PROUD TO BE A CANADIAN …… HERE IS JUST ONE REASON WHY

Canada steps up aid for UN agency for Palestinian refugees following US cut.

The easiest way to shut down UNRWA is to let the refugees return home

UNRWA and Palestinian refugees are being treated unfairly – Cartoon [AlArabi21News/Twitter]

Canada pledges $50m to UNRWA

Canada has announced that it is contributing $50 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

Some $40 million would be allocated over two years to assist the health and education efforts of the refugee agency, a statement said.

Another $10 million is aimed at helping 460,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria and Lebanon.

International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said Canada’s new contribution would improve lives and “protect the human dignity” of millions of Palestinian refugees.

“This new funding to UNRWA is urgently needed, and it will bring some predictability to the agency as the needs on the ground are increasing,” Bibeau added.

UNRWA has been suffering from a budget deficit resulting from the ending of US funding.

The easiest way to shut down UNRWA is to let the refugees return home

ISRAEL’S ILLEGAL NUMBERS GAME

I never really understood the ‘numbers game‘ in the States, but the following one is pretty easy to understand ….

THE TAMIMI FAMILY SAGA CONTINUES

Ahed Tamimi’s brother Waed to be jailed for over a year for throwing stones. He joins countless young Palestinians jailed for misdemeanors by the Israeli authorities.

DILEMMAS EXTRAORDINAIRE

What will Israel do with 7 million Palestinians, expected to double their current population in 3 – 4 decades?

 Israel’s existential dilemma
 
By Khalid Amayreh

What will Israel do with 7 million Palestinians, expected to double their current population in 3 – 4 decades?
 
Observers of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict have come to realize that Palestinian demographic growth within mandatory Palestine (Israel proper, the West Bank and Gaza Strip) now constitutes the most formidable strategic challenge facing the Jewish state and the Zionist movement as a whole. One Israeli strategic expert called this challenge “the mother of all problems and nightmares facing Israel.”
 
Israel doesn’t ignore the problem, of course, despite its awesome military might and the almost unlimited and unrestricted American backing. Thus the Palestinian demographic “threat” is a constant subject of often acrimonious arguments involving politicians, strategic planners as well as intellectuals, statisticians and  demographers.
 
Never the less, Israeli officials and spokespeople, especially those associated with the Benjamin Netanyahu government’s  harsh  policies toward the Palestinians, are often seen trying to dismiss the issue as just another banal challenge facing the Jewish state.
 
Israeli routinely publishes the latest demographic forecasts on the eve of major Jewish holidays, such as the Jewish New year. However these studies seem far from reliable as statistical manipulation of these studies raises the eyebrows of evenhanded professionals. For example The Palestinian population of Israel is subcategorized into Muslim Arabs,  Christian Arabs Bedouin Arabs, Druze Arabs, and Circassians.  No similar categorization  is listed or mentioned, even fleetingly, when dealing with the Jewish population, although there are many distinctive Jewish groups such as Eastern  Orthodox  Jews,  Haridi ultra-Orthodox, Western Ashkenazi Orthodox, Reform Jews, Conservative Jews,  Chabad Jews, etc.
 
It is widely believed that the ultimate aim of this tendentious manipulation is to present Jews as a united demographic bloc while portraying the Palestinians as a divided  and  heterogeneous population with many sects and sub-sects.
 
More to the point, Israel from time to time publishes politically motivated  reports about the growth of settler population in the West Bank as opposed to a purportedly dwindling Palestinian birth rate. 
 
Notwithstanding, the naked demographic facts seem so imposing and virtually udisputable   that no person valuing rectitude would deny.
 
Predictably, these facts leave a very narrow margin for optimism for Israeli expansionists and advocates of Greater Israel or the so-called biblical irredentism.
 
Last year, a group of veteran military officers raised large signs in Tel Aviv reading: “Israel is about to have an Arab majority” and “ when will Jews become a minority in the only Jewish state in the world”? The protesters, who included prominent former military commanders, also accused the Israel’s right wing government of taking the country to a bi-national state.”
 
The protesters were by no means phobic and the slogans they raised were by no means hyperbolic. They were simply voicing the views of many silent Israelis. And the driving motivation behind their activity was by no means their concern  for the Palestinians and their human or civil  rights but rather their concern for the future of Israel and Zionism.
 
Israeli intellectual Uri Avnery, who died this week at the age og 94, believes the government is hiding vital demographic data, pertaining to Jewish and Palestinian demography, from the Israeli public
 
Avnery pointed out in one of his articles several months ago that the  Palestinian population between the Mediterranean and the River Jordan was either equal to or slightly higher than the Jewish population.
 
For its part, the Ramallah-based Palestinian Bureau of Statistics, a usually reliable think-tank, reported a few months ago that the Palestinian population in the West Bank. Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and Israel proper was  nearly equal to the Israeli Jewish population in the same territories.
 
Palestinians will double their population in 3-4 decades
 
Palestinian as well as Israeli demographers calculate that Palestinians in mandatory Palestine will double their current population  figures within 3-4 decades due to their significantly  higher birth rate. In other words, Palestinians, baring an unthinkable  Israeli feat like expulsion  or some sort of genocide,  would become a numerical majority and Israeli Jews would become a numerical minority.
 
In addition, it is projected that in 50 years from now, Israel will be surrounded by 800 million-1 billion Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa. In other words, Israel would be reduced to  a small island in the midst of a huge sea of Arabs and Muslims.
 
Morbid dreams
 
Israel constantly  whishes  a miracle of some sort would occur and the Palestinian demographic “menace” would disappear or significantly subside. But we are talking about wishful thinking and day- dreaming which is more an expression of deep frustration than a realistic hope. It is also an expression of the deepening historical predicament facing Zionism.
 
True, Israel has always been trying to confine the largest possible Palestinian population within the smallest possible area of land. This is the reason Israeli bulldozers hasten to  destroy newly-built Arab homes in Area-C of the West Bank where Israel, according to the hapless Oslo Accords,  has full civilian and security authority. In the final analysis, Israel wants as much as possible of Palestinian geography and as little as possible of Palestinian demography. This is what Zionism is all about.  Nonetheless, this brashly racist  and manifestly fascist policy will eventually boomerang on Zionism and Israel  as Palestinians are already beginning to increasingly giving up the two-state solution and opting for one democratic and unitary state comprising  Israel and the Occupied Territories.
 
Israel has, whether we like it or not, has  already decapitated, once and for all, any remaining prospects for a viable and territorially contiguous state for the Palestinians. And the Palestinians would rather die than accept  a “dwarfed  state”, e.g., one  without East  Jerusalem, without the repatriation of refugees, and without ending the occupation that began in 1967. Needless to say, any Palestinian leader contemplating accepting such a scandalously dismal deal will most probably not live long enough to regret his folly.
 
Now, with the 2-state solution virtually dead, only two probabilities remain: 1- the one-state solution, which would spell  the end of Zionism, that is why it will be absolutely  rejected by Israel.
 
The other probability is open-ended conflict. That is the most logical scenario for the future.
 
But, once again, what would Israel do with, or more correctly to, 7 million Palestinians, who are expected to double their number in 3-4 decades which is not a long period?
 
Would Israel  poison them? Would it sterilize them to prevent them from procreation? Would it use against them secret but deadly  chemical agents that would make the death of millions look  quite natural? Would it withhold food and water from them? Would it banish them?
 
Or would it concoct some stark cause alibi like carrying out massive bombings of Israeli population centers and then blame the bombings on  Hamas? Or would it simply terrorize them into leaving their homes like Bashar Assad did to millions of “non-conformist” Syrians in active cooperation and collusion  with Russia, Iran and Hizbullah?
 
It would be utterly naïve and too gullible to rule out any of these hair-raising scenarios  especially in light of the likelihood that the US would almost certainly  support Israel, irrespective of the nefariousness  of Israeli actions including possible genocide in which millions would perish. ( some millenarian Messianic Jews are so eager to see an  evangelical president at the White House,  who would grant  Israel a total carte blanch to effect a final solution for the Palestinian issue as evangelical Christian Zionists are thoroughly convinced that Israel should be allowed to implement the Lord’s will)!.
 
In light, it is essential the Palestinians remain quite vigilant and steadfast because steadfastness  (e.g. preserving and consolidating  the demographic card) is the only winning card we possess and if we win it we win everything and if we  lose it we lose everything.
 
Finally, we must carefully refrain from giving Israel a pretext to take  draconian or unthinkable measures against our very existence.  Wining the demographic card is not only a matter of procreation. It is also a matter of wisdom, winning more friends, non-violence, resilience, and patience.

Related thoughts …

Israel is neither truly Jewish nor truly democratic
 
B Khalid Amayreh
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The usual mantra Israeli spokespersons and PR spinners routinely invoke to bamboozle people unfamiliar with Israel’s brutal treatment of Palestinians  is that Israel is both Jewish and democratic.
 
The truth of the matter, however, is that Israel is neither truly Jewish nor truly democratic.
 
To be truly Jewish, one should adhere to the tenets of the Torah, the central scripture of Judaism.
 
Israel doesn’t do that, apart from occasionally paying lip service to holidays and religious symbols as well as some historical events whose authenticity is highly questionable.
 
Otherwise, Israel is a hotbed of all sorts of vices and immoralities, including murder, theft, adultery, sodomy, and idolatry.
 
I am confident that if Moses the Prophet  were to appear today and see what has become of the very people who claim adherence to him, and the Torah and Ten Commandments he received , he wouldn’t hesitate to say: “sorry, but I’m not a Jew!”
 
In fact, a deep and honest appraisal of Israel should unravel the clarion reality that the so-called Jewish state is not only far from encapsulating the true prophetic traditions of Judaism, but is in fact an idolater antithesis of Judaism. One Orthodox rabbi described Israel as “the modern Golden Calf.” His description is not far-fetched.
 
For example, the Torah exhorts Israelites to treat “strangers amongst you” respectfully and honorably… because you were strangers yourselves in the land of the Pharaohs.”
 
Another example is the “Golden Rule” many Zionist Jews love to quote when speaking to non-Jewish audiences: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary”.
 
This golden rule, established by the Babylonian rabbi Hillel HaGadol, or Hillel HaZaken,  purportedly treats all humans as equal.
 
Unfortunately, we often see that the very same Zionists who invoke Hillel’s golden rule happened to be amongst the most vociferous defendants of Israel’s fascist and evil  behavior, especially its manifestly criminal treatment of the Palestinian people. Israel actually is a sea of oppression and inequity as far as the Palestinians are concerned. Israel tried every conceivable act of savagery and barbarianism against a people whose only “crime” is that they don’t belong to the “holy tribe.”
 
 
Commenting on the ongoing and seemingly unending Palestinian plight, the great Spanish writer Santiago Alba-Rico wrote:   “Perhaps Palestinians are not the most punished people on earth, but they are indeed the most openly punished people on earth; perhaps they are not the people who have suffered the most but they are the people whose sufferings are the most uninterruptedly visible. Paradoxically, this visibility (beyond the lies) makes the victims even more vulnerable; it confers a kind of biblical dimension to the aggression.”
 
In truth, the gargantuan oppression meted out to Palestinians by Israel should compel all honest people under the sun to consider Israel as no less than a gigantic crime against humanity, a crime no less horrendous and no less diabolical than history’s worst.
 
The Democracy claim?
 
I don’t deny that Israel does have many democratic features, including regular elections, a vigorous media and a lot of checks and balances.
 
However, we can’t ignore the fact that Israeli democracy is plagued with many crippling flaws which very much eviscerate that democracy of its democratic essence, rendering it a sham democracy.
 
Take for example the definition of Israel as a Jewish state first and a democratic state second. This unequivocally means that “Jewishness” always comes first and that democracy always comes a distant second.
 
So, one really wonders: How can Israel be Talmudic and democratic at the same time? This is more than a procedural paradox. This is a pure eternal oxymoron.
 
This structural built-in scandal has been enshrined into a law. Dubbed as the Nationality Law, whereby only “Jews” in Israel have the right to self-determination. The fascist camp in the Jewish state , including the Likud, Bayt Hayehudi and Avigdor  Lieberman’s party, have been trying desperately to defend the brashly fascist piece of legislation. Netanyahu, who has the gift of gab, but suffers from conspicuous intellectual shallowness, challenged critics to name a single Arab citizen whose rights have been undermined or compromised by the law. One Arab Knesset member retorted, asking Netanyahu to name a single individual Jew who was targeted by the laws of Nazi Germany.
 
The moral here is that once you target an entire group of people, you effectively target every member of the group.
 
Besides, the Arab citizens of Israel are not new comers to the land. In fact one can safely claim that 99% of Israeli Arabs predated 99% of Israeli Jews in Israel\Palestine.
 
More to the point, there are a thousand evidences corroborating the view that Israel is more a real shamocracy than a real  democracy.
 
We who live in this country know too well that Jews and non-Jews who commit the same crime don’t receive similar punishments. The non-Jew receive an extremely harsh punishment whereas the Jew receives an extremely lenient punishment.
 
The Israel press have reported cases of Jews convicted of murdering rather premeditatedly African refugees and only receiving a few months in jail. There are Thousands of examples illustrating the inherently racist and scandalously duplicitous justice system in Israel.
 
A truly democratic state gives equal weight to lives of people, irrespective of their creed and race. In Israel, however, your life carries a weight and has sanctity only if you are Jewish.
 
In 2014, the Israeli army mercilessly murdered hundreds of innocent Palestinians in Gaza who Israel admitted were totally “uninvolved” in hostilities.
 
However, the Israeli Military Advocate General found no criminal wrongdoing in the  army’s conduct. Israel concocts all sorts of mendacities,  prevarications  and verbal juggling to conceal the truth and make it look nebulous.
 
However, we all know deep in our hearts that the real reason for Israel’s refusal or reluctance  to carry out a meaningful investigation into the Nazi-like  massacres of Palestinians, carried out knowingly and deliberately, has to do with Israel’s racist perception of   non-Jewish lives.
 
Hence, it would be a sort of fornication with truth to claim that Israel is a democratic state.  In fact, it is an insult to language to call Israel a democratic state.

IMAGE OF THE DAY ~~ WHAT ISRAEL CAN NEVER DESTROY

Image by Carlos Latuff

BELLA CIAO URI AVNERY ~~ A TRUE FRIEND ON BOTH SIDES OF THE WALL

Veteran left-wing journalist, lawmaker and peace activist Uri Avnery died Monday at age 94 in Tel Aviv.

The Gush Shalom founder was one of the first Israelis to actively seek a Palestinian state as a peaceful solution to the conflict: ‘The difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist depends on your perspective’

Uri Avnery, Veteran Peace Activist and Among First Israelis to Meet Arafat, Dies at 94

Ofer Aderet

 

Veteran left-wing journalist, lawmaker and peace activist Uri Avnery died Monday at age 94 in Tel Aviv. A founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement, Avnery was also one of the first Israelis to actively advocate for the establishment of a Palestinian state, more than 70 years ago.

As a youth he fought with the Irgun pre-state underground militia and later in life moved to the left of the political spectrum. He was also editor-in-chief of the iconic liberal weekly, Haolam Hazeh, for 40 years.

The eternal peace activist never shirked controversy and was involved in fateful events in the country’s history, some of which he documented and others he actively took part in shaping. But while Avnery’s supporters saw his ideas as groundbreaking, detractors denounced him as an enemy of the people.

Avnery asked to be cremated, for his archives to be donated to the National Library, and his money toward peace activism. He summarized his life by noting that while his ideals “won a resounding victory” theoretically, in practice they “were defeated politically.”

Avnery was born in Germany in 1923 as Helmut Ostermann. He grew up in Hannover as one of four offspring of a comfortable, bourgeois family. The family immigrated to British Mandatory Palestine in November 1933, a few months after Hitler rose to power. After a few months at Nahalal in the north, the family moved to Tel Aviv, where he lived until his death.

Avnery started his political career on the right side of the political map. He said that as a youth he admired Zeev Jabotinsky and saw himself as a Revisionist. In 1938, when he was 15, he joined the Irgun to fight the British forces “for the right to our own state,” as he put it. “I was convinced that we deserved independence, just like everyone else,” he recalled.

In an interview with Haaretz in April 2014, Avnery said of his activities with the Irgun: “I distributed leaflets [during a period when the Irgun killed many people], and as such I bear responsibility. The Irgun planted bombs in markets in Jaffa and in Haifa, which killed dozens of women and children, and I supported that.”

Vocation in life

In his Hebrew-language memoir “Optimi” (“Optimistic”), Avnery wrote that his service with the Irgun taught him political lessons for later on his career: “We were freedom fighters,” he wrote. “In my eyes, the British authorities were a terrorist organization. Back then, I learned that the difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist depends on your perspective.”

Three years later, he dropped out of the underground militia. “The Irgun’s war against the Arabs bothered me a great deal. I was very much opposed to their anti-Arab line,” he said. He later explained he believed that, just as the Jews had the right to a national life, “The Arabs in the country have the same right.”

His older brother, Werner, joined the British army at that time and committed suicide during his service. Afterward, Uri adopted the name “Avnery” as his surname for its resemblance to the name “Werner.”

From a young age, Avnery saw himself as a politician. As someone whose life had changed completely as a result of politics – Hitler’s rise to power in his homeland – he saw it as the most significant vocation in life.

Initially, Avnery favored the idea of a single state, one in which a new people would arise as a union of two peoples – the Arabs and the Hebrews. The idea was espoused by the movement he established in 1946 which was called Bama’avak (“The Struggle,” aka The Young Israel).

He believed at that time that the national Hebrew movement was a natural ally of the Arab nation, and advocated cooperation between both movements under a joint name. “This is an ideal built on a culture partnership of homeland and history,” he said.

Accordingly, Avnery was disappointed on November 29, 1947, when the United Nations ratified the UN Partition Plan. “I couldn’t accept the partition of the country. Tul Karm, Hebron and Nablus were my country,” he said, adding, “The joy over carving up the country into pieces angered me a great deal. I dreamed of a joint national movement based on a common love of the land.”

This ideal didn’t withstand the test of reality. During the War of Independence in 1948-49, he discovered that “the vision of joint life in the country had died.” He later said: “I was a peace activist before the war, but the war was existential – a matter of life and death.”

Avnery served in the “Samson Foxes” commando unit. He was seriously wounded during the final days of the war, while fighting in the Kiryat Gat region. The worldview he adhered to until his dying day was formed during the period in which he was hospitalized for his wounds. One of those beliefs was the two-state solution.

In his memoir he wrote: “The war totally convinced me there’s a Palestinian people, and that peace must be forged first and foremost with them. To achieve that goal, a Palestinian nation-state had to be established.”

In this sense, Avnery was a groundbreaker. “During that period, there weren’t even 10 people in the world who believed in that,” he declared. “But today, it’s a global consensus. Even Netanyahu – who doesn’t think of realizing it – has been forced to say he supports it,” he wrote, referring to the prime minister’s “two-state speech” at Bar-Ilan University in 2009.

Avnery published his impressions of the war in Haaretz and Haaretz’s evening paper, Yom, Yom, while the fighting raged. At the end of the war, he compiled them in his first book, “In the Fields of the Philistines, 1948,” which became a best seller and briefly made Avnery a national hero.

But he felt the book did not provide a full description of the war, so in 1950 he published a follow-up, “The Other Side of the Coin,” which described the war’s darker side. Its publication stirred outrage and turned Avnery from “a popular man to top of the list of hated people; from a beloved person to someone who smeared Israel’s name,” as he put it.

In 1949, at the young age of 25, Avnery was appointed chief editorial writer at Haaretz. He left soon after, though, citing political differences with the newspaper’s then-editor, Gershom Shoken.

In 1950, Avnery and his friends purchased the Haolam Hazeh weekly news magazine from its founder, Uri Cesari. Avnery became its editor-in-chief for the next 40 years, and under his stewardship Haolam Hazeh became antiestablishment, subversive, sensationalist and a consensus-breaker. It operated under the legendary slogan “Without Fear, Without Prejudice.”

Avnery expressed his worldview in a number of areas: Opposition to worship of the military; religious coercion; the absence of a democratic constitution; discrimination against ethnic groups; and David Ben-Gurion’s anti-Arab policy.

The weekly sought to crusade against establishment corruption. It published a list of hard-hitting investigative pieces and exposed public and political scandals. Then-Shin Bet security service head Isser Harel defined Avnery at the time as “Government Enemy No. 1.” Ben-Gurion dubbed the magazine “that certain weekly.”

Alongside its political and social agenda, Haolam Hazeh also dabbled in tabloid journalism, publishing trashy gossip stories and photographs of naked women. This combination was seen by many as a journalistic revolution, in terms of both writing style and the magazine’s approach. The weekly also proved controversial, with its editorial offices being bombed on several occasions and its archive completely destroyed following an arson attack in 1972.

Avnery received belated recognition for his journalistic endeavors in 2004 when he won the Sokolov lifetime achievement award.

Political movement

In addition to journalism, Avnery increasingly became more political. In 1965, after the Knesset passed a law against defamation – which Avnery saw as specifically targeting his news magazine – he established a radical protest movement called Haolam Hazeh – Koah Hadash (New Force).

The movement’s political platform incorporated the values of liberty, equality and peace. Avnery was elected to the Knesset on this platform in November 1969 and was reelected four years later. His parliamentary activities included tackling religious coercion, promoting civil marriage, denuclearizing the Middle East and gay rights.

In his eyes, his biggest political mistake was voting in favor of the unification of Jerusalem after the Six-Day War in 1967. He subsequently explained his vote as an attempt to prevent the restoration of East Jerusalem to Jordanian rule, based on the hope of realizing a two-state solution and turning a united Jerusalem into the capital of both Israel and a Palestinian state.

Avnery later returned to the Knesset in 1979 as a founding member of the Sheli party (aka Left Camp of Israel). In a speech that year in favor of ratifying the peace treaty with Egypt, he said: “They say we will have a small country, but there is no greater mistake than this. Peace doesn’t reduce the size of the country. It enlarges it exponentially. In another year, we’ll get in our cars and drive on the weekends to Cairo and Alexandria. Two days later, we’ll take the train to Damascus and Aleppo, we’ll fly to Algiers and Baghdad, we’ll sail to Casablanca and Sudan. When you wake up in the morning to the sight of the pyramids outside your hotel window, as happened to me, it will be like a dream. Is this a utopia? That word doesn’t frighten us.”

In his valedictory Knesset speech in 1981 (as he relinquished his seat to an Arab lawmaker), Avnery was the first lawmaker to present the Palestinian flag alongside the Israeli one. “Those who couldn’t believe yesterday that Sadat would ever speak here will not be able to believe that someday Yasser Arafat will speak here,” he said.

Avnery was one of the first Israelis to have contacts with the Palestine Liberation Organization. He had his first contacts with an Arafat envoy in 1974, which led to his founding the Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace in December 1975.

In July 1982, at the height of the first Lebanon war, Avnery met with PLO chief Arafat in Beirut – the first time Israelis had met with the Palestinian leader. Avnery said at that meeting: “The fact that we are sitting here together in the middle of this terrible war is a sign that in the future our two peoples will find a solution to coexist. Palestinians and Israelis. I believe there will be a Palestinian state alongside Israel and both sides will live together in peace in two countries that, little by little, will develop good neighborly relations, and even better.”

Several cabinet members called for Avnery to be put on trial for high treason, but the attorney general decided no crime had been committed.
Avnery and Arafat met a dozen more times in the years that followed.

Human shield 

In 1993, months after then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin expelled hundreds of Islamic activists to Lebanon, Avnery established Gush Shalom (Peace Bloc) – a movement that supported the establishment of a Palestinian state, making Jerusalem the capital of both countries and dismantling the settlements in Palestinian territory.

A year later, when Arafat returned to Gaza, he invited Avnery to his reception and sat alongside him on the podium. In 2003, during the second intifada, Avnery spent time at the presidential compound in Ramallah, operating as a “human shield” for Arafat – for fear Israel might attempt to assassinate him.

Avnery had many critics who opposed his politics and ideology. Extremists labeled him a traitor and slanderer of Israel. While editor of Haolam Hazeh, he was subjected to physical attacks and once had both his arms broken after being ambushed. In 1975, he was seriously wounded after an assailant stabbed him on his own doorstep.

Avnery, and many in his circle, admitted he had some difficulties when it came to people skills. A friend once said: “Avnery is disabled like Trumpeldor was. Trumpeldor lacked an arm; Avnery lacks feeling.” The activist wrote in his memoir: “There’s something wrong with my emotional relations with people. And the worst thing about it is, I don’t really care.”

He said he only ever told his wife, Rachel, he loved her when she was on her deathbed, and that he had never cried – not even during funerals for his comrades in arms. His rivals would delight in highlighting his deficiencies as expressed in his mother’s will. She left him no inheritance “since he didn’t take care of me and instead went to visit that murderer Yasser Arafat.”

Avnery published seven books and a vast number of articles in various publications, including in the pages of Haaretz. “Optimist” was published around the time of his 90th birthday. “I feel like an imposter,” he said at an event marking his birthday. “Someone wrote by mistake that I’m 90 – I feel half that age.”

Avnery ended his life with mixed feelings. On the one hand, he was convinced he had turned his political ideas – first and foremost his support for establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel – into a “global consensus.” On the other, he admitted he had failed to realize these ideas politically. “Life goes on, the struggle continues. Tomorrow is a new day,” he wrote on the last page of his memoir.

His wife, Rachel, a teacher and ideological partner, died in 2011. They were partners for 58 years and chose not to have any children.

URGENT APPEAL FROM THE CHILDREN IN GAZA

‘When Israeli forces destroyed the cultural centre, they thought they would also destroy our dreams’

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BREAKING NEWS…
This is difficult to write. Gaza Children’s Cinema team is mourning the destruction of the Said Al-Mishal Cultural Center which was levelled to the ground yesterday after Israeli fighter jets struck the five-story building with 10 rockets. The second largest cultural centre in Gaza was a venue for theatre and music performance in the besieged and isolated Gaza Strip. This cultural centre was one of the main places where Gaza Children Cinema team organised movie screening for children. The Said Al-Mishal Cultural Center provided spaces of entertainment and joy for generations of children and young people in Gaza; it is in total ruins now.

*

Dear Gaza Children Cinema friends and supporters,

First and foremost, we would like to repeatedly extend our sincere gratitude for your kind and generous support to our Gaza education community-based initiative: Gaza Children Cinema.

We have been silent in the last few months but invariably busy with organising fundraising events to extend the wonderful momentum of the project to further reach to children communities in Gaza. We also have been minutely working with our partner in Gaza, Tamer Institute for Community Education to plan for the second phase of cinema workshops implementation across the enclave Gaza Strip.

Children in Gaza need our help and support to heal. Please consider contributing to Gaza Children Cinema to provide spaces of fun, creatively temporary escapism through basic human engagement: watching a movie in a safe environment.

According to a recent study by Gaza-based university professors of psychological health, Dr Jamil Tahrawi and Dr Sanaa Abu-Dagga, “Drawings of Palestinian Children after the War on Gaza,” 82.3 percent of 445 children surveyed have drawn images related to war. These include: fighter planes, destroyed homes and mosques, Israeli rockets and missiles, dead Palestinians, various military vehicles, and fighters. The drawings showed fear, terror, and sadness over the those killed and wounded. The study is available in Arabic here.

But there is still hope. Dr. Tahrawi explained that art could be used as a bridge to a better future and that despite the gruesome content of many of the children’s pictures the drawings could help the children overcome their grief and move on.

“The children can relieve their stress by expressing their feelings instead of repressing them. I was surprised at the bright and cheerful colors used by certain children. I expected them all to use bleak colors such as black and brown. But the rainbow of colors is proof of their resilience,” according to Dr. Tahrawi.

“If they are given the chance and the same opportunities as other children they can overcome Gaza’s tragic history and circumstances. Unfortunately we don’t have sufficient people qualified in art therapy in Gaza,” added Tahrawi.

You can help in a number of ways, and all are greatly appreciated:

  • By sharing this update with your networks, you will increase the coverage of the work done by ‘Gaza Children Cinema,’
  • By donating via the crowdfunding link earlier in this page. Even the smallest contribution helps, and
  • By sharing contributing any special skills, time, energy or resources you may have. Please  feel free to get in touch!  Your input can help make the world a better place for some children who need it
Gaza’s children need consistent and age appropriate  interventions, in order to grow and flourish, is an environment of such severe ongoing conflict. Ahmed Ashour, the team leader of Gaza Children Cinema in Gaza, indicated that the impact of cinema sessions on children as “beyond description” and that children are always waiting for more screenings.

Through Gaza Children Cinema sessions, children are encouraged to draw their feelings and tell stories in images. Children are also encouraged to play out their experiences in supervised play sessions. These approaches enable the children to find ways to externalise the trauma, rather than letting it fester like an internal time bomb.

Thank you so much for making this initiative real.

Yours sincerely,
Ayman Qwaider

Here’s how YOU can help ….. Click HERE

PIRACY … OVER AND OVER AGAIN … WESTERN SILENCE OVER AND OVER AGAIN

On Friday Israel attacked a Swedish yacht, in int’l waters exercising right of ‘innocent passage’ taking medical supplies to Gaza. All 12 people aboard kidnapped & illegally detained in Israel. Demand they be released to continue their journey.

Image by Latuff

Still little news of 12 people attacked & detained. Read account of 69yr old UK doctor, founder of re her similar experience when Israeli navy last week attacked . Their dehumanising experiences highlight what Palestinians face daily.

UPDATE ...

A second Gaza Flotilla boat named Freedom was hijacked by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) navy in international waters.  Freedom is sailing under a Swedish flag and its passengers and crew are from a number of nations. 

The whereabouts of the kidnapped participants is unknown.

Many boats in the past have been captured, however this should not be seen as normal. It is still violent and illegal. 

With your support the Freedom Flotilla will continue until the blockade ends and Palestinians of Gaza regain their full freedom of movement. Some people are doubling the size of their checks and sending them in for next year.

If you want to take action to protect the members of Freemom and future boats, you can contact the United Nations or the respective government officials from Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, and the United States: https://jfp.freedomflotilla.org/news/sos-just-future-for-palestine

 

Here’s an eyewitness account of the last hijacking …

The psychotic tenderness of being boarded by the Israeli navy at sea

 Yonatan Shapira

Yonatan Shapira was aboard the Al Awda boat in the Gaza Freedom flotilla when it was stopped in international waters by Israeli sailors three days ago and all on board arrested. His Facebook report in Hebrew was translated by Ofer Neiman, with the headline, “Israeli citizen and Palestine solidarity activist Yonatan Shapira on Israel’s dirty attack on the peaceful Gaza flotilla: יונתן שפירא מדווח מהמשט – עברית להלן” That translation follows.

So just as the IDF Spokesperson said: “The overtaking of the Al-Awda ship was carried out without violence and without exceptional events”.

And indeed, everything was as usual –

They slammed Herman the captain’s head against the wall again and again while threatening to take him to the ship’s belly and finish him off when no one is watching.

A fist in the face of Arne Birge the old mechanic.

And the finest tradition: Electric shocks. This time we wore life vests of the type that covers the chest well. But don’t worry, the brave naval commando combatants just electrocuted [Tasered] Charlie, the first officer, in his head. And more electric shocks to Juergen the cook and to 60 year old Mike, a chair of a trade union and a human rights activist from New Zealand.

But at the same time, things were done with a kind of psychotic tenderness.

Like in a strange play, soldiers (men and women) with weapons and vests packed with munitions and personal cameras, but wearing white shirts with the national flag embroidered in a shiny blue color and wearing white masks on their faces. Last time it was all-black.

And let’s keep in mind: Had we been Gazan fishermen or children approaching the Gaza fence, they could have simply put a bullet in the head of each of us and that’s it.

The IDF Attorney unit has also confirmed that that there’s no need for an investigation.

A PALESTINIAN ICON … AHED TAMIMI

Ahed Tamimi is free, but she hasn’t forgotten the other 5,000 Palestinians still trapped inside Israeli prisons. AJ+ spoke to Ahed about life inside an Israeli prison.

Insightful and wise beyond her years.

IMAGE OF THE FIRST TASTE OF FREEDOM

Our dear heroine’s first taste of freedom …

A bittersweet moment in reality ….

After eight months in Israeli prison, 17-year-old Ahed Tamimi returned home on Sunday morning to a hero’s welcome in her village of Nabi Saleh, in the central occupied West Bank. Arm in arm with her father Bassem and mother Nariman, who was also released on Sunday along with her daughter, the teenager broke down in tears as she was embraced by her younger brothers, extended family, and fellow residents of Nabi Saleh.

 

 

FINALLY SOME GOOD NEWS FROM PALESTINE ~~ AHED TAMIMI FREE AT LAST

 

Jail bars won’t silence the truth! Ahed Tamimi is FREE

Images by Latuff

Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi has been released from Israeli custody following eight months of incarceration. The renowned teen became a significant figure of the Palestinian resistance after standing up to Israeli forces.

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From Yahoo ….

Palestinian teenager jailed for slapping soldiers leaves prison

 Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi left prison Sunday after an eight-month sentence for slapping two Israeli soldiers, an episode captured on video that made her a symbol of resistance for Palestinians, a prison service spokesman said.

Assaf Librati told AFP Tamimi, 17, and her mother, who was also jailed over the incident, were being driven by Israeli authorities from a prison inside Israel to a checkpoint leading to the occupied West Bank, where they live.

“They just left the prison,” Librati said.

Israeli authorities provided conflicting information on which checkpoint they were being taken to.

They were first expected to arrive at a checkpoint near the Palestinian city of Tulkarm in the occupied West Bank, but there were later indications they would be taken to a crossing at Rantis.

Both Tamimi and her mother were sentenced to eight months in an Israeli military court following a plea deal over the December incident which the family said took place in their yard in Nabi Saleh in the West Bank.

Video of it went viral, leading Palestinians to view her as a hero standing up to Israel’s occupation.

Her now-familiar image has been painted on Israel’s separation wall cutting off the West Bank. Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has praised her and social media has been flooded with support.

But for Israelis, Tamimi is being used by her activist family as a pawn in staged provocations.

They point to a series of previous such incidents involving her, with older pictures of her confronting soldiers widely shared online.

Many Israelis also praised the restraint of the soldiers, who remained calm throughout, though others said her actions merited a tougher response.

– Embassy protests –

Tamimi was arrested in the early hours of December 19, four days after the incident. She was 16 at the time.

Her mother Nariman was also arrested, as was her cousin Nour, who was freed in March.

Israel’s military said the soldiers were in the area on the day of the incident to prevent Palestinians from throwing stones at Israeli motorists.

The video shows the cousins approaching two soldiers and telling them to leave before shoving, kicking and slapping them.

Ahed Tamimi is the most aggressive of the two in the video.

The heavily armed soldiers do not respond in the face of what appears to be an attempt to provoke rather than seriously harm them.

They then move backwards after Nariman Tamimi becomes involved.

The scuffle took place amid clashes and protests against US President Donald Trump’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Relatives say that a member of the Tamimi family was wounded in the head by a rubber bullet fired during those protests.

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Ahed’s first statement upon release …..

 “My freedom is incomplete without the freedom of other detainees who stood beside me and supported me throughout my detention and I hope they will be freed soon.”

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Followed by a press conference

NOW IT’S ILLEGAL TO BEAUTIFY APARTHEID

The irony continues …..

First read THIS post

Palestinian officials said Israeli border police arrested the two artists who crafted the large painting, now on display at a separation barrier in Bethlehem

Artists painting a mural depicting Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi. AFP

Israel Arrests Italian Artists Who Painted a West Bank Mural of Ahed Tamimi

Israeli border police on Saturday arrested two Italian graffiti artists who were painting a mural of a jailed Palestinian teenager, Ahed Tamimi, on the Israeli separation barrier in Bethlehem in the West Bank, according to Palestinian officials.

Tamimi, now 17, was sent to prison for assault after being filmed kicking and slapping an Israeli soldier late last year, when she was 16. She is due to be released on Sunday.

Tamimi became a heroine to Palestinians after the Dec. 15 incident outside her home in the village of Nabi Saleh was streamed live on Facebook by her mother and went viral.

An Israeli police spokesman did not return a call for comment.

The Palestine Liberation Organization said on Twitter that Israeli forces had arrested the two Italian artists and a Palestinian who was with them.

 

SOURCE

BEAUTIFYING APARTHEID

The mural appeared on the separation wall in Bethlehem just days before the 17-year-old activist is due to be released.

Italian artist Jorit Agoch paints Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi on the Israeli separation wall, July 25, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

New Mural of Palestinian Ahed Tamimi Painted on Occupation Wall

An unknown artist has painted a mural of Palestinian resistance icon Ahed Tamimi on the Israeli separation wall in Bethlehem, just as her father said she might be released on Sunday after almost eight months of unjust imprisonment.

Media outlets had speculated about the artist’s identity, some describing him as Palestinian, but he has since come out as Italian street artist Agostino Chirwin. Also known as ‘Jorit Agoch,’ he has a reputation for hyper realistic murals of activists, politicians and other campaigners.

While painting the 13-foot mural, Chirwin obscured his identity by keeping a black cloth wrapped around his head.

Ahed Tamimi’s portrait was painted next to a mural of dead Palestinian nurse Razan Al-Najar, in Bethlehem. July 25, 2018. Photo | Reuters

Ahmad Arabi, an activist from the Popular Resistance committee in Bethlehem, said the mural was part of the preparations to celebrate Tamimi’s release.

Tamimi, 17, recently told Egyptian news outlet Al-Ahram Gate she had completed her high-school diploma in prison and that she was getting ready to apply to the Law or Political Science faculty.

The streets of Bethlehem, Nabih Saleh, the West Bank and occupied Palestine in general are readying to welcome Tamimi, who was sentenced to eight months in prison after a video of her slapping and yelling at an Israeli soldier who had entered the family home went viral.

Agoch is known for his disctinctive, hyperrealistic murals. July 25, 2018. Photo | Reuters

Tamimi’s 15-year-old cousin, Mohammed Tamimi, had been shot in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet a day before. Tamimi was charged with aggravated assault, obstructing the work of soldiers, and incitement on January 2.

“The Israeli authorities usually do not inform the detainee or his family of the date of release, but I think she will get a decision” to reduce her detention by 21 days, said Bassem Tamimi, her father.

 

Source

ONE SMALL STEP FOR PALESTINE, ONE GIANT LEAP FOR MANKIND!

“They’re still denying we are a state, we walk like a state. We quack like a state. Therefore we are a state.”

The Palestinian flag is raised outside UN Headquarters in New York during the 70th session of the UN General Assembly on September 30, 2015 (Raphael Ahren)

In first, ‘Palestine’ to head bloc of 134 nations at UN

Palestinians to preside over the Group of 77, largest’s coalition of developing nations; Israeli envoy laments it will become ‘a platform for spreading lies and incitement’

The “State of Palestine” will reportedly preside next year over the largest bloc of developing nations at the United Nations.

Palestine — which is not a member state of the UN but has observer state status — was chosen to head the so-called Group of 77, a consortium now consisting of 134 nations that often speaks in one voice at the UN General Assembly, starting January 1, 2019, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

“We will be negotiating on behalf of 135 countries,” Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour told the paper, including his own delegation in the count.

The group was originally founded in 1964 with 77 countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Thailand and India. Over the years it has grown to include countries such as South Africa, Qatar, Cuba, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Singapore, and Angola. It represents some 80 percent of the world’s population.

Egypt currently holds the group’s presidency until December 31.

The Foreign Ministry in Israel did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon expressed misgivings about the move.

“The goal of the Group of 77 originally was to facilitate the economic advancement of underdeveloped nations,” he told The Times of Israel. “It is unfortunate that it will now become a platform for spreading lies and incitement. This will not promote the G-77’s goals, and encourages the Palestinians to not engage in negotiations for peace.”

The UN General Assembly in 2012 voted overwhelmingly in favor of granting Palestine “non-state observer status.” Three years later, the GA also voted to allow the Palestinian flag to be raised outside the UN’s iconic building on New York’s East River.

Israel and the US were among the few countries opposing these moves, arguing that unilateral moves ostensibly advancing Palestinian statehood were counterproductive to efforts to reach a lasting peace agreement.

Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador, hailed the fact that his delegation will soon preside over one of the largest blocs as a diplomatic success.

“They’re still denying we are a state,” Mansour said, referring to Israel and the US. “We walk like a state. We quack like a state. Therefore we are a state.”

THREE AGAINST TWO MILLION …. AND YET THEY ARE WINNING

In a Washington Post article on Thursday 19 July, President Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East advisor Jared Kushner, US Zionist Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and special Mideast adviser Jason Greenblatt, another ardent Zionist,  sought to overlook Israel’s  real crimes against humanity inflicted repeatedly  on  some two million helpless Palestinians languishing under a Nazi-like siege imposed and maintained by Israel.

 

Image by Marina Grechanik.

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Khalid Amayreh responds to the Three Zionist shapers of  Trump’s Palestine policy 
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In a Washington Post article on Thursday 19 July, President Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East advisor Jared Kushner, US Zionist Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and special Mideast adviser Jason Greenblatt, another ardent Zionist,  sought to overlook Israel’s  real crimes against humanity inflicted repeatedly  on  some two million helpless Palestinians languishing under a Nazi-like siege imposed and maintained by Israel.
 
The three Zionist supremacists, whose loyalty is first and foremost to international Zionism and only second to   Donald Trump,  accused the Palestinian Islamic Resistance group, Hamas, of producing “misery for the people of Gaza”, saying that unless Hamas unilaterally recognized Israel, abided by previous agreements and renounced resistance to Israeli aggression “there is no good option.” The trio, who ostensibly adopt the political views of the Israeli far right, including the Jewish settlement movement, offered to give humanitarian aid to Palestinians in return for recognizing Israel and terminating all forms of resistance to the Israeli occupation army.
 
 The 11-year draconian siege is apparently meant to punish Gazans for electing Hamas which refuses to recognize Israel for religious and moral reasons.
 
This writer is thoroughly familiar with a long list of US diplomats and peace envoys to the Middle East  ever since William Rogers who initiated the Rogers’ peace plan  in the late 1960s, which Israel rejected. But frankly I have never  been affronted by such brazenly and fanatically one-sided diplomats who so shamelessly adopt the manifestly fascist views of the Israeli right while pretending to maintain a semblance of neutrality between Israel and her enduring victims.
 
 The trio seem, at least from this writer’s vantage point, so lacking in rectitude and scandalously ignorant of the basic issues of the Arab-Israeli conflict We are talking about a group of  ideological fanatics who tend to think  the 100-year conflict began yesterday. For example, they miserably fail to understand that the almost desperate but determined Palestinian resistance to unmitigated Israeli oppression is made inevitable by incessant Israeli aggression as well as concerted efforts to subjugate and humiliate one of the most ancient peoples of the Middle East whose only “crime” is its resilient quest for freedom and independence..  Kushner, Greenblat and Freidman simply don’t know that the Palestinians are putting up a last-ditch defense for their very survival in the face of powerful and immensely callous Zionist movement which succeeded in having the US government at its beck and call.
  
Kushner and Grerenblat, it is manifestly clear, are accustomed to dealing with corrupt Arab despots who have little moral credibility  and who  virtually view America as their God on Earth. Well, Gentlemen, I have some news for you:  There are Arabs of a different mantle who are not eager to be America’s puppets or agents.
 
The three morally bankrupt Zionist officials urged Hamas to recognize Israel just like other Arab countries in the region did. Well, since when were these undemocratic and grossly dictatorial entities a role model for the Palestinian people to adopt, emulate or imitate?
 
Moreover, the three Jewish-American diplomats conveniently forgot to tell us which Israel they were asking us to recognize? Is it Israel according to the UN partition plan of 1947? Is it Israel with the pre-`1967? Is it Israel with Jerusalem and the Haram Sharif? Or, indeed, is it Greater Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates?
 
More to the point, the three Zionist fanatics shamelessly demanded that Hamas  ought to recognize Israel, even  in the absence of  a reciprocal Israeli recognition of a viable and territorially contiguous Palestinian  state with East Jerusalem as its capital!
 
As we all remember, the PLO did recognize Israel in the context of the hapless Oslo Agreement. And we saw and endured (actually continue to endure) the bitter harvest of that scandal called the Oslo Accords. Hence the question: Must we repeat  the same blunder to appease and  please Israel firsters?
 
The PLO gave Israel everything the Zionist state demanded. It gave Israel  a free  and solemn recognition, it gave up legitimate armed resistance which is perfectly lawful under international law. It gave up our national honor and dignity, all in order to demonstrate our good will and sincere commitment to peace. And what did we get from Israel in return? Well, we got  150 new colonies, and a police state without a state called the Palestinian Authority.. 
 
As to Israel itself, it has been growing bolder and bolder in denying us our most  basic rights as human beings living in our ancestral homeland.
 
It would be misleading to think that the Nazificaion of Israel has been consummated and completed with the adoption by the Israeli Knesset  of the so-called Nationality Bill into a law.  Nay! Much is still coming up, and just as the Nuremburg laws in Nazi Germany were only a stage, the Nationality Law will be proven sooner or later  a mere small detail in the Nazification of Israel.  I am not a Prophet of doom and gloom, but the writing is on the wall and I would be utterly foolish to pretend that I am just having a nightmare.
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Mazin Qumsiyeh adds ….
de facto and now de jure racism/apartheid
 Finally, the Israeli Knesset puts it into words/law and is now de jure as
well as de facto racist/apartheid "Jewish nation-state" . The new "law"
violates international treaties and norms (including the 1976 International
Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid).
But on the bright side no one can now defend Israel as a "democracy" since
it is now not by practice alone but by clearly worded "law" that it is an
apartheid racist state for and by the Jewish people (imagine if a similar
law about "whites" or "christians" was instituted in any other country). 
See the following links

israel-adopts-racist-jewish-nation-state-law

israels-nation-state-law-apartheid-is-a-process/

israel-passes-controversial-nation-state-bill

Images by Latuff

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A MUST WATCH BEFORE ZION BANS IT … WHAT ISRAEL DOES NOT WANT YOU TO KNOW

Lost cities of Palestine: Haifa, Nazareth, and Jaffa

 

Rarely seen archival footage accompanies memories and accounts of forgotten Palestinian cities – highlighting the catastrophic effect the creation of Israel in 1948 had on them.

Haifa, Nazareth, and Jaffa have all been overshadowed by Tel Aviv, but in their day each of the Palestinian cities had magnificent commercial and cultural ability.

“Palestinians born after 1948 don’t realise what they have missed,” says writer Raef Zreik.

“We only realise what we’ve lost when we hear people’s stories about Palestine before 1948. People who spent the night at to clubs and movies in Haifa, who spent the night there and the next day took taxis from Al-Hanateer Square to go back home at the American University in Beirut. You could do what you liked. We not only lost our cities in 1948, but also our open relationship with the Arab world.”

Made for Al Jazeera Arabic in 2011, Lost Cities of Palestine provides a rare opportunity to see Palestine as it was in the 30s and 40s and learn about the everyday life and culture of urban Palestine before 1948.

2nd GROUP OF YOUNG JEWS REALISE WHAT ‘BIRTHRIGHT’ REALLY MEANS

Another group of young American Jews just walked off their Birthright trip, to meet with a Palestinian family and see the reality of the Occupation for themselves, a reality Birthright actively hides

8 left-wing activists stage 2nd Birthright walkout in less than a month

Participants affiliated with IfNotNow leave trip four days early to meet with Palestinian family whose home is slated for demolition in East Jerusalem

Birthright has refused to show us the truth about the occupation’s impact on Palestinians, instead asking us to visit a site operated by a far-right settlement organization. We’ve decided instead to go meet with the Sumarin family, a family that has lived in East Jerusalem under threat of eviction for years to learn from them and hear their story.

More HERE on FacBook page

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And HERE on Twitter

IN ISRAEL GENOCIDE IS A MEANS OF SURVIVAL

You’re just not supposed to say it too overtly. The liberals, and especially the goyim, may start getting the wrong ideas.

Speaker at Israeli gov’t conference promotes genocide against Arabs and non-Jews

A week ago, the Israeli Ministry of Education held a conference in Jerusalem for the state’s religious education sector (Ynet reports, Hebrew, English here). Education Minister Naftali Bennett was also present. The theme was “speaking about the values of the Jewish family in 2018, about education to healthy sexuality, modesty, feminism, values and Zionism.”

On the stage was an aging terrorist, Moshe Zar, a former founding member of the Jewish-terrorist movement “Jewish Underground” (in 1980’s), who said the following:

“I am known for saying ‘Build a house, it’s like you wiped out a hundred Arabs. Build a settlement, it’s like you wiped out tens of thousands of goyim [‘non-Jews’]’. That’s the truth”.

His words were applauded by a considerable number of the public, including the settler standing beside him, Yael Shevach, the widow of rabbi Raziel Shevach, who was murdered in January on a road in the occupied West Bank outside the settlement he lived in.

Israeli journalist David Sheen has provided the video with subtitles here.

The immediate context within the conference was about settlement in “Judea, Samaria and Gaza”. After a video was screened, Zar told about an attack that had occurred in a settlement and said that construction of the settlements is “our sweet revenge”.

“Our revenge, the revenge of all of us, will be only in the settlement of Eretz Israel” [the land of Israel]. 

Of course, when such genocidal euphemism comes out in mainstream press, you have to do some damage control. Thus, the Ministry of Education issued a statement distancing itself from Zar’s expressions:

“The Ministry of Education and head of the state-religious education condemn decisively Moshe Zar’s egregious words, which were said on his behalf alone. We are speaking of an unfitting expression which does not reflect the spirit and policy of the Ministry of Education, which acts a lot to promote all of the sectors in the Israeli society, including the Arab sector.”

Notice a few things here, which make this statement highly questionable:

First, state-religious education is exclusively Jewish. The claim of promoting other ‘sectors’ does not relate to the state-religious education sector itself. And this is the eighth consecutive year the education ministry held this conference. Second, how could the ministry not know of Zar’s ideology? He is known for it – he literally boasts of it (“I am known for saying”…). In the ’80s, he was part of “a terrorist group that planted bombs in the cars of Arab mayors and plotted to destroy the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem,” per the NYT. After the killing of his son Gilad in 2001 (who was a security officer of the Israeli settler Samaria Regional Council) by Palestinian militants, Moshe Zar vowed that he would establish six settlements in his son’s memory (a settlement for each letter in his name in the Hebrew spelling). Rabbi Raziel Shevach was murdered outside a settlement that Zar established in 2002 – Havat Gilad. In 2015, Zar expressed some regret for his past terrorist activities and objected to the ‘tag price’ revenge terrorism attacks, but nonetheless remained an avid proponent of the settlement enterprise. Even if the Ministry viewed Zar as a kind of ‘moderate settler’ who was no longer an ‘active terrorist’, still, they could not claim to not have known about his ideology, in which he replaced the bomb with the settlement, as it were. (Let it nonetheless be noted that Zar was buying up private Palestinian land for settlement since 1979, that is, simultaneously with his terrorist activity).

Then Zar issued his own statement to Ynet, clarifying that he was merely ‘misunderstood’:

“Of course I referred with my words only to Arab terrorists who killed my son Gilad and the rabbi Raziel Shevach and many thousands of Jews. I live with Arabs in co-existence from my birth, out of the belief that in mutuality it is possible to live in peace.”    

This one is disingenuous on several levels. First of all, Zar did not refer merely to Arab ‘terrorists’. To suggest that this is naturally to be understood (“of course”) is like suggesting that the category, Arabs, equals terrorists. Second, he did not merely say Arabs, he added to it “goyim” (non-Jews). This added notion, which appears very calculated and even meticulously self-cited, brings this way beyond the mere tit-for-tat supposed context. It is very clearly a Judeo-centric notion of ‘Judaization of the land’ with genocidal undertones. 

And then there is of course Zar’s claim that since his birth (1938) he lives in ‘co-existence’ with ‘Arabs’. Zar was not only a member of the Jewish Underground, he was also a member of Ariel Sharon’s Unit 101 which committed the notiorious Qibya Massacre in 1953. Some ‘co-existence’ that is.

So this is, once again, one of those somewhat uncomfortable slips of the tongue, in which someone says something that is just a touch too overt, and you have to do damage control and tell people to move on. Like when Education Minister Bennett said that he “killed many Arabs and there’s no problem with that”.  

But notice what Zar was really saying, even in the conservative, watered down interpretation: Israeli settler-colonization of what Zionists consider ‘Eretz Israel’, is a form of bureaucratic genocidal “sweet revenge”.

You’re just not supposed to say it too overtly. The liberals, and especially the goyim, may start getting the wrong ideas.  

FINKELSTEIN’S THOUGHTS ON GAZA

The siege is not irrelevant to a legal determination of Israel’s right to use force—be it proportionate or disproportionate, moderate or excessive, lethal or nonlethal—to prevent demonstrators from breaching Gaza’s perimeter fence. 

The Gaza blockade is illegal– and so is the use of force to maintain it

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Human Rights Watch (HRW) is among the leading guardians of human rights in the world. Sari Bashi is HRW’s Israel/Palestine Advocacy Director. She can lay claim to an impressive academic pedigree (BA, Yale; JD, Yale), and she co-founded the important Israeli human rights group Gisha. It thus cannot but depress that Bashi is so wanting in elementary moral and legal judgment when it comes to the people of Gaza.

Shortly after the Israeli massacre in Gaza on 14 May 2018, Bashi posted a commentary under the title, “Don’t Blame Hamas for the Gaza Bloodshed.”

Its essence is captured in the opening sentence: “Israel has a right to defend its borders, but shooting unarmed protesters who haven’t breached its frontier is disproportionate and illegal.” Insofar as the demonstrators didn’t pose an “imminent threat to life,” Bashi concludes, Israel had no right to use lethal force against them and, in any event, did not “exhaust” nonlethal means “such as tear gas, skunk water, and rubber-coated steel pellets” to throw back the assembled crowd.

The UN has pronounced Gaza unlivable, while Sara Roy of Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies has written, “Innocent people, most of them young, are slowly being poisoned by the water they drink.” Is it not a tad unseemly, not to say unsettling, for the representative of a respected human rights organization to coach Israel how to stay within the letter of the law—before resorting to bullets, you must first try “tear gas, skunk water, and rubber-coated steel pellets”—while it’s herding two million people, half of them children, in an unlivable space in which they are slowly being poisoned?

To be sure, Bashi is not oblivious to the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza caused by Israel’s blockade. But she makes out no legal nexus between the effects of the siege and Israel’s right to use force. Instead, she dwells on the apparently paradoxical outcome that whereas Israel imposed the blockade to weaken Hamas, it has in fact “helped Hamas grow in strength.”

But the siege is not irrelevant to a legal determination of Israel’s right to use force—be it proportionate or disproportionate, moderate or excessive, lethal or nonlethal—to prevent demonstrators from breaching Gaza’s perimeter fence. For brevity’s sake, I would want to touch here on one basic, uncontroversial point. (A forthcoming article by Jamie Stern-Weiner and this writer parses the more nuanced legal issues.)

It is a tenet of international law that no state can resort to forceful measures unless “peaceful means” have been exhausted (UN Charter, Article 2). This principle is as sacred to the rule of law as the analogous Hippocratic Oath, primum non nocere (first, do no harm), is to medicine. Now consider the situation in Gaza. Nearly all competent observers agree:

·      Israel has imposed an illegal blockade on Gaza;

·      The illegal blockade has created a humanitarian catastrophe;

·      The impetus behind the protests at the perimeter fence is the illegal blockade, and their objective is to end it.

It is to be noted that even Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu concedes the last bullet point. “They’re suffocating economically,” he observed, “and therefore they decided to crash into the fence.”

If Israel wants to protect its border, then it need not resort to either lethal or nonlethal coercion. It merely has to lift the siege. Israel’s refusal to take this preliminary peaceful step puts it in double breach of international law: the imposition of an illegal blockade and the unlawful resort to armed force when peaceful means have not been exhausted.

It is cause for wonder why Bashi doesn’t see that Israel’s resort to any force against Gaza demonstrators cannot be legally justified. It is cause for dismay that she counsels Israel to use nonlethal repression in order to corral Gaza’s inhabitants in a hellhole, instead of counseling it, not just as a matter of political expedience but also as a matter of law, to end the siege. If, by way of comparison, police repeatedly enter a man’s premises in flagrant violation of the law, the homeowner finally resists, and the police try to subdue him, would a human rights representative be advising the officers to use graduated force?

​Indeed, prior to Israel’s slated violent eviction/demolition of the Bedouin village Khan al-Amar in the West Bank, HRW itself did not recommend that the army first use “tear gas, skunk water, and rubber-coated steel pellets” but, on the contrary, bluntly warned Israel that such an act would constitute a “war crime.

Were the siege of Gaza lifted, it would put Israel on the right side of the law as it yielded the double dividend of enabling the people of Gaza to breathe and terminating the purported threat to Israel’s border. In other words, it would render all talk of force superfluous.

 

SUICIDE IS FINAL, YET THE CRISIS CONTINUES

 Until recently suicide in Gaza had been rare, partly due to Palestinian resilience and strong clan networks, but mostly because killing oneself is forbidden in traditional Muslim societies. Since 2016, suicide rates have been rising, reflecting rising levels of despair and hopelessness in the population.

Writer Mohannad Youis, 22, took his life in Gaza last year sparking outcry from friends and peer over the struggles young people who grew up under siege have endured, and mental health. (Image: Arab48)

How the death of a talented young Palestinian writer brought to light a sharp rise in suicides.

 Sarah Helm

When Mohanned Younis, a 22-year-old student, returned to his home in a relatively prosperous part of Gaza City one night last August, he was in an agitated state. He had been depressed, his mother, Asma, recalled. But she was not too worried when he locked himself in his room.

A talented writer whose short stories, many posted on his Facebook page, had won a wide audience, Mohanned was about to graduate in pharmacy, expecting excellent grades.In his writing, he gave voice to the grief and despair of his generation. Only books gave him some escape. He often shut himself away to read and write, or to work out with his punch bag.

The next morning, Mohanned didn’t stir. When Asma, helped by her brother Assad, broke into his room, they found him dead. He had asphyxiated himself.

Such was Mohanned’s social media following that news of his death reverberated across Gaza and beyond with a flood of shock, sadness and admiration. “He was a fighter who only had his sad stories to fight with,” was one of many comments posted on Facebook. But the very public mourning for the death of a talented young writer meant that Mohanned’s suicide was not just one more tragedy in a territory where thousands of young lives are cut short. Now it was impossible to deny what many had been whispering: the misery of the siege and despair for the future, especially among the most talented young Gazans, was leading to a disturbing upsurge in suicides.

Horrifying events in the Gaza buffer zone over the past week have focused world attention on the suffering and desperation of Gaza’s Palestinians, as tens of thousands have risked their lives to protest against their imprisonment behind Gaza’s fences and walls. Since the start of the Great March of Return, a series of protests that began at the end of March, more than 100 people have been killed, mostly by Israeli snipers ranged behind the perimeter fence.

Often it has looked as if these protesters were literally throwing themselves in front of Israeli bullets. In the early days of the protests, I spoke to young people on the buffer zone who said they didn’t care if they died. “We are dying in Gaza anyway. We might as well die being shot,” said a teenager, standing at the border near the city of Khan Younis. He was with friends who felt the same, including one who had already been shot in the leg, and was in a wheelchair.

If the world’s cameras were to move a little deeper into Gaza, into the streets and behind the doors of people’s homes, they would see the desperation in almost every home. After 10 years of siege, the 2 million people of Gaza, living packed on a tiny strip, find themselves without work, their economy killed off, without the bare essentials for decent life – electricity or running water – and without any hope of freedom, or any sign that their situation will change. The siege is fracturing minds, pushing the most vulnerable to suicide in numbers never seen before.

Until recently, suicide has been rare here, partly due to Palestinian resilience, acquired over 70 years of conflict, and strong clan networks, but mostly because killing oneself is forbidden in traditional Muslim societies. Only when suicide is an act of jihad are the dead considered martyrs who go to heaven; others go to hell.

In nearly three decades of reporting from Gaza, I almost never heard stories of suicide before 2016. At the start of that year, nine years into the full-blown siege, a British orthopaedic surgeon volunteering in Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital told me that she and her colleagues were seeing a number of unexplained injuries – which they believed had been caused by falling, or jumping, from tall buildings.

By the end of 2016, suicides were happening so often that the phenomenon had started to become public knowledge. Figures quoted by local journalists suggested the number of suicides in 2016 was at least three times the number in 2015. But according to Gaza’s health professionals, while figures cited in the media do indicate a substantial rise, they vastly underestimate the true rate. Suicides are “disguised” as falls or other accidents, and misreporting and censorship are common because of the stigma against suicide.

However, since 2016, there have also been a spate of self-immolations across Gaza, in which men set themselves alight for all to see.

“We didn’t have these catastrophic events 10 years ago,” said Dr Youssef Awadallah, a psychiatrist in Rafah, a city on Gaza’s border with Egypt. Mental health professionals and relatives of the deceased blame the effects of the siege, which they say is far more damaging to the wellbeing – mental and physical – of the population than successive wars have been. Doctors in Gaza are warning that the prolonged siege of the territory has caused a mental health “epidemic” of which the growing number of suicides is only one part – citing increases in schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, drug addiction and depression. For the first time, UNRWA, the United Nations agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, has started screening all primary healthcare patients for possible suicidal tendencies following what they describe as the “unprecedented increase” in deaths.

Men and women of all age groups, from all social backgrounds, are vulnerable to suicidal impulses, say doctors in Gaza. On a single day in March, a girl of 15 and a boy of 16 both hanged themselves. Among the dead are men who despair because they can’t support their families; women and children who are victims of abuse, often in situations of severe poverty and overcrowding; and even pregnant women, who say they don’t want to bring children into a life in Gaza. In April, a woman who was seven months pregnant slit her wrists.

Among the most vulnerable of all are Gaza’s brightest students, some of whom have killed themselves just before or after graduating. In March, while interviewing a bankrupt businessman in his home, I saw a photograph of a smart, bespectacled young man, prominently displayed – in such a way that I assumed he had been a “martyr”, someone killed in the conflict. But his portrait displayed none of the iconography associated with the martyr posters that are visible all over Gaza. I had a translator with me, and he recognised the picture: the businessman’s son had been one of his cleverest friends at university. “He hanged himself,” said the businessman. “He saw no future in Gaza.”

Months before the astonishing scenes of carnage accompanying the Great March of Return, the story of Mohanned Younis had drawn particular attention. This was not only because his writing, with its imaginative depictions of Gaza’s half-life, was admired – but because after his death, some began to describe him as martyr. His mother told me: “He is more than a martyr.”

Friends said he had fought the enemy with his pen, and had died a victim of the siege. On his death Mohanned also won warm praise for his courage and his writing from many of his social media fans, and even, in a eulogy, from the Palestinian minister of culture, Dr Ihab Bseiso. Bseiso, a member of the secular Palestinian Authority that holds power in the West Bank, appeared to imply he considered Mohanned a martyr, saying he had “no need to apologise for his early departure”. His stories would never be forgotten, he added: “You will remain one of the giants of our time, Mohanned”.

But this discussion of Mohanned’s “martyrdom” has spread fear in Gaza, particularly among parents who worry that their own children might do the same if they thought they could avoid hell. One father of two graduates told me: “We see our children through school and university, and they have worked hard and are eager to enter the world and get jobs and be normal – then nothing. If suicide is to be considered a ‘noble’ death, more might choose that way. It is very dangerous.”

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