JUMP- START PALESTINE

Not a day goes by without one of us being asked if Palestine really has an economy, given that we have been living for five decades under an increasingly well-entrenched Israeli military occupation. The question usually comes from people passing through on a short visit: some are Palestinians living in the diaspora, others are foreigners who come either singly or in groups; and some visitors arrive, under a variety of auspices, to study our reality. More troubling than to hear this question from outsiders is how often we hear it from our recent graduates. To all, our answer is yes – unequivocally.

Image by Carlos Latuff

Jump-Start Palestine: A Story of Economic Survival

By Sam Bahour and Nisreen Musleh

Not a day goes by without one of us being asked if Palestine really has an economy, given that we have been living for five decades under an increasingly well-entrenched Israeli military occupation. The question usually comes from people passing through on a short visit: some are Palestinians living in the diaspora, others are foreigners who come either singly or in groups; and some visitors arrive, under a variety of auspices, to study our reality. More troubling than to hear this question from outsiders is how often we hear it from our recent graduates. To all, our answer is yes – unequivocally.

If you happen to be one of those who question that an economy, despite aspects that are truly painful, nonetheless survives under Israeli military occupation, we ask for your indulgence. Palestinians are not superheroes who can sustain their prolonged struggle for freedom and independence without putting bread on the table or pay their children’s tuition, let alone love, marry, establish families, buy homes, purchase cars, and eat out. And so forth.

This article is a call to jump-start the nation of Palestine, economically. Palestine’s economy is in an iron fist grip of the State of Israel. Forty-four thousand Palestinians are graduating and entering the labor market every year. Only around 10,000 of them are being absorbed in the market, in both the public and private sectors. Palestine’s economic survival, and maybe political survival as well, depends on finding livelihoods for many more Palestinians, and at an unprecedented rate. This is our collective challenge.

We who are writing this are both blessed to have, in our respective surroundings, positive people. At home and at work, along with our respective circles of loved ones, colleagues and friends, we refuse to dwell on the negative. Instead, we analyze our bitter reality, look around at our own children and siblings, and always come to the same conclusion: We simply must find ways to create meaningful livelihoods for us and for them, because otherwise we would be reinforcing the longstanding Israeli fantasy that all Palestinians will, eventually, voluntarily, emigrate from Palestine — family by family, new graduate by new graduate. Or, worse yet, we would be fueling extremist elements in our society by giving them ready-made fodder to recruit from—a generation of youth in despair.

Our future and our families are at stake, so we engage with our damaged economy as a means of survival, while entertaining no illusions that we can properly develop it under Israeli occupation.

Just to make sure we are clear about how bitter our reality is, we share with you the opening paragraph of the Executive Summary of the World Bank’s latest Economic Monitoring Report to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) from September 18, 2017. It speaks volumes.

Despite its potential, the Palestinian economy is currently heavily distorted and failing to generate the jobs and incomes needed to improve living standards. Restrictions on trade and the access to resources, along with a decade long blockade of Gaza have hollowed out the productive base. The share of manufacturing in the economy has halved in the last twenty-five years, while agriculture is only one third its previous size. The economy is import dependent with imports over three times the size of exports and a trade deficit close to 40 percent of GDP (one of the highest in the world), while trade is overly concentrated with Israel. Investment rates have been low with the bulk channeled into relatively unproductive activities that generate insufficient employment. As a result, growth, which has mainly been driven by consumption, has run out of steam. With a sharp decline because of the 2014 Gaza war and a drop in aid levels, growth in real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) slowed to 2 percent on average between 2013 and 2016, and dropped to a mere 0.7 percent in early 2017. Unemployment remains close to 30 percent on average, with youth unemployment twice as high in Gaza where the humanitarian situation has significantly worsened in recent months following the electricity crisis which has serious implications on the health, water and sanitation sectors as well as business activity.

That’s the bad news.

And the good news?

Nearly five million Palestinians awake every morning under military occupation with a stubborn determination to survive. As per the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, 729,971 are infants (0-4 years), about 142,000 are in kindergarten, over 1.2 million are primary and secondary school students being served by 55,000 teachers, and over 207,000 are enrolled in universities and colleges, over 128,000 Palestinian workers work in Israel and Israeli settlements, and approximately 229,133 are 60 years and over. About 3 million residents are in the working-age (15 years and above), and over 1.5 million people are either working or seeking work.

With skyrocketing unemployment rates that now exceed 30%, to wish or hope that Palestinians remain steadfast without livelihoods is the equivalent of praying that your car will run without gasoline or electricity.

That noted, this month alone we have engaged two separate projects emerging out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) aiming to create jobs in Palestine; we have met with the Country Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) who is exploring the state of venture capital and equity funds in Palestine. Also, a meeting is already planned with Switzerland’s Federal Councilor Johann Schneider-Amman, Head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research, who is leading a 50-person delegation of academics and businesspersons to Palestine. Bottom line, there are loads of global interest in Palestine to leverage.

Enter the real Palestine

Palestine’s economy did not drop fully formed from the sky with the signing of the Oslo Peace Accords in 1993 and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority. Historically, in addition to consumer trading, the economy has revolved around agriculture, tourism and laborers who work in Israel. Since 1994, a new service sector has been added, mainly communications and financial services, as well as a mini-army of professionals serving civil society and civil servants serving the government bureaucracy.

Sustained Israeli actions have nearly paralyzed two of our most promising sectors, agriculture and tourism. The World Bank has stated that structural damage has been made to our agriculture sector. This is not surprising, given that agriculture is about land and water, two front lines in this conflict. Additionally, the World Bank notes that, in general, the “…continued existence of a system of [Israeli] closures and restrictions is creating lasting damage to economic competiveness [sic] in the Palestinian Territories.” (Economic Monitoring Report to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, March 19, 2013).

Tourism is a sensitive sector by nature and the illegal Separation Wall as well as the volatile security situation have suffocated our tourism sector, but not to the point where it has disappeared. Instead of buckling under to Israeli-invoked actions aimed at our de-development, our tourism sector has turned to the domestic tourism market and to alternative tourism products, including political, rural and experiential tourism, to keep going.

Our laborers who work in Israel are the untold saga of our five-decade old economic reality. These are the nameless and faceless who put their health, their family relations, and even their lives at risk to cross Israeli checkpoints in the early morning hours, day after day, returning home long after nightfall and after a back-breaking workday to find their children sound asleep. These Palestinian workers, if given the opportunity for decent livelihoods in their own communities, would be the first to benefit from fuller employment opportunities in Palestine.

Looking forward

Together with colleagues, as a group of Palestinian private sector stakeholders, we are seeking new, creative and sustainable ways to more significantly challenge our reality. We are exploring how to put our capital, knowhow and efforts into business opportunities that would employ a critical mass of Palestinians. Yes – we are aiming for a critical mass of jobs under military occupation. That is our challenge because this is our reality.

We fully respect and would never belittle, under any circumstances, the many small-scale projects that hire a few persons here and there. In fact, we work in that domain every day and will continue to do so. However, we see that the scale of these projects involving a low number of employment opportunities will only keep us behind the curve, despite the fanfare they typically receive.

We have set for ourselves a goal, to come up with 3-5 new business opportunities—structured either for-profit or as social enterprises—to research, each of which will have the potential to hire 100 or more persons located in one or more locations in Palestine. Our hope is that those reading this will come forward with new idea, market connections, actual business opportunities, and the like. We stand ready to invest where needed, train where needed, and manage where qualified to do so.

So, addressing all of you who yearn to assist Palestinians in their non-violent struggle for freedom and independence: We are placing this challenge in front of you, too. Help us conceptualize real business opportunities, that will serve real markets, that will employ real Palestinians and will place real bread on the table. Send your ideas via http://www.aim.ps/contact_us.html.

Sam Bahour, Managing Partner of Applied Information Management in Ramallah and chairman of Americans for a Vibrant Palestinian Economy. He blogs at epalestine.com. Follow Sam Bahour @SamBahour

Nisreen Musleh, Managing Director of Ritaj Managerial Solutions in Ramallah and vice chairwoman of the Palestinian Trainers’ Association. Follow Nisreen Musleh @nisreen_musleh

Originally posted AT

THE STAR OF OPPRESSION

The “Jewish State” has managed it to exploit its “right for self-defense” so that such violence licenses Zionist state terror regime to get away with anything. In all its wars of aggression, pre-emptive attacks, targeted homicides and raids, the Jewish State has abrogated international law including human rights. Is this the “Jewish ethics” the propaganda talks about? 

The “Jewish State” – a symbol of terror!

By Evelyn Hecht-Galinski,  English Translation – Milena Rampoldi

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Let us imagine the following scenario: Syrian, Lebanese, Turkish, Russian, or Iranian jets carry out surveillance flights over the “Jewish State.” The hypocritical world community would be up in arms and rush to support the “threatened” Jewish State. Since the Zionist regime has special rights at an international level and is allowed to violate all rules with impunity, a war could break out, and this war would be tolerated by the “world community.”
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The “Jewish State” has managed it to exploit its “right for self-defense” so that such violence licenses Zionist state terror regime to get away with anything. In all its wars of aggression, pre-emptive attacks, targeted homicides and raids, the Jewish State has abrogated international law including human rights. Is this the “Jewish ethics” the propaganda talks about? I cannot love a state, and I cannot love the “Jewish” State. How can you see something positive in a State that oppresses, denigrates, and ethnically cleanses Palestinians from even before its foundation, and maintains its policy of continues with this reason of state of the judaisation. For this reason we are forced to support Israel’s “security” which permits its policy of violating international law and human rights. Have we learnt absolutely nothing from history?  Can anyone claim they knew nothing about it!
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And the new political situation, the right-wing parties gaining strength in Europe, from France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Poland, Hungary, Austria, and perhaps the future Kurz-Coalition, and the AfD in Germany, make the situation even worse. What do they all have in common? They support Jews and the “Jewish State”, and they struggle against the  alleged “Islamisation” of the “Christian Occident.” The increase of this terrifying policy is reached when right-wing and traditional German parties read from the same page.
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Russia is informed about the air strike against Syria, as it was the case on 7 September, when the Israeli Air Force had attacked a military plant in Hama. In the German media we read the justification of Israel,  based on the motto that “good” bombs are allowed to attack a Syrian chemistry plant of the “bad” Assad regime and to kill to Syrian soldiers. These attacks are part of a countless number, and one of the most sensational was the attack of 7 June 1981, when the IDF destroyed an Iraqi research plant near Bagdad. Not to speak of the regular strikes against Hezbollah convoys, and of drone attacks in Lebanon. What would have happened, if it was “Jewish defense soldiers” killed by Syrian fighter jets? Western value hypocrites would have condemned such barbarous acts and supported the Zionist regime.
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When Star of David jets attack an alleged chemistry plant, it is ok, and no journalists or politicians question such violations against international law, and the violation are not worth talking about in the State news of ARD. While in the news will discuss football and car racing, it will fail to mention how the “Jewish Defense Army” launches its attacks from the illegally occupied region territory. This is a deliberate, misleading, and brainwashing of the people.
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This “special” relationship stylizes the “Jewish Occupation State” as a “light among the peoples” and an illuminating model for questions about security, defense, and integration of refugees. In his new book Ilan Pappe describes this state as the “biggest prison” in the world. This State can act in a total freedom, can break all rules, and can continue its land grabbing, its occupation, the negation of international law and can be sure to get the support by the community of states. At the first front there is U.S. president Trump, the most dangerous of all U.S. presidents who actively supports this kind of policy. Trump threatens other countries and puts the world in danger of a third World War. Then you can be sure of one thing: Netanyahu will be his fan and supporter, and racism and Zionism will be their common objectives, even if they represent a big risk for the peace of this world.
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This risk is further increased by Trump who wants to destroy the tediously negotiated nuclear deal with Iran because he considers it a “bad deal” with a shameful state. In addition, Trump today threatens North Korea with “total” destruction. However, when you listen to his claim to put an end to the “bad” nuclear deal with Iran, you know very well who are his “whisperers.” And if you read certain Israeli newspapers and think thanks for the Netanyahu regime’s annulment of this deal, you should understand that is not enough because Israel wants to prepare an independent military attack against Iran to destroy the Iranian nuclear infrastructure by the use of all kinds of force and with “determination and creativity.” For many years this policy of pretension to power has been the result produced by Zionist “thought leaders” like, at the first front, the Bar-Ilan university, the Begin Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA Centre) or the Israel Project. Terms like occupation, nakba, cluster bombs, and Sharon’s slaughter festivity in Lebanon, the genocide in Gaza have been declared taboo. Also the countless verbal pirouettes which pursue the goal to let the occupation and the crimes under international criminal law disappear from the media are produced by these scientifically accompanied Israel lobby thought leaders. They ruthlessly exploit Holocaust comparisons, so as to demonize critics of the Israeli policy as anti-Semites. So they have successfully transformed peaceful states like Iran which has never attacked another country into demonized Holocaust players, and fighters of Hezbollah and Hamas, opposed to the occupation under international criminal law, are called terrorist organizations. This week, the Israeli war minister Lieberman will meet the Russian and US defense ministers to put them back on track. He wants to induce his US colleague Mattis to more actively engage in the struggle against Iran and in the Syrian war, because the Netanyahu regime considers itself as being “surrounded by enemies” (Iran, Turkey, Russia, Hezbollah, and Hamas!). It is also more than plausible that the Netanyahu regime and its co-puppet masters are behind the Qatar crises to weaken the big sponsor of Hamas in Gaza, Qatar.
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As a consequence, also the newly proclaimed unity between Fatah and Hamas has to be seen with some skepticism because it is a reconciliation agreement which will not have any sustainability. In the end, Hamas is completely right when it says that only the armed resistance can end the illegal occupation of Palestine, and that of course it will not accept to dissolve the Qassam brigades. As long as Palestinian President Abbas who contributed to all this to extremely worsen the situation in the occupation Gaza Strip even by encouraging the Jewish occupation power to cut electricity and by thinking of other harassments to overthrow Hamas. He acted based on the model of the Western “alliance of values” like in Egypt, Ukraine, Venezuela, just to mention some examples of (tried) regime changes. If now in the Gaza Strip Fatah will come back to power, this cannot go well in the long run. Only free elections would help both in the Gaza Strip and in the illegally occupied West Bank. Of course, this would be unconceivable for the Netanyahu regime because in that case it would have to negotiate with a legitimate Palestinian head of government and not with the legitimated collaborationist president Abbas who will do all in his power to avoid these elections because he would not win them.
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Alternatives would be Mohammed Dahlan, the former chief of the secret services of Fatah and Abbas’ mortal enemy, and Marwan Barghouti the “Palestinian Mandela,” in “eternal” Israeli solitary confinement, and symbol of the resistance against the occupation of Palestine! However, this is a dream worth fighting for, even if it is unconceivable thanks to the “Jewish occupiers’ regime.” Finally, Netanyahu does not want to recognize a Palestinian unity government in which Hamas co-governs. A small glimmer of hope is on horizon that Egypt as mediator will open the border crossing blocked on the Egyptian side, so to allow freedom to the imprisoned people of Gaza to leave their distress in the concentration camp. The “coup Pharaoh” al-Sisi pursues the goal to extend his power and to control the Sinai region.
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While the “Jewish State,” with all its Zionist power, has been trying for decades now to avoid the foundation of a Palestinian state, the Netanyahu regime was immediately ready to recognize “Kurdistan.” Imagine Netanyahu arming the Kurds to cause a further destabilization in the region. Probably this is exactly in the interests of the “Jewish State.”
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These new political constellations and power relations in the USA, Europe, and Germany may give cause for concern. Trump and Netanyahu are the embodiment of terror, and their common withdrawal from the UNESCO to protest against the alleged “Israel hostility” is ridiculous, if you consider that even calling the “Jewish State” an “occupation  power” is said to be anti-Semitic.
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However, it is extremely questionable whether the UNESCO President Audrey Azouley, the Moroccan-French Jewish woman, and former French minister of culture, proposed by Manuel Valls, will try to keep Palestine on the agenda. Azoulay narrowly beat Qatar’s Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari in the final 30-28 vote, after his being defamed as anti-Semite. And probably in spite of this “Jewish presidency” the U.S. and Israel will not revert their withdrawal. However, the USA still owes UNESCO 500 million US-Dollars.
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This “Jewish State” as “symbol of terror” cannot be internationally supported anymore. The BDS is an important objective in the struggle for a free Palestine.
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Originally posted AT

HOW THE ISRAELI LOBBY IS ASSAULTING OUR FREEDOM OF SPEECH

The First Amendment squarely protects the right to boycott. Lately, though, a legislative assault on that right has been spreading through the United States –  designed to stamp out constitutionally protected boycotts of Israel…

The First Amendment is Under Serious Assault in Order to Stifle Anti-Israel Boycotts

Assaults on freedom speech can be found in many aspects of American life these days, but one specific area that isn’t getting the attention it deserves relates to boycotts against Israel. Increasingly, we’re seeing various regional governments requiring citizens to agree to what essentially amounts to a loyalty pledge to a foreign government in order to participate in or receive government services.

I’m going to highlight two troubling examples of this, both covered by Israeli paper Haaretz. The first relates to Kansas.

From the article, In America, the Right to Boycott Israel Is Under Threat:

The First Amendment squarely protects the right to boycott. Lately, though, a legislative assault on that right has been spreading through the United States –  designed to stamp out constitutionally protected boycotts of Israel…

Over the past several years, state and federal legislatures have considered dozens of bills, and in some cases passed laws, in direct violation of this important ruling. These bills and laws vary in numerous respects, but they share a common goal of scaring people away people from participating in boycotts meant to protest Israeli government policies, including what are known as Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns.

Today, the ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging one of those laws — a Kansas statute requiring state contractors to sign a statement certifying that they do not boycott Israel, including boycotts of companies profiting off settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

We are representing a veteran math teacher and trainer from Kansas who was told she would need to sign the certification statement in order to participate in a state program training other math teachers. Our client is a member of the Mennonite Church USA. In response to calls for boycott by the church and members of her congregation, she has decided not to buy consumer goods and services offered by Israeli companies and international companies operating in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Our client is boycotting to protest the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians and to pressure the government to change its policies.

Earlier this year, our client was selected to participate as a contractor in a statewide training program run by the Kansas Department of Education. She was excited to use her skills to help train math teachers throughout the state, but when she was presented with a form requiring her to certify that she “is not currently engaged in a boycott of Israel,” she told the state that she could not sign the form in good conscience. As a result, the state refuses to let her participate in the program.

Kansas’s law, and others like it, violates the Constitution. The First Amendment prohibits the government from suppressing one side of a public debate. That means it cannot impose ideological litmus tests or loyalty oaths as a condition on hiring or contracting.

If this was the only example of such behavior, I suppose we could dismiss it as a one-off, misguided directive. Unfortunately, this sort of thing is far more common than any of us would like to admit.

Here’s another recent example, from the article, Houston Suburb Won’t Give Hurricane Relief to Anyone Who Boycotts Israel:

A Houston suburb will not approve grants to repair homes or businesses damaged in Hurricane Harvey if the applicant supports boycotting Israel.

The city of Dickinson’s application form for storm damage repair funding includes a clause stating that “By executing this Agreement below, the Applicant verifies that the Applicant: (1) does not boycott Israel; and (2) will not boycott Israel during the term of this Agreement.”

No other clauses about political affiliations or beliefs are included in the form.

The state of Texas passed a law in May banning state entities from contracting with businesses that boycott Israel. The law, one of 21 passed in states around the country in the past few years, has been criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union as unconstitutional.

This is totally insane. I don’t care what you think about Israel, the above is completely unacceptable in a free society and we should all be making a stink about it. Please share with friends and family.

HELP CHILDREN PAVE THE WAY TO PEACE IN ISRAEL

NEVER SAY NEVER!

This is definitely an institution worth supporting ….. click HERE for details

Hand in Hand Learning together Living together | יד ביד يداً بيد

The story of Hand in Hand pioneering schools, almost the only bilingual ones in Israel, and the joint Arab – Jewish communities surrounding them.

TWO MUST WATCH VIDEOS ABOUT THE PALESTINIAN CATASTROPHE

The year 1948 saw the establishment of the state of Israel, the culmination of generations of Jewish persecution across Europe and Russia. But that same year proved catastrophic for the Palestinians — 700,000 to 900,000 men, women and children were forced to leave their homes and never allowed to return. 1948 was the most pivotal year in the most controversial conflict in the world, but it is almost never mentioned on American television, radio, or newspaper stories. This documentary aims to change that.

1948: Creation & Catastrophe

This is just a trailer for the film …. you MUST seek it out and watch in full

 

AL NAKBA: The Palestinian Catastrophe 1948

 Arguably the first film that seriously tackles the historical events that lead to the creation of 750.000 Palestinian refugees at the end of the first Arab-Israeli war of 1948. Based on historian Benny Morris’ book “The birth of the Palestinian refugee problem, 1947-49”.

VIDEO OF THE DAY ~~ ‘GOOD RIDDANCE ISRAEL!’

The U.S. and Israel are pulling out of UNESCO over what they call an ‘anti-Israel bias,’ but the move may actually underscore their bias towards basic Palestinian rights. Meanwhile, Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas have reached a new unity deal.

Why UN should say “good riddance” to Israel

Related post (Click on link)

Trump puts Israel first with UNESCO withdrawal

WOMEN OFFER HOPE FOR PEACE IN THE DESERT

The march by Israeli and Palestinian women, demanding that both peoples’ leaders do more for peace, was set to culminate with a protest outside Netanyahu’s residence.

Women from the ‘Women Wage Peace’ movement and Palestinians take part in a march near the Jordan River, in the West Bank on Oct 8, 2017. The peace journey was created in order to pressure decision makers to work towards reaching a viable peace agreement. Photo by Flash90

Thousands of Israeli, Palestinian women ‘wage peace’ in the desert

Thousands of Israeli and Palestinian women marched through the West Bank along the Dead Sea on Sunday, part of more than two weeks of a “Journey to Peace” by an organization called Women Wage Peace.

The march, which was held under the banner, “We’re not stopping without an agreement,” was meant to culminate with a protest outside the Israeli Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem later Sunday evening.

Smaller events have been taking place throughout Israel and Palestine for the past two weeks.

Last year a similar march was held in the same area near Jericho. In 2015, Women Wage Peace fasted (in shifts) outside the Israeli Prime Minister’s Residence for 50 days, to mark one year since the 2014 Gaza war.

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More photos at SOURCE

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Reuters also reports …..

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Women march through desert for Israeli-Palestinian peace

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Culminating in this

(Click on link)

Giant women’s peace rally calls for ending conflict

30,000 people attend Women Wage Peace rally in J’lem; sidestepping specifics, they call for end to hostilities through any mutual political accord; bereaved father and former MK Shnaan: ‘Stop terrorism and stop occupation. Let’s live for memory of our fallen and children that still remain.’

AMERICAN LEGISLATION IS PROPELLED BY UNFOUNDED ANTI PALESTINIAN PROPAGANDA

The Taylor Force Act is based on smoke and mirrors. I would not lose any sleep if Congress totally stopped funding the Palestinian Authority. It would not make daily life easier under occupation, but maybe it would wake up enough American leaders to see the absurdity of their being dragged around like a flock of sheep by their Israeli herder.

Israeli police officers and Palestinians scuffle during clashes in an east Jerusalem neighborhood in this Sept. 8 file photo after Israeli officials evicted a Palestinian family from their home to make way for Jewish tenants, according to the Associated Press.(Mahmoud Illean, Associated Press)

The sadly misnamed Taylor Force Act is being propelled by unfounded anti-Palestinian propaganda

By Sam Bahour

On March 9, 2016, a 29-year-old American graduate student, Taylor Force, was tragically murdered in the Israeli city of Jaffa. Mr. Force was killed by a 22-year-old Palestinian named Bashar Masalha. There is no way for anyone to know what this crime’s motivation was because Israeli security personnel shot dead the perpetrator on the scene.

In any other place on earth, the victim would be mourned, the perpetrator condemned, prayers would be sent to both families, and life would go on. But not in Israel, where in minutes Israeli leaders blamed the Palestinian leadership for the incident, which took place under total Israeli security, legal and national jurisdiction.

More than a year and a half later, new U.S. legislation is in Congress. The legislation aims to cut U.S. funding to the Palestinian Authority if it does not stop paying annual stipends to the families of those either killed by Israeli security forces or imprisoned in Israel.

With so much happening stateside, one would think that the U.S. Congress had its hands full this fall, and could, just for a moment, leave the Palestinians alone. We could only be so lucky. Rather, Congress is at it again, attempting to punish the people who have been struggling under Israeli military occupation for 50 years and counting.

The new piece of legislation, sadly named The Taylor Force Act, advanced through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this summer. Additionally, it has just been included in the U.S. foreign operations budget measure slated for a vote in December. Embedding the measure into a broader legislative package is aimed at giving it a second path to passage.

By naming the bill The Taylor Force Act, the presumption is that Congress has bought–hook, line and sinker–the Israeli propaganda that the Palestinian Authority was somehow responsible for the death of Mr. Force, albeit the substance of the bill is about something totally different. Such a presumption is not only utterly false, but after being made so many times by Congress, it smells like the witch hunt against Palestinians that it is.

U.S. legislators will not hear both sides of this story. No mention will be made in the argument on the Hill about this murder taking place inside Israel, where Israel is 100 percent responsible for security. The Palestinian Authority has no jurisdiction, whatsoever, in Jaffa. Additionally, no hint will be made of Israel’s 50-year military occupation of neighboring Palestinians.

Although the specific Act addresses a single Palestinian Authority financial line item whose amount is unclear in general, the magnitude of U.S. tax dollars being dumped into the conflicting parties is many times ignored.

Israel has been receiving U.S. financial assistance since its founding in 1948.

“Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II,” according to a 2016 Congressional Research Service report. The total military and financial aid to Israel exceeds $3 billion annually, the largest recipient in the planned $25.4 billion U.S. foreign assistance budget for the 2018 fiscal year.

On the other hand, the Palestinian Authority came into existence in 1994. It, too, has received U.S. financial assistance since its inception, today receiving less than $400 million annually, excluding U.S. funds going to support the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which is not part of the Palestinian Authority’s jurisdiction.

Inside the Washington, D.C., beltway, Palestinians can’t win no matter what they do. They simply don’t have the funds, political clout, organizing ability, leadership and lobbying savvy to make a dent in the U.S. Congress.

As an American, born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio, I wish to ask the Palestinian leadership a simple question. Do you really need the U.S. funds? Of course, having more funds is always desirable, but in this case the funds are so small in the bigger picture, wouldn’t it make more sense to kindly ask the U.S. Congress to keep its money, all of it?

Given the blind battering of the Palestinian Authority by both sides of the congressional aisle, and given the fact that U.S. funds to Palestinians come with so many strings attached, wouldn’t it make sound political and public relations sense to relieve yourselves from all the negative publicity every few years?

The Taylor Force Act is based on smoke and mirrors. I would not lose any sleep if Congress totally stopped funding the Palestinian Authority. It would not make daily life easier under occupation, but maybe it would wake up enough American leaders to see the absurdity of their being dragged around like a flock of sheep by their Israeli herder.

Sadly, this legislation is carrying Mr. Taylor Force’s name. Instead of him resting in peace, there are those who are taking joy in being able to drag his memory through this political debate. I don’t.

Originally written FOR

WHAT JEWISH HOLIDAYS MEAN TO PALESTINIANS

Closures for Jewish and Israeli holidays are a routine procedure.

Israeli security forces at the Qalandiya checkpoint near Ramallah (Flash90)

Israel set to put West Bank, Gaza under 11-day closure for Sukkot

Exceptionally long closure comes after Har Adar attack; defense minister dismisses as ‘nonsense’ TV report he overruled army’s recommendation

In a rare move, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman approved a plan to shut off the West Bank and Gaza Strip for 11 days for the Sukkot holiday and the following Shabbat, his office said Sunday.

An IDF spokesperson confirmed that this was the current decision. However, she stressed that the closure was subject to further assessments ahead of the holiday and could change.

Closures for Jewish and Israeli holidays are a routine procedure. However, in the past, Israel has shut down the West Bank and Gaza only at the start and end of week-long festivals like Sukkot, rather than for the entire holiday.

As the holiday ends on the evening of October 11 — a Wednesday — the closure is scheduled to last through the weekend, until midnight on October 14, for a total of 11 days.

Channel 2 news reported that Liberman’s decision went against a recommendation by the army and was due to pressure by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, following the deadly stabbing attack at the Har Adar settlement last week in which a Palestinian terrorist shot and killed three security officers and wounded a fourth.

The defense minister’s office dismissed the unsourced report as “nonsense,” and the army similarly denied the claim.

According to both the minister’s and an army spokesperson, since the Har Adar attack, the IDF’s stance has been in favor of a closure for the entire holiday.

The military said that prior to the Har Adar terror attack, it did advocate closing the West Bank and Gaza for only the first and last days of the holiday, but that assessment changed after the attack.

Liberman’s spokesperson said that the new “recommendation was accepted by the defense minister.”

In general, the Jewish high holiday season, which began last week with Rosh Hashanah, is seen by defense officials as a time period of increased tension in the region, when the risk of terror attacks is higher.

Ordinarily, tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank enter Israel and Israeli settlements for work each day. A far smaller number of Gaza residents also travel to Israel, mostly to receive medical treatment.

The IDF makes exceptions to the closures for humanitarian and other outstanding cases, based on assessments by the Defense Ministry’s Civil Administration.

West Bank and Gaza closures for holidays are intended both to prevent attempts at terror attacks in Israel during the holiday period and to allow the Israeli security officials who operate the crossings to celebrate the festival.

A similar closure was imposed on Friday and Saturday for Yom Kippur and last week, for Rosh Hashanah.

The above brings to mind a poem that I wrote 13 years ago ….

MY FAMILY IS DIVIDED  

By Steve Amsel 

 

A wall has been built,

I cannot see my neighbor

I know not when he needs my help

I know not when he is hungry.

 

My brother’s child cannot come for an afternoon snack

I cannot bring it to him

The wall is in the way

Dividing families and loved ones.

 

“They” told us the wall is for protection.

From what?

Must our children go hungry?

Must we be jobless?

 

“They” say we are the enemy.

Is going to work a crime?

Is going to school a crime?

Try to tell a child that hunger is a good thing.

 

If the wall stays up

There will be an enemy

Uneducation and hunger leads to resentment

Resentment will lead to revolt.

 

Learn from your history my friends

Learn that walls are not the solution

Learn that unity is strength

And learn that justice triumphs over evil always.

 

TRUTH, JUSTICE AND THE PALESTINIAN WAY

A poem about Truth and other thoughts from Palestine

TRUTHS

By Mazin Qumsiyeh

Truths became fragile outcasts
drowned refugees denied even their pasts
or those refugees silenced
by Zionist media murdered
Orphaned and denied futures
Tortured and robbed of cultures
kept behind ghetto walls
taboo subjects in conference halls
truths sinking?
rapidly shrinking?
becoming nameless?
faceless
powerless
mentionless
lies multiply?
occupy
people’s minds
flash that blinds
polarising
colonizing
calcified hearts
broken in parts
Standing with the persecuted truths
we are hunted by mean untruths
But it is our solemn option
to offer orphan truths’ adoption

Though numerous… all lies end
Truths return and never bend
truths humble and meek but remain here
loud for those who want or wish to hear
you can see them, hear them, taste them
feel them and know them
In helping a hungry child smile
in walking the extra mile
in a shared simple meal
in every emotion we feel
in a sparkle in a student’s eye
in the pain that we cry
in a lover’s embrace
in a friend’s grace
in generous giving
in gracious receiving
in never tiring
of true loving

*

I wish that the US and the Western governments take care of their people in
need.  Instead of legislating to help Puerto Rico, the Israeli occupied US
Congress is trying to be an even more obedient "house slave" for the
Zionist masters by imposing more penalties on Hizballah (Lebanon) and Iran
and pushing for yet another devastating war (just like they did in Somalia,
Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Libya). Bernard Levy, the Jewish Zionist instigator
of the mayhem in Libya was in Northern Iraq building Zionist relationships
with the Kurdish region and instigating for dividing Iraq like the Zionists
did in Sudan. Other Zionists pour illegally acquired money in illegal
Jewish settlements and the largest terrorist organization in the world -
the Israeli army. Dividing the world and creating hatred and wars has been
a key pillar of global Zionist machinery for decades*. It is the old
colonial strategy of divide and conquer. As always many reject divisions
while some fall into this trap. Time to look in the mirror and time to turn
the tables. Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria are waking up. China and
Russia are finally showing some backbone. Even new understandings and
alliances are being forged against the wishes of the puppet masters. For
the sake of humanity, it is time to end the hate, the divisions and
conflicts.  The key to peace will be from here in Palestine. Once the
notion of a sectarian ("Jewish") state is abandoned, we transform to a
state of all its people, secular and democratic. It would have the ripple
effect of peace throughout the Arab world. Radical Islamists trying to
imitate Israel by having an Islamic state will no longer have a footing or
an excuse.

US Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel denounces racistposter campaign 
trying to silence truth tellers [In my opinion they should
sue these racist Zionists for defamation]


The Palestine exception to free speech


EDWARD SAID writing in 1993 with amazing foresight telling the truth that
should be read by all who had the Oslo delusion (“two state” road) then and
those who still have it now


*Ex-CIA official: America's Jews Are Driving U.S. Wars

A CONTINUING LOVE FEST IN ISRAEL

Won’t you be my neighbour?

I have written about the neighbourhood I live in many times … It is truly an oasis of peace, literally surrounded by hatred and walls. Hopefully, one day it will become the norm in Israel …

NEVER SAY NEVER!

The following appeared in The Times of Israel yesterday …. it’s really a must read and very inspirational.

French Hill is a community of like-minded dwellers — a collection of people who want to live together in cookie-cutter Israeli apartment buildings surrounding a simple shopping center that includes a supermarket, bank, pizza parlor, hummus joint and café.

A view over French Hill, a Jerusalem neighborhood that’s attracted a mix of residents (Courtesy Lagur)

From Arab to Orthodox, Chinese to Korean, it’s love thy neighbor in French Hill

The northern Jerusalem neighborhood is home to a spectacularly diverse community, living in even more remarkable harmony

*

When Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat made a deal recently with ultra-Orthodox politicians to funnel Haredi growth to certain parts of the city, French Hill was not mentioned.

The decision to keep ultra-Orthodox institutions out of French Hill, a staunchly secular area just a stone’s throw from some of the city’s most religious enclaves, was no accident.

Situated next to Mount Scopus at the northern end of the city, the neighborhood has long been a secular Jewish stronghold, as well as home to a thriving Masorti Conservative synagogue, a Modern Orthodox contingent, a Christian Korean community, and, in recent years, Arab Israeli and Druze families who relocated from Israel’s north to Jerusalem for professional reasons. There is a small ultra-Orthodox community too — “ultra-Orthodox who work,” said one of its members — but no major ultra-Orthodox institutions, schools or synagogues.

Walking distance to Hebrew University’s hilltop campus and one of the city’s two Hadassah hospitals, the area has been a prime residential choice for decades for native and transplanted Jerusalemites alike.

Still, the mix of residents in this quiet, unassuming neighborhood is nothing short of remarkable, given the tense, often explosive interactions between people of all sorts in the tinderbox that is Jerusalem.

French Hill isn’t removed from the intensity evident elsewhere in the city. The neighborhood, built in 1967 following the Six Day War, is flanked by several Arab villages and abuts a major traffic intersection that connects northern Jerusalem with roads to Maale Adumim in the West Bank and the Dead Sea, as well as the Palestinian neighborhood of Shuafat.

The intersection has been the site of 11 terror attacks in the last 15 years.

The ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods of Ramat Shlomo, Ma’alot Dafna and Ramat Eshkol are also just across that intersection.

And yet, say residents, French Hill is a community of like-minded dwellers — a collection of people who want to live together in cookie-cutter Israeli apartment buildings surrounding a simple shopping center that includes a supermarket, bank, pizza parlor, hummus joint and café.

“It’s a kibbutz around here,” said Merav Elbaz, who grew up in French Hill and now serves on the local community council. “It’s a neighborhood in every sense of the word.”

The Conservative congregation is strong, and so is the Arab community, said Rabbi Haya Baker, who has headed French Hill’s 25-year-old Ramot Zion Conservative synagogue for the last decade.

“It’s mixed in ways that I can’t even describe,” said Baker, whose synagogue welcomes nonreligious families to take part in the life of the congregation.

It’s that amalgam of people from different backgrounds that drew Suzanne Shihadih and her husband, originally from the northern Arab town of Sakhnin, when they were looking for a Jerusalem neighborhood in which to raise their young family.

“There were others who came before us, and that made it easier,” she said. “We always thought we’d go back to Sakhnin, but it’s more comfortable for us here.”

Shihadih is a teacher, her husband is an attorney, and they felt instantly comfortable in French Hill, surrounded by young families, both Arab and Jewish, who were a lot like them.

“We’re not Jewish and we’re not East Jerusalemites,” said Shihadih. “We feel like we belong here.”

It’s uncommon for Arabic speakers to live in a primarily Jewish Jerusalem neighborhood, commented Adam Shay, a Jewish resident of the neighborhood who is also a transplant from the country’s center. But it works in French Hill.

“They’re a very upwardly mobile crowd,” said Shay, referring to his Arab friends. “They’re lawyers and accountants, academics. Some are Druze, some are Christian or Muslim, and I’m not always sure who’s what. They want to live in a bilingual society, and they’re not East Jerusalemites, either,” referring to Arab residents from East Jerusalem, whose complicated residency status in the state of Israel sets them apart from their fellow Palestinians and from Arab citizens of Israel.

Better together

The various French Hill populations lived peacefully but separately alongside one another for years, until November 2014, when a fire was set in one of the classrooms of Hand in Hand, the bilingual Arabic-Hebrew school in Pat, a neighborhood on the other side of Jerusalem.

That night, a group of French Hill neighbors sat together at a local café feeling utterly depressed at the latest turn of events.

“We were all horrified,” said Shay. “Burning a school has nothing to do with politics, and that was something we all agreed upon at the table, even though we are a mix of people from different backgrounds and beliefs.”

They began discussing various kinds of efforts that could refute what had just taken place. Arabic classes for the kids were one idea, given that the local Arab population of children attended the local Jewish public school, but had little access to any kind of Arab curriculum.

In the end the group decided to organize an event that December at the local community center, combining Chanukah and Christmas with a menorah and tree, with one of the dads dressed as Santa Claus.

The activity was all about the kids, with zero religious debate or discussion, said Shay. “We have shared interests, we want a good education and for our kids to be happy.”

In the midst of the festivities, however, four men from Im Tirtzu, the right-wing Zionist organization, burst in, filming the event and announcing that everyone in the room supported terror.

Shay, thinking quickly, told the kids, “Hey kids, we love to live in the light,” referring to the words of the classic Chanukah song, “We Came to Drive Away the Darkness,” which all the kids joined in singing, drowning out the Im Tirtzu “yobs,” he said.

“It was beautiful and it was at that exact moment that we decided we exist, there’s a reason why we exist, and at the very least, let’s educate our kids to enjoy each other’s presence,” he said.

Following the incident, the committed residents started to call themselves Maan Yahad, a Hebrew and Arabic name meaning “better together.” Nearly three years later, the group is going strong, with close to 200 people, fairly evenly divided between Jews and Arabs. Their events don’t revolve around religious holidays, and if held on Saturdays, they try to exclude any use of music, money or electricity so that the religiously observant Jewish members can still take part.

It’s a mix that works, said Shay. No one needs to be registered in order to participate and anyone can join.

“Our motivation is our kids, and now we’re friends, we’re all there together,” said Shay. “We had 100 people at iftar, the post-Ramadan fast dinner in July, so we said, yalla, let’s get 200 next time.”

This school year, Maan Yahad received a budget from a small foundation, which they’re hoping will allow them to arrange an Arabic course for Hebrew speakers during the daily afterschool program, as well as enrichment classes for the native Arabic speakers, given that language barriers often create the greatest lack of understanding.

“Education is important to us, you need a framework for the kids,” said Shihadih, who sent her elder son to the private American School until third grade, when they switched him to one of the local French Hill public schools. “Without playmates and friends, you can’t do it.”

It feels different now, said Shihadih and Shay, referring to their children’s classes in the same school.

“In my elder daughter’s class, there’s a girl who’s Chinese, one who is French with two mommies, two Arab kids, a Druze kid and a few from Anatot, a Jewish community in the West Bank. Yes, the majority are Israeli Jews, but it’s diverse and it’s beautiful and the first thing you learn as a parent is that kids just don’t care,” he said.

Won’t you be my neighbor?

There has been an influx of some ultra-Orthodox Israelis to the mostly secular neighborhood. And that supposed growth led to a Kan television report in June about how that influx was ostensibly changing the neighborhood.

But the report, said locals, skewed the realities of the neighborhood, purporting to show that the ultra-Orthodox were taking over, jacking up real estate prices, and pushing for better, bigger preschools for their children.

The figures weren’t correct, said Rabbi Baker.

“I don’t know where they were from,” she said. “There isn’t the same amount of ultra-Orthodox kids and non-ultra-Orthodox kids. It’s not even close. There are three times the number of regular preschools in the area.”

According to Nelly Ephrati Artom, a real estate agent with ReMax Vision, there are young Haredi couples buying smaller apartments at the entrance of the neighborhood, given its walking distance to Ramat Eshkol and Givat Hamivtar, two nearby, heavily ultra-Orthodox areas.

“French Hill is a lot cheaper than Ramat Eshkol,” said Artom. “If you get an apartment for NIS 3 million ($852,000) in French Hill, the same size apartment would cost more in Ramat Eshkol.”

French Hill has always been less expensive than Ramat Eshkol, said Artom, given that the latter neighborhood has less available real estate, and fewer buildings overall.

But prices have been rising in French Hill, particularly since the arrival of the light rail that allowed young couples to live there without having to rely on private transportation.

There are also several small, ultra-Orthodox synagogues in the area, held in private homes, said Ephrati, as well as small daycare programs for ultra-Orthodox children, that are also run out of peoples’ private homes.

It isn’t surprising that French Hill caught on with a different crowd, said Artom.

“The population of French Hill has always been highly intellectual, not rich, a lot of professors and Hadassah staff,” she said. “It’s very clean, it’s old-fashioned, and it’s special, it’s like a kibbutz socially, a place where people say “Hi” in the streets.”

It was those characteristics, along with the staunchly secular character, that drew Shulamit Ansbacher and her husband to the area, making them one of the new, young ultra-Orthodox families. Ansbacher is a lawyer who wears a wig for religious reasons, and calls herself a more modern Haredi woman. Her husband is originally from the beach town of Netanya, and it was important to him that they live in a mixed community.

“It was important to us that we teach that to our kids,” she said. “Not everything has to be the way you live. In order to live in the world, you have to learn how to deal with others.”

The Hill, as the locals call it, is an unusual place, said Ansbacher.

“It’s interesting here,” she said. “It even has a reform synagogue,” referring to the Masorti congregation Ramot Zion, and using the incorrect but typical Hebrew slang term for any non-Orthodox synagogue. “But while there’s this discussion about the ultra-Orthodox taking over the neighborhood, that’s not what we talk about around here.”

Her family has changed the balance in their building, as a family with young children, and it’s been a positive shift for the neighbors, said Ansbacher. Yet she doesn’t want French Hill to become Ramat Eshkol, the nearby neighborhood that did become completely ultra-Orthodox.

“I think Haredim won’t come here if we’re this kind of ultra-Orthodox here,” said Ansbacher. “We’re ultra-Orthodox who work, like everyone else. We don’t threaten anyone. I don’t feel antagonism from anyone here,” she said.

She would love to have an ultra-Orthodox school in the neighborhood. Her daughters go to school in Rehavia, a 20-30 minute drive in morning traffic and her sons are in Neve Yaakov, another Jewish settlement just north of the city.

“A Haredi school would be great, but it would freak people out,” she noted. “There are nuances among Haredi schools that the secular don’t know about, they think it’s just one type of Haredi, so it’s threatening. But I think I’d also feel threatened.”

The religious people who live in French Hill don’t want to live in a shtetl, said Shay, referring to the small villages where Jews lived in Eastern Europe before the Holocaust.

“When I barbecue on Shabbat, I let my religious neighbor know that I’m going to be turning on the grill,” he said. “It probably bothers him, but he wouldn’t say anything because that’s French Hill.”

If French Hill residents were to get scared by a relatively small influx of ultra-Orthodox residents, and started to believe the secular dwellers will leave, then that would create a reason to leave, added Elbaz.

“Everyone who’s here wants to be part of what’s happening here,” she said. “The haredization of the city worries us all, but my kids get a lot by living here. There’s an openness here that doesn’t exist in other places.”

*

More photos and video (in Hebrew) at the source

 

REMEMBERING THE MASSACRE AT SABRA AND SHATILLA

The massacre at the Sabra and Shatilla camps is remembered as a notorious chapter in modern Middle Eastern history, clouding the tortured relationships among Israel, the United States, Lebanon and the Palestinians.

Image by Latuff

Sabra and Shatila massacre of 1982 was carried out under the watchful eye of Ariel Sharon. #ButcherOfSabraAndShatila

A Preventable Massacre
By SETH ANZISKA
 *
ON the night of Sept. 16, 1982, the Israeli military allowed a right-wing Lebanese militia to enter two Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut. In the ensuing three-day rampage, the militia, linked to the Maronite Christian Phalange Party, raped, killed and dismembered at least 800 civilians, while Israeli flares illuminated the camps’ narrow and darkened alleyways. Nearly all of the dead were women, children and elderly men.
 *
Thirty years later, the massacre at the Sabra and Shatila camps is remembered as a notorious chapter in modern Middle Eastern history, clouding the tortured relationships among Israel, the United States, Lebanon and the Palestinians. In 1983, an Israeli investigative commission concluded that Israeli leaders were “indirectly responsible” for the killings and that Ariel Sharon, then the defense minister and later prime minister, bore “personal responsibility” for failing to prevent them.
 *
While Israel’s role in the massacre has been closely examined, America’s actions have never been fully understood. This summer, at the Israel State Archives, I found recently declassified documents that chronicle key conversations between American and Israeli officials before and during the 1982 massacre. The verbatim transcripts reveal that the Israelis misled American diplomats about events in Beirut and bullied them into accepting the spurious claim that thousands of “terrorists” were in the camps. Most troubling, when the United States was in a position to exert strong diplomatic pressure on Israel that could have ended the atrocities, it failed to do so. As a result, Phalange militiamen were able to murder Palestinian civilians, whom America had pledged to protect just weeks earlier.
 *
Israel’s involvement in the Lebanese civil war began in June 1982, when it invaded its northern neighbor. Its goal was to root out the Palestine Liberation Organization, which had set up a state within a state, and to transform Lebanon into a Christian-ruled ally. The Israel Defense Forces soon besieged P.L.O.-controlled areas in the western part of Beirut. Intense Israeli bombardments led to heavy civilian casualties and tested even President Ronald Reagan, who initially backed Israel. In mid-August, as America was negotiating the P.L.O.’s withdrawal from Lebanon, Reagan told Prime Minister Menachem Begin that the bombings “had to stop or our entire future relationship was endangered,” Reagan wrote in his diaries.
 *
The United States agreed to deploy Marines to Lebanon as part of a multinational force to supervise the P.L.O.’s departure, and by Sept. 1, thousands of its fighters — including Yasir Arafat — had left Beirut for various Arab countries. After America negotiated a cease-fire that included written guarantees to protect the Palestinian civilians remaining in the camps from vengeful Lebanese Christians, the Marines departed Beirut, on Sept. 10.
 *
Israel hoped that Lebanon’s newly elected president, Bashir Gemayel, a Maronite, would support an Israeli-Christian alliance. But on Sept. 14, Gemayel was assassinated. Israel reacted by violating the cease-fire agreement. It quickly occupied West Beirut — ostensibly to prevent militia attacks against the Palestinian civilians. “The main order of the day is to keep the peace,” Begin told the American envoy to the Middle East, Morris Draper, on Sept. 15. “Otherwise, there could be pogroms.”
 *
By Sept. 16, the I.D.F. was fully in control of West Beirut, including Sabra and Shatila. In Washington that same day, Under Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger told the Israeli ambassador, Moshe Arens, that “Israel’s credibility has been severely damaged” and that “we appear to some to be the victim of deliberate deception by Israel.” He demanded that Israel withdraw from West Beirut immediately.
 *
In Tel Aviv, Mr. Draper and the American ambassador, Samuel W. Lewis, met with top Israeli officials. Contrary to Prime Minister Begin’s earlier assurances, Defense Minister Sharon said the occupation of West Beirut was justified because there were “2,000 to 3,000 terrorists who remained there.” Mr. Draper disputed this claim; having coordinated the August evacuation, he knew the number was minuscule. Mr. Draper said he was horrified to hear that Mr. Sharon was considering allowing the Phalange militia into West Beirut. Even the I.D.F. chief of staff, Rafael Eitan, acknowledged to the Americans that he feared “a relentless slaughter.”
 *
On the evening of Sept. 16, the Israeli cabinet met and was informed that Phalange fighters were entering the Palestinian camps. Deputy Prime Minister David Levy worried aloud: “I know what the meaning of revenge is for them, what kind of slaughter. Then no one will believe we went in to create order there, and we will bear the blame.” That evening, word of civilian deaths began to filter out to Israeli military officials, politicians and journalists.
 *
At 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 17, Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir hosted a meeting with Mr. Draper, Mr. Sharon and several Israeli intelligence chiefs. Mr. Shamir, having reportedly heard of a “slaughter” in the camps that morning, did not mention it.
 *
The transcript of the Sept. 17 meeting reveals that the Americans were browbeaten by Mr. Sharon’s false insistence that “terrorists” needed “mopping up.” It also shows how Israel’s refusal to relinquish areas under its control, and its delays in coordinating with the Lebanese National Army, which the Americans wanted to step in, prolonged the slaughter.
 *
Mr. Draper opened the meeting by demanding that the I.D.F. pull back right away. Mr. Sharon exploded, “I just don’t understand, what are you looking for? Do you want the terrorists to stay? Are you afraid that somebody will think that you were in collusion with us? Deny it. We denied it.” Mr. Draper, unmoved, kept pushing for definitive signs of a withdrawal. Mr. Sharon, who knew Phalange forces had already entered the camps, cynically told him, “Nothing will happen. Maybe some more terrorists will be killed. That will be to the benefit of all of us.” Mr. Shamir and Mr. Sharon finally agreed to gradually withdraw once the Lebanese Army started entering the city — but they insisted on waiting 48 hours (until the end of Rosh Hashana, which started that evening).
Continuing his plea for some sign of an Israeli withdrawal, Mr. Draper warned that critics would say, “Sure, the I.D.F. is going to stay in West Beirut and they will let the Lebanese go and kill the Palestinians in the camps.”
 *
Mr. Sharon replied: “So, we’ll kill them. They will not be left there. You are not going to save them. You are not going to save these groups of the international terrorism.”
 *
Mr. Draper responded: “We are not interested in saving any of these people.” Mr. Sharon declared: “If you don’t want the Lebanese to kill them, we will kill them.”
 *
Mr. Draper then caught himself, and backtracked. He reminded the Israelis that the United States had painstakingly facilitated the P.L.O. exit from Beirut “so it wouldn’t be necessary for you to come in.” He added, “You should have stayed out.”
 *
Mr. Sharon exploded again: “When it comes to our security, we have never asked. We will never ask. When it comes to existence and security, it is our own responsibility and we will never give it to anybody to decide for us.” The meeting ended with an agreement to coordinate withdrawal plans after Rosh Hashana.
 *
By allowing the argument to proceed on Mr. Sharon’s terms, Mr. Draper effectively gave Israel cover to let the Phalange fighters remain in the camps. Fuller details of the massacre began to emerge on Sept. 18, when a young American diplomat, Ryan C. Crocker, visited the gruesome scene and reported back to Washington.
 *
Years later, Mr. Draper called the massacre “obscene.” And in an oral history recorded a few years before his death in 2005, he remembered telling Mr. Sharon: “You should be ashamed. The situation is absolutely appalling. They’re killing children! You have the field completely under your control and are therefore responsible for that area.”
 *
On Sept. 18, Reagan pronounced his “outrage and revulsion over the murders.” He said the United States had opposed Israel’s invasion of Beirut, both because “we believed it wrong in principle and for fear that it would provoke further fighting.” Secretary of State George P. Shultz later admitted that “we are partially responsible” because “we took the Israelis and the Lebanese at their word.” He summoned Ambassador Arens. “When you take military control over a city, you’re responsible for what happens,” he told him. “Now we have a massacre.”
 *
But the belated expression of shock and dismay belies the Americans’ failed diplomatic effort during the massacre. The transcript of Mr. Draper’s meeting with the Israelis demonstrates how the United States was unwittingly complicit in the tragedy of Sabra and Shatila.
 *
Ambassador Lewis, now retired, told me that the massacre would have been hard to prevent “unless Reagan had picked up the phone and called Begin and read him the riot act even more clearly than he already did in August — that might have stopped it temporarily.” But “Sharon would have found some other way” for the militiamen to take action, Mr. Lewis added.
 *
Nicholas A. Veliotes, then the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, agreed. “Vintage Sharon,” he said, after I read the transcript to him. “It is his way or the highway.”
 *
The Sabra and Shatila massacre severely undercut America’s influence in the Middle East, and its moral authority plummeted. In the aftermath of the massacre, the United States felt compelled by “guilt” to redeploy the Marines, who ended up without a clear mission, in the midst of a brutal civil war.
 *
On Oct. 23, 1983, the Marine barracks in Beirut were bombed and 241 Marines were killed. The attack led to open warfare with Syrian-backed forces and, soon after, the rapid withdrawal of the Marines to their ships. As Mr. Lewis told me, America left Lebanon “with our tail between our legs.”
 *
The archival record reveals the magnitude of a deception that undermined American efforts to avoid bloodshed. Working with only partial knowledge of the reality on the ground, the United States feebly yielded to false arguments and stalling tactics that allowed a massacre in progress to proceed.
 *
The lesson of the Sabra and Shatila tragedy is clear. Sometimes close allies act contrary to American interests and values. Failing to exert American power to uphold those interests and values can have disastrous consequences: for our allies, for our moral standing and most important, for the innocent people who pay the highest price of all.
 *
Seth Anziska is a doctoral candidate in international history at Columbia University.
 *
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/Sabra-and-Shatila
*

RACISM HAS BECOME AMERICA’S GREATEST EXPORT

Ben Packer, a US-born rabbi, is helping to push Palestinians out of their homes.

US-born rabbi aids East Jerusalem eviction

Michael F. Brown

Ben Packer, a US-born rabbi, is helping to push Palestinians out of their homes.

Last week, the Shamasneh family was evicted from a house where family members had lived for more than 50 years in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem.

Packer, who runs a hostel in Jerusalem’s Old City, swiftly welcomed the eviction. Writing on Facebook, he statedthat “our guys were there to help move out the Arabs’ stuff and are now helping to guard the property.”

Packer did not respond to a request asking what he meant by the phrase “our guys” and if staff or residents in his hostel – the Jerusalem Heritage House – had assisted the eviction.

Notorious political activist Arieh King – who sits on the Israeli-run Jerusalem City Council – was instrumental in securing the eviction. King regards Palestinians as “squatters” in Jerusalem and, backed by US donors, has been trying to force their removal. The settlement activities which he undertakes are all illegal under international law.

Applauds ethnic cleansing

Ben Packer is an enthusiastic supporter of King’s work.

Another Facebook posting shows Packer applauding Israeli settlers as he marched with them through the Silwanneighborhood of East Jerusalem in August. Among them is Arieh King.

Both Packer and King were celebrating the placing of a new Torah in a synagogue. The synagogue is located in a building that had been seized two years ago from a Palestinian family. Proponents of the seizure argue that Jews owned the property decades ago. Israeli law, however, prohibits Palestinians who similarly own properties in West Jerusalem and elsewhere from returning to them.

This instance of dispossessing Palestinians was by no means isolated. The day after Packer posted his videos, the Israeli authorities instructed several Palestinian families in the Silwan area to collect demolition orders on their homes.

Packer is an admirer of Donald Trump, another man keen to pursue ethnic cleansing. When Trump was elected US president last year, Packer argued that Israel should “fire up the bulldozers” and build more settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Packer has claimed to be a friend of Stephen Miller, now a senior policy adviser to Trump and an instigator of the attempt to stop people from six largely Muslim countries from entering the US. A decade ago, Packer took Miller on a guided tour of Jerusalem and Hebron.

The two men – Packer and Miller – appear to have similar political views.

Miller has a history of coded racism. Many comments he has made since taking up his current job can be considered as sympathetic to white supremacists.

Soft spot for KKK?

Packer’s response to last month’s violence in his home state of Virginia suggests he may have a soft spot for the Ku Klux Klan.

His first posting on Facebook after the clashes between white supremacists and anti-fascists in Charlottesvillewas to claim that “both sides there hate Jews.” That remark was made one day after Heather Heyer was killedwhen a car was driven into a protest against the far-right demonstration.

There is no evidence that Heyer hated Jews. On the contrary, there are numerous character references indicating she was a strong proponent of equal rights for all.

In subsequent postings, Packer gave succor to white supremacists in an apparent reference to neo-Nazis and the KKK.

“These people have no real record of terrorism or anything else,” he argued.

That profoundly ignorant remark was made during a Facebook discussion prompted by Packer’s sharing an article with a headline about how one Orthodox Jew in Israel was “standing with the KKK on Charlottesville.”

Falsehood

In a further falsehood about white supremacist protesters, Packer claimed, “There was no indication of violence by the protesters, only by the counter-protesters and that does not justify preventing their ‘rally.’”

He defended his views by noting, “I’m from the South, I think I know a thing or two.”

His high school civics classes in Virginia must have been woefully inadequate or non-existent.

Any adult who has lived in the South in the last 60 years is aware of the history of racial terror spread by the Klan.

Packer’s comments bear more than a passing resemblance to those of Yair Netanyahu. A son of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, Yair alleged that the anti-fascists in Charlottesville are worse than the neo-Nazis.

The prime minister’s son thinks campaigners against fascism and activists in the Black Lives Matter are getting stronger while the neo-Nazis are “dying out.” Unrebuked by his father, Yair was unable to distinguish between groups supporting equal rights and those who prefer states led by racist supremacists.

Yair has subsequently circulated a cartoon that recycles anti-Semitic tropes. The cartoon suggested that George Soros, a Jewish billionaire, was a puppet-master of Ehud Barak, a long-time rival to Benjamin Netanyahu – and, in effect, controls the world.

The few public figures who defended Yair over the cartoon included the former KKK leader David Duke and Ben Packer. Benjamin Netanyahu, ever-quick to assign anti-Semitic motivations to leftists for speaking on behalf of Palestinian rights, has remained silent on the matter.

It is disturbing that a rabbi would endorse an attempt to score political points by approving an age-old conspiracy theory about Jewish domination.

It is equally disturbing that Packer would indulge the extremists in Charlottesville who chanted “Jews will not replace us.”

Yet the depravity of the relationship between alt-right American racists and alt-right Israeli racists is becoming clearer in the Trump/Netanyahu era with supremacists such as Richard Spencer – a Duke University friend of Miller’s – referring to his pursuit of a “sort of white Zionism.”

In a recent article for the Israeli settler publication Arutz Sheva, Packer wrote about wishing to “send a message.” Opposition to settlement activities in East Jerusalem, he argued, should be “punished” by the building of more settlements.

What that means in practice is that Packer wants to uproot Palestinians and deny their basic rights. Is it any wonder that someone with such an extremist attitude would indulge the KKK?

Having urged supporters to help “work in the Yemenite Village (right outside the Old City),” Packer was recently asked by a Facebook correspondent: “How about you hit up the KKK? You seem to be buddies with them.”

In an unguarded moment, Packer responded: “They’d probably be more helpful than all the liberal losers out there. Let’s be honest.”

Of course, the saddest aspect of Packer’s comment is that both racists on the far right and many “liberals” – particularly in the US Congress – are doing their utmost to dispossess Palestinians.

Packer calls criticism directed at him “fake news” but he has yet to separate himself explicitly from both the racism and the anti-Semitism of the KKK. Like Trump, Packer often appears to be winking at the racist right in the US.

He claims, “Nobody that knows me at all would ever think I support Nazis or any other Jew haters.” That’s his strongest statement to date but it fails to address directly his position on the KKK and it underestimates the disturbing nature of his other posts downplaying the dangers of white supremacists.

Additional research by David Cronin

Israeli settler leader Arieh King observes protests against an eviction he pushed for in occupied East Jerusalem; Ben Packer supported that eviction. (Oren Ziv /ActiveStills)

ICE CREAM AS A ROAD TO PEACE

Five years after teaming up to produce ice cream, Adam Ziv from Kibbutz Sasa and Alaa Sweitat of Galilee village of Tarshiha are now proud owners of successful chain with five stores in northern Israel and Tel Aviv, becoming first Israeli business to win prestigious UN prize.

Adam Ziv (R) and Alaa Sweitat. ‘Reality is reality is the connection between people the way it is created in our stores’ (Photo: Yuval Chen)

Jewish-Arab ice cream business a sweet symbol of coexistence

Shirley Golan

It happened many years ago, but Adam Ziv will never forget how impressed he was by one scoop of caramel ice cream. He was a little boy from a kibbutz who had come to an amusement park as part of his summer camp, and at the end of the visit the children were taken to a hidden ice cream parlor near the park.

“I didn’t even know what caramel was,” he says. “There was no such thing in Kibbutz Sasa, but the name sounded enchanting, and every child was allowed to pick one flavor. So I tried it out, and I fell in love.”

This scoop of ice cream he tasted more than 20 years ago became the first step in a long journey, which recently reached an important milestone: a prize on behalf of the United Nations for helping promote peace. Ziv’s faith in the power of ice cream to bring people closer together apparently convinced the international organization too. It’s what happens when your ice cream is part of a vision of co-existence—a joint Jewish-Arab business.

The prestigious Flourish Prizes were handed out in Cleveland to 17 businesses from all over the world. Ziv, 31, accepted the award together with his business partner over the past five years, 34-year-old Alaa Sweitat, who was born in the Galilee village of Tarshiha and is the owner and chef of the Aluma restaurant.

Sweitat confirms he didn’t hesitate, although ice cream is not part of the Arab street he grew up on. “It doesn’t exist here. There are no ice cream parlors in the villages, and both personally and professionally, I was raised on gourmet food, on a meticulous kitchen,” he says. “But an enthusiastic person arrive, and I decided I felt like doing something new.”

Officially, Sweitat’s partner in the ice cream business is Kibbutz Sasa, which approved Ziv’s financial plan in a vote, and he finds it completely natural too. “At Aluma, I also began as a worker and was promoted to partner with the restaurant’s Jewish owner until I became its owner myself, so a partnership with Jews is nothing unusual as far as I’m concerned. Moreover, it was clear to me that it would provide added value to the village and to the Galilee. I’m delighted every day when Jewish tourists come here and feel at home, because that’s the reception they get here.”

In Buza, like in any other ice cream parlor, the most popular flavor is of course vanilla. But here people can try out unique flavors, according to the available local raw materials.

“Let’s assume that a friend has a lemon tree that bears a lot of fruit on a certain season and he comes over with a box. We’ll make lemon ice cream,” says Ziv, who is responsible for the ice cream production and preparation. “If there’s suddenly a lot of pecan from Sasa’s fields, we’ll make all kinds of flavors with pecan, or with special honey that someone brought over. We also investigate what is happening in the world in this field and renew our flavors accordingly. We enter collaborations with leading chefs like Yonatan Roshfeld, Meir Adoni and Omer Miller, as well as with commercial companies occasionally.

“Personally, my favorite flavor is the roasted pecan with salt and organic maple and our cashew flavor. Alaa prefers the sorbet, for example with lychee from the Galilee and the sabra fruit.”

An ice cream parlor and an investment fund

Two flavors which have been tried out but did not appeal to the Israeli audience are apple sorbet (“most people didn’t even want to taste it, and those who did said it resembled baby fruit puree”) and white chocolate ice cream with ginger and orange zest (“a flavor I was introduced to in the Canary Islands, where it’s very popular,” Ziv says. “I fell in love with it too, but here people wouldn’t even taste it”). On the other hand, the most popular flavor after vanilla is the chocolate and hazelnut ice cream, which is called “Buza cream.”

Unlike Ziv, Sweitat had never dreamed of owning an ice cream business. He connected, however, to Ziv’s vision and spirit of adventurousness, and Buza (the Arabic word for ice cream) was born—ice cream that is produced from the finest products and sold in five locations in northern Israel and in Tel Aviv. And regardless of the wonderful taste of this ice cream, it’s the first Israeli business to win a UN prize.

“When I embarked on my post-army trip, I bought a one-way ticket to Milan with a very clear plan: To play music on the streets, to go from one place to another in Europe and to eat ice cream,” Ziv says. “Six months into the trip, my mother told me she had heard about a project in the Canary Islands—an elderly man who had decided to cross the ocean on a raft and was looking for help. I went there to help him build the raft, and every evening I would have ice cream.

“After several visits to the local ice cream parlor, the owner offered to teach me how to make ice cream and suggested I work there in the evenings. I began doing just that and felt I was in heaven: Next to the sea, playing my music in the evening to people around a bonfire, eating fresh ice cream and feeling good. Shortly afterwards, it suddenly dawned on me and I began asking myself, inspired by that elderly man, how I planned to cross my ocean, what should I do and what do I want to do. I realized that my real dream was not to return to Israel and study music and psychology in order to earn a living, but to open an ice cream parlor with an Arab partner, in an Arab village, in a bid to strengthen the connection between the two people.”

That’s kind of naïve, isn’t it?

“Imagine a summer afternoon, Jewish and Arab parents arriving with their children, nice music playing in the background, the air conditioner is on and the sun is pleasant, and there’s of course good ice cream. What happens? They all sit down and lick their ice cream together. Shortly afterwards, the children start running wild and playing together, the parents look at each other and start talking and getting to know each other, and a sort of natural ‘together’ is created.

“That’s the picture I had in my head, and that’s what’s happening in our store in Tarshiha for five years now. Not to mention the ties created between the employees, who suddenly realize that although they’re members of different religions, they have the same iPhones and the same interests and dreams and plans. It’s beautiful.”

‘Alaa prefers sorbet’

To fulfill his dream, Ziv traveled to Italy to learn about ice cream, its preparation methods and the required machinery for the huge project ahead. He was mostly attracted to gelato, ice cream made of milk and a bit of cream, and dreamed about a transparent kitchen which would allow people visiting the ice cream parlor to experience the preparation process and catch a glimpse of the local and fresh raw materials the ice cream is made of. In the display refrigerator, Ziv wanted to cover the deep ice cream trays with stainless steel lids, to store the products in the finest conditions and offer curious people a surprise experience.

Next, he returned to Israel and began touring Galilee villages in search of the perfect location to fulfill his dream. Following a recommendation from acquaintances, he arrived at the Aluma restaurant and met Sweitat. “Alaa thought about it for a moment and told me it was a good idea and that he had a place for us. We visited it together, and since then—for the past five years—it has been our store, in the center of the village.”

Now with five stores—including a visitors’ center offering tours and workshops in Sasa—50 employees and one important prize, their new dream is to raise money and create a foundation to support other joint businesses.

“We’re doing something which we see as a good thing,” says Ziv. “As far as I’m concerned, reality is the connection between people the way it is created in our stores, and I would like to expand the circle, to be able to offer business support, legal counseling and a financial push for businesses with a similar goal, in a bid to change reality on a wider scale.

“The only way to change attitudes is to communicate. In order to light up the darkness, one must turn on a flashlight. The light we are creating with Buza is probably dim, but it’s a light nonetheless. You come to Tarshiha, stop for ice cream and then enter the supermarket, buy something, meet people, understand that you’re not afraid of them and that you don’t have to be afraid of them. It’s a start.”

 

RANDOM THOUGHTS FROM PALESTINE TO HELP YOU BE HOPEFUL IN BAD TIMES

To be hopeful in bad times
Compiled by Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD


Simple facts that you can get documents for by searching

-The reasons we have high incidence of hurricanes, floods, and other
catastrophe is man made climate change
-The reason we are not doing much about climate change is that there are
greedy individuals who profit from the trends
-We have wars to distract us from the inequalities and injustices and to
make money for a few already very rich people
-There are no just wars. There are understandable and justified resistance
of native people to colonialism
- North Korea watched what the US did in places like Libya (after Libya
ended its nuclear program), in Syria and in Iraq. North Korea learned from
its own history (US committed near genocide in the 1950s) and from these
other attacks and acted in its best interests.
-Israel is not an asset to the US or to any other country but a liability.
It is a country that supported genocide and brutal dictatorships from South
America in the 1970s to Saudi Arabia and Burma/Myanmar today.
-A world Zionist network created Israel and supports it at the cost of
millions of native Arab rights
-An axis of resistance against US and Zionist imperialism does exist and
does have the support of most of the people (e.g. see growth of BDS
movement and public surveys)
-An axis of collaboration, lies, deceit, and murder does exist and has the
support of most of the regimes in the Arab world (e.g. Saudi Arabia,
Emirates, Egypt) as well as regimes in Western countries (US, Britain,
Australia, France)
-Demography has shifted around the world and thus most regimes move to
assert more government controls and less democracy. The best tool for
governments is to use perceived threats (previously communism, now Islam
and terrorism). False flag operations have thus gone dramatically up.
-For people to act is no longer a luxury but an existential need to protect
our species.The last two decades showed that the schemes of the rich and
powerful can delay freedom and damage sustainability. Yet, we the people
can and do succeed. People do make a difference. If you think on all
positive things in human history, they all happened by people acting
positively and challenging status quo or rising up to help those in need.

Apathy is an enemy of progress, action works. We are hopeful because as
Howard Zinn once wrote (and I quoted it in my book “Sharing the Land of
Canaan” in 2004):

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on
the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of
compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in
this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it
destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and
places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this
gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this
spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in
however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future.
The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we
think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us,
is itself a marvelous victory.”

Israel Justice Minister Shaked said the truth loud and clear: Zionism
contradicts human rights, and thus is indeed an ultranationalist,
colonialist and perhaps racist movement


GAZA: 1 MILLION CHILDREN SUFFERING IN 'UNLIVABLE' CONDITIONS
One million Palestinian children are living in dire and deteriorating
conditions due to ongoing power shortages, with many celebrating Eid in the
dark.


As Violence Intensifies, Israel Continues to Arm Myanmar’s Military Junta



Issa Amro, persecuted by Israel, is arrested by PA

ACTION: Free Issa from PA arrest!


 

REVERSING ISRAEL’S DIVIDE AND CONQUER TACTICS

Palestinians are 12 million in number, and stuck in institutional paralysis. The nearly 25-year-old Oslo Peace Process successfully, and sadly, facilitated Israel’s strategic desire to utilize the age-old divide and conquer strategy to reduce Palestinians to disparate fragments, each with their own challenge to merely survive.

Palestinian youths force open a gate in the Israeli separation wall, built on land belonging to the village of Bil’in, which leads to the Israeli settlement of Modi’in Ilit, also built on village land, February 17, 2017. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

How Palestinians can reverse Israel’s divide and conquer tactics

Oslo allowed Israel to reduce Palestinians to disparate fragments, each with their own challenge to merely survive. It’s time to reset that reality and view the Palestinians for what they are — physically fragmented, politically divided, but a whole people.

By Sam Bahour

Most veteran observers, including Israeli security authorities and Palestinian leadership, were dumbfounded by recent events in Jerusalem, where tens of thousands of Palestinians mobilized non-violently in response to the Israeli closure of the Old City and placement of metal detectors at the entrance of the Dome of Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. What was the secret ingredient that made such a mass action take place and be a successful example in Palestinian non-violent resistance to the 50 years of Israeli military occupation? How did it happen so spontaneously, non-violently and with seemingly no leadership?

A new report by the group, titled, Relations Between Palestinians Across the Green Line (Arabic here, English translation forthcoming), in the works for over two years, may hold the answer to some of these questions. For months, a group of dedicated Palestinian analysts, activists, intellectuals and politicians working with the Palestine Strategy Group (PSG) have been meeting to explore an angle of the Palestinians reality that is many times ignored—the relationship between the Palestinians living inside Israel, today coined as Palestinian citizens of Israel, and Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.

Transcending artificial boundaries

The report identifies Jerusalem as a place where, paradoxically, the boundaries of Israel and Palestine collapse — a site for joint work, cooperation and struggle against Israel’s colonial policies. Many political leaders (Palestinian members of Knesset, as well as Jerusalemites, Fatah members, Hamas-affiliated academics, etc.) who were part of the group that produced the report testified to the existing, nascent cooperation and possibility and need to further develop it.

Even beyond the recent developments in Jerusalem, there are also indications of grassroots and bottom-up engagements transcending conventional and formal realms of political engagement elsewhere. The cross-border mobilization and cooperation to address the Prawer Plan, for instance, a 2011 Israeli government plan to forcibly relocate some 40,000 Bedouin citizens living in dozens of villages in Israel’s Negev desert, was identified as additional proof to this growing phenomenon of Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line finding common ground.

The PSG report starts with stating an obvious, but no less bold, fact that “Fifty years after the Israeli occupation and forced annexation of Palestinians under Israel’s discriminatory ruling regime, political projects associated with ending the occupation and attaining full citizenship have ended in stalemate.”

That statement is not groundbreaking in and of itself. When coupled with the following realization, however, it provides more than just food for thought — it also sheds light on this rather invisible phenomenon which has the potential to rejuvenate the entire Palestinian national liberation movement. The report continues: “In light of different political projects, national cohesion among the Palestinian people on both sides of the Green Line is a key tool to create a unified, collective umbrella that allows networking, empowerment and development. While it does not abolish political specificities, this umbrella will seek to integrate political projects. Every component of these projects will support the other with a view to realizing respective demands, including ending the occupation of the 1967 territory, return of the refugees, full citizenship, and individual and collective equality inside the Green Line.”

A new Palestinian agency?

The strategy presented is premised on two hypotheses. First, is the need to maintain a clear distinction between the national and the political realms. That means an inclusive Palestinian national project that brings together all Palestinian people — those under occupation in the (New) State of Palestine, those in Israel, and those refugees and diaspora abroad. Secondly, discrepant political interests and perceptions of Palestinian groups need to be viewed as complementary, rather than contradictory to one another. Doing so means embracing diversity, transforming it from a source of divisions into a foundation for rebuilding a national project.

It is important to emphasize that support, networking and joint action of Palestinians across the Green Line have always been in place. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Palestinian party leaders inside Israel have acted in concert and coordinated with and supported each other on innumerable occasions. However, coordination always took place beyond any institutional frameworks. Oftentimes, the report notes, “collaboration was arbitrary, individual [and not] bona fide.” Today, this cross-border cooperation is not only targeted, collective and authentic, but has within it the seeds of a new type of Palestinian leadership.

In this context, namely the lack of institutional networking, PSG discussants proposed several potential options to institutionalize relations between Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line. A major thrust of the report entertains the “creating an inclusive, apolitical framework for all Palestinians.”

Palestinians are 12 million in number, and stuck in institutional paralysis. The nearly 25-year-old Oslo Peace Process successfully, and sadly, facilitated Israel’s strategic desire to utilize the age-old divide and conquer strategy to reduce Palestinians to disparate fragments, each with their own challenge to merely survive. It’s time to reset that reality and view the Palestinians for what they are, physically fragmented, politically divided, but a whole people nonetheless, from Ramallah to Santiago.

Sam Bahour is a Secretariat member of the Palestine Strategy Groupand policy adviser to Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network. He blogs at www.epalestine.com. @SamBahour. The PSG report was implemented in cooperation with the Palestinian Forum for Israeli Studies (MADAR) and the Oxford Research Group (ORG). It was supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Representative Office of Norway to the Palestinian Authority (2015-2017) and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (2016-2017).  This latest report is the most recent of a series of important and influential documents the PSG has issued since its founding in 2008.

 

Originally appeared AT

FRIDAY’S TOON ~~ THE OCCUPATION IS FOREVER!

Or Not!!!

Image by Carlos Latuff

Netanyahu promises West Bank will be occupied Israel “forever”

NY TIMES ASSERTS THAT JEWS ARE SAFER IN ISRAEL THAN IN AMERICA … CAUSE THEY CAN KILL PALESTINIANS THERE

When will the New York Times publish anti-Zionist or even non-Zionist Jewish views of our society?

Israeli soldiers photographed beating Palestinian in West Bank … when they are not shooting, they are beating.

Jews are safer in Israel than U.S. because our kids drop their M-16s on the sofa — NYT op-ed

The New York Times once again has offered a platform to a militant American-Israeli Zionist to argue that Jews are only safe when they oppress Palestinians.

The subject is Charlottesville, and the rise of neo-Nazis. Israel-promoter Daniel Gordis is granted an op-ed to say that Jews are safer in Israel than America, because in America, Jewish kids don’t know how to play with guns. Here’s the heart of the piece:

Israel has a military draft, and all of our kids served. Those years of service, of coming home on weekends with M-16s that we had to remind them not to leave on the sofas, inculcated in them a confidence about the world that I never had at their age.

Of course Gordis doesn’t tell us where those kids served. The occupied territories, surely, making certain that Palestinians who are resisting their lack of rights for 50 years stay fairly quiet.

Gordis doesn’t care about Palestinians. The word doesn’t appear in this homily. He cares about Jews, and about how Israel has “cured” Jews of their weaknesses. He tells a (questionable) anecdote about how Israel has turned mice into men:

I had the students — a highly knowledgeable group of undergraduates — watch video footage of Charlottesville. They sat stunned as they watched the parade of the torches, an image they understood. When I explained that the men with flak jackets, helmets and semiautomatic weapons were the protesters, not the police, they were incredulous. When the Nazi flags appeared, the room was silent except for the sounds of the protesters onscreen.

Then the video cut to one of the marchers, who explained their “republican principles.” The first was the supremacy of “white culture.” The students listened, disgusted. The second was free-market capitalism. Still, they were quiet. Then, the third principle, the protester said, was “killing Jews.” The entire class burst into laughter.

Stunned, I paused the video. Even with the video stilled, they were chuckling. I asked them what they found so amusing. Finally, one student said: “What, does this guy believe that in today’s world you can just go out and kill Jews? It’s funny, that’s all.”…

The conclusion of the article hammers home the point about Israel being safer for Jews than the U.S. He quotes his son wondering whether the day has arrived when America will not “be there” for Jews, as it was during the Holocaust:

Has it? I pray not, though it is too early to tell. But here is what we do know. The tiny, embattled country our family now calls home has raised a generation of young people to understand that ultimately, the only people who can be fully trusted to safeguard the safety of the Jews are the Jews. For having afforded our children a chance to grow up with no sense of the vulnerability that we knew growing up in America, we owe Israel and its founders a profound debt of gratitude.

Gordis and I grew up in the same Baltimore academic Jewish community (I attended a seder or two at his parents’ house) and from my standpoint, this view of America is bullshit. I am a few years older than Gordis; yet I never felt unsafe, I never felt vulnerable. I felt welcome and included. My high school had fewer than ten Jews in it, out of a couple thousand students. I was proudly Jewish, bar mitzvah’d at the old Chizuk Amuno in the inner city, I rode public buses everywhere in the city, worked nights at the stadium, enjoyed a great diversity of friendships, and had pleasures and challenges and setbacks, the proportions of which had no connection to my religion.

Gordis’s dark view of America is of a piece with Michael Oren’s fantasy of a pogrom in West Orange, NJ, 1971; and I believe it is a product of indoctrination.

When will the New York Times publish anti-Zionist or even non-Zionist Jewish views of our society?

PS. More about those M-16s. Why can’t the New York Times publish what Tony Klug wrote about the guns in 1977 and repeated last March at J Street:

While Israel continues to rule over the West Bank, there are bound to be ever more frequent and more intensive acts of resistance by a population that is feeling encroached upon by a spreading pattern of Jewish colonization and whose yearning for independence is no less than was that of the Palestinian Jews in the early months of 1948. As long as Israel continues to govern that territory, she will have little choice but to retaliate in an increasingly oppressive fashion just to keep order. The moral appeal of Israel’s case will consequently suffer and this will further erode her level of international support, although probably not among organized opinion within the Jewish Diaspora.

NYT JUSTIFIES APARTHEID IN ISRAEL ~~ ‘WALLS ARE US!’

Omitted is a racist quote early last year from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding his determination to build walls all around Israel, though some of this construction would clearly be on occupied Palestinian territory.

Likening Palestinians to animals, Netanyahu stated, “In our neighborhood, we need to protect ourselves from wild beasts.”

The Times is just echoing the sentiments of Trump who has called Israel’s separation barrier a success while discussing his plan to erect a wall across the US-Mexico border.

New York Times distorts reality of Israel’s walls

Isabel Kershner, writing in The New York Times, recently misrepresented the reality of Israeli-built walls and the fact that it is Palestinians enclosed by them and not Israelis.

Establishing that she spends far too much time in an Israeli milieu and too little in occupied Palestinian territory, she flips reality by penning, “Challenged by hostile forces on most of its fronts, Israel is already pretty much walled in.”

Yet it is Israel itself which has chosen to build walls. The people to describe as “walled in” are Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestinians are the ones being forcibly enclosed within bantustans as part of a comprehensive system of apartheid – not Israelis.

Throughout the article, Kershner repeatedly omits vital information about an underground wall Israel is building to further obstruct Palestinian egress from the tightly blockaded Gaza Strip.

Omissions

Israel has peace agreements with both Egypt and Jordan – and security arrangements with the Palestinian Authority to police its own people under Israeli occupation.

Even on its frontline in the occupied Golan Heights with Syria, where a devastating civil war has killed hundreds of thousands of people, Israel funds Syrian armed opposition groups to maintain a buffer zone controlled by “friendly forces.”

Yet these facts are excluded in Kershner’s decision to present a tough neighborhood spin with Israel “challenged by hostile forces on most of its fronts.”

Most of those fronts – beyond those where the Israeli government has signed peace agreements with other states – are occupied territory held by Israel for over 50 years.

Treating occupied people as “hostile” is akin to the moral equivalency offered by US President Donald Trump in equating anti-fascists and anti-racists with Nazis and white supremacists.

How else are people under an oppressive military occupation that deprives them of their most basic rights, while systematically colonizing their land, supposed to feel about their occupiers?

Yet Kershner dismissively employs the term “hostile forces,” undercutting millions of occupied people calling for equal rights and a return to stolen homes and properties.

Also omitted is a racist quote early last year from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding his determination to build walls all around Israel, though some of this construction would clearly be on occupied Palestinian territory.

Likening Palestinians to animals, Netanyahu stated, “In our neighborhood, we need to protect ourselves from wild beasts.”

Israel’s wall with Egypt, though readers won’t learn it in this article from Kershner, was built in significant partto keep out African migrants and refugees, principally from Eritrea and Sudan, fleeing war and other perils.

Netanyahu himself admitted as much.

President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea 🇮🇱🇺🇸

FED UP WITH GERMAN SILENCE

During this election campaign in Germany, a question is not addressed: How do these parties and their top candidates deal with violations against international law and human rights?Why is Russia subject to sanctions while the “Jewish State” remains unpunished? Why does the annexation of Crimea allegedly oppose to international law, while the illegal occupation of Palestine is not just accepted, but even financially supported?

We are fed up of the silence of the German Election Campaigners about Palestine!

by Evelyn Hecht-Galinski, Sicht vom Hochblauen, English translation by Milena Rampoldi

International law and human rights are indivisible and apply to all states. And the “Jewish State” always says to be the “only” democracy in the Middle East. If this is true, international law and human rights shall be the basic foundations of the Jewish State. While the Jewish regime based on State terrorism occupies, oppresses, and expropriates a whole people, after a referendum the population of Crimea decided to remain with Russia, because the Western “community of values”, led by the USA, spent many million Dollar in the name of Eastern NATO expansion for the coup in Ukraine by forcing Russia to act.

Our German political landscape is characterised by a lord of the manor approach when it is about prohibiting the Nakba exhibition or Israel-critical conferences, or when it is about refusing conference rooms. And this is exactly the behaviour of philosemite parties linked to the Israel lobby in our country. If this is the situation, we have to ask these parties (SPD, CDU/CSU, FDP, Grünen and Linke) to make a statement about it.

If you remember the Holocaust, the genocide in the name of Germany and the crimes of the century, then you should also remember and put the Nakba, the forced displacement of the Palestinian people, and its consequences in an indivisible context.

In particular for German citizens, independently from the outcome, displacement and occupation are important subjects. There we have to ask ourselves: Why does this propaganda lie –  according which there has never been a Zionist displacement during and before the Nakba and all has been done “on a voluntary basis” – fall on good soil in Germany? Same thing can be said about the “Jewish occupiers’ regime” which always avoids speaking about the occupation.

In the case of the “Jewish State”, the uncritical lobby work of the parties promotes the distrust against Jewish officials and citizens, who quickly accuse others of anti-Semitism to distract from this lobby work, who refuses the rights of the oppressed, because it expresses its solidarity with the “Jewish Occupiers’ State”, a state characterised by colonialism and historical revisionism, by asking for our unconditional solidarity with these criminals.

The air has become suffocating in the German-speaking countries and in the political circles; and this is not only due to the Diesel fine particulate, but also to the stuffy German politics. If after the end of the war there were the last Nazi officials diffusing this right-wing stuffy politics, today their descendants prefer addressing their hate against Russia. The sanctions against Russia  are strengthened, while justified and peaceful BDS initiatives shall be damned as criminal. Whole cities, from Munich to Frankfort, participate in this undemocratic rally.

The double standards when it is about the “Jewish State” are incredible and incompatible with the German Constitution. Although after a referendum the majority of Crimean citizens decided to remain with Russia, German and European politicians speak about a criminal situation violating international law. And since the foundation of the State of Israel in 1948 these same politicians and the “world community” of the “Jewish State” have been permitting the violation against international law, human rights, and all values, and since decades Israel has been leaving scorched earth in its wake in occupied Palestine.

At the moment, in front of the EU office in Vienna, activists of the “Women in Black” are protesting against the support of the “Jewish Apartheid State”. Protest actions of this kind are important in the struggle for a free Palestine. (1)

At the end of August, in Berlin a Pop culture festival will be held; it will be financed by the Embassy of the “Jewish State”, the European Union, and the Municipality of Berlin. As soon as threes bands and artists,  Mohammad Abu Hayar of the Syrian Rap Band Mazzaj, the Egyptian band Islam Chipsy, and the Syrian DJ and producer Samer Salem knew about it, they refused their participation, because they did not want to participate in an event pinkwashing Apartheid and racism. Unfortunately, this moral courage cannot be found in German artists, when it is about Palestine! (2)

In the next “Springer” morning Press, the Berlin Senator of Culture, Klaus Lederer, spoke about a “horrifying boycott”. From my point of view, left-wing politicians are absolutely horrifying when they uncritically accept the Illegal occupation of Palestine and criticize Israel critics because they are engaged  for a free Palestine. Lederer added that by sponsoring the artists’ travel expenses the Israeli Embassy even contributed to the “success” of the festival. Can and should you still vote such politicians? For what concerns myself, my answer is “NO”, because I always check whom and what to vote! In 2014, in the newspaper TAZ ,Pascal Beucker called me an “unacceptable Israel hater” because I had written by comment  „Der Tag des Zorns wird kommen“ (The Day of Rage will Come); this comment was uncritically accepted by Lederer. And I felt in the best of company, because Lederer polemicized even Sarah Wagenknecht and called people to dissociate from Ken Jebsen, the alleged “ideologist” of the “new right”. But I prefer dissociating from left-wing politicians and politicians of all parties like Klaus Lederer!  (3) (4)

I deal with this subject and its consequences every week. Sometimes, I am asking myself for which purpose and why I do it. My concern is that the political parties’ landscape has been dissociating more and more from Palestine, by exclusively focussing on the “Jewish State”. The security of Israel, its right to exist, the particular relationship: all these words are always repeated like a litany. However, they do not become true, but remain mendacious lies of the whole political society and their supporters  in the media.

The deep attunement with the “Jewish Occupiers’ State” is an unbearable legal violation and is incompatible with the German constitution; the same applies to the “particular” relation developed over years because of a traumatised sense of guilt, since it created  the new “guilt” of our grand-children’s generation. The real problem is that philosemitism replaced Anti-Semitism, and became a contagious epidemic, infecting all parties and many media. Is there a vaccination against Philosemitism? Indeed, a clear and logic reasoning and a sense of justice should suffice. However, this is not the case because the propaganda brainwashing, promoted by the “Springer” lobby, seems to be part of German education. That adaptation has already replaced moral courage; and this is not astonishing if you think about the so numerous attempts of intimidation.

I have been trying to wake up people for years now, and to ask them to engage for Palestine and the Palestinians. And they attacked me because I used words like Israel lobby, Judaization, ghetto or concentration camp. However, I am gaining more and more supporters on blogs and in newspapers, and I feel confirmed and happy that my engagement is worth the trouble. And I never tried to make money at the expense of Palestinian solidarity, to earn with it, or to make business at the expense of a humiliated and occupied people.

From where do German politicians take their right to criticize the Palestinian people, which – after 69 years of resistance asks for the end of illegal occupation. How can they deny to them the legitimate right for resistance against illegal occupation, while Jewish occupiers are not just given the right to “defend themselves”, but even the occupation right! What can we expect from such politicians who speak about the “Jewish-Christian community of values”, while if it is about Palestinians they talk about terror and crimes, which have nothing to do with their community of values. Muslims become foreign bodies and the concept of an enemy, and this in particular during election campaigns. Let us do the mental experiment of replacing the word Jews with the word Muslims, or Judaism with Islam. This reminds me terrible days of our recent history. This dangerous development should be limited and stopped.

With our vote, we can decide what and who will rule. The voting right is one of the few rights we still have, in this epoch of apathy and lack of perspective.

We should not ignore how parties deal with human rights and regimes. The State terrorism of the Jewish occupiers’ regime to continue with the Judaization of Palestine must be talked about, as it is not a taboo, but should become one of the main election campaign subjects.

Chancellor Merkel has succeeded in brainwashing Germans so to believe in the unconditioned solidarity with the “Jewish State” as German reason of state because of our “particular obligations”. However, this reason of state does not mean that we should not engage to ask to add justice and freedom of the Palestinian people to this German reason of state.

We – and I think also the majority of the other German citizens – ask for information and an open discussion of all democratic parties about how the candidates to be voted will deal with this subject. Also this will be an important criterion of our voting behaviour.

 

Originally posted AT

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