REMEMBERING OUR FALLEN ANGEL, RACHEL CORRIE

March 16th marked the anniversary of the Israeli killing of Rachel Corrie in Rafah, southern Gaza strip, 14 years ago.

14 years ago today, Israeli bulldozers killed ISM activist Rachel Corrie in Gaza

On March 16, 2003, Rachel was killed by an Israel Occupation Force (IOF) armored bulldozer in Rafah during the second Palestinian intifada.

Rachel had come to Gaza to try and establish a sister city project between her hometown Olympia, Washington and Rafah, Gaza. She was a peace activist connected to the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), who tried to prevent the demolition of Palestinian houses which were being carried out by the Israeli army.

After a three hour long confrontation between ISM activists and the Israeli army’s demolition forces, she was killed, less than two months after arriving in Gaza.

Israel claims that the driver of the bulldozer could not see Rachel because of the limited field of view from within the bulldozer. Humans rights groups claim that the driver had seen her and deliberately continued driving, disregarding her fellow activists who were shouting and waving their arms, which resulted in Rachel’s death.

The Israeli army’s investigation of the incident concluded that the death was an accident because the driver of the bulldozer had limited visibility and therefore couldn’t see Rachel. Amnesty International and other human rights organizations criticized the military investigation, claiming that it was not transparent, credible or thorough enough.

In 2006 Bradley Burston, Haaretz columnist said “We should have saved Rachel Corrie’s life that day… Right now, somewhere in the West Bank, there’s an eight-year-old whose life could be saved next week, if we’ve managed to learn the lesson are resourceful enough to know how to apply it.”

In 2005 a one-woman drama called ”My Name Is Rachel Corrie” ran at London’s Royal Court Theater, and received a warm reception. In April 2015, the drama was staged Off Broadway in the East Village in New York.

Two years ago a symbolic gravestone with her name was installed in Tehran cemetary in Iran, alongside twelve other symbolic gravestones.

There is a street named after Rachel Corrie in Ramallah, West Bank.

 

Source

 

Italian activist Nicola Arboscelli stands in front of graffiti memorializing American peace activist Rachel Corrie who was killed 14 years ago today, on March 16, 2003, Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. (Photo: Abid Katib/ Getty Images)

 

ANTI APARTHEID VIDEO GONE VIRAL

Israeli TV Host Implores Israelis Wake Up and Smell the Apartheid in Palestine

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‘Apartheid has been here for ages. It doesn’t really bother us’ — Israeli comedian says in closing act

The Israeli comedian Assaf Harel and the host of the show “Good Night With Asaf Harel,” used the monologue of his series finale on Monday to dive into a speech where he said Israel had reached a state of “apartheid” long ago.

“Ever since the right-wing took power, more and more voices are warning of apartheid. Are you kidding? Apartheid has been here for ages. Ages,” Harel said.

More HERE

BANKSY WELCOMES YOU TO THE WALL IN BETHLEHEM

‘The Walled Off Hotel’ in Bethlehem, with a view of the separation barrier, will officially open March 11th and comes complete with dozens of pieces of art work by British artist Banksy; artist is known for politically-charged work and has visited Israel and the Palestinian territories in the past.

FROM

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Welcome To The ‘Wall,’ Banksy Style

Under an army watchtower and across the street from the concrete wall Israel has built in parts of the occupied West Bank, street artist Banksy has opened a guesthouse in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem.

In the revered birth town of Jesus, the Walled Off hotel stands three storeys high. Its bedroom walls and hallways are decorated with the mysterious artist’s stencil graffiti work — one shows an Israeli soldier and masked Palestinian youth having a pillow fight, and a statue of a chimpanzee bell-boy stands at the entrance, clothes falling out of the suitcase he holds.

The hotel, converted from a pottery workshop, has been styled to resemble “an English gentlemen’s club from colonial times,” a statement from the artist said, in acknowledgement of the historical role Britain played in the Middle East.

But the decor has been spiced up with statues choking on tear gas, cherubs hanging from the ceiling, their faces covered by oxygen masks and oil paintings of refugee life jackets washed ashore.

The hotel was set up in secrecy over the last 14 months — Israeli military authorities in the West Bank did not immediately respond when asked if they had been aware in advance.

Banksy, whose real name is not known, described his guesthouse as having the worst view of any hotel in the world: Every room overlooks the barrier which is a symbol of oppression for the Palestinians.

Israel began building it in 2002 at the height of a Palestinian uprising in which Israeli cities were rocked by frequent Palestinian suicide bombings.

Palestinians dub it an “apartheid wall” and an Israeli attempt to grab land in the West Bank, which they want along with Gaza and East Jerusalem, for a future state.

The Banksy statement said the hotel “offers a warm welcome to people from all sides of the conflict and across the world” and was financed by the artist.

Gentle music from a self-playing pianola fills the candle-lit dining room where a framed painting of Jesus looks up at three warplanes, stenciled on the wallpaper above.

The hotel also has its own art gallery and an exhibition dedicated solely to the wall, which features contributions from Palestinians and Israelis.

The Walled Off is Banksy’s biggest project since the 2015 “Dismaland” theme park at the English seaside, where staff carried balloons proclaiming “I’m an imbecile” and model boats full of refugees floated in a pond.

—Reuters

(Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Dominic Evans)

AMERICAN MUSLIMS ONCE AGAIN HELP JEWS REST IN PEACE

‘Whatever extremists try to destroy, we’ll rebuild,’ Muslim American activist says after Philadelphia cemetery vandalized, vowing to try to divert funds raised for St. Louis to help.

Muslim Activists Vow to Help After Second Act of Vandalism at Jewish Cemetery

Muslim American activist Tarek El-Messidi teamed up with fellow activist Linda Sarsour last week to raise funds to rebuild the Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, where hundreds of headstones were desecrated. On Sunday, the attack hit much closer to home, as a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia, his home town, became the target of a similar attack, with up to 500 tombstones being hit.

Speaking to Haaretz on his way to the Mt. Carmel Jewish cemetery, El-Messidi, 36, says he wants to see how some of the funds raised last week can be diverted to help rebuild the Mt. Carmel cemetery in Philadelphia.

Full report and video HERE
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Meanwhile …..

The shoe is on the other foot, so to speak, in Israel …..

Israel accused of destroying Muslim graves in East Jerusalem to make way for park

‘The Israeli Nature Authority – backed by large numbers of Israeli forces – stormed the historical cemetery and knocked down eight graves,’ says Islamic preservation committee head

Click HERE to see video

Israeli authorities have demolished several graves in occupied east Jerusalem’s historical Bab al-Rahmeh cemetery next to a long fought-over mosque, a Palestinian official has said.

Parts of the ancient cemetery were confiscated in September 2015 by Israeli authorities to make way for a national park according to local sources.

More HERE

Do you remember reading about zionist activists trying to stop this? I don’t!

ISRAELI JUDICIAL SYSTEM ~~ JOKE OR JUSTICE?

An Israeli court on Tuesday sentenced Elor Azaria to 18 months in prison, one-year probation and a demotion of his military rank, a month after the Israeli soldier was found guilty of manslaughter.

Azaria shot and killed Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif in March after al-Sharif had already been shot and injured following an alleged attempted stabbing attack in Hebron.

Image by Latuff

Elor Azaria verdict, or, how Israel court system whitewash war crimes

Elor Azaria verdict, or, how Israel court system whitewash war crimes

Palestinian who filmed shooting says Azaria sentence ‘is a joke, not justice’

An Israeli court on Tuesday sentenced Elor Azaria to 18 months in prison, one-year probation and a demotion of his military rank, a month after the Israeli soldier was found guilty of manslaughter.

Azaria shot and killed Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif in March after al-Sharif had already been shot and injured following an alleged attempted stabbing attack in Hebron.

Following the court’s sentencing, Azaria’s defense vowed to appeal the ruling, while several high-ranking Israeli politicians called for a pardon in his case.

The main evidence in the case was footage caught on camera by Imad Abu Shamsiya, a Palestinian resident of Hebron who had been provided a camera by Human Rights Defenders specifically to document instances such as the shooting and other human rights violations in Hebron.

Abu Shamsiya told Mondoweiss he is grateful he was around to film the incident, because without the camera footage he feels certain Azaria would never have been taken to court, let alone serve time in prison.

“If there was no one filming that day then this crime, just like other crimes like it that happen against Palestinians on a daily basis, would go unnoticed,” Abu Shamsiya said. “I am so grateful for the camera, and so grateful I was in the right place at the right time.”

While Shamsiya is happy the world got to see what happened on that day in March, he does not feel like justice was served.

“There is no justice for the family,” Abu Shamsiya said. “They lost a member of their family in a very brutal way, this 18-month sentence is not justice for the family, for the Palestinian people or our nation — no one got justice from this.”

Sahar Francis, the director of Addameer, a Palestinian prisoners’ rights NGO, criticized the sentencing, telling Mondoweiss that an 18-month sentence for an “extrajudicial execution” of a Palestinian “brings to light the policy of impunity and lack of accountability in a system of protracted Israeli military occupation.”

“The period of sentencing is similar to sentencing routinely given to Palestinians for ‘membership in an illegal organization’ – with all Palestinian political parties deemed illegal through various military orders,” Francis said. “The message this sends to other soldiers and police officers who extrajudicially execute Palestinians is that their actions will not be seriously accounted for and that impunity will persist.”

Meanwhile, the Israeli right has lauded Azaria as a hero who killed a Palestinian terrorist, attacking the Israeli military and the Israeli justice system for allowing the case to go forward, while calling for Azaria’s pardon.According to Israeli daily Haaretz, judges said Azaria acted with the intent to kill, outside of Israeli military protocol, which requires a threat to life before live fire can be used. The judge also said the severity of the shooting and backlash it caused to the Israeli military was mitigated since the shooting happened during an active combat situation.

After Azaria was found guilty of manslaughter January, Ido Zelkovitz, head of the Middle East studies department at Max Stern Academic College of Emek Yezreel and senior researcher at the University of Haifa told Mondoweiss that both sides of the Israeli political spectrum agreed on one thing — Azaria shot a terrorists in their eyes — which in the end, he said would indeed lead to a pardon after Azaria serves a small part of his sentence.

“Even if he was unarmed and he couldn’t put anyone in danger, the common idea among all the Israeli camps is that Azaria shot a terrorist and there is no debate about that question — it is a mutual understanding. That is why in the future the pardon will be accepted,” Zelkovitz said.

Abu Shamsiya agreed, telling Mondoweiss that he would be shocked if Azaria was actually made to serve his full sentence.

“Of course he won’t be made to serve his full sentence — the sentence is a joke, not justice, it’s 18 months in prison for murder,” Abu Shamsiya said. “Not only do I doubt he will even serve a full prison sentence, I doubt he will be put on any kind of probation or be demoted in the military.”

“This case shows us the injustice of the Israeli government,” he added. “This was just a show for the world to see because this execution was filmed, so the government felt it had to do something.”

ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION AS A TOOL OF REPRESSION

Administrative Detention is widely used by the Israeli occupation regime to suppress political activity and social organizations in the West Bank. It is less known that the same (or a similar) anti-democratic law holds also inside those territories that Israel occupied and ethnically cleaned in 1948 and is used against Palestinian there, which are formally citizens of “democratic” Israel.

In a new post in Free Haifa I bring in detail the case of Muhammad Ibrahim, a 20 year old computer technician from Kabul in the Galilee, whose administrative detention was prolonged on December 2016 for a second 6 months period. The original post was published in Hebrew in January.

Israeli occupation keeps 540 Palestinians under administrative detention

Israeli occupation keeps 540 Palestinians under administrative detention

Free Muhammad Ibrahim – Administrative Detainee from Kabul in the Galilee!

Posted @ Free Haifa

When the news about the administrative detention of Muhammad Ibrahim were first published in December 2016, after he was already more than half a year in prison, it was written in some papers that this is the first case of such detention against Palestinians inside the 1948 occupied territories, who are formally citizens of Israel. But it was less than a year since Asmaa Hamdan, a woman from Nazareth, spent 3 months in administrative detention which started at the turmoil of “the third intifada” of October 2015. At the heights of the first intifada, in 1988, some ten leading members of Abna Al-Balad and related Palestinian movements were held in the same way. Several Palestinian activists inside ’48 spent times in administrative detention before and after these days…muhammad-ibrahim-with-al-aqsa

In the 1967 occupied West Bank (and previously also in Gaza) Israel is using administrative detention en-mass as a tool for political oppression. The use of administrative detention also against Palestinian in ’48 is another proof that it is basically the same occupation and the same oppressive system that is used all over occupied Palestine.

The Administrative Detention of Muhammad Ibrahim

[The following article was published in Hebrew on 23/01/2017 in “Local Call” and Haifa Hahofshit]

They say that if the police would look hard enough at the past of any person they would find a legal reason to arrest and put him or her on trial. It turns out that this rule has exceptions. One of them is the case of Muhammad Ibrahim, a 20-year-old computer technician from the Western Galilee town of Kabul. Not only the police, the Shin Bet (Israel’s notoriously harsh “internal security services”) also made every effort to bring him to trial, but they didn’t find any legal reason for this. So he was subjected to administrative detention, without indictment and without trial.

Muhammad gets into troubles

Muhammad’s troubles probably stems from his love to the Al-Aqsa mosque… He was not a political activist but used to travel frequently to Jerusalem to pray at this mosque. This mosque is the third holiest site for Islam, but some of Israel’s leaders seek to destroy it in order to build “The Third Temple” in its place.

Muhammad’s first encounter with the law was when Israeli police wanted to arrest a woman in the mosque’s yard and he threw himself before her and was arrested instead. He spent the night in custody in the “Moskubiya” (a Russian Church’s compound in the middle of Jerusalem used as a detention center). On the following day he was released by the judge in the absence of any offense.

After the first detention cops already knew Muhammad and when they saw him in the mosque’s yard they used to arrest him. He was arrested five times, and was released five times, without being accused of any offence. Occasionally he was required to sign a pledge to stay away from Jerusalem for a while as a condition for his release.

On May 11, 2016, at 3 o’clock in the morning, a police force from Nazareth, including riot squad, accompanied by a Shin Bet operative, surrounded Muhammad’s house and awakened his family. The Sin Bet agent in charge of the region did not even know the young Muhammad whom he came to arrest. He turned to Muhammad’s father and asked him “who is Muhammad?”… This is just another piece of evidence proving that the reason for the arrest belongs to a different place – to Jerusalem.

Harsh Interrogation

After searching Muhammad’s room and some other rooms in the house, the police took with them Muhammad himself and also all the computers that they found, including computers of customers who brought them for repair.muhammad-ibrahim-sitting

The terrified family spent the next day running around between police stations and detention centers to find their son. Finally, they were informed that he was detained by the Shin Bet in a special interrogation center in Petah Tikva.

During the interrogation Muhammad was not allowed to see a lawyer. He was questioned in difficult conditions and was subjected to the harsh “special interrogation methods” of the Shin Bet, including sleep prevention. Later he told how he was interrogated for 22 hours non-stop while tethered to a chair.

25 days of intensive interrogation did not produce anything; the mountain did not give birth even to a mouse. Finally came the court session in which Muhammad was supposed to be released. But then the Shin Bet people informed the judge that they are going to put Muhammad under administrative detention. The judge delayed his release for a day until the defence minister will sign the decree, which was signed by Avigdor Lieberman on June 5, 2016, for a period of six months.

The other likely reason for issuing the administrative detention order is revenge of the Shin Bet’s failure to extort a confession from Muhammad and prosecute him. It constitutes a threatening message to all detainees: if you do not confess you can be arrested anyway, so you should better confess even if you never violated any law.

Significantly, although the investigation was concluded long time ago, and although no indictment was filed, the confiscated computers, including those of Muhammad’s customers, were not returned until this day.

Administrative Detention as a tool of the Military Regime

“Judicial supervision” on the procedure of administrative detention against Muhammad Ibrahim is being held at the Haifa District Court. At the first hearings in this procedure he was represented by the “Adalah” legal center. In fact this is not a proper judicial proceeding that allows any viable legal defence but a meaningless formal procedure. The contents of the “charges” or “suspicions” were not disclosed to Muhammad until this day, neither to his lawyer. All the Shin Bet’s claims are “secret material” submitted to the judge without the presence of the suspect or his representative. Once, when Aram Mahameed, Adalah’s lawyer, was order to leave the courtroom when confidential materials were submitted, he left behind his briefcase. State officials rushed to distance the briefcase also.

Not only that Muhammad’s lawyers are not present when secret materials are submitted, family members are not allowed at all to be in the courtroom, not even to hear the arguments of the defence. At the same time a blanket GAG order was issued to prevent the press from covering the case. Only on January 2017, following an appeal by journalist Jacky Khoury (from Radio Al-Shams and Haaretz), the military censorship confirmed that there is no reason to prevent reporting. In any case, there is nothing to report except the fact that there is nothing as there was nothing, and that this nothingness is a state secret.

On December 5, Muhammad’s six months detention was due to expire, but then the family was informed that the detention order was renewed for another six months period. This time he was represented by lawyer Omar Khamaisi from “Mizan”. The judge himself found it difficult to understand the justification for the continued detention without indictment and asked the Shin Bet representative whether, in their view, administrative detention is life imprisonment… But eventually the usual ritual was repeated: The detainee and his lawyer were ordered to leave the courtroom and the Shin Bet operatives stayed alone with the judge who finally reaffirmed the detention. The next hearing of this judicial farce, which takes place every three months, of “legally supervising” this unlawful detention, is set for March 15.

I sat with lawyer Khamaisi who explained to me the legal basis for administrative detention. The practice of detention without trial was inherited from the colonialist laws used by the British Mandate (see Wikipedia: Defence Emergency Regulations 1945). When Zionist leaders were subject to these laws they severely criticized them as draconian, but later Israel continued to use the same draconian British laws against its Palestinian Arab citizens.

Now Israel has a wholly “Blue and White” Made in Israel detention without trial, under the “state of emergency laws” from 1979, in full accordance to the Jewish and “democratic” character of the state. (The law is so new, only 38 years, that it still doesn’t have an entry in Wikipedia). The authority to issue administrative detention order is given by the Minister of Defence, stressing the fact that this is basically a military act against the “enemies of the state”. It should remind us that beneath the thin camouflage of democracy we are all subject to a regime of military occupation.

Abusive Conditions at the Families’ Visits

Although not indicted for anything, Muhammad is held in harsh conditions with “security prisoners” in the desert Ketziot prison in Nizzana sands, near the Egyptian border.

Khaled Ibrahim, Muhammad’s father, told me in detail about his harsh experiences while visiting his son in this remote prison.

khaled-ibrahim-abu-muhammad

Khaled Ibrahim, Abu Muhammad

The Israeli prisons’ authority requires that the family will register in advance for visiting, but Ketziot prison guards are not answering the telephone number designed for coordination. He only learns about the dates of the visits from families of prisoners from the West Bank which are coming in pre-arranged transportation.

Travelling from Kabul to Ketziot, almost 300 kilometers, can take three and a half hours in each direction when the road is free, so it is by itself a torture for the body and the soul. When he arrived at Ketziot he was imprisoned with his car in the parking lot of the prison and had to wait about an hour and a half to the arrival of the buses from the West Bank. The guards forbade him to extricate himself by walking in the parking lot and ordered him to stay in the car. When the buses arrived all visitors were guided to an internal courtyard and had to wait there another two hours until visits actually began. At the time of the visit, which lasted three-quarter of an hour, they were separated from their beloved ones by a glass wall and could talk only through a phone.  Later they had to wait closed in the yard until the second round of visits finished and they were allowed to return to the parking lot… Why should the guards make an extra effort and open the door twice?

The three-quarters of an hour visit lasted in total over fourteen and a half hours, from six in the morning until eight thirty at night. This systematic abuse against the families of prisoners and detainees causes many of them to reduce their visits.

Popular Struggle

The family expected that the six-month administrative detention will pass just as the 25 days of the interrogations and that Muhammad will be released… After all, he was not accused of anything. The secrecy of the hearings and prevention of media reports created an atmosphere of fear and they did not know what to do or who to contact. This secrecy has allowed the authorities to keep the entire subject far from the public awareness. The oppressive apparatus like to abuse their victims in the darkness under the cover of media blackout. However, one of the most difficult problems with administrative detention is that it has no time limit.

The extension of Muhammad’s detention for another six months resulted in breaking the isolation and silence. Over the last several years, a “popular committee” was formed and is operating in Kabul, as part of the policy of “the follow-up committee” of the Arab population inside the 48 occupied territories for the construction of the organs of popular struggle in every community. The popular committee undertook to publicize the case of Muhammad’s administrative detention and to coordinate the struggle for his release.

The activists of the “popular committee” organized protest, invited the Follow-Up Committee and Arab Knesset Members from “The Joint List” and turned to the media. They opened a special Facebook page called “Free the administrative detainee Mohammed Ibrahim from Kabul” (in Arabic). At the last hearing in the Haifa District Court there were already about 30 people who were not allowed in… My visit to Muhammad’s family in Kabul and this article are my modest contribution to this campaign.

Now the family’s sole hope is that the public struggle will expose the severe unjustified abuse caused to Muhammad by the administrative detention and will embarrass the authorities and bring about his release. At the end of our conversation the representative of the Popular Committee expressed his hope that until the next hearing, on March 15, the protest will expands, and maybe there will be a demonstration in front of the court. I expressed my wish that, even before, due to the exposure of the case, the public pressure will bring to Muhammad’s release and we’ll come to congratulate him for that. We never lose hope, but in the current public atmosphere to speak of “a danger to democracy” rings like a hollow mockery while we face a regime which prides itself for abusing democratic rights.

 

IF THE CANCER DOESN’T KILL YOU ZIONISM WILL

A Palestinian man was on his way to a chemotherapy session when he was shot by Israeli soldiers last November, his family told an Israeli journalist this week.

Muhammad Amer Jallad (via Quds)

Muhammad Amer Jallad (via Quds)

Palestinian was on way to chemotherapy when shot by soldiers

Muhammad Amar Jallad was being treated for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, his family told Haaretz reporter Gideon Levy. Jallad was reported to have died in an Israeli hospital where he was being treated for his injuries last week.

The Israeli army claimed that Jallad was attempting to attack soldiers with a screwdriver when he was shot in the northern West Bank village of Huwwara on 9 November.

A witness told the Ma’an News Agency that he saw Jallad “attempting to cross the road in Huwwara before being shot at by an Israeli soldier who then took out a knife and threw it next to the youth.”

Shot while running across road

Jallad’s father told Haaretz that his son had set out from their home in Tulkarem that morning for the nearby city of Nablus, where he was being treated at the An-Najah National University Hospital.

When Jallad realized he had mistakenly boarded a shared taxi heading to Ramallah, rather than Nablus, Levy reported, “The driver suggested that he get off at Huwwara junction, next to the checkpoint of that name, where he would be able to pick up the taxi to Nablus.”

Jallad exited the vehicle and began to cross the road.

“He did so on the run,” according to Levy. “On the other side was an [Israeli army] jeep and a few soldiers, who were guarding the busy junction. The soldiers apparently thought that he was out to attack them.”

Jallad was shot with one bullet to the stomach as he reached the middle of the road, Haaretz recounted. A Palestinian ambulance crew happened to drive by and attempted to evacuate Jallad, but Israeli forces prevented them from doing so.

He was eventually evacuated in an Israeli ambulance and taken to a hospital.

During the months of hospitalization before his death, Jallad was put under the custody of an Israeli military court. His family were kept in the dark about his condition and were prevented from seeing him.

Jallad’s father was denied a permit to enter Israel and though his mother was issued a permit on four occasions, only once was she allowed to enter her son’s hospital room.

The family looked up one of his doctors online and called him last Friday. It was only then that Jallad’s family learned that he had died, they told Haaretz. They still have not been informed of the date and cause of his death.

Israel transferred Jallad’s body to his family on 17 February. The Ma’an News Agency reported that his body will be examined in the presence of Palestinian legal officials before being buried on Saturday.

Israel has withheld the remains of dozens of Palestinians slain during alleged and actual attacks since late 2015.

Earlier this month, Israel transferred the body of Muhammad Zeidan, a 16-year-old who was shot and killed by a private security guard at a Jerusalem-area checkpoint in late November.

Medical neglect of child prisoner

The health of a Palestinian child with leukemia who is being held in an Israeli military detention center has “seriously deteriorated,” a lawyer with the Palestinian Authority committee on prisoners’ affairs stated this week.

Ahmad al-Khadour, 15, has “suffered from a stroke, feet problems, intense dizziness, and muscle contractions in his fingers,” Luay Ukka told media.

The boy has been detained since 2 January, when he was assaulted by Israeli forces who beat him with the butts of their rifles, Ukka said.

The Jerusalem Committee for the Families of Prisoners also reported that the Israel Prison Service had transferred Azmi al-Daqaq, 28, to a hospital after his health deteriorated.

Al-Daqaq is being held without charge or trial under military detention order after he was detained on 20 January “over an alleged stabbing attempt,” the Ma’an News Agency reported.

Palestinians have frequently accused Israel of medical neglect of prisoners. Last September, a prisoner died from a heart condition after reportedly receiving inadequate treatment in prison.

In December, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies released a report claiming that 32 Palestinian prisoners are not receiving adequate medical care for their different conditions.

Some 6,500 Palestinians were imprisoned by Israel as of January.

Teen posed no danger when killed

The Israeli rights group B’Tselem stated this month that a Palestinian teenager who was shot by Israeli forces last December posed no danger to soldiers when he was killed.

Ahmad al-Kharroubi, 19, was slain in the Jerusalem-area town of Kufr Aqab when soldiers raided in the middle of the night to seal the home of a Palestinian killed during a shooting attack.

Ahmad al-Kharroubi (via B’Tselem)

Ahmad al-Kharroubi (via B’Tselem)

Al-Kharroubi was hiding behind a low wall and “apparently attempted to throw stones at Border Police officers and soldiers” at a roadblock some 80 to 100 meters away from him when he was hit with a live bullet, according to B’Tselem.

Al-Kharroubi, who was shot in the neck, was evacuated to a hospital but was declared dead upon arrival.

B’Tselem stated that “no incendiary device” was thrown at soldiers from the area where al-Kharroubi was positioned. Given the distance the unarmed youths were from the soldiers, “they could not pose any danger,” the group added.

B’Tselem also stated that the punitive sealing of the home was an illegal act of collective punishment that “that led to the pointless death of this young man.”

URGENT APPEAL FROM THE WIFE, FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF A PALESTINIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST

To: Human rights activists all over the world.

To: peace and justice-loving people around the world

To: Freedom lovers all over the globe

To: ordinary conscientious people every where.

To: Journalists and media professionals around the globe.

Image by Latuff

new-image

Urgent appeal from the wife, family and friends of Palestinian human rights activist and veteran prisoner Muhammad Elqiq

We  appeal to you once again (for the second time in less than a year) to do your utmost to save Muhammad Elqiq from what seems to be another vindictive  Israeli effort to kill Muhammad Elqiq  through the slow-death tactic.

Last year, Muhammad survived rather miraculously the macabre 100-day open-ended hunger strike, protesting the callous and inherently inhuman Israeli tactic of the so-called “Administrative detention.” AD  is only a mere  euphemism for open-ended incarceration without charge or trial for the purpose of humiliating suspected Palestinian activists and breaking their will to resist apartheid and oppression even through totally peaceful and non-violent means.  As it is well known, Israeli intelligence was forced last  year to release Muhammad, fearing that his death would further destabilize chronically volatile conditions in the Occupied Territories.

Steadfastness and ostensible triumph in the face of might and vindictiveness.

About two weeks ago, SS agents rearrested Muhammad, who is still recuperating from last year’s ordeal, vandalized the home and terrorized the family.

The Israeli court, which is a virtual rubber stamp in the hands of the security service, sentenced Muhammad to six months of administrative detention but without producing any shred of incriminating evidence aside from the vindictive and vengeful desire to punish, torment and kill Muhammad.

In response to this mindless vengeance and hatefulness, Muhammad decided to go on a new hunger strike. Muhammad is not a publicity hound or anything of this sort. He says he simply has no other means of protesting this form of injustice.  As this press release is being written down, Muhammad has entered day-9 in his hunger strike.

Once again, we appeal to you to contact the Israeli government agencies and embassies to protest the renewed incarceration of Muhammad Elqiq and demand his immediate release.  In a few days, Israeli PM B. Netanyahu will be in Washington D.C. to tell President Trump that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East.  President Trump should tell Netanyahu that a true democracy doesn’t imprison people for years without charger and trial.

Thank you for your efforts

Fayhaa  Elqiq (Muhammad’s wife)

Elqiq Family and friends

14 February, 2017

 

Posted by Khalid Amayreh

ISRAEL HAS HAD A ‘MUSLIM BAN’ FOR SEVEN DECADES

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

Where there is no wall there is a barbed wire fence

Where there is no wall there is a barbed wire fence

Israel has had a ‘Muslim ban’ from the start

Jonathan Ofir FOR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OUR DREAMS ARE DEMOLISHED WITH OUR HOMES ~~ VIDEO

“To finish building this house and get married – these are my dreams, that’s it, but apparently they don’t want it.”

Related Post (Click on link)

Demolished dreams

 

“NO CHRISTMAS IN JERUSALEM FOR YOU!”

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

NO CHRISTMAS IN JERUSALEM FOR YOU

By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Human!

original

IMAGE OF THE DAY ~~ HUNGER IN GAZA

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

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

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

MAKE SURE THE CAMERAS ARE TURNED OFF WHEN YOU PULL THE TRIGGER

breaking-news-blink

Extrajudicial killing in broad daylight, Hebron, March 2016

On 24 March ‘16, B’Tselem volunteer ‘Imad Abu Shamsiyeh documented a soldier shooting and killing ‘Abd al-Fatah a-Sharif, a Palestinian who had carried out a knife attack and was lying wounded on the road after soldiers had shot him. The footage garnered sharp domestic and international criticism, leading to an investigation and indictment of the soldier. The act was a direct consequence of the public view, fueled by vitriolic politicians, that shooting to kill is legitimate whenever a Palestinian attacks or attempts to attack an Israeli.

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Finally, the verdict ….

Israeli soldier filmed shooting dead a wounded Palestinian attacker is convicted of manslaughter

Israeli soldier filmed shooting dead a wounded Palestinian attacker is convicted of manslaughter

Before the trial ….

Image by Latuff

Hail, Elor Azaria! A murderer turned hero in Israel

Hail, Elor Azaria! A murderer turned hero in Israel

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Related report (Click on link)

‘The shooting by Azaria was unjustified,’ judges find, in stinging, unanimous verdict

IDF soldier who killed wounded stabber convicted of manslaughter

O HORRIBLE, ILLEGAL OCCUPATION TIME

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

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

Image by Carlos Latuff

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O horrible, illegal Jewish occupation time!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PASSPORT

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

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

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

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

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

#InIsrael ~~ DON’T YOU DARE QUESTION APARTHEID

Israel jails Palestinian journalists and threatens to revoke permits of international journalists, including Australia’s Antony Loewenstein, pictured in 2014, over unfavorable coverage. (Claudio Accheri)

antony-loewenstein

Israel threatens to expel reporter who asked apartheid question

Israel is threatening to expel an Australian journalist in Jerusalem, accusing him of being a supporter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

The threat against Antony Loewenstein comes after the freelance journalist asked a question about Israeli apartheid at a press conference given by former government minister Yair Lapid, and after a campaign against him by the anti-Palestinian group HonestReporting.

“We are leaning toward recommending that his work permit not be renewed due to suspected BDS activity,” Nitzan Chen, director of the Government Press Office, told The Jerusalem Post. “We are checking the incident because unfortunately, the journalist did not give enough information to our staff. We will learn to check better so there won’t be such incidents in the future.”

Speaking to The Electronic Intifada, Loewenstein, who has won recognition for his reporting from South Sudan and Afghanistan, dismissed any suggestion he had misrepresented himself.

“I am an accredited freelance journalist which is how I presented my work to the Israeli government in March, which they accepted,” Loewenstein said. “I’m not here associated with any organization. I’m here as a freelancer, officially, so there’s been no misrepresentation by me, ever.”

Loewenstein has written about the region for more than a decade, including the bestselling book My Israel Question.

Growing crackdown

The effective threat to expel Loewenstein comes a week after the Committee to Protect Journalists revealed that this year Israel remained among the world’s worst jailers of reporters – all of those in its cells are Palestinians.

And earlier this month, Israel detained and expelled Isabel Phiri, associate general secretary of the World Council of Churches, claiming she too supports BDS.

Last week, Israel’s Shin Bet secret police barred entry to two leaders of a British Muslim humanitarian aid group, citing “security reasons.” The two officials from Muslim Hands were invited to the country by the Abraham Fund Initiatives, which the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz describes as “a nonprofit group that promotes coexistence, cooperation and equality between Jews and Muslims.”

In August, Israel’s public security and interior ministries set up a joint task force to deny entry to or expel foreign activists allegedly affiliated with organizations that support BDS.

This is part of a broader crackdown, whose primary targets are Palestinians.

On Friday, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that it has been receiving a “worryingly high number of complaints” about Israel violating basic rights of Palestinian human rights activists.

It said that human rights defenders living under Israeli occupation “face daily violations of some of the most fundamental protections afforded by international human rights and humanitarian laws.”

The UN said peaceful protest and opposition to the occupation is effectively outlawed.

Anatomy of a smear

Loewenstein became a target after he asked a challenging question at a press conference last week to Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party that was formerly part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government.

“You talked before about the idea that since Oslo, Israel has done little or nothing wrong, but the truth is that 2017 is the 50th anniversary of the occupation,” Loewenstein began, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Pointing to the large number of Israeli settlers now in the occupied West Bank, Loewenstein continued: “Is there not a deluded idea here that many Israeli politicians, including yourself, continue to believe that one can talk to the world about democracy, freedom and human rights while denying that to millions of Palestinians, and will there not come a time soon, in a year, five years, 10 years, where you and other politicians will be treated like South African politicians during apartheid?”

In response, Lapid attacked The Guardian, claiming that it and other publications are encouraging Palestinians to be intransigent.

From there, HonestReporting, a pro-Israel group whose managing editor once worked in the Israeli army spokesperson’s unit, launched a campaign against Loewenstein.

It called him “an anti-Israel activist” and implied he had obtained his official Israeli press card and membership in the Foreign Press Association under false pretenses.

“Loewenstein is clearly incapable of reporting on Israel in a fair and objective manner,” HonestReporting asserted.

“Did Loewenstein gain his official press card by claiming to be a Guardian writer?” the group asked, effectively making an allegation without any basis.

HonestReporting took its campaign to The Guardian directly, complaining to the newspaper that “hiring Loewenstein was the equivalent of hiring a corporate lobbyist to be the newspaper’s business correspondent.”

This apparently elicited the desired response: The Guardian threw Loewenstein under the bus – presumably without speaking to him first.

According to The Jerusalem Post, The Guardian’s head of international news, Jamie Wilson, said that Loewenstein was contracted to write comment pieces for Guardian Australia and remains an occasional comment contributor but he “is not a news correspondent for The Guardian in Israel.”

And The Guardian’s correspondent in Jerusalem, Peter Beaumont, emailed HonestReporting that he had never heard of Loewenstein.

The Guardian’s distancing itself from Loewenstein is a welcome development,” HonestReporting’s managing editor Simon Plosker said, adding that the Foreign Press Association should revoke Loewenstein’s membership and the Israeli Government Press Office should cancel his accreditation.

Loewenstein told The Electronic Intifada that he identifies himself accurately as a freelancer and author of several books, who contributes to many publications, including The Guardian, The New York Times and Newsweek Middle East.

Loewenstein noted that in the tight-knit world of foreign correspondents in Israel, it would be impossible to get away with misrepresentation: “It’s a pretty small place.”

But the smear did its job and now Loewenstein is a target for government expulsion for asking a challenging question of an Israeli leader.

In February, the Committee to Protect Journalists condemned Israel’s intimidation of the international media, including threats to revoke the credentials of reporters who published headlines it didn’t like.

“It is virtually impossible to work as a reporter in Israel and the occupied territories without a press card,” the group’s executive director Robert Mahoney said. “The threat of withdrawing accreditation is a heavy handed approach at stifling unwelcome coverage.”

KOSHER RAPE

“Is it allowed nowadays for an IDF [Israeli army] soldier, for example, to rape girls during battle, or is such a thing forbidden?”

“Even though fraternizing with a gentile woman is a very serious matter, it was permitted during wartime … the Torah permitted the individual to satisfy the evil urge.”

A protest against violence against women in Tel Aviv, March 2014. (Yotam Ronen/ ActiveStills)

A protest against violence against women in Tel Aviv, March 2014. (Yotam Ronen/ ActiveStills)

Israeli leadership’s sex crime problem

David Sheen

The Israeli army officially inaugurated its new chief rabbi at the beginning of this month – but not before he issued a sworn statement apologizing for past religious rulings that have been roundly criticized as sexist.

Eyal Krim, who has served as the army’s second-highest-ranking religious official for the last four years, was elevated to the rank of brigadier general after Israel’s high court ruled that the appointment could be allowed.

Krim was to have taken up his post a week previous, but his inauguration was delayed by the court. The order to delay was made after parliamentarians from Meretz, a left-leaning Zionist party, petitioned the high court against his appointment. The petition focused on how Krim had sanctioned the rape of non-Jewish women by Jewish soldiers in 2002.

“Every rabbi, educator or public figure is required to have the ability to retract and to admit a mistake. I do not hesitate to say I erred,” Krim wrote in his affidavit.

Krim made the controversial religious rulings when he was a civilian, publishing them on Kipa.co.il, a Hebrew-language web forum popular with Orthodox Jews.

Yair Ettinger, religion reporter for Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz, wrote recently that although he was not in active service at the time, “Krim became in civilian clothes the leading address to turn to for religious soldiers, especially ones in combat units, with questions and dilemmas regarding halakha, or Jewish religious law. His popularity among religious soldiers overshadowed that of the rabbis of the military rabbinate and annoyed them very much.”

“Evil urge”

Krim’s most misogynistic ruling was in response to the following question by an anonymous man: “Is it allowed nowadays for an IDF [Israeli army] soldier, for example, to rape girls during battle, or is such a thing forbidden?”

In response, Krim ruled: “Even though fraternizing with a gentile woman is a very serious matter, it was permitted during wartime … the Torah permitted the individual to satisfy the evil urge.”

In the days that followed the November court decision to delay Krim’s appointment, many of Israel’s political and religious leaders issued statements of support for Krim, urging him not to retract his earlier religious rulings. Hundreds of rabbis on the government payroll publicly expressed their support for Krim, including more than 150 military rabbis and Israel’s national chief rabbi Yitzhak Yosef.

Even Tzohar, a group of ostensibly liberal Orthodox rabbis, spoke out in Krim’s defense, as did several ministers, including justice minister Ayelet Shaked and religious services minister David Azoulay.

Last month, Haaretz reported that sexual harassment complaints in the military nearly doubled between 2010 and 2015.

Ironically, the army official to sound the alarm over the steady increase in sex crime complaints, its head of human resources, Major General Hagai Topolanski, is also the very official to have approved Krim for the position of chief rabbi, despite his previously reported comments about raping non-Jewish women.

In recent days, it has emerged that a retired Israeli army brigadier general charged with 16 sex crimes, including three counts of rape, would likely receive a suspended sentence and avoid any prison time. The officer, Ofek Buchris, is expected to draw his entire pension, since he resigned from the army immediately after the rape indictments and before his guilt was established.

Light sentencing

Israel’s aversion to aggressively prosecuting soldiers for rape also extends to crimes committed before they are inducted into the army.

In August, the news website Walla reported that a 24-year-old man who had just been charged with rape, had also been charged with attempted rape four years earlier.

In that 2012 incident, however, the presiding judge chose not to jail him for the crime, instead putting him on probation and only fining him the equivalent of $1,300, so that his police record would not be tarred by a felony conviction, as this could have torpedoed his then-impending army enlistment.

Many more disturbing cases of sex crimes, and institutional efforts to downplay them, have come to the fore in Israel over the past few months.

On 4 December, a retired Israeli judge confessed to sexually harassing a female employee. Yitzhak Cohen, who served as the president of a Nazareth district court, is likely to duck a criminal conviction, and receive only a light sentence of community service and a $650 fine.

In September, Nissim Mor was convicted on charges of sexual harassment, committed while he was Israel’s deputy police chief. Although the former top cop has confessed to the crimes, his punishment may amount to only a few months of community service, and the presiding judge may yet decide to annul the guilty conviction altogether, according to Haaretz.

Mor’s abuse of his police powers to commit sex attacks on a woman who had come to him asking for aid would seem to be symptomatic of a wider phenomenon. In August, Walla reported on a perceptible pattern of women approaching the Israeli police to complain about crimes, including sexual harassment, and being in turn sexually harassed by those very policemen.

Since he was sworn in as Israel’s police chief a year ago, Roni Alsheikh has done little to assuage concerns that the force does not take sex crimes seriously. A report released last month revealed that 87 percent of alleged sex crimes are not prosecuted by the police.

At an event marking International Women’s Day in March, Alsheikh announced that the police would no longer investigate anonymous allegations of sex crimes.

The announcement was made even though Israeli law compels all employers to investigate any suspicion of sex crimes, even if the allegations are made anonymously. Alsheikh had previously said that he regarded allegations made anonymously to be as bad as sexual harassment itself.

In August, Haaretz reported that Alsheikh and his direct boss, public security minister Gilad Erdan, had ordered police spokespersons to refrain from speaking to the media about rape and other sex crimes in order to improve the public image of the force. Instead, they were instructed to focus media attention on crimes allegedly committed by Palestinians – both those who have, and those who do not have, Israeli citizenship.

The following month, Haaretz reported that Alsheikh formed a committee to consider setting up a legal aid fundfor police officers accused of sex crimes and other infractions.

Plague

Outside of the army, rape culture continues to plague Israeli society.

Last month, it emerged that Israel’s biggest bank, Bank Hapoalim, paid $1.6 million to an employee who accused the bank’s CEO, Zion Kenan, of sexually assaulting her. Hapoalim is currently under investigation by the Bank of Israel for not reporting the incident.

Also last month, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev decided not to suspend or levy any fine against David Newman, dean of the faculty of humanities and social sciences, for sexually harassing a female student in his department. The university tried to prevent news of the decision from reaching the public.

In the past few days, a court convicted David Yosef of 11 sex crimes, including indecent acts, sexual harassment and sexual assault, all committed while he served as mayor of the Tel Aviv suburb of Or Yehuda. During Israel’s large-scale attack on Gaza in the summer of 2014, the Or Yehuda municipality hung a large banner in public urging Israeli soldiers to strike Palestinians forcefully, using a Hebrew-language double entendre that alluded to raping Palestinian mothers. Yosef was mayor at the time.

A popular religious leader accused of raping and sexually assaulting women and minors was convicted of lesser crimes recently. Eliezer Berland, the rabbi in question, was sentenced to just a year and a half in jail and a $6,500 fine. When Berland was first arraigned in July, after evading arrest for three years, a thousand of his followers protested outside the Israeli court, holding signs bearing the slogan: “The people are with the saint.”

Of late, there has been a string of sex crime allegations against lawmakers from Israel’s national religious camp and its political party, the far-right Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home).

In September, it emerged that Davidi Perl, the regional council chair of a cluster of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, agreed to pay a large sum of money (reportedly more than $50,000) to a young woman who accused him of sexual assault. The council voted to retain Perl as its chair. Perl resigned two week later for, in his words, the “good of my family.”

An unnamed elected representative with Habayit Hayehudi has been accused by a party member of numerous sex attacks.

Meanwhile, Yinon Magal, a former Habayit Hayehudi lawmaker who resigned from Israel’s parliament a year ago after numerous women accused him of sex crimes, was hired by Israel Channel 10 last month to co-host a popular late-night television show.

Natasha Roth, a blogger with +972 Magazine, observed that Magal’s fate contrasted with that of Billy Bush.

Bush, a cousin of George W. Bush, the former US president, was ousted in October from his job as host of the NBC television show Today after a video of him entertaining Donald Trump’s boasts about sexually assaulting women was made public during the US presidential election campaign.

While Trump’s misogynistic comments were widely condemned, Tzvika Brot, his election campaign manager in Israel, tried to whitewash his violent sexism. Brot noted – somewhat ironically in light of the controversy surrounding Krim’s appointment – that Trump “isn’t running for chief rabbi.”

Prime minister’s office

Israel’s highest political office also appears to be no safe space for women.

In April, David Keyes, spokesperson to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in 2013.

In a separate case, last month, after a woman working in the prime minister’s office complained to her direct boss that another office employee had sexually harassed her, the boss fired her on the spot.

Netanyahu’s close friend and former chief of staff, diplomat Gil Sheffer, was this month placed under house arrest after a woman accused him of confining and sexually assaulting her. Sheffer has faced similar accusations from other women in the recent past.

Another previous chief of staff to Netanyahu, Natan Eshel, also quit his post after a colleague accused him of sex crimes.

In September, Netanyahu’s former chauffeur, Ilan Shmuel, was convicted of raping six girls between the ages of nine and 16 over the course of a decade.

When the head of Israel’s government fails to adequately protect women from sex criminals even in his own inner circle, it is sad but not surprising when Israeli children, even pre-pubescent ones, fall victim to sexual predators, such as in the Shmuel case.

That liberal Zionist lawmakers successfully forced the army’s chief rabbi to express contrition for his past sanctioning of rape can be counted as a narrow victory for feminist activists. But Krim’s elevation to such a powerful post to begin with, and the strong support he continues to receive from Israeli leaders, are testaments to the power of patriarchy in Israeli society.

MOTHER PALESTINE ~~ THE INSPIRATION

More often than not, Latuff’s cartoons feature a women called Mother Palestine.

Here she is in 1948 …

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And yet again in 1948 leading her Nation to the wilderness …

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And here, the real Mother …. The Inspiration

Mrs. Zarefa the woman that inspired me to create Mother Palestine. Expelled from Zakaria village by Israel in 1948 and after 1967 to Jordan

Mrs. Zarefa the woman that inspired me to create Mother Palestine. Expelled from Zakaria village by Israel in 1948 and after 1967 to Jordan

Today she is leading her Nation back to their rightful Homeland!

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

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

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

They never announced my stop so I fell asleep 😦 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

FROM

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

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

Image by Carlos Latuff

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

Jonathan Cook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BREAKING THE SILENCE ON ISRAELI RACISM

Where are the outcrys against this injustice?

When a government removes its Bedouin citizens from their home in order to settle its own Jewish citizens in their stead, this is racist dealing. Dispossessing people of their land in order to plant a forest on that same land is inhuman. Had these Bedouins been Jewish settlers, the government certainly would not evict them before finding an alternative dwelling for them that would suit their demands.

By its own acts the government of Israel proves that the UN’s outrageous ruling was not erroneous. Citizens of Israel who do not protest this extreme injustice in fact support the government in its racist policy.

Bedouins hold placards during a protest against a plan to uproot Umm Al-Hiran Village

Bedouins hold placards during a protest against a plan to uproot Umm Al-Hiran Village

Racism

By Amos Gvirtz

Anxiety is fierce. Israeli citizens are in their homes, demolition orders hovering that may be acted upon any day now. What will happen to them? Where will they go? Where will they live? No one offers them any alternatives. They are not, after all, settlers who settled lands that are not theirs, violating Israeli and international law. They are citizens of Israel. Their sole “crime” is to have been born Bedouins in the State of the Jews. They were evicted of their land – of which they were dispossessed – in 1949. The Israeli government transferred them twice until it finally settled them, sixty years ago, in Umm Al Hiran and Attir. Now this government claims they are invaders! Invading the localities where the government itself settled them sixty years ago…

Why is it so important for the government to remove them from the localities it had settled them in? Anyone visiting Umm Al Hiran will see a vast, empty area all around. But apparently the government of Israel has decided to create a Jewish settlement, named Hiran, right where it once settled the Bedouin inhabitants of Umm Al Hiran. And plant a forest right where the government of Israel once settled the inhabitants of Attir!

The question is why does the government of Israel do this. Unfortunately, the simple answer is because it can. Because there are not enough citizens who oppose such racist policies.

The UN General Assembly once came out with an outrageous declaration, ruling that Zionism is racism. The insult was severe. How could once accuse the State of the Jewish Peoplel – who had suffered so long from racism – of racism? Indeed, a few years later the UN General Assembly revoked its own outrageous ruling.

In the 1980s the Isrsaeli Knesset (parliament) legislated a law against racism. I fear that this law is actually against racist incitement, not against racist deeds. The law in fact protects all the racist deeds committed by the government. No one may demand to outlaw the Israeli government because of its own racist acts.

When a government removes its Bedouin citizens from their home in order to settle its own Jewish citizens in their stead, this is racist dealing. Dispossessing people of their land in order to plant a forest on that same land is inhuman. Had these Bedouins been Jewish settlers, the government certainly would not evict them before finding an alternative dwelling for them that would suit their demands.

By its own acts the government of Israel proves that the UN’s outrageous ruling was not erroneous. Citizens of Israel who do not protest this extreme injustice in fact support the government in its racist policy.

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