IT’S AGAINST THE LAW NOT TO SUPPORT BDS

According to int’l law – by which the State of Israel was established and recognized – the settlements are stolen lands, which is a war crime, and abetting war criminals, such as by financing them, is a crime, too.

An Israeli flag is seen in front of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maaleh Adumim. Photo by AP

An Israeli flag is seen in front of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maaleh Adumim. Photo by AP

Avoiding West Bank settlement goods isn’t boycott – it’s the law

By

The boycott issue is once again in the headlines, and I wish to make a confession: I don’t buy products made in the settlements. This isn’t, heaven forbid, a boycott, and it obviously isn’t a call to others to boycott. It’s forbidden to boycott. There’s a law. And I’m a law-abiding citizen. Always. Even when I don’t like the laws.

And that’s precisely why I don’t buy products made over the Green Line: the law. Because in my view, international law is also law. And it, too, deserves to be obeyed, even if only because international law is the law by dint of which Israel was established and recognized as a state.

And according to international law – how very unfortunate – all settlements, from the first to the last, are a war crime. This is so according to Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and also according to Article 8(2)(b)(viii) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Admittedly, the State of Israel has displayed an impressive ability to create legal nuances out of nothing to prove that international law doesn’t apply to the occupied territories, or that the territories aren’t occupied at all, or that the world is flat. But there’s not a single country in the entire world, or a single organization of all those responsible for upholding international law, that buys Israel’s legalistic sophistries.

Take, for instance, Israel’s claim that this isn’t “occupied territory.” Why? Because the territories “had no sovereign” when we conquered them. But Israel only invites ridicule with this hollow claim. The authorized agencies have declared again and again that this is an occupation in every respect, and that the question of who was previously sovereign in the occupied territory, or whether it had a sovereign at all, is completely irrelevant. “Occupied territory” is defined by law as follows: territory that was seized by military force and is held under military rule. Period.

And not only is transferring an occupying population into occupied territory (“the settlements”) a war crime, but expropriating occupied lands without an acceptable justification – for instance, expropriation for settlement purposes – is also defined as a war crime. Such lands, which were taken from their owners in violation of the law, are simply stolen property.

Consequently, it’s self-evident that anything produced on them by the thieves, whether industrial or agricultural produce, is presumed to be stolen goods. And a law-abiding person doesn’t buy stolen goods. It’s forbidden. A well-known aphorism admittedly holds that “one who steals from a thief isn’t liable,” but there’s no doubt that “one who buys from a thief is liable.”

Moreover, the money paid for stolen goods encourages and finances the criminals. And this, too, is forbidden. Article 25(3)(c) of the Rome Statute assigns criminal liability to anyone who abets war criminals in any way, including by encouraging or financing them.

What can you do? I don’t want to run afoul of international law. Don’t I have enough troubles? So I don’t buy.

All of the above, it’s important to stress once again, has nothing to do with boycotting! Only with obeying the law. And in order to help people obey this law, it’s also necessary to demand that all products of the settlements sold in Israel be immediately labeled, very clearly, so as not to put a stumbling block before the blind and not to embroil them, heaven forbid, in abetting war crimes.

In closing, one small clarification: As many will doubtless recall, in upholding the so-called “Boycott Law,” Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein relied on a phrase from the Passover Haggadah, “In every generation they rise up to destroy us.” I wonder what the honored judge would permit if he continued reading the Haggadah and came to the words, “Pour out Your wrath upon the nations that do not acknowledge You … Pursue them with anger and destroy them from beneath the heavens of the Lord.”

If the honored judge indeed permits what I fear he would permit I’d like to make it clear right now: On this issue, don’t count on me. Because even when it comes to obeying the law, there are limits.

Here’s an example of how the Israeli Press (Ynet Channel) attempts to discredit the BDS Movement

TODAY’S BDS BEX ALERTS

The anti BDS campaign continues in today’s Israeli press …. never before has Israel seemed as desperate as it is now to justify their policies of Apartheid and Occupation.

Click on the links below to see the reports

From the greatest BS'er of the all

From the greatest BS’er of them all

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Israeli left must battle BDS

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Israel to allocate NIS 100 million for BDS

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Netanyahu tells Jpost Conference: Iran, BDS emerging as threats to Israel on world stage

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This is their latest video

PATHETIC!

Gideon Levy has a positive take on the Boycott in today’s HaAretz

For the sins of occupation, boycotts are a light punishment

Orange or SodaStream, academic or artistic boycott, the penalties will grow worse the longer Israel persists in settling, exploiting and stealing Palestinian land.

What are you defending? What are you fighting for? Over what are Israelis entrenching themselves now, with the assaults of the nationalist politicians and the populist media fulminating against the world. Why are they patriotically covering up the orange flags of Orange with the blue-and-white national flag? Has anybody asked why? Why is the boycott starting to gnaw at Israel now, and is this all worth it?

As usual, there are questions that are not even asked. Soul-searching, after all, is a clear sign of weakness. And so an explanation has been invented that absolves us of responsibility: The boycott fell out of the sky, an unavoidable force majeure of Israel hatred, and the only way to fight it is to fight right back at them. Israel always has an abundance of fitting (and sometimes violent) Zionist responses, but it’s always about the outcome, never about the reasons. That’s how was with terror, that’s how it was with the position of the world that Zionist Union chairman MK Isaac Herzog, of all Israeli ultranationalists, rushed to label with the ridiculous name “terror of a new kind” (referring to thestatements by Orange SA CEO Stephane Richard). Never give in. That’s fine, but why? We are fighting the boycott, but why did it break out?

Israel is now defending the preservation of the status quo. It is fighting against the whole world to preserve its advanced school of brutality and cruelty, in which it is educating generations of young people to act brutishly toward human beings, old people and children, to tyrannize them, to bark at them, to crush and humiliate them, only because they are Palestinians.

Israel is defending the continuation of apartheid in the occupied territories, in which two peoples live, one of them without any rights. It is defending its entire system of justification for this — a combination of Bible stories, messianism and victimhood, accompanied by lies. It is defending “united Jerusalem,” which is nothing but a territorial monster where separation also exists. It is fighting for its right to destroy the Gaza Strip for as long as it cares to do so, to maintain it as a ghetto and to be the warden of the biggest prison in the world.

The Israelis are fighting for their right to persist in settling, exploiting and stealing land; to continue breaking international law that prohibits settlement, to continue to thumb its nose at the whole world, which does not recognize any settlements. They are now defending their right to shoot children who throw stones and helpless fishermen pursuing the crumbs of a livelihood in the sea off the coast of Gaza, their right to continue snatching people from their beds in the middle of the night in the West Bank; they are fighting for the right to detain hundreds of people without trial, to hold political prisoners, to abuse them.

That is what they are protecting, that is what they are fighting for — for an area that most of them have not been to for years, and don’t care what happens there, for conduct that is shameful even to some of them. These are the sins and this is the punishment. Does anyone think that Israel can go on without being punished? Without being ostracized? And to tell the truth, doesn’t Israel deserve to be punished? Hasn’t the world been unbelievably tolerant so far?

Orange or SodaStream, academic boycott or artistic boycott, these are light punishments. The penalties will grow worse the longer Israel avoids drawing the necessary conclusions. As opposed to attempts by Israel and the Jewish establishment to divert the discussion, at its heart is not anti-Semitism. At its heart is the occupation. That is the source of the delegitimization.

The nation can fight against the position of the whole world. It can stand up for its rights (which are not its rights) and think that it is fighting for its survival. But do the Israelis know what they are defending now? What they are not willing to surrender? Is all this worth it to them? That discussion has not even begun here.

Dry-Bones-BDS-BDSM-Pogroms

ON VIDEO ~~ WHY ISRAEL’S NATIONAL PANIC ABOUT BDS

Among the questions we talked about: what is BDS? Why is Israel reacting to it now? Is it really bringing effective pressure for Palestinian rights on Israel?

Ali Abunimah on Israel’s national panic about BDS

By Ali Abunimah

I spoke to The Real News Network about the mobilization by the Israeli government and media against the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Among the questions we talked about: what is BDS? Why is Israel reacting to it now? Is it really bringing effective pressure for Palestinian rights on Israel?

For background, read my post: “Why BDS is replacing Iran as Israel’s biggest ‘existential threat.’”

WHAT IS THE STATUS OF PALESTINE TODAY?

DOCUMENTED FACTS THAT YOU WON’T FIND IN THE WESTERN MEDIA

Palestinian territories الأراضي الفلسطينية From Wikipedia

Palestinian territories
الأراضي الفلسطينية
From Wikipedia


...........Status of Palestine in 2015
.....................Prepared by Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

Some of this information is from a summary issued by the Negotiations
Affairs Department (an independent group advising Palestinian negotiators):

- It has been 67 years since the occupation of 78% of Palestine in 1948

- It has been 48 years since the occupation of the other 22% of Palestine
(WB and Gaza) that started 1967

- Today there are 12.5 million Palestinians 7.2 million of us are
refugees/displaced people (six million from the ethnic cleansing of
1948-1950, 843,737 from 1967 Naksa, and 345,217 internal displacement
within the green line, 57,669 internally displaced in 1967 areas.

- UNRWA has 5.4 million registered refugees and has established and
operates in 59 official refugee camps (17 unofficial camps).

-Camps are unstable. As an example 162,000 used to inhabit Yarmuk Camp in
Syria, most of them were displaced in the last three years and 1093 were
killed or died of starvation in the besieged camp. A camp Imam gave a fatwa
allowing the consumption of dog, cat, and donkey meet. Desperate
Palestinians are also drowining in the Mediterranean Sea and dying in
places like Gaza and Syria, when they run out of options. Malnutrition,
birth defects, cancer, and other health issues are skyrocketing.

-When the Balfour declaration was issued in 1917, there were some 850,000
Palestinians only 7% of us were Jewish-Palestinians (and most Jews were
also opposed to Zionism).

 - Roughly 6.5 million Palestinians still live in Palestine though they are
restricted to use 8.7% of the land (Qumsiyeh calculation) and have no
sovereignity even in those remaining areas.

-roughly 6.5 million Israeli Jews live in historic Palestine, vast majority
of them immigrants or children of immigrants. They have access to 91.3% of
the land and have physical sovereignity over 100% of it.

-Some 1500-1800 new Jewish Israeli NGOs are registered every year. Some 100
new Palestinian NGOs are registered every year. In total historic Palestine
has the highest number of NGOs per population size of any place on earth.
Many if not a majority of these NGOs (Israeli and Palestinian) increase
corruption and graft and help sustain the status quo of apartheid and
racism. A virtual industry of foreign aid is built around “peace” and
“development” but actually entrench the apartheid system.

-By contrast, millions of good people with very limited resources do
amazing work to help Palestine move forward. They include cadres of
volunteers, the International solidarity movement, student bodies around
the world, Palestine solidarity groups and more.

-In its ongoing policy of using citizens of Gaza as laboratory test
subjects for new weapon development, Israel killed in its attack in Summer
2014 on Gaza 2147 Palestinians. Most of those were civilians including 531
children and 302 women. The Israeli assault also left 11,231 injured
including 3258 Palestinian children

-Israeli Jewish public voted in the most right wing government in Israeli
history including ministers now serving that support ethnic cleansing and
massacring civilians.

- There is increasing public support in Western countries for human rights
of Palestinains and also for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) to
help end racism and ethnic cleansing

- By contrast, thanks to massive lobby efforts and media control,
politicians in Western Countries are acting as Israel’s henchmen including
in efforts to combat BDS (and even suppressing free speech)

- There is increasing awareness of Western government hypocrisy/double
standard  in regards to application of International humanitarian law and
UN resolutions. This itself drives extremism and notions of “might makes
right”. Even among elites in power, they now realize that it is an
impossible mission to claim to fight spread of a religious state in Syria
and Iraq (ISIS) while maintaining a racist expanding religious state in
Palestine (Jewish State of Israel)

Bottom line: There is lots of suffering that started with Zionist
colonization and exacerbated with Arab leader betrayal but the Palestinian
cause remains strong thanks to people resistance around the world. Together
we are charting path to freedom and dignity against all odds. Key question
is what each of us is doing personally to help or hurt (looking in the
mirror).
 

BDS LIES CONTINUE AS HEADLINE NEWS IN ISRAELI PRESS

Every day there is a new report …. every day there are new lies fabricated about the Movement. When will zion realise that BDS will not end because of these lies …. it will end when the occupation ends …. AND THAT’S NOT A LIE!

Here is the latest rubbish from today’s Ynet News

Image by Carlos Latuff

Image by Carlos Latuff

The global boycott of Israel is growing silently

European banks are cutting ties with Israeli counterparts, while supermarkets across the world are appeasing violent protesters who attack their Israeli produce.

In April 2012, the Co-operative, Britain’s fifth-largest food retailer, declared it would no longer be importing agricultural produce from the territories or any Israeli supplier linked to produce from there. Five years earlier, retail giant Marks & Spencer announced that it was boycotting products from the West Bank, while the Tesco supermarket chain stopped marketing dates from the Jordan Valley.

And they are not alone: Over the past few years, numerous other companies from various countries around the world have announced some kind of a boycott of Israeli goods or companies.

“A consumer boycott of Israeli goods primarily affects agricultural and fresh produce, as it is marked as made in Israel,” says Israel Export Institute chairman Ramzi Gabbay. “Most of the Israeli industrial exports are unmarked so even if there is a boycott, it’s an unofficial one imposed by an individual business that prefers not to work with Israel.”

“Many international companies purchase parts of products, such as electronic components, with the final customer for the device having no idea of their origin anyway. In most instances, businesses do the profitability math before considering politics,” Gabbay adds.

BDS campaign on an American university campus (Photo: AP)
BDS campaign on an American university campus (Photo: AP)

“We are being hit hard in Europe, where there is a large Muslim population,” a director at one of Israel’s agricultural exports companies said this week.

“Unlike in the case of many industrial products, we are required to stipulate the country of origin on the fruit so that the customer can tell where the produce comes from. During Operation Protective Edge, Muslim customers went into the retail chains, particularly in Scandinavia and France, and threw our produce on the floor and sparked unrest.

“In other places, they staged demonstrations outside supermarkets. Even if the chain holds our goods and their quality in high regard, the buyer apologizes and says that the chain doesn’t want any trouble and doesn’t want to upset its public, and therefore it won’t buy from us.”

Not only agricultural produce

The boycott of Israel is not being felt only in the field of agriculture. In the banking sector, for example, Denmark’s largest bank, Danske Bank, has announced a boycott of Bank Hapoalim due to the latter’s activities in the territories and its involvement in “violations of international law.”

Norwegian bank, Nordea, has demanded clarifications from Bank Leumi and Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank on the scope of their activities in the settlements. Dutch pension fund PGGM has also announced that it will stop investing in Israel’s major banks because they are “funding construction in the territories.”

Anti-Israel protesters target Woolworths in South Africa over its sale of Israeli products (Photo: AFP)
Anti-Israel protesters target Woolworths in South Africa over its sale of Israeli products (Photo: AFP)

Israeli real-estate companies and security firms are also taking a blow: In 2009, the Norwegian government’s pension fund, AP, sold its shares in Elbit Systems because of the Israeli company’s involvement in the construction of the separation barrier. AP also announced that it would not invest in the Housing and Construction Holding Company. And Norway’s oil fund, considered the largest in the world with assets of $810 billion, has decided not to invest in Africa Israel and Danya Cebus due to their involvement in construction in the settlements.

And in other areas: The world’s largest security company, G4S of Britain, has ended all its contracts with the Israeli government that are linked to security for the settlements; Germany’s national rail company, Deutsche Bahn, has pulled out of the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem train line project claiming that the project includes tunnels that pass through the territories; Dutch water company Vitens has severed ties with Israel’s Mekorot; and the list goes on.

Threats and demonstrations

And sometimes the boycott takes on violent dimensions too: Shopkeepers in Australia have received death threats for continuing to sell goods from Israel; pro-Palestinian students in Australia have staged loud demonstrations at shopping malls at which owners of stalls selling Ahava products from the Dead Sea were assaulted; Israeli commercial ships have been detained at various North American ports; and Irish BDS activists have stuck labels calling for a boycott on packages of dates from the Jordan Valley.

There are growing calls among the EU states for punitive measures against Israel if construction in the territories continues, with one of the moves on the agenda being the labeling products from the territories. South Africa has already decided officially to mark products made in the settlements. Ahava, for example, has already been forced to cease its activities in South Africa due to the boycott campaign.

The main problem for Israel remains Europe: In recent years, Britain, Spain and Italy have warned business executives not to invest beyond the Green Line as they would be “running the risk of violating international law.”

Can’t help thinking back to this old song …

Yup, Israel ‘got caught!’

See THIS related report by Ali Abunimah

After UK student union backs BDS, Netanyahu falsely claim it supports ISIS

SEPARATE ~~ BUT NOT EQUAL

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

israel_wall_tower_2_UFNlj_3868

Decades of neglect leave East Jerusalem mired in poverty, violence

By: Charlie Hoyle FOR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JERUSALEM DAY IN PALESTINE ~~ THE ONGOING NAKBA

Following are reports and photos from the Palestinian Press (Click on links)

Right-wing Jews tour Al-Aqsa to mark Jerusalem Day

(MaanImages)

(MaanImages)

Settlers uproot hundreds of olive trees near Hebron

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Israeli forces chase 5-year-old with ‘skunk water’

332027C

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332031C

Special Report ….

67th commemoration of the ongoing Palestinian Nakba

Palestinians in the Baqa'a refugee camp in Jordan in 1970. (UNRWA Archives/AFP)

Palestinians in the Baqa’a refugee camp in Jordan in 1970. (UNRWA Archives/AFP)

More New and Views at Ma’an News Agency

A TRAGIC TALE OF LIFE AND DEATH UNDER THE OCCUPATION

Three decades ago the Israeli military government canceled my sister-in-law’s Palestinian residency because she studied abroad for ‘too long.’ Now, Israel is denying her one last visit with her dying father. But my family will not allow her case, like thousands before it, to be buried in silence.

An Israeli soldier locks a border fence. (Illustrative photo by Shutterstock.com)

An Israeli soldier locks a border fence. (Illustrative photo by Shutterstock.com)

A tragically unexceptional story of life and death under occupation

By Sam Bahour

If you prick us, do we not bleed?
If you tickle us, do we not laugh?

If you poison us, do we not die?
And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?
~Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice

My father-in-law, Mughira Barghouty, is dying. At age 91, his health has severely deteriorated over the last six months. He has three daughters: Sawsan, Serene and my wife, Abeer. Serene and Abeer  live in Ramallah and have become full-time caregivers to their now bedridden father. Sawsan lives in Amman, Jordan. Of late, Mughira has repeated a single request: to touch his daughter Sawsan’s hand one last time. It was about to happen on the last day of April. Sawsan got all the way to the Israel border crossing, Israeli tourist visa in hand, but she was denied entry and told to go back to Amman. The family is crushed, but not surprised.

Mughira Barghouty

Mughira Barghouty

We live one floor above my in-laws, thus the bulk of calls for assistance come to my wife first. The calls are sometimes frantic, from my mother-in-law who notifies us that Mughira has fallen while trying to get out of bed. We rush downstairs, many times in the middle of the night, to deal with the situation. At other times, the calls range from mundane daily needs to assistance using the bathroom. The end of life is difficult to watch. Its ending is similar to its beginning — messy, chaotic, and fully dependent.

In such situations, the family’s main goal is to comfort their loved one. In our culture, if there is any possibility whatsoever to care for the dying person in their own home, this is the preferred option. The home truly does have a much more comprehensive meaning than in the West — and we are all engaged in a collective comforting exercise. Several months back, understanding that his health was failing, Mughira made a simple request: he wants to touch the hand of his third daughter, who lives in Amman, to bid her farewell. We immediately passed on the message to Sawsan.

Sawsan acted without delay. As a Jordanian citizen, she applied for an Israeli tourist visa — the only way a Palestinian citizen of Jordan can reach Palestine. This is done through certified travel agent. The process goes like this: you apply, pay a 50 JD (U.S. $70) application fee, then you wait, and wait, and wait some more. Eventually you get a call from the travel agent when the answer comes back: you either have approval, meaning an Israeli Interior Ministry tourist visa, or you are denied and have to start all over again. If you are one of the lucky ones and get approval, you must pay an additional 70 JD (US $100) fee and place a 20,000-30,000 JD (about US $28,000-42,000) bond (to guarantee you will not overstay the visa period) and you must travel the following day. Throughout the entire waiting period, you must be ready to travel on 24 hours’ notice.

Sawsan’s first application was submitted on September 23, 2014. She was notified it was denied in December 2014. So she started all over again, submitting a second application on March 2, 2015, paying the 50 JD (US $70) application fee again. She was notified on April 29, 2015 that her Israeli tourist visa was issued. She packed her bags in a hurry and headed out the following morning to the Jordan Border Crossing (near the city of Bisan, which Israel calls Beit She’an) to Israel (90 km from Amman) with a group in the travel agent’s bus.

At the Israeli border, which she has crossed numerous times before, she approached the border control window and submitted her passport and Israeli Interior Ministry-issued tourist visa.

“What’s your father’s name?” the border control official asked.

“Mughira,” Sawsan replied.

“Where have you visited outside of Jordan?”

“UK,” Sawsan answered. Sawsan’s son, Laith, graduated with a Masters in water engineering in December 2013 from Birmingham University and both parents traveled to attend the graduation ceremony of their only child.

“And Israel?” the official smirkingly added.

Sawsan (right), her son Laith (center) and husband Khaled (left) in the UK for Laith’s Master’s degree graduation ceremony, 2013.

Sawsan (right), her son Laith (center) and husband Khaled (left) in the UK for Laith’s Master’s degree graduation ceremony, 2013.

Sawsan shook her head in agreement, but found the question odd since she is a Palestinian, born in Ramallah, and has travelled many times over this same crossing.

The official instructed her to sit and wait. Meanwhile, the busload of people with whom she was travelling sat waiting her exit so they could continue on. Sawsan become anxious. Group after group, all of which arrived after her, one from Thailand and two from India, breezed through border control. Eventually an Israeli official came and advised Sawsan that she was being denied entry into Israel. Her bus was told to continue on to Israel without her.

The Israeli official brought her two copies of a form written in Hebrew and English; she is fluent in neither. The states two reasons for the denial of entry: 1) “Prevention of illegal immigration considerations”; and, 2) “Public security or public safety or public order considerations.” Despite her protests that she could not read the documents, she signed. Five hours after arriving at the crossing, she was escorted to a bus and sent back to Jordan.

Sawsan called home to Ramallah to inform her mother and sisters. The shock, anger and sadness that ensued is the same that can be found in nearly every Palestinian home at one time or another. After all, dispossession, occupation, and systemic discriminating is the hallmark of the pain Israel has applied to Palestinian society for 70 years, ripping it apart, family member by family member.

One may ask, why is Sawsan applying for a tourist visa at all? She was born in Ramallah and was issued an Israeli residency ID number at birth. When she turned 16 Israel issued her an ID card. But Sawsan’s case, like that of so many others, has a not-so-exceptional twist. Sawsan exited the West Bank in September 1977 to go and study in Latin America. At the time, Palestinians had to surrender their IDs upon exiting the West Bank and were given an Israeli “exit permit.” To renew the “exit permit” one had to physically return every 12 months.

Sawsan’s mother was able to get her three separate renewals, the maximum allowed without physically returning; the last was valid through September 1983. She didn’t make it back in time, and ultimately ended up getting married in Amman. That a Palestinian could lose their residency status in their birthplace is routine practice of the Israeli occupation.

She didn’t reenter the West Bank again until 1987, when Israel issued her a permit to visit based on the Jordanian citizenship she had since acquired. Most recently she visited Palestine with her husband, on a tourist visa, in 2011.

Under the 1994 Israel-Jordanian peace treaty Israeli citizens do not need to request a visa in advance in order to visit Jordan. They just show up at the border crossing, similar to the one where Sawsan was denied entry, buy a visa on the spot and enter Jordan. I have yet to hear of an Israeli citizen denied entry by Jordan.

After the Oslo Accords in 1993, Sawsan hoped she could get her Israeli-issued Palestinian ID reinstated, which would allow her to visit Palestine as she wished, without having to applying a visa every time. She applied for ID reinstatement through the Palestinian Authority, which liaises with Israeli officials, in 1999. Sixteen years later, she has yet to receive any response.

Sawsan wants to know why Israel is still holding her ID hostage after all these years. She wants her residency status back so that she can visit her birthplace and family. She is aware that she may not have the chance to bid her father farewell, but she wants to ensure she can spend more time with her aging mother.

Politicians and diplomats clearly are at a loss on how to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, how to address the right of return of five million Palestinian refugees. But is it so hard to get the Israelis to return the ID of a retired West Bank Palestinian mother who was born in Ramallah? We are committed to not let this be just another case, like the thousands before it, that is buried in silence. We have hired an Israeli lawyer to take up her case.

Mughira is an uncommon name in our society. It comes from Mughira ibn Shu’ba who was one of the more prominent companions of Prophet Muhammad. He belonged to the tribe of Thaqif of Ta’if. Mughira ibn Shu’ba was one of the last companions to see the Prophet before his death. It’s ironic that our Mughira will not be able to see his daughter, who lives two hours away, before his death, because an Israeli border control official has decided so.

What a way to live, and die.

*** EDITOR’S NOTE ***

The Israeli Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority responded to +972: “Mrs. Barghouti filed a request to enter Israel a number of months ago, which was rejected by the Israeli mission in Jordan. Despite the refusal, she later requested to enter Israel as part of a tourist group. A tourist group approval is a group visa and not individual, and when it was discovered that she was actually trying to get around the embassy’s decision — she was denied entry. If she wants to bypass the mission’s decision she should appear there again and file a new application. Or an appeal.”

The IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Israel’s military government that controls the Palestinian population registry, wrote about the application to restore her identity card: “Our inquiry found that the Palestinian Authority did not file a request on Ms. Barghouti’s behalf. If and when a request is filed via the Palestinian Authority, it will be examined in accordance with the regulations.”

Written FOR

Hebrew Version 

 

ISRAEL’S NEW COALYNCHIA*

*UNITED TO LYNCH PALESTINE

The government will include explicitly murderous elements, including Ayelet Shaked, who openly called for murdering innocent civilians, including children.

The Emperor's New Clothes by Latuff

The Emperor’s New Clothes by Latuff … Preparing to feed Palestine to the lions

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Israel’s new government: Fascist par excellence

By Khalid Amayreh in Occupied Palestine

The new Israeli coalition government is likely to be the most extremist since Israel’s creation in Palestine 67 years ago. The composition of the government leaves no doubt as to the direction it will take and policies it will adopt at the domestic front, toward the Palestinians and internationally.

The Israeli opposition leader, Isaac Herzog, has labeled the new government “the weakest, the most extortionist, and narrowest government in Israel’s history.” Writing on his Facebook page, Herzog described the new coalition as one “of no responsibility, no governance and no stability.” These epithets and descriptions can be viewed as controversial, coming from the leadership of a political party that lost the recent elections.

However, from a third-party perspective, e.g. a Palestinian view point, and in light of the composition of the new coalition, we can assume that the next Israeli government will be the most fascist, most extremist, most pugnacious and most anti-peace government in the Jewish state’s history.

The government will include explicitly murderous elements, including Ayelet Shaked, who openly called for murdering innocent civilians, including children.

The new government will be a government of settlers, for the settlers and by the settlers. Indeed, with a fanatical settler leader the aforementioned Shaked becoming “Justice Minister,” it is expected that the entire justice system in Israel will be manipulated in the service of the fascist-minded settlers and their crazy ambitions, namely the seizure of more Palestinian land and property as well as the possible expulsion of many Palestinians from their ancestral homeland.

Needless to say, the settlers’ strategy is to establish a racist Jewish state, “unspoiled and uncontaminated by goyem.”

The new government is also expected to complete the process of killing and burying the already moribund peace process.

Given the clear-cut fascist mindset of the bulk of its coalition partners, the new government will strongly resist any potential international pressure coming from the West, including Israel’s guardian-ally the United States.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and right-wing allies already view U.S. President Barak Obama with utter contempt. Netanyahu’s obvious disrespect of the man in the White House was brazenly illustrated shortly before the Israeli elections, when the Israeli premier flew in the face of the White House by delivering a speech in Congress, against the wishes of Obama.

One Israeli commentator intimated that Netanyahu’s unspoken words then sounded like this:  ‘I, not Obama, call the shots, in Washington.”

Now, with the Republican Party sheepishly groveling at Netanyahu’s feet, the self-absorbed Israeli premier is likely to display more arrogance and recalcitrance, not only vis-à-vis the helpless Palestinians but also in his approach to the rest of the world.

Open war on the Palestinians

The new Israeli government is likely to seek to further narrow Palestinian horizons as never before. This might include a number of draconian repressive measures against Palestinians including a marked escalation in land seizure, a marked escalation in house-demolition and a marked escalation in the especially cruel policy of detaining Palestinian activists for prolonged periods without charge or trial.

In the Gaza Strip, Israel under the new government would probably perfect the already hermetic blockade of the coastal enclave. Moreover, Israel may be allured to carry out another war of aggression on Gaza, if only to appease the sadistic urges of various coalition partners.

This week, Israeli “defense” minister Moshe Yaalon, who will retain the post in the new government, on Tuesday said Israel would attack entire civilian neighborhoods during any future assault on Gaza or Lebanon.

“We are going to hurt Lebanese civilians to include kids of the family. We went through a very long deep discussion … we did it then, we did it in [the] Gaza Strip, we are going to do it in any round of hostilities in the future,” Yaalon was quoted as saying at a conference in Jerusalem this week.

The next government is also likely to give the manifestly fascist settlers a free rein to harass, torment, dispossess and even murder innocent Palestinians. The unbridled settler violence could eventually lead to a bloody showdown between Israel and the Palestinian people as the weak Palestinian Authority (PA) would find itself in an unviable situation, being utterly unable to protect its own citizens from the unrestrained ghoul, while having to rely on Israel for its very survival.

More provocations at al-Masjidul Aqsa

In addition to settler violence, it is widely expected that the new Israeli government will give Messianic Jewish extremists a carte blanch to carry out more provocations against Muslims at the Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest shrine in Islam.

This could trigger a huge conflagration in the region as no other issue has the potential of galvanizing Arabs and Muslims against Israel. This in turn would create real problems for neighboring states, such as Jordan and Egypt, which have peace treaties with Israel.

All in all, a brazen Israeli insolence, met with official Arab impotence, would probably make extremist groups, such as al-Qaeda and IS, ever more appealing to the disillusioned masses. Even relatively moderate political groups like Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic liberation movement, could lose some of its luster in favor of the more radical groups. Moreover, in countries such as Jordan, popular indignation and rage would reach unprecedented levels.

This situation might induce certain regional powers to “fish in troubled water” by creating, financing and even arming “Houthis-like cells” for the purpose of destabilizing certain Arab countries. This would be more than just “creative anarchy and chaos.” It would be a nightmare coming true.

Coupled with the inevitable collapse of the  peace process, or whatever has remained of it, a heightened tension over al-Masjidul Aqsa, accompanied with various levels of violence and bloodshed, would make this summer distinctively “hot,” as the region might witness  paradoxical forces moving in opposition directions, including millions of people boiling with anger, regimes struggling  rather desperately to survive in the face of simmering discontent in the Main Street, and, of course, a recalcitrant Israel hell-bent on fulfilling its Messianic aspirations

From my vantage point here in the West Bank, will continue to hope and pray for peace. However, the looming portents don’t seem auspicious at all. They look rather very very gloomy.

JEWHAD AGAINST JEWS

A few days ago I posted THIS about Israel’s ‘war’ against Diaspora Jewry.

Usually when an Op-Ed appears in the Press it is published for one day only …. Ynet has kept THIS in their headlines for at least 3 days.

This might be the reason why …. as reported in +972

Diaspora Jews, it’s time to step up

For years there have been calls for on-the-ground opposition to the occupation. Now there are a growing number of Jewish platforms — and voices — seeking to make it happen.

By A. Daniel Roth*

Members of the ‘All That’s Left’ collective at a direct action protesting segregation in Hebron, West Bank, October 25, 2013. Seven of the Jewish activists were arrested and later released. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Members of the ‘All That’s Left’ collective at a direct action protesting segregation in Hebron, West Bank, October 25, 2013. Seven of the Jewish activists were arrested and later released. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The way the world is talking about the Israeli occupation is changing. Alongside that change, opportunity is knocking for those of us standing in opposition: calls for diaspora Jews to be present on the ground in Israel and Palestine are increasing. An important shift is beginning to take place — right now.

The writing is on the wall. Since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was re-elected, U.S. President Obama and his staff have been speaking differentlyabout the once-incontrovertible two-state solution. One campus Hillel changed its name instead of changing it’s programming to adhere to Hillel International’s rules. If Not Now stormed onto the scene last summer in response to the violence in Gaza. Boycotts and BDS campaigns are sprouting up on campuses and at supermarkets all over the world.

The writing is on the wall. Since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was re-elected, U.S. President Obama and his staff have been speaking differentlyabout the once-incontrovertible two-state solution. One campus Hillel changed its name instead of changing it’s programming to adhere to Hillel International’s rules. If Not Now stormed onto the scene last summer in response to the violence in Gaza. Boycotts and BDS campaigns are sprouting up on campuses and at supermarkets all over the world.

That was on display for anyone to see last week in Washington D.C. The J Street conference, which brought together over 3,000 people, saw a series of fired up conversations that put shone a spotlight on the American-Jewish relationship with Israel. During a panel on liberal Zionism, Israeli journalist (and +972 blogger) Noam Sheizaf made a clear plea for a collective refocusing from “state solutions” to the urgency of ending the inequality that exists for millions under occupation, who lack freedom of movement or access to civilian courts.

Peter Beinart also took a step forward on stage, calling on young Jews from North America and around the world to stand physically in Israel and Palestine, and to take part in Palestinian non-violent resistance to the occupation.

For years there have been calls for on-the-ground participation from a variety of communities. Recently, there has been a surge in Jewish platforms for those communities to take part in peace and justice work.

A Jerusalem-based volunteer program for young American Jews (which I co-founded) called Solidarity of Nations-Achvat Amim engages in human rights work and learning based on the core value of self-determination for all peoples. All That’s Left (of which I am a member) is a collective aimed at engaging the diaspora in anti-occupation learning, organizing, and on-the-ground actions. The new Center for Jewish Nonviolence has already brought a delegation to help Palestinian farmers to replant trees the IDF uprooted last spring.

It is important that Jewish communities with connections to Israel take part in this movement. Whether they have a personal, communal, religious or cultural relationship with this land, diaspora communities should be on the forefront, stepping up to take responsibility for a peaceful and just future here.

The groups and initiatives I mentioned above are working on engaging even more people in this work: bringing dozens of diaspora Jews — who are already living and learning in Israel — to do solidarity work with Palestinians. In the coming months, they hope to bring hundreds more from around the world for direct actions and educational initiatives in the West Bank.

There are important roles for people from all over the world, of various backgrounds, in organizing opposition to the occupation. Right now, at this very moment, there is a growing call for diaspora Jews to to find their way here and stand up for equality. It’s time to answer that call.

*A. Daniel Roth is a journalist and educator based in South Tel Aviv.

IN PHOTOS ~~ BRINGING THE OCCUPATION TO NEW YORK

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer Commentary by Chippy Dee

Last Friday evening, April 24th, Haneen Zoabi, Palestinian citizen of Israel and member of the Knesset, spoke to a packed crowd of about 300+ in an auditorium at New York University in NYC.  The room was filled beyond capacity with people standing on the sides and sitting on the ground in the aisles.  She was invited there by the NYU chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.  Before she arrived an unsigned leaflet was circulated accusing her of being a friend of Hamas and a supporter of terror.  A very small group of Israel’s supporters stood in the rear of the auditorium waving 2 Israeli flags.

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MK Zoabi entered from the rear, walking briskly, surrounded by 3 bodyguards.  The crowd stood up applauding enthusiastically for many minutes.  She appeared moved and a little surprised by the welcome saying that she does not receive such a greeting very often.  The bodyguards, ever vigilant, remained close to her. 

She then addressed the leaflet attacking her that had been handed out – she was holding a copy in her hand.  She said she was elected  to the Knesset in 2009, the 1st woman to win election as part of an Arab party.  Since then there have been repeated attempts to silence her.  She stated that Israel claims to be the only democracy in the Middle East but compared to what, Arab dictatorships?  There is certainly no comparison to the U.S. and other western democracies – it is very different in Israel.  The democracy in Israel is only for the Jews.  She added that she stands against all injustice, not only the injustices against Palestinians.  She is a feminist, standing for full equality between men and women and will never agree to give others advantages over Palestinians in our homeland.

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She is fighting against racist Zionism, not against Jews.  85% of the Palestinians have been expelled during the ongoing Nakba and have been made refugees.  574 cities, towns, and villages have been destroyed.  The names of everything has been changed robbing Palestinians of geographic familiarity and now Palestinians are being driven out of the Negev. She then looked to the back of the room where Israeli flags were still being waved and asked, “What are  you so proud of?” 

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Zoabi said that Israel is threatened by a real democracy because there is a conflict between being a Jewish state and a democracy.  Palestinians are the indigenous people of their land and, as here in the U.S., indigenous people have to demand their rights in a democracy.  Usually when immigrants arrive in a new land they have to fight for their rights but in Israel it is the other way around.  Israel is demanding that she be loyal to the group that is oppressing her.  There is a tyranny of the majority there.  Over 50 laws discriminate against Palestinian citizens within Israel.  Family unification is not allowed, Palestinians cannot bring a spouse into the country.  The income of Jews is 3 times higher than that of Palestinians who are marginalized and not allowed to develop an economy.  An oppressive legal system is directed against Palestinians.

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Then Zoabi noted that she had been talking mostly about Israel and not Palestine.  What do Palestinians want?  “WE DON’T WANT TO THROW ANYONE INTO THE SEA.”  We want to live in full equality with the right of return in 1 state or 2 and we want the occupation ended now.  There was no talk about the occupation in the past 3 Israeli elections.  Israelis believe nothing is wrong while 50 rabbis recently published a demand that housing should not be rented to Palestinians, 33% of Israeli Jews agreed to imprison Palestinians in concentration camps if a war broke out, and 53% say that Palestinians  should not be represented equally with Jews when budgets are created even though they pay taxes.  She believes that Palestinians should go to the international court, demand that Oslo be reconsidered, and reject negotiations that have proved pointless.  Her conclusion was that, most of all, Palestinians must challenge Israeli racism and be very clear about respecting the rights of Israeli Jews.

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Then there was a Q & A period where the audience was able to respectfully ask questions about subjects she did not address in her speech.  One of the more interesting questions was, to paraphrase, Do you support BDS even if it means that Palestinians are hurt by it?  Her response was an unequivocal, YES, even if it hurts us.

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When she finished her presentation she received another standing ovation.  People rushed forward to talk to her, pose for photos with her, and shake her hand.  When she moved to leave a group of about 30 young men who had come to hear her joined her bodyguards to see that she exited safely.  And she left through the front door.

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WILL NEW SETTLEMENTS REPLACE THE WALL OF APARTHEID?

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The city would cover 14,000 dunams (3,500 acres) of the Jerusalem Hills, encompassing the existing small towns of Tsur Hadassah and Mevo Beitar with 20,000 new housing units, just inside the Green Line dividing “Israel proper” from the West Bank.

Planners eye Jerusalem Hills as site for new city of 100,000

Israel Lands Authority plans town to be called Bat Harim, but Jerusalem municipality, greens aim to stop it.

By Nimrod Bousso IN
A construction site in Tsur Hadassah. Photo by Eyal Toueg

A construction site in Tsur Hadassah. Photo by Eyal Toueg

Jerusalem could be getting a giant satellite city in what is today verdant, rolling countryside.

The city would cover 14,000 dunams (3,500 acres) of the Jerusalem Hills, encompassing the existing small towns of Tsur Hadassah and Mevo Beitar with 20,000 new housing units, just inside the Green Line dividing “Israel proper” from the West Bank.

Plans for the proposed city of Bat Harim, which could one day be home to 100,000 people, are due to get their first hearing at a meeting of the Israel Lands Authority Council on Sunday.

But long before the first ground is broken, opposition to the planned city has already been quietly coalescing. The ILA and the Interior Ministry’s Planning Administration favor the idea, but the Jerusalem municipality, which is supposed to take over the area, is opposed.

The area is now under the jurisdiction of Yehuda Regional Council, but plans call for putting the area under the jurisdiction of Jerusalem, even though the capital lies two kilometers northeast of the region.

The area’s existing residents are fighting the idea as well. The Yehuda Regional Council, which would lose control of the area, is leading the battle, backed by residents of Tsur Hadassah and Mevo Beitar, who are loathe to give up their quiet small-town life for decades of construction and urban sprawl.

As it is, even while plans for Bat Harim are just getting started, plans have been approved to build 2,500 homes in Tsur Hadassah, which would double its population and turn the Jerusalem suburb into a small city in its own right.

Plans for about 1,000 of those units were presented a few months ago to a special committee created to speed building approvals to alleviating Israel’s housing crunch. There are also plans for 1,400 homes in Mevo Beitar.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who apparently has not been party to the plans, made known his opposition in a letter to Interior Minister Gilad Erdan and the director general of the ministry, Shuki Amrani, a month ago.

“I was disappointed and surprised to discover in recent months that the Finance Ministry, Housing Ministry, ILA and National Planning and Building Council have been advancing … in an aggressive way – irresponsibly and without coordinating with the Jerusalem municipality – a massive building program in the environs of Jerusalem and its metropolitan area,” he wrote, referring for Bat Harim.

Barkat said that after a slowdown last year in housing starts in Jerusalem, the pace had been recovering and there was no reason for officials to be looking for places outside the city to start massive building projects.

Barkat expressed concern that Bat Harim would destroy the green belt that now surrounds most of Jerusalem and undermine his efforts to keep people from leaving the city because of the high cost of housing and lack of jobs.

“We are talking about erecting a new neighborhood [Bat Harim] that would attract quality population away from Jerusalem and undermine our efforts to strengthen neighborhoods,” he said. “It’s unacceptable that outside forces that don’t understand the national strategy for Israel’s capital are operating over the head of Jerusalem’s mayor.”

In fact, an earlier plan for a new city back in 1999 was ultimately rejected in favor of increasing population density in Jerusalem. A city spokesman said Barket had not yet decided what he would do next to block Bat Harim.

The Interior Ministry had not responded by press time to the report of Barkat’s letter. But the ILA, Environmental Protection Ministry and the Society for the Protecting of Nature in Israel are attacking the plans as an unnecessary assault on open countryside, even as there is plenty of undeveloped land inside Jerusalem still available for development.

The SPNI, which estimates that Jerusalem still has land available to build 100,000 housing units, launched a campaign in February to stop the plans and is organizing a rally outside ILA Council meeting on Sunday.

“Expanding Jerusalem westward by developing an area unconnected geographically from the city will require huge infrastructure investment,” David Leffler, the Environmental Protection Ministry’s director general, said in a letter to Erdan and Amrani last week, calling on them to abandon the plan entirely.

For its part, the ILA says it has little choice but to open up new areas for development to meet the area’s housing needs. It estimates that the Jerusalem area needs 2,500 new homes to be built every year, or 50,000 over the next two decades.

“The solution is the p’nui u’vinui program [enlarging existing buildings] and urban renewal, and also through new cities,” the ILA said in a statement to TheMarker, saying the area slotted for Bat Harim is one of “relatively low environmental sensitivity.”

Despite the opposition, the ILA in October budgeted 1 million shekels ($250,000) for initial planning for Bat Harim by an outside architectural firm. Its proposals will be presented at Sunday’s meeting.

The SPNI contends that the entire process violates the law, noting that planning authorities have in the recent past rejected any attempt to develop the area. The decision to build a new city can only be made by the government, it contends.

“We are amazed that such an ambitious and significant planning undertaking can get underway solely because of an internal decision taken by the ILA,” said SPNI’s attorney Tal Tsafrir.

83 YEAR OLD PALESTINIAN THROWN TO THE WOLVES IN JERUSALEM

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Let’s see how Bibi explains this to Congress …

Israeli authorities on Sunday ordered 83-year-old Palestinian grandfather Ayyub Shamasnah and his family to voluntarily evacuate their home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah before next Sunday in compliance with a final supreme court decision.

Israel orders Palestinian family to evacuate Sheikh Jarrah house

(MaanImages)
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JERUSALEM (Ma’an) – Israeli authorities on Sunday ordered 83-year-old Palestinian grandfather Ayyub Shamasnah and his family to voluntarily evacuate their home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah before next Sunday in compliance with a final supreme court decision.

Shamasnah lives with his wife, 75, children and grandchildren in a two-room, 65-square-meter house targeted by Jewish settlers who have already evicted several Palestinian families.

The family moved to Sheikh Jarrah after they were displaced from Qatanna village in northwest Jerusalem during the creation of Israel in 1948. They initially paid rent to Jordanian authorities, who were responsible for East Jerusalem until 1967 when Israel occupied the city.

Since 1968, the family has paid rent to Israeli authorities as protected leaseholders.

In 2011, the Israeli government’s Custodian for Absentee Property started legal proceedings to evict the Shamasnah family, claiming their rental contract expired in 2008. In May 2013, an Israeli court postponed the eviction until further discussions.

The court suggested during a hearing in May that the family could remain in the property until the elderly parents die, but settlers who are targeting the property once the family is evicted refused the proposal, according to the owner’s son Muhammad.

Speaking to Ma’an Sunday, Muhammad said that the Israeli supreme court decided in August 2013 that his family should evacuate the property before Jan. 3, 2015 to be delivered to the Israeli settlers.

“Thus, the family received a letter last Thursday from the settlers’ lawyer demanding that they comply with the court decision, or otherwise they will be evacuated by force.”

According to Muhammad, the Israeli authorities claim that the house was a Jewish property before 1948, and after the Palestinian Nakba all Jewish properties were entrusted to the Jordanian government’s Custodian for Absentee Property.

Then after the annexation of Jerusalem in 1967, the properties were entrusted to Israeli government’s Custodian for Absentee Property.

He added that his father had paid rent to both the Jordanian and Israeli authorities as protected leaseholders.

Then in 2011, he added, the family was surprised with the Israeli government’s Custodian for Absentee Property starting legal proceedings to evict the family claiming their rental contract expired in 2008.

In response, the family submitted court documents which proved they paid rent according to a contract signed in 1977. The family also submitted evidence that they had lived in the house since 1972, but “failed to give evidence they had lived in the house before 1968.”

 

Source

REMEMBERING WHAT ISRAEL WANTS US TO FORGET

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Today, synagogues throughout the world commemorated Shabbat Zachor (Sabbath of Remembrance). On this day the first known enemy of the Hebrews, Amalek, is remembered. On this day as well the combined Hate Lists of the ADL and the Wiesenthal Centre are dug out to confirm that Amalek still lives today.
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Yes, Amalek still lives. There is no doubt in my mind about that, BUT NOT ON THOSE LISTS. Amalek lives right here in Israel. He is remembered every day of the year by Palestinians, but especially this week, the 21st anniversary of the massacre in Hebron by a crazed American zionist.
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The week a mosque was torched in the Occupied West Bank and a Christian Seminary torched right here in Jerusalem. Both incidents the work of crazed settlers.
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He is remembered every day that a Palestinian child is lowered into the grave, yet another victim of Israeli terrorism.
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He is remembered when a family in Gaza visits the graves of loved ones killed by Israeli soldiers.
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How quickly zionism forgets the war crimes committed daily against the Palestinians. How quickly the Western World forgets them as well, mostly due to media blackouts in the zionist controlled press in those countries.
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The fate of those who resist the above atrocities is also remembered …
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Yes, we remember those crimes every day of the year. And yes, we will never forget them or forgive those that committed them.
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PHOTO ESSAY ~~ THE OCCUPATION IN BLACK AND WHITE … LITERALLY

One would never guess that we were in the middle of an election campaign as snow in Jerusalem dominates the headlines today ..

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Ultra-Orthodox  Jews walk along the Old City walls

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Finally a day of Peace in Palestine

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THE TEMPEST WE KNOW AS THE OCCUPATION

Every day is Friday the 13th in Palestine

Every day is Friday the 13th in Palestine

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

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

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Who Lives in Sheik Jarrah?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PALESTINIAN ‘SELFIE’ ON THE RUN ~~ FUN AND GAMES UNDER THE OCCUPATION

Notice the use of the word ‘PALESTINIAN‘ …. could this be a ploy to garner their votes in the upcoming Israeli election?

… If that’s the case, it won’t work!

 

Everyone Thinks This Is A Real Selfie By A Palestinian Running From The Israeli Defense Force

This image appears to show Palestinian rapper Tamer Nafar being pursued by Israeli Defence Force members.

This image appears to show Palestinian rapper Tamer Nafar being pursued by Israeli Defense Force members.

Fake selfie of Palestinian being chased by IDF soldiers goes viral

Palestinian rap group DAM allegedly behind fake selfie showing Palestinian running from two IDF soldiers.

A fake selfie showing Palestinian being chased by IDF forces went viral on Twitter Tuesday. The selfie, which was staged and does not depict real IDF soldiers, was taken by Palestinian rap group DAM and shared by unwitting internet users who took it to be real.

According to Buzzfeed, an associate of the DAM rap group confirmed that the photo was staged but did not want to be quoted on record because he and his band mates have enjoyed watching the reaction to the picture online.

When closely examined, there are several hints the picture is a fake – from the sneakers the two “IDF soldiers” are wearing (not part of official IDF uniforms) to the posing of the two soldiers.

However, for those unfamiliar with the IDF, the picture seemed real and it was shared on the internet as an act of defiance by the Palestinian man.

The three people in the photo are DAM members Tamar Nafar, Suhell Nafar and Mahmoud Jreri, according to Buzfeed.

According to the group’s website, DAM is the first Palestinian hip hop group, it was formed in the ’90s after the three Palestinian men were struck by the resemblance of the reality of the streets in a Tupac video that look similar to the streets in their neighborhood of Lyd.

One of their best hits is a song called “Min Irhabi” (“Who’s the terrorist) and was downloaded over a million times after its internet release in 2001. Rolling Stone in France distributed the song for free in one of their issues, according to the DAM website.

 

Source

THE ZIONISATION OF MLK? …. NOT QUITE!

Based on this one quote …

Best they look at the whole picture to see the truth …

King canceled a planned trip to Israel in September 1967 in part because of political misgivings over the annexation of Jerusalem. He reportedly told his aides in a telephone call:

[“I’d run into the situation where I’m damned if I say this and I’m damned if I say that no matter what I’d say, and I’ve already faced enough criticism including pro-Arab.  I just think that if I go, the Arab world, and of course Africa and Asia for that matter, would interpret this as endorsing everything that Israel has done, and I do have questions of doubt…  Most of it [the pilgrimage] would be Jerusalem and they [the Israelis] have annexed Jerusalem, and any way you say it they don’t plan to give it up…  I frankly have to admit that my instincts – and when I follow my instincts so to speak I’m usually right – I just think that this would be a great mistake. I don’t think I could come out unscathed”]

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Wall picture from NYC2Palestine on Facebook

Wall picture from NYC2Palestine on Facebook

On MLK Day, lots of folks are talking Palestine

It’s nighttime now on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but the day has not gone by without a lot of folks talking and thinking about Palestine.

USA Today has a big piece on how King’s legacy is being carried on today in the U.S. by leaders of #BlackLivesMatter, including Phillip Agnew of Dream Defenders (which was founded after the killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012). Reporter Rick Hampson notes one of King’s strengths, and Agnew’s:

  • The internationalist. His ability to elicit support from abroad – and shame Americans with segregation’s inherent contradictions — resonates with Agnew, who recently traveled to Palestine with other activists.

Dream Defenders lately held an action in Nazareth.

Speaking of King’s internationalism, Jamil Dakwar writes:

“If you wonder what #MLK’s position on #BDS would be read this newly found 1964 London speech.”

BDS is of course the international movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel. Dakwar links to this speech reported on DemocracyNow today in which King addressed racial injustice at home and abroad in 1964 and called for boycotting South Africa:

Our responsibility—our responsibility presents us with a unique opportunity: We can join in the one form of nonviolent action that could bring freedom and justice to South Africa, the action which African leaders have appealed for, in a massive movement for economic sanctions. In a world living under the appalling shadow of nuclear weapons, do we not recognize the need to perfect the use of economic pressures? Why is trade regarded by all nations and all ideologies as sacred? Why does our government and your government in Britain refuse to intervene effectively now, as if only when there is a bloodbath in South Africa—or a Korea or a Vietnam—will they recognize a crisis? If the United Kingdom and the United States decided tomorrow morning not to buy South African goods, not to buy South African gold, to put an embargo on oil, if our investors and capitalists would withdraw their support for that racial tyranny that we find there, then apartheid would be brought to an end. Then the majority of South Africans of all races could at last build the shared society they desire.

Electronic Intifada reported that speech excerpt some years ago, as well as a letter that King wrote in 1962 along with Albert Lutuli, a leader of the African National Congress. Key sentence:

The apartheid republic is a reality today only because the peoples and governments of the world have been unwilling to place her in quarantine.

Israeli supporters are promoting the fact that King also said nice things about Israel– calling it one of the outposts of democracy in the world (youtube clip here). Avi Mayer also tweets this photo of MLK Street in central Jerusalem.

MLK Street in Jerusalem

But Dakwar is surely on target here. King was martyred when Israel was still Plucky Israel in the eyes of the west, before the occupation took real form. And it is the treatment of Palestinians under occupation that has driven the BDS movement in the west. There’s no question that if King were alive today, he would be in lines with that movement. Besides, think of how far America has come since King’s death. Diversity is today widely celebrated, and some establishment institutions are actually fostering diversity.

[Update: King canceled a planned trip to Israel in September 1967 in part because of political misgivings over the annexation of Jerusalem. He reportedly told his aides in a telephone call:

[“I’d run into the situation where I’m damned if I say this and I’m damned if I say that no matter what I’d say, and I’ve already faced enough criticism including pro-Arab.  I just think that if I go, the Arab world, and of course Africa and Asia for that matter, would interpret this as endorsing everything that Israel has done, and I do have questions of doubt…  Most of it [the pilgrimage] would be Jerusalem and they [the Israelis] have annexed Jerusalem, and any way you say it they don’t plan to give it up…  I frankly have to admit that my instincts – and when I follow my instincts so to speak I’m usually right – I just think that this would be a great mistake. I don’t think I could come out unscathed”]

Brooklyn for Peace urges folks to support negotiations with Iran– “Dr. King knew that war abroad means misery at home”– and is pressing activists to get on the campaign to pressure that NY City delegation to Israel not to go. From NYC2Palestine’s Facebook page:

Join us on Thursday, Jan 22nd at 1pm in City Hall Park to tell New York City Council members – Don’t Tour Apartheid Israel!

New Yorkers are outraged by 15 New York City Council members’ decision to take an all-expenses-paid propagandatour of Israel, organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council and United Jewish Appeal in February 2015.

Multiple social justice groups and organizations participating in a press conference on the steps of City Hall this past Monday told the New York City Council: #DontTourApartheid. We, the people of NYC, need to do the same.

Also, on Fresh Air today, Eric Foner spoke of the importance of solidarity to the antislavery movement, whites and blacks joining together. What was a difficult thing that was to achieve in the 1850s:

You know, the barriers between black and white were far higher than they are today. And overcoming that in order to work in a collaborative way, cooperating with each other in a, I think, noble cause of trying to assist people who were escaping from slavery and trying to undermine the institution of slavery and, eventually, bring about its abolition. And I – you know, I think on Martin Luther King Day, it should lead us to remember that the civil rights movement had antecedents in our history. It had, you know – that this was a great social movement of the mid-19th century and that these are the things that inspire me in American history – the struggle of people to make this a better country. To me, that’s what genuine patriotism is.

Of course Martin Luther King built that sort of coalition with considerable care in the 1960s, and today we should be thankful for the transformative coalition that we and so many others are building across racial and religious and national lines to free Palestinians (and Israelis), and lift a glass to MLK.

Thanks to Annie Robbins, Allison Deger and Alex Kane.

IN PHOTOS ~~ SANTA BRINGS HOPE AND CHEER TO PALESTINE

Palestinian activists dressed in Santa Claus outfits on Thursday sprayed graffiti demanding an end to the Israeli occupation and freedom for Palestinians on the Israeli separation wall in the southern West Bank town of Bethlehem.

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Santa Claus sprays graffiti on separation wall in Bethlehem
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BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Palestinian activists dressed in Santa Claus outfits on Thursday sprayed graffiti demanding an end to the Israeli occupation and freedom for Palestinians on the Israeli separation wall in the southern West Bank town of Bethlehem.

Activists handed out candy to passing vehicles in celebration of Christmas and the New Year as others wrote slogans on the eight-meter high concrete wall that cuts Bethlehem off from neighboring Jerusalem.

One of the youths involved in the activity said the aim was to pass on good wishes to those celebrating Christmas in Bethlehem and hopes for a new year full of happiness for Palestinian children.
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The activity took place at a major intersection in Bethlehem where the Israeli wall reaches into the heart of the city to cut off the tomb of Biblical matriarch Rachel from the city around it.

Once a shared Jewish, Christian, and Muslim place of worship, the annexation of the area by Israel’s wall has also meant that non-Jews are no longer allowed to enter it. Instead, they are confronted by the wall’s watchtowers on every side, while access is only allowed from the Israeli side through a checkpoint forbidden to non-Jews.

Local activist Mazen al-Azza told Ma’an that the activists hoped to draw attention to the “danger” the wall represents for Bethlehem, particularly at Christmas since international attention is focused on the city and tens of thousands of foreign tourists pass through.

Al-Azza added that the activist was a message to the whole world that there should be no ambiguity regarding the Palestinian cause in the face of the Israeli occupation.
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Israel began building the separation wall in 2002, and the route has been the target of regular demonstrations by border towns whose land is cut off by its path.

Israel has regularly confiscated large plots of Palestinian land in order to build the wall. When the 435-mile barrier is complete, 85 percent of it will have been built inside the occupied West Bank.

In 2004 the International Court of Justice ruled that the separation wall was illegal and “tantamount to annexation.”

The wall also prevents Palestinians from moving freely in the West Bank between Palestinian villages, towns, and cities, increasingly trapping them in small pockets of Palestinian control.
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FOR PALESTINIANS, GETTING TO WORK IN ISRAEL IS A JOB IN ITSELF

Just another day. Palestinians on their way to work go through an army checkpoint near Jenin. Photo by AP

Just another day. Palestinians on their way to work go through an army checkpoint near Jenin. Photo by AP

The next time an Israeli with a conscience refrains from buying sneakers or a cellphone made in Asian sweatshops, he or she should remember: The most brutal sweatshop is next to their homes. Just look once at the sad face of the worker building your home; try to imagine what he went through and put yourself in his shoes. He too is a human being.

The plight of the Palestinian laborer

Poverty and unemployment in the West Bank – a direct result of the occupation – drive Palestinian laborers to endure the pain and humiliation of working in Israel.
By Gideon Levy

Israelis see them and they don’t see them. They are on the scaffold of the building going up next to ours. We see them and we don’t see them. We have no idea what they endure and we don’t care. The people who build our homes and pave our roads left their own homes at around 2 A.M. last night. They will return in the evening, after a long, exhausting day of work, nearly 24 hours of hard labor, hard traveling and humiliation. Tonight they will again leave their homes for jobs in Israel. While some Israelis come to work bleary-eyed because their baby woke them up two or three times during the night, these people know no day or night.

They are divided into the lucky and the unlucky. A few tens of thousands have work permits for Israel — 47,350 as of March — and a few tens of thousands sneak in without permits. Those with permits travel this Via Dolorosa each night; those who sneak in will stay at the construction site for two or three weeks, passing long, cold nights in fear of getting caught. They are the illegals. If caught they will be treated like hunted animals. After a few hours of questioning they will be dumped on the other side of the checkpoint, like garbage. Sometimes they will be arrested or fined. They will return. They have no choice. Some pay with their lives for this journey in search of work.

They come to Israel on account of the poverty and unemployment of the West Bank, which are the direct result of the closure and the occupation imposed by Israel. Their working and living conditions are worse even than those of sweatshop workers in the Far East. There once can at least fall asleep at one’s machine, the (miserable) quarters are next to the factory and there are no “illegals.” It is doubtful that Chinese workers are humiliated the way their Palestinian counterparts are, even if the Palestinians are paid much more.

Israel needs them and knows how to exploit their weakness. They pay thousands of shekels to makhers who arrange work permits for them every few months and they are willing to suffer any hardship because they have no choice. Last week they stood tall for a moment: Around 5,000 Palestinians who work in Israel went “on strike” to protest the intolerable conditions at the Irtah (Sha’ar Ephraim) checkpoint, west of Tul Karm, which is being renovated. The next day conditions improved and they returned to work and to humiliation.

But Irtah is not alone. Every crossing has the same terrible overcrowding in narrow, barred passageways that resemble cattle chutes more than they do crossings for people: with shoving, hitting and fainting, the only human contact in the form of the voices, of those who see and are unseen, on the public address system. I saw this with my own eyes at Bethlehem’s Checkpoint 300, and again last week in a disturbing Channel 1 television report last week by Yoram Cohen. “Nobody knows the system like we do,” said Machsom Watch – Women for Human Rights volunteers Rachel, Riki and Amira in their report on the Irtah checkpoint. “The system is to oppress, humiliate and make things worse so that the subjects will be more afraid.”

To reiterate: These are people with work permits, who have passed all the security checks, most of them relatively old.

That’s the way it is night after night, and the ritual of security excusing everything. It is difficult to understand how all this does not explode. How the hatred that accumulates at night does not burst into terrible violence. How they agree, night after night, to endure this — and keep quiet. And how most Israelis do not care.

The next time an Israeli with a conscience refrains from buying sneakers or a cellphone made in Asian sweatshops, he or she should remember: The most brutal sweatshop is next to their homes. Just look once at the sad face of the worker building your home; try to imagine what he went through and put yourself in his shoes. He too is a human being.

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