THE ENDGAME ~~ ANALYSIS OF THE PALESTINIAN CONFLICT

I  know that resistance against an evil  foreign military occupation is a legitimate right and even a sublime national duty.  However, Palestinians must approach this matter of resistance with utmost discretion, because it is never enough to be right as one has to be wise as well, and wisdom has a thousand doors!

THE ENDGAME:   It is either One democratic state for all or perpetual open-ended conflict

By Khalid Amayreh

 
It is no longer possible to deny the clarion reality  that Israel has succeeded, with or without American consent, in decapitating virtually all realistic prospects for the creation of a viable  and territorially- contiguous Palestinian state on the West Bank, e.g. an  entity that would have East Jerusalem as its capital.  The massive Jewish settlement expansion and aggrandizement all over the occupied West Bank has simply eliminated all possibilities for a true Palestinian state worthy of the name. We who live here in the West Bank see things on the ground and therefore know what we are talking about.  Please don’t lecture us on the reality we live around the clock.
 
This is not the view of one frustrated or  disillusioned Palestinian as some day-dreamers, who are detached from reality, would probably think. In fact, this is the candid impression of most serious pundits , Israeli and Palestinian alike, as well as American and European.
 
There are several reasons why a true and dignified peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians is ruled out. 
 
Israel today is ruled by a fully-fledged fascist and jingoistic government controlled by Jewish supremacists who reject  any notion for a balanced peace settlement   with the Palestinians involving “territorial concessions.”  Moreover, the Israeli Jewish society continues to drift rather steadily toward brash fascism and pornographic racism.  Even the Israeli justice system, the erstwhile last remaining “glimmer of hope” has been infiltrated rather heavily by Nazi-minded ideologues who are indoctrinated in Talmudic Jewish supremacy and who believe that the lives of non-Jews in general and Palestinians in particular have no sanctity.  We are talking about racist Talmudic thugs who think that non-Jews living “in the land of Israel” must either be expelled and massacred in the Biblical style! Or enslaved as woodcutters and water carriers,  also in Biblical style.
 
In short, it is absolutely futile to count on the possible emergence in Israel of a genuine and pro-active peace camp, let alone a peace government,  in the foreseeable future.  This is, of course, in addition to the fact that the relentless and unceasing settlement expansion has put an end to all realistic and reasonable hopes for the establishment of a true Palestinian state, considered the ultimate basic requirement for a genuine and durable peace.
 
As to the United States, it is no secret that when it comes to Israel and the Palestinians, America is a real lame duck and   loses its independent will to  Israel, a foreign state  that willy nilly, occupies the driver’s seat in Washington,   with Washington utterly powerless even  to object or say a simple “NO”.  This isby means  a new story.  One of the best books which illustrated America’s shocking submission and subservience  to Israel is the Zionist Connection by Alfred Lilienthal, written in the late 1970s.
 
I am not doing to delve too much into the “adulterous” American-Israeli affair. But I do want to point out that it is futile to expect the US to force Israel to walk in the path of peace as the entire American political establishment continues to be thoroughly enslaved by Zionist money and influence. 
 
More to the point, there are those who would argue rather rightly  that the US had nearly seven long decades to achieve peace in the Middle East but to no avail. Hence, it would be naïve to expect Washington to undergo a sudden transformation  of mentality or awakening of  conscience. This would be like expecting a perfectly peaceful coexistence between ferocious wolfs and meek lamps.  Hence, I can conclude rather safely that getting the US to force Israel to return to the armistice lines of the 4th of June, 1967 is out of question.  It is a total illusion.
 
As to Arab states, it is equally pointless to count on them to help the Palestinians regain their usurped rights.   Most Arab regimes, as we all know, have no will of their own as these regimes grovel disgracefully at Washington’s feet. After all these autocratic regimes are not responsible to their peoples and they value the “legitimacy” that comes from America’s acceptance more than the legitimacy that should come from their people’s acceptance.  They  are  no more than cheap, ignominious slaves of Washington. Needless to say, a slave by definition has no freer will of his own.
 
Even Iran can not fare much better.  The intimate dark embrace between Iran and the manifestly nefarious regime of Bashar Assad has exposed Tehran’s fanatical and genocidal Shiite regime as  absolutely  unprincipled, thoroughly sectarian and unethically expedient.  Iran is only using the Palestinian cause as a propaganda tool to spread Shiism in the Arab-Muslim world. That is the crux of the matter.
 
So what is in the offing? No one knows for sure.  But a careful examination of reality suggests that the de facto  elimination of a prospective Palestinian state will leave us  with two main broad alternatives: First, the hypothetical creation of a unitary democratic state between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean where  Palestinians and Jews could live together  in peace as equal citizens.  It is utterly inconceivable , however,   that Israel would willingly agree to the emergence of  such a state since this sort of entity would effectively spell the end of Zionism and put an end to Israel as a Jewish state. 
 
Moreover, the Palestinians’ higher birth rate could eventually (in a few decades) cause Jews in Israel-Palestine to become a demographic minority.  (Palestinians already constitute 50% of the population in mandatory Palestine, including Israel Proper, West Bank, and the Gaza Strip). Hence, the so-called one-state solution, though the best possible historical solution, at least,  from this writer’s view point,  can not really be viewed as an absolute or inevitable alternative.
 
I don’t know for sure what Israel will do with six million Palestinians who will double their numbers in less than forty years.   What I do know and am sure of is that is that Israel is hoping for a “miracle” that would eliminate or at least neutralize  the Palestinians demographic “peril.”  In fact, I strongly  believe that a visibly and explicitly fascist Israel could embark on the “unthinkable” to prevent history from taking its natural course.  After all.  genocide is part and parcel of the Jewish-Talmudic mindset. This is why, the Palestinians must be very very vigilant and alert because nothing can be taken for granted.   I am not a prophet of doom and gloom, but  matters of survival can’t be subjected to chances.   The Palestinian people have survived despite history and we continue to survive thanks to the good will of the international community. That is why we must constantly strive to enhance and expedite every conceivable element that could help us consolidate our survival as a people. This must include  building real bridges with peace-minded elements in Israel.  In the final analysis, we are against Israeli oppression, racism, and aggression, not against Jews as Jews.  That is why  we must strive tirelessly to woo as many Jews of good-will as possible to our side.  This is good for  both us and  them and for  peace.
 
A final word: I  know that resistance against an evil  foreign military occupation is a legitimate right and even a sublime national duty.  However, Palestinians must approach this matter of resistance with utmost discretion, because it is never enough to be right as one has to be wise as well, and wisdom has a thousand doors!
 
But we must immediately stop  targeting innocent Israeli civilians even as revenge for the targeting by Israel of our innocent civilians.
 
Targeting innocent civilians, especially knowingly and deliberately,  is always immoral, self-defeating and utterly damaging to our cause.  Ours is a just and noble cause. We must not tarnish it with senseless acts of terror.  Does any Palestinian in his or her  right mind think that murdering a pregnant lady in full view of her children  will benefit our cause and make  people hasten to embrace our struggle against occupation, racism and apartheid.
 
 
Finally,  the second (and last)  alternative is perpetual  open-ended  conflict. This is by all means  a nightmarish and hair-raising scenario.   I hope,  for the sake of our  (Jewish and Palestinian)  children and their children that our leaders will prove themselves more farsighted than they have been.  Otherwise, future generations would curse the moment they were born.

PHOTO OF THE DAY ~~ THE BRAVEST LITTLE BOY IN PALESTINE

Good morning from Palestine!

VIDEO THAT THE ZIONISTS DON’T WANT YOU TO SEE

It is not enough that American Jewish leaders never hear from Palestinians themselves — they do their best to ensure that American politicians don’t, either.

Consider the sequence of events that began on June 8. On that day, an advocacy group called No Way To Treat a Child hosted a panel discussion on Capitol Hill. That’s not unusual. Advocacy organizations hold panel discussions on Capitol Hill all the time; the location makes it easier for congressional staff to attend. What made this one unusual was its subject: the Palestinian experience under Israeli control.

Why Is A Pro-Israel Group So Desperate To Keep You From Watching This Video?

When it comes to Palestinians, the American Jewish establishment is in the ignorance business. The average American synagogue has never hosted a Palestinian speaker. The average “pro-Israel” activist has never read a book by a Palestinian author. The American Jewish philanthropists who fund Birthright send thousands of young American Jews to Israel each year, on a program that systematically excludes the voices of 50% of the people who live under Israeli control.

But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is that for major American Jewish organizations, ignorance is an export. It is not enough that American Jewish leaders never hear from Palestinians themselves — they do their best to ensure that American politicians don’t, either.

Consider the sequence of events that began on June 8. On that day, an advocacy group called No Way To Treat a Child hosted a panel discussion on Capitol Hill. That’s not unusual. Advocacy organizations hold panel discussions on Capitol Hill all the time; the location makes it easier for congressional staff to attend. What made this one unusual was its subject: the Palestinian experience under Israeli control.

You can watch the panel online. The first speaker was Omar Shakir, the Israel-Palestine director of Human Rights Watch. In dry, rather clinical, terms, Shakir discussed some of the consequences of the fact that West Bank Palestinians are subjects, not citizens, of Israel. He noted, for instance, that in Area C, which encompasses roughly 60% of the West Bank, it is “nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain a permit to build a home.” When Palestinians build without a permit, the Israeli government often demolishes their homes.

Following him was Brad Parker, a staff attorney at Defense for Children Palestine. Observing that, according to the most recent statistics, Israel holds hundreds of Palestinians between the ages of 12 and 17 in its jails, often for stone throwing, Parker explained that the Israeli military frequently arrests Palestinian children at night. They are often bound, blindfolded and transported to a military installation, where they wait until morning before being interrogated without a lawyer and without their parents knowing where they are. They “essentially disappear for 24, 48, 96 hours.” Then they are generally prosecuted in military courts where the conviction rate approaches 100%.

Following Parker was Yazan Meqbil, a young West Bank Palestinian attending college in the United States, who talked about growing up in a house repeatedly slated for demolition. “Every single day,” he said, “I used to wake up hoping my house will not be demolished.” Meqbil ended his remarks by saying: “Palestinians, we all have a dream, to be free, to live like normal human beings. To not be afraid whenever we leave our homes.”

 

IN PHOTOS ~~ DARK DAYS OF RAMADAN IN GAZA

“Power cuts have become a part of our life. We have already adapted to living with long hours of darkness.”

Image by Carlos Latuff

Abbas has no shame being Israel’ gatekeeper while it’s turning Gaza into a concentration camp where people are locked up living in harsh conditions

In photos: Gaza left to suffer in the dark

Gaza City’s Beach Street, a busy thoroughfare connecting the southern and northern areas of the Strip, is often in total darkness. During power cuts the lights go out along Gaza’s most trafficked streets, plunging the roads into darkness and causing accidents.

Palestinians in the occupied Gaza Strip have endured a chronic electricity crisis since Israel imposed an economic blockade on the territory 10 years ago.

The territory’s electricity infrastructure has been targeted and damaged during successive Israeli military offensives, and Israeli import restrictions have hindered repair.

An Egyptian crackdown on tunnels through which cheaper fuel was smuggled into Gaza exacerbated the situation in 2013.

Rolling blackouts now last 20 hours per day after Gaza’s sole power plant shut down when it exhausted its fuel supply in mid-April. Resupply has been delayed due to an ongoing dispute between the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza over high taxes on diesel fuel and the collection of payments from electricity consumers.

Currently, there are only four hours of electricity per day in Gaza, and that is about to decrease as Israel moves to cut its electricity supply to the territory by 40 percent.

Hospitals have become dependent on generators and solar-based sources that can keep vital equipment running for a few hours when there is no electricity.

Power cuts disrupt the operation of water pumps and wells, with water supply to households currently standing at four to eight hours every four or five days.

Wastewater plants have been forced to shorten treatment cycles, causing 120 million liters of untreated sewage to flow into the Mediterranean Sea each day.

The crisis has led the International Committee of the Red Cross to warn that Gaza is on the brink of “systemic collapse.”

Reportage by Mousa Tawfiq, a journalist based in Gaza and photos by Mohammed Asad, a photojournalist based in Gaza.

Mahmoud Banat, 47, used to run one of the biggest appliance repair and retail shops in Gaza City’s Beach refugee camp. “I took this profession from my father. I’ve done my best to keep up with new technology and the daily improvements in this field.”

Banat said the chronic power cuts in Gaza have caused damage to appliances, and some residents have bought equipment to protect their devices from potential harm caused by outages.

“As you can see, my shop is full of broken and disabled televisions and electrical devices. People are suffering and losing a lot of money to fix their devices. People prefer energy-saving televisions that can be powered with generators and batteries. Some types of televisions consume a lot of power and they aren’t widely used these days.”

Banat’s business hasn’t benefited from the situation.

“When the electricity crisis began in 2006, I started to face difficulties at my shop as I couldn’t work during the power cuts,” he said. He sold his shop and moved into a smaller one, where he currently only does repairs, and no longer sells appliances.

“It’s a disastrous situation. My life is completely destroyed and I have five children; two of them are university students.”

In addition to harming Mahmoud’s business, the electricity situation has put pressure on his wife, Najwa Banat, 42.

“We suffer from a water crisis as there is no electricity to run water pumps at the houses,” she said while preparing a cup of tea.

“I can’t do any housekeeping. I have to get up after midnight to wash clothes and clean the house. I make sure to keep the candles away from the hands of my children. I’m always stressed and feeling uncomfortable. We live in a very difficult situation surrounded by hardships and daily challenges.”

In 2010, Ahmad Rajab, 26, opened his barbershop in Gaza City.

“Eight years ago, when I finished school, my family didn’t have enough money to pay my university fees. Some of my relatives advised me to learn a simple trade that people always need. I decided to master the skill of shaving and I had a diploma from a certified training center.”

From day one, Rajab had to contend with the electricity crisis.

“At the beginning, I bought a small generator to use during power cuts. When we were using the Egyptian fuel, I needed $6 a day just for fuel. Nowadays, with the Israeli fuel, which is three times more expensive, I need $18. I don’t think that I’ve ever earned more than $20 a day.”

“I bought those rechargeable shavers for $100. They are not cheap, but it is my only choice to keep working.”

“I hope to have a better tomorrow and for this crisis to be solved. We have begun to believe that it’s our destiny to not have a better life. It’s like a nightmare without end.”

Hussam al-Sousi, 24, took his mother and two sisters to Gaza City’s corniche to escape from darkness and boredom. They found that the corniche was darker than their house.

“We came here for some relief, but it is all the same. We are very lucky to have the car headlights,” he said.

Hussam, a law school graduate, works at his father’s garment factory.

“Even our work is affected. We used to work in the morning. Now, we organize our work according to the electricity. Sometimes we have to work after midnight using generators with expensive fuel.”

For Hussam’s mother, Sanaa al-Sousi, 45, the power cuts cause other woes: “My daughters’ midterm exams were in the last week. They had to get up very early to study [when the electricity was on]. Studying by candlelight gave my youngest daughter Leila a headache. I don’t know what we are going to do if the crisis lasts until the final exams.”

For Leila, 8, there are additional consequences: “There is no ice cream in the shops. I don’t know what I’m going to eat during summer.”

“I sell grilled and boiled corn on the beach. I work here during summer because the beach is full of people, while in winter, I sell vegetables in a small booth at the market,” said Mahmoud Ghanim, 26. “I’m a father of two sons and my wife is pregnant with a girl. I have no choice but to work hard.”

Ghanim, who lives in Beach refugee camp, said that he had to leave school at the age of 15 to work with his father as a fisherman. His family’s trade has been badly affected by the Israeli naval blockade and constant violence against Gaza fishermen by Israeli forces.

“It wasn’t an easy choice, but I couldn’t risk my life for a job that could barely feed my children,” he said.

Ghanim found his own solution to be able to work during the dark nights – a solution which cost him the equivalent of a week’s earnings.

“Before the current crisis, I didn’t face any problems at nighttime because Beach Street was always illuminated, but now we are in darkness. I paid $40 to buy a battery, a charger and a power-saving light to use when there is no electricity.”

Suha Ashour, 68, has been going to al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City for dialysis treatment for a decade.

“In 2007, I had a heart attack. The medical treatment and the consequences of the heart attack affected my kidneys. I have to go to the hospital three times a week for dialysis sessions.”

Ashour, a mother of six, said that the four-hour sessions are exhausting, especially during summer.

“After the sessions, when I return home, I feel suffocated and I can’t stay in hot weather. My sons brought me an air conditioner, but most of the time there is no electricity and it’s very difficult for me at this age to stay in such circumstances.”

Ashour said hospital staff have warned her and other patients that their dialysis treatment may be disrupted by power cuts.

In 2012, the neonatal unit at al-Nasr children’s hospital in Gaza installed a solar power system to ensure the running of their equipment. The unit receives 100 to 200 patients per month and any power cut can put infants’ lives in jeopardy, according to its coordinator Dr. Shireen Abed.

“We deal with very sensitive cases aged between zero and 28 days. Our unit receives three to five patients per day and all the equipment needs electricity: incubators, monitors and ventilators,“ she said.

“When the solar power system needs periodic maintenance, the situation becomes catastrophic. We transfer the neonates to other units to be attached to the required devices. The power cuts pose a real danger to the lives of our children in the unit, but the solar system provides us with the needed power.”

“I can’t imagine the situation without this solar power system,” she added.

Palestinians in Gaza have used backup generators to provide electricity to their houses and shops. But the high price of the Israeli fuel, $2 for a liter, is out of reach for many in the territory, where unemployment rates are the highest in the world.

“People didn’t use batteries or solar cells in their houses before 2014, they used generators,” said Ziad al-Rayashi, 32, the owner of a batteries and solar cells shop in Gaza City. “Using the generator for eight hours each day costs an average family more than $480 a month. No one can afford it.”

Al-Rayashi sells alternatives that don’t require fuel.

“Engineers invented new methods. We use car batteries to generate electricity by charging the battery and using it for lighting and watching television.”

A car battery charging system cost $1,200 a year ago, according to al-Rayashi. This price was far out of reach for the average Gaza resident – especially after the last cuts to civil servants’ salaries by the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank – so retailers slashed prices to increase demand. He now sells the system for $650.

Despite the price drop, people prefer smaller battery charger systems used just for lighting and Wi-Fi. “This more simple system costs $40 and it can barely light a room, but people can’t afford the bigger one,” al-Rayashi said.

“We do our best to provide our people with the cheapest devices, despite all the difficulties we face. We pay a lot of taxes to the Israeli side to get our goods from their ports and crossings.”

Though Gaza gets more than its fair share of sun, the use of solar power is very limited.

“It’s cleaner and better, but very expensive. The most simple solar power system costs $1,700 just for lighting and television. The upper class are the only people who can buy this system,” al-Rayashi said.

University student Khalid Mahdi, 19, and his friend Hussam al-Khatib, 20, play billiards at a small shop in Gaza City.

“We escaped from the poor LED lighting at our houses to find the same lighting at the billiards hall,” Mahdi said.

“Playing billiards is a hobby and we do our best to practice it regularly, but we can barely see the balls with these lights,” he added. “Every Gazan has these lights at his house and complains of their bad quality. But we don’t have other choices.”

“We are university students. We can’t study with bad lighting and we can’t practice billiards for the same reason,” al-Khatib said.

Most buildings and workshops have big generators which are usually put in the street, causing noise pollution. Yet even towers have stopped using them due to the long hours of power cuts and the cost of the fuel needed to power the generators.

Police officer Ahmad Musallim, 42, lives on the eighth floor of the Sea Tower in Gaza City.

“The generator works for 10 minutes every two hours for the elevator, and from 6 pm to 9 pm every day. If a person wants the elevator [outside the fixed time], he must pay 5 shekels [approximately $1.50] to turn on the generator.”

“My children go to school. After six hours of class, they have to walk up eight flights of stairs. I wish I could do anything to help them.”

“Power cuts have become a part of our life. We have already adapted to living with long hours of darkness,” said Fatima Qudaih, 42, in Khan Younis, southern Gaza.

“The long power cuts prevent us from using the water pumps. It’s the nightmare of every housewife here in Gaza. We can’t wash clothes or dishes.”

“My son takes some jerrycans and fills them at a nearby water station. It’s more expensive and much more difficult to use,” she added.

Wafaa al-Najjar, 63, and her sister Samiha, 60, use a clay oven to bake and cook at their home in Khan Younis.

“We used to use an electric heater for baking, but now we use this oven, especially since cooking gas is expensive,” Wafaa said.

The sisters use tree branches from their farm for the fire. “We live in a rural area. Women in these areas are strong and rely on themselves. We know that our life is difficult, but we do our best to keep going. We simply don’t have any other choice,” Wafaa said.

According to Samiha, the bread baked on the electric heater tastes better, but the one made in the clay oven reminds them of their mother.

Ahmad al-Jahjouh, 52, a carpenter in Gaza City, said that his work is “paralyzed” with only four hours of electricity each day.

“Sometimes the four hours of electricity are during the night. At first, I was coming to my shop with my workers and we worked after midnight. But the neighbors complained because of the noise, which I fully understood.”

“I used to have 20 workers in this shop. Now, it’s just me and my two sons. We produce nothing. And even when we use the generator, our profit is negligible.”

“I have nothing to say. I don’t sleep and I’m very tired. We have been suffering for years and our patience has run out.”

 

FROM

HOW THE GRINCH STOLE RAMADAN IN GAZA

Video: Ramadan in Gaza

Ramadan, a time of worship and joy for Muslims around the globe, is mixed with sadness in Gaza.

During Ramadan three years ago, Israel launched a massive military offensive that would last 51 days and claim more than 2,200 Palestinian lives.

The many families in Gaza who lost loved ones during that offensive, and the ones that came before it, feel little joy in their absence.

Successive Israeli military offensives, and a decade of blockade, have destroyed Gaza’s economy, further clouding Ramadan.

But Palestinians in Gaza try to carry on with Ramadan traditions – sharing meals with family and visiting neighbors after a long day of fasting, enjoying qatayif sweets and and carob and tamarind drinks.

Video by Ruwaida Amer for The Electronic Intifada.

AFTER 50 YEARS ISRAELIS MUST DISRUPT THE ‘NORMALCY’ OF THE OCCUPATION

One of the most disturbing aspects about the reality in Palestine is its normalcy.

It has become normal to see Palestinians shot and killed, even children. The faces of young Palestinians showing up daily on social media, boys and girls shot by soldiers, accused falsely of attempting to stab a soldier.

It has become normal to see Israeli soldiers shooting skunk water and tear gas, and snipers using live ammunition at unarmed protesters who want the land that was once theirs and the freedom they never had.

Image by Latuff

Why Israelis must disrupt the occupation

And it has become normal for us to engage in the endless, fruitless debate on whether Palestinians throwing stones at armed Israeli soldiers who invade their homes constitutes violence, or whether or not Zionism – which produced this violence – is a racist ideology. And all the while the suffering and the oppression of millions of Palestinians go on almost uninterrupted.

It is no secret that Israelis and Palestinians live two separate realities.

Even when we privileged Israelis go to the village of Nabi Saleh on a Friday to participate in the weekly protest, at the end of the day we are free to leave the village, leave the occupation and return to our safe, clean, well-paved spheres. Unlike the Palestinians we leave behind, our homes will not be raided, our roads will not be blocked and our children will not have to hide for days or weeks from the threat of being shot, arrested and tortured.

We return home sweaty and tired, covered in tear gas and skunk water and we feel we did our bit. But what bit did we do? What is the role of the privileged Israeli activists within the resistance and why are we accomplishing so little?

To begin with we need to admit that this is resistance and ask whether we are willing to take part.

On any given Friday there may be about 10 Israeli activists, be it in Nabi Saleh or Bilin, currently the two main locations for Friday protests in the occupied West Bank. Some Israelis walk in the back, some in the front.

Shadows?

Some like to say they are merely documenting. Most, like shadows, don’t seem like they know their place and don’t want to interfere. Few confront the Israeli forces. So the question that begs to be asked is, what are we accomplishing?

If we don’t use our privilege to push the envelope and to confront the Israeli authorities, then we are indeed mere shadows.

My latest visit to Nabi Saleh was on 26 May, exactly two weeks after Saba Abu Ubaid, 23, was shot and killed by Israeli forces during a protest there.

The march began, as always, with people walking down the hill from the mosque after noon prayer, carrying flags and chanting. There were about 30 or 40 people (though in the charges that would be brought against me, the Israeli police claimed there were 200 protesters), mostly Palestinians with a few regular Israelis and other foreigners.

After a few minutes we were confronted by the Israeli forces who informed us we were to disperse.

How does one begin to describe the outrage? Fully armed soldiers on occupied land telling the people whose village they invaded that they must disperse. But in Palestine, this is normal so there is little outrage.

“Shoot them in the legs”

The usual pushing and shoving began and was then followed by the firing of tear gas, skunk water and, before too long, live ammunition. Considering what had taken place there just two weeks earlier, seeing snipers take their positions and take aim at the kids on the hills was cause for serious concern. I heard someone whose name badge identified him as Raja Keyes order the snipers to “shoot them in the legs.”

Nabi Saleh residents began sitting in front of the snipers to block their sights. More tear gas, more skunk water and more snipers followed.

Keyes was right next to me when he walked to a group of women and children watching the events from the side of the road and, with a smile on his face, threw a tear gas grenade at them. One of the mothers ran up a terrace to interfere with the snipers and was pushed around by soldiers. I ran up towards her, went around a young officer who tried to stop me and by the time I reached her they came for me.

Four or five officers, including Keyes had me in a tight grip. The officers were from Magav – although often described as “border police,” Magav is a unit within the Israeli military.

By that time, the officers had good reason to resent me and want me out of the way.

The photos and videos of my arrest made their way to social media, so suffice it to say they were not gentle and I was not compliant. (My arrest is at about 12:10 in the video below of the day’s events, made by Palestinian activist Bilal Tamimi.)

At one point after I was arrested, Keyes introduced himself formally to me as “force commander” and asked for my ID, which I did not have.

Later on, when I was taken away in the armored vehicle, he was seated in the front and I proceeded to tell him that he was no “commander” and he was not heading any “force” but rather they were all a gang of armed bullies.

But this is not about me or any other single activist. It is about the role that we Israelis can play which is unique because Israeli law provides us with a shield that Palestinians and international activists do not have.

It is not our role to play unbiased spectators or to document, nor is it our role to just follow along. We can get in the faces of the commanders and the soldiers and disrupt their work. In fact, one of the comments made constantly by the commanders is that we are “disrupting their work, and will be arrested for that.”

My response is that this is precisely the point! Why show up if we let them go about their business? When we are arrested we are always charged with disrupting officers on duty, even when we don’t, but that is exactly what we must do.

Along Highway 443 – sometimes known as the “apartheid highway” – there is a sign in Hebrew that says: “By order of the commanding general, Israelis are prohibited from entering the villages along this road.” When activists do go to the villages to protest, they challenge this command. But still, the shield that our Israeli ID provides us can be used to disrupt the normalcy of the occupation everywhere.

Israelis, even dedicated, well-meaning ones, do far too little and we use far too little of our privilege to challenge and combat the injustice meted out against Palestinians. Most Israeli activists won’t even call for refusal to serve in the Israeli army because they consider that too radical.

No one likes to be arrested, particularly when it involves a night or two in jail, sharing a smoke-filled room with no ventilation and no company save cockroaches and two-bit criminals who hate activists even more than they hate Arabs.

If we are to play a role in the overthrow of injustice, and if we are to one day see an end to the oppression of more than half of the people with whom we live, then we must use our privilege and act to end the normalcy and the oppression.

IN VIDEOS ~~ DENIAL AND REALITY OF ISRAELI APARTHEID

First the denial …..

Now the reality …..

Thousands of Palestinian workers queue at this Israeli military checkpoint before dawn each day.

Video by Ahmad Al-Bazz, Haidi Motola and Anne Paq/Activestills.org

SEARS BOWS TO ZIOPRESSURE AND PULLS FREE PALESTINE LINE FROM ITS WEBSITE

Sears will remove clothing line featuring the slogan “Free Palestine” from its website following complaints.

One of the items offered

Sears pulls ‘Free Palestine’ clothing from its website

Sears said on Tuesday it will remove a line of clothing featuring the slogan “Free Palestine” from its website, JTA reported.

The clothing was offered for sale by another company, Spreadshirt Collection, and included tank tops, t-shirts and hoodies featuring a variety of pro-Palestinian messages.

The clothing was offered for sale through Sears Marketplace, which offers a platform for third-party sellers to offer their wares through websites managed by Sears.

The designs included a clenched fist in the colors of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) flag and statements opposing “Israeli occupation”.

Other shirts feature a map of Israel, labelling the entire country “Palestine” and calling for its liberation. One shirt flashes a V for victory sign, another superimposes the image of a masked man covering his face with a kaffiyeh onto a PLO flag.

A description of one shirt encourages buyers to “Make a statement about the Arab-Israeli conflict with this powerful design,” calling it a “must-have for all wardrobes”.

A Sears spokesman told JTA later on Tuesday the apparel was pulled from the site based on feedback the company received.

“These items were being sold by a third-party seller via the Sears Marketplace,” said the statement. “Given the feedback we’ve received, they are being removed.”

The statement added that Sears felt it had been “unfairly singled out on this issue,” as similar items are available for purchase from other companies, such as Amazon and Walmart.

Amazon sells some of the exact same items from Spreadshirt, as well as a wide range of other pro-Palestinian Arab merchandise, according to JTA. It is unknown whether Amazon or Walmart plan to take action against the merchandise.

The Sears statement noted that the company serves “a broad base of customers around the country and around the world,” and that it has 200 employees in Israel.

 

Source

#50YearsTooMany ~~ ‘CELEBRATING’ THE OCCUPATION IN IMAGES AND VIDEO

Bibi: “To commemorate 50 years since Unification of Jerusalem, we’ve decided to upgrade the Western Wall!”

How one American Jew views the situation …

How zion glorifies the occupation

The former Chief Rabbi of Britain adds the following …

The reality of the horrors faced daily by the victims can be seen here …. (Click on link)

50 STORIES OF PALESTINIAN LIFE
UNDER OCCUPATION

More photos and videos can be seen at the following Twitter Site (Click on link)

#50YearsTooMany

 

Kudos to Sears for the following …..

Sears offers ‘Free Palestine’ clothing line

One of the items offered*

Screenshot T-shirts with the slogan ‘Free Palestine’ available for sale on the Sears website, June 6, 2017. (Sears.com via JTA)

RAMADAN MORNING ON MY PEACEFUL HILL

First read this to see what was ….. (Click on link)

“FEAR IS THE PATH TO THE DARKSIDE”…… FEAR BUILDS WALLS

Now read this to see what is ….. ‘How the dark side dims the light’

‘Death to Arabs’ spray-painted on Jerusalem cars

Multiple cars vandalized in French Hill neighborhood of Jerusalem

Police are investigating a possible “price-tag” incident in the capital Monday morning, after a number of cars were vandalized.

The vandals targeted cars in the French Hill neighborhood of Jerusalem, spray-painting messages in green paint including “Death to Arabs”.

French Hill, a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem, is in close proximity to the Arab neighborhoods of Issawiya and Shuafat.

The area is also home to a large number of students and faculty from the nearby Hebrew University campus on Mount Scopus.

Authorities are investigating the possibility that the vandalism was targeted at the area’s Arab residents or students. Police units have been deployed to the scene and are searching the area for those responsible.

TOON OF THE DAY ~~WONDER WOMAN IS PALESTINES’ NEWEST ENEMY

Wonder Woman opens in theaters today, starring Israeli actress Gal Gadot in the title role. The film is getting great reviews, but many are refusing the see it over Gadot’s support for the Israeli military, especially during the 2014 onslaught on Gaza. Here, Carlos Latuff imagines Gadot’s Wonder Woman being outmatched by her latest opponent, Mother Palestine.

Image by Latuff

REFLECTIONS ON THE VICTORIOUS HUNGER STRIKE

Barghouti’s statement was posted to social media around noon EST in Arabic. The letter lauds gains from the strike, including increased family visits, more clothing, special unnamed services for female and child prisoners, expedited transfers and, most importantly, the establishment of a collective bargaining committee where Israeli prison authorities will “dialogue with the prisoners’ representatives in the forthcoming few days to discuss all issues without exception.”

Image by Carlos Latuff

Marwan Barghouti vs. Benjamin Netanyahu

In first statement since end of hunger strike, Marwan Barghouti celebrates ‘the victory of the strike of freedom and dignity’

Palestinian hunger strike leader Marwan Barghouti released his first statement today since an announcement that the 42-day strike was suspended on Sunday, bringing to a close the longest joint protests organized by Palestinian prisoners in Israel’s history.

Barghouti said the strike could resume after the close of the Ramadan holiday if planned negotiations with Israel’s prison service are not successful.

Barghouti’s statement was posted to social media around noon EST in Arabic. The letter lauds gains from the strike, including increased family visits, more clothing, special unnamed services for female and child prisoners, expedited transfers and, most importantly, the establishment of a collective bargaining committee where Israeli prison authorities will “dialogue with the prisoners’ representatives in the forthcoming few days to discuss all issues without exception.”

Similar his New York Times op-ed that kicked-off the hunger strike in April, Barghouti strategically added specifics about the conditions inside of Israel’s prisons during the six weeks of protest. He said guards confiscated prisoners’ underwear and personal hygiene items and moved a large number of strike participants into solitary confinement or other prisons. Likely indirectly addressing a video Israeli Prison Services circulated during the strike that allegedly showed him breaking the fast with a candy bar and cookies, Barghouti also decried Israel for “releasing shameful rumors and lies.”

An English translation of the full statement was posted here by the Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Samidoun. The entire text is below:

First statement of the leader Marwan Barghouthi after the victory of the strike of freedom and dignity

In the name of God, the merciful
To our great people, the people of struggle and sacrifice
To our people of revolution and intifada
To the children of the Arab and Islamic nations
To the free people of the world

Friends and lovers of peace and justice everywhere…The Palestinian prisoners in the prisons and dungeons of the Zionist enemy have been engaged in an open hunger strike from 17 April until the evening of 28 May. The prisoners in this national strike have marked the longest collective strike, a historic epic in the prisoners’ movement’s record over 50 years.

Despite the brutal repression and indiscriminate terror used by the Israeli Gestapo-style administration in the face of the strike, in which all strikers were transferred from their prisons in an unprecedented action, hundreds of them were held in solitary confinement and special repressive units (Matsada, Dror and Yamaz) were used in round-the-clock raids and inspections throughout the 42 days of the strike. They resorted to the transfer of striking prisoners in harsh and brutal conditions in an attempt to impact or undermine their will, confiscating all personal belongings, including underwear. The prisoners were deprived of all sanitary and hygiene materials, turning their lives into hell and releasing shameful rumors and lies. Yet, the record of the prisoners has been one of unprecedented steadfastness in the record of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement and the Israeli repression failed to break their will. From this historical and heroic scene, I stand on record, and with great pride, saluting this great steadfastness of the hunger strikers. And I salute with great reverence the martyrs, their families, and all those who rose up, were wounded and detained in this battle of freedom and dignity for Palestine.

I would also like to pay tribute to our great people of our pure Palestine, from the river to the sea, and in exile and diaspora. I thank them for their great support and unbridled efforts for the cause of the prisoners and their strike, which has returned the Palestinian cause to the forefront of the international political landscape. At the same time, I salute the Arab, Islamic and friendly peoples of the world for the level of solidarity and participation with which they supported us.

And salutes to all of those who participated in local and international media campaigns, as well as the Bar Association, the Doctors’ Syndicate, the Ministry of Education, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, and the Prisoners’ and Former Prisoners’ Affairs Commission, emphasizing that the battle of freedom and dignity for Palestine is an integral part of the struggle for freedom, independence, return and the overthrow of the apartheid system in Palestine and the end of the occupation.

Our great people, despite the fact that the government of terror that leads the apartheid regime of Israel launched an attack on the hunger strike in a failed and desperate attempt to hide its crimes, this did not intimidate the prisoners nor break their iron will. It did not dissuade them from fighting this battle with determination and conviction, and carrying out an epic heroic saga. They have been able to extract a number of just and humanitarian achievements, the first of which is to restore the second monthly visit to the families of the prisoners, which was stopped almost one year ago, as well as addressing problems ongoing for years related to the conditions of daily life, including the conditions of women prisoners, child prisoners, ill prisoners, the “bosta” and transfer processing, the “canteen” (prison store) system, the introduction of clothing, as well as the formation of a committee of senior officials of the Prison Service for continued dialogue with the prisoners’ representatives in the forthcoming few days to discuss all issues without exception.

In light of this and with the coming of the holy month of Ramadan, we have decided to suspend the strike to give the opportunity to carry out these discussions with the Prison Service, emphasizing our strong readiness to resume the strike if the Prison Service does not fulfill its commitments made to the prisoners.

On this occasion, I extend my warmest congratulations to the heroic prisoners for their steadfastness and achievements of humanity and justice, with a special tribute to the prisoners of Nafha prison, who played a leading role in the success of this strike and the achievement of this great victory. I also pay tribute to the prisoners who went on strike in the prisons of the Negev, Ofer, Ramle prison clinic, Ashkelon, Gilboa, Megiddo, Ramon, and the children and women prisoners, and, finally, in Hadarim prison, and to everyone who participated in all of the detention centers and prisons, I hold their hands and kiss their high foreheads.

And with the renewal of their covenant and participation in this national strike, the longest and fiercest in the Palestinian prisoners’ movement’s history, there is a turning point in the relationship between the prisoners and the mechanisms of the prison administration. From now on and after today, we will not allow any infringement upon the achievements and the rights of the prisoners. In addition, this battle is also a force to rebuild and unify the prisoners’ movement in its various components, as a prelude to the formation of a unified national leadership in the coming few months. This is in preparation for the battle to extract the recognition of the prisoners in the dungeons of the Israeli occupation as prisoners of war and prisoners of freedom and the full application of the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions.

To our great people, as I renew the tribute to the martyrs of the battle of freedom and dignity, I call upon the Palestinian president Abu Mazen, the PLO leadership and the national and Islamic factions to carry out their national duty to the prisoners by working to liberate them and gain their freedom. Again, I warn against any resumption of negotiations before requiring a comprehensive release of all prisoners and detainees. I express my special thanks to all institutions and bodies related to the prisoners, especially the Prisoners’ Affairs Commission, headed by the struggling brother Issa Qaraqe, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society and the struggling brother Qaddoura Fares, and the Higher Commission for Prisoners’ Affairs, the popular and international campaign for the release of all Palestinian prisoners, led by the struggling lawyer Mrs. Fadwa Barghouthi.

Glory to the righteous martyrs
Freedom to the prisoners of freedom
Long live the Palestinian battle of freedom and dignity

Your brother, Marwan Barghouthi (Abu al-Qassam)
Hadarim Prison
Cell No. 28

 

Related (Click on link)

Palestinian hunger strike ends with prisoners declaring victory – but Israel claims nothing happened

 

FREEDOM AND DIGNITY HUNGER STRIKE ENDS WITH PARTIAL VICTORIES

All salutes to the courageous, struggling Palestinian prisoners, on the front lines of the Palestinian struggle for liberation! Their victories and their struggles are those of the Palestinian people and of all people seeking justice and liberation.

And salutes to all of those around the world who have been part of the prisoners’ struggle and Palestinian victory for the past 40 days.

Image by Carlos Latuff

Palestinian prisoners suspend hunger strike after 40 days of struggle

After 40 days, Palestinians suspend mass hunger strike in Israeli prisons

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Hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons suspended a 40-day mass hunger strike during dawn hours on Saturday, after reaching an agreement with the Israel Prison Service (IPS) that reinstated the prisoners’ family visitation sessions to two times per month, according to initial information from Palestinian leadership and IPS, with details yet to emerge regarding any additional achievements.

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The agreements came on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, for which some hunger strikers had vowed to fast and forgo the salt and water mixture being consumed by the prisoners from dawn until sunset — the only source of nutrients the hunger strikers were consuming.
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Palestinian leaders applauded the prisoners’ “victory” on Saturday, saying that the agreement represented an “important step towards full respect of the rights of Palestinian prisoners.”
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However, increasing family visits was but one of a number of demands hunger-striking prisoners were calling for — including the right to pursue higher education, appropriate medical care and treatment, and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention — imprisonment without charge or trial.
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The national committee formed to support the hunger strike has meanwhile said that more details regarding the outcome of the hunger strike would be revealed later.
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While further information about the agreement has not yet been released, reports indicated that further achievements of the strike also centered on the issue of family visits, including access to more relatives including grandparents and grandchildren; improved communication, especially between imprisoned children and women and their families, and the installation of public telephones; easing security prohibitions and the frequent bans on family visit imposed by the Israeli prison administration, according to Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Samidoun.
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An IPS spokesperson told Ma’an that an agreement was forged between the Israeli state, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and the Palestinian Authority (PA), granting prisoners the second monthly family visit, to be funded by the PA.
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The move effectively reinstated the number of family visits that were formerly provided to Palestinian prisoners, before the ICRC reduced the number of visits it facilitated last year from two to one visit a month, a decision that sparked protests across the Palestinian territory.
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However, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said back in August 2016 that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had already approved a decision to cover all financial expenses for the second visitation session. A spokesperson for neither the PA nor PPS could immediately be reached for comment.
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“It is appalling that it should take a 40-day mass hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners to restore family visits taken away by an international agency that should be motivated by the rights and well-being of the prisoners. Far from a neutral bystander, the ICRC was in fact a party to this strike and a participant in the confiscation of the rights of Palestinian prisoners,” Samidoun wrote.
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The group’s report argued that, “This raises once again sharp questions about what really provoked the cut in family visits for Palestinian prisoners and the level of Israeli involvement in what was claimed at the time to be a mere financial decision, despite Palestinian pledges to cover costs.”
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Talks at stand-still until Barghouthi brought in at 11th hour
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Head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe and head of PPS Qaddura Fares said in a joint statement that the prisoners suspended the “Freedom and Dignity,” following more than 20 hours of negotiations between IPS officials and prison leaders in Ashkelon prison, including Marwan Barghouthi — the imprisoned Fatah official who has been the primary leader of the strike.
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The statement added that IPS officials announced the end of the strike after negotiating with Barghouthi, who IPS had consistently refused to speak with throughout the strike’s duration, as hunger strikers had meanwhile refused to enter negotiations without the presence of Barghouthi.
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The joint statement did not mention which of the hunger strikers’ demands were actually met by Israeli prison authorities.
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A Palestinian source knowledgeable about negotiations elaborated to Ma’an later Saturday afternoon that the talks started Friday at 9 a.m. at Ashkelon prison, initially in the absence of Marwan Barghouthi.At the beginning, representatives of hunger-striking prisoners were Ahmad Barghouthi, Nasser Uweis, Ammar Mardi, and Nasser Abu Hmeid.
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However, the sources said that negotiations did not make progress until IPS agreed to bring in Marwan Barghouthi.The sources said that after Barghouthi’s arrival, IPS then “immediately agreed to some of the prisoners’ demands” and promised to respond positively to them.
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At 4:20 a.m. Saturday, a phone call was made between the imprisoned leaders of the hunger strike and officials from the PA and the Fatah movement outside of Israeli prisons, and after discussions, Marwan Barghouthi agreed to end hunger strike, the sources said.
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The IPS spokesperson confirmed to Ma’an that Barghouthi was involved in the agreements that ended the hunger strike, but said that IPS was not considering the talks “negotiations,” as they only reinstated a previous policy and did not provide any new concessions to the prisoners.
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The IPS spokesperson told Ma’an that some 834 prisoners remained on strike to the 40th day, and that 18 prisoners who remained hospitalized would be returned to Israeli prison following the improvement of their health conditions.
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The spokesperson declined to comment on whether any of the other demands were met.
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The final round of talks came after Palestinian security officials and officials of Israel’s internal security agency, the Shin Bet, had reportedly been engaged in negotiations in recent weeks.
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A meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and US President Donald Trump during Trump’s two day visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank also reportedly played a role in reaching an agreement.
Abbas also reportedly raised the issue with Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, during a meeting in Ramallah on Thursday.
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Palestinians, UN, celebrate hunger strike’s ‘victory’
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United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov said he welcomed reports that the hunger strike had been suspended. “I call on all sides to abide by the terms of the agreement and avoid similar heightened tensions in the future,” he said in a written statement.
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A spokesperson for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Xavier Abu Eid released a statement Saturday by the “Free Marwan Barghouthi and all Palestinian prisoners’ international campaign,” saying that the hunger strike had “prevailed.”
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“This is an important step towards full respect of the rights of Palestinian prisoners under international law. It is also an indication of the reality of the Israeli occupation which has left no option to Palestinian prisoners but to starve themselves to achieve basic rights they are entitled to under international law,” the statement read.
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As the statement pointed out, the hunger strike was one of the longest strikes in Palestinian history and included a wide participation of Palestinian prisoners from across political factions.“The epic resilience and determination of the hunger strikers and their refusal to end their hunger strike despite the repression and very harsh conditions they endured allowed for their will to prevail over the will of the jailer.”

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Israeli forces had attempted to break the hunger strike through various punitive measures — with the measures being repeatedly condemned by human rights organizations — including putting hunger strikers in solitary confinement, “inciting” against the hunger strikers and their leaders — most notably Barghouthi, and threatening to force feed the hunger strikers, the statement highlighted.
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Scores of Palestinian prisoners were also transferred to Israeli hospitals during the hunger strike, with reports emerging that prisoners were vomiting blood and fainting. Palestinian leaders had feared possible deaths among the hunger strikers if their demands were not met.
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The statement went on to thank all those who stood in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners, particularly former political prisoners in South Africa, Ireland, and Argentina.“The Palestinian people are a nation held captive, and the Palestinian prisoners are the reflection of this painful reality,” the statement read.
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Spokesperson for the PA Youssef al-Mahmoud also congratulated the hunger strikers on “achieving their demands.”
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“Our heroic prisoners achieved a new victory in their legendary resistance,” he said, adding that the government would continue its efforts to “guarantee that all Palestinian prisoners are freed without exceptions or conditions.”
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He also called for an end to political divisions in Palestine and to work on regaining national unity to support Palestinians.
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Meanwhile, member of Fatah’s central committee Jamal Muheisin and head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe held a press conference at Yasser Arafat square in Ramallah to announce the “victory” of the hunger strike.
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The national committee formed to support the hunger strike also released a statement saying that the hunger strikers had achieved a “legendary triumph forcing the occupation government to negotiate with the leaders of the hunger strike and Marwan Barghouthi after having refused to negotiate for 40 days.”
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The statement highlighted that the “epic hunger strike” brought back unity between Palestinians in Israeli prisons and revived the spirit of national solidarity, which has succeeded in “thwarting the occupation’s plots.”
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The statement added that more information regarding the details of the agreement between IPS officials and the hunger strikers would be released later.
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The Hamas movement said a statement that it “hails the incredible steadfastness of the Palestinian prisoners inside the Israeli prisons,” in which “Israeli prison authorities had no choice but to succumb to the prisoners’ just demands.””This victory serves as an evidence that by unity, will, and steadfastness Palestinians can achieve even the impossible missions in their struggle against the unjust occupation,” the statement continued, going onto thank families of prisoners, the Palestinian people, and “the free world” for showing devoting their time to solidarity actions throughout the hunger strike “to keep this humanitarian issue alive.””Their efforts and support rallies drew the world’s attention to the prisoners’ ongoing plight, and revealed the ugly face of the Israeli Occupation of being a blatant violator of the Palestinians’ human rights,” Hamas affirmed, adding that “the prisoners’ issue will remain a core one, and the ultimate goal of setting them free will never be forgotten.”
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Palestinians imprisoned by Israel have underwent numerous hunger strikes since the Israeli army occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza in 1967, with several hunger strikers being killed during strikes owing to Israeli policies of force-feeding the prisoners.
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Their demands have ranged from insisting on better quality prison food to ending torture in Israeli prisons.
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According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, 6,300 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons as of April, most of whom are being held inside the Israeli territory in contravention to international law which forbids holding Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza outside the occupied territory.
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While Israeli authorities label Palestinians as “security prisoners,” activists and rights groups have long considered Palestinians held in Israeli custody as political prisoners, and have routinely condemned Israel’s use of prison as a means of dismembering Palestinian political and social life in the occupied territory.
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Addameer has reported that 40 percent of the male Palestinian population has been detained by Israeli authorities at some point in their lives.
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THE STRUGGLE IS FAR FROM OVER ….
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In Photos … NYC rally brings Palestinian prisoner solidarity to the heart of Times Square

Photo: Joe Catron

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Photo: Zachariah Barghouti

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Photo: Joe Catron

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Photo: Joe Catron

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Photo: Joe Catron

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Photo: Joe Catron

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New York City activists and supporters of justice in Palestine came together in Times Square on Wednesday, 24 May for an event in solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners on hunger strike.
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The event, Portraits4Palestine, was organized by Existence is Resistance and thePalestinian Youth Movement, with the participation of Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, BAYAN USA, Committee to Stop FBI Repression, the International Action Center, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, NYC Students for Justice in Palestine and the US Palestinian Community Network, as well as Al-Awda New Yorkand the Syrian American Forum. Participants took photos holding signs in support of the prisoners and distributed information, engaging with passers-by.
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The rally went on for over two hours as each group spoke about the prisoners and chanted in support of the Palestinian struggle and the prisoners’ hunger strike. Adnan of Samidoun led chants in Arabic and English as participants waved signs and banners in support of the strike, which began on 17 April 2017. 1500 out of a total of nearly 6500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails launched the strike for basic human demands, including an end to the denial of family visits, proper health care and medical treatment, the right to access education, and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial.
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Joe Catron of Samidoun spoke at the rally, saying that “the Palestinian prisoners’ struggle is a century old, like the broader Palestinian national movement against Zionist settler colonialism. It will not end today or with the Strike of Freedom and Dignity.” He encouraged people to continue to organize and invited all to attend the upcoming protest on Friday, 26 May to support the prisoners outside the Best Buy in Union Square.
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BAYAN USA also shared information about the campaign to stop the declaration of martial law in Mindanao in the Philippines. They denounced martial law as leading only to further militarization, destabilization and neoliberalism, a threat to the people and their rights. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network expresses its solidarity with the Filipino people and the demand to immediately lift martial law in Mindanao and confront potential US involvement and the “war on terror” framework.
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The rally was of great interest to many passers-by, with various people coming to join the rally after seeing the protest and finding out more about the Palestinian prisoners’ strike. One mime performing in Times Square joined the protest and sang Palestinian songs in support of the prisoners.
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Many more actions are being planned to support the prisoners’ strike in New York City. On Friday, 26 May, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network will gather outside the Best Buy in Union Square at 5:30 pm for a protest in support of Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike.
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The protest will also urge the boycott of HP products, as Hewlett-Packard is engaged in extensive contracts with the Israeli occupation military and prison system; it is part of a global day of action for the 40th day of the strike, called by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee. All are encouraged to attend and join the demonstration.
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Rally report FROM

SUPPORT FOR HUNGER STRIKERS CONTINUES TO GROW

While Trump‘s visit attempted to revive the illusions of “peace in the framework of Pax Americana of the region, the ongoing hunger strike of the Palestinian prisoners reminds us that the Israeli occupation regime denies the Palestinians even the most basic human rights.

Image by Carlos Latuff

Day 38: 200 prisoners in Israeli jails join Palestinian hunger strike

Haifa: A demo supporting Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike closed central streets

by in Herak Haifa

(The following article was published in Hebrew on May 23, 2017, in “Local Call” and Haifa ha-Hofshit)

While Trump‘s visit attempted to revive the illusions of “peace” in the framework of Pax Americana of the region, the ongoing hunger strike of the Palestinian prisoners reminds us that the Israeli occupation regime denies the Palestinians even the most basic human rights.

A communiqué issued by “the captive movement” (al-Harakah al-Asira), as the prisoners call their resistance movement inside the occupation prisons, on the 20th day of the strike, called for the unification of the struggle on both sides of the Green Line and in the Palestinian Diaspora by a unified action of all the Palestinian patriotic forces, including the follow-up committee that represents Arab citizens of Israel. In a historic precedent, the leaders responded to the prisoners’ initiative, met in Ramallah and declared a general strike by the entire Palestinian people in all areas of the homeland and in exile, set for Monday, May 22, the 36th day of the strike. Indeed, throughout the West Bank, there was great response to the call yesterday, and streets were lined with closed shops and businesses. The strike was also felt, to a lesser extent, in East Jerusalem and Palestinian cities within the Green Line.

The Prisoner’s Square, Haifa

Haifa continues to be a focal point for Palestinian protest activity, in which an expanding stratum of activists emphasizes the unity of the Palestinian struggle beyond the borders dividing the territories occupied since 1967 and those occupied since 1948. However, the struggle also exposes the leadership crisis and the difficulty of giving effective expressing to the frustration, the anger and the desire to struggle. This difficulty is exacerbated because, according to the rules of the game of the “Jewish democracy”, Palestinian public opinion is not a factor to be considered.

The first protest vigil in support of the prisoners’ hunger strike took place in Haifa on the second day of the strike, April 18. It took place in the German Colony, the tourist center of the city, in the square named “The Prisoner’s Square” since October 2011, when a group of activist staged a hunger striker there, under the slogan “Hungry to Freedom”, in solidarity with a previous prisoners’ strike.

The vigil was also meant to mark Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, April 17, which was chosen not coincidentally as the appropriate date to launch the strike. It should be noted here that when we speak in Arabic we don’t use the term “sajeen” (prisoner) but “aseer” that means “captive”. It conveys the view of Palestinian prisoners as prisoners of war – those held by the enemy as a result of their struggle for freedom. Compromising the correct translation is another concession that we inadvertently do to Israeli and Western public opinion, which have difficulty digesting the Palestinian narrative.

The next two protest vigils were held on April 29 and May 9 at the initiative of Herak Haifa. The site chosen by the Herak was a little up the German Colony, on the corner of Allenby Street and HaCarmel Avenue (Ben Gurion), a smaller space at the intersection where more traffic passes. When, a few months ago, Bassel al-A’araj, activist and theoretician of al-Herak al-Shababi in the West Bank, was assassinated by the occupation forces, Herak Haifa decided to name the junction after him. The holding of protest vigils at the junction is also intended to establish the name in the public consciousness.

On Friday, May 19, the Communist youth held another solidarity activity with the prisoners, slightly higher at the German Colony, in the Bahai Circle. They brought water, salt and glasses and offered passers-by to drink salt water as a symbolic show of solidarity with the strikers. The youth movement’s orchestra created another attraction to draw attention to the event.

Taking to the Streets

In the meantime, young activists began to organize, in the spirit of the movement that had halted the Prawer plan, aiming to initiate more united and militant activity. They called for a demonstration on Monday, May 22, even before the Palestinian leaderships on both sides of the Green Line declared the general strike on this day in support of the prisoners’ struggle.

They published an invitation to a Facebook event entitled “Ash-Shaware’a” (to the streets), hosted by 8 activists from different movements, and many activists worked intensely to invite and prepare. There were 254 “attendees” at the FB event and on Monday, before the scheduled hour, “The Prisoner’s Square” was already filled with young people, as well as many veteran activists, from Haifa and the region.

The police also made their preparations, bringing reinforcements, including special anti-riot units, some attack dogs and a special police van to carry potential detainees. In practice, however, the police preferred not to intervene, even when the demonstrators, after about half an hour of shouting slogans in the square, went down to Carmel Avenue, blocked the street and began marching.

Some 200 demonstrators marched on the main street of the German Colony in the direction of Allenby Street, between the crowded cafes and restaurants, providing the iconic images of Haifa with Palestinian flags waving and the Bahai Gardens and the golden Shrine of the Bab in the background. From there the protesters continued on Allenby Street in the direction of Wadi Nisnas, where the police blocked traffic on both sides. The demonstrators marched up al-Jabal Street (“ha-Ziyonut Avenue”), turned to Khuri Street and finally poured into al-Wadi Street, the narrow main street of Wadi Nisnas.

When the demonstrators reached the last intersection inside the Wadi (the valley), they made a small meeting in the middle of the street. The organizers thanked everybody for taking part and asked for their active participation in a pre-determined plan for the continuation of the struggle, including demonstrations, leaflets distribution and a “Day of Rage” on Thursday, June 1.

MY SUBMISSION TO THE MOST ISRAELI VIDEO CONTEST

Contest invites participants to submit ‘most Israeli’ video

Ahead of the 50th year anniversary of the occupation of Jerusalem, zionist organization Im Tirtzu initiated a video contest inviting the Israeli public to submit videos describing what best defines being Israeli.
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According to Im Tirtzu, the goal of the “Hachi Yisraeli” (“Most Israeli”) video contest was to provide an opportunity to the Israeli public to express their love for Israel by presenting the values that they believe best reflect the State of Israel.
Here is our entry ….

“How much longer is the world willing to endure this spectacle of wanton cruelty?”
― Bertrand Russell

THANK YOU AMERICA FOR THE OCCUPATION

Israel’s guilty but America made it possible: Thanks to the U.S., we’re celebrating the first 50 years of the occupation – and probably not the last

Israeli forces detain a Palestinian during clashes following a protest in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails, West Bank, May 19, 2017. AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS

Thank You, America
Gideon Levy

Thank you, America, for all of the good things that you have showered us with. Thanks for the money, the weapons and the support. Thanks also for the damage, the rot and the denial. Another American president will be arriving in Israel on Monday, one who is different and peculiar compared to his predecessors. But on one score, he won’t be any different. Donald Trump will continue to heap all of these good things upon us.

America will continue to be the senior partner in one of the basest of enterprises in the world at the moment: the Israeli occupation. Trump will provide financing and arms and defend Israel. Thank-you in advance, Mr. President, for all of these good things.

It is thanks to America that we have come this far, that we are celebrating the first 50 years of the occupation, and probably not the last 50. Israel is guilty but America has made it possible. It’s not just the money, the arms and the support. There is something else, something unforgivable overshadowing everything.

In a brilliant essay by the American intellectual Nathan Thrall that appeared last week on the website of Britain’s The Guardian newspaper, (“Israel-Palestine: the real reason there’s no peace”) and that is excerpted from Thrall’s new book “The Only Language They Understand: Forcing Compromise in Israel and Palestine,” the author puts his finger on the root of all of the reasons that there is no peace: The alternative to peace isn’t worth it for Israel.

The country has no rational reason to come to a peace agreement because the price that Israel will have to pay is higher than the cost of the occupation. And when it comes to that, America is a guilty party. The United States and its associate, Europe, are the ones that enable Israel to maintain the occupation at a bargain price.

America hasn’t lifted a finger to render the status quo intolerable for Israel, and as a result, Israel has no incentive to reach a peace agreement. So there won’t be a peace agreement, or even a “deal.” The only way to get to an agreement is by upping the cost of the existing situation, so that the status quo become too costly for Israel. Even the cliché that time has been working against Israel has not stood the test of reality, Thrall states. When the potential threats actually come to pass, Israel will always be able to end the occupation. Until then, it has no reason to rush into things.

America has repeatedly tried the “carrot” approach, without any results. Only on one occasion has an American president applied real pressure – and the results were immediate. In 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower threatened economic sanctions against Israel unless it withdrew from Sinai, which it did within days. The last time that the United States attempted to apply any kind of pressure was in 1991, when Secretary of State James Baker pushed Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir into agreeing to the Madrid Peace Conference by withholding $10 billion in loan guarantees. Since then, although it’s hard to believe, more than 25 years have passed and the Americans haven’t even made another attempt.

 
On the contrary, the United States is doing everything to make the occupation more comfortable for Israel. It has funded and trained the Palestinian Authority’s security forces – Israel’s security subcontractors. The United States has also defended Israel in the UN Security Council; it has blocked debate on regional nuclear disarmament; and has maintained Israel’s total military superiority. At the same time, the Americans have paid hollow lip service in their criticism of the settlements — “a façade of opposition,” as Thrall calls it — a façade that has become a bulwark of defense for the settlements. With the appearance of being “punitive,” the regular condemnations have let off steam and have taken the place of genuine pressure. And of course, the settlement enterprise has not stopped its advance.

 
Even the artificial distinction between Israel and the settlements, an approach that the United States has led, has freed Israel of its responsibility for the occupation. As a result, one can currently be a liberal, enlightened American (or European) and oppose the occupation and support Israel. The settlements and Israel welcome that and continue on their way.

 
Washington has never attached conditions, amazingly enough, on its financial aid. “Listening to [the Americans] discuss how to devise an end to occupation is like listening to the operator of a bulldozer ask how to demolish a building with a hammer,” Thrall writes. “The former Israeli defense minister Moshe Dayan once said: ‘Our American friends offer us money, arms and advice. We take the money, we take the arms, and we decline the advice.’”

 
Nothing has changed since and apparently nothing will change in the future. Thank you, America.

 

 

From Ha’Aretz

THE RIGHT TO DISOBEY INJUSTICE IN OUR NAME

Nobody has the right and obligation to obey, when injustice happens in our name!

Nobody has the right and obligation to obey, when injustice happens in our name!

by Evelyn Hecht-Galinski,. English Translation by Milena Rampoldi
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According to Sascha Stawski, one of the most active representatives of the Israel Lobby and the organizer of “Honestly Concerned” of the so called Israel Day “I like Israel,” in the interview entitled “Jews can also be anti-Semitic” in the Frankfurter Neue Presse, the Court Decision of the Frankfurt District Court for the free opinion expression and the right of the conference must be criticized. In this interview Stawski shows his “democratic” credentials! The most important conference with the motto “50 years of Israeli occupation“ to be held on 9-10 of June at the Ökohaus in Frankfurt-Bockenheim. Stawski really thinks that this Court Decision can be legally challenged. He also tries to accuse the conference and the speakers of anti-Semitism, because they criticise Israel’s illegal occupation policy and support the BDS movement. We have to strongly oppose to this.  In fact, Stawski has organised a counter event with the Israeli lobby “riots.” The protest speakers for this “event” which should be held during the conference in front of the Ökohaus will be the CDU major Uwe Becker, who unsuccessfully (!) tried to avoid the conference, Michael Engelmeier of the German Socialist Party, and the city councillor Jutta Ditfurth, of the ecological left and philo-Semite like Volker Beck of the Green Party! Here the Crème de la Crème of the German party Israel expert will meet to support the “Jewish  occupiers’ Apartheid State!” (2) (3) (4)
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In fact, the members of the Green Party should critically questions how certain protagonists, like Volker Beck with his exaggerated support of the “Jewish State” and other colleagues with their continuous anti-Russian and anti-Turkish hatred have damaged the party with their moralising politics. Such politics clearly show what makes the election results to go south. However, also the Social and the Christian Democratic Party have to think about how long they want to tolerate the illegal violations of international law by the “Jewish State” in the name of “our special” relationship to Israel.
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Will the coming election campaign fill the summer slump between leading culture, burka prohibition, double passport, Turkey and Russia bashing, anti-Semitism? Is a further Israelisation waiting for us? Shackle, facial recognition, flight data authorisation: these are all provisions to foment the fear of terrorism. But in reality they want to start a new Cold War to distract from our own omissions. What has happened to Germany? Lobbyists, US think tanks, and the Israel lobby have the media under control. There is a new, promising and expanding movement “critics of Islam.” However, critics of Israel have no such promising prospects. In fact, they do not exist anymore, because they are denigrated as “haters of Israel” or anti-Semites.
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The EU has just decided to adopt a new resolution against the illegal occupation and settlement policies of the “Jewish State.” But, if this just another empty gesture from a toothless tiger and does not adopt boycott provisions, it will be useless resolution! (5)
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A good start would be a ban of the “Jewish State” from the European Song Context. The “Jewish State” is neither part of Europe nor does the Netanyahu regime meet the criteria of the membership of the European Broadcasting Union EBU. However, the correctness of the EBU raises doubts because it accepted so many expectations. And in the end the ESC became a sad, political farce in the more than corrupt Ukraine! (6) (7)
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What is behind the actual Israel lobby campaign that is always trying to denigrate Muslim refugees and students as anti-Semites and see anti-Semitism everywhere. Nothing is further from my intention than playing down the real anti-Semitism, but we have to oppose to people who lump together anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. This unjustified equation only helps people like Lagodinsky, Volker Beck, Jutta Ditfurth to denigrate Germany as a stronghold of anti-Semitism and to denigrate as anti-Semites all who dare to criticise the “Jewish State” and its illegal occupation politics. And this cannot be! Jews should not have a special status, a special protection, or hypocritical solidarity. Coexistence is only possible on equal terms and without a bad conscience for an injustice the actual generation did not commit!
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With new injustice it will never be possible to hide, silence, tolerate, or what is even worse to show solidarity with it.
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It is true that we all have an important responsibility, but that also involves the German responsibility for Palestinian people and Palestine which is illegally occupied by Jewish settlers. We must not allow German politicians to always try to belittle this injustice with hesitant criticism. These “slimy traces of submission“ wind their way through all parties. However, in the meantime these slimy traces have already become a Tsunami which will hopefully be dangerous for many of Israel’s friends!
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Almost daily we are flooded with articles of this kind, while the crimes of the Jewish Apartheid State are silenced. In the German press, homicides are belittled as self-defence by  “Jewish defence forces,” while Palestinians are always stigmatised as terrorists!
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I say that they are a people who are resisting, who are so in despair and without hope that they do not hesitate to risk their poor lives under occupation with legal resistance. They are deprived of everything, of their property, their land, their culture, and now even of their language. Every memory and commemoration is prohibited to them and has to be eliminated, while the Jewish occupiers regularly celebrate commemoration days and holidays. In the meantime, the hypocrite community of states has accepted this situation so that the Netanyahu can relax and openly dupe German politicians! All this in the name of the “special” relationship among friends.
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However, enough with the special relations and friendships. There is no reason of state for the safety of the “Jewish State,” as long as this Judaisation is written on the bloody Star of David Flag of Israel as being part of its reason of state!
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In this context, the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe by making reference to the Nakba, after detailed researches of Israeli military archives, speaks about “ethnic cleansing,” committed by the Jewish militias. Today, to the narrative maintained by Israel of the “land without people for a people without land” more than 12 million Palestinians are opposed. And 5.49 million of them are refugees registered at UNWRA.
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The UN Resolution 194 (III), article 11, of 11 December 1948 guarantees Palestinian refugees and their offsprings the right of return and the corresponding compensation. However, this resolution has not been adopted up till now. There are still 58 Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, in the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. The situation in the densely populated refugee camps is characterised by poverty, missing infrastructure, and unemployment. The right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland and property, and to get compensation for damages, as agreed in the UN Resolution 194, must not be forgotten, but must be respected, protected and supported.
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The Nakba is not a single event, as it has been maintained up to now.
Even 69 years later, the Palestinian people are oppressed by the Israeli occupation and its mechanisms like expulsion, dispossession, colonisation, apartheid and other, daily violations of human rights. (8)
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Brutal crimes were also committed in Gaza, when the “Jewish defence army” exterminated whole Palestinian families and committed deadly attacks on civilians in the densely populated residential areas with air strikes – always under the pretext of “struggling against terrorism.”  Not even hospital ships or other humanitarian support was sent to the blocked population in Gaza during this dirty “Jewish massacre”! Was this not an omitted assistance beyond any civilised behaviour? Is this the “Christian-Jewish community of values”?
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Walter Herrmann was accused because according to the Court of Cologne he had “allegedly” shown war crimes opposed to international law and humanity in an exposition of images from the “Israeli-Palestinian regions of conflict” by showing dead, heavily injured and bleeding children and young people from Gaza. At that time already I had written to him that it was not Walter Herrmann and the Wailing Wall of Cologne which offended human dignity, but the crimes against international law and humanity committed by the “Jewish Defence Soldiers,” responsible for the murder of thousands of civilians, who killed 450 Palestinian children in Gaza. (9) (10)
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What can we learn from this? If the media show them useful images of the horrors of the war, then it is legitimate, but if it is about photos showing the crimes of the “Jewish Defence Forces,” then this offends youth protection and human dignity, to say nothing of an “unconditioned solidarity” with the Palestinians! (11)
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It is all about the political knockout argument  of the anti-Semitism accusation which in particular in Germany is very successful. With dirty lies and defamations it opposed to ethical people who do not want to be intimidated. And the result is always the same: the pseudo-Zionists are heard, and control the media, while the critics of Israeli politics are pilloried, and not even heard “publicly or legally.”
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However, regarding the “Jewish occupiers’ state” the facts speak for themselves and are undeniable. And this is the reason why the Israel lobby and its supporters avoid dealing with critics who just show them facts! Let us stay on track! There is no “balance” when it is about crimes against international law and humanity. And genocide is a crime to oppose and which must not to be silenced only because it is the “Jewish defence army” is involved.
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This State must not be remunerated with cooperation, youth exchanges, and armament donations.
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And again, we come back to the German “special treatment” when it is about the “Jewish State” and the regime of occupation. In the meantime, the long arm of Netanyahu and the Israel lobby has extended to a media medusa expanding and acting powerfully. In the meantime, philo-Semitism has gained such proportions that every kind of criticism against Israel is interpreted as Jewish hatred so as to gain control of public opinion. A new, additional and profitable field was discovered for the Israel lobby: the Muslim refugees. And they warn us against them because they are “anti-Semites.” What this means and the damage is has caused is clear from the increasing prejudices against Islam and Muslims amongst much of the German population. The creeping poison of prejudices produces its effects, reinforced by politics and media.
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What is presented to German readers about Israel, Russia, Syria, and Turkey, has already become a criminal act of news mutilation. What is recognisable as aggressiveness and war-lustfulness, journalistic trolls, who work according to the politicians’ will. While Erdogan and Putin are the enemy image, Israeli politicians are always welcome.
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Always with the “scissors in the head” and only a very “soft” criticism towards the Jewish occupiers, and never too much, otherwise there is the threat of anti-Semitism accusation or – what is even worse – the expulsion. It is therefore not surprising that German media are losing readers and subscribers. It pains me a lot that things have changed so much because I have known and appreciated the printed media from my childhood. But how did media change? How did my “beloved” Tagesschau changed? We cannot believe in anything, we have to question everything. Political souffleur and lobbyists have radically changed German media. They have the power. And they envoy it and do not mind paying for it.
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While critical voices have no chance when it is about the Jewish State” to be heard by the  main media because the Israel lobby does a good job to avoid it, for supporting voices for the reporting about Russia or Turkey it is increasingly difficult to attract people’s attention.
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Nobody has the right and obligation to obey, when injustice happens in our name!
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Originally appeared AT

DAY 30 OF HUNGER STRIKE FOR DIGNITY AND JUSTICE

Hunger-striking prisoners are calling for an end to the denial of family visits, the right to pursue higher education, appropriate medical care and treatment, and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention — imprisonment without charge or trial — among other demands for basic rights.

Image by Latuff

Day 30 .. more than 1700 Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails, be with them!

Barghouthi to stop drinking water as Israel fails to respond to hunger strike’s demands

As the mass “Freedom and Dignity” hunger strike in Israeli prisons entered its 30th day on Tuesday, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs announced that leader of the strike Marwan Barghouthi will stop drinking water in response to Israel’s continued refusal to respond to the hunger strikers’ demands.

Participants in the strike, now involving some 1,300 Palestinian prisoners, have been refusing food and vitamins since the strike began on April 17, drinking only a mixture of salt and water as sustenance.

Hunger-striking prisoners are calling for an end to the denial of family visits, the right to pursue higher education, appropriate medical care and treatment, and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention — imprisonment without charge or trial — among other demands for basic rights.

The committee’s statement quoted lawyer Khader Shqeirat as saying that Barghouthi’s decision to escalate measures by refusing water would be “a new turning point in the ongoing open-ended hunger strike.”*

The Israeli government, the statement said, is responsible for leading the prisoners’ along a “tragic and disastrous road” and putting hunger strikers in imminent danger, by taking “a criminal stance regarding the just demands of prisoners.”
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According to the committee, Barghouthi insists on transparently achieving all of the demands made by the hunger-striking prisoners under his leadership, without bargaining or making compromises.
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The committee also called upon the United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly to hold an emergency meeting regarding the prisoners’ strike, to oblige the Israeli government to respect prisoners’ rights enshrined under international law, and to call on Israel to end its policy of inflicting a “slow death” on the Palestinian detainees.
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On Monday, reports emerged in Israeli media that Palestinian security officials and officials of Israel’s internal security agency, the Shin Bet, were attempting to reach an agreement that would end the hunger strike.
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As Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has previously said the demands would only be addressed once the strike was ended, Palestinian officials warned their Israeli counterparts that such an approach would spark an escalation of popular protests that have been staged daily since the strike began — many of which have erupted into violent clashes.
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Meanwhile, hunger-striking prisoner Karim Yunis, the longest serving Palestinian prisoner, insisted that any legitimate negotiations must include leaders of the strike such as Barghouthi, and rejected reported attempts by Israeli intelligence as “false and futile negotiations aimed at breaking the hunger strike in exchange for empty promises.”
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A statement released Tuesday by the media committee established to support the strike warned that striking detainees have “entered a critical health condition,” marked by chronic vomiting, vision impairment, fainting, and an average weight loss of 20 kilograms.
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“In spite of this, (hunger strikers) sent many messages confirming that they will continue the strike until their demands are achieved,” the statement affirmed.
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The media committee said that the Israel Prison Service (IPS) has continued to isolate strike participants from the outside world through the use of solitary confinement and restricting lawyer visits for the majority of detainees — in spite of a recent Israeli Supreme Court decision compelling IPS to lift the ban on lawyer visits, which was imposed since the first day of the strike.
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Hunger-striking prisoners have also been prohibited from receiving family visits outright, and face continuous arbitrary prison transfers in an IPS attempt to break up the strike.
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On Monday, IPS moved 36 hunger-striking prisoners from Ofer prison to a so-called field hospital at Hadarim prison, according to the media committee.
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The committee reiterated concerns about the field clinics — set up by Israel in anticipation of the mass hunger strike to avoid transferring the prisoners civilian hospitals.
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“In these clinics, the role of doctors resembles the role of jailers who offer all kinds of food to the sick detainees and bargain them to provide medical treatment in return for ending the strike,” the statement declared, denouncing the field hospitals as unfit and ill-equipped to provide medical care, and merely just another section for holding and pressuring the detainees to break their strikes.
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The hunger strike’s media committee also reported that the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has called the group working on the cause of Palestine, during its meeting in Jeddah, to launch campaigns to support the Palestinian striking detainees and put pressure on Israel to respond to their demands.
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Meanwhile, Palestinian prisoners’ solidarity network Samiduon highlighted that Palestinian circus performer Muhammed Abu Sakha, has been participating in the strike since its first day.
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Abu Sakha has been held without trial or charges since December 2015, which has inspired an international campaign demanding his immediate release.
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Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer reported on Thursday that following the expiration of Abu Sakha’s detention on June 11, the Israel’s Supreme Court decided to limit the extension of his detention to three months, following a successful petition by his lawyer.
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Abu Sakha is among 500 of the 6,300 Palestinian prisoners held under administrative detention, according to Addameer.
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THE DEMANDS …

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The Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs reiterated the list of demands of the strike, which were issued by Marwan Barghouthi, who is serving a life sentence in Israeli prison:
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1. Install a public telephone for Palestinian detainees in all prisons and sections in order to communicate with their families.
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2. Visits:
• Resume the second monthly visits for Palestinian prisoners that were halted by the International Committee of the Red Cross last year.
• Ensure the regularity of visits every two weeks without being prevented by any side.
• First- and second-degree relatives shall not be prevented from visiting the detainee.
• Increase the duration of the visit from 45 minutes to an hour and a half.
• Allow the detainees to take pictures with their families every three months.
• Establish facilities to comfort the families of detainees.
• Allow children and grandchildren under the age of 16 to visit detainees.
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3. Health care:
• Shut down the so-called Ramla Prison Hospital, because it does not provide the adequate treatment.
• Terminate Israel’s policy of deliberate medical negligence.
• Carry out periodic medical examinations.
• Perform surgeries to a high medical standard.
• Permit specialized physicians from outside the Israeli Prison Service to treat prisoners.
• Release sick detainees, especially those who have disabilities and incurable diseases.
• Medical treatment should not be at the expense of the detainee.
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4. Respond to the needs and demands of Palestinian women detainees, namely the issue of being transported for long hours between Israeli courts and prisons.
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5. Transportation:
• Treat detainees humanely when transporting them.
• Return detainees to prisons after the visiting clinics or courts and not further detain them at crossings.
• Prepare the crossings for human use and provide meals for detainees.
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6. Add satellites channels that suit the needs of detainees.
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7. Install air conditioners in prisons, especially in the Megiddo and Gilboa prisons.
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8. Restore kitchens in all prisons and place them under the supervision of Palestinian detainees.
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9. Allow detainees to have books, newspapers, clothes and food.
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10. End the policy of solitary confinement.
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11. End the policy of administrative detention.
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12. Allow detainees to study at Hebrew Open University.
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13. Allow detainees to have end of high school (tawjihi) exams in an official and agreed manner.
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THE TALLEST MAN IN THE WEST BANK

The tallest man in Ramallah offered to give us a tour of his cage. We would not even have to leave our table at Rukab’s Ice Cream, on Rukab Street; all he needed to do was reach into his pocket.

The Tallest Man in Ramallah

MICHAEL CHABON ROAMS THE WEST BANK WITH SAM BAHOUR

By  Michael Chabon

At nearly two meters—six foot four—Sam Bahour might well have been the tallest man in the whole West Bank, but his cage was constructed so ingeniously that it could fit into a leather billfold.

“Now, what do I mean, ‘my cage?’” He spoke with emphatic patience, like a remedial math instructor, a man well-practiced in keeping his cool. With his large, dignified head, hairless on top and heavy at the jawline, with his deep-set dark eyes and the note of restraint that often crept into his voice, there was something about Sam that reminded me of Edgar Kennedy in the old Hal Roach comedies, the master of the “slow burn.” “‘Sam,’” he said, pretending to be us, his visitors, we innocents abroad, “‘What is this cage you’re talking about? We saw the checkpoints. We saw the separation barrier. Is that what you mean by cage?’”

Some of us laughed; he had us down. What did we know about cages? When we finished our ice cream—a gaudy, sticky business in Ramallah, where the recipe is an Ottoman vestige, intensely colored and thickened with tree gum—we would pile back into our hired bus and return to the liberty we had not earned and were free to squander.

“Yes, that’s part of what I mean,” he said, answering the question he had posed on our behalf. “But there is more than that.”

Sam Bahour took the leather billfold out of the pocket of his dark-blue warm-up jacket and held it up for our inspection. It bulged like a paperback that had fallen into a bathtub. When he dropped it onto the tabletop it landed with a law-book thump. It was a book of evidence, proof that the cage he lived in was neither a metaphor nor simply a matter of four hundred miles of concrete and razor wire.

“In 1994, after Oslo,” Sam said, “my wife and I decided to move back here.” They had been married for a year, at that point, and decided to apply to the Israeli government for residency in Palestine “under a policy they called family reunification.” He flipped open the billfold and took out a passport with a familiar dark blue cover. “As an American citizen, I entered as a tourist, on a three-month visa.”

Sam Bahour was born in Youngstown, in 1964. His mother is a second-generation Ohioan of Lebanese Christian descent; his father immigrated to the United States from the town of Al-Bireh, then under Jordanian control, in 1957. After spending a few unhappy years working for relatives as a traveling salesman in the rural south (“basically a peddler,” in Sam’s words, “selling cheap goods to poor people at like a two hundred percent markup, it really bothered him”) Sam’s father settled in Youngstown, with its sizable Arab population. He bought the first of a series of independent grocery stores he would own and operate over the course of his career, got married, became a citizen, had a couple of kids, worked hard, made good.

A few things Sam said about his father seemed to suggest that though the elder Bahour settled and prospered in Ohio, he did not entirely lose himself in the embrace of his adopted country. When Sam was born his father had named him Bilal, after the most loyal of the Prophet’s Companions. But when non-Muslim neighbors in Youngstown shortened Bilal to “Billy,” Sam’s father—whose name was the American-sounding but authentically Arabic Sami—had his young son’s name legally changed to match his own. The freedom to return home that an American passport would afford, if only for three months at a time, had been among his motivations for marrying Sam’s mother and becoming a naturalized citizen. Some key part of the man—words like heart, mind, and spirit are only idioms, approximations—never left the house on Ma’arif Street where he had been born and raised, in the Al-Bireh neighborhood of Al-Sharafa, which belonged not to the Ottomans, the British, the Hashemites or the Israelis but only to the people who lived in them.

“I was brought up in a household that lived and ate and slept Palestine,” Sam would tell me, a couple of days after our first meeting over ice cream at Rakub’s. “I lived in Youngstown, where I didn’t know most of my neighbors, but I could tell you everybody in my neighborhood here in Ramallah. That’s an odd kind of way to grow up.”

That enchanted blue American passport, part skeleton key, part protective force-field, could work powerful three-month spells, both for Sam’s father and for Sam, once he and his Jerusalem-born wife, Abeer Barghouty, decided to try to make a life in Al-Bireh. For 13 years after his application for a residency card under the Israeli-controlled Family Reunification policy, Sam raised his daughters, built a number of businesses (telecommunications, retail development, consulting), worked for himself and his partners, for his clients and for the future of his half-born country, and lived a Palestinian life, all in tourist-visa tablespoonfuls, 90 days at a time. But in 2006, for reasons that remain mysterious, the magic embedded in his US passport abruptly ran out. Returning to the West Bank from a visa-renewing trip to Jordan, Sam handed over his passport to an Israeli border officer, expecting the routine 90-day rubber stamp. But when the passport was returned to him Sam saw that alongside the stamp, in Arabic, Hebrew and English, the officer had hand-written the words LAST PERMIT. Once this final allotment of 90 days ran out, Sam would no longer have permission to stay in the West Bank or Israel, and when he left—left his home, his family, his business, his community and everything he had worked to build over the past 13 years—he would not be permitted to return.

This is a very long post but definitely worth reading ….

Continue HERE

IN IMAGES ~~ REMEMBERING A PROUD LAND THAT ONCE WAS

Remembering the Nakba

Seventy years on from the Nakba, Palestinians seem to move from one cycle of oppression to another

A Palestinian man walks front of graffiti that reads “Returning” as Palestinians attend “camp of return” to mark refugees’ ties to lands lost in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, during a gathering to mark the 69th anniversary of the “Nakba” (catastrophe). Nakba means “catastrophe” in reference to the birth of the state of Israel 69 years ago in British-mandate Palestine, which led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who either fled or were driven out of their homes during the 1948 war over Israel’s creation.Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash 90

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I didn’t sell my house they stole it ..

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69 yrs later, we are still here, all over the world, keeping our keys & hope that every day passes we are getting closer to return

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To our homes in Palestine, we will return!

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69 yrs of dispossession, forced exile and oppression
We still resist & We Will Return

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Latuff adds the following

Their creation was our Nakba!

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“al-Nakbah” means “catastrophe”. Nakba Day when more than 700,000 Palestinian Arabs were expelled from their homeland

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Free Palestine!

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