two schools & double standards

There is a documentary that was on Al Jazeera about a year ago byTom Evans and George Azar called Two Schools in Nablus. The program is worth watching if you want to see what life is like here in Nablus. Just by catching a glimpse of these two schools–one for boys and one for girls–one gets an idea of what Nablus looks like and feels like. What it means to live in a city where one’s life is plagued by Israeli invasions, kidnappings, and jails. Imagine living with all of this on a daily basis and still trying to go to school, to study, to have some semblance of a normal childhood. This small little documentary is a window into daily life in Palestine more generally.

You can see how this still goes on when yesterday Israeli Terrorist Forces (ITF) were caught forcing one young boy to strip down to his underwear at the Beit Iba checkpoint near Nablus:

Israeli forces closed the Beit Iba checkpoint west of Nablus on Tuesday after suddenly surrounding a young boy claiming he was in possession of an explosive device.

Ma’an’s cameraman captured the incident as Israeli soldiers forced the boy to strip in the road then transfer him to a military vehicle. Soldiers brought out an explosives detector and claimed to detonate a pipe bomb that the youth was carrying.

Bystanders doubted whether the boy was indeed carrying any explosives, since several incidents have been recorded in the Nablus governorate of boys being falsely accused and detained.

Or imagine this family whose home was demolished yesterday in Al Quds:

The Israeli Authorities demolished on Tuesday a Palestinian home in Al Esawiyya town, in east Jerusalem, arrested three residents and attacked seven others including a number of women.

The demolished home belong to Najah Abu Sneina. Israeli soldiers and policemen surrounded the town and barred the residents from approaching the house of Abu Sneina before demolishing it.

The policemen threatened to arrest any resident who approaches the area and violently attacked several residents injuring seven, including a several women.

Tareq Abu Sneina, the son of Najah, stated that the Jerusalem Municipality decided on November 16 that the house should be demolished, and gave the family thirty days to demolish it.

The court gave Abu Sneina 30 days to demolish his home, but less than 30 hours after the court’s decision, Israeli bulldozers demolished most of the house without even allowing the family to remove the furniture.

Or how the ITF invaded Beit Lahem yesterday and used a school for its interrogation of youth it kidnapped:

Israeli forces raided the village of Tuqu, south of the Wes Bank city of Bethlehem at dawn on Wednesday and imposed a curfew.

Witnesses said that dozens of military vehicles raided the village. Israeli soldiers rounded dozens of young men into a school, where they are being interrogated.

Witnesses added that Israeli troops stormed houses and damaged property.

In enforcing the curfew they used a public address system to order students not to go to school and residents not to attend the morning prayer.

Or the willfull destruction of a kindergarten by the ITF in Nablus:

The Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees condemned the raids of the occupation forces upon homes and institutions in the West Bank village of Mughayer, including the Ghassan Kanafani kindergarten run by the UPWC, on November 17, 2008.

The UPWC stated that “this action is part of the criminal barbaric policies of the occupation, attempting to destroy the institutions of the Palestinian people, including deliberately sabotaging and destroying the contents of the Ghassan Kanafani kindergarten. This kindergarten provides educational services for over 70 children in the village, who suffer from harsh social and economic conditions.”

The UPWC expressed its full solidarity with the steadfast people of the village and pledged continuity of services at the kindergarten and the development of further services for the children of the village.

Imagine this was your daily life. Or your child’s daily life. How would they study? How would they feel safe? How would they have a chance at having a normal childhood full of innocence, creativity, freedom. They wouldn’t. These children don’t. Because their houses are demolished. Their cities and camps and villages are invaded. Their siblings are jailed and tortured. Their siblings and classmates are shot dead with live ammunition. This is childhood in Nablus, and indeed in Rafah and everywhere in between.

On top of this, the Israeli government does not want you to see what is going on, especially in Gaza right now as there is a media blackout:

Israel has imposed a virtual news blackout on the Gaza Strip. For the last ten days no foreign journalists have been able to enter the besieged territory to report on the escalating humanitarian crisis caused by Israel’s complete closure of Gaza’s borders for the last two weeks.

Steve Gutkin, the AP bureau chief in Jerusalem and head of Israel’s Foreign Press Association, said that he personally “knows of no foreign journalist that has been allowed into Gaza in the last week.”

Gutkin said that “while Israel has barred foreign press from entering Gaza in the past, the length of the current ban makes it unprecedented.” He added that he has received no “plausible or acceptable” explanation for the ban from the Israeli government.

AP has relied on reports from two of its journalists who were able to enter Gaza days before the closure began and are currently stuck there.

And against this backdrop the U.S. has a new president who makes statements supporting this unidirectional violence that is always and only aimed at the Palestinians (Palestinians, you may recall have no army, have no weapons of mass destruction like the Zionist state does). Ali Abunimah has a great information brief on the president elect and here are some highlights:

Obama set out detailed positions in speeches before AIPAC in March 2007 and June 2008. Key elements are that Obama:

• Supported the Israeli bombing of Lebanon in July-August 2006 and repeatedly in the Gaza Strip as exercises of Israel’s right to “legitimate self-defense;”

• Supported Israel’s 6 September 2007 air attack on Syria which unsubstantiated reports claimed targeted a weapons of mass destruction related site;

• Opposed the holding of Palestinian elections including Hamas in January 2006;

• Opposed the February 2007 Mecca Agreement establishing a national unity government between Hamas and Fatah peacefully, resolving internal Palestinian differences;

• Supports continued “isolation” of Hamas until it meets political conditions imposed by Israel and the Quartet;

• Stated that “I will always stand up for Israel’s right to defend itself in the United Nations and around the world,” suggesting continued use of U.S. veto to block United Nations action on the conflict;

• Promised at least $30 billion of military aid to Israel over the next decade and pledged to push for Israel to gain access to armaments reserved for NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) members;

• Pledged that the United States “should never seek to dictate what is best for the Israelis and their security interests” and “No Israeli prime minister should ever feel dragged to or blocked from the negotiating table by the United States;”

• Stated “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided;”

• Opposes Palestinian refugees’ Right of Return (“The right of return [to Israel] is something that is not an option in a literal sense”);

• Stated “Any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state;”

• Supported the Bush administration’s approach of forming an alliance of “moderates,” including Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt on one side arrayed against Iran, Syria, Hizballah and Hamas;

• Considers Iran’s alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons “unacceptable,” supports strong sanctions and divestment and has refused to rule out the use of military force.

Obama has expressed no support for Palestinian “rights” and has never publicly used the type of effusive emotional language identifying with Palestinians’ aspirations as he does regarding the Israelis. While repeatedly castigating Palestinians, he has been uncritical of Israel.

But, there is good news. At least there are some people in Egypt who are actively working the economic boycott angle, albeit in a unique way:

A Cairo court on Tuesday overruled the Egyptian government’s decision to allow exports of natural gas to Israel, judicial sources said, although there was no word on whether or when the government would act on the ruling.

The Egyptian administrative court accepted a challenge to the decision filed by a group of lawyers opposed to the exports, arguing that the 15-year fixed-price agreement signed between Egypt and Israel in 2005 lacks any mechanism for Egypt to adjust prices to reflect current market conditions.

Egyptian natural gas began flowing to Israel through a pipeline for the first time in May under an agreement signed in 2005 with the East Mediterranean Gas Co (EMG) for the supply of 1.7 billion cubic meters a year over 20 years.

Some Egyptian leftists and Arab nationalists oppose the sale of gas to Israel, which fought four wars with Egypt between 1948 and 1973 before signing a peace agreement in 1979.

Former Egyptian diplomat Ibrahim Yousri, who started an anti-government campaign with other activists this year called No For Gas Catastrophe, described Tuesday’s ruling as a victory for the nation that protested gas exports to Israel.

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