IN PHOTOS ~~ SUPPORT FOR ‘THE DREAMERS’ CONTINUES TO GROW

  On Sept 9th, once again,  4,000 DACA demonstrators flooded  New York City’s Columbus Circle across from Trump’s International Hotel.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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IRONIC PHOTOS OF THE WEEK ~~ ILLEGALS AGAINST ‘ILLEGALS’

The illegal, OUTLAWED JDL demonstrates against ‘illegal immigrants’

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 MASSIVE DEMO @ COLUMBUS CIRCLE .

THE “DREAMERS” ARE THE YOUTH WHICH WERE PROMISED STAYING IN THE U.S. UNDER THE OBAMA DACA LEGISLATION WHICH IS NOW UNDER THREAT FROM TRUMP.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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Related report (Click on link)

Paul Ryan Says Trump Should Not End Protections For Dreamers

The House speaker has tried to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program through Congress.

DEPORTING SOLIDARITY FROM ISRAEL

Israel is not the first to use deportation as a weapon …..

 

This video is meant to demonstrate by music + images that the immigration problem isn’t new, but has a long history. This video takes no political position concerning immigrants or immigration, but is meant to honor Woody’s song, Arlo’s singing, and the many immigrants who have worked, suffered, been deported, etc.
This is just a slide show using Woody Guthrie’s classic song as sung by his son Arlo and public domain (I believe) images; hopefully this will not violate any Fair Use copyright guidelines. All music performed by Arlo Guthrie, video/music collage edited/created by Dulcimerea.

Deporting Solidarity: One activist’s experience being detained in Ben Gurion airport

Moara Crivelente

Scattered inscriptions written with toothpaste and food on the bunks and walls of an Israeli facility at the Ministry of Interior Population, Immigration and Borders Authority (PIBA) declare: “for each International Solidarity Movement you deport back home, ten more will come!”  Me and many before me read those words as we waited for our deportation. After hours of interrogation at the Tel Aviv Ben Gurion International Airport, we received a 10-year ban from entering the State of Israel for “security reasons.” With no further explanation, we were declared a threat.

During the seven-hour wait at the airport, I was repeatedly interrogated and questioned. Right from the start, I was told by two security officers that it has already been decided: I was getting deported, unless—said the one who played the role of the “good cop”—I cooperate.

To “cooperate” meant to tell them about every corner I had been in and every person I had met in Palestine on previous visits. They demanded I say that I witnessed Palestinian protesters throwing stones at armed Israeli soldiers during demonstrations I attended—which they supposedly already knew of from pictures taken by the IDF. I was calm and I answered their questions obligingly until they asked me for my cellphone’s password. I told them that I was a PhD student conducting research, and my purpose of visit was to take a course on International Law in Ramallah with Al-Haq organization, but I refused to give them my password or my contacts.

To gain access to my phone meant that Israeli security forces would gather names of activists and Palestinian “culprits.” In 2014, Gary Spedding, a British activist, went through something similar. Israeli forces collected messages and contacts from his phone and he was deported, after being accused of possibly causing tumult if he were to be allowed inside the country, due to his activity on social media.

I had interactions with Israeli agents where I was ordered and moved around, taking me from one room to another. From border services, where they took my picture and collected fingerprints, to a room where my body and my luggage were fully searched, to another room where I waited—and this I only understood later, since I was given no information—for the transportation to the facility where I was detained. From there I got a new order, “Get in the car.” I was alone with two agents; I sat in the backseat of a van with metal plaques blocking the driver’s cabin.

Only when we reached the facility did I get information about my flight back, which was leaving in nine hours. There I met a young Australian woman who had been waiting for four days and would only leave on the fifth. We were granted one phone call, food, ten minutes in the yard and a door that locked from the outside. We waited. At some point there were nine of us in a room with five bunk beds, much like a cell. Most of the detainees were women from Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Uzbekistan that were planning on touring in Israel and Palestine but were denied entry.

The Australian woman was also declared a threat: she participated in a protest in Bil’in on a previous visit, a village I had also been to. There, an organization called the “Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall” administers weekly protests against the Israeli occupation which took its toll on the village by reinforcing detentions and extending the Israeli separation wall to engulf agricultural land. The resistance has been partly victorious, and the wall’s course had to be slightly diverted. The committee’s own coordinator, Abdullah Abu Rahmah, who was already imprisoned before, is waiting for a new trial for new accusations.

I was taken by car from the detention center directly to the airplane’s door. An agent escorted me inside the aircraft and delivered my documents (which had been in their possession the whole time) to the flight attendant.

Deporting solidarity

It is within Israeli policy to deport activists who demonstrate solidarity with the Palestinian cause to end the Israeli occupation. That is not news. In 2003, for instance, eight members of the International Solidarity Movement, all European and North American, were deported because they were protesting against the confiscation of Palestinian land to construct the Israeli separation barrier near Jenin, in the occupied West Bank. Protestors were also moving roadblocks near Nablus to call attention to the obstacles Palestinians face in movement on their own land.

In 2011, about two hundred activists were detained and deported upon their arrival at the Israeli airport. A Haaretz news article from July of that year informs that a group of twenty-five people who were suspected of being “pro-Palestinian activists” had their entries denied. Sixty-nine others had already been questioned and deported in the same period of time. Israel’s Ministry of Transport had also delivered airline companies a list with the names of 342 other people who were barred from boarding planes to Israel.

Another Haaretz article from the same month states that “Israel has thus far been successful in preventing the entry of 200 passengers wishing to come to Israel as part of the Welcome to Palestine campaign, which had organized a ‘fly-in’ to the Middle East this weekend for solidarity visits in the Palestinian territories.” This only reveals a fragment of Israeli tactics of persecuting any demonstration of solidarity with the Palestinian people. Academic campaigns and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) have been the most visible targets. Israeli harassment of Palestine activism does not stop there: Israeli human rights groups are also infringed upon. Breaking the Silence, an Israeli platform for soldiers to come forward and give testimonies about the crimes and atrocities they have witnessed and participated in with the Israeli Defense Forces, is an example of such organizations.

There are numerous cases of Palestinian deportations by Israel since the beginning of the military occupation. From 1967 to 1992, according to B’Tselem, Israel has deported 1,522 Palestinians from their own territories. In 2002, 32 people were deported from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip for “administrative reasons,” with no charges or trials against the deportees, and without their defenses being heard.

A 10-year ban

Brazilians do not need visas to visit Israel, and Israelis do not need visas to visit Brazil. However, I doubt that a sum of deportations from either countries would be balanced, let alone for political reasons. In 2015, two other Brazilians from Palestinian descent were denied entry on a solidarity visit, part of a group of social movements coming from the World Social Forum in Tunisia. They were also banned from returning to Israel in the future.

Going back to Palestine is not an option for the next 10 years—unless the Israeli Embassy grants a “special permit,” or until the Palestinians can finally control their own borders. If this experience results in an appeal, it would be for the end of the Israeli occupation. After all, that is the target: solidarity with the Palestinian people and a joint struggle for a free Palestine.

ISRAEL WANTS TO DEPORT MY CAT

First they came for the Arabs …. 

Then they came for the gays ….

Now they are after my cat!

Israeli minister weighs population transfer — of kittens

Arguing that spaying and neutering violates Jewish law, Israel’s agriculture minister proposes a crime against humanity — against cats.

My precious Katyusha … (she flies across the room like a rocket) Photo © By Steve Amsel

My precious Katyusha … (she flies across the room like a rocket) Photo © By Steve Amsel

We knew it would happen sooner or later. The occupation has finally come home to roost. The darkest of Israel’s injustices, mass displacement and population transfer, is now threatening the Tel Aviv left-wing establishment’s holiest of holies — cute, little kittens.

Israeli Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel is proposing a full-fledged population transfer of Israel’s stray feline population, or rather all of its males, or females. No, seriously. We’re not making this up.

The transfer plan was revealed in a letter from the minister that was published by Yedioth Ahronoth on Monday. According to the report, Ariel, a religious Jew, is looking for alternatives to spaying and neutering the cute little creatures because he believes doing so violates Jewish law.

In the letter, Ariel suggests taking the budget for neutering and spaying and instead using it to “transfer dogs and cats of a single gender (all the males or females) to a foreign country that is willing to accept them.”

The wording, “finding a foreign country that would agree to take” them, is, of course, reminiscent of Israel’s efforts to deport African asylum seekers to third countries, often times in exchange for weapons or other unpublished quid pro quo arrangements.

Many asylum seekers who took part in such “voluntary deportation” programs were sent to Uganda and Rwanda, and have reported that they were left with no money or legal status, many being forced to live on the streets.

One must seriously question whether Israel will be able to negotiate a better, more humane deal for its unwanted feline infiltrator population. Even more worrying: will tabbys and white cats receive better arrangements than their darker-furred brethren?

Click HERE to hear Arlo Guthrie sing about deportees

Click HERE to hear Arlo Guthrie sing about deportees

And then there is the question of how to actually get the cats on planes? Will Ariel hire trappers? Will he leave a trail of cat nip or canned tuna? Or maybe he’ll just line the streets of Tel Aviv with cardboard boxes?

Zehava Galon, head of the left-wing Meretz party, responded to the forced transfer plan by suggesting “this is the time to find a foreign country that will agree to take [Minister Ariel].”

Which begs the question, what country would actually agree to take in the kittens? If no sovereign country is found to take in the feline exiles, Israel could always build them their own settlement somewhere in the West Bank.

Ariel, usually known for trying to spark intifadas and religious wars with his Temple Mount activism, is now making new enemies — Israel’s animal rights movements.

“Does Uri Ariel think that transferring [the cats] from here will cause them less suffering,” preeminent animal rights organization “Let the Animals Live” asked in a Facebook post Monday morning, in which it promised to challenge the population transfer in Israel’s High Court.

At least there’s that. The cats will have their day in court.

Written FOR By  Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man

A LOOK INSIDE THE US IMMIGRATION DETENTION SYSTEM

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Ghost town detainees: inside the US immigration detention system

After a detention centre was built in one of Georgia’s poorest towns, the promised financial benefits never arrived. Instead thousands of immigrants are locked up, awaiting deportation

By Antony Loewenstein FOR

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The operators claim the facility isn’t run like a private prison. In reality it operates like one.’ Photograph: Antony Loewenstein

‘The operators claim the facility isn’t run like a private prison. In reality it operates like one.’ Photograph: Antony Loewenstein

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Stewart immigration detention centre is situated on the outskirts of Lumpkin, Georgia, a ghost town seven days a week. Visitors and detainees arriving at the centre – capacity: 2,000, all male – are greeted by a huge painted sign on a water tank: “CCA: America’s Leader in Partnership Corrections.”

I toured the centre, with the exception of the isolation ward, when I visited Georgia in August. Five men followed me everywhere: one from the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the centre operator, and the rest from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). It felt like overkill. They looked nervous the entire time, worried about my questions, worried something unexpected could happen and worried that I’d see something that would embarrass them. Down a long hallway, lit brightly with neon lights and smelling of paint and detergent, lines of inmates walked past me – some smiling, some waving and some looking forlorn.

Since October last year, ICE has removed more than 100,000 people from the US.’ Photograph: Antony Loewenstein

‘Since October last year, ICE has removed more than 100,000 people from the US.’ Photograph: Antony Loewenstein

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Despite the White House this year describing the surge of immigrants as an “urgent situation”, and privatised detention centres opening across America, Barack Obama continues to postpone his long-awaited immigration reforms, leaving many feeling betrayed. Since October last year, ICE has removed more than 100,000 people from the US. They are mostly Guatemalans, Hondurans and El Salvadorans who were in the US unlawfully – the three countries comprise roughly 29% of ICE removals federally. Just this year 70,000 children will arrive alone on America’s border, fleeing poverty and the US-led drug war in Central America.

The average inmate stay at Stewart is only 38 days, far less than most prisons. It’s virtually impossible for the detainees to establish any sense of permanence. It’s positive that long-term detention is largely avoided, unlike in detention centres in Britain, Greece and Australia, but inmates are often moved from one facility to another while others with deep roots in America are deported back to their country of origin without transparency. They are numbers to be processed.

Many inmates live in large, barred pods, with a maximum occupancy of 62. Others live in smaller rooms or the segregation unit. I spotted a few female CCA staff inside the pods with the male inmates. A sign next to one of the rooms read, “Upon Entering Detainee Pod All CCA Female Staff Will Announce Female in POD.”

Another pod had its lights dimmed because the inmates started working in the kitchen at 5am and were resting. CCA pays US$4 per day for inmates to perform kitchen duties, and less for other jobs (barbers receive $2, for example). ICE was proud to tell me that the law only mandates the state paying $1 per day, so CCA is doing a fine job.

‘Keep Detention Safe: ICE has zero tolerance for sexual abuse and assault.’ Photograph: Antony Loewenstein

‘Keep Detention Safe: ICE has zero tolerance for sexual abuse and assault.’ Photograph: Antony Loewenstein

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Men in a different, brightly lit pod were laying on their bunk beds under blankets and sheets. A microwave, cable TV, sink, Playstation and Wii were inside. One man was wearing headphones to listen to the TV in front of him. Basins and toilets were behind a curtain. Metal tables and seats were fixed to the floor. “I’m not saying it’s like the Hilton here”, an ICE manager said. Signs in English and Spanish read, “Keep Detention Safe: ICE has zero tolerance for sexual abuse and assault”.

A notice listed a phone number for inmates to call if they needed assistance. Telephones are available for inmates to call lawyers, embassies and friends, but the cost is exorbitant because of price gouging from companies making a fortune selling phone cards to inmates. It’s ahugely profitable business, just one of many markets to be exploited inside America’s incarceration system.

The library was stocked with countless Bibles and romance novels. Detainees played soccer and basketball, both inside and outside under the bright, blue sky. They have two hours daily to enjoy the outdoors. In the medical centre I saw an inmate in an orange jumpsuit and orange Crocs shoes hooked up to a drip. The medical offer refused to tell me about his condition. I wondered if it’s sickness or something worse; a few months before my arrival detainees went on hunger strike after complaints about rotten food. As soon as I see him we’re moved on.

I then passed a guard staring into a darkened cell. He was looking through a small window at an inmate sitting, looking straight ahead, with eyes wide open. He wasn’t handcuffed, but sat perfectly still in a flame retardant suicide smock, like a straitjacket. What exactly could he use to light himself when locked in a cell on his own, with the guard watching him like a hawk? The medical officer said that suicide watch wasn’t always necessary, but with the high rate of removals from Stewart a detainee’s state of mind was often fragile.

Another door led to the centre’s own court, where claims by immigrants who wish to remain in the country were assessed. The courts are under the executive, not the judicial branch of government, and serious questions exist over their lack of accountability. Many decisions aren’t even written down, hearings are secretive and access to lawyers is difficult. Almost every immigrant brought before the court is issued a deportation order.

Unlike America’s prison population, where drug and alcohol use and abuse are common, ICE told me that these problems don’t exist at Stewart. Throughout the visit I never saw any abuse, violence or racism. It was the ideal tour. My hosts were friendly and attentive, and dismissed the numerous inmate claims. One detainee I spoke to told me of racist taunting and abuse by guards, and boredom. He had heard about maggots in the food from a fellow detainee but hadn’t seen it himself. His own story was troubling, a migrant from Guyana in the 1970s facing deportation to a nation he hadn’t seen in 40 years.

Although both CCA and ICE claim the facility isn’t run like a private prison, in reality it operates like one. But according to Silky Shah, co-director of Detention Watch Network, CCA and other operating companies have only so much power. “They don’t have complete control,” she says. “Decisions are being made by politicians.” She is campaigning against a Congress-mandated quota that dictates 34,000 immigrants must be imprisoned in ICE centres nightly; CCA is effective at lobbying to ensure ongoing contracts.

A report released recently by some of America’s leading advocacy organisations found that ICE arrests in Georgia increased by “at least 953%” between the 2007 and 2013 financial years. Georgia’s rate of imprisoning immigrants was directly related to the colour of their skin: over that same period of time, only 1.6% of those detained by ICE were of “fair or light complexion”.

Huge numbers of families have also been separated, including individuals who had been living in Georgia since at least 2003. On the day I arrived at Stewart, 1,766 detainees were behind bars, the vast majority from El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico and Guatemala, with 60 other countries represented.

Shah’s organisation believes that “private interests should not be involved” in the detention business. But privatised incarceration is only one profitable area of commerce. She worries that companies selling ankle monitoring and surveillance will benefit if Obama even moderately reduces the number of people in detention.

“We believe in abolishing all detention centres in US”, Shah says. “At the moment, the burden is on the detainee to prove why they should stay but the burden should be on the government to justify expulsion. They should assess if the immigrant has community support.”

‘CCA’s strong financial performance never arrived in Lumpkin.’ Photograph: Antony Loewenstein

‘CCA’s strong financial performance never arrived in Lumpkin.’ Photograph: Antony Loewenstein

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Out in Lumpkin, the streets were deserted. The shops on Main Street were mostly empty, paint fraying on the window panes. A taxidermy outlet was one of the few open businesses. The town, in one of America’s poorest counties, is all but unknown to most Americans. Its population barely breaks 1,000.

I met a man in his 20s, either high or drunk, who was hanging out at a petrol station with his friends. He had a tattoo on his bare chest: “Me Against The World.” He told me he’s been living in Miami. “It’s so much better there,” he said. He was only there for a short visit.

The town’s dwindling youth population are leaving for greener pastures in bigger cities nearby. CCA started building Stewart in 2004, and sold the idea to ICE and the local community years later as both an economic benefit for local residents and a deterrent in a state traditionally hostile to immigrants.

Although the company’s 2014 financial results were strong, the benefits never arrived in Lumpkin. Many staff members don’t live in the town, but commute from more viable cities. Lumpkin reminds me of crumbling towns next to other detention facilities I’ve seen in Australia, Britain and Greece. The same failed promises from the same centre companies and state authorities were made in those nations too. The economic promise of a local detention centre is usually a lie.

Even in the detention centre itself CCA’s own employees struggle financially. I met one guard who was selling potato crisps, bottled water and chocolates to raise money from staff to support struggling CCA employees around the country. Although it’s admirable that people want to help, it’s revealing that the company doesn’t raise wages, but instead facilitates the sale of junk food.

In tough circumstances this kind of charity is often all people have. In Lumpkin, a small, Christian-run volunteer group, El Refugio, supports the visitors and families of detainees coming to the town. They operate a house over weekends very close to Stewart detention centre and offer free meals, accommodation, clothes and shoes – and comfort.

When I pay a visit one Saturday, a few days before my official tour inside Stewart, people from Atlanta and Columbus are providing a compassionate ear to an inmate. The conversation goes on for around an hour, with some hearing horrific stories. One man, Greg, tells me that “many Americans think anyone who enters America ‘illegally’ should be deported but we want to show a different side of people.” One of the group’s founders, Katie Beno Valencia, says El Refugio remains committed to shutting down any facility that makes money from misery.

This kind of humanity is sorely missing from America’s immigration debate, defined by toxic rhetoric from many Republicans and timidity from Democrats. Adelina Nicholls, executive director of Georgia Latino Alliance For Human Rights, doesn’t believe America wants to solve its immigration issues. “US people often care more about hunger in Ethiopia then poor Guatemalans here”, she told me at her office on the outskirts of Atlanta.

‘The economic promise of a local detention centre is usually a lie.’ Photograph: Antony Loewenstein

‘The economic promise of a local detention centre is usually a lie.’ Photograph: Antony Loewenstein

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As a key representative of the large Latino community in Georgia, Nicholls sees the effect immigration detention has on individuals and families. “Stewart detention centre hurts us deeply and many detainees inside have been in the US for years,” she says. “They ask, ‘Why are gringos doing this to us?’ These workers have been employed for years in farms and restaurants and anger is growing. We are trying to mobilise resistance and civil disobedience.”

Her organisation receives at least 600 calls a month on its hotline, mostly Latinos asking for help. “It’s hard getting effective pro-bono lawyers here”, she tells me. “There are overly high bails for our clients … it’s a racist mindset [in Georgia]. It’s white supremacy with its concerns over brown people. It’s more profitable to behave this way.”

I saw just how profitable the industry can be when I visited the American Correctional Association conference in Salt Lake City in August. The five-day event brings America’s prison industry, wardens, county officials and lobbyists under one roof. As America shifts slowly but noticeably away from mass incarceration towards privatised probation, half-way houses and surveillance, new markets emerge. CCA’s CEO, Damon Hininger, has noted that his company is “well-positioned for growth opportunities”.

At Salt Lake City everything is on show: surveillance devices, Swat team uniforms, weapons, plastic e-cigarettes for inmates, drug-testing kits and prisoner-made furniture. Green prison designers and service contractors offer their services to public officials eager to spend tax dollars.

These are people who look at America’s prison and immigration system and see dollar signs. One night at an outdoor rooftop party I spoke to a man who works at GTL, a provider of communication and technology to prisons. The company’s website describes itself as a “corrections innovation leader”. He said he loves his job because he embraces new technology and revels in the chance to promote it.

“This industry hasn’t changed for over 100 years because of men who didn’t see any need to do so”, he said. “But new technology is forcing these shifts and my generation is at the forefront of it.”

HOW ISRAEL PROFITS FROM AMERICA’S ‘BORDER POGROMS’

Israeli companies, specialists and top military brass have become an increasingly visible presence at border and “homeland security” trade shows in the years since the 11 September 2001 attacks.

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How Israel’s war industry profits from violent US immigration “reform”

Gabriel Schivone *

Bill approved by Senate and stalled in the House guarantees more deaths along the US-Mexico border and huge payouts to Israeli contractors whose military technology has been “battle-proven” on Palestinians living under occupation.

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The militarization of the US-Mexico border is a lethal and lucrative business. (sarah-ji/Flickr)

Im/migrant rights advocates in the US organized a national day of action on 5 April, the day they expected President Barack Obama’s record-breaking rate of deportations to reach a total of 2 million during his administration.

But scant attention has been paid to the list of global benefactors awaiting the profits from legislation escalating border militarization.

Israel, America’s closest ally, tops the lineup of patrons eager for rewards while advocates demanding a meaningful overhaul of US immigration and border enforcement continue their defiant battle in the streets. In this setting, rights supporters must know which global partners stand beside the US in repressing undocumented im/migrant communities.

But how does the situation in Palestine — thousands of miles away — affect US immigration reform and vice versa? What does one have to do with the other?

Quite a lot, actually.

“Border security on steroids”

Take the recent news that Israeli arms manufacturing giant Elbit Systems won a USDepartment of Homeland Security (DHS) contract to provide surveillance technology along the southern divide with Mexico, initially in Arizona.

Specifically, Elbit will provide its sensor-based Peregrine surveillance system for Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Integrated Fixed Tower project, which consists of ground radar and camera technology mounted on towers strewn throughout the borderlands. Congress approved the plan earlier this year.

A Bloomberg trade analyst estimated that Elbit’s $145 million award “may eventually reach $1 billion if legislation to rewrite US immigration laws passes Congress and helps fund the project’s expansion in the Southwest” (“Israel’s Elbit wins US border work after Boeing dumped,” 27 February 2014).

The little-discussed Corker-Hoeven amendment attached to the 2013 Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744) is the key legislation referenced by the Bloomberg analyst. The Senate passed the bill last June; the House of Representatives has stalled on voting on the package in any form.

Promoted as “border security on steroids” by the bill’s co-author, Republican Senator from Tennessee Bob Corker, the measure sets aside $46 billion for security “triggers” that must be in place in areas including Arizona before a pathway to citizenship can be opened for an estimated 11 million people living undocumented in the US today.

No wonder that DHS’s $145 million payment to Elbit could skyrocket by 700 percent. And that’s just one bid by one Israeli company. There could be many more to come.

Israel and the “homeland security” industry

Journalist Todd Miller, author of the book Border Patrol Nation (City Lights Books), interviewed numerous corporate leaders and scoured boundary-enforcement security fairs and expos across the Southwest.

Miller described to The Electronic Intifada his constant encounters with Israeli security peddlers in the borderlands.

During his research for the book, Miller wasn’t looking for Israel anywhere. Yet the state’s agents kept surfacing at every turn, he said.

Israeli companies, specialists and top military brass have become an increasingly visible presence at border and “homeland security” trade shows in the years since the 11 September 2001 attacks.

The US has spent $100 billion on immigration enforcement in the decade since then.

In that time, Israel became the world’s sixth-largest defense exporter and a leading supplier and consumer in the budding border-security industrial complex (“Israel ranks as the world’s sixth largest arms exporter in 2012,” Haaretz, 25 June 2013).

Companies large and small such as Elta Systems, Elbit Systems and NICE Systems have provided technologies including radar, virtual fencing and CCTV surveillance for Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Phoenix, Arizona department, as Jimmy Johnson has reported (“A Palestine-Mexico Border,” North American Congress on Latin America, 29 June 2012).

The Golan Group (founded by former Israeli special forces officers) provided training sessions for the US Border Patrol, as Naomi Klein notes in her 2007 book The Shock Doctrine.

Israel aids deadly “deterrence” strategy

Elta Systems got a boost in late 2012 when, Haaretz reported, the US Border Patrol hired the company to provide radar along the border “to protect the US-Mexico border against illegal migrant infiltration.” US Border Patrol’s deal offered the company “a potential market worth hundreds of millions of dollars.”

The US partnership with Israel is reciprocal: where the US has the finances, Israel has the expertise.

On the company’s end, according to Raanan Horowitz, CEO of Elbit Systems of America, the Peregrine system “will meet the demanding mission requirements of the Customs Border Protection (CPB) while enhancing its agents’ safety” (“Elbit Systems of America awarded contract for US Customs Border Protection integrated fixed towers project,” Elbit Systems, 8 March 2014).

But what does this situation look like in terms of human consequences? In CBP’s statedmission of “keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the US,” under the pretext of personal safety, Border Patrol agents have killed at least 19 persons in recent years, often under the alleged threat of rock-throwing (“Border Patrol’s use of deadly force criticized in new report,” Los Angeles Times, 27 February 2014).

In this deadly equation, the reform legislation’s amendment calls for a “military-style surge” of 700 more miles of “border fencing” and doubles the current number of Border Patrol agents to 40,000 (“Border security: Boost for Senate immigration bill,” Associated Press, 20 June 2013).

Two decades of border militarization

Increased deployment of military-style resources to strategic areas along the border has mushroomed since the early 1990s, as Joseph Nevins documents in his book Operation Gatekeeper: The Rise of the “Illegal Alien” and the Making of the US-Mexico Boundary.

President Bill Clinton, expanding on past boundary security-enforcement trends under his predecessors Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, instituted a new “deterrence” strategy designed to “reroute” migrants away from urban areas and into “geographically harsher,” more “remote and hazardous border regions” where the treacherous terrain would potentially kill them (“656 Weeks on the Killing Fields of Arizona,” The Huffington Post, 12 November 2012).

In such a way, planners devised, the “mortal danger” of the “geography would be an ally to us.”

This aggressive shift came less than a decade after the last immigration overhaul. In 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act opened the door to citizenship for three million people of extra-legal status and increased border controls for those continuing to come, but without addressing the US-based economic and political policies driving migration.

Predictably, within a decade of the “deterrence” policy’s onset, “Arizona had become a killing field,” Tucson-based journalist Margaret Regan describes in her book The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands.

Israel continues to reap the benefits from US border militarization as the levels of death and suffering grow in line with an enriching investment climate.

Border death rate doubles

A June 2013 study by scholars and forensics specialists at the University of Arizona’s Binational Migration Institute and the local county medical examiner’s office found that the rate of migrant deaths had nearly doubled in the previous two years (“A continued humanitarian crisis at the border: undocumented border crosser deaths recorded by the Pima County office of the medical examiner, 1990-2012” [PDF]).

As more and more bodies are recovered, government and media continue to report all-time lows in apprehensions by the Border Patrol. Yet the simultaneous increase in border deaths remains enormously underreported.

But this is all good news to Senator Corker, who urged those concerned with border security not to worry because the bill is so tough that it’s “almost overkill.”

In fact, the package “is not only sufficient, it is well over sufficient,” Arizona Republican Senator John McCain concurred. “We’ll be the most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall,” McCain boasted.

More drones

One provision in S. 744 would add 18 more unmanned aerial vehicles (also known asdrones or UAVs) to the already ballooning fleet operated by Customs and Border Protection.

Israeli-built “Hermes” drones were the first deployed along the southern border with Mexico as early as 2004. Currently, the fleet buzzing throughout the borderlands skies is wholly comprised of US-made Predator B drones, according to a CBP spokesperson.

Rivaling the US as the world’s leader in such technology, Israel can still view immigration reform as a hefty bounty for its “battle-proven” military technology that is “tried and tested on the West Bank and Gaza.”

As proposed in the legislation, the path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people in the US would take at least 13 years. Even then, the measures would benefit only those who are able to afford the mounting fees associated with the process, according to an analysis by Coalición de Derechos Humanos.

Though it won overwhelming approval in the Democrat-controlled Senate, the bill has stalled for nine months in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Many House members are hostile to any pathway to citizenship for undocumented people. Worse, House Republicans, like their Senate counterparts, have shown a penchant for fueling the fantasy of border security as a sound solution to US immigration issues.

A new military occupation

The US and Israel both continue to dispossess indigenous people of their lands, and even of their existence.

In the US, Native peoples are left out of the “immigration reform” discourse altogether. Even though some are US-born, they are “undocumented” in every sense of the term, since they were born at home and lack a birth certificate.

The ancestral lands of the Tohono O’odham people span from modern-day Sonora, Mexico into southern Arizona — bisected by the Mexico-US border wall. Some were born on one side of the divide but grew up or spend most of their time on the other side and are therefore considered suspect by Border Patrol.

Miller writes in Border Patrol Nation: “While it may seem that the days of killing or corralling Native Americans and annexing their territories are an ancient and forgotten chapter in US history, the experience of the Tohono O’odham Nation show us that nothing can be further from the truth.” O’odham people regularly face abuse, harassment and even death at the hands of US Border Patrol.

Some of the country’s largest Border Patrol stations (and at least one US military outpost in a remote location, known as a “forward-operating base”) surround the Tohono O’odham Nation as the second-largest reservation in the US, and military-style checkpoints control all movement entering and leaving the nation. According to Miller, this presence of federal forces occupying permanent positions on Tohono O’odham lands is the largest in US history.

The extra layers of militarized infrastructure isolates the nation while still in Arizona, Miller observes, “as if the nation itself were a foreign country under a new, post-9/11 form of military occupation.”

Israel benefits either way

Whether or not Congress passes the reform bill, Israel will benefit from any security legislation subsidized through the emerging border-security complex. Even without anticipated reform boosts in funding, for instance, Congress passed its 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act earmarking some $351 million for “border security fencing, infrastructure and technology” through 2016 — nearly half of which DHS dished out right away for Elbit’s Peregrine contract.

The first time Elbit won a major border enforcement contract was in 2006, subcontracted by leading US firm Boeing for “virtual fence” technology. The contract was part of theGeorge W. Bush administration’s “Secure Border Initiative.” Security-based programs continue to be funded, and appear likely to increase, so long as US policy remains fixed on border militarization.

More broadly, Israeli access to the gargantuan US defense industry is mutually serving. Grateful for its own piece of the pie, the Arizona state legislature observed in a unanimous 2012 resolution: “Israel receives vital military and security assistance from the United States, much of which, in turn, is spent here in Arizona with its defense contractors” (“Arizona-Israel bill raises some unsettling questions,” The Arizona Republic, 25 March 2012).

Israel’s security merchants eagerly hope US immigration reform passes; if not, they’ll look out for the next gravy train.

“Not 1 More” deportation

On 11 October 2013, I and others in Tucson, Arizona kicked off the first of many efforts to shut down Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The actions have been cropping up across the country, known as the “Ni Uno Mas/Not 1 More” campaign.

Early that October morning, a group of us stopped two deportation buses — run by British security giant G4S, a major Israeli contractor in the occupied Palestinian territories — off the I-10 freeway and locked our arms into devices around the buses’ front tires.

The prison vehicles were on their way to the downtown federal courthouse (around whose front gates a group of six others locked their arms) to dump their newly captured “human cargo” into a mass prosecution program called Operation Streamline.

But the buses never made it to their destination that day, sparing 72 detainees from a ghastly show trial that epitomizes the inhumanity of current US immigration and border enforcement policies.

Every day, Operation Streamline takes approximately seventy apprehended migrants and gives them criminal records and often lengthy jail sentences. The US government does this instead of processing undocumented migrants’ cases through civil or administrative immigration courts, a long-established legal practice in such situations.

Thanks to such industrial-scale prosecutions, Latin@s now represent more than half of all those sentenced to federal prisons.

As of 2012, more than 200,000 people have been prosecuted through Streamline-related enforcement throughout the Southwest and US interior since the program’s onset in 2005 — with 74,000 prosecutions in Tucson alone since January 2008.

The “triggers” contained in S. 744 would expand Streamline by 300 percent.

Since October, civil disobedience actions — many of them nationally-coordinated, involving both non-citizen and citizen activists alike — have spread all over the United States. Tactics range from blocking deportation buses to shutting down ICE offices, facilities and jails.

Immigrant youth climbed up on ladders in Fresno, California, to block deportations from the city jail.

In New Jersey, snow fell on activists as they lay on their backs, locked together, blockingthe entrance of a detention center in Elizabeth.

There have been similar efforts in San Francisco, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Tacoma, Austin and Washington, DC, among other cities.

In Arizona on 17 February, outside Eloy Detention Center, family members of detainees — some imprisoned for years — began a two-week hunger strike.

The longer the possibility of immigration reform is delayed, the greater the levels of social indignation may escalate.

With these actions, im/migrant justice advocates have created a “left flank” to dramatize the human voices and stories left out of “immigration reform” debates. Such efforts can potentially pull the liberal-rightist agenda, crystallized in S. 744, away from the current path of more mass death in the deserts and higher family separations in the cities.

As Israeli war profiteers and their US paymasters act as the syringe for the deadly “steroids” injection into efforts at immigration reform, im/migrant and Palestinian justice advocates can and must strengthen their resistance to these injustices — from Palestine to Arizona.

*Gabriel M. Schivone is a youth organizer with UNIDOS indigenous ethnic studies group in Tucson, Arizona and an ad hoc steering committee member of National Students for Justice in Palestine.

Written FOR

GUESS WHO’S KEEPING THE MEXICANS OUT …

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Who’s the best at guarding borders and keeping the land free of intruders?

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Whatever happened to …

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Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems said the US Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection (CBP) awarded its subsidiary a contract to deploy border surveillance technology in southern Arizona.

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Israeli electronics to protect US border

Defense company Elbit Systems wins Department of Homeland Security contract to deploy surveillance systems along the Arizona border.

Reuters via

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Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems said the US Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection (CBP) awarded its subsidiary a contract to deploy border surveillance technology in southern Arizona.

Known as the Integrated Fixed Tower contract, it includes a base period quantity and options that CBP may exercise over several years. Currently, CBP awarded the base period quantity for a portion of the $145 million total contract amount, to be implemented over one year, Elbit said on Sunday.

“Arizonans have been waiting more than a decade for the Department of Homeland Security to place the needed technology along our border to support the Border Patrol and fully secure our southern border,” US Senator John McCain of Arizona said in a separate statement.

“If this technology is developed, integrated and fielded correctly, these Integrated Fixed Towers in southern Arizona, coupled with the tremendous work of the Border Patrol, will give our agents the ability to detect, evaluate, and respond to all illegal entries crossing our border.”

EGYPT OFFICIALLY UNDER ISRAELI CONTROL

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First read THIS from HaAretz ….

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If you still have doubts about the heading of this post read on …

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CODEPINK Co-founder Medea Benjamin Detained, Brutally Attacked and Deported from Egypt en route to Gaza with International Delegation of Women

 

On the night of March 3, 2014, co-founder of the peace group CODEPINK Medea Benjamin was on her way to Egypt to join an international delegation of women going to Gaza when she was detained by border police in the Cairo airport, held overnight in a cell, and then brutally tackled (her arm badly injured), handcuffed, and deported to Turkey. During her time in the detention cell she had access to a cell phone, from which she contacted colleagues at CODEPINK about the poor conditions of the cell and chronicled her ordeal via Twitter. When the Egyptian police removed her from the detention center, they used such excessive force she sustained a fracture and torn ligament in her shoulder.

 

Calling from Istanbul, Benjamin gave the following statement: “I was brutally assaulted by Egyptian police, who never said what I was being accused of. When the authorities came into the cell to deport me, two men threw me to the ground, stomped on my back, pulled my shoulder out of its socket and handcuffed me so that my injured arm was twisted around and my wrists began to bleed. I was then forced to sit between the two men who attacked me on the plane ride from Cairo to Istanbul, and I was (and still am) in terrible pain the whole time.” Doctors in the Cairo airport said she was not fit to travel because of her injury, but the authorities forced her to board anyways.

 

She is currently in Istanbul, Turkey, receiving medical attention at a hospital before she returns to the US. It is still unclear why the Egyptians deported her. Medea’s colleagues at CODEPINK are appalled by the unnecessary use of force by Egyptian authorities.

 

In response to a call from the women of Gaza, Benjamin was traveling through Egypt to be a part of the CODEPINK contingent of an international coalition of 100 women traveling to Gaza to witness the hardships facing the 1.7 million residents, deliver humanitarian aid, and call attention to the need for a longer-term strategy to achieve peace and justice for Palestinians.

 

From a CodePink Press Release

IF YOU KNOW AN ARAB DON’T EVEN TRY ENTERING ISRAEL

I again asked why I was being deported. “Security.” “But what’s the reason?” “Security. That’s all I can say.”
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‘Do you know any Arabs in London?’ Israeli airport authorities grill British photojournalist before kicking him out

by Mark Kerrison
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“I don’t pretend to know night-time from day, but if I were your God I’d have something to say” (Ben Gurion Prison, 14th March 2013)

These words, scrawled inconspicuously on the wall just above my head amid a plethora of other graffiti, drew my eyes as I sat on a dirty, broken bunk in an Israeli ‘facility’.

Or at least that’s what the Israelis call it. In my lexicon, rows of cells with no door handles on the inside and double bars across the windows are found in a ‘prison’.

That’s where I found myself on 13th March, six hours after arriving at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport at the start of a photographic holiday.

Initially, things were as I would have expected on arrival in Israel.

At about 4 pm, I waited patiently in a queue to have my passport checked with a colleague from work that I had met by chance on the plane.

I stepped forward and was asked why I was visiting Israel and whether I’d visited before. I told the immigration official that I was visiting as a tourist and that I’d visited before as a child and in 2011.

This answer sufficed for him to tell me that my passport was being retained and that I should direct myself to a room in a quiet corner of the immigration hall for “a few more questions.”

I was surprised – I’ve travelled extensively without problems – but aware that security at Ben Gurion airport is quite unlike anywhere else in the world. I was also uncomfortable at having surrendered my passport, aware that this ran contrary to UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice because of the risk of passport cloning by Israeli authorities.

At first sight, the room indicated by the immigration official wasn’t too unwelcoming; generic airport seating and a drinks vending machine for those who travel with currency. Every seat was taken, though. I wasn’t sure if that was reassuring or not.

However: a young German female and I were the only Caucasians present. Travellers to Israel were being selected for interrogation based on their racial or ethnic profile. This appalled me and I set about counting. During the six hours that I was to spend in and around that room, 25 travelers were similarly detained; only three of us were Caucasian.

My turn for interrogation came at 6:40 pm, 2½ hours after my arrival.

“Mark, come.”

I followed a young Israeli woman in uniform into a small office. We sat at either side of a desk and a computer. On my left sat two casually dressed males. I was later informed that they were officers from Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service.

“Why did you come to Israel?” the woman started aggressively.

“For a much-needed holiday, a photographic holiday,” I replied calmly.

She failed to understand and asked me to speak up.

I repeated my answer, just as loudly and clearly as I had the first time.

It was already clear that no pleasantries were on offer in this office.

“Where are you going in Israel?”

I told her that I would first spend two or three days in and around Jerusalem, visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to pray for my brother (I explained why) and traveling to Bethlehem and Masada, before moving on to Tel Aviv, Haifa, Galilee and, I hoped, Eilat.

I was, of course, faced with the usual conundrum for anyone arriving in Israel wishing to include the West Bank as part of an itinerary. Mention any West Bank destination other than Bethlehem and you will be refused admission to Israel; fail to mention it and have it suspected and you will be refused admission anyway. I did also intend to visit the West Bank.

“Who do you know in Israel?”

“No one.”

“How long in Israel?”

“About three weeks.”

“What? Three weeks in Israel? Three weeks is too long! No one comes for three weeks to Israel!”

I considered pointing out that the Israeli Ministry of Tourism might see things differently, but thought better of it.

Instead, I repeated that I had three weeks in which to see as much of the country as I could.

One of the two men intervened.

“And the Gaza Strip? And the West Bank?”

“I am not visiting the Gaza Strip or the West Bank,” I said firmly but politely.

I felt as though I had been catapulted into a scene from a cheesy spy thriller, but although uncomfortable at being forced to state only a partial truth, I remained completely calm.

“Where are you staying in Israel?” the woman resumed.

I told her the name of my guesthouse, that I had booked two nights and handed her a copy of the reservation.

“Why only two nights?”

I explained that I only ever book one or two nights when I travel, so that I can plan my holiday on the fly and stay longer in places that I like.

“Where have you traveled this year?”

“Paris, Prague, Dublin and Turkey.”

“How can you travel so much? It’s not possible that you can travel so much.”

I explained that some of my trips were for work rather than for pleasure.

More intrusive questions followed, about my family, my marriage and family holidays.  Almost every question was followed by an inevitable “Are you sure?”

One of the men stood up.

“What about the Gaza Strip? When did you go to the Gaza Strip?”

“I have never been to the Gaza Strip,” I replied calmly.

At times, their interrogation, although intimidating, bordered on caricature.

The woman resumed.

“Is it your first time in Israel?”

“No. I came with my school when I was 13 and again in 2011.”

“Why did you come with your school? Are you a teacher?”

“No, I was 13!”

“What’s your job?”

I told her that I work in consumer electronics; I didn’t tell her that I also freelance as a photojournalist.

“When was the second time?”

“2011.”

“How long in Israel?”

“Two weeks.”

“Where did you go?”

“Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Bethlehem.”

“What? In two weeks? Only Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Bethlehem? That’s not possible!” she mocked.

I explained that it would easily have been possible to spend the entire two weeks in Jerusalem, so much was there to see in and around the city. I added that this was the main reason for me returning to see more of Israel.

“No one comes to Israel more than once!”

Another strapline for the Israeli Ministry of Tourism.

Other questions followed in quick succession.

I told her the name of the convent where I had stayed and that I had spoken to people in restaurants and shops as well as to other guests in the convent.

I reeled off a couple of random first names from memory and told her that we had spoken about Jerusalem’s religious and other tourist sites.

I recall thinking that it was a bit like conversing with a persistent toddler.

One of the men intervened.

“So you didn’t meet any Palestinians?”

“No, I didn’t,” I said clearly, gathering that there must be some kind of prohibition on speaking to Palestinians.

“Are you sure?”

“Very sure.”

“So if I take your phone I won’t find the names of any Palestinians?”

“No, you won’t.”

“It’s better if you tell me now because if I find them you’ll be in big trouble.”

I repeated my answer.

“Do you know any Arabs in London?”

“I have friends from many different countries owing to my work and studies.”

“What about Mohamed?”

“Mohamed? Who’s he?” I laughed.

He asked for my phone.

For an instant, I considered refusing – this seemed beyond the bounds of reasonable questioning – but any refusal would have been pointless.

He seemed satisfied with a quick check. I later discovered that he had used £5.00 of my PAYG credit without asking permission.

The woman asked me to write down my name, home phone number, mobile phone number, home e-mail address, work e-mail address, father’s name and grandfather’s name.

One of the men asked if I had any other e-mail addresses.

“No.”

“A facebook account?”

I had read an article suggesting that Israeli immigration officers ask travelers to open e-mail and facebook accounts for them to trawl, so I opted to say that I hadn’t.

This was a mistake.

He showed me on-screen an old e-mail address of mine entered in the sign-in page of a facebook account.

I started to explain, entirely truthfully, that I’d not actively used the e-mail address for years and that the facebook account has always remained entirely blank, but he cut me short and yelled at me from close proximity.

“You’ve been lying since the moment you walked through the door! Everything you’ve said has been a lie! Either you start to tell me the truth or you’re going to find yourself in serious trouble. I can make things very difficult for you. If I refuse you entry to Israel, you will have problems in many other countries. You will have to answer lots of questions about why you were refused entry to Israel. Now, tell me about your time in the West Bank. Who did you meet? Which Palestinians did you meet? Which Israelis did you meet? I want names. NOW!”

I repeated, quite simply, that I had not visited the West Bank.

“GET OUT! GET OUT!” he snarled at me.

It was about 7:25 pm. I shrugged my shoulders and walked outside.

He returned ten minutes later with my phone.

“You will not be entering Israel tonight.”

I sensed that there would be no tomorrow.

A shocked fellow detainee asked him why but he walked away.

On the face of it, I had been denied entry because I had forgotten about an e-mail account unused for years and a never-used facebook account; neither contained a single reference to either Israel or Palestine.

At 7.55 pm, an immigration officer led me to the baggage handling area.

The left-luggage attendant joked that he had completed a claim form because my rucksack had remained unclaimed for so long.

I guess he must repeat the same joke every day.

I was then led to a large room, closed to prying eyes. Everything was white. It contained a huge x-ray machine and a long row of tables.

I said that I didn’t have a laptop but that, as a photojournalist, I was carrying a lot of photographic equipment. This was the first time I mentioned that I also freelance as a photojournalist.

My luggage was x-rayed.

Two intelligence officers started to rifle through my rucksack with an electronic device as I was gestured into a small room by the immigration officer.

“Empty your pockets.”

I pulled out some British coins and my press credentials. My passport still hadn’t been returned to me.

I was then asked to remove my shirt and shoes and to unbutton my fly. I fixed the official in the eye as if to question this and he indicated that I should proceed.

I’d never been subjected to a strip search before.

Not in Soviet Russia. Not in Albania. Not in Latin America. Not in the US.

Only in Israel.

He patted me from head to toe and then swabbed me with an electronic device, including around my genitals.

An unwelcome invasion of privacy for me as a Caucasian male, I pondered how degrading and invasive this process must be for other travelers.

The contents of my rucksack and hand luggage had now been security-checked and were strewn all over the tables. I was asked to repack. Just the paraphernalia of modern life required by any backpacker on holiday.

Minus my bottle of water – they’d thrown that away.

At 8.25 pm, I was escorted back to the original room in the immigration hall. There were free seats now. An immigration official sat near to me.

A Muslim woman waiting when I arrived just after 4 pm was still there. There was no change in the ethnic profile of those waiting.

I had had no access to a toilet for over 5 hours and no food for 12 hours.

I phoned my guesthouse, knowing at least that I would no longer need accommodation that evening. I told them that I had been detained by Israeli immigration, that I did not know why and that I may or may not be allowed through the following day.

When I finished the call, the immigration official informed me that I was being deported. He apologised that I had not been told before and pointed out that he was not in charge. I asked him whether he knew why I was being deported; he said he didn’t.

At 9:20 pm, a female intelligence officer entered the room.

She also informed me that I was being deported and said that my flight to the UK would leave at 5 pm the following day.

I again asked why I was being deported.

“Security.”

“But what’s the reason?”

“Security. That’s all I can say.”

At 9:55 pm, two men told me that they were taking me to a ‘facility’ where I could eat and sleep.

One smiled as he read a form bearing my photo given to him by an intelligence officer.

“What did you do? Did you throw stones at the soldiers?”

I explained that I had just arrived in Israel on holiday and asked him if the form explained why I had been denied entry.

He said that my refusal came not from Israeli immigration but from the Shabak. I later learned that Shabak is another name for Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service.

I was transported to a prison in the back of an armored prison van, a journey of around 10 minutes from the airport.

Once there, a warder told me to leave my baggage downstairs and to take only my money and any jewellery. I could not take my stomach medication.

He asked my nationality and why I was there. I told him that I was from the UK and that I had come to Israel on holiday.

He offered me food – which I refused in protest at my unjust detention – and then apologized as he showed me to my cell, adding before he slammed the door that I should bang on the door if I needed anything.

It was 10:20 pm, over six hours after my arrival.

The lights were off, but I could see that the cell contained three double-bunks. Two were half-occupied and the occupants were trying to sleep.

I sat on the free bunk.

The cell stank of urine. There were double bars on the window. The door had a peephole but no handle on the inside. I could see a toilet and a basin. The walls of the cell and the underside of the bunk above me were covered in graffiti.

I used the toilet – my first opportunity for seven hours – and settled down to meditate on my bunk. I knew I wouldn’t sleep so I didn’t even try. I later discovered that I had been bitten by bed bugs merely from sitting on the filthy bunk.

As the night wore on, I could periodically hear other inmates shouting and banging on the doors of cells in the same corridor. Some of the voices were female. The only response I ever heard was an unsympathetic “Go to sleep!”

Two more men entered at around 7 am. They talked to one of the other occupants in Russian.

As daylight started to penetrate the barred window, I could see more of my surroundings. My bunk was broken in several places and there were bare electric wires sprouting from the wall right next to my head.

I began to read the graffiti. Those detained here had come from all over the globe. There were so many different languages represented.

I was shocked to think that all these people were being deported.

Much, if not all, of the text was harsh in its condemnation of Israel and its human rights record. I noticed a number of slogans calling for a ‘Free Palestine’. The few anti-Semitic comments and swastikas sickened me.

My eyes were most drawn, though, to some words in small, inconspicuous lettering immediately above my head: “I don’t pretend to know night-time from day, but if I were your God I’d have something to say.”

I found these words comforting and I memorized them.

I refused breakfast and lunch and tried to explain to my cellmates – only one of whom spoke a few words of English – that my refusal was in protest at my unjust detention. I should not, in any case, eat without my stomach medication.

I was sharing the cell with a Thai and three Moldovans. The Thai was being deported after four years in Israel and one of the Moldovans after ten years.

At 10 am, a cleaner arrived and we were ushered out of the cell. The Thai and one of the Moldovans left for their deportation flights. I joined the other two Moldovans for a quick cigarette outside, amusing myself with the thought that this was the only sun I would see in Israel. They also left an hour or so later.

At 4:10 pm, 24 hours after my arrival, a warder informed me that I was being taken to catch the 5 pm flight to London. He granted me access to my stomach medication. I had difficulty swallowing it without water. I hadn’t drunk any water for well over 24 hours.

I sat alone in a sealed compartment in the middle of an armored truck. Two immigration officers sat in the front, one carrying handcuffs.

We passed through a number of security checkpoints.

At one, the door to my compartment opened.

“Hello,” said a very young Israeli woman.

I returned her greeting with a smile and had a strong sense that she found it difficult to imagine that I had done anything wrong.

I hadn’t.

Maybe she had that feeling every time she saw someone pass in one of those armored trucks on their way to a deportation flight.

At 5:45 pm, I was escorted across the tarmac towards my flight, the first passenger to board.

One of the immigration officers explained that my passport would be handed to the captain, only to be returned to me when we reached the UK.

I was greeted by the Easyjet crew at the top of the mobile stairway. The captain handed me my passport and smiled.

“You’re on British soil now,” he said.

I still don’t know for sure why I was denied entry to Israel.

I imagine, though, that Israeli intelligence Google-searched my human rights photojournalism in advance of my arrival and decided not to interrogate me around that as to deny access to a holidaying photographer is less likely to attract criticism than to deny access to a photojournalist.

Until such time as our Governments apply genuine pressure on Israel to permit travelers to openly state on arrival that they wish to visit the West Bank without risk of being denied entry, I fear that other people, too, may find themselves in the same distasteful predicament.

Written FOR

JEWS WITH CONSCIENCE URGED TO STAY AWAY FROM ISRAEL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source

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

THESE ARE THE PEOPLE THE WIESENTHAL CENTER SHOULD BE GOING AFTER

article-1310725-0332CB950000044D-27_468x286
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Instead of wasting their and our time with their artificial anti-Semitism, the Center should concentrate on those in Israel itself who are conducing their own nazi campaigns. Be sure not to miss THIS post.
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Below is a Ynet report from today ….
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Feiglin: Pay Palestinians to leave West Bank

Likud’s most far-right figure proposes paying each Palestinian family in West Bank $500,000 to move to West

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Several Likud officials called for the annexation of the West Bank on Tuesday, in contradiction with the party’s official policy.

Despite being instructed by the Likud campaign not to give interviews, Moshe Feiglin made controversial statements during a conference in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

The Women in Green conference was attended by several Likud officials who discussed operative ways to impose Israeli sovereignty beyond the Green Line.

Feiglin, who earlier on Tuesday was detained by police after trying to pray at the Temple Mount, proposed paying Palestinians to leave Israel.

“The State of Israel is paying 10% of its GNP every year for the two-state solution and the Oslo Accords. It’s paying for separation fences, Iron Domes and a guard at every café. Soon we’ll have to place Iron Domes in every school in Tel Aviv.

“With this budget we can give every Arab family in Judea and Samaria $500,000 to encourage it to immigrate to a place with a better future.

“You may say, ‘But no one will have them.’ That’s not true because the Western nations are shrinking due to low birth rates. The question is whether the world will have Sudanese migrants who can’t build or migrants from Judea and Samaria who do know how to build.

“Polls conducted in Gaza and Judea and Samaria show that 80% (of Palestinians) in Gaza and 65% (of Palestinians) in Judea and Samaria want to immigrate. We have here the perfect solution. “

During the conference Minister Yuli Edelstein endorsed a gradual process of imposing Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank. MK Yariv Levin expressed similar views but admitted the chances of imposing Israeli law beyond the Green Line were not high.

Zeev Elkin proposed imposing sovereignty in the Jewish-populated areas first and then in the Palestinian areas.

A Likud official said, “These radical statements are good for Netanyahu from an election standpoint. They help get back rightist votes that shifted to the Habayit Hayehudi party. No one is going to annex the territories. It’s a good election slogan.”

He noted that Netanyahu will not publically condemn the statements.

THIS IS SO SICK I CAN’T EVEN COME UP WITH A PROPER HEADLINE FOR IT ~~ LET’S JUST CALL IT ‘EXPULSIONMANIA’

Since many of those who lost their residency rights from 1967 to 1994 in both Gaza and the West Bank were students or young professionals, their descendants today presumably number in the hundreds of thousands. Of the original people affected by the policy – nearly 250,000 – many have since died. But several thousands who were affiliated with the PA were granted the right to return in 1994; still other Palestinians have since been allowed to return for a variety of reasons.

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Israel admits it revoked residency rights of quarter million Palestinians since 1967

Many of those prevented from returning were students or young professionals, working aboard to support their families.

By Akiva Eldar
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Palestinian children in Hebron looking on as Shovrim Shtika lead a tour of the city.
Palestinian children in Hebron looking on as Shovrim Shtika lead a tour of the city, Feb. 26, 2012.
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Israel stripped more than 100,000 residents of Gaza and some 140,000 residents of the West Bank of their residency rights during the 27 years between its conquest of the territories in 1967 and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994.

As a result, close to 250,000 Palestinians who left the territories were barred from ever returning.

Given that Gaza’s population has a natural growth rate of 3.3 percent a year, its population today would be more than 10 percent higher, had Israel not followed a policy of revoking residency rights from anyone who left the area for an extended period of time. The West Bank’s population growth rate is 3 percent. Many of those prevented from returning were students or young professionals, working aboard to support their families.

The data on Gaza residency rights was released by the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories this week, in response to a freedom-of-information request filed by Hamoked – The Center for the Defense of the Individual. In its letter, COGAT said that 44,730 Gazans lost their residency rights because they were absent from the territory for seven years or more; 54,730 because they did not respond to the 1981 census; and 7,249 because they didn’t respond to the 1988 census.

It added that 15,000 of those deprived of residency are now aged 90 or older.

In May 2011, Haaretz obtained the figures on West Bank residents who were stripped of their residency rights. The report noted that Israel had, for years, employed a secret procedure to do so. Palestinians who went abroad were required to leave their identity card at the border crossing. Unlike those from Gaza, who were allowed to leave for seven years, these Palestinians received a special permit valid for three years. The permit could be renewed three times, each time for one year. But any Palestinian who failed to return within six months after his permit expired would be stripped of his residency with no prior notice.

Former senior defense officials told Haaretz at the time of that report’s publication that they were unaware of any such procedure.

Today, a similar procedure is applied to East Jerusalem residents: A Palestinian who lives abroad for seven years or more loses his right to return to the city.

GOGAT’s letter to Hamoked regarding the Gaza natives said that there are various ways for Palestinians to get their residency restored, and in fact, some of those Gazans who lost their residency rights later regained them. However, it added, it lacks the resources to comply with Hamoked’s request to be told the specific reason behind each such restoration.

Since many of those who lost their residency rights from 1967 to 1994 in both Gaza and the West Bank were students or young professionals, their descendants today presumably number in the hundreds of thousands. Of the original people affected by the policy – nearly 250,000 – many have since died. But several thousands who were affiliated with the PA were granted the right to return in 1994; still other Palestinians have since been allowed to return for a variety of reasons.

Consequently, the number of Palestinians still listed today as having lost their residency rights is about 130,000.

Among the more prominent West Bank residents who have been barred from returning are the brothers of the PA’s chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, who went abroad to study and subsequently lost their residency. They now live in California. Erekat said that having learned from their experience, he was careful to return to the West Bank periodically while he was studying abroad, so as to keep his residency permit valid.

Hamoked, which learned of the existence of this policy by chance while investigating the case of a West Bank resident jailed in Israel, charges that stripping tens of thousands of Palestinians of their residency – and thus effectively exiling them permanently from their homeland – is a grave violation of international law.

Source

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The ‘luck’ of those that stayed at home….

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Vandals slash tires, spray racist graffiti in East Jerusalem neighborhood

One car in the Shuafat neighborhood sprayed with the word ‘Ulpana,’ the part of the Beit El settlement where the High Court has ordered homes demolished.

 Oz Rosenberg
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Neve Shalom - Ahikam Sari - June 12
The entrance to Neve Shalom’s bilingual school. Photo by A

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Vandals slashed the tires of seven cars in the Arab neighborhood Shuafat in East Jerusalem early yesterday – one car was sprayed with the word “Ulpana,” the part of the Beit El settlement where the High Court has ordered homes demolished.

“We got up in the morning and that’s what we saw,” said Ibrahim Salah, a resident of Shuafat. “The people here are simple folk who want to live in peace. I don’t understand why people are doing this. This country is becoming racist …. Now foreign laborers are being targeted as well. Racism is rife in Jerusalem because of radical Jewish groups.”

Late Thursday night, vandals slashed the tires of 14 cars and sprayed racist slogans on three of them at the Jewish-Arab village Neveh Shalom near Latrun. Graffiti was also scrawled on the entrance to the community’s bilingual Arab-Jewish school.

The slogans included “Death to Arabs,” “Revenge,” and “Ulpana.” The secretary of the Neveh Shalom Association, Gideon Suleimani, sees the vandalism as “an attack on the idea of coexistence – the political idea on which the village was founded.” The police are investigating the incident.

“It’s a racist act directed against our community,” added Neveh Shalom resident Nava Sonnenstein.

“They did it so the children would see it when they went to school in the morning. We’ve been trying to bring Jews and Arabs closer for 33 years, but the waves of racism are stronger than we are.”

In recent months hate graffiti has been sprayed several times on the walls of the bilingual school near Jerusalem’s Beit Safafa neighborhood. The slogans have included “Death to Arabs” and “Kahane was right,” referring to the far-right American-Israeli rabbi who was assassinated in 1990.

The school is a symbol of coexistence in the capital, with an equal number of Jewish and Arab students.

Source

FROM PRISON TO OPEN AIR CONCENTRATION CAMP

  
Shalabi inside an ambulance after she crossed into Gaza
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 Israel treats hunger striker with deportation
By Khalid Amayreh
Frail but defiant, Hana Al-Shalabi has been deported to Gaza after sustaining a hunger strike against administrative detention for nearly 50 days, writes Khalid Amayreh in Ramallah

In a blatant effort to silence Palestinian political prisoners, particularly those who go on hunger strike to protest their open-ended detention without trial or charge, Israel has deported a young Palestinian woman from her hometown in the West Bank to the Gaza Strip.

Hana Al-Shalabi, who had been on hunger strike for nearly 50 days, was in visibly frail health when driven handcuffed and foot-fettered from the West Bank to the Beit Hanoun Crossing at the northern tip of the Gaza Strip.

Once in Gaza, she was rushed to hospital for medical treatment and rehabilitation. She was visited by Gaza’s political leaders, including Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh who called on the international community — especially Egypt — to put an end to Israeli arrogance and reckless behaviour towards Palestinian prisoners.

Haniyeh described the deportation as a sword drawn against Palestinian prisoners contemplating hunger strike to highlight their legitimate grievances.

As she was trying to overcome her extended ordeal, Al-Shalabi underlined that she was innocent of any wrongdoing. Al-Shalabi’s mother lashed out the “unjust Israeli justice system”.

“We told the Israeli authorities to try her in court, their court, if they have any evidence against her, but they wouldn’t listen to us. They simply have no legal ground to hold her. It is only a matter of arrogance and injustice. They are persecuting us because we are weak and helpless. They are oppressive, they are infidels.”

Al-Shalabi, who spoke faintly due to her frail health, was ambivalent about her unfolding ordeal. “I don’t feel defeated. Gaza is part of the homeland, and I am still among my people. But deportation has never been my desire. It was imposed on me, I had to accept it under duress,” said Al-Shalabi from her bed at Shefa Hospital in Gaza City.

“I am proud for having forced the enemy to let me go free; but the deportation is an expression of coercion, compulsion and oppression.”

According to the “agreement”, Al-Shalabi will be able to return to Jenin, her hometown, after three years. However, there are no guarantees that Israel won’t renege on the agreement.

Israel has been worried that a sustained and highly publicised Palestinian campaign against administrative detention might generate momentum that would lead to international pressure on Israel to revoke the illegal practice.

Israeli officials and spokespersons readily admit that the draconian measure “is not the ultimate exemplification of justice, legality and transparency”. However, they argue that it is quite effective in “subjugating, pacifying and deterring the Palestinian community”.

Earlier this month, former military advocate General Major General (Res) Avichai Mendelblit was quoted as saying that “administrative detention is not about the past, but about the future.” “This is not about judging a person for past activities, but avoiding some of the gravest acts from occurring.”

However, Eissa Karaki, the Palestinian Authority minister responsible for the estimated 5000 Palestinian political and resistance prisoners languishing in Israeli jails and detention camps, rejects the Israeli logic.

“This is an unacceptable logic that violates the boundaries of legitimacy and morality. Israel claims to be the only true democracy in this part of the world, but its behaviour and practices are void of any democratic value.

“And if Israeli leaders think that the end justifies the means, we remind them that this was exactly the logic that the Nazis used against European Jewry during WWII.

“Besides, since when was subjugating and pacifying the Palestinians, which is euphemism for persecuting and tormenting them, a legitimate goal? And how could any honest person justify punishing people for a crime they never committed in the first place? Do you think Israel would send a Jew into detention for 12 years for a crime that was never committed?”

Abdel-Nasser Farwaneh, who spent more than 10 years in Israeli jails, disputes Israeli claims about the pre-emptive nature of administrative detention: “These people are lying through their teeth. They try to give an impression that only problematic people are subject to administrative detention. But they are lying because thousands of doctors, university professors, teachers and other professionals have been targeted. Obviously, these people are political activists who peacefully protest oppression.”

Farwaneh said that the administrative detention policy, especially the recurrent imprisonment of community and political leaders without charge or trial, is intended to force as many Palestinians as possible to emigrate to flee oppression and persecution. He added that Palestinian leaders ought to seek adequate ways to thwart this “dangerous” Israeli policy.

Last month, a number of human rights organisations urged Israel to rethink its policy of administrative detention. This week, students, Arab as well as Jewish, at Tel Aviv University demonstrated on campus against administrative detention. The students denounced as illegal the practice that allows Israel to indefinitely hold political prisoners.

One professor who took part in the demonstration, Adi Ofir, said that administrative detention is but one of the routine crimes committed by the Israeli occupation, and that the occupation must end first before such crimes end.

Meanwhile, imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences for resisting the Israeli occupation, was sent to solitary confinement this week for sending a letter from his prison cell. Barghouti is considered one of the most popular leaders in the West Bank while Israel consistently refuses to release him though called upon to do so many times.

According to the regulations of the Israeli Prison Service, the smuggling of a letter out of prison results in a week’s solitary confinement and the revocation of cafeteria and visitation rights for the duration of the week.

In the smuggled letter, Barghouti urged Palestinians to launch a new popular uprising against the Israeli occupation. He reportedly argued that experience proved that Israel didn’t want peace.

He also pointed out that only through resistance was Israel forced to dismantle settlements in the Gaza Strip. The letter was sent to Fatah supporters on the tenth anniversary of his imprisonment.

Written FOR

PASSOVER CLEANING GONE TOO FAR

CLEANSING THE LAND OF BREAD AND ARABS
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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. 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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Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
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Following this report dealing with the latest round of racism you will find a post from the archives that I reblog every Passover eve…
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Zoabi: Expelling Arabs from Jaffa a ‘declaration of war’
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Hundreds of Arab Israelis took part in a post-Land Day march in Jaffa Saturday, under the banner “Jaffa is in danger.” 

The demonstrators protested what they called the “expropriation of land and expulsion of families from their homes.” 

Knesset Member Hanin Zoabi  (Balad), who participated in the march, said: “What the State failed to achieve during the Nakba, it’s trying to achieve today in every corner of our homeland. 

“This policy of Arab deportation has been going on for 63 years and it is nothing less than a declaration of war against us,” she continued. 

“We didn’t take over anyone’s land, we didn’t steal land from any Jewish citizen and we didn’t invade anyone’s home. I’m not the settler here. I just want to live in my home on my land,” she said. 

Full report from Ynet can be seen HERE

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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 inFiddler on The Roof.
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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.
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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.
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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….
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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.
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Christian Pilgrims from abroad, as well as local Christians are denied access to their Holy Sites. Where is the uproar against this?
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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???
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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.
 
 

SUDDENLY GAZA EXISTS …

Only for the purposes of deporting Palestinians from Israeli held areas and further separating a people from their families and loved ones…
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Israel to deport Palestinian woman on hunger strike to Gaza

Hana Shalabi, a member of the Islamic Jihad, stopped taking food after IDF troops seized her in the occupied West Bank on February 16.*

A Palestinian woman on hunger strike in protest at her detention without charges by Israel will be deported to the Gaza Strip under a deal ending her fast, her representatives said on Thursday.

Hana Shalabi, a member of the Islamic Jihad militant group, stopped taking food after Israel Defense Forces troops seized her in the occupied West Bank on February 16, becoming the second Palestinian detainee in quick succession to go on hunger strike.

Qadoura Fares of the Palestinian Prisoners Club said Shalabi had agreed to three years’ exile in Gaza, which is geographically separate from the West Bank and under Israeli blockade, “in return for ending her strike and being freed”
“We reject deportation, but this is her decision and her own life,” Fares told Reuters.

Shalabi’s lawyer, Jawwad Boulous, confirmed the agreement but said he did not know when it might be implemented given her deteriorated health. An Islamic Jihad spokesman said he had no knowledge of the deal.

An Israeli official said: “I am aware there were negotiations of that sort.” The official did not immediately elaborate.

Citing the need to protect intelligence sources from exposure in court proceedings, Israel held Shalabi without charge under so-called “administrative detention”.
But her original six-month detention was trimmed to four months by military judges on March 4.

Israel had previously held Shalabi for 25 months but released her in October under a prisoner swap with the Islamist militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza and, like Islamic Jihad, is deeply hostile to Israel.

Shalabi’s father, Yehia, said that since the exchange his daughter had not been active in Islamic Jihad.

Source

VIDEO ~~ PALESTINIAN REFUGEES ~~ THEN, NOW, FOR HOW MUCH LONGER

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Sam Bahour is a frequent contributor to this Blog. Below is a short description of who he is, followed by a talk he gave a few days ago in Ramallah. Watch it to get a good insight of what it means to be a Palestinian refugee today.
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Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American based in Al-Bireh/Ramallah, Palestine. He is a freelance business consultant operating as Applied Information Management (AIM), specializing in business development with a niche focus on the information technology sector and start-ups. Sam was instrumental in the establishment of the Palestine Telecommunications Company and the PLAZA Shopping Center and until recently served as a Board of Trustees member at Birzeit University. He is a Director at the Arab Islamic Bank and serves in various capacities in several community organizations. Sam writes frequently on Palestinian affairs and has been widely published. He is co-editor of HOMELAND: Oral History of Palestine and Palestinians. He blogs at http://www.epalestine.com.
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Who organised the above speaking event?
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TEDx,
x = independently organized event
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

‘HOLY SABBATH’ DELAYS DEPORTATION OF ACTIVISTS FROM ISRAEL

The 120 others will be expelled “as soon as there are places on appropriate flights,” she said, adding that because Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath, “there are not a lot of flights and this could take a bit of time.”


Israel to expel 120 pro-Palestinian activists ‎

9a136661.jpg

Israeli police arrest left-wing activists at the Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv. Israel was preparing to expel 124 mostly European activists who had managed to arrive on flights to the country as part of a pro-Palestinian protest.
[AFP Menahem Kahana]

JERUSALEM — Israel is preparing to expel 120 mostly European activists jailed after having managed to arrive on flights to the country as part of a pro-Palestinian protest, an official said Saturday.

But immigration service spokeswoman Sabine Hadad said four activists from Germany and Holland were authorized to stay after giving a written commitment “not to provoke disorder” and “to avoid places of (Israeli-Palestinian) confrontation.”

The 120 others will be expelled “as soon as there are places on appropriate flights,” she said, adding that because Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath, “there are not a lot of flights and this could take a bit of time.”

She said most of the activists were French, with the others being American, Belgian, Bulgarian, Dutch and Spanish.

While awaiting expulsion, they are being held at two Israeli jails — one in Ramleh near Tel Aviv and the other at Beersheva in southern Israel’s Negev desert.

The activists held in Beersheva refused to sign a pledge, while those in Beersheva were to be given the same option and expelled if they chose to refuse to make such a commitment.

“They are receiving the same correct treatment as all other prisoners,” prisons authority spokeswoman Sivan Weizman said.

The activists were participating in the “Welcome to Palestine” campaign, which some have called the “flytilla,” in which up to 800 activists were to fly in on a peaceful mission to visit Palestinian families.

Israeli authorities said they largely managed to pre-empt the campaign by foreign activists demonstrating for the right of access to the occupied West Bank.

Officials said that by notifying foreign airlines of ticket-holders who would not be admitted to Israel they had prevented hundreds from boarding at their ports of departure.

The “flytilla” took place as a flotilla of ships was being prevented by Greece from sailing to the Gaza Strip in a bid to break the Israeli blockade on the Palestinian territory.

Israeli news website Ynet said on Saturday that around 50 European pro-Palestinian activists who succeeded in breaching the checks at Ben Gurion Airport on Friday had crossed into the West Bank.

Some 150 Palestinians and foreign activists protesting near the Qalandiya checkpoint north of Jerusalem in the West Bank on Saturday were met with tear-gas grenades by the Israeli military, Ynet added.

A military spokeswoman said “the army dispersed protesters in Qalandiya and closed the checkpoint briefly.”

 

Source

ISRAEL DEFENDS ITS ‘RIGHT TO BE WRONG’

 Dozens to be deported from TLV airport, 5 Israeli activists arrested

Posted by Joseph Dana

Some 50 ‘Welcome to Palestine’ activists reportedly barred from entering Israel while hundreds others banned from boarding flights; bystanders jeer, assault Israeli activists as police look on.

Israeli activist Matan Cohen being detained by police at Ben Gurion airport (photo: Oren Ziv / activestills.org)

Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv – On one of the busiest travel days of the week, Ben Gurion International Airport just outside of Tel Aviv was in a state of near chaos this afternoon. Hordes of tourists mixed with hundreds of police officers and journalists in the grand arrival terminal as Israel prepared for the landing of hundreds of pro-Palestinian tourists attempting to travel to the West Bank. Last night, two pro-Palestinian American activists, who were also passengers on the US boat to Gaza, were detained by immigration authorities as they attempted to enter Israel.  They were the first of reportedly 50 activists who have been banned from entering the state of Israel in the last 24 hours. Hundreds of other tourists were not allowed to board their flights to Tel Aviv after Israeli security authorities sent their names to all airlines flying to Israel.

Over the past week, Israeli media has been frantically reporting that hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists planned to arrive at Ben Gurion airport with clear intentions to visit the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Part of a Europe-based campaign, “Welcome to Palestine,” their political protest has been labelled the “air flotilla” or “flytilla” by the international press, despite organizers rejecting connections to the flotilla, which was recently stopped by the Greek coast guard from sailing to the Gaza Strip. The Israeli media, at the time of writing, is referring to the event as a “Gaza fly-in” despite no proof or comment that passengers intend to travel to Gaza. In fact, the organizers have been clear in their desire to travel freely and openly to the West Bank and not Gaza.

Welcome to Palestine was meant to demonstrate the effective control of Israel over the Palestinian Territories. Visitors to the West Bank usually hide their destination for fear of being deported from Israel, but participants of Welcome to Palestine decided to openly declare their wish to visit Palestinian towns and villages.

Israeli Policemen at Ben Gurion Aiport, June 8 2011 (photo: Oren Ziv / activestills.org)

This morning, hundreds of plain clothes and uniformed police scoured the Ben Gurion arrival hall in order to “establish calm” ahead of the arrival of the activists. By 13:00, Israeli and foreign journalists had taken over the arrival terminal as the first flights landed. At approximately 13:30, several Israeli activists belonging to the leftist group Anarchists against the Wall held up small signs reading “Welcome to Palestine.” Some protesters held up Palestinian flags before undercover and regular cops pounced on them and dragged them outside the terminal.

Several dozen people, who had been waiting in the terminal to pick up loved ones, began chanting, “Pieces of shit” and “Go to Syria” as the protesters were taken to waiting police vans. Some of the onlookers spit, kicked and punched the protesters while they were in police custody. Police officers did nothing to prevent these attacks.

At one point, Jerusalem Post columnist Larry Derfner was detained as he pleaded with the angry mob of onlookers to stop attacking the detained activists.

“You can’t enter the West Bank without military permission even as a tourist,” Prime Minister’s Office Arabic spokesman Ofir Gendelman remarked after the Israeli activists were arrested. His statement confirms Israel’s absolute military control over the West Bank.  “These pro-Palestinian activists do not recognize the State of Israel and this is a clear provocation against us,” he continued in the buzzing terminal. When asked if passengers will be deported for stating intentions to travel to the West Bank as tourists, his response was dismissive: “We know that some of these passengers have connections with Hamas and this is unacceptable.”

Earlier this week, a media release by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office labeled the Welcome to Palestine campaign as “part of an ongoing attempt to undermine Israel’s right to exist.”

After the detained activists were driven away from the airport, police officers began inspecting the press credentials of all the journalists present. Two journalists, carrying valid Israeli government issued press cards, were asked to leave the airport and were escorted to the exit by armed soldiers. The journalists, both well-known leftists, believe that they were asked to leave the airport because of their political affiliations with prominent left-wing groups in Israel. No other journalists were barred from covering the event.

Israeli journalist Hagai Mattar expelled from Ben Gurion airport by police, June 8 2011 (photo: Oren Ziv / activestills)

Israeli media is reporting that roughly 30-50 passengers have been detained and will be deported from Israel in the coming hours. Some passengers have made it through the passport controls and are currently on their way to Bethlehem where there will be a large celebration marking their arrival this evening.  Israeli lawyers are at the airport working with the detained passengers. Flights carrying activists are planned for the rest of the afternoon.

 

Posted at Uruknet
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Also see the following report by Noam Sheizaf

ISRAELI JUSTICE MINISTRY ADMITS TO INJUSTICES


Justice Ministry document reveals that between 1967 and 1994 many Palestinians traveling abroad were stripped of residency status, allegedly without warning.
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Israel admits it covertly canceled residency status of 140,000 Palestinians

Document obtained by Haaretz reveals that between 1967 and 1994 many Palestinians traveling abroad were stripped of residency status, allegedly without warning.

By Akiva Eldar

Israel has used a covert procedure to cancel the residency status of 140,000 West Bank Palestinians between 1967 and 1994, the legal advisor for the Judea and Samaria Justice Ministry’s office admits, in a new document obtained by Haaretz. The document was written after the Center for the Defense of the Individual filed a request under the Freedom of Information Law.

The document states that the procedure was used on Palestinian residents of the West Bank who traveled abroad between 1967 and 1994. From the occupation of the West Bank until the signing of the Oslo Accords, Palestinians who wished to travel abroad via Jordan were ordered to leave their ID cards at the Allenby Bridge border crossing.

They exchanged their ID cards for a card allowing them to cross. The card was valid for three years and could be renewed three times, each time adding another year.

If a Palestinian did not return within six months of the card’s expiration, thier documents would be sent to the regional census supervisor. Residents who failed to return on time were registered as NLRs – no longer residents. The document makes no mention of any warning or information that the Palestinians received about the process.

Palestinians could still return in the first six months after their cards expired, or appeal to an exemptions committee.

The Center for the Defense of the Individual said yesterday it knew that a clear procedure was in place, but the details and the number of Palestinians denied their right to return remained classified. A former head of the Civil Administration in the 1990s was surprised to hear of the procedure when contacted by Haaretz.

Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. (res. ) Danny Rothschild, who served as coordinator of government activities in the territories from 1991 to 1995, said he was completely unaware of the procedure, even though it was in use during his term. “If even I wasn’t told of the procedure, one may infer that neither were residents of the occupied territories,” he said.

The Central Bureau of Statistics says the West Bank’s Palestinian population amounted to 1.05 million in 1994, which means the population would have been greater by about 14 percent if it weren’t for the procedure.

By contrast, Palestinians who immigrated from the West Bank after the Palestinian Authority was set up retained residency rights even if they did not return for years.

Today, a similar procedure is still in place for residents of East Jerusalem who hold Israeli ID cards; they lose their right to return if they have been abroad for seven years.

Palestinians who found themselves “no longer residents” include students who graduated from foreign universities, businessmen and laborers who left for work in the Gulf. Over the years, many of them have started families, so the number of these Palestinians and their descendants is probably in the hundreds of thousands, even if some have died.

Also, several thousands Palestinians with close links to the Palestinian Authority were allowed to return over the years, as did a number of Palestinians whose cases were upheld by the joint committee for restoration of Palestinian ID cards. As of today, 130,000 Palestinians are listed as “no longer residents.”

Among them is the brother of the Palestinians’ former chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat. Erekat’s brother left for studies in the United States and was not allowed to come back; he still lives in California.

Erekat told Haaretz he had learned from his brother’s experience, and when he himself left for studies abroad, he made sure to visit home from time to time so as not to lose his right to return.

The regulation’s existence was discovered by the Center for the Defense of the Individual by pure chance, while it was looking into the case of a West Bank resident imprisoned in Israel.

The Civil Administration told the prisoner’s family his ID card was “inactive.” After a request for a clarification, Israel’s legal adviser for Judea and Samaria said this was a misapplication of a certain policy by the census supervisor in the occupied territories.

The adviser added that three residents were mistakenly defined as no longer residents while in prison or in detention, and that their residency had now been restored. He wrote that their status had been changed not because of a policy but because of a technical error, without any connection to their imprisonment.

The Center for the Defense of the Individual said that “mass withdrawal of residency rights from tens of thousands of West Bank residents, tantamount to permanent exile from their homeland, remains an illegitimate demographic policy and a grave violation of international law.”

It noted that an unknown number of Gaza residents had lost residency rights in a similar manner, but that the exact number was still a secret the center vowed to uncover. “The State of Israel should fix the ongoing wrong at once, restore residency rights to all affected Palestinians and allow them and their families to return to their homeland,” the center said.

Source

ISRAEL HARD AT WORK TARNISHING ITS IMAGE

“Munther Fahmy’s deportation is not only an infringement of the human right to settlement, but to freedom of speech. Israel presents itself in the international media as a democratic nation, using its cultural and intellectual cachet to drive tourism to the country. This deportation tarnishes and undermines that image.”

A Fixture of Jerusalem Literary Life, Threatened with Deportation

Posted by Mary Hawthorne

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The other day, I received an unusual petition, addressed to the interior minister of Israel (Eli Yishai, who is also the head of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Shas Party), in behalf of a man named Munther Fahmi, who is threatened with deportation. The thing that made it unusual was that (a) the deportee in question was not a political prisoner or militant or agitator but instead the founder and manager of a civilized Jerusalem bookstore, and (b) there was no stated reason for the deportation.

Fahmi runs the Bookshop at the American Colony Hotel, in Jerusalem; he is a fixture of Jerusalem literary life, and the Bookshop is considered one of the region’s best. It naturally caters to an élite foreign intelligentsia —in its hundred-and-twenty-year-old history, the hotel been host to numerous celebrity guests, from Winston Churchill and Laurence of Arabia to Graham Greene and Joan Baez—as an article on Fahmi’s plight, which appeared the other day in Haaretz, suggests. But the shop is also beloved by the local population. Fahmi is a friend and partner of the recently formed Palestine Festival of Literature, which brings local, regional, and international writers and artists to Palestinian audiences, and whose participants have included Suad Amiry, Claire Messud, Najwan Darwish, and Esther Freud, among many others. He also stocks one of the largest collections of books on Middle East history and politics. It is not a stretch to say that Fahmi’s Bookshop is a mainstay of Jerusalem cultural outreach.

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On the face of it, Fahmi’s predicament appears to be a bureaucratic one, of the tedious, maddening, Michael Kohlhaas variety. Fahmi, who is Palestinian, was born in Jerusalem in 1954, and lived there until he was twenty-one, when he moved to the United States. After twenty years in the U.S., during which time he married an American and acquired a U.S. passport, he returned to Israel, following the signing of the Oslo Accords. But on his arrival at the airport in Tel Aviv, Fahmi claims he was told that his permanent-resident I.D.—after the 1967 war, all Arabs living in East Jerusalem who did not apply for citizenship were given permanent-resident I.D. cards—was no longer valid, and that he could return to his native city only on a tourist visa, using his American passport, which is what he has been doing for more than fifteen years. (Residency rights are revoked by the Israeli government in the event of a prolonged absence, or when a resident acquires a foreign passport; Israeli citizens, by contrast, may leave the country for any period without relinquishing citizenship or any of their rights.) Two years ago, Fahmi says, authorities began making his visa applications more difficult, and last month the interior ministry informed him that his visa, which expires on April 3rd, would no longer be renewed. Fahmi has gone through legal and other channels to reinstate his residency rights, but these efforts have so far been to no avail. As for signatures in support of his petition, he has already received hundreds, many of them attached to comments expressing outrage at the prospect of the shop’s closing and at the injustice of Fahmi’s prospective deportation:

“Munther Fahmy’s deportation is not only an infringement of the human right to settlement, but to freedom of speech. Israel presents itself in the international media as a democratic nation, using its cultural and intellectual cachet to drive tourism to the country. This deportation tarnishes and undermines that image.”

“Munther Fahmi is a central part of East Jerusalem’s cultural life. The idea that he could be deported from the city is both preposterous and evil. I personally and Zed Books will do all in our power to help and support him and this campaign.”

“this is part and parcel of israel’s colonization of east jerusalem as well as the project of erasing palestinian history. i fervently hope munther fahmy and this vital bookstore remain in their rightful place: jerusalem.”

But it remains unclear what effect, if any, this support will have on Fahmi’s fate in the face of Israel’s juggernaut shift to the right and its expansion into East Jerusalem. David Remnick recently asked Amos Schocken how he would feel if the embattled Haaretz folded or if he had to sell it to an owner with different principles. Schocken replied, “If we weren’t around, it would be . . . sad.”

(Bottom image via Albabblog.) 

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