing the Tel Aviv Protests to Baltimore

The comparison is irresistible.

In Tel Aviv — just like in Baltimore and Ferguson — thousands of black citizens took to the streets to protest racism and police brutality. And in Tel Aviv — just like in Baltimore and Ferguson — the urban streets became akin to a war zone, with water cannons and stun grenades, police cars with windows smashed, dozens of arrests and injured protesters and officers.

And just like in cities around America, the Israeli demonstrations were sparked by a video showing senseless police violence against a black man, Damas Pakado, an Ethiopian-Israeli who also happened to be a soldier in uniform.

Yet, despite the shocking scenes of chaos in typically pleasant Tel Aviv, both protesters and police are generally rejecting the readily available American analogy.

“What we’re doing now has nothing to do with what’s going on in Baltimore,” Maya Tzagay, a 19-year-old Ethiopian-Israeli protester and soldier told Haaretz. “They have their issues. We have ours. But we understand them — we both suffer from racism. There, it’s more extreme.”

Another protester, 46-year old Zemene Melesse, also told Haaretz, “What’s happening here today has nothing to do with what’s happening in Baltimore, but as a black man, I identify with them.”

Micky Rosenfeld, a spokesman for the Israel Police, also downplayed the similarities to Baltimore and Ferguson in comments to the New York Times, arguing that while the protests were sparked by a video showing Israeli cops beating up an Ethiopian-Israeli soldier, the underlying complaints were “not a police issue” but rather “social and economic issues.”

All of this raises the question: What is the difference, really, between what’s going on in Tel Aviv and in Baltimore? And why are the Israeli protesters and police both reluctant to conflate the two?

Image: Getty Images

Image: Getty Images

The answer, I think, lies in the fundamentally different postures of the American authorities and their Israeli counterparts.

Mike Brown was shot. Eric Garner was strangled. Walter Scott was gunned down from behind. Freddie Gray was left bound and bouncing around in a police van until his body literally snapped.

Yet after each of these cases of black men being killed by officers, both police and elected officials refused to immediately condemn the officers and admit that there is a significant problem of police brutality against blacks. Instead, they urged everyone to await the outcomes of various internal investigations and potential courtroom trials. Some of those cases, outrageously, never even lead to indictments. And when the officers do get charged with murder, as occurred belatedly in the Freddie Gray case, the police are stunned.

The contrast to the reactions of Israeli officials is stark, and is chiefly this: they are willing to listen.

After the video surfaced showing the beating of the Ethiopian soldier, the Israeli chief of police, Yohanan Danino, announced promptly that the officers would be fired. Danino also met with representatives of the Ethiopian-Israeli community, as did Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and president, Reuven Rivlin.

All of the officials immediately acknowledged that there is a deep-rooted problem of racism and that profound social change is needed.

President Rivlin was particularly forthright.

“Protesters in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv revealed an open and bloody wound in the heart of Israeli society,” he said today, in his latest remarks on the issue. “This is a wound of a community sounding the alarm at what they feel is discrimination, racism and disregard of their needs. We must take a good hard look at this wound.”

Of course, rhetoric is one thing and actions quite another. But the swift and sweeping recognition of the problem by top Israeli officials — including at police HQ — opens the door for hope. And, the recent violence notwithstanding, this basic attitude stands a far better chance of convincing the protesters that their voices are heard than the shameful stalling and pussyfooting of American officials.

“We’ve erred,” President Rivlin continued. “We have failed to see and listen enough. Among those protesting in the streets, there can be found the best of our boys and girls, excellent students and former soldiers. We must give them answers.”

And that is why Tel Aviv is not Baltimore.

 

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.

TIME ONCE AGAIN TO CLEANSE THE LAND OF BREAD AND ARABS

Jewish mothers used to go into a cleaning frenzie a week or so before the Festival of Passover. All traces of leaven (chametz) had to be removed from the home before the onset of the holiday.
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Modern folk have determined that dust is not chametz, so there is less madness involved in the cleaning process, but Israel has added a new dimension to the situation; Arabs must be removed as well as the leaven.
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IMG_1880
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Following this report dealing with the realities of Apartheid you will find a post from the archives that I reblog every Passover eve…
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Just  one of many attempts to cleanse the land of Arabs ….
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Here is how Palestinians ‘celebrate’ the holiday … it’s Bibi’s Two State Solution, with one behind locked gates.
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                                                      (Click on link)

West Bank closure goes into effect for Passover 

These 'enemies' must be locked out!

These ‘enemies’ must be locked out!

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CLEANSING THE LAND OF BREAD AND ARABS

My maternal grandmother was a simple Shtetel Jew. She came from a place not much different than the small town portrayed in Fiddler on The Roof.
 *
Traditionally the womenfolk from those areas were uneducated in matters of anything other than home making and child raising, while the menfolk studied their Holy Books for hours on end. Life was simple for them, and they themselves were basically a very simple folk.
 *
I remember my grandmother going through the frenzie of cleaning the house this time of year…. the traditional Passover cleaning. All traces of leaven had to be removed from the home before the start of the Holiday. To her, that process included the removal of any trace of dust or smears on the window panes. The house sparkled when she was finished. Most of our non Jewish neighbours were going through the same process, but simply called it ’spring cleaning’, ridding the house of all unwanted matter, including broken furniture and junk.
 *
I remember asking my grandmother why she was going through such a frenzie…. her answer was simple and to the point…. “If a Jew eats bread during Passover he will die!” That was what she was taught, that’s what she taught us….
 *
In Israel today, things are not much different than life in the Shtetel when it comes to Passover preparations. But today there is a growing number of non observant Jews as well as a growing number of non Jews. This is a threat to the lifestyle of the self imposed Shtetel Jew living here today.
 *
Christian Pilgrims from abroad, as well as local Christians are denied access to their Holy Sites. Where is the uproar against this?
 *
Where is the uproar against the Neanderthal rabbis that have recently called for the expulsion or the genocide of the Palestinians? WHERE??? As in previous years, the Palestinians living on the ‘other side’ of the great wall of apartheid will be sealed in for the duration of the Holiday (8 days), literally making the State of Israel Arabrein for that period of time. Where is the uproar against this? WHERE???
Israel does need a cleansing… a good one; not only of bread during the Holiday season but also of hatred. Both are violations of the Holy Teachings.

WHAT NETANYAHU’S ‘APLOLOGY’ MEANS TO THE CHILDREN OF PALESTINE ~~ IN VIDEOS

Netanyahu ‘apologised’ to the ‘Arabs’ in Israel for the racist remarks he made on Election Day.

He was worried that the ‘Arabs were voting in droves’ to unseat him. The following two videos might explain why they wanted him unseated … 

Where is the apology to these children?

This video was shot during a night raid on ten homes in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron. B’Tselem does not say who shot the video, but typically the videos it releases are made by Palestinians.

Children terrorized

Masked soldiers enter Palestinian homes in Hebron in dead of night, order residents to wake their children, and photograph the children.

Late at night on 23 Feb. 2015 Israeli troops entered 10 neighbouring apartments in Hebron. They demanded that the children be awakened, asked their names and photographed them. B’Tselem volunteers who live there filmed the incident. The military cannot treat civilians–and certainly not children–as potential criminals. Not only is this policy of entering Palestinian homes by night unjust and terrifying. It illustrates how casually and arbitrarily the lives of Palestinians under occupation are disrupted and their rights violated. B’Tselem calls on the military to discontinue this policy without delay.

 

Read Ali Abunimah’s full report HERE

NETANYAHU’S TWO STATE SOLUTION ~~ ONE WITHOUT PEOPLE

zions mantra in establishing the State of Israel was “A land without a people for a people without a land”.

The mantra of today in reference to a State of Palestine is simply “A land without people”.

The Nakba of 1948 is an ongoing process

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Latuff ~~ The ongoing Nakba

Latuff ~~ The ongoing Nakba

Click on the following links to read what has been happening since Israel’s election …

The illegal settlers and the IDF are working hand in hand

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And President Obama remains silent

"Not my problem"

“Not my problem”

His silence speaks volumes

ISIS // ZIONISM ~~ CAN YOU SPOT THE DIFFERENCE?

             THREE POSTS IN ONE ...

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Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has taken his campaign of violent incitement against Palestinians to new extremes with a call for those disloyal to Israel to have their heads chopped off.

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Israeli foreign minister calls for beheading Palestinians

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has taken his campaign of violent incitement against Palestinians to new extremes with a call for those disloyal to Israel to have their heads chopped off.

He also repeated his long-standing demands for expulsion of Palestinian citizens of Israel.

“Anyone who’s with us should be given everything – up to half the kingdom. Anyone who’s against us, there’s nothing to do – we should raise an axe and cut off his head; otherwise we won’t survive here,” Lieberman said at an election event Sunday, in reference to Palestinian citizens of Israel.

According to Israel’s Mako news website, Lieberman made his comments in an interview with journalist Udi Segal during the “Electing Democracy in 2015” conference at IDC Herzliya, an Israeli college.

There are about 1.5 million Palestinians, survivors and descendants of those who escaped expulsion from present-day Israel in 1948, who are nominally citizens of Israel. Palestinians commemorate this ethnic cleansing, which they call the Nakba (Arabic for “catastrophe”) every year on 15 May.

While they have a vote in Israel’s upcoming election, Palestinian citizens of Israel face relentless legal and social discrimination and violent incitement and calls for expulsion.

Lieberman wants ethnic cleansing

“There’s no reason for Umm al-Fahm to be part of the State of Israel,” Lieberman said in reference to a large town in the north of present-day Israel with a predominantly Palestinian population. “Citizens in the State of Israel who fly a black flag on Nakba Day – as far as I’m concerned they should go away, and I’ll donate them to Abu Mazen with great joy.”

Lieberman’s reference to “donating” Palestinian citizens of Israel to “Abu Mazen” – the Palestinian Authority’s leader Mahmoud Abbas – amounts to a renewed call for ethnic cleansing.

The Israeli foreign minister, who heads the extreme anti-Palestinian Yisrael Beiteinu party, has a long history of violent incitement. In a recent Facebook posting, Lieberman called for the execution of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

According to polls, Lieberman’s party is set to lose seats at the upcoming 17 March parliamentary election. His comments may be an effort to galvanize Israel’s anti-Arab vote, which has been drifting to other openly genocidal parties such as Naftali Bennett’s partyHabayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home).

It is not only Israel’s right-wing politicians who appeal to voters with incitement to violence against Palestinians; Israel’s ostensible left does it as well. In a recent election ad, Yitzhak Herzog, head of Israel’s allegedly dovish Labor Party, accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of not hitting Gaza hard enough.

In a 51-day assault last summer, Israel committed numerous war crimes, devastating Gaza and leaving more than 2,200 people dead.

Lieberman’s latest violent incitement will feed comparisons frequently made between Israel – the self-declared “Jewish state” – with ISIS (or ISIL), the self-declared “Islamic State” notorious for its brutal beheadings of hostages in the areas it occupies in Iraq and Syria.

With thanks to Dena Shunra for translation.

 

If the Moldavian bouncer gets his way ...

If the Moldavian bouncer gets his way … MK Zoabi is surely on his list.

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 Response …

Tibi: Liberman is a ‘Jewish ISIS’

Arab MK fires back at Foreign Minister who advocated “cutting of the heads” of Arabs who were not loyal to Israel.
MK Ahmed Tibi  Flash 90

MK Ahmed Tibi Flash 90

Balad MK Ahmad Tibi said that Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s statements calling to decapitate “disloyal Israeli Arabs” are severe and require a police investigation.

Tibi, who made the statements while addressing some 1,000 Israeli Arabs studying in Jenin University, called Lieberman a “Jewish ISIS,” and said that if an Arab MK would have made a similar statement, police and the attorney general would have opened proceedings against him immediately.

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Meanwhile, zion’s entity in the West bank ….

Once again, the PA is ganging up on its own citizens in order to receive a certificate of good conduct from the likes of Binyamin Netanyahu, Avigdor Lieberman and Naftali Bennet.

PA is arresting Palestinians to please Israel

By Khalid Amayreh in Occupied Palestine
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Once again, the PA is ganging up on its own citizens in order to receive a certificate of good conduct from the likes of Binyamin Netanyahu, Avigdor Lieberman and Naftali Bennet.According to the latest news from the West Bank, PA security agencies, including the Preventive Security and General Intelligence (Mukhabarat) have been raiding homes and businesses of supporters of the Islamic liberation group, Hamas.Reliable sources in the West Bank reported that as many as a hundred activists have been rounded up in the still-ongoing sweep, including college students, university professors, and former detainees just released from Israeli jails.No specific charges have been leveled against the detainees, widely believed to be innocent of any wrongdoings.The PA didn’t spell out the exact motives behind the latest campaign, which targeted families said was carried out with “vengeance and vindictiveness.”

A PA spokesman in Ramallah said Monday the arrests were a reprisal for the arrest by Hamas’s security apparatus in Gaza of a local Fatah leader, reportedly accused of “indulgence in improper behavior.”

However, the large scope of the arrest campaign in the West Bank seems to suggest that the PA is hell-bent on persecuting its own people on Israel’s behalf.

A few days ago, the PLO Central Council, decided to terminate all security coordination with Israel. However, a huge question mark is drawn over the willingness of the PA leadership, e.g. Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, to halt security collaboration with Israel.

Abbas has been quoted repeatedly as saying that security collaboration with Israel is “a sacred commitment”, and an “ultimate red line.” Hence, most Palestinians and observers are skeptical about Abbas’s willingness to carry out the decision.

From the Israeli view point, the PA would lose its very raison d’être should it halt full security collaboration with the Jewish state.

Hence, stopping the one-sided security collaboration between the PA and Israel could possibly spell the end of the very existence of the PA.

However, the elimination of the PA goes against the wishes of the US, Israel’s guardian ally, EU, as well as regional states such as Jordan and Sissi’s Egypt.

Israel, too, views the continued survival of the PA regime as a paramount Israel interest. Israel views the PA very much as a sub-contractor for managing the occupation, on Israel’s behalf. The disappearance of the PA would create a huge security and financial burden for Israel as the Jewish state would be forced to cater for the livelihood and welfare of more than four million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Israel would also be forced to redeploy tens of thousands of its troops throughout Palestinian towns.

Needless to say, the PA has been doing the job rather faithfully on behalf of Israel ever since the conclusion of the hapless Oslo Agreement in 1993. And this was done with minimal Israeli obligations toward the Palestinians.

More to the point, under the umbrella of this ignominious arrangement, which was supposed to expire by 2000, Israel continued to confiscate Palestinian land, build and expand Jewish settlements and use every conceivable method to persecute, repress and torment Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Real irony

The continuing arrest of dozens of innocent Palestinian activists comes at a time when the PA is being thoroughly humiliated and blackmailed by the occupying power, Israel. The Zionist entity has been withholding hundreds of millions of dollars of Palestinian tax and customs revenue, levied by Israel on behalf the PA pursuant to the Paris protocol of 1994.

The freezing of these funds has caused a virtual financial collapse of the PA, which has not been able to pay the salaries of its estimated 140,000 civil servants and security personnel in full.

The PA has appealed to western countries, especially the US, to pressure Israel to release the funds. However, it is unlikely that Israel will unfreeze the funds anytime soon, especially before the Israeli elections, slated to take place on 17 March.

The Israeli government is worried that unfreezing the Palestinian funds now would be a sign of weakness to the Israeli Jewish public, which has a clear propensity to support right-wing and extreme-right wing parties, such as Netanyahu’s Likud.

In addition to withholding Palestinian funds, Israel has been waging a murderous campaign against ordinary Palestinians.

On 7 March, the Israeli occupation army murdered a Palestinian fisherman. Tawfik Abu Rayala, 34, was killed when an Israeli navy patrol strafed Palestinian fishermen in northern Gaza with machinegun bullets, killing the young fisherman and injuring a number of other fishermen.

Several other Palestinians have also been killed in various parts of the West Bank as the Israeli occupation army adopted a shoot-to-kill policy in dealing with Palestinian protesters.

A few months ago, Israeli troops near Ramallah, murdered Ziyad Abu Ein, prompting widespread indignation.

Israel, whose navy routinely opens fire on impoverished Gaza fishermen, had murdered more than 2000 Palestinians, mostly innocent civilians during its last summer blitz against Gaza. The victims include some 300 children.

In fact, the Israeli killing machine never stopped murdering and maiming Palestinians as the Zionist entity continued to narrow Palestinian horizons politically and economically.

Awarding Israel for its crimes

In light of all this, many ordinary Palestinians are openly accusing the PA of being at Israel’s beck and call and even awarding Israel for murdering and persecuting Palestinians.

Ahmed Suleiman, a Palestinian professor at Hebron University, described the PA behavior of arresting pro-Hamas activists in the West Bank as “a treasonous act par excellence.”

“We all know that Israel considers Hamas its archenemy. So by cracking down on Hamas in the West Bank, the PA is effectively telling Israel that ‘ your enemy is also our enemy.'”

REMEMBERING WHAT ISRAEL WANTS US TO FORGET

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Today, synagogues throughout the world commemorated Shabbat Zachor (Sabbath of Remembrance). On this day the first known enemy of the Hebrews, Amalek, is remembered. On this day as well the combined Hate Lists of the ADL and the Wiesenthal Centre are dug out to confirm that Amalek still lives today.
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Yes, Amalek still lives. There is no doubt in my mind about that, BUT NOT ON THOSE LISTS. Amalek lives right here in Israel. He is remembered every day of the year by Palestinians, but especially this week, the 21st anniversary of the massacre in Hebron by a crazed American zionist.
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The week a mosque was torched in the Occupied West Bank and a Christian Seminary torched right here in Jerusalem. Both incidents the work of crazed settlers.
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He is remembered every day that a Palestinian child is lowered into the grave, yet another victim of Israeli terrorism.
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He is remembered when a family in Gaza visits the graves of loved ones killed by Israeli soldiers.
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gaza graves

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How quickly zionism forgets the war crimes committed daily against the Palestinians. How quickly the Western World forgets them as well, mostly due to media blackouts in the zionist controlled press in those countries.
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The fate of those who resist the above atrocities is also remembered …
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Yes, we remember those crimes every day of the year. And yes, we will never forget them or forgive those that committed them.
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TWO MUST SEE VIDEOS ~~ THE ISRAEL YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT

BookMark this post and watch later if you must …. But DO watch them! 

Viewer discretion advised

Israelis torturing non-Jewish children documentary film full length. The still picture shows Palestinian girl Nesreen Hash’hash after being shot in the face by an Israeli soldier.

Israelis torturing non-Jewish children. 2014 Australian documentary film. Viewer discretion.

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And who do you think made that all possible?

Talk by Alison Weir, Executive Director of If Americans Knew, President of the Council for the National Interest, and author of the book “Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel” recorded July 30, 2014 at the Common Good Cafe at University Temple United Methodist Church in Seattle, WA.

TalkingStickTV – Alison Weir – The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel

PALESTINE ~~ STAGE OF A MODERN DAY GREEK TRAGEDY

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

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Greek Tragedies

Mazin Qumsiyah, PhD

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE TEMPEST WE KNOW AS THE OCCUPATION

Every day is Friday the 13th in Palestine

Every day is Friday the 13th in Palestine

The following is from the archives. As the cold winds blow in Jerusalem, the report is as valid today as when it was originally posted.
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Freezing cold winds, rain and threats of snow is what Jerusalem is experiencing today. That’s fine for those living in homes or apartments, but what about those living in tents or on the street? Even worse than the storm itself are the ongoing illegal activities of zionism in East Jerusalem neighbourhoods, Sheik Jarrah in particular. The evictions from private homes continue due to the implementation of lebensraum; Israel’s ‘final solution’ in motion … a policy that is supposedly opposed to by the West and the EU, but still in motion nevertheless.
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For some background on this almost forgotten struggle, I present here a five year old Op-ed from The New York Times; … nothing has changed.
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Not all Israelis agree with this policy. For over a year, hundreds, sometimes thousands, of Israelis and Palestinians have been gathering in Sheik Jarrah on Fridays to protest the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes. Israeli courts have deemed these nonviolent demonstrations to be legal, but this has not stopped the police from arresting protesters.

In a cruel historical twist, nearly all of the Palestinians evicted from their homes in Sheik Jarrah in the last year-and-a-half were originally expelled in 1948 from their homes in the West Jerusalem neighborhood of Talbieh. In the wake of the Six-Day War, Israeli courts ruled that some of the houses these Palestinian refugees have lived in since 1948 are actually legally owned by Jewish Israelis, who have claims dating from before Israel’s founding.

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Who Lives in Sheik Jarrah?

By KAI BIRD
Published: April 30, 2010
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AS a boy, I lived in Sheik Jarrah, a wealthy Arab neighborhood in East Jerusalem. Annexed by Israel in 1967 and now the subject of a conflict over property claims, my former home has come to symbolize everything that has gone wrong between the Israelis and Palestinians over the last six decades.

Despite talk of a slowdown in Israeli construction in East Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, Jerusalem’s mayor, toured Washington earlier this week and told officials that the expansion into Arab neighborhoods is going ahead at full speed.

As a result, “The battle line in Israel’s war of survival as a Jewish and democratic state now runs through the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem,” writes David Landau, the former editor of the Israeli daily Haaretz. “Is that the line, at last, where Israel’s decline will be halted?” I hope so.

My family lived in Israel from 1956 to 1958, when my father, an American diplomat, was stationed in East Jerusalem. We lived in the Palestinian sector, but every day I crossed through Mandelbaum Gate, the one checkpoint in the divided city, to attend school in an Israeli neighborhood. I thus had the rare privilege of seeing both sides.

At the time Sheik Jarrah was a sleepy suburb, a half-mile north of Damascus Gate. One of my playmates was Dani Bahar, the son of a Muslim Palestinian and a Jewish-German refugee from Nazi Europe. Before the establishment of Israel in 1948, such interfaith marriages were uncommon, but accepted. Another neighbor was Katy Antonius, the widow of George Antonius, an Arab historian who argued that Palestine should become a binational, secular state.

The Sheik Jarrah of my youth is gone; Mandelbaum Gate was razed by Israeli bulldozers right after the Six-Day War in 1967 that united Jerusalem. But the city remains virtually divided. Few Jewish Israelis venture into Sheik Jarrah and the other largely Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, and few Palestinians go to the “New City.”

Today East Jerusalem exudes the palpable feel of a city occupied by a foreign power. And it is, to an extent — although much of the world doesn’t recognize Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refuses to halt the construction of new housing units for Jewish Israelis in the Arab neighborhoods. “Jerusalem is not a settlement,” he recently told an audience in Washington.

Not all Israelis agree with this policy. For over a year, hundreds, sometimes thousands, of Israelis and Palestinians have been gathering in Sheik Jarrah on Fridays to protest the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes. Israeli courts have deemed these nonviolent demonstrations to be legal, but this has not stopped the police from arresting protesters.

In a cruel historical twist, nearly all of the Palestinians evicted from their homes in Sheik Jarrah in the last year-and-a-half were originally expelled in 1948 from their homes in the West Jerusalem neighborhood of Talbieh. In the wake of the Six-Day War, Israeli courts ruled that some of the houses these Palestinian refugees have lived in since 1948 are actually legally owned by Jewish Israelis, who have claims dating from before Israel’s founding.

The Palestinians have stubbornly refused to pay any rent to these “absentee” Israeli landlords for nearly 43 years; until recently, their presence was nevertheless tolerated. But under Mr. Netanyahu, a concerted effort has been made to evict these Palestinians and replace them with Israelis.

This poses an interesting question. If Jewish Israelis can claim property in East Jerusalem based on land deeds that predate 1948, why can’t Palestinians with similar deeds reclaim their homes in West Jerusalem?

I have in mind the Kalbians, our neighbors in Sheik Jarrah. Until 1948, Dr. Vicken Kalbian and his family lived in a handsome Jerusalem-stone house on Balfour Street in Talbieh. In the spring, the Haganah, the Zionist militia, sent trucks mounted with loudspeakers through the streets of Talbieh, demanding that all Arab residents leave. The Kalbians decided it might be prudent to comply, but they thought they’d be back in a few weeks.

Nineteen years later, after the Six-Day war, the Kalbians returned to 4 Balfour Street and knocked on the door. A stranger answered. “He was a Jewish Turk,” Dr. Kalbian said, “who had come to Israel in 1948.” The man claimed he had bought the house from the “authorities.”

That year the Kalbians took their property deed to a lawyer who determined that their house was indeed registered with the Israeli Department of Absentee Property. Under Israeli law, they learned, due compensation could have been paid to them — but only if they had not fled to countries then considered “hostile,” like Jordan. Because in 1948 they had ended up in Jordanian-controlled Sheik Jarrah, the Kalbians could neither reclaim their home nor be compensated for their loss.

The Kalbians eventually emigrated to America, but their moral claim to the house on Balfour Street is as strong as any of the deeds held by Israelis to property in Sheik Jarrah.

If Israel wishes to remain largely Jewish and democratic, then it must soon withdraw from all of the occupied territories and negotiate the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital. And if not, it should at least let the Kalbians go home again.

Kai Bird is the author of “Crossing Mandelbaum Gate: Coming of Age Between the Arabs and Israelis, 1956-1978.”

LOOK THROUGH THE EYES OF A PALESTINIAN TEEN

Israeli filmmaker explores life through the eyes of Palestinian teen

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By Alex Shams
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JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — The short documentary “Khelil Helwa (Hebron is Beautiful)” follows a young boy from Hebron’s Tel Rumeida neighborhood as he goes about his daily life, uncovering the matrix of Israeli military control that defines every aspect of life in the occupied West Bank.For Palestinians, the footage may at first appear somewhat unremarkable, and the scenes of soldiers barking orders and even arresting the film’s 15-year-old star, Awni Abu Shamsiya, are heart-breakingly familiar.But for Israeli-American filmmaker Yuval Orr, it was the hope of showing the footage to Israeli audiences that motivated production.”I want Israelis to see more films that challenge what they think they know, or challenge the moral stance that is very easy to take at a distance,” he told Ma’an during an interview in West Jerusalem.”How many Jewish Israelis really go to Hebron if they’re not soldiers or settlers?”

‘Quiet before the storm’
The film, which was produced as part of the ActiveVision film collective, spans a mere nine-and-a-half minutes but manages to offer a complex and insightful look at daily life in central Hebron through the eyes of one of the city’s own children.”Khelil Helwa” is surprisingly unburdened by statistics, maps, or figures, allowing the potential viewer — particularly if Israeli — to sympathize with Awni’s perspective regardless of their political perspective.And while Orr concedes that this approach risks depoliticizing the inherently political nature of the struggle facing young Palestinians like Awni, he argues that it also opens up other opportunities for outreach.”All of the words that we use to describe the ‘conflict,’ the ‘occupation,’ or the ‘situation’ are extraordinarily flawed, and as hard as you try to remain objective with language, its very difficult,” he told Ma’an.

He said he did not want to “color viewers’ perspectives and allow them to shut down, or be primed for a film they are going to identify with.”

Instead, by allowing the viewer to experience Awni’s life directly and without introduction, he said the the film forces them to confront the humanity they share with the teen.

These concerns also motivated Orr’s decisions on which scenes to include in the film. He told Ma’an that he hesitated at times about whether to depict moments of violence that occurred on camera or to instead focus on the many daily struggles and humiliations that characterize the life of young people in central Hebron.

“It was important for me to have those moments of relative calm where you see the soldiers twirling their whistles at the checkpoint or yawning, because so much of life in Hebron is that. It’s these moments of intense quiet before the storm, and then shit gets crazy.”

“In moments of violence it’s very easy to draw the lines, but it’s more difficult in moments of quiet, where you feel the weight of what it’s like to live there. It becomes very difficult to deny the humanity of this kid,” he told Ma’an. “It’s a struggle to walk that line.”

Hebron is ‘extraordinarily uncomfortable’
Although Orr grew up in the United States, he studied Arabic for years in Egypt and Morocco and speaks Hebrew as well. Part of his family traces their roots in Jerusalem back more than 400 years, and he told Ma’an that he comes from a line of rabbis originally from Morocco and Spain.He admitted that the family’s roots in Palestine are so deep that his grandmother even occasionally admits to considering herself Palestinian, if he “catches her on the right day,” he said, laughing.For Orr, working on the film was part of his own journey back to Israel to confront his relationship to the occupation and the realities of Zionism.He told Ma’an that he was drawn to Hebron because of the uniquely difficult situation there.

The process of making the film itself was also full of difficulties and strange experiences, he said, as filming was frequently blocked by Israeli soldiers who forced him to turn off the camera or demanded to know what he was doing.

Once while following Awni’s journey to school, meanwhile, a Palestinian police officer stopped the filming, concerned about a man following a child with a video camera in an area where Jewish settlers frequently stalk and harass locals.

“There’s something about being in Hebron that’s extraordinarily uncomfortable,” he told Ma’an. “I wanted to personally to face that down, and to force other people to face that down as well.”

“Hebron is the worst of the worst, and the kids who grow up in that environment are the most underprivileged, the most oppressed by the system, the ones who feel the occupation on a daily basis the hardest,” he added.

‘A little spark of hope’
Indeed, Hebron is distinguished from other areas in the West Bank by the existence of Jewish settlements inside the city itself. Israeli authorities have shut down hundreds of Palestinian shops in the last few decades and paved the way for the flight of thousands in order to ensure the security of the few hundred Israeli settlers who have taken over parts of the Old City.One scene in the film tackles one of the most pressing issues facing the area, the system of mass incarceration deployed against local teens by soldiers as punishment for even the most minor offenses.Awni is seen standing on a street in the neighborhood when stopped by soldiers, who accuse him of having harassed a group of male settlers in their 20s who were walking by. The soldiers then grab him and forcibly take him away, in what was the third such arrest in his life.Orr told Ma’an that since he finished filming, Awni has been arrested yet again.

Unlike previous times, when he was put away for a few days and then released after his family paid a large fine, this time, Orr said, he is being charged with throwing stones at a checkpoint. Under a new Israeli law, for Palestinians the charge of throwing stones can mean years of hard jail time.

“It’s a terrible situation and a terrible reality,” Orr told Ma’an. “The film shows exactly how harsh it is to live under occupation, but not even, because there are so many things that will happen to him in a day, in a week, in a month, or in a year that are not in the film. He’ll tell me about a 2 am house raid (by Israeli soldiers), but I’m not capturing that on film.”

“I walk away from the film in amazement that Awni and his entire family are able to hold on to their dignity and to their humanity, in a situation that I think most people born into those circumstances would not be able to. For a 15-year-old kid, he’s incredibly wise, incredibly humane, incredibly brave, and those are also things I take away from the film and hope that others will take away as well.”

With Awni potentially facing years in an Israeli military prison, however, it’s unclear whether the qualities that have helped him persevere and which have made him so strong until now, will manage to survive much longer.

“There’s that little spark of hope that’s there,” Orr told Ma’an. “But then you break it.”

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