WORSE THAN A KAPO?

In my many years of pro Palestinian activism I have personally been called an anti Semite and a self hating Jew. Considering the anti zionist implications of these labels, they are both worn proudly.

BUT

When a new label, ‘kapo‘ is added, that is truly a hit below the belt. Not being a fan of J Street, I still find this term offensive and stand with them as they are smeared in such a way.

“They are far worse than kapos – Jews who turned in their fellow Jews in the Nazi death camps.” 

Image by Carlos Latuff

David Friedman, a fierce Zionist, is Trump's choice for US ambassador to Israel

David Friedman, a fierce Zionist, is Trump’s choice for US ambassador to Israel

Trump pick for ambassador to Israel supports Israeli annexation of West Bank and calls liberal Jews ‘kapos

Donald Trump has nominated 57-year-old Long Island native David Friedman to serve as U.S ambassador to Israel. Friedman served as Trump’s Israel adviser during the election campaign and has worked as Trump’s bankruptcy lawyer. He is a vociferous pro-settler advocate who openly advocates for the annexation of the West Bank, and serves as president of American Friends of Bet El Institutions, a settlement advocacy group. Friedman will join an administration that has continually promised to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and has made clear its opposition to the two-state solution. In announcing the pick Trump called Friedman “a longtime friend and trusted adviser.”

Friedman is a writer for the Israeli settler news service Arutz Sheva, and his columns demonstrate strong right wing views concerning the occupation, U.S. politicians, and the Middle East. Friedman has called for ending “the two-state narrative”, describing it as “an illusion that serves the worst intentions of both the United States and the Palestinian Arabs.” Friedman has also referred to the recognition of Jerusalem as “the indisputable capital of the Jewish people” as a holy battle, one that will be won by those who acknowledge Jerusalem as being “the holy capital of the Jewish people—and only the Jewish people”.

In 2015, Friedman wrote an article praising the pre-war sentiment expressed by Mike Huckabee, evangelical Trump-supporter and former Governor of Arkansas, who “referred to war as “killing people and breaking things” until the loser gives up or is destroyed.” Friedman writes that the Obama administration, which is waging countless military operations around the world, has been too docile and light-headed when it comes to “terrorists”.

“The United States has the largest and most powerful military in the world. Under the Obama Doctrine, however, it is no longer in the business of fighting to win,” he argues.

In another stunning column for Arutz Sheva, Friedman accuses Obama of being an anti-Semite, and characterized the centrist Zionist organization J Street as being “worse than kapos”.

“They are far worse than kapos – Jews who turned in their fellow Jews in the Nazi death camps,” he wrote.

Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, tells Mondoweiss that the appointment of David Friedman as Ambassador to Israel “is but the latest suggestion of what a Trump administration’s policy toward Palestine/Israel will be and that is a full, unapologetic embrace of Israeli Apartheid. Trump has railed against political correctness throughout his campaign and in many ways he seems to be doing the same thing with shaping his policy on this issue.”

Munayyer explains that “for decades the US has done a sort of “politically correct” dance where they have consistently supported Israel as it colonizes what is left of Palestinian territory while saying they support a Palestinian state.” The nomination of Friedman signals that the U.S. will do away with this farce, and  “just own what they have done for years which is support the apartheid reality on the ground.” Munayyer contends that a Trump administration will treat Israel with light-headedness, which means that “the civil society effort to impose costs on Israel through boycott, divestment and sanctions tactics [BDS] has never been more important.”

Mouin Rabbani, co-editor of Jadaliyya, was straightforward in his reaction to Friedman’s nomination, telling Mondoweiss that he “hopes the appointment of such an avowed extremist to the position of US Ambassador to Israel, selected precisely because of his extremist positions, will disabuse Palestinians of any remaining illusions the the United States has anything positive to contribute to their struggle for self-determination.”

Jewish Voice For Peace released a statement from executive director Rebecca Vilkomerson condemning Friedman’s nomination as U.S. Ambassador to Israel, arguing that it “indicates that the Trump Administration has aligned itself with the farthest right elements of the Israeli government”, and warning that this signals that the incoming administration will give the Israeli government a free pass to further its abusive control of Palestinian land, and to continue infringing upon Palestinian rights.

Writing on Twitter, London Review of Books writer Adam Shatz put it succinctly: “Let’s call the Friedman appointment by its name: a declaration of war on the Palestinian people.”

Both Trump and Friedman share the intention of rejecting the two-state solution and abiding by the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which calls for recognizing Jerusalem and Israel’s capital and moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The bill was passed in 1995 but left unsigned under Bill Clinton and subsequently suspended on 22 occasions—thanks to the presidential waiver authority—mostly due to alleged national security concerns. Israeli education minister Naftali Bennett was euphoric after Donald Trump’s electoral win, calling his election an “opportunity for Israel to immediately retract the notion of a Palestinian state in the center of the country”. He said, “The era of a Palestinian state is over.”

For this reason, advocates of the two-state solution are troubled by Friedman’s nomination. A press release from the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) president Rabbi Rick Jacobs notes that while URJ supports Friedman’s goal of moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and its designation as Israel’s capital, the organization is “greatly concerned” that Friedman is against a two-state solution. The Reform group maintains “that only a two-state solution will allow Israel to remain both Jewish and democratic while also addressing the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians.”

Americans for Peace Now also announced its opposition to Friedman saying, “Friedman opposes the very essence of APN’s values and mission.” The organization added, “Trump repeatedly declared that he would like to broker a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians, but coupled with the President-elect’s statements about his intention to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, Friedman’s nomination is a destabilizing move, which only adds fuel to the Israeli-Palestinian fire.”

Chemi Shalev, U.S. editor and correspondent for Haaretz, recently published an article arguing that due to Friedman’s right-wing inclinations, “[h]e makes Benjamin Netanyahu seem like a left-wing defeatist”. Shalev contends that Friedman will satisfy Evangelicals, Jewish settlers “and bring pleasure to Land of Israel zealots far and wide”. While the Obama administration may have offered Palestinians some semblance of even-handedness, Shalev writes, Friedman and the Trump administration will likely offer them no such thing.

TRUMP CONSIDERING MOVING EMBASSY TO PALESTINE

Stolen land that is ….

Relocating the embassy means endorsing the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem, and predetermining the fate of Jerusalem in a final status solution. This endorsement includes acceptance of Israel’s illegally built settlements and the wholesale confiscation of Palestinian refugee property. 

The Jerusalem site formerly known as the Allenby Barracks, a possible location of the US Embassy (Photo: Raphael Ahren/Times of Israel)

The Jerusalem site formerly known as the Allenby Barracks, a possible location of the US Embassy (Photo: Raphael Ahren/Times of Israel)

Site being considered for US embassy in Jerusalem is stolen Palestinian private property

Institute for Palestine Studies

Kellyanne Conway, President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign manager, has stated that relocating the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a “a big priority” for the incoming administration. She added: “It is something that our friend in Israel, a great friend in the Middle East, would appreciate and something that a lot of Jewish-Americans have expressed their preference for.”

Meanwhile, in a passage that has since been removed from the online article, the Times of Israel has reported that the Trump transition team “has begun exploring the logistics of moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv, and checking into sites for its intended new location,” adding that the site being considered was formerly the location of the Allenby Barracks, the site of the British army’s Jerusalem garrison during the Mandate.

However, as is revealed by Walid Khalidi’s special report on the subject, originally published in the Journal of Palestine Studies, the site being considered is Palestinian private property stolen from its owners, including the waqf property of several families. He points out that the move would recklessly violate U.S. and international law and have the following impact:

  • The law of belligerent occupation applies to Jerusalem. Neither Israeli nor American laws have a bearing on the status of Jerusalem as an occupied city. Moving the embassy will not change the fact that Israel is the occupier, would contradict the stand taken by every US administration since 1967, and would violate international law and UN resolutions. These include 1980 UN Security Council resolution 478, which declared Israel’s announcement of Jerusalem as its capital “null and void.”
  • On 18 January 1989 a Land Lease and Purchase Agreement was signed between the Israel and U.S., for land serving as a US embassy site in what was known as the Allenby Barracks. Much of the land in this area belongs to Palestinian refugees, including privately owned and Waqf land. He notes: “with all that Jerusalem connotes, it is, to say the least, unbecoming for the United States’ future embassy in that city to be built on land that is stolen property.”
  • On 21 July 1989, Francis A. Boyle of the University of Illinois wrote a memorandum on the legal implications of the lease agreement, arguing that the expropriation of waqf or private property in Jerusalem was illegal; that the lease agreement itself was illegal; and that Congress is legally barred from providing funds for the implementation of the agreement.
  • Relocating the embassy means endorsing the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem, and predetermining the fate of Jerusalem in a final status solution. This endorsement includes acceptance of Israel’s illegally built settlements and the wholesale confiscation of Palestinian refugee property.

For these reasons, moving the embassy would gravely undermine the American role in the Middle East, especially since it contradicts and repudiates the commitments and assurances of all previous U.S. administrations since 1967. The implications of such a move for the position of the United States in the Middle East will be grave, including its adverse impact on the numerous Arab regimes that turn a blind eye to all the US does in support of Israel.

The impact inside Palestine and on Palestinians elsewhere is also likely to be great, whether in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, or among the 1.2 million Palestinian citizens of the state of Israel.  Finally, given how important the issue of Jerusalem is for Muslims around the world, and especially at a time when radical Islamist groups systematically exploit the Palestine issue, moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem will constitute a potentially explosive provocation.

Read the full Walid Khalidi Special Report here.

REDEFINING ANTISEMITISM IN GERMANY

It is infuriating how Jews are made victims again in Germany, and how philosemitism has substituted anti-Semitism. On the other hand, Germans who engage for the end of the illegal occupation of Palestine, are  defamed and excluded. The bad conscience of the perpetrators‘ progeny is not entitled to label the victims‘ progeny with a kosher stamp for human rights and international law violations. Since Germans know what a system based on injustice was and is able of doing. 

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Do not buy from Jewish Occupiers!

by Evelyn Hecht-Galinski,  English translation by Milena Rampoldi

A Party Congress Resolution of the CDU has taken over the invented equalisation of the well-thought-out propaganda machinery of the Israel lobby and its sayanim (willing helpers) acting all over the world, according to which the global BDS campaign non-violently engaged for Palestinian rights and against occupation should be equivalent with the Nazi concept “Do not buy from Jews”!

However, it is a fact that the “Jewish State”, since its foundation, has been denying the occupied Palestinians their elementary rights, without no qualms, and that expulsion and land grabbing are part of the Zionist reason of state. What’s more is a system of racist laws, “streets just for Jews” for the illegal Jewish settlements, a settlement colonialism subsidised by the State with the final aim to possess whole Palestine, and the continuous ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

According to the 29th Party Congress Resolution of the CDU in Essen, Germany, the BDS movement was denigrated as anti-Semite; this way the victims of the illegal Jewish occupation of Palestine become perpetuators, a historical distortion of facts which cannot be accepted without protest. In addition, this Resolution takes over the fascist-racist politics of the “Jewish State” of the “good Jews” supporting this state and its politics, while the “bad Jews” criticising the politics of occupation and supporting the BDS campaign, are labelled as anti-Semite. Did the same not happen under the Nazi Regime where Reichsmarschall Göring said “I decide who is a Jew!” And today again German politicians decide who is anti-Semite and who is not, and as a consequence there is a new anti-Semitism defaming unapproved Jews.

It is not significant that the same CDU members, in the future election campaign, bring into play always more questionable subjects like the prohibition of double citizenship and the maximum limit for refugees, or submit main proposals affirming the unilateral “Christian-Jewish Community of Values” against Muslim citizens. And in the end, these proposals just support the right-wing parties and collect their votes. Based on the motto: CDU printed on packaging means that the right-wing German party AfD is inside. However, we notice exactly the same phenomenon in other right-wing populists, from Wilders to Le Pen and from Hofer to Orban, when it is the case of the “Jewish State” and the illegal occupation of Palestine. All keep silent about Palestinian oppression, or stand in solidarity with the Jewish Regime of Occupiers!

It is also anti-Semite, if German Banks like the Bank für Sozialwirtschaft (Bank for Social Economy) cancel the account of the association „Jüdische Stimme“ (Jewish Voice) because of its support to the BDS movement. According to the statement of Jewish Voice the reason for cancellation was explicitly mentioned as being related to “political opinions and activities”.(1)

This outrageous procedure is inconsistent with ethical values, anti-Semite, and part of a sad tradition in Germany. As you can remember, German Banks and their CEO, from Dresdner Bank, today Commerzbank, to the Deutsche Bank, were in first position to cancel Jewish accounts and to actively support the Nazi Regime in its politics of aryanization. A fatal repetition of historical events! If at that time it was the Nazi ideology, which emarginated, dispossessed, expelled, and murdered Jews, today there is the ideology of philo-semitism, infected by the pro-Israel lobby, using the same methods against unaccepted Israel critics and BDS supporters. However, desperate diseases need desperate remedies. If peace organisations or people engaging for the end of the illegal occupation of Palestine get their accounts cancelled, this should set alarm bells ringing. We have to react immediately. For all customers, there is only one reaction and consequence in solidarity with the emarginated Jews: they should immediately cancel their account for protest!

The aimed aggressions against the freedom of speech of organisations, universities, and private people, engaging for a free Palestine, are only possible because the Merkel Government, the UE and the USA still financially, mentally and commercially support the Jewish State by armaments sales, and cowardly silence about the injustice!

The outrageous suggestions of German politicians cooperating with the Israel lobby to pretend from refugees to recognize the existence right of Israel as a requirement for their integration, has no justification at all, as long as this State which has not even defined its own borders, continues its illegal settlement policy by violating international law and carrying out the total ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Also the reception of the empty phrase of the reason of state for the security of Israel by Chancellor Merkel, although the concentration camp in Gaza remains blocked by violating human dignity and international law, the genocide is unatoned, and the illegally occupied West Bank, the illegally annexed East-Jerusalem and the illegally occupied Golan Heights are still judaized by the aggressive land grabbing of the Netanyahu regime. A “Jewish State” basing its existence, at the expense of an illegally occupied people, on crimes against international law and human rights, has no existence right to be supported!

Just recently Prime Minister Netanyahu praised future US-president Trump for his unbreakable friendship with Israel as confirmed on several occasions by his closest consultant, his Jewish son-in-law Kushner and for the announcement of the planned transfer of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as eternally “undivided” capital of the “Jewish State”. And now Netanyahu will try to tip the Nuclear Agreement with Iran during his announced visit to Washington for a meeting with Trump. (2) (3) (4)

There is a new, horrifying initiative: under the auspices of Andreas Casdorff, editor-in-chief of the Berliner Tagesspiegel and Bild publisher Kai Dieckmann started a cooperation, in the guise of the promotion of a Holocaust memory culture in cooperation with the Israeli Holocaust memorial place Yad Vashem in order to send young editors under 30 to targeted seminars at companies and to events, in which also the Israeli Prime Minister, the President of the State of Israel, and the international high officials will participate. So in the end, they will be „enthusiastic for Israel“ and expose all according to the people inviting them. The results are visible today, if these journalists, as requested, write for the interests of the “Jewish State” and defend them. In this context, an incredible propaganda machinery of the Israel lobby comes into roll. So we have to ask ourselves about the newspaper, supporting this initiative – Berliner Morgenpost, DPA, Handelsblatt, Hufftington Post, JDB Media, Kölner Stadtanzeiger, Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, Rheinische Post, Rhein Zeitung, Sächsische Zeitung, stern.de, Südwest- Presse and Bild am Sonntag – if we can read them without prejudice by taking their information for granted without criticising them. I would like that the answer to this question is “no”! (5)(6)(7)

However, this is exactly the problem, in particular of German media; who can take them seriously with this nepotism and the connection with politics and stakeholders! A sad and dangerous political cartel aiming at all democratic habits.

We should never forget the Holocaust, and the same applies to the Nakba, the catastrophe of the displacement and dispossession by the Jewish State, also a consequence of the Holocaust!

This is a particular incentive to engage more than ever for the liberation of the illegally occupied Palestine. And this is precisely the meaning of “Do not buy from Jewish Occupiers”!

Hanns Eisler, the famous Austrian composer born in Leipzig, also created a sensation with his political works. I think that his “Ernste Gesänge” are as great as this wonderful sentence I would like to conclude my commentary with:

“I think we have to rethink the past. Who wants to have a future, has to cope with the past. He must purify himself from the past to be able to brightly move into the future”.

 

Originally appeared AT

MOTHER PALESTINE ~~ THE INSPIRATION

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

Here she is in 1948 …

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

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And here, the real Mother …. The Inspiration

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

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

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

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THE CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE AGAINST PALESTINE

The Palestinian Conflict has almost disappeared from the headlines with the added tragedy that it is regarded in media and political circles as being “unsolvable” and consequently something to be ignored.

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The Conspiracy of Silence must be broken!

By Evelyn Hecht-Galinski, English Translation by Milena Rampoldi, edited by William Hanna

The Palestinian Conflict has almost disappeared from the headlines with the added tragedy that it is regarded in media and political circles as being “unsolvable” and consequently something to be ignored. Occasionally a not too critical article – almost apologetic – will appear with careful avoidance of anything that may offend the Jewish lobby and its friends. Meanwhile in the illegally occupied Palestinian Territories the Palestinian people’s hope for freedom and a state of their own remains an unachievable dream.

While the daily expansion of new settlements is facilitated by Apartheid legislation whose brutal oppression violates all democratic principles, the Netanyahu regime can more than ever before safely relax with its Zionist smugness.

This is because the world community is too occupied in disguising the provision of arms and participation in illegal wars as being necessary and a blessing for humanity. While the EU is fast crumbling and becoming a populist time bomb fused with differences, Merkel and her colleagues have lost all sense of reality. This Chancellor – who always holds her “values” like a shield – has made no effort, not even a token gesture, to justly solve the Palestinian conflict. Such shameful inaction is also shared by party colleagues from the German Social Party (SPD), the Green Party and the Left who routinely submit to the interests of the Israel Lobby.

While Merkel presents herself as alternative-less leader of the German Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and chancellor, the Middle East with its debris and ash is abandoned by a German Government intent on avoiding its obligation to support Palestine in its struggle against the injustice of the occupation.

Anti-Semitism has long since been replaced by philo-Semitism which is a more than dangerous phenomenon. A recent example of this occurred in Greece where the German Minister for Foreign Affairs, Steinmeier — choking with emotion — was made an Honoured Member of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki. In fact, there have been numerous “Jewish” awards and honours for German politicians. This is the way Israel buys “friends” who then remain silent as gutless and complicit observers of the Jewish state’s crimes against humanity.

Even worse, is the fact that any criticism of Israel is labelled as “anti-Semitic” so that Germany has become a paradise of philo-Semitism. There is, however, a ray of hope because Volker Beck – having a sense of mission as “main philo-Semite” – was penalised by his colleagues in the Green Party who refused to give him a place on the list for the German Parliament despite his having the support of prominent Jews including Dieter Graumann, the ex-President of the Central Council of German Jews, the current President Josef Schuster, and Andreas Nachama of the Foundation Topographie des Terrors (Topography of Terror). Before the “Leo Baeck” prize winner and Talmud devoted Beck discovered the usefulness of  philo-Semitism, he wrote an essay published in an anthology published in 1988 that called for the “de-criminalisation of paedophilia.” This fact, however, was of no consequence for the supporters of this VIP. The same applied to his drug story which was shelved after he paid a 7000 Euro fine. Beck is currently sitting on his morally high throne while not shrinking from defamation against my dead friend Walter Herrmann and the Kölner Klagemauer.

It is shameful how German politicians go out of their way to provide support for the Jewish state of occupation; how the German media is complicit by not reporting the occupation crimes committed daily; and how the conspiracy of silence, continuous in the face of the Jewish state’s repression which includes measures against women, children, young people, and even journalists! There is no sense in arguing about this because in Germany this grave situation will not change as has been repeatedly confirmed by my friend Ilan Pappe.

During this Advent season it should perhaps be an incentive for “Zionist Christians” such as Merkel and Co. to think about the Christians and Muslims in Palestine who are denied their religious freedom by the Jewish occupiers.

Time is running and as the “Jewish State” – which has never intended having a “Two-State-Solution” other than as an illusion – continues with the ethnic cleansing so as create conditions that will make the illegal settlements permanent. This also concerns the illegally occupied Golan Heights, conquered by the “Jewish Defence Army” in 1967 and which Israel declared a closed military zone thereby preventing some 100.000 displaced former inhabitants from returning to their native villages.

Even the Syrian Civil War has proved to be advantageous for the Jewish occupiers who feel free to indulge themselves with occasional air strikes because the perception persists that anything Israel does is acceptable, while token Palestinian resistance against an unjust and barbarous persecution is regarded as terrorism.

It is therefore understandable that they try to hide both the expulsion of more than 700.000 indigenous Palestinians during the Nakba which led to the establishment “Jewish State,” and the subsequent displacements in the Golan Heights because there is nothing that the “Jewish State” fears more than the truth. Consequently, it is of vital importance the Nakba is publicised throughout Germany as an important contemporary historical document!

Since 2011, the so-called “Palestinian Papers” have revealed that the Palestinian Leadership, the “Vichy Abbas” Authority, was ready to make extensive scandalous concessions such as for example wanting to renounce East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian State and the legal right of Palestinians to return.

Those secret protocols definitively proved that Israel has never wanted a peace that would require giving back the illegally occupied territories to the indigenous population and the self-abasing the Palestinian Authority. The “Jewish State“ will not be satisfied until it has all of it which will happen as the illegal settlement is extended and made permanent with courtesy of financial support for the illegal occupation, and reduced pressure from the U.S. and the EU for an end to settlement expansion.

As a consequence, there is no reason why the “Jewish State” should start the peace process while the Abbas System can be maintained in a “Utopian State,” wooed by the world community as “moderate leadership.” There is nothing that is better suited for the Jewish occupation power. We recently witnessed the Abbas show, when 1400 representatives re-elected him without there being any democratic elections, either under the Jewish occupation power or under the Abbas Regime because both know that the “twilight of the Gods” would then come. The young people who have been for decades rebelling against the betrayal of this old guard and the lethargy of their parents, are unfortunately the main victims

Consequently the only realistic option available is resistance against the all-powerful occupation, condemnation of Israel by all responsible citizens, and support for the BDS movement.

While here in Germany and Europe everyone warns against right-wing populists, in the Jewish State right-wing fascists are left undisturbed to complete the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in accordance with the “Christian-Jewish” values of this alliance of mendacious hypocrites. The conspiracy of silence over the illegal occupation of Palestine is a complicit violation of international law that must be broken. Have courage! Let us be indignant in the struggle against the illegal occupation and for a Free Palestine!

 

FROM

ISRAEL IS BURNING ~~ THE VIDEO

Israel is burning – a brave article by Evelyn Hecht-Galinski

Text originally posted as (Click on link)

‘ONLY HE TO WHOM THE LAND DOESN’T BELONG TO IS CAPABLE OF BURNING IT’

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

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

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

They never announced my stop so I fell asleep 😦 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

FROM

‘ONLY HE TO WHOM THE LAND DOESN’T BELONG TO IS CAPABLE OF BURNING IT’

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Recently Israel was ablaze. The government was quick to declare the fires ‘arson’ set by Palestinians to destroy the land ….

But the reality is ….

“Only he to whom the land doesn’t belong is capable of burning it”.

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Only he to whom the land doesn’t belong is capable of burning it

by Evelyn Hecht-Galinski

English translation by Milena Rampoldi, , edited by William Hanna  

With regards to the recent fires in the “Jewish State” we can only agree with Naftali Bennett who tweeted: “Only he to whom the land doesn’t belong is capable of burning it”. He is the right-wing Minister of Education and the President of the Party “Jewish Home” and the “Settlers‘ King” who made of the racist settlers‘ party a powerful coalition partner within the Netanyahu regime. And it is him who dreams of  Eretz Israel, the Great Israel, from the Mediterranean to Jordan, and in addition wants to annex big parts of the illegally occupied West Bank.  

Who does the land belong to? Certainly not to the ethnic cleansing Jewish occupiers who have displaced the indigenous Palestinian people. As a consequence of the fires, Bennett and his right-wing colleague, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called for an expansion of Jewish settlements on occupied land and promptly authorized the building of 500 new settlement units! Also in this instance, the coward members of the German Government have remained silent because for them the existence of “a Jewish state” takes an important priority over human rights and international law.

This raises the question of “why is the Jewish state burning?” The majority of the hundreds of millions of trees planted since the Nakba by the Jewish National Fund, are conifers and particularly pines. The trees were planted for the benefit of the Jewish European immigrant ethnic cleansers so as to enable them to feel at home in a land for which they had no love, but simply wanted to possess.

Since Biblical times, trees planted in Palestine were suited for the dry land – such as olive trees – which were vital for the livelihood of Palestinian farmers and their families. Other trees included carob, mulberry, and low oaks which were all ecologically suitable vegetation. Such trees were and are still being systematically destroyed by the Zionist intruders to deprive the Palestinians of their livelihood.

This raises a further question of whether the current and previous fires – such as the 2010 Mount Carmel forest fire – were natural or cases of deliberate arson. The use of European monoculture to transform the “Jewish State” into a “Small Switzerland” is, however, doomed to failure. From the beginning, the Zionist intruders spoke about “Arabs” condescendingly with the Palestinians and their land being referred to as  “uncultured” and “uncultivated” as compared to the blossoming “Jewish” landscapes which alone were worthy of praise.

Consequently the effectiveness of this hasbara (propaganda) has deceived the whole world into overlooking the ethnic cleansing of Palestine while accepting Israel’s “green-wash” disinformation including that relating to the drainage of important lakes and water sources of the indigenous Palestinian inhabitants. The scarcity of water for Palestinians has been further exacerbated by decades of unrestricted theft by Israel of Palestinian water that is then used to supply the illegal settlements. The extensive damage caused by such water theft in the illegally occupied West Bank and the barbarically blockaded Gaza Strip is indescribable! So far,  the endless decades-long ethnic cleansing of Palestine has been tolerated by the hypocritical international community in general, and by the West and Germany in particular.

From the beginning, Zionism’s aim has been to erase the memory of the Nakba by rewriting history in favour of Israel and Judaising the map of Palestine. Such blatant “Nakba denial” must be also criminalized in line “Holocaust denial.” It is not without reason that the powerful Israel lobby repeatedly endeavours to prevent exhibitions that present the truth about the “Nakba” and the brutal forced expulsions that preceded and followed the Israeli Declaration of Independence.

Since its foundation in 1948, with its Zionist exclusive right to the stolen land, the “Jewish State” has not only systematically violated human rights and international law, but also all accepted ecological standards. The destruction of Palestinian fields and olive groves; the systematic poisoning of fields of Palestinian farmers; and the ethnic cleansing by the “Jewish State,” Jewish settlers, the Jewish National Fund JNF/KKL under the guise of green-washing and international sponsorship that only served the colonialism of an Apartheid Jewish State. In this regard, Germany stands guilty of always donating more woods in the name of German Federal Regions or with the name of politicians (Mißfelder!) for the JNF and Israel. While Palestinians are displaced and their trees destroyed, German politicians spectacularly plant trees in the “Jewish State” like German Foreign Minister Steinmeier!

It is frightening that to this day the false Zionist sound bite of “a land without people, for a people without land” continues to justify land expropriations despite international human rights laws prohibiting such practices. A particularly bad example in this context is the so called “Canada Park” grassed for millions of Dollars by the Himnuta Organisation, a 99% subsidiary company of JNF/KKL on the ruins of Palestinian villages, with secret financial sources and expenses. (1)

For these “green-washers” the future US-President Donald Trump comes just at the right time, having already supported Israel’s right to have Jerusalem as its capital! Under the guise of environmental protection — at the expense of the Palestinian people, and by means of the land dispossession supported by German-Israeli projects in forestry and irrigation — this will in time become possible through continual illegal occupation and by dispossession of the land and water resources of a people “thirsty for justice”.

Without the displacement of Palestinians there would be no “Jewish State.” It was the infamous Josef Weitz, President of the Jewish National Fund, and one of the most fanatic advocates of “transferring” the Palestinians who in 1940 noted in his diary that  “the transfer does not just pursue the aim to reduce the Arab population, but it also serves for the second objective which is not unimportant and consists of emptying the land cultivated by Arabs to make it free for Jewish settlement. The only solution is to transfer the Arabs from here to the neighbouring countries. We have not to omit neither one village nor one tribe.” All this and much more is cited by Ilan Pappe in his commendable book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.

To this day, this “transfer” concept has been is the policy of both politicians in the “Jewish State” and of Jewish Saloon-Zionists in diaspora. That policy has included as its first priority the denial to Palestinian refugees their legitimate right of return to their homeland so as to conquer all of Palestine – in violation of international law – for a strictly “Jewish start.”

However, as long as the duplicitous Western “community of values” is complicit in this injustice, and as long as the blazing flames of the illegal occupation are not extinguished, the “Jewish State” will burn.

“Only he to whom the land doesn’t belong is capable of burning it” – what a truth!
From the River to the Sea Palestine will be free!

Written FOR

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

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

Image by Carlos Latuff

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

Jonathan Cook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BREAKING THE SILENCE ON ISRAELI RACISM

Where are the outcrys against this injustice?

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

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

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

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

Racism

By Amos Gvirtz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BLACK FRIDAY PROTEST AT HP

Reaching out to Best Buy shoppers on Black Friday with materials and information about HP’s role in human rights violations, protesters faced the rain for several hours to spread the word about Hewlett Packard’s involvement in the oppression of Palestinians.

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NYC Black Friday protest draws dozens to protest HP involvement in oppression of Palestinians

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On the busiest shopping day of the year, protesters in New York City – hailing from Manhattan to Gaza – joined in the Black Friday kick-off of the International Week of Action against HP’s complicity with Israeli attacks on Palestinian rights, protesting outside Best Buy in Union Square.

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Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network organized the protest, which highlighted HP’s role in providing servers and management systems to the Israel Prison Service that imprisons over 7,000 Palestinian political prisoners. Hewlett Packard is also involved in providing imaging equipment for Israeli checkpoints and ID cards, enabling the siege of Gaza, providing services to Israeli settlements, and supporting other occupation infrastructure. The New York City event is one of over 99 protests around the world between 25 November and 3 December demanding a boycott of HP and an end to HP’s involvement in deportations, incarceration and oppression in Palestine, the United States and around the world. These protests were organized in response to a call from the International Boycott HP Coalition and the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC).

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Reaching out to Best Buy shoppers on Black Friday with materials and information about HP’s role in human rights violations, protesters faced the rain for several hours to spread the word about Hewlett Packard’s involvement in the oppression of Palestinians.

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Several Zionist counter-protesters, including one person dressed in an Israeli military uniform, repeatedly heckled the protesters and attempted, yet failed, to provoke confrontations. Throughout the protest, demonstrators chanted loudly against HP and its complicity in the occupation of Palestine, urging shoppers to boycott Hewlett Packard technology products. A wide range of activists, groups and writers concerned with Palestine participated in the demonstration, while a group of youth from a video training class organized by Picture the Struggle interviewed participants. Picture the Struggle works to document justice movements, including the Black movement, in New York City, through video, photography and audio recording.

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Samidoun is planning to join and encourages all to attend the protest on Monday, 28 November in New York City in solidarity with Rasmea Odeh, former Palestinian prisoner and torture survivor facing persecution in the United States. A major hearing in her case to determine the entry of evidence relating to her PTSD after torture will take place on 29 November in Detroit, which is also the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The Rasmea Defense Committee is organizing protests and buses to Detroit to support Odeh, while protests are taking place in Tampa, Tucson, Fort Lauderdale, Salt Lake City and elsewhere to demand justice for Rasmea. In New York City, protesters will gather at Zuccotti Park at Liberty Street and Broadway at 3:30 pm on Monday.

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Photos 1, 3 by Bud Korotzer/Desertpeace

Photos 2, 4, 6 by Joe Catron

Photo 5 by Anne Pruden

 

WRITTEN FOR

FIDEL’S PALESTINIAN CONNECTION

The deceased Cuban leader and PLO chief Yasser Arafat enjoyed close relations and shared anti-imperialist ideology.

Cuban President Fidel Castro greets Palestine leader Yasser Arafat, right, at a dinner reception.

Cuban President Fidel Castro greets Palestine leader Yasser Arafat, right, at a dinner reception.

Fidel Castro: The Palestinian connection

Dalia Hatuqa

 It’s November 1974, and Yasser Arafat, sporting his signature Ray-Ban sunglasses and checkered black-and-white headscarf, is waving to a cheering crowd on the tarmac of Jose Marti International Airport outside Havana.

He descended from the Algerian Airlines plane that took him from New York City to the Cuban capital, where he was greeted and embraced by Fidel Castro, who was at that time prime minister and had been in power for 15 years.

Castro died late on Friday at the age of 90, according to the Cuban government.

The moment in Havana wasn’t the first time the two men had met – their initial encounter happened just over a year earlier at the 4th Summit of Non-Aligned Countries in Algeria. However, it was the first time they met on Cuban soil.

Despite not being a head of state, Arafat was given a presidential welcome in Havana: Cuban Communist Party officials, ministers and others warmly welcomed the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader that day.

Later on, he was awarded one of the country’s highest decorations, the Orden Nacional Playa Giron, or Bay of Pigs Medal, which, according to Cuba’s government radio, is “awarded to Cuban citizens or foreigners who have excelled in the struggle against imperialism, colonialism and neo-colonialism, or who have done great deeds for peace and progress of mankind”.

The iconic picture of Arafat and Castro walking on the tarmac – housed at the Yasser Arafat Foundation in Ramallah – tells the tale of how an unlikely relationship between the two men, and the PLO and Cuba, were forged.

And while Cuban-Palestinian relations can be traced as far back as the 1966 Tricontinental Conference in Havana, it was Arafat’s November 1974 trip that “cemented the official Palestinian relationship with Cuba”, said Hosni Abdel Wahad, the Palestinian Authority’s assistant foreign minister for the Americas.

“It was during that visit that the official PLO-Cuban ties were forged and the first [PLO] representative office was opened in Havana thereafter.”

Cuba recognises the PLO

It is believed that unofficial ties were made between Cuba and the Palestinians during a first-of-its-kind trip by Fidel’s brother, Raul Castro, and Che Guevara to the Gaza Strip in late 1959.

Events in the 1950s set the stage for this trip: during that time, all Latin American countries, with the exception of Cuba, consistently supported the Israeli position over that of the Palestinians in international forums.

Che Guevara, who was not Cuban but was an instrumental figure in the country’s revolution, spoke in support of the Palestinians in the coastal enclave and elsewhere.

This culminated in Cuba’s recognition of the PLO when it was founded in 1964, making it one of the first countries to do so.

The Cubans trained Palestinian cadres, and Fidel himself was a staunch advocate of the Palestinian quest for freedom and independence.

– Mansour Tahboub, former acting director of the Arafat Foundation

Many of Arafat’s pictures at the Yasser Arafat Foundation, which traces and commemorates the life of the late Palestinian leader, attest to a close relationship with Fidel Castro and Cuba.

The mostly black-and-white images document a series of visits by Arafat to the Latin American country – by some accounts, as many as eight; and these are just the official ones, said Mohammad Odeh, who heads Fatah’s Latin America department.

“That’s a significant number considering Cuba is such a geographically distant country.

“It was, at best, a 12-hour plane ride from any European country, yet Arafat made the trip on numerous occasions. Castro always welcomed him like he was a head of state.”

Mansour Tahboub, former acting director of the Arafat Foundation, said such visits were also a testament to the close historical ties.

“Cuba has always been a strong supporter of Palestinians in all realms: political, military, vocational training,” Tahboub said.

“The Cubans trained Palestinian cadres, and Fidel himself was a staunch advocate of the Palestinian quest for freedom and independence.”

The rare archival footage at the foundation provides a window into many milestones of Cuban-Palestinian relations, such as Arafat pictured on stage – with former Syrian president, Hafez al-Assad, in the background – condemning Egypt for signing the 1978 Camp David Accords with Israel, during the 6th Non-Aligned Summit in Havana in September 1979.

During that time, Egypt was suspended as a member of the Non-Aligned Movement after its agreement with Israel was criticised as “an act of complicity with the continued occupation of Arab territories”.

But these pictures show only a portion of the decades-long relationship between the two men. The PLO and Cuba were natural allies, as both championed what their leaders saw as a struggle against imperial and colonial powers.

Quest for independence

Indeed, Castro conflated Cuba’s “strife to fight imperialism” with the Palestinian quest for independence from Israel’s occupation.

“Cuba’s backing of the Palestinians wasn’t exceptional,” explained Abdel Wahad, who studied journalism in Cuba.

“It was part of the Cuban support system to all people struggling for freedom and fighting against colonialism.”

Castro reaffirmed this belief on numerous occasions, including during an interview with the French weekly Afrique-Asie in 1977.

“The Palestinian movements have shown their ability to resist imperialist … aggression … [The Palestinian cause] will prevail sooner or later in spite of the betrayal by Arab reactionaries, imperialist manoeuvres and Israeli aggression.”

In almost every one of Castro’s many speeches, he voiced support for the Palestinians alongside condemnations of US “imperialist plots”.

Following the end of the Six-Day War, Cuba condemned Israel for the first time at the UN. And of all the Latin American countries that had PLO representative offices at the time, only Cuba and Nicaragua granted the PLO full diplomatic status.

Yet despite its close relationship with the PLO, Cuba continued to maintain relations with Israel until 1973. It was during the Non-Aligned Movement summit of that year in Algeria that Cuba announced it would break off relations with Tel Aviv.

Several historical accounts refer to a dramatic scene unfolding at the event after Castro was reportedly convinced to cut ties with Israel.

Tales were told of an embrace between Castro and former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi, and some claimed that “Arafat ran across [the hall] to embrace Fidel, and the applause lasted for minutes”.

During the Non-Aligned Movement’s heyday, before the end of the Cold War, Cuba also gave much-needed political support to the Palestinians in international fora, such as the UN.

Around that time, Cuba co-sponsored the UN General Assembly resolution that equated Zionism with racism.

Even when the UN later repealed the resolution in 1991, Cuba stood in opposition.

Quid pro quo?

Some argued that the prominence Cubans gave to the Palestinian cause was a quid pro quo for helping the Castro government secure influence among “Third World nations”.

“The symbiotic relationship between the two … enabled Castro, despite his role in Latin America and Africa as a Soviet client and surrogate, to assume a leadership position in the Third World and within the Non-Aligned Movement,” wrote David J Kopilow, a former consultant for the Hudson Institute in Washington specialising in Central America.

Cuba assisted the PLO – especially left-leaning factions like the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) – in forging ties with neighbouring states.

The Cubans had a huge role in us seeking the status of non-member observer state, and we still liaise with them on all high-level international matters.

– Mohammad Odeh, head of Fatah’s Latin America department

“The Cubans played a vital role in facilitating our interactions on the Latin American scene,” said Hisham Abu Ghosh, a member of the DFLP’s political bureau.

The DFLP had an especially close relationship with the Cuban regime; the party’s leader Nayef Hawatmeh made dozens of trips to the island, the most recent of which was made in November 2013.

The PLO also found fertile ground in Cuba for political training and support, giving “logistical and professional guidance for Palestinian factions”, according to Abdel Majeed Sweilim, professor of political science at Al Quds University.

The Latin American state also took a special interest in providing educational support to Palestinians.

“Despite Cuba’s economic woes, the government would give more than 150 Palestinians annually opportunities to study medicine, engineering and other disciplines,” said Odeh, who studied dentistry on the island in 1970 under a full scholarship granted by the Cuban government.

Close relations have been maintained between the Palestinians and Cuba, but “the nature of the relationship has differed”, explained the PA’s Abdel Wahad. “There is an official relationship with the state of Palestine.”

Cuba was even consulted in the lead-up to the UN’s recognition of Palestine as a “non-member observer state”.

“I was in Cuba two years ago to consult with officials about the UN bid,” Fatah’s Odeh said.

“Not many people know this, but the Cubans had a huge role in us seeking the status of non-member observer state, and we still liaise with them on all high-level international matters.”

*

More from MA’AN HERE

From Palestine to Cuba: Palestinian leaders remember the late Fidel Castro

TRUMP ~~ UNIFIER EXTRAORDINAIRE

What you are about to witness is historic; it is the will of the people to act collectively and in the service of the public good.

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Thank you Mr. Trump, the unifier

HOW THE ‘SUPER MOON’ AFFECTED THE SUPER LUNATICS IN ISRAEL

Olive harvest time is a traditional season for pogroms in the West Bank, but this was one of the most violent.

Image by Carlos Latuff

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 Israel’s #1 Lunatic

Image by Amos Biderman

Image by Amos Biderman

A Pogrom Shakes a Palestinian Village Strangled by Israeli Settlements

A dozen masked settlers wielding knives and clubs and yelling ‘death to Arabs’ attacked five Palestinian farmers who were harvesting olives; ‘They came to kill,’ one victim says.

Gideon Levy and Alex Levac

It was a pogrom.

The survivors are five congenial Palestinian farmers who speak broken Hebrew and work in construction in Israel, with valid entry permits. On weekends they cultivate what is left of their lands, most of which were plundered for the benefit of the settlements that choke their village, Janiya, outside Ramallah. They are convinced that they survived last Saturday’s attack only by a miracle.

“Pogrom” really is the only word that describes what they endured. “We will kill you!” the assailants shouted, as they beat the men over the head and on their bodies with clubs and iron pipes, and brandished serrated knives. The only “crime” of the Palestinians, who were in the midst of harvesting their olives when the settlers swooped down on them, was that they were Palestinians who had the temerity to work their land.

Olive harvest time is a traditional season for pogroms in the West Bank, but this was one of the most violent. No Israeli official condemned the assault, no one got upset. One victim needed 20 stitches in his head, another suffered a broken arm and shoulder, a third is limping, a fourth lost his front teeth. Only one managed to get away from the attackers, but he was also hobbled, when he injured his leg on the rocky terrain as he fled.

The farmers, who days later were still in shock from the experience, were evacuated by fellow villagers; the olives remain scattered on the ground. Now they are afraid to go back to the groves. This weekend, they promised themselves, they will send young people from Janiya to collect what was harvested and to complete the work. They themselves, their bodies and spirits battered, say they are incapable of doing anything.

The assailants, about a dozen masked settlers, are seen in a video taken by a local resident, Ahmed al-Mazlim, as they – apparently flushed with the excitement of their act – made their way back to their huts, which are scattered below the settlement of Neria, also known as North Talmon, between Modi’in and Ramallah. This was their “oneg Shabbat,” their Sabbath joy: descending into the valley and beating up people who were working their land, as innocent as they were helpless – possibly even with intent to kill. A peaceful weekend.

The settlers are seen climbing slowly back up to the huts of their unauthorized outpost, which is planted on the hillside below Neria. They are not in any hurry – after all, no one is going to catch them. Finally they sit down on the porch of one of the huts to quench their thirst with a canteen.

I’ve never before seen criminals leaving the scene of the crime with such indifference. Maybe they were exhausted from their labors – thrashing Arabs – tired but happy. Yotam Berger, the Haaretz reporter who was the first to publish the video, visited the huts the day after the pogrom. It was clear to him that settlers lived there, even though the structures were empty when he arrived. No arrests have been made so far, and past experience suggests that none will be made. The police are investigating.

Janiya, a small village of 1,400 souls in the central West Bank, made a living from its lands until most of them were grabbed by the nearby settlements, beginning in the late 1980s. Few regions are as dense with settlers as this one; few villages have had as much of their land plundered as Janiya. Of the original 50,000-60,000 dunams (12,500-15,000 acres) owned by its residents, only 7,000 remain in their hands. The village is being suffocated.

From a vantage point at its edge, we can view the valley in which the assault was perpetrated, and the nearby settlements. Our guide is Iyad Hadad, a field researcher for the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. Beneath us, the homes of Talmon A abut Janiya’s remaining lands, quite close to the villagers’ houses. Just stretch out your hand and touch them; one more expansion project and they’re inside Janiya.

To the right – southeast – is the settlement of Dolev, on behalf of whose residents Israel blocked the main road to Ramallah for years. Perched on the hill opposite is Talmon B; next to it is Talmon C; and there, on the horizon, lies Talmon D. An Israel Defense Forces base stands on the top of the hill, at a distance.

Every hilltop here poses another threat to the quiet village. Neria overlooks the olive grove belonging to the Abu Fuheida family and the terraced slopes leading down to it. The dwellings of the “hilltop youths” are scattered across the whole expanse, beneath the Talmons, dozens of meters apart from each other.

It’s quiet in the valley. Some of Janiya’s olive groves now lie on property owned by the settlements; when they are harvested, it’s done in coordination with the Israel Defense Forces. For example, olives were picked in Palestinian-tended parts of Talmon A last week. But the attack by the settlers was perpetrated in a location where coordination isn’t required, because it’s not on the property of any settlement.

This is the end of the harvesting season, and this is a wadi called Natashath. It’s Saturday morning, a beautiful day, and five members of the Abu Fuheida family – Sa’il, Hassan, Sabar, Sa’ad and Mohammed – descend to their family grove, where they have about 70 olive trees. It’s about 8:30; there are no other farmers around. They carry bags (“No knives,” one of them quickly makes clear) that are spread out on the ground to catch the fallen olives, along with a bottle of Coca-Cola, tomatoes, pita and cold cuts. This is not a good year for olives – the harvest has been meager.

They work until midday, sit down to eat and go back to the ladders. Their plan is to complete the harvest by evening. But then the assailants sweep down out of nowhere; the harvesters, up on ladders, heads amid the branches, don’t see them. Only Sa’il, at 57 the eldest of the group and the only one not on a ladder, is able to get away, only to be injured in the course of his panicky flight.

According to Sa’il and to his wounded brother Hassan, there were 10, perhaps 15 attackers. They looked young and robust. One of the four who assaulted Hassan wore glasses; Hassan saw only his eyes. He was the one who gave him the worst pummeling, adds Hassan. All were holding pipes, clubs, sticks or knives. There was also one who seemed to be a lookout: He stood atop the hill next to Neria, armed with a rifle, apparently observing the goings-on. “Kill the Arabs! Kill the Arabs!” the attackers shouted. “We will kill you, you sluts.”

Sa’il: “They were aggressive, violent, I’ve never seen an attack like it. They came to kill.”

The villagers scampered down from the ladders, straight into the hands of the attackers, who grabbed Sabar first, then Hassan, surrounding them – a few settlers for every Palestinian – and walloping them. Sabar was the first to lose consciousness, Hassan says he also passed out. The pogromists tried to hit them on the head, but Hassan protected his with his hands. His right hand is now bandaged, stitched up and in a sling, four of his teeth were knocked out and his lip was cut, too. He is barely functioning and his speech is slurred.

The attack went on for between five and 10 minutes. One of the cousins, Mohammed, managed to flee at one stage, after being slightly wounded, and he summoned help from the village. When the assailants left, the wounded were taken in ambulances and private cars to the Ramallah Government Hospital. Hassan relates that he regained consciousness in his brother’s house, where he had been taken by villagers before being evacuated to the hospital. He gets dizzy when he stands up. He was certain he was going to die, says Hassan, a construction worker in Rishon Letzion (“with a proper permit”).

Only Hassan and Sa’il were in the village when we visited this week (the other three victims had gone to Binyamin Region headquarters, to give testimony to the police.) Their home was packed with visitors offering words of comfort to the victims. The assailants are insane, their cousin Sahar tells us: “They hate the Arabs, they hate the smell of Arabs, they see an Arab and want to trample him underfoot. They want to kill us. They don’t want Arabs here. And they do whatever they feel like.”

We sat in the shade of the bougainvillea in the yard of the family house. I asked Hassan what he thought about what happened. A faint smile crossed his wounded lips, as he replied, “I don’t know what to think. This happens every year.”

Source and photos AT

SILENCING OF THE LAMBS IN JERUSALEM

The latest attempt to erase Palestine from the map was to silence the call for morning prayers in Jerusalem ….

This is what some Israelis found offensive …. simply meaning that God is great.

Islamic Call to Prayer at Dawn

Israeli authorities ban Muslim call for dawn prayer from 3 mosques in Jerusalem town

Israeli authorities reportedly banned the Muslim call to dawn prayer from being projected over loudspeakers in three different mosques in the Jerusalem district town of Abu Dis on Friday, according to local sources.

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Lawyer Bassam Bahr, head of a local committee in Abu Dis, told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided the town just before the dawn prayer on Friday.

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According to Bahr, Israeli forces raided the al-Rahman, al-Taybeh and al-Jamia mosques in the town, and informed the muezzins, the men responsible for the call to prayer that the call for dawn prayer through the loudspeakers was banned.
Bahr added that the forces did not provide any reason for the ban, and also prevented locals living in the eastern part of the town from reaching the Salah al-Din mosque for dawn prayers.
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Bahr condemned the “unjustified ban,” saying that “Israel attacks Palestinians in all aspects of their lives,” in the form of limiting free movement through the use of checkpoints, and through the disruption of daily life in the form of nightly detention raids.
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The events in Abu Dis came a day after a number of Israeli settlers from illegal settlement of Pisgat Zeev protested in front of the house of Israeli Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barakat over the ‘noise pollution’ caused by the Muslim call to prayer.
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A spokesperson for the Jerusalem municipality told Ma’an that Barkat, “in collaboration with the Jerusalem District police chief and local Muslim leadership, has developed a plan to protect the religious freedom of Muslim muezzin to announce the call to prayer, while ensuring reasonable quiet in Jerusalem’s residential areas.”
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The spokesperson went on to add that the municipality guidelines would include “increased instructions for muezzin operators regarding technical guidelines for optimal playback and sound amplification, increased mapping of city mosques, and continuous dialogue with local Muslim leadership.”
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Adnan al-Husseini, the Palestinian Authority (PA)-appointed governor of Jerusalem, told Ma’an at the time that the call to prayer — also known as the adhan, which is broadcast five times a day from mosques — was one of the main Muslim religious rituals and an integral part of Jerusalem’s identity. He said that Israeli demands to lower the sound of the adhan was a threat which had been issued several times before in Jerusalem.
Al-Husseini said that the sound of the adhan doesn’t rise above an agreed-upon decibel level, adding that Israeli settlers were not annoyed by the noise, but by the call to prayer as a reminder of Palestinian presence in Jerusalem.
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Meanwhile, Hatem Abd Al-Qader, a Fatah official in Charge of Jerusalem affairs, told Ma’an that Israel aimed to provoke Muslims by attempting to ban the call to prayer.
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Abd al-Qader said that the Israeli settlers’ protest against the adhan came amid constant violations and raids of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem’s Old City, and demolition of Muslim graves in Jerusalem, which he said were part of a broader Israeli plan to destroy the Palestinian Muslim and Christian identities of Jerusalem and replace them with a Jewish one, turning the Israeli-Palestinian political conflict into a religious one.
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Palestinian communities in occupied East Jerusalem — within the municipal boundaries and also beyond the wall in the occupied West Bank — and the larger Jerusalem district, have long been targeted by Israeli authorities in what has been denounced as a policy of “Judaization” of the holy city at the expense of other religious communities.
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This “Judaization” has been characterized by the continuous expansion of illegal Jewish-only settlements and a large-scale policy of demolition of Palestinian homes.
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The Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound has also been the stage of numerous tensions over the years, with Israeli forces imposing tight restrictions on Palestinian worshipers at the site.
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Many Palestinians fear that right-wing Israelis are attempting to reclaim the holy site, as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood.
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SOURCE

WILL PRESIDENT TRUMP MAKE PALESTINE GREAT AGAIN?

The only thing that can be said about President-elect Donald Trump with any confidence is that no one knows exactly what he will do.

Earlier in the campaign he insisted that he would be even-handed in dealings with Israelis and Palestinians, driving many of Israel’s most fanatical and neoconservative supporters into Clinton’s arms.

But facing a backlash, he quickly pivoted, promising Netanyahu he would recognize Jerusalem as the “undivided capital of the State of Israel,” and actively encouraging Israel to continue building colonial settlements in the occupied West Bank.

What will the 'new Goliath' do?

What will the ‘new Goliath’ do?

What will President Trump mean for Palestine?

On a day that most people expected not to see, we can say few things with certainty.

One of them is that Hillary Clinton would have been a disastrous president for those supporting the Palestinian struggle for their rights.

Her failed campaign pitched her as the natural successor to President Barack Obama, the Democrat who just unconditionally handed Israel the biggest military aid package in history.

During the Democratic primary campaign, Clinton marketed herself as a belligerent and violently hawkish ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against the Palestinian people.

She vowed to make blocking the nonviolent Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement a priority of her would-be administration.

She went out of her way to campaign against the mildest efforts to hold Israel accountable, including appealing directly to members of her United Methodist Church last spring to vote against divestment from companies that assist and profit from Israel’s occupation.

Clinton positioned herself as an anti-Palestinian extremist at a time when the Democratic Party base showed itself more open than ever to embracing Palestinian rights.

Her extreme support for Israel is just one of the many ways she and her party operatives pandered to donorsand revealed themselves to be out of touch with large segments of the country they had taken for granted.

But Hillary Clinton will not be president.

President Trump

The only thing that can be said about President-elect Donald Trump with any confidence is that no one knows exactly what he will do.

Earlier in the campaign he insisted that he would be even-handed in dealings with Israelis and Palestinians, driving many of Israel’s most fanatical and neoconservative supporters into Clinton’s arms.

But facing a backlash, he quickly pivoted, promising Netanyahu he would recognize Jerusalem as the “undivided capital of the State of Israel,” and actively encouraging Israel to continue building colonial settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Trump still showed flashes of unwillingness to appease. After winning his party’s nomination in July, he brushed off a reporter’s question about whether he would follow the “tradition” of other Republican candidates and visit Israel.

“It’s a tradition, but I’m not traditional,” Trump shot back.

Even if these changes reveal an erratic man with no fixed views, Trump’s most pro-Israel positions don’t differ much in substance from the policies of Obama, on whose watch settlement construction more than matched the pace during the term of President George W. Bush.

Visceral fears

In his victory speech last night, Trump returned to a regular theme: “We will get along with all other nations willing to get along with us … We’ll have great relationships. We expect to have great, great relationships.”

That will be little comfort to people in the US and around the world whose visceral fears are stoked by the forces that helped propel Trump’s rise: his racist baiting and incitement against Muslims and Mexicans, his boasts about sexually assaulting women, his denial of global warming and his indulgence of anti-Semitic white supremacists, including the Ku Klux Klan, which gave him its endorsement.

The Israeli counterparts of these vile American racists are celebrating Trump’s victory today.

Netanyahu congratulated Trump, calling him a “true friend of Israel.”

“I am confident President-elect Trump and I will continue to strengthen the alliance between our two countries and bring it to greater heights,” the Israeli prime minister added.

Naftali Bennett, the Israeli education minister who has boasted about his killings of Arabs, hailed the coming Trump era.

“Trump’s victory is an opportunity for Israel to immediately retract the notion of a Palestinian state in the center of the country, which would hurt our security and just cause,” Bennett said.

But the so-called two-state solution was already dead and Clinton would not have changed that.

Fighting back

The Palestinian cause has already shifted to a struggle for equality against an entrenched system of Israeli occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid anchored and rooted in support from the US bipartisan establishment.

Palestinians were not waiting for the result of the US election to decide which way their struggle would go.

Trump has won, but some things have not changed. Over the last decade, support for Palestinian rights has been rising in the United States, particularly among the young – and in the increasingly diverse Democratic Party base that has been utterly failed by its establishment leadership.

More than ever, people understand that US support for Israel comes not only from the same places where support for white supremacy, mass incarceration, unchecked police violence and US militarism and imperialism are strongest.

It also stems from the liberal, pro-human rights circles that championed Clinton, who more often than not equate colonizer and colonized, oppressor and oppressed, occupation and resistance.

This base has no choice now but to rally from its despair, which at any rate the election of either candidate would have precipitated, to keep organizing and fighting for its rights and the rights of people around the world.

The truth is, we had no choice but to wage that fight anyway.

HOW BALFOUR’S ‘PROMISE’ AND BRITAIN DESTROYED PALESTINE

Ninety-nine years later, the British government is yet to possess the moral courage to take responsibility for what their government has done to the Palestinian people.  

Ninety-nine years later, Palestinians insist that their rights in Palestine cannot be dismissed, neither by Balfour, nor by his modern peers in “Her Majesty’s Government”.

"The Zionists claimed Palestine and renamed it 'Israel'" [Getty Images]

“The Zionists claimed Palestine and renamed it ‘Israel'” [Getty Images]

How Britain Destroyed the Palestinian Homeland

Ninety-nine years since Balfour’s “promise”, Palestinians insist that their rights in Palestine cannot be dismissed.

Ramzy Baroud

When I was a child growing up in a Gaza refugee camp, I looked forward to November 2. On that day, every year, thousands of students and camp residents would descend upon the main square of the camp, carrying Palestinian flags and placards, to denounce the Balfour Declaration.

Truthfully, my giddiness then was motivated largely by the fact that schools would inevitably shut down and, following a brief but bloody confrontation with the Israeli army, I would go home early to the loving embrace of my mother, where I would eat a snack and watch cartoons. 

At the time, I had no idea who Balfour actually was, and how his “declaration” all those years ago had altered the destiny of my family and, by extension, my life and the lives of my children as well.

All I knew was that he was a bad person and, because of his terrible deed, we subsisted in a refugee camp, encircled by a violent army and by an ever-expanding graveyard filled with “martyrs”.  

Decades later, destiny would lead me to visit the Whittingehame Church, a small parish in which Arthur James Balfour is now buried.  

While my parents and grandparents are buried in a refugee camp, an ever-shrinking space under a perpetual siege and immeasurable hardship, Balfour’s resting place is an oasis of peace and calmness. The empty meadow all around the church is large enough to host all the refugees in my camp.

Finally, I became fully aware of why Balfour was a “bad person”.   

Once Britain’s Prime Minister, then the Foreign Secretary from late 1916, Balfour had pledged my homeland to another people. That promise was made on November 2, 1917, on behalf of the British government in the form of a letter sent to the leader of the Jewish community in Britain, Walter Rothschild.  

At the time, Britain was not even in control of Palestine, which was still part of the Ottoman Empire. Either way, my homeland  was never Balfour’s to so casually transfer to anyone else. His letter read: 

“His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”  

He concluded, “I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.”  

Ironically, members of the British parliament have declared that the use of the term “Zionist” is both anti-Semitic and abusive.

The British government remains unrepentant after all these years. It has yet to take any measure of moral responsibility, however symbolic, for what it has done to the Palestinians. Worse, it is now busy attempting to control the very language used by Palestinians to identify those who have deprived them of their land and freedom.  

But the truth is, not only was Rothschild a Zionist, Balfour was, too. Zionism, then, before it deservedly became a swearword, was a political notion that Europeans prided themselves to be associated with.

In fact, just before he became Prime Minister, David Cameron declared, before the Conservative Friends of Israel meeting, that  he, too, was a Zionist. To some extent, being a Zionist remains a rite of passage for some Western leaders.  

Balfour was hardly acting on his own. True, the Declaration bears his name, yet, in reality, he was a loyal agent of an empire with massive geopolitical designs, not only concerning Palestine alone, but with Palestine as part of a larger Arab landscape.  

Just a year earlier, another sinister document was introduced, albeit secretly. It was endorsed by another top British diplomat, Mark Sykes and, on behalf of France, by François Georges-Picot. The Russians were informed of the agreement, as they too had received a piece of the Ottoman cake.  

The document indicated that, once the Ottomans were soundly defeated, their territories, including Palestine, would be split among the prospective victorious parties.  

The Sykes-Picot Agreement, also known as the Asia Minor Agreement, was signed in secret 100 years ago, two years into World War I. It signified the brutal nature of colonial powers that rarely associated land and resources with people that lived upon the land and owned those resources.  

The centrepiece of the agreement was a map that was marked with straight lines by a china graph pencil. The map largely determined the fate of the Arabs, dividing them in accordance with various haphazard assumptions of tribal and sectarian lines.  

Once the war was over, the loot was to be divided into spheres of influence:  

– France would receive areas marked (a), which included: the region of south-eastern Turkey, northern Iraq – including Mosel, most of Syria and Lebanon. 

– British-controlled areas were marked with the letter (b), which included: Jordan, southern Iraq, Haifa and Acre in Palestine and a coastal strip between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan. 

– Russia would be granted Istanbul, Armenia and the strategic Turkish Straits.  

The improvised map consisted not only of lines but also colours, along with language that attested to the fact that the two countries viewed the Arab region purely on materialistic terms, without paying the slightest attention to the possible repercussions of slicing up entire civilizations with a multifarious history of co-operation and conflict.

The agreement read, partly:  

“… in the blue area France, and in the red area Great Britain, shall be allowed to establish such direct or indirect administration or control as they desire and as they may think fit to arrange with the Arab state or confederation of Arab states.”  

The brown area, however, was designated as an international administration, the nature of which was to be decided upon after further consultation among Britain, France and Russia.  The Sykes-Picot negotiations finished in March 1916 and were official, although secretly signed on May 19, 1916. World War I concluded on November 11, 1918, after which the division of the Ottoman Empire began in earnest.

British and French mandates were extended over divided Arab entities, while Palestine was granted to the Zionist movement a year later, when Balfour conveyed the British government’s promise, sealing the fate of Palestine to live in perpetual war and turmoil. 

INTERACTIVE: A century on – Why Arabs resent Sykes-Picot

The idea of Western “peacemakers” and “honest-brokers”, who are very much a party in every Middle Eastern conflict, is not new. British betrayal of Arab aspirations goes back many decades. They used the Arabs as pawns in their Great Game against other colonial contenders, only to betray them later on, while still casting themselves as friends bearing gifts.

Nowhere else was this hypocrisy on full display as was in the case of Palestine. Starting with the first wave of Zionist Jewish migration to Palestine in 1882, European countries helped to facilitate the movement of illegal settlers and resources, where the establishment of many colonies, large and small, was afoot.    

So when Balfour sent his letter to Rothschild, the idea of a Jewish homeland in Palestine was very much plausible.

Still, many supercilious promises were being made to the Arabs during the Great War years, as self-imposed Arab leadership sided with the British in their war against the Ottoman Empire. Arabs were promised instant independence, including that of the Palestinians.  

The understanding among Arab leaders was that Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations was to apply to Arab provinces that were ruled by the Ottomans. Arabs were told that they were to be respected as “a sacred trust of civilization”, and their communities were to be recognised as “independent nations”.  

Palestinians wanted to believe that they were also included in that civilization sacredness, and were deserving of independence, too. Their conduct in support of the Pan-Arab Congress, as voting delegates in July 1919, which elected Faisal as a King of a state comprising Palestine, Lebanon, Transjordan and Syria, and their continued support of Sharif Hussein of Mecca, were all expressions of their desire for the long-coveted sovereignty.

When the intentions of the British and their rapport with the Zionists became too apparent, Palestinians rebelled, a rebellion that has never ceased, 99 years later, for the horrific consequences of British colonialism and the eventual complete Zionist takeover of Palestine are still felt after all these years.  

Paltry attempts to pacify Palestinian anger were to no avail, especially after the League of Nations Council in July 1922 approved the terms of the British Mandate over Palestine – which was originally granted to Britain in April 1920 – without consulting the Palestinians at all, who would disappear from the British and international radar, only to reappear as negligible rioters, troublemakers, and obstacles to the joint British-Zionist colonial concoctions.  

Despite occasional assurances to the contrary, the British intention of ensuring the establishment of an exclusively Jewish state in Palestine was becoming clearer with time.

The Balfour Declaration was hardly an aberration, but had, indeed, set the stage for the full-scale ethnic cleansing that followed, three decades later. 

In his book, Before Their Diaspora, Palestinian scholar Walid Khalidi captured the true collective understanding among Palestinians regarding what had befallen their homeland nearly a century ago: 

“The Mandate, as a whole, was seen by the Palestinians as an Anglo-Zionist condominium and its terms as instrument for the implementation of the Zionist programme; it had been imposed on them by force, and they considered it to be both morally and legally invalid. The Palestinians constituted the vast majority of the population and owned the bulk of the land. Inevitably, the ensuing struggle centreed on this status quo. The British and the Zionists were determined to subvert and revolutionise it, the Palestinians to defend and preserve it.”  

In fact, that history remains in constant replay: The Zionists claimed Palestine and renamed it “Israel”; the British continue to support them, although never ceasing to pay lip service to the Arabs; the Palestinian people remain a nation that is geographically fragmented between refugee camps, in the diaspora, militarily occupied, or treated as second-class citizens in a country upon which their ancestors dwelt since time immemorial.  

While Balfour cannot be blamed for all the misfortunes that have befallen Palestinians since he communicated his brief but infamous letter, the notion that his “promise” embodied – that of complete disregard of the aspirations of the Palestinian Arab people – is handed from one generation of British diplomats to the next, the same way that Palestinian resistance to colonialism is also spread across generations.

In his essay in the Al-Ahram Weekly, entitled “Truth and Reconciliation“, the late Professor Edward Said wrote: “Neither the Balfour Declaration nor the Mandate ever specifically concede that Palestinians had political, as opposed to civil and religious, rights in Palestine.

The idea of inequality between Jews and Arabs was, therefore, built into British – and, subsequently, Israeli and US – policy from the start.”

That inequality continues, thus the perpetuation of the conflict. What the British, the early Zionists, the Americans and subsequent Israeli governments failed to understand, and continue to ignore at their own peril, is that there can be no peace without justice and equality in Palestine; and that Palestinians will continue to resist, as long as the reasons that inspired their rebellion nearly a century ago, remain in place.  

Ninety-nine years later, the British government is yet to possess the moral courage to take responsibility for what their government has done to the Palestinian people.  

Ninety-nine years later, Palestinians insist that their rights in Palestine cannot be dismissed, neither by Balfour, nor by his modern peers in “Her Majesty’s Government”.

More photos and videos at SOURCE

‘THE FROZEN CHOSEN’ ~~ A JEWISH STATE IN ALASKA

The novel The Yiddish Policemen’s Union should come with a large, bold warning label affixed to the outside cover, like those labels on cigarette packs. WARNING: READ WITH CAUTION IF YOU ACTUALLY LIVE UNDER A JEWISH ISRAELI MILITARY OCCUPATION.

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“THE FROZEN CHOSEN”

SAM BAHOUR
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A Jewish state in Alaska (still) results in the burning of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem
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Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon should have known better than to gift me his novel. Michael visited our home in Palestine this past summer and after spending the day giving him a tour of the Palestinian cities of Al-Bireh and Ramallah (central West Bank) and Nablus (northern West Bank) we settled down, along with Palestinian writer Fida Jiryis, for dinner at Darna Restaurant, located in the heart of historic Ramallah. By the time dinner was over, not only had we learned about this author’s amazing professional career and life journey, but he casually mentioned a note about this novel that he wrote back in 2007 that was based on a real historic fact in U.S. politics related to the issue of Palestine and Israel. I was puzzled and asked if he was joking. He wasn’t. I’m sure it showed that I was embarrassed to have never heard of this fact, given I’m rather well read on the topic. Before parting, he passed me a copy of the novel as a thank you gift.
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I must make a confession here. Reading fiction does not come easy for me. I guess, while living under a military occupation, there is too much non-fiction pounding at our lives to allow us to get happily lost in fiction. Reading The Yiddish Policemen’s Union may have changed that. No wonder this novel received a ton of awards; it takes fiction to new levels. Not only does Michael have a truly amazing command of the English language (proof being that my dictionary accompanied me in turning each of the 414 pages), but it turns out his Yiddish is not so bad too. Add to that a true historic premise to base his plot on, and linking the story to a few themes that are alive and well, albeit repulsive (think murder, racism, substance abuse, and more) in today’s real world, and what comes to life is something that you’ll be reflecting on long after the book takes its well-earned place on your bookshelf.
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When I was about half way through the novel, a New York Times article came across my desk that made me burst out laughing. The article was titled, How Do You Say ‘Email’ in Yiddish?, by Joseph Berger (Oct. 4, 2016). It was about a new 826-page Comprehensive English-Yiddish Dictionary published in June by Indiana University Press. How’s that for synchronicity? Given every other word in Chabon’s novel that I was looking up was not in my English dictionary—because it was Yiddish—I almost wrote the New York Times to tell them that they missed mentioning a major contributor to keeping Yiddish alive, the novel I was reading.
I must say Michael is a bold writer. If The Yiddish Policemen’s Union was written by a non-Jew, it could well have marked the end of the author’s career, if not worse. But coming from a Jewish-American, a member of the tribe, if you will, he can take readers where others would not dream of going. He does this with an all-so-delicate balancing act that would afford him a lifetime membership with the Palestinian Circus School.
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The historic U.S. political fact that took me off balance was, as I have come to learn, the very real 1940 Slattery Report, officially titled The Problem of Alaskan Development, which was produced by the United States Department of the Interior under Secretary Harold L. Ickes in 1939–40. It was named after Undersecretary of the Interior, Harry A. Slattery. The report recommended the provision of land in Alaska for the temporary refugee settlement of European Jews who were being persecuted by the Nazis during World War II.
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Ickes proposed the use of Alaska as a “haven for Jewish refugees from Germany and other areas in Europe where the Jews are subjected to oppressive restrictions.” The plan was introduced as a bill by Senator William King (Utah) and Democratic Representative Franck Havenner (California), both Democrats. The Alaska bill won the support of theologian Paul Tillich, widely regarded as one of the most influential theologians of the twentieth century, the Federal Council of Churches, and the American Friends Service Committee (Quakers). The plan was dealt a severe blow when Franklin Roosevelt told Ickes that he insisted on limiting the number of refugees to 10,000 a year for five years, and with a further restriction that Jews make up not more than 10% of the refugees. Roosevelt never mentioned the Alaska proposal in public, and without his support the plan died. (Reference Jewish Standard)
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This is where Michael leaves reality behind.
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A Wikipedia entry summaries the setting concisely, “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union is set in an alternative history version of the present day. The premise is that, contrary to real history, the United States voted to implement the 1940 Slattery Report […]. The novel’s divergence point from real history is revealed in the first dozen chapters to be the death of Anthony Dimond, Alaska Territory delegate to the U.S. Congress, in a car accident; Dimond was one of the congressmen responsible for preventing a vote on the report. It imagines a temporary independent Jewish settlement being created on the Alaskan coast.”
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The New York Times published a book review of the novel titled, The Frozen Chosen, by Patricia Cohen (April 29, 2007). You will understand why the New York Times and I both use this same title (although my use of capitalization is more accurate) after you read the book and if you have any knowledge of the real Israel. Cohen writes that Chabon attempts to answer the questions, “What if Jews had poured into a frigid island instead of the Middle Eastern desert, and the state of Israel had never been created? What if the small settlement of Sitka had grown into a teeming Jewish homeland, a land not of milk and honey but of salmon and lumber?”
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The Jews in the novel who settled in the Alaskan city, Sitka, are anxious throughout the novel because the “Reversion” is nearing. The “Reversion” is the date when the orderly return of Sitka back to the State of Alaska is supposed to take place.
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The Wikipedia entry continues, “In the novel, the State of Israel is founded in 1948, but is destroyed after only three months in an alternative version of the Arab-Israeli War. Without Israel, Palestine is described as a mosaic of contending religious and secular nationalist groups locked in internecine conflict; Jerusalem is described as “a city of blood and slogans painted on the wall, severed heads on telephone poles.” The United States president believes in “divine sanction” for neo-Zionism, a movement seeking for Jews to reclaim Israel once again.”
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All this while the main character, Yiddish policeman Meyer Landsman, seeks to resolve several murder investigations, and he and his partner stumble upon a paramilitary group that wants to build a new Temple in Jerusalem after destroying the Dome of the Rock, hoping to speed the birth of the Messiah. An evangelical Christian Zionist American government supports the group. As the novel nears the end, news reports are heard of the Dome of the Rock being bombed.
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Chabon writes these words which made me stop to rethink if I was reading fiction or the daily news, “…they [U.S. Government] think the idea of a bunch of crazy yids running around Arab Palestine, blowing up shrines and following Messiahs and starting World War Three is a really good idea.” Elsewhere, Meyer Landsman contemplates the meaning of a “promised land” by saying, “I don’t care what is written. I don’t care what supposedly got promised to some sandal-wearing idiot whose claim to fame is that he was ready to cut his own son’s throat for the sake of a hare-brained idea.”
Now, why should this novel come with a warning label? Because between the seriousness of the political premise, the gut-wrenching humor, the community involved, the concept of a collective return of land as even being imaginable, the real, day to day stories—love, death, addiction, work, relationships, etc.—interspersed, and the burning of the Dome of Rock, which already happened once in reality and is being threatened again these days, it’s just too much for a person living under an actual Jewish (or so believed)-inspired military occupation to handle.
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After coming away from the book feeling that my mind had just come out of a washing machine, I recalled this poster that I found a while back:
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Thanks, Michael! I truly enjoyed this read. We are all looking forward to your and Ayelet Waldman’s upcoming book, Kingdom of Olives and Ash, from Harper Collins Publishing, addressing 50 years of the very real Israeli military occupation of Palestinians. The dozen or so award-winning, world-class authors contributing to this upcoming book will offer a sincere cry from the mountain top for this human-made tragedy called the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to come to an end. Unlike in your novel, we Palestinians do not seek Reversion; we seek peace based on justice and equality for all, in a land not divided by walls, fences and checkpoints, but whose people are joined in harmony.
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Written FOR

#InternationalSolidarityExtraordinaire ~~ BRAZILIANS AIDING PALESTINIAN FARMERS

The Landless Rural Workers Movement, or Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST), sent its yearly delegation to Palestine for the olive harvest in solidarity with farmers in the West Bank.

A delegation from Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement joins the harvest to help Palestinian farmers pick olives and resist Israeli violence.

A delegation from Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement joins the harvest to help Palestinian farmers pick olives and resist Israeli violence.

Brazil’s MST begins solidarity olive harvest

The Landless Rural Workers Movement, or Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST), sent its yearly delegation to Palestine for the olive harvest in solidarity with farmers in the West Bank.

MST is a mass social movement in Brazil formed by rural workers and those who want to fight for land reform and against injustice in rural areas.

Members of the delegation are assisting with the physical work of picking olives as well as serving as witnesses to Israeli state or settler violence directed against Palestinian farmers. The hope is to ensure Palestinian farmers, even in high-risk areas, are able to harvest their olives.

The olive oil industry constitutes 25% of Palestine’s agricultural income and supports the livelihoods of approximately 100,000 Palestinian families. The constant threat of Israeli state and settler violence and upsets the olive harvest in Palestine each year.

The MST activists have already taken part in olive harvests across the West Bank, mainly in areas targeted by Israeli settlers. As a part of the 20-day olive picking delegation, MST representatives are also meeting with Palestinian civil society organizations, unions, and politicians.

On Monday, MST met with the Alternative Information Center (AIC) in Beit Sahour. AIC Director Nassar Ibrahim provided an overview of the Palestinian national movement, stressing the importance of mobilizing democratic forces against the occupation in both Palestinian and Israeli societies. AIC Senior Project Coordinator Ahmad Jaradat discussed the relationship of the Palestinian struggle for liberation to other international social justice movements.

MST has acted in support of the Palestinian national movement for years. It is one of the largest social movements in the world, with a membership of 1.5 million.

2landlesspal

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60th ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF PALESTINE

Sixty years is a long time to mourn a death, even a cold-blooded murder. It is even longer when you must live among those, and under the system of those, who murdered your loved ones. Had this been merely an isolated incident of the Israeli military machine killing Palestinians, one may have already regulated it to the history books. But it was and is not.

Photographs of the victims are displayed at the Kafr Qassem Massacre Museum. (Photo credit: Dylan Collins)

Photographs of the victims are displayed at the Kafr Qassem Massacre Museum. (Photo credit: Dylan Collins)

The Almighty Military Order

Forty-eight civilians, 1 fetus and 10 pennies

By Sam Bahour

If your Palestinian neighbors and friends seem slightly on edge today, please excuse them. October 29th brings back horrific memories to Palestinians everywhere, young and old. It was 60 years ago today that a scene of cold-blooded murder fell upon the hill-top Palestinian village of Kafr Qassem (also written Kfar Kassim), located in Israel about 20 km east of Tel Aviv, near the Green Line (1949 Armistice Agreement’s demarcation line) separating Israel and the West Bank. It was in Kafr Qassem on this day in 1956 where the Israeli military literally mowed down in cold blood 48 innocent civilians, one being a pregnant woman whose fetus is counted as the 49th victim. It was said that all of this was done in the service of the almighty Israeli “military order,” which no one dared to challenge.

Sixty years is a long time to mourn a death, even a cold-blooded murder. It is even longer when you must live among those, and under the system of those, who murdered your loved ones. Had this been merely an isolated incident of the Israeli military machine killing Palestinians, one may have already regulated it to the history books. But it was and is not.

There were other massacres prior to Kafr Qasssem, such as the case of Deir Yassin in 1948. Since that dark day in Kafr Qassem there have been numerous other incidents, too many to list. One that comes to mind is 13-year old Iman al-Homs who, in October 2004, was walking home from school in Gaza when an Israeli soldier emptied his magazine into her after she was wounded and lay on the ground. The soldier was caught on radio communications saying he was “confirming the kill.” The most recent example that comes to mind is the Israeli soldier caught on camera in Hebron this past March as he executed a wounded and immobilized Palestinian man lying on the ground by firing a bullet into his head as his fellow soldiers casually watched on.

Unlike today, decades ago Israel did undertake more serious investigations of actions of its military. This is not to say that justice was ever served—it rarely is. Such a landmark investigation was the Israeli Kahan Commission, established by the Israeli government on September 28, 1982, to investigate the Sabra and Shatila massacre (September 16–18, 1982) where 1,000-3,000 (exact number is disputed) Palestinians were slaughtered over three days.

The Kahan Commission was chaired by the Israeli President of the Supreme Court, Yitzhak Kahan. Its other two members were Israeli Supreme Court Judge Aharon Barak and Major general (res.) Yona Efrat. The Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon was found to bear personal responsibility. Sharon’s negligence in protecting the civilian population of Beirut, which had come under Israeli control, resulted in a recommendation that Sharon be dismissed as Defense Minister. Although Sharon grudgingly resigned as Defense Minister, he remained in the Cabinet as a Minister without Portfolio. Years later, Sharon would be elected Israel’s Prime Minister.

Back to Kafr Qassem.

The Israeli English newspaper, Haaretz, reported in a story by correspondent Ofer Aderet (60 years after massacre, Kafr Qasem doesn’t want an apology from the Israeli government, October 28, 2016) that, “In the 60 years since the [Kafr Qasem] carnage Israel’s attitude has been complicated. Those involved in it were court martialed, convicted and some sentenced at first to long prison terms [these “long terms” were less than what the law stipulated for premeditated murder]. [Israeli] Judge Benjamin Halevy coined the phrase “a blatantly illegal order” in his verdict. The instruction to Israel Defense Forces soldiers that they are obliged to refuse an order “that has a black flag flying over it” has become part of the Kafr Qasem legacy.”

The Haaretz story goes on, “But the convicted parties’ sentence was soon commuted by the chief of staff, they were pardoned by the president and released from jail. The most senior defendant, Col. Issachar Shadmi, commander of the brigade in charge of the area, was sentenced to a symbolic fine of 10 pennies for exceeding authority. Major Shmuel Malinki, commander of the Border Patrol battalion, testified at the trial that Shadmi had ordered him to enforce the curfew with gunshots. Asked what would happen to those who return to the village after the curfew, Kedmi said Shadmi had said “may God have mercy on their soul.””

And maybe most shocking of all coming from an Israeli newspaper is that, “The comparison between the Kafr Qasem massacre and the Holocaust was first made at the trial, when the [Israeli] judge asked one of the defendants if he would have justified a Nazi soldier who was obeying orders.” The Haaretz correspondent continues, “In 1986, 30 years after the massacre, Shalom Ofer, one of the convicted soldiers, said in an interview to Ha’ir: “We were like the Germans. They stopped trucks, took the Jews off and shot them. What we did is the same. We were obeying orders like a German soldier during the war, when he was ordered to slaughter Jews.””

Many, especially those in the Jewish community in Israel and abroad, will rightfully find the above words hard to swallow. I don’t blame them. This horrendous act was revolting and when undertaken in “your” name it makes one sick to their stomach.

Aderet’s article offers but a glimpse into the legal proceedings surrounding Kafr Qassem. One of the first people to document those proceedings wasattorney Sabri Jiryis in his landmark book, The Arabs in Israel, published in Haifa in Hebrew in 1966. A fuller account of the testimonies recorded by the Israeli commanders and soldiers who took part in this killing spree can be found printed here [with the author’s permission] in English. Warning: it’s a disturbing read.

And this, my friends, is the buried past and not so buried present, of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), “the most moral army in the world.” It is imperative that we all redouble our efforts to not make it its future as well, military order or not.

 

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Commemorating Kafr Qasim Massacre at its 60th Anniversary

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