Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Canadian, British Unions Back Human Rights for Palestinians
Katherine Nastovski, chair of the CUPE Ontario International Solidarity Committee
Over 170 Palestinian federations, political parties, unions, and other organziations called for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel 'until it complies with complies with international law and universal declarations of human rights.'
In the past few days there have been significant developments in the Palestinian resistance movement. The 200,000 member Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)
voted for Resolution 50 which supports "the international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law including the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194."
The other success was the endorsement of an academic boycott by the 67,000 member British lecturers' union Natfhe on Monday.
Tom Hickey, who proposed the Natfe resolution quoted in the Guardian today, "This was about raising a debate in a way that we hope can change things. In that sense it has already succeeded beyond its wildest dreams."
The Closing Statement of the Palestinian National Dialogue Conference
By The National Dialogue Conference
May 30, 2006
First: The sanctity of Palestinian blood
There are no contradictions between our people and their resistance groups. The national dialogue conference stresses that all interpretations and disputed issues must be solved through democratic dialogue and in an atmosphere embodying the national spirit of our people. There can be no use of arms among the people of the same cause. Palestinian blood is scared and we are all forbidden from wrongly shedding one drop of Palestinian blood in light of our struggle against the enemy, which is occupying our lands and displacing our people.
The conference rejects any internal fighting, which will benefit no one save our enemy. The national dialogue conference calls for a national code of honor among the forces and factions to ban all forms of infighting regardless of any possible reasons or justifications. It also stresses that political debate among national ranks at the table should be endorsed for the benefit of our people and not through weapons and shedding Palestinian blood.
Second: the political, economic and financial siege on our people
The national dialogue conference affirms its total rejection to the oppressive siege imposed on our people for the last three months by the US and Israel following the PLC elections. This siege is a form of collective punishment against our people over and above the daily Israeli measures of occupation, aggression settlement activities and the apartheid wall. This siege will never help to achieve security, peace and stability in the Middle East. This explosive situation requires Arab and international action to end the siege and resume international assistance to our people, in addition to releasing the tax revenues held by the Israeli government for the third month in a row.
Third: Olmert's unilateral plan, the settlements and the wall
The national dialogue conference declares its complete rejection and resistance to Olmert's plan to confiscate our land and divide our homeland into ghettos and isolated cantons; the conference rejects all Israeli settlement attempts aimed at usurping al-Quds al-Shareef and the Jordan Valley area and annexing settlements there to Israel which would result in the confiscation of 58% of West Bank territory.
We reiterate that peace and security will never be reached as long as there are settlements and the wall on our land.
The national dialogue conference stresses that it is impossible to achieve security and peace without a full Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian and Arab territories occupied in the 1967 war; hence, we call on all Arab and international parties to confront Olmert's settlement and expansion plan and to endorse the ruling issued by the International Court of Justice at The Hague which declared the occupation, settlements and the apartheid wall illegal, especially in al-Quds al-Shareef.
We stress that our people will hold fast to their land, to their right to self-determination, to their right of return and to establishing an independent Palestinian state with al-Quds as its capital.
Fourth: reinforcing the rule of the law and order and eliminating security chaos
The conference reaffirms that reinforcing the rule of law and order and an independent judiciary are among the first national tasks to be undertaken by us all. There is no authority above that of the rule of the law. Security chaos is a serious threat to the security of our homeland and people and it should be firmly confronted. We need complete adherence to the Basic Law, which organizes the activity of the legislative, executive, and judicial authorities in the PNA. We also need to strengthen the security services and provide them with the necessary capacities, be it manpower or weapons, so they can put an end to the security chaos. The national dialogue conference calls for reforming the judicial system and activating its role by carrying out and enforcing its rulings and endorsing the independence of the judicial authority and all its commissions.
Fifth: developing the PLO
Conference participants requested that Abu Mazen, Chairman of the PLO Executive Committee, to call on the Higher Committee comprised of the Chairman, members of the PLO Executive Committee, PNC Speaker and the General Secretaries of all Palestinian factions and independent national figures, to convene as soon as possible within a period not exceeding the end of June in order to reactivate and develop the PLO and to promote its status as the legitimate and sole representative of the Palestinian people.
Sixth: resistance is a legitimate right of our people
The national dialogue conference reaffirms that resisting the occupation and settlements is our people’s legitimate right enshrined in international charters; hence, we call on all forces and groups to form national unity committees to defend our land and our people in every village and city.
Seventh: the right of return is a sacred right of Palestinian refugees
The national dialogue conference reaffirms that the cause of the Palestinian refugees is a national cause and one that embodies our identity and future; hence, we stress that we fully adhere to UN Resolution 194 pertaining to the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and homeland. The national dialogue conference rejects all attempts that aim to nullify the refugee right of return and disperse the refugees in various countries. We stress that the right of return is a sacred right and is a collective and individual right, which cannot be obliterated by any party in the world.
Eighth: the National Conciliation Document from the Prisoners Movement
The conference participants praised all initiatives and documents presented to the conference, particularly the national conciliation document drafted by the prisoners' movement and which we consider a sound basis for national dialogue.
The conference also stresses that all relevant parties are working for the release of our prisoners and detainees and calls on all human rights organizations to direct their efforts in this direction.
Ninth: the national dialogue committee
In closing, the national dialogue conference decided to form a national dialogue committee headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, comprised of representatives from the PNC, the PLC, the PLO Executive Committee, the government, all factions from the national and Islamic forces, parliament blocs, the private sector and the civil society organizations. The committee shall start work immediately with the aim of formulating a unified national action program that promotes and reinforces our national unity.
Natfhe's Historic Decision Contributes to Civil Struggle
The truth about the collusion of Israeli academic institutions in maintaining Israel's colonial and racist policies has come out, despite all attempts at suppressing debate and bullying critics of Israel. Indeed, Israeli academic institutions have consistently condoned, even encouraged, the work of academics who advocate ethnic cleansing, apartheid, denial of refugee rights, and racial discrimination against the Palestinians. Collaboration with the intelligence services and the occupation regime is part of the routine work of the Israeli academy.
Sanctions and boycotts are morally and politically sound tactics which, in the past, succeeded in bringing down the apartheid regime in South Africa. They can also be used to challenge Israel's impunity and its exceptional status as a state above the law.
Lisa Taraki, Omar Barghouti
Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
Union of Al-Quds University Teachers
To link the issue of boycotting Israeli universities implicated in the occupation of Palestine with the ongoing industrial action being undertaken by the AUT represents a narrow political vision and the failure once again to "take a stand" against one of the most reprehensible regimes in the world today. How cynical to suggest that academics can only take on the big political questions of our time only if our own unity is secured. Further, to cast the issue of the boycott as one of academic freedom is to deflect discussion from the real question at stake - what is the responsibility of academics in states following illegal and murderous policies of occupation and colonisation? The letter writers cast Israeli academia as spaces of democracy. Yet, apart from the likes of Ilan Pappe and a few others, how many Israeli academics have openly denounced their state's policy? Why do they demand impunity for their complicity in this longstanding violation of international law?
Dr Rashmi Varma
University of Warwick
Dr Subir Sinha
University of London
Israel is not a "normal" democratic society in which the rulers have had to accept that far-reaching political dissent or class conflict be part of the state's ideological framework. It is a settler-colonial society with a much greater degree of social cohesion. Therefore the question why Israeli academic institutions should be boycotted and not necessarily those of other societies with poor human rights records is wide of the mark. In most such societies, there are usually many dissident intellectuals who tend to suffer the same repression meted out to ethnic or political minorities. Not in Israel. There, academic institutions are part of the structure of the illegal, colonial occupation. It is right that the boycott should go ahead until Israeli universities decide to support the campaign for an end to the occupation.
Monday, May 29, 2006
Victory: NATFHE Leads the Way in Moral Responsibility
For Immediate Release
NATFHE Leads the Way in Moral Responsibility
British Academics Vote for Boycotting Israeli Apartheid
29 May 2006
Today, British academics proved once again that they are up to the challenge of meeting injustice with the powerful message of civil resistance that boycott represents. The National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) voted for an academic boycott of Israel in response to its “apartheid policies.”
This is a significant accomplishment considering the campaign of intimidation and bullying waged against proponents of the NATFHE academic boycott initiative by Israeli networks and powerful Zionist lobbies in the United Kingdom and the United States. At this stage of the international boycott movement, Palestinian boycott advocates, including PACBI, aim first and foremost to keep alive an open and principled debate on the need for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel until it fully complies with international law and universal human rights. The other side primarily works on achieving the exact opposite result by suppressing all opportunities for debate and education on this issue in order to maintain the distorted and deceptive image of the conflict constructed through systematic misinformation and biased reporting in a largely compliant western media.
The NATFHE vote proves once again that despite all the obstacles, boycotting Israeli academic institutions due to their complicity in maintaining Israel’s special form of apartheid against the
Palestinians remains prominent on the agenda of western progressives and human rights activists.
The persistence of academic boycott efforts proves that many academics in the UK and beyond do not buy the disingenuous claim that boycott of Israeli academic institutions conflicts with “academic freedom” or inadvertently promotes anti-Semitism in any way. The first claim is at best hypocritical as it is based on the premise that only Israeli academic freedom counts. The fact that Israeli academic institutions themselves collude in various ways in their government’s grave violations of Palestinian human and political rights, which include the right to education, is lost on those making this claim. As to the ubiquitous anti-Semitism charge, it is now clearer than ever that it is mendaciously being used merely to stifle opposition to Israel’s illegal occupation and horrific human rights record and to abort attempts at effectively resisting this decades-old injustice. The Palestinian Call for Boycott  is categorically not directed at Jews or even Israelis as Jews; rather, it targets Israel’s oppression and racism with no consideration to ethnicity or religion.
The Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement is supported by a growing current of social movements, unions, academics, intellectuals and human rights activists across the world. For instance, it is endorsed by the South African Council of Churches (SACC), the Coalition of
South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and by hundreds of South African political and academic figures, including Ronnie Kasrils, Dennis Brutus, John Pampallis and Steven Friedman.
All obfuscation notwithstanding, the truth about Israel’s denial of Palestinian refugee rights, its illegal military occupation and its system of racial discrimination remains the fundamental motive behind the expanding BDS initiatives around the world. Israel’s colonial Wall, its ever expanding settlements, its indiscriminate killing of Palestinian civilians, its house demolitions, its relentless land and water theft and its abuse of Palestinian human rights are all too real to be ignored by the international community.
Just as in the South African case, a comprehensive regime of sanctions and boycotts remains not only the most politically effective but also the most morally sound strategy in bringing about Israel’s compliance with international law and universal principles of human rights. Only through such effective pressures will there be hope for a just peace in our region, based on equality and dignity for all.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
Nobel Laureates Laud Oppressor
Nobel Prize winners who oppose the proposed Academic Boycott of Israel being debated this weekend by the British lecturers'union Natfhe write:
"The primary value of the scientific community is pursuit of understanding through free and open discourse. The clarity of that beacon to humanity should not be compromised for transient political concerns." Frank Wilczek (physics, 2004), Massachusetts Institute of Technology
"Scholars have the great privilege - and duty - to set a much-needed example of human solidarity and co-operation." Walter Kohn (chemistry, 1998), professor of physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara
I am all choked up. "Transient political purposes?" What about Najah Al Sadak's "humanity"? She was in labor this morning, Israeli storm troopers shot at the ambulance she was in, forced her to sit on the ground, and detained her for several hours?
With whom does Professor Walter Kohn "co-operate" and express "human solidarity"? Obviously not with "federations and associations of academics and professionals and dozens of civil society institutions in Palestine," who have called upon the the world community to boycott, sanction, and divest from Israel.
No, obviously not with the occupied; where are the lofty words from Kohn and the seven other Nobel laureates, who so vociferously defend the freedom to discourse with the oppressor, but say nothing on behalf of the occupied Palestinians, who due to economic sanctions, which include the withholding of their own tax revenues by Israel, haven't been paid in several months?
Where were the Nobel laureates when schools were routinely closed by the occupiers during the seven years of the first Intifada? Where are the eloquent voices of the Nobel laureates for the 1389 Palestinian school and university students prisoners? Where are the voices for the impriosoned 214 Ministry of Higher Education employees?
The Palestine International Press Center reports that twelve universities and schools have been closed since September 2000, 1125 high educational associations have been suspended, and 350 institutions of the Ministry of Education "were subjected to Israeli bombardment."
The Wall is currently being constructed through the middle of Anata Secondary school's playground and Israeli soldiers teargassed the recent graduation ceremony. School children in Hebron must be accompanied to and from school because of assaults from fanatical Jewish settlers.
My question for the esteemed laureates:
What is left to the Palestinians?
Protesting peacefully? On May 19, seventeen peaceful protestors in Bil'in, including Palestinians, journalists, and internationals, were wounded by rubber coated metal bullets.
Asking politely? Shehda Muheissin, 51, with documentation of a medical appointment was delayed at an Abu Dis checkpoint. When he attempted to pass he was beaten in the head and died after suffering a heart attack.
Discoursing interminably? Israel's illegal colonisation of the West Bank and Gaza doubled during the Oslo Peace Talks.
Sadly, for a people starved both physically and of their civil, legal and human rights, the only discourse our esteemed Nobel laureates manage is on behalf of a ruthless and oppressive regime.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Beautiful Words Betray Beautiful Hypocrites
Hamdi Amin buried his mother, Hanan; his wife, Naimeh, and his son, Mohannad, 5, Tuesday.
Shrapnel from an Israeli missile attack which killed her mother, brother, and grandmother severed three year old Mariyeh's spinal cord. She will never breathe again on her own, nor will she move her hands and legs. The personnel at the run down Shifa Hospital, where Mariyeh stays, have not been paid in two months.
Hamdi Amin will not be feted in Congress as were Elie Wiesel, and Margrie and Ronald Cantor, the grandparents of Daniel Wultz, a suicide bombing victim. They were on hand to hear Ehud Olmert, referring to Iran, say "There is a dark and gathering storm casting its shadow over the world."
Perhaps that line came from Elie Wiesel, who helped Olmert write his speech. Elie Wiesel, a man who no one denies has a distinct knack for words has written: "Indifference is not a beginning, it is an end. And, therefore, indifference is always the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor--never his victim, whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten. The political prisoner in his cell, the hungry children, the homeless refugees--not to respond to their plight, not to relieve their solitude by offering them a spark of hope is to exile them from human memory. And in denying their humanity we betray our own."
Elie Wiesel is a beautiful hypocrite. His beloved Jews preferred state holds 9200 Palestinian political prisoners, yet he has never spoken on behalf of the Palestinian "political prisoner in his cell." He has no desire to see five million "homeless" Palestinian refugees reunited with their personal property, ninety-two percent which was stolen by his favored status state, yet he waxes about "homeless refugees"; and one wonders if he wrote this fantastical line at which even Zionists scoff into Olmert's speech: "It was the energetic spirit of our pioneers that [led them] to build cities where swamps once existed and to make the desert bloom." Was all that growth in the desert going on before or after Olmert's pioneer buddies depopulated 530 Palestinian villages and demolished 438 of them? Was that before or after they changed the Arabic names of the villages and towns to Hebrew names in an attempt to "exile [Palestinians] from human memory."
While Wiesel and Olmert were putting the finishing touches on their speech Tuesday night, Shehda Muheissin, 51, was en route to Al Makassed Hospital when he was stoped at Al Sheikh Saad military checkpoint by Israeli soldiers. Eyewitnesses, according to IMEMC, "reported that the soldiers refused to let Muheissen pass, despite documentation of his medical appointment and his poor state of health.
"According to the witnesses, after a long delay at the military checkpoint Muheissin attempted to pass through the checkpoint, but the occupation soldiers punched and kicked him violently, resulting in his death."
Congress, seemingly oblivious to these horrors, interrupted Olmert's Wednesday night speech with applause eighteen times. No doubt Elie Wiesel had a lot to do with it. And as Olmert dazzled Congress with more beautiful words when he said "We need a partner that affirms in action, not just in words, the rejection, prevention, and elimination of terror," four young Palestinian men in Ramallah were shot dead through the chest, stomach, and head. Fifty more were wounded, throwing rocks, resisting Olmert's undercover death squad in the town center. While Olmert impressed upon Congress his need for a peaceful partner, his occupation forces raided a bakery in Al-Yamoun district and raided eight other villages and refugee camps. Olmert speaks of peace, and a bought off Congress laps it up. Are they unaware that twelve Palestinians, three journalists, and two internationals peacefully protesting the construction of the wall in Bil'in were shot with rubber coated metal bullets on Friday?
But what does one expect of the US House of Representatives, 361 of whom voted yea for the "Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act" on Tuesday, the same day that Hamdi Amin buried three generations of his family? They know the consequences of their craven act. According to Mohammed Samhouri, Gaza economist, "Failure to pay salaries would leave close to 160,000 PA workers, and over a million other Palestinians supported by them--or about 25 per cent of the population--with no means to subsist."
There is indeed "a dark and gathering storm casting its shadow over the world." It is Wiesel's heralded "indifference" which the media shouts through its silence. The only western news outlet which carried Mariyeh's story is the BBC and even its account is "balanced" by including details of the activities of the Islamic Jihad, although accounts of suicide bombings are not similarly "balanced."
One can't but agree with Elie Wiesel's beautiful words. In "denying the humanity" of the Palestinians, which Congress and the western media routinely do, "we betray our own," so lets update Wiesel's words, as Anne Selden Annab did, to reflect reality.
"Indifference to Palestinian suffering is not a beginning, it is an end. And, therefore, indifference to Palestinian suffering is always the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the Israeli aggressor--never his Palestinian victim, whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten. The Palestinian political prisoner in his Israeli built cell, the hungry Palestinian children, the homeless Palestinian refugees--not to respond to the Palestinians' plight, not to relieve the Palestinians' solitude by offering them a spark of hope is to exile the Palestinians from human memory. And in denying the Palestinians humanity we betray our own."
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Ala when he led the resistance in Jenin, a few months before his death
"American aid to the Palestinian people must be predicated on their rejection of terrorism." Congressman Tom Delay, May 22, 2006
Arna's Children presents a microcosm of life and death in a Palestinian refugee camp, Jenin. Naji Al-Ali's Handala, the barefoot boy whose back will remain to the world until he returns home, the archetype for Ashraf, Ala, Yousef, Nidal...the children of Jenin who transition from young actors and artists to resistance fighters of whom, Juliano Mer Khamis, Arna's son, said, "Praised be the fighters, for they die in their war for freedom and not by selling it." Arna is the woman who coached the children in theater from 1989-1996. Her son, Juliano, filmed the children during this time and later, after his mother's death in 2002, right after the battle of Jenin.
The film is profoundly moving. More powerful than even poetry, the images offer a glimpse into the heart of darkness courtesy the enforcers of the toxic Zionist ideology. "These youngsters had seen death camping over their camp since their childhood with no intention to leave," writes Hani Salloum.
"Speechless. Silent. I cannot move. I just sit here, watching the screen, reading the names of Arna's children: Youssef, Nidal, Ashraf, Ala, and Zakaria," wrote Arjan El Fassad in 2004.
Ala is presented in the beginning of the documentary in 1989, nine years old, dazed, sitting atop the rubble of his demolished home. His friend and next door neighbor Ashraf's home was the intended target; Ala's the "collateral damage." Rather than join the drama activity, Ala paints. He paints a house with a Palestinian flag on it. Ala later becomes a leader of the resistance, survives the battle of Jenin, only to be killed shortly after in a "targeted" assasination on November 26, 2002, two weeks after his son was born.
Ashraf died defending his town from Israel's Army; we see the body of the boy who wanted to be the Palestinan Romeo, wrapped in a white shroud. He was with Ala, defending their camp in their position from holes they'd knocked out in the walls of the upper floor theater of their childhood.
Yousef says, "On stage I can tell people what I want and how I feel." For a few brief years, in an impoverished refugee camp, Arna's children were able to express their wants and feelings through art and drama.
Yousef's friend who did not become a fighter says that Youssef was never the same after a nine year old girl Reham Wared died in his arms. "Quickly, he jumped over the school fence looking for a shelter from another threat: an angry tank approaching him. As he breathed heavily he stuck to the wall and closely watched the opening of the moving cannon. And the tank fired a shell. Riham Abu-El-Ward, a 9- year old girl, who hid under the staircase, was thrown a distance and hit the entrance gate. Youssef jumped towards her, while screaming and pushing away the curious onlookers. Riham was still. Her limbs were scattered in all directions. He collected her to him and walked slowly and strangely towards the hospital."
A week later in 2001 Yousef and Nidal went on a suicide mission.
One of the few negative reviews stated that Arna's Children lacked context. Similar to the wall of words Jehuda Reinharz, Brandeis Presidient threw up at Brandeis' graduation in reference to the removal of refugee children's art because it 'confused' and 'upset' some upper middle class Jewish students:
"At Brandeis we believe that art can educate, inspire and stir healthy and constructive debate, and can best serve those purposes in a university context if it is accompanied by thoughtful contextualization and recognition of multiple perspectives."
Contextualize this: A mother who has lost all but one of her sons fighting Israel's occupation forces. A nine year old girl blown to bits by a tank shell targeting her school. A poor nine year old boy, dazed, sitting atop the rubble of his demolished house. Youssef's little sister, who has stopped talking, since the occupation forces took her brother away from their house. How much longer must Palestinians pay in blood for Zionist denial? If it is too much too expect Zionists to own up to their crimes against humanity, then they must be coerced through boycott, sanctions, and divestment.
A brief clip of Arna's Children is here and the memorial website is here.
In February Freedom Theater opened in Jenin. http://www.thefreedomtheatre.org/
Aliya Arlene and Abu Zaheer: Where is the Justice?
Aliya Arlene from New Jersey and "Middle East" expert
"In 1948 the heart of our family was torn out, and the center of our existence was broken . . . Though we have lived well and done well, and accomplished much, since 1948 we have been outsiders - not only my parents, but their children, and, I fear, their children's children as well." Jean Said Makdisi
Israel's "right of Aliya" states that every Jew has the right to come to Israel and become a citizen.
But Israel violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that
everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country. What this means is that Father Audeh Rantisi, whose family was expelled from Lyda in 1948 and whose roots go back 1600 years may not return to the place of his birth but any Jew from all over the world with no physical ties to the land may go to historic Palestine. Below is an excerpt from Father Audeh's story:
That second night, after the soldiers let us stop, I wandered among the masses of people, desperately searching and calling. Suddenly in the darkness I heard my father's voice. I shouted out to him. What joy was in me! I had thought I would never see him again. As he and my mother held me close, I knew I could face whatever was necessary. The next day brought more dreadful experiences. Still branded on my memory is a small child beside the road, sucking the breast of its dead mother. Along the way I saw many stagger and fall. Others lay dead or dying in the scorching midsummer heat. Scores of pregnant women miscarried, and their babies died along the wayside. The wife of my father's cousin became very thirsty. After a long while she said she could not continue. Soon she slumped down and was dead. Since we could not carry her we wrapped her in cloth, and after praying, just left her beside a tree. I don't know what happened to her body.Father Audeh Rantisi, brutally deported from Lyda, at 11 years; his family had lived in Lydh for 1600 years.
A witness to the aftermath of the 1982 Sabra-Shatila massacre engineered by Ariel Sharon:
What will always stick in my memory is of a little boy that had come from the camps, and his little body had no limbs.
I can remember just holding him, holding his little body close. He was covered with blood and the life was running out of him. He was crying for his mother.
Debbie JacksonVolunteer, Gaza Hospital in Beirut following Sabra-Shatila Masscre
Here are some accounts from Jews who recently made their way to historic Palestine, seemingly unconcerned that ninety two percent of the country to which they've immigrated is stolen from the indigenous population, seemingly unconcerned that their ideology is a toxic and immoral one that has imprisoned, maimed, strangulated, and slaughtered Palestinians for one hundred years. If they had one shred of decency they would hotfoot right back to the yuppie neighborhoods from whence they came. Theirs is a racism that is seemingly acceptable now, just as the Ku Klux Klan was once a respectable outfit.
26. Born in Brazil. Live in Israel. Exchanged Jerusalem for Tel Aviv. Journalist. Passionate. Love music. Smoke. Hate routine. Seek for challenges and risks. Still haven't found what I'm looking for. Don't know exactly what I want, only know what I don't want.
Arlene From Israel, "Middle East Expert"
New Jersey born and bred and a resident of Maryland for several years, I have been living in Jerusalem since shortly after my arrival in Israel.
At Israel Hitech this is what we do for you if you make Aliyah:
- We conduct the tedious searching process on your behalf
- We keep you abreast of our progress at all times
- We focus on finding a suitable professional challenge to match your qualifications
- We set up interviews with potential employers at your convenience
- We update you on what's new with Israeli high-tech compensation packages and help you through the decision making process
If you're indigenous to the region this is what we do for you:
-forbid you to live anywhere in your historic homeland even if you marry a citizen of Israel
-uproot 1100 olive trees that belong to the villagers of Qalquilia who depend of their orchards as their main source of livelihood
-shoot peace activists in the head
-shoot mothers in the head
-kill three generations of a family in one fell swoop
-throw schoolchildren in thornbushes
-blow up a sixth century church
-steal your land; move our people on it illegally
-plunder, pillage, desecrate, ancient villages
From Abu Zaheer, a refugee in Rafah reflects:
The people of our village (Yebna) realized too late the guests we allowed were in truth gangs of occupiers, armed with British guns and weapons. We had the tools of farmers, axes and scythe for harvesting as weapons. Yet we resisted, creating sand barriers and obstacles in attempts to protect our homes." he begins.
"In our village seven martyrs were killed by the Jewish gangs. Israel did not exist yet. Many were killed by the Jewish gangs throughout the area" he adds.
"In our village, rather than attack us, they lay siege, surrounding our village on three sides with the fourth flank left open for the British tanks that showered our village with canon fire day and night. The power of the tanks, we were no match for this. We were kicked out from our homes beginning with Yebna, then Al Isdud, Al Majadal and here. Ultimately we ended up in Gaza. Here we live since 1948 in this refugee camp, supported by the donation of the United Nations.”
Monday, May 22, 2006
Call Your Representative-Vote on HR4681 Tonight
TAKE ACTION: House Votes TODAY on Palestinian Sanctions
Do you think that Palestinians should be subjected to draconian sanctions for voting?
If not, then we NEED you to please pick up the phone TODAY and call your Representative because the House is voting tonight, Monday, May 22, on HR4681, the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006.
Call the Capitol switchboard today toll-free at 1-888-355-3588 and ask for your Representative, or call them directly by looking up their numbers on our Congressional Report Card. Even if you've already contacted your Representative before on this issue, please call again today!
If you've ever doubted your ability to have an effect on your Representative, here is some tangible proof that your efforts are paying off:
* Every Member of Congress has received a fax from the US Campaign of a petition signed by more than 330 US-based organizations opposed to HR4681.
* Despite intense arm-twisting and hysterical emails from AIPAC, close to 140 Representatives have refused to co-sponsor HR4681. AIPAC has even acknowledged the intense grassroots opposition to this bill. In an email to their supporters, AIPAC states that "Around the country the opponents of this bill are engaging in grassroots activism in opposition to it and it is important that Congress hear from the bill's supporters."
* Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN-4) has banned AIPAC from her office until it apologizes for equating her committee vote against HR4681 to "support for terrorists". In a letter to AIPAC, Rep. McCollum states that "During my nineteen years serving in elected office, including the past five years as a Member of Congress, never has my name and reputation been maligned or smeared as it was last week by a representative of AIPAC."
* Reps. David Price (D-NC-4), Lois Capps (D-CA-23), Ray LaHood (R-IL-18), and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3) issued a Dear Colleague letter against HR4681. These Representatives criticized the bill on the grounds that it "would prohibit all assistance to the Palestinian people, other than narrowly-defined categories of humanitarian aid (excluding, for example, education and economic development)."
* Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA-7) entered a scathing critique of HR4681 in the Congressional Record in which he asked "And what can we expect if we turn our backs on the real and growing humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people? It doesn't make sense to put restrictions on funding the NGOs that provide the Palestinian people with hospitals and schools. As a medical doctor, I am gravely concerned about the fate of millions of innocent Palestinians who rely on international aid for food, health care, and for developing their economy and businesses. Recent news reports say that international sanctions are preventing hospitals in Gaza from providing dialysis machines for patients, and they may not be able to supply immunizations to children. The World Health Organization sees a 'rapid decline of the public health system.....towards a possible collapse.' This bill will only make the already dire situation even worse. As a doctor I took an oath to heal. As a nation, we took an oath to lead. Allowing innocent Palestinians to go hungry, while denying them medical treatment cannot possibly correct injustice, or lead to peace."
* Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3) submitted an additional view to the House International Relations Committee report on HR4681, calling it "the wrong answer to a most difficult challenge."
Please pick up the phone today and make sure that your Representative knows that her/his constituents oppose sanctioning the Palestinian people for voting. Call today: 1-888-355-3588
WHY IS HR4681 SO IMPORTANT?
HR4681 is the most draconian sanctions bill that Congress has EVER considered imposing against the Palestinians. The anti-Palestinian sanctions in it include:
* Restricting US humanitarian aid and potentially eliminating entire US aid projects, such as infrastructure and small business development;
* Threatening to withhold a portion of US dues to the United Nations because it maintains bodies that advocate for Palestinian human rights and seek to hold Israel accountable to international law;
* Defining territory controlled nominally by the Palestinian Authority as a "terrorist sanctuary", thereby requiring US businesses to obtain special export licenses for most goods destined for the Occupied Palestinian Territories and gutting the provisions of the US free trade agreement with the West Bank and Gaza;
* Refusing visas to members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and the Palestinian Mission to the UN, even those who belong to political parties that the United States does not classify as "foreign terrorist organizations";
* Restricting the movement of PLO diplomats at the United Nations and threatening to close the PLO's office in Washington, and;
* Instructing the US representative to the World Bank to use the considerable strength of the United States in international financial institutions to vote against the continuation of humanitarian aid projects.
CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE TODAY: 1-888-355-3588
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Barbaro's Fractured Leg Trumps Three Generations' Deaths
All my pretty ones?
Did you say all? O hell-kite! All?
What! all my pretty chickens and their dam
At one fell swoop?...
I cannot but remember such things were,
That were most precious to me.
UPDATE: This just in from Palestine Human Rights Center, Gaza on the willful killing by an IOF soldier of Subhi Abu Musallam:
"In the West Bank, IOF willfully killed a Palestinian woman inside her house in Balata refugee camp, east of Nablus.
"According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 01:00 on Sunday, 21 May 2006, IOF moved into Balata refugee camp, east of Nablus. They took position at the entrance to the al-Jammasin quarter in the center of the camp. At approximately 04:15, Subhi Abu Musallam, 50, left his house to go to work in the vegetable market. When he saw IOF positioned in the area, he decided to return home. His wife heard footsteps approaching the house, so she went to the second floor and looked through the window to check that it was her husband coming back home. As soon as she looked through the window, an IOF soldier willfully shot her dead with a live bullet to the head. According to Palestinian medical sources, the bullet that hit the victim was of an explosive nature."
Predictably, the coverage of the deaths of three generations of the Palestinian Annen family didn't merit a headline in either the New York Times or the Washington Post. The Washington Post, however, did headline prominently on its online edition the fractured leg of Barbaro, "Favorite Fractures Leg at Preakness."
The first mention of the three generations of one family killed is in paragraph 15 of the story "Palestine Intelligence Chief is Badly Wounded in Bombing" in the world section of the New York Times. Incredibly, a rocket that hit an empty Israeli classroom merits a headline in the Washington Post. The death of a Palestinian woman in Balata Refugee Camp early Sunday morning is mentioned in paragraph 7 of the same story. In a side box on the same page the last headline reads "Palestinian Woman Killed in West Bank Camp: Witnesses."
Further details are provided by Maan Independent News Service: "Palestinian medical sources say that the woman was shot in the head by Israeli soldiers." Maan also informs us that she was the mother of three.
Contrast this to paragraph 1 the Reuters story in the Washington Post:
"A Palestinian woman was killed on Sunday in Balata refugee camp in the West Bank in a shooting that witnesses blamed on Israeli soldiers in the area, a charge the army said initial reports deemed mistaken."
The BBC's report of the mother's death is reprehensible.
"Witnesses told the Reuters news agency she was shot dead by Israeli soldiers - but Israel said its reports indicated none of its soldiers had opened fire.
"Palestinian witnesses said the woman, 48, was shot by an Israeli patrol while trying to help her husband find a route home that avoided the troops.
"Civilians often die in crossfire between Israeli and Palestinian forces."
For a description of Palestinian "forces" see Rima Merriman's story here to find out just how ridiculous this "balancing" is.
" An army spokesman confirmed Israeli troops had been in the area but told AFP they had not opened fire.
"According to the AFP news agency, the woman, named Aisha Abu M'Salaam, died in an exchange of fire between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen."
Contrast this to further details provided by Maan
"The sources added that Aesha Abu Mosallem was killed while she was standing on her balcony, as the Israeli soldier shot her directly in the head."
And while the Washington Post provides coverage for rocket attacks on empty Israeli classrooms, there is no coverage for Naji Akram Masri, 17, who "was seriously injured by splinters" from Israeli artillery rockets that hit him in the stomach.
Yahoo's Middle East News Page for May 21 also carries no headline about the three generations of a Palestinian family killed in one fell sweep, but headlines the rocket that fell on an empty Israeli classroom.
Israel Kills Brother, Sister, Mother, Grandmother
Israel killed seven year old Mareya Aman, her five year old brother, her mother, Hanan, and their grandmother today in Gaza.
Rima Merriman reports that a few days ago two brothers were killed, one killed as he was trying to protect the other.
"To kill them, the Israelis first sent a force disguised as Arabs (a tactic they use often) to blend in with the population and relay advance information. These informants were then backed up by more than 100 fully equipped soldiers with tanks and helicopters — a grotesque use of force given the defencelessness and unwariness of their targets. On the Palestinian side, there were young activists in the various Palestinian factions, aspiring to resist their occupation.
"When the operation in Jenin and Qabatiya was all over, the Israeli soldiers who had chased and slaughtered these six men no doubt tore back to their base high-fiving and congratulating themselves on their “victory”, discussing the fine points of their hunt, the dumbness and poverty of their cornered prey and the skill with which they executed their little pathetic exercise.
"Once targeted, Palestinian youth do not have even a sporting chance. Considered “lawful targets”, they might as well be unarmed gladiators pitted against all manner of wild beasts. The Israeli supreme court routinely puts the stamp of judicial approval not only on this kind of extrajudicial killing of Palestinians but also on various schemes whose ultimate goal is to control demographics and to seize Palestinian land and resources."
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Letters-to-the-Editor May 20
Re: The Israel Lobby: How Powerful Is It Really?
Stephan Zunes believes "Israel and its supporters are essentially being used as convenient scapegoats for America's disastrous policies in the Middle East."
In addition he writes "Groups like Americans for Peace Now, the Tikkun Community, Brit Tzedek v' Shalom, and the Israel Policy Forum all identify themselves as pro-Israel but oppose the occupation, the settlements, the separation wall, and Washington's unconditional support for Israeli policies."
Zunes and the groups mentioned above are Israel's greatest assets because they put a "nice" face on Israel.
But nothing's nice about a Jews preferred state that denies the inalienable right of Palestinians to return to their personal property while affording Jews from all over the world the right to immigrate and settle on land stolen from its rightful owners.
Re:A Palestinian Lifeline
"Hamas has been content to foster a humanitarian crisis in the West Bank and Gaza Strip," the Washington Post editorializes.
Classic. Israel holds on to Palestinian tax revenues and the Washington Post blames the victims.
Want to know whom the victims blame? This is what the General Union of Palestinian Women said in a May 9 "Open Letter to the Quartet":
"We are not asking for charity, band aids or palliatives to tend our deep injuries. We are merely demanding our inalienable rights and our freedom," and they call upon the Quartet to join them "in foiling Israeli relentless attempts at imposing unilateral solutions," while they remind us of Israeli violations of human rights including the "oppressive Apartheid Wall, assasinations, imprisonment...demolishing of homes and uprooting trees and travel restrictions and check posts that threaten Palestinian lives."
"Enough is enough," writes Kenneth Jacobson re the Academic Boycott.
Enough of violation international law. The Hebrew University sits atop confiscated private Palestinian land.
Enough of throwing Palestinian academics in jail. According to the Palestine National Information Center 205 of the 9200 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli prisons are from the teachers and employees of the Ministry of High Education.
Enough of demolishing primary schools. A demolition order was issued for a primary school built by residents of Jubara village because their kids can no longer reach schools outside the Apartheid Wall.
In July 2005 more than 170 Palestinian civil society unions and organizations issued the call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions as a non-violent form of resisting Israel’s oppression.
Published: May 20, 2006
To the Editor:
Re "British Union Weighs Boycott of Teachers From Israel" (news article, May 15):
Nothing illuminates more clearly the bias of some at European universities than this new attempt by a teachers' union to boycott Israeli academics.
Since the failed effort by a similar union to boycott the faculties of two Israeli universities last year, three transformative events have occurred: Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza; Iran's president threatened to "wipe Israel off the map"; and Hamas gained power among the Palestinians.
Not only did these developments fail to have some impact on the union in understanding Israel's situation, but the new boycott proposal is even harsher than last year's.
The drive to single out Israel for demonization is, sadly, a persistent feature of campus life in Europe. When such demonization leads to discrimination against Israeli academics, it is time for the leaders of academia to say clearly that enough is enough.
Director, International Affairs
New York, May 15, 2006
Re: Fresh Muslim-Jewish Discord on Campus
Yeah, let's waste precious time debating the political correctness of the titles "Holocaust in the Holy Land" and "Israel: The Fourth Reich" because the sensibilities of middle class Irvine college students are offended.
Know what offends me? According to the Palestine National Information Center 205 of the 9200 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli prisons are from the teachers and employees of the Ministry of High Education.
Know what else offends me? From September 29 2000 until February 28 2006 Palestinian houses that were
completely and partially damaged by Israel's occupation forces reached 71470.
And it's offensive also that subsidized North American Jews immigrate to Israel and settle on stolen land while villagers peacefully protesting the theft of their land to accommodate them, according to International Middle East Media Center, get rubber bullets in the head.
Washington Post Editorial Swerves and Misses Real Target For Blame
deliberately steers readers in a wrong direction in order to place blame on the victims and deflect blame from the perpetuator, Israel, of its violations of international law.
"Hamas has been content to foster a humanitarian crisis in the West Bank and Gaza Strip," the Washington Post editorializes.
Question: Is Hamas withholding Palestinian customs receipts?
Answer: No, Israel is withholding Palestinian customs receipts.
The Washington Post also posits that "Palestinians who are supplied with necessities but denied a government that can negotiate for their statehood will more likely place the blame where it belongs -- at home."
Palestinians know whom to blame. Whom do Palestinans blame? Israel.
The General Union of Palestinian Women in a May 9 Open Letter to the Quartet:
Join us in foiling Israeli relentless attempts at imposing unilateral solutions and faits accomplis on our land, taking immediate steps to halt Israeli escalating violations of Palestinian human rights including the construction of settlements and the oppressive Apartheid Wall, assassinations, imprisonment and detention without due process, demolishing of homes and uprooting trees, and travel restrictions and check posts that threaten Palestinian lives and reduce Palestine to a conglomeration of city states .
It is highly unlikely that Palestinians will blame their elected government for failure to negotiate for a "conglomeration of city states," any more than they blame it for Israel's targeted assasinations, Israel's house demolitions, Israel's racist Law of Return that applies to Jews from all over the world, but denies Palstinians their inalienable right to return to their homes, Israel's imprisonment of 9200 Palestinian political prisoners, Israel's construction of the Apartheid Wall, Israel's racist law which prohibits a Palestinian in the territories from living with a spouse in 1948 Palestine and in the occupied territories, Israel's relentless confiscation of Palestinian land.
The democratically elected government of Palestine doesn't routinely and indiscriminately shoot at Palestinian houses. Israel does. It did today.
Palestine News Network reports that Seventy year old Haj Hussein Ahmed Abdullah suffered severe injuries during the Israeli incursion of Nablus’ Old City. Local sources report that the elderly man has shrapnel throughout his thighs after being hit by shrapnel during Israeli indiscriminant shooting at houses in the neighborhood."
Palestinians aren't likely to place the blame at home anytime soon.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Letter to Palestinian Americans
Lawrence of Cyberia and I find it appalling that the soldiers just watch the settler boy as he refuses to let the lady cross the street.
Some people want to dialogue with the Israelis while our medical volunteers are getting beat up with rifles from thugs in the IOF and while seventy-four year old men have their houses demolished on top of them. I don't. I want to resist every way that I can as a US citizen. I want the US to stop investing in Israel. I don't want to empower Israel in any way and I'm sick of stories about "nice" Israelis. Most of the time Palestinians do not even represent themselves in the media. Who writes the Nakba story, albeit a very good story, for Counterpunch? A Palestinian? Think again.
It is appalling that 2500 middle class immigrant Jews from France and North America are going to jet in to Israel this summer while our old people sit in refugee camps, some a stone's throw away from their personal property to which they have the deeds while Israel continues to deny them their natural, inalienable, and legal right to live on their own property.
And I'm sick of people who focus on everything but resistance to the horror show that one can read about EVERY day here, and here, andhere, and here, and here.
Write your congressman, visit them in your hometown; they're pretty nice, just nice hometown people like us work in the offices, write a letter to your hometown newspaper every day; even if they're not published, they're important. Don't empower the Zionists in any way. They don't need our help. It's like helping the boss get someone fired. They hold most, but not all of the cards...don't give them any more. And unite...history shows that divide and conquer works every time to stop resistance. According to Zahi Damuni, co-founder of Al-Awda, Palestinians are 'irrelevant' to Israel, but they're not irrelevant to me.
Yesterday Israel's Occupation Forces attacked a house; routinely assasinated another two Palestinian young men and then demolished the house. It was seventy-four year old Mosharraf Tawfiq Al Mbaslat's house. He had a heart attack, later died. Medical teams were forbidden to enter the house by Israeli troops.
If one googles his name, one finds it only on a Palestinian news site. If one searches yahoo one story comes up.
Israel's storm troopers were busy yesterday:
"Two separate Palestinian medical teams reported today that the Israeli army injured, arrested, and harassed medical workers last night as they were trying to help injured people and take away dead bodies."
They wouldn't let the medical workers answer the phone. They took away the workers' cell phones.
The Israeli Occupation Forces beat up "Sameh Ahmed, 37, of Nablus Ambulance and a volunteer Merwan Shanti, 24, of Palestinian Medical Relief" with their rifles.
Then there's the school that villagers built for their kids because the Apartheid Wall keeps the kids from going to two other schools. But Israelis have a special knack for blowing up villages, sort of like the Taliban, and they're hell bent on demolishing the school.
We call this kind of crap 'neglect' in the states:
Two gates have been built next to Jubara in the Wall: one for farmers with pecial permits to pass to their fields and the other for all the village population. Only residents of Jubara can pass to and from the rest of the West Bank to the village, and only at set times. At 6:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. the gate normally opens for one hour only. During Jewish festivities, other holidays, or before and during military attacks on the West Bank, the gates remain closed. Sometimes the soldiers close the gates in front of the students without any given reason. Life for the students from Jubara is thus completely in the hands of the Occupation, their school attendance depending on the mood of the soldiers.
Do something effective instead of waxing poetically how bloggers are going to change the world by talking with each other. Do you like talking with racists and those who empower racists? Do you like talking with rapists and those who empower rapists? Do you hang out with thieves? Forget the comments sections in the blogs or enable moderation so that you don't waste time and energy 'dialoging.' Zionist tossers don't give a damn about you. We're irrelevant to them; Talking to the 'nice' Zionists serves their puropse by making Israel look good, and the 'nasty' ones deplete precious time and energy. Talk to your congressman instead. Write to newspapers. Reach out to the mainstream, the benefactors of these crimes, US citizens, many don't know what's going on and if they did would be appalled that they're funding it.
Quit fooling around while children are getting shot through the head and heart.
Resolve that everything that you do will be to towards implementation of the civil, human, legal, and inalienable rights of our relatives in Palestine.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
'This is your house'
Description: 4 room apt in Talbiyeh , 80 sq m , renovated , an option for furnish (for 1,800$), For sale: $390,000 .
Stanford sophomore and Israeli Roel Kashi writes in the Stanford Daily ,
"The only way to Middle East peace is to understand that 700,000 Palestinian refugees and millions of their descendants cannot and will not go back to Israel."
I replied in a letter to the editor:
But the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states "Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country."
Where is the justice when 2500 French and North American Jews will hop on a plane this summer to make aliya to Israel, while refugees, some within kilometers of their personal property, are denied their basic human right? Kashi is disingenuous if he thinks peace will come in the wake of such glaring injustice.
"Homeland," writes Dr. Adnan Shahada, from Yasur,an ethnically cleansed and almost completely destroyed village 40 kilometers northeast of Gaza, "has a great significance in Arab culture. It means belonging, self-esteem and history for the generations who live in that part of the earth."
Another current Gaza resident, Abdallah Arabid, from Hiribya, a place, according to Walid Khalidi in All That Remains, that "resembled an oases," in which "citrus, grapes, bananas, and sugar cane" grew. The Israelis converted Hiribya's "mosque into a warehouse." Arabid says:
"My personal private rights state that nobody, whoever he is, is entitled to take a decision on my behalf. I am from the occupied village of Hiribya. Nobody is entitled to sell, to let, to rent or to relinquish Hiribya to anybody on my behalf."
Isa Qaraq'a, currently living in Aida Refugee Camp, which is seven kilometers from al-Biqa'. He says:
"We went back to our villages one or two months ago. In one return visit to some Palestinian villages we met Israelis living in our houses, the houses of our fathers and grandfathers. And they had to admit, 'This is your house.' The features of the houses were still as they were. In one of the houses there was still an amount of olive oil that was kept for more than fifty years in a well."
In Iraq Al-Manshiyya, "It should be noted that Intel Corporation (the semiconductor giant) maintains & operates one of its biggest manufacturing plants outside the US (FAB 18) on a looted land...whose refugees live a "few miles to the Easts in the slums of the Gaza Strip." Refugee Ismail Abu Hashan says:
"More that 80% of Palestinians are still living in the region, a fact that speaks for itself. This is the biggest referendum confirming that their preference is the right of return."
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
How to Deal With Simplistic Zionist Arguments
Tired of dealing with comments from Israel's apologists such as
"We accepted partition; they didn't"
How about "Jews just wanted to live peacefully with Arabs.?
"We were only acting in self-defense in 1948."
Knowledge is power boys and girls. That's why the Zionists have a history of liquidating smart Palestinians.
I will post on this in the future but in the meantime, some homework: readings in history for young Palestinian writers. Shut the tossers up.
And for a thorough background in Zionist history, one must read Walid Khalidi's From Haven to Conquest:Readings in Zionism to 1948. Most of the collected articles are written by Zionists...don't you love it? And what they say is at odds with the usual Zionist buzz words.
Thanks to Zahi:
The Core Issue
Dispossession and Ethnic Cleansing
The Conflict in Palestine: Illusions of Peace and The Need for Effective Resistance
Zionism and Peace in Palestine
Creation of Israel: An Imperialist-Zionist Joint Venture
The Zionist Project in Palestine: Colonial Settlement, Land Robbery and Ethnic Cleansing
The 1948 War: A Cover Up for Ethnic Cleansing
A Borderless State Pending Territorial Expansion
There Could Have Been Peace
The 1967 War
Debate with Tikkun
From Refugees to Citizens at Home
Al-Nakba and Return
Al-Ahram Focus: The Palestinian Right to Return
Of Benny Morris and Ethnic Cleansing
FACTSHEET, The Right To Return, a Basic Right Still Denied
Monday, May 15, 2006
Bells of Return Speak 'Strongly' and 'Honestly'
A prodigious number of Palestinians, young and old, are telling stories this Yom Al-Nakba (Day of Catastrophe), and it is exhilarating in spite of the fact that the Nakba continues; nevertheless, it is no small feat that Palestinian voices are no longer excluded from public discourse for they are literally bells of return. This is a continuation of my post from earlier today:
Laila El Haddad writes about Yousef, her son, and fourth generation refugee:
Like his father and grandparents before him, Yousuf, too, is a refugee. And like it or not-he, and the millions like him, will not "disappear", much as the government of Israel would like them to, whilst trying its utmost to render their return unfeasible and their plight irrelevant: it lives on. And American passport or not, "Palestinian" is stamped on his forehead (and in my identity document, to which he is added and thus rendered "Palestinian", not "American", by Israeli forces, meaning he is not alloweed to return or visit Haifa)... as the Palestinian Gazan poet Haroon Hashim Rasheed said.. "Filisteeni ana Filisteeni..naqashtu ismee ala kulil mayadeeni"
Fadi writes about his ethnically cleansed village of Lubya:
In Pretoria, South Africa today sits an olive tree dedicated to Lubya. The memorial reads, "To the Palestinain village of Lubya upon whose ruins a forest was built where cows were permitted to graze but the displaced occupants are not allowed to return ."
Joharah Baker addresses the continuing Nakba in "Til Israel Do Us Part" regarding Israel's High Court decision disallowing spouses in occupied Palestine to join their spouse in Israel:
Israel has elevated its oppression of the Palestinians into an art form, constantly creating ingenious ways of fencing them off, kicking them around and eventually squeezing them out.
Israel attacks one family at a time. Eventually, if families are not free to live in peace and prosper in their own homes, it is only natural that they will turn to other options outside this oppressive box.
This is a people who have lived in this land for generations, who can trace their lineage back hundreds of years to a stone house, to a single olive tree standing stubbornly in the rich soil of what was once an orchard tended by Palestinian hands.
Once, the late Dr. Ibrahim Abu Lughud, a prominent Palestinian scholar and refugee from Jaffa, said what sets Israelis and Palestinians apart is that Palestinians have claims to all of Palestine, from the Mediterranean Sea to the River Jordan, while Israelis do not.
Let the world think whatever they like, let them claim there’s no such thing as a Palestine, let them deny the rights of Palestinians, let them enjoy wiping Palestine off the map, let them taste their triumph in making the world believe Palestinians are no victims, they’re nothing but terrorists and heartless beasts, let them insist on kicking anyone with Palestinian blood out of Palestine, let them manipulate and change facts…but they’ll never be able to delete generations of memories, present and future. They’ll never be able to brainwash us, they’ll never be able to take away the pictures we kept in our minds of our families and loved ones there; they can’t simply steal the smell of Palestinian olive trees and citrus farms we used to pass by every day; and they’ll never succeed in killing our longing to the fresh Palestinian breeze that tickles our noses every time the word Palestine is mentioned.
No matter how hard they’d try, Palestine is there, it has always been there, Palestinians are there, they’ll always be and nothing can change that.
Anne Selden Annab On the Work We Must Continue to Do:
Speak strongly and honestly ! America needs to listen to the real people of historic Palestine, the real thoughts and feelings- and heritage, comprehend the real facts, in order to understand how cruel, heartless and unjust home wrecking racist Israel has been all along.
The Zionist crime called Israel has been a huge modern man made mistake. Palestine really should return in full- along with every Palestinian refugee.
Until Return...Palestinian Voices Remember and Inspire
Right of return is inevitable because it is just. In 1967 one would not find stories of Al-Nakba. In 2006 everything is changed, and while Al-Nakba, the catastrophe, continues, the very fact that Palestinian voices are heard everywhere is cause for hope and joy for the inevitable day of return.
Poignant, articulate, steadfast Palestinian voices commemorate today's Al-Nakba anniversary and convey through their veracity the spirit of resistance that will prevail, inshallah (Arabic for God willing), until return:
Khaled Nazzal, a student at Jordan University of Science and Technology remembers his grandmother's flight in "1948 Al-Sendyaneh":
It was the 12th of May, 1948. That day was the beginning of our life as refugees. Jewish guerrillas (Etsel) invaded my hometown, Al-Sendyaneh (The Oak) at afternoon. There was no time to take any thing… My grandmother told me how she left everything in the house. There are a lot of stories how people left their food on the fire, their dough in the oven, Ash is still their in the ovens. Stones and sand brought from Qesaryeh to build the house of Sa'eed Zaidy were left in its state till now.
Noura Dabdoub, sophomore at Ohio State University writes in The Lantern:
The story of my Palestine catastrophe begins in the village of Al Birweh, with its roots in the seaside district of 'Akka, rooted in northern Palestine.
Reflecting on this uprooting of Palestine, David Ben Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel, stated, "The old will die and the young will forget."
Palestinians have not forgotten. Palestine is in how we speak and in the way we dance. It is in the food we eat and the poetry we read. It is in the stories we tell and the futures we hope for.
The future that we all hope for - despite ethnicity, national identity and religion - is a future that is just and peaceful.
Justice and peace will only be possible if the undeniable right of Palestinians to return to our homeland is recognized and realized.
Al Falyasteeniya, who will graduate from an American college with a Palestinian flag emblem on her cap writes:
I am Palestinian- I'm not a terrorist. I'm fun to hang out with ( I think )- I can even make you laugh at times. I'm respectful...and I hope they see that- that we Palestinians, are just like everyone else; human beings. And we deserve to live. And we deserve rights. And we deserve justice. And that this is what the 'conflict' is all about.
Khaldoun Baghdadi, lawyer and Chair of San Francisco's Human Rights Commission.
I think of my mom walking into a refugee camp as a young girl. I think of the door my grandfather installed on our home in Safad, which he locked for the last time that day. I think of that clean, white house with the blue door, and wonder what it would be like for my kids to play in the courtyard. I think of my dad as a teenager working for the British army collecting bodies. I move from confusion to sadness to anger that the world allowed this to happen, and permits it to continue.
George Bisharat,professor of law at Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, remembers:
I think first of my grandfather’s home in Jerusalem that was expropriated by the Israelis in 1948, and for which compensation has never been paid. But more than that, I think about the hundreds of thousands of other Palestinians who were forcibly expelled by Israeli troops or fled in fear, and who have not been as fortunate as me to find a secure and prosperous life in the United States. These more than five million Palestinians live almost within a stones throw of their homes and their homeland, and their right to return has been consistently recognized by the international community, yet nothing has ever been done to effectuate that right.
Diana Buttu, Palestinian-Canadian lawyer based in Gaza, remembers and reflects:
As a child of a Nakba survivor, I am haunted by the image of thousands of Palestinians fleeing to safety and I am left wondering what the Palestinians were living through that would make them flee their homes for safety. As a resident of Gaza, the daily Israeli shelling and frequent bombing raids have terrorized me. And, while I have often thought of leaving, I remain, as do most Palestinians. In the height of these bombing campaigns, I often think back to the Nakba and convince myself that I can live through it.
A dear Jewish friend of mine once told me that her mother was haunted by the faces of the people who idly watched her get on a truck that shipped her off to a concentration camp. I, too, am often left wondering what the watchers-by were thinking in 1948. More hauntingly, however, I am left wondering whether Israelis ever think that their state, which is supposed to be a haven for Jews, caused the dispossession of so many Palestinians. Have they not become the people who idly watched the Palestinians get on trucks?
Dr. Salman Abu Sitta resurrects:
Ten years in the making, Salman Abu Sitta's Atlas of Palestine 1948 is an heroic undertaking. It is, writes Amira Howeidy, nothing short of the resurrection of a land.
Karma Nabulsi inspires and is inspired:
The most promising thing I witnessed at them [civic meetings organized by young Palestinians] was watching this generation replicate something they have no first hand acquaintance with themselves, for it is never talked about and is as yet unwritten: the almost secret history of the underground actions of the previous generation of Palestinian resistants. Their current endeavours echo the same practices, the same spirit, and the same inerring direction. And in today’s reclamation project of the Palestinian past of the Nakba, the younger generation retrieve at the same time another history which is also theirs: the still uncollected stories of the previous generations of fighters who also worked in associations, parties, and groups in a similar collective spirit and with an equal passion.
Ghada Karmi reflects:
In those early days, I would wonder with anguish how the Jewish incomers who took over our house could sleep at night, seeing our belongings, family photos, children's toys.
Anne Selden Annab reaches out to just Americans:
This mess is not the Palestinians' fault, and yet they are demonized because they dare resist injustice and a continued Zionist war on their basic human rights- and their families. What is more precious to civilization itself than diversity and nurturing all our children, protecting and passing on our true wealth and heritage by doing what we can to respect parenting and homes- our own and others- all families and love ... the cradle of civilization... And it is exactly that which political Zionism seeks to undermine and destroy so as to create and sustain the so-called "Jewish" State.
Jihad Al-Khazen predicts:
To be sure, the modern Israeli state has lethal weapons - very lethal weapons. But can it do with them, except make more enemies? Israel no longer has any special claim upon international sympathy or indulgence. The US won't always be there. Weapons and walls can no more preserve Israel forever than they preserved the German Democratic Republic or white South Africa.
Spiritual Leaders affirm:
During a joint press conference, Palestinian chief Muslim judge Tayseer Al-Tamimi and the bishop of Sebastia of the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem [Atalla Hanna] and member of the Brotherhood of he Holy Sepulchure, who has acted as the spokesman of the patriarchate, affirmed that the Right of Return is “holy,” the hard core of the Palestinian – Israeli conflict and the key for peace.
Read more inspiring stories of remembrance at Institute for Middle East Understanding.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
The Nakba Continues
Dr. Walid Khalidi likens the Nakba to the "ineluctible climax of the preceding Zionist colonization and the great watershed in the history of the Palestinian people, marking the beginning of their Exodus and Diaspora" (Khalidi xxxii). In addition to the depopulation of 418 Palestinian villages [later research by Dr. Salman Abu Sitta puts the number at 530], major urban centers in which Palestinians exclusively populated, including Acre, Beersheba, Baysan, Lydda, Majdal, Nazarth, al-Ramla, and others in which they were the vast majority, (Safad), or in which they enjoyed "substantial plurality" (Tiberias, Haifa, and West Jerusalem), "and their ancient seaport Jaffa, where they also made up the vast majority and in whose hinterland they had pioneered the cultivation of the orange that bears the city's name" fell (Khalidi xxxii).
The new state appropriated for itself both immovable assets including schools, libraries, mosques,churches, residential quarters as well as personal possessions including silver, furniture, pictures, carpets, etc. (Khalidi xiii).
The Nakba didn't end in 1948. According to Karma Nabulsi in the Guardian,
"It is an ongoing daily Palestinian experience - binds this generation directly to the older one, and binds the exiled to Palestine. Indeed, the past few years have witnessed a violent acceleration in this process of attempted destruction - hence the title of this year's event: The Nakba Continues."
One need only scan the Arabic press for a daily litany of horrors. Today:
Occupation forces threatened this morning to break the arms of shop owners in the Jordan Valley for protesting the demolition of their shops.
Seven Palestinians, including two brothers, 18 and 20, were killed in Israeli raids.
In order to maintain a Jewish majority in Israel, "Israel's high court upheld a controversial law that bars Palestinians in the occupied West Bank from living with spouses and children who are Arab citizens of Israel."
Palestinians are expected to just suck it up and not be outraged that a middle class US family has the right to immigrate to Jaffa but a Palestinian born in Jaffa may not be buried in the town of his birth.
Who would not be sickened considering that four Palestinian kids died last week because their dialysis treatments had to be cut back due to sanctions imposed by the US on Palestinians because Palestinians voted for a political party which does not recognize the "right" of Jews from all over the world to colonize their land on which they've lived for centuries.
Who would not be justified to resist dispossesion, demolition, apartheid, imprisonment, confiscation, vilification, humiliation, and eradication.
There is a land. Golda was right about that. There is a people who belong to the land. The old will die. David Ben Gurion was right about that. The old have passed on the torch to the young, who remember. George Bisharat writes, "Recently, on the 10th birthday of my son, Austin Rashid, I was reaching for the telephone to order balloons for his party. I asked 'What colors would you like?'
"He paused from his latest Lego creation, and, looking at me squarely, replied, 'Red, black, green and white.'"
When I first started my blog, I sought the assistance of my thirteen year old, Samira. She suggested after a few weeks, 'Why don't you make your blog the colors of the Palestinian flag?'
"And so," concludes Bisharat, "each new generation remembers." And though the Nakba continues, we will remember the past. And we will resist for the present. And we will look to nature for the lesson. For like the birds who go back from whence they came, we will resist steadfastly knowing that the future promises return.
Reference: Khalidi, Walid, ed. All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948. Washington D.C.: Institute of Palestinian Studies, 1992.
Kfar Bir'im: 'We Will Forget the Bitter Days'
Kfar Bir'im was completely destructed in 1953. Only the church was left standing. The displaced people of Bir'im visit their village annually. View the moving and uplifting video, Summer Camp in Bir'im to see a man from the village speak the powerful words below:
Your beauty is God given
Your beauty is God given
A human being strains to describe it.
North, south, east, west
Vistas of hills and valleys
When you tire on the way and feel thirsty
You may drink of al-Safra from the well
And on a dessert of figs you may feast
Feast on a dessert of figs of Bayad and Ghazzali
Tarry as you near the grapes
And when you approach the vine
Give thanks, and lift up your voice
Your people, Bir'im have not died
And will not forsake a grain of sand from you
As long as you have men like these
As long as you have men like these
Who continually strive for justice
they do not care what others may say
And they always say to the oppressor
Our Bir'im is more precious than money.
And the return will never disappear
We will return contented
We will forget the bitter days.
Kfar Birem Website
Saturday, May 13, 2006
'Every Palestinian...together at the same place'
"Palestinians are reclaiming their past - of the nakba and dispossession - and at the same time preparing the next phase of their fight for justice. By some miracle of the general will, every Palestinian has somehow, through different journeys, arrived together at the same place," writes Karma Nabulsi in today's Guardian.
"A recurrent theme, however, even among the most compassionate, was the assertion that, in resolving issues between Palestinians and Israelis, 'We cannot go back to the past,' and indeed, that we Palestinians must forget the past.
"It struck me as ironic that such an admonition could issue from people whose claimed attachment to Palestine goes back 2,000 years. What this says is that who can remember, and who can be made to forget, is fundamentally an outgrowth, and an enactment, of power.
"Viewed in this way, our remembering, is a form of continuing resistance to the defamation and erasure of our history.
"But remembering Talbiyeh [Bisharat's boyhood home] of the pre-1948 period is more than a form of resistance. Recalling that era, and the people it produced, involves envisioning a possibility for another future. Talbiyeh was a place of tolerance, compassion and enlightenment, its sons and daughters cosmopolitan, broadminded and welcoming.
"In recalling and claiming this heritage, we are also promising that when Israelis are ready to recognize Palestinians in their full humanity, as no lesser beings than themselves, we will be there, in all our ingenuity, imagination, strength and, ultimately, even love.
"To forget this rich legacy, then, is to deny our humanity, to negate our identity and to abandon a future in which Christians and Muslims are equal to Jews," writes George Bisharat.
"The plain fact is there shall be no peace in the Middle East without the return of the refugees to their homes," writes Dr. Salman Abu Sitta.
"UN General Assembly Resolution 194 is not an invention; it is an application of international law. That is why it has been confirmed by the UN 135 times, a unique case in UN history. It is also derived from the UDHR and the European, American and African similar conventions. It is also derived from the sanctity of private ownership which cannot be extinguished by passage of time, occupation or sovereignty," he writes further.
"The conference [Palestinians in Europe Conference] was marked by a large participation of Palestinian youths from across Europe. They conducted several workshops and discussions confirming the commitment and dedication of Palestinian youth to their cause wherever they may reside. They asserted their determination to serve their cause with the most innovative ways."
In addition, the conference recently concluded on May 6, held in Malmo, Sweden, which included five thousand participants:
"Reaffirmed the decisions taken in London, Berlin and Vienna concerning adherence to the right of return. They warned of the dire consequences of attempts to undermine or jeopardise this right. They demanded the urgent implementation of this right in a manner that would enable the Palestinians to return to the homes from which they were forcibly expelled. The conference asserted that the refugees must be afforded due compensation as a result of all the physical and psychological losses which they and their descendents have suffered throughout the years of exile." Palestine Return Center
"In 2005, young Palestinian activists helped to organise more than 100 meetings in refugee camps and exile communities in more than 28 countries. The idea was to bring Palestinians together - whether under occupation or in exile - to discuss the things they want to do next. I participated in many of these gatherings and witnessed the promise of this generation replicating something they have no first-hand experience themselves, for it is rarely talked about and is as yet unwritten: the secret history of the previous generation of Palestinian resistance activists and fighters. Their current endeavours echo the same practices, the same spirit, and the same direction." Karma Nabulsi
"On Saturday 13 May, the Union of Youth Activity Centers-Palestine Refugee Camps (UYAC), Zochrot and Badil invite the public to take part in the first 'Lifta Marathon', an event organized in the framework of the 2006 commemoration of the Palestinian Nakba. Participants will depart from Palestinian refugee camps, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Palestinian families from Lifta will carry the keys to their homes and hand them over to those able to continue across the Israeli military checkpoints to complete the symbolic return. A small ceremony in the old village center will be held between 11:00 – 13:00 when Palestinian families from Lifta will convey their testimonies and memories. An art corner for children will be provided throughout the event. This year's return to Lifta will conclude with a collective effort at clearing the garbage dumped in the Palestinian homes." Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights