settlement freeze my ass

i am certain i have written a post with this title before. certainly with the same or similar content. such is the case with falasteen: always the zionist terrorist colonists say one thing and do the opposite. here is a classic example:

In direct violation of international law, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved permits on Sunday and Monday to build 455 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank.

The new housing, which was ordered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will be built in six settlements. The settlements in question include Har Gilo (on the outskirts of Bethlehem), Modi’in Illit (built on the land of the village of Bil’in) and Ariel (deep in the West Bank south of Nablus).

Israel says it intends to keep each of these settlements in any eventual peace agreement with the Palestinians.

They permits are first ones issued since Netanyahu took office in March. Later this week, Netanyahu is expected to announce a partial reduction in the construction of illegal Israeli settlements.

you see, they tell obama they wil have a freeze, but only after building gazillions more housing units in the colonies. but wait! there’s more! they are building an entirely new colony on stolen palestinian land, too:

Work began on a new Israeli settlement in the Jordan Valley on Sunday to house settlers who were removed in 2005 from one of Israel’s former colonies in the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported that workers began working on the first 20 units in the new settlement, called Maskiot, in the northern Jordan Valley.

and here are some numbers to ponder in relation to these and other colonies on palestinian land:

The decision to approve the construction of hundreds of housing units before the settlement freeze goes into affect means that in the coming year the total number of apartments to be built in the settlements will be the same as the number built before limitations were placed on construction over the Green Line.

Central Bureau of Statistics data show that the completion of 2,500 housing units and an immediate start to 455 new units continues the growth trend of recent years.

According to Central Bureau of Statistics publications, from 2005 to the end of 2008, when no special limitations on construction in the settlements were imposed and the American demand to freeze construction was not yet on the agenda, 7,015 housing units were built in the West Bank settlements. Thus during those four years, the average rate of housing starts in the settlements was 1,771 a year.

The number of new housing units will not actually decline compared to previous years. The only difference is that now, that instead of construction permits being given gradually throughout the year, the government intends to issue hundreds of permits within a few days, before the official announcement of the “freeze” is made.

here’s an idea president obama: why not sanction that zionist entity as should have been done decades ago when they forbade the return of palestinian refugees. paul craig roberts lays it all out for you:

In Israel, a country stolen from the Palestinians, fanatics control the government. One of the fanatics is the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Last week Netanyahu called for “crippling sanctions” against Iran.

The kind of blockade that Netanyahu wants qualifies as an act of war. Israel has long threatened to attack Iran on its own but prefers to draw in the US and NATO.

Why does Israel want to initiate a war between the United States and Iran?

Is Iran attacking other countries, bombing civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure?

No. These are crimes committed by Israel and the US.

Is Iran evicting peoples from lands they have occupied for centuries and herding them into ghettoes?

No, that’s what Israel has been doing to the Palestinians for 60 years.

What is Iran doing?

Iran is developing nuclear energy, which is its right as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran’s nuclear energy program is subject to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which consistently reports that its inspections find no diversion of enriched uranium to a weapons program.

The position taken by Israel, and by Israel’s puppet in Washington, is that Iran must not be allowed to have the rights as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty that every other signatory has, because Iran might divert enriched uranium to a weapons program.

In other words, Israel and the US claim the right to abrogate Iran’s right to develop nuclear energy. The Israeli/US position has no basis in international law or in anything other than the arrogance of Israel and the United States.

The hypocrisy is extreme. Israel is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and developed its nuclear weapons illegally on the sly, with, as far as we know, US help.

As Israel is an illegal possessor of nuclear weapons and has a fanatical government that is capable of using them, crippling sanctions should be applied to Israel to force it to disarm.

Israel qualifies for crippling sanctions for another reason. It is an apartheid state, as former US President Jimmy Carter demonstrated in his book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.

The US led the imposition of sanctions against South Africa because of South Africa’s apartheid practices. The sanctions forced the white government to hand over political power to the black population. Israel practices a worse form of apartheid than did the white South African government. Yet, Israel maintains that it is “anti-semitic” to criticize Israel for a practice that the world regards as abhorrent.

What remains of the Palestinian West Bank that has not been stolen by Israel consists of isolated ghettoes. Palestinians are cut off from hospitals, schools, their farms, and from one another. They cannot travel from one ghetto to another without Israeli permission enforced at checkpoints.

The Israeli government’s explanation for its gross violation of human rights comprises one of the greatest collection of lies in world history. No one, with the exception of American “christian zionists,” believes one word of it.

The United States also qualifies for crippling sanctions. Indeed, the US is over-qualified. On the basis of lies and intentional deception of the US Congress, the US public, the UN and NATO, the US government invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and used the “war on terror” that Washington orchestrated to overturn US civil liberties enshrined in the US Constitution. One million Iraqis have paid with their lives for America’s crimes and four million are displaced. Iraq and its infrastructure are in ruins, and Iraq’s professional elites, necessary to a modern organized society, are dead or dispersed. The US government has committed a war crime on a grand scale. If Iran qualifies for sanctions, the US qualifies a thousand times over.

No one knows how many women, children, and village elders have been murdered by the US in Afghanistan. However, the American war of aggression against the Afghan people is now in its ninth year. According to the US military, an American victory is still a long ways away. Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, declared in August that the military situation in Afghanistan is “serious and deteriorating.”

Older Americans can look forward to the continuation of this war for the rest of their lives, while their Social Security and Medicare rights are reduced in order to free up funds for the US armaments industry. Bush/Cheney and Obama/Biden have made munitions the only safe stock investment in the United States.

What is the purpose of the war of aggression against Afghanistan? Soon after his inauguration, President Obama promised to provide an answer but did not. Instead, Obama quickly escalated the war in Afghanistan and launched a new one in Pakistan that has already displaced 2 million Pakistanis. Obama has sent 21,000 more US troops into Afghanistan and already the US commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, is requesting 20,000 more.

Obama is escalating America’s war of aggression against the Afghanistan people despite three high profile opinion polls that show that the American public is firmly opposed to the continuation of the war against Afghanistan.

Sadly, the ironclad agreement between Israel and Washington to war against Muslim peoples is far stronger than the connection between the American public and the American government. At a farewell dinner party last Thursday for Israel’s military attache in Washington, who is returning to Israel to become deputy chief of staff of the Israeli military, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy, and and Dan Shapiro, who is in charge of Middle East affairs on the National Security Council, were present to pay their respects. Admiral Mullen declared that the US will always stand with Israel. No matter how many war crimes Israel commits. No matter how many women and children Israel murders. No many how many Palestinians Israel drives from their homes, villages, and lands. If truth could be told, the true axis-of-evil is the United States and Israel.

Millions of Americans are now homeless because of foreclosures. Millions more have lost their jobs, and even more millions have no access to health care. Yet, the US government continues to squander hundreds of billions of dollars on wars that serve no US purpose. President Obama and General McChrystal have taken the position that they know best, the American public be damned.

It could not be made any clearer that the President of the United States and the US military have no regard whatsoever for democracy, human rights, and international law. This is yet another reason to apply crippling sanctions against Washington, a government that has emerged under Bush/Obama as a brownshirt state that deals in lies, torture, murder, war crimes, and deception.

Many governments are complicit in America’s war crimes. With Obama’s budget deep in the red, Washington’s wars of naked aggression are dependent on financing by the Chinese, Japanese, Russians, Saudis, South Koreans, Indians, Canadians and Europeans. The second this foreign financing of American war crimes stops, America’s wars of aggression against Muslims stop.

The US is not a forever “superpower” that can indefinitely ignore its own laws and international law. The US will eventually fall as a result of its hubris, arrogance, and imperial overreach. When the American Empire collapses, will its enablers also be held accountable in the war crimes court?

oh and if i have trouble updating this site, but you want new information about the ongoing daily nakbas in palestine, read zionist land grab.

hillary’s love of war criminals

(Reuters/Ammar Awad/Jerusalem)
(Reuters/Ammar Awad/Jerusalem)

tamara sent me this photograph earlier because she thought it looked like shimon peres and hillary clinton just got married (sans the white dress of course). actually, i was thinking something was going on with tzipi livni and hillary because i saw them holding hands on al jazeera today. they looked very happy together. i prefer the next photograph from electronic intifada, however:

poster from oxford university protest
poster from oxford university protest

at the press conference tonight here is what hillary had to say for herself with my interjections in bold…

Thank you, my dear and old friend for that warm welcome and for the extraordinary example that your life sets, as someone who has devoted yourself to the state of Israel, to its security, and to the cause of peace.

saying that peres is dedicated to the cause of peace is like saying that one f*!&^ for virginity (thanks razan for reminding me of that one!). he is a known war criminal. let’s just take 2 examples here to see how hillary defines “peace” first from khaled amayreh:

1. Peres himself is a mass murderer par excellence. In 1996, during his brief stint as Prime Minister following the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, he ordered the Israeli army to bomb the UNIFIL headquarters at the village of Qana in Southern Lebanon. And while the resulting pornographic massacre shocked the conscience of the world, Peres and his colleagues were busy deflecting blame and concocting excuses. Interestingly, Peres has never apologized for the horrendous crime, nor has Israel ever thought of compensating the families of the victims. The phrase “mea kulpa” apparently doesn’t exist in the Zionist lexicon.

the second one comes from abigail humphries and from a south african context:

2. Leading South African academics and veterans of the anti-apartheid struggle had sent a letter to Dr. Graham recalling Peres’ role in helping apartheid South Africa procure weapons when it was under an international embargo. “As South Africans whose oppression was fueled by the Israeli state, and certainly Peres himself,” the letter said, “we stand in solidarity with Palestinians who, for more than sixty years have lived under Israeli Apartheid.”

war-criminal lovin’ hillary continues…

….It is important that the United States always underscore our unshakable, durable, fundamental relationship and support for the State of Israel. I will be going from here to Yad Vashem to pay respects to the lost souls, to remember those who the Holocaust took, to lay a wreath, and to say a prayer. During today’s visit, I want to emphasize the continuing strengths of the United States-Israeli relationship and our unrelenting commitment to Israel’s security.

and ahhh yes, the nazi holocaust. she must bring this up. she must do it so we can deflect from the ongoing ethnic cleansing and massacres her war-lovin’ “old friends” like peres so enjoy committing, especially when the victims are arab–palestinian and lebanese alike. here is what she wrote in the guest book at yad vashem:

Writing in the guest book, Clinton described the memorial as a testament to “the triumph of the Jewish people over murder and destruction and a reminder to all people that the lessons of the Holocaust must never be forgotten. God bless Israel and its future.”

i’m wondering why she didn’t say anything about the massacres in gaza. especially given that today the death toll rose once again:

Gaza death toll rises to 1,455 as two more die of wounds in Egypt

Two Palestinians died of wounds sustained during the Israeli war on Gaza, Palestinian medical sources reported Tuesday.

Muawiyah Hassanein, head of ambulance and emergency services in the Gaza ministry of health, said that two patients from southern Gaza died in Egyptian hospitals Monday.

The two were identified as Barham Abu Rjeilah from the Rafah governorate and Atef Abu Jazar from Khan Yunis. Their bodies were transferred to the Gaza Strip through Rafah crossing along with 22 Gazans who had been successfully treated in Egypt.

oh, and did you know that israeli terrorists have not stopped bombing gaza, not for one damn day? here is what they did today with their american-made planes and bombs:

Israeli jet fighters have conducted several bombing raids in the southern Gaza Strip city Rafah along the borders with Egypt on Tuesday afternoon, Palestinian sources reported.

hillary may not see the connection with the nazi holocaust and the ethnic cleansing project that the zionist entity is built upon and depends upon for its so-called “survival” but since the most recent savagery in gaza there are some jews asking that their family’s names be removed from yad vashem as a way of saying, you cannot do this in our name, as michael neumann wrote about his grandmother:

Following the example of Jean-Moise Braitberg, we ask that our grandmother’s name be removed from the wall at Yad Vashem. Her name is Gertrud Neumann. Your records state that she was born in Kattowitz on June 6, 1875 and died in Theresienstadt.

M. Braitberg delivers his request with excellent reasons and eloquent personal testimony. His words are inspiring, but they give you – and those who stand with you – too much credit. I will instead be brief. Please take this as an expression of my disgust and contempt for your state and all it represents.

Our grandmother was a victim of that very ideal of ethnic sovereignty in whose cause Israel has shed so much blood for so long. I was among the many Jews who thought nothing of embracing that ideal, despite the sufferings it had inflicted on our own race. It took thousands of Palestinian lives before, finally, I realized how foolish we had been.

Our complicity was despicable. I do not believe that the Jewish people, in whose name you have committed so many crimes with such outrageous complacency, can ever rid itself of the shame you have brought upon us. Nazi propaganda, for all its calumnies, never disgraced and corrupted the Jews; you have succeeded in this. You haven’t the courage to take responsibility for your own sadistic acts: with unparalleled insolence, you set yourself up as spokesmen for an entire race, as if our very existence endorsed your conduct. And you blacken our names not only by your acts, but by the lies, the coy evasions, the smirking arrogance and the infantile self-righteousness with which you embroider our history.

In the end, you will give the Palestinians some scrap of a state. You will never pay for your crimes and you will continue to preen yourself, to bask in your illusions of moral ascendancy. But between now and the end, you will kill and kill and kill, gaining nothing by your spoilt-brat brutality. In life, our grandmother suffered enough. Stop making her a party to this horror in her death.

perhaps hillary didn’t mention any of this context because she forgot? because she doesn’t know? ahhh, or maybe because doing so implicates the u.s. and the fact that she, too, has blood on her hands. because the u.s. gave the weapons to the israeli terrorists in the first place. because, you know, they’re dear friends. and i’m just wondering about this characterization of the u.s.-israel friendship. certainly this is a friendship sealed in the bonds of blood thirsty empires always already intent on stealing more land and/or natural resources and murdering more people. but what i wanna know is this: how can anyone really think that it is possible to be an “honest broker”–of course in spite of all the evidence to the contrary–when amrikans say such things? i mean, if you are a judge in the u.s. and you have a bias for one party the court case gets thrown out of court. khalas. that’s it. but here, apparently, it is entirely appropriate for the terrorist states of the u.s. and israel to have this bond and impose their imperial designs on arabs and muslims in the region. and notice the rhetoric below about palestinians–it is all about imposing…

I will be sharing my impressions from the meeting I attended yesterday at Sharm el-Sheikh, and the individual exchanges that I had with many leaders from the region. During the conference, I emphasized President Obama’s and my commitment to working to achieve a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, and our support for the Palestinian Authority of President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad.

At the conference, I noted once again that the continued rocket attacks against Israel must cease. I don’t, like Shimon, understand the provocation that Hamas is determined to present. But on behalf of the people who are in Gaza, these rocket attacks are cynical, and as I pointed out yesterday, there is no doubt that any nation, including Israel, cannot stand idly by while its territory and people are subjected to rocket attacks.

the last time i checked neither hillary nor obama were palestinian. so how is it that she and peres, neither of whom are palestinian, of course, get to decide that they want and will achieve a two-state solution? for whom will that be a solution exactly? and will somebody, please, somebody tell this bitch that mahmoud abbas is no longer president. i beg of you. i think it is useful when one is in such a position of power to be aware of who is the leader of a particular country or region. ah, wait, that’s right, that might be difficult because the u.s. boycotts the democratically elected government because they don’t like hamas. they don’t think palestinians have a right to resist israeli-american terrorism and massacres–hence her constant references to the rockets the past couple of days (she sorta sounds like she’s developing tourettes syndrome). so let me get this straight: israelis can murder palestinians with american-made weapons and planes and tanks, they can steal land, force people out of their homes, invade their homes and kidnap them in the middle of the night, etc. every day for over 61 years and palestinians are never allowed to fight back. ah, ok, i think i understand now. but just how will this two-state thing work exactly? i mean, did hillary read the news today about the new plans for increased land theft by israeli terrorists? here is what peace now says about it:

According to the Peace Now report, the Israeli government already approved the construction of 15.000 housing units in West Bank settlements, and is currently planning to approve 58.000 units.

The movement added that “it is clear that supporters of settlements in the Likud party, and their possible coalition partners, are awaiting entrance into the new government’s ministry of Housing and Construction in order to implement many of these plans”.

Peace Now stated that such plans of settlement construction and expansion in the occupied West Bank are carried out with the intention to destroy any possibility of achieving a two-state solution.

The movement compiled a report based on data collected on the issue, and said that these plans only represent a small part of the overall housing plans for settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories.

It added that there are thousands of housing units that are planned by local authorities, private initiators and different public authorities.

Following are the main findings on the issue as published by Peace Now;

* Total number of housing units in the published plans – 73,302, out of which, 5,722 are in East Jerusalem

* Total number of housing units in approved plans – 15,156, approx. 8,950 of which have already been built.

* Total number of housing units in planning stages – 58,146.

* If all the plans are realized, the number of settlers in the Territories will be doubled (an addition of approx. 300,000 persons, based upon an average of 4 persons in each housing unit).

* In Gush Etzion (Bethlehem area) 17,000 housing units are planned in areas outside the existing settlements.

* At least six (6) outposts are included in the Ministry of Housing plans (Magen Dan, Givat Hadagan, Givat Hatamar, Bnei Adam, Bat Ayin West, Hill 26).

* There are plans for huge construction to double the size of some settlements, including: Beitar Illit, Ariel, Givat Ze’ev, Maaleh Adumim, Efrat and Geva Binyamin.

* Approx. 19,000 housing units are planned in settlements that are beyond the constructed path of the Fence (Kiryat Arba, Karnei Shomron, Ariel, Geva Binyamin, Immanuel, Revava).

* The plans in the settlements constitute 22% of the total housing units that are in planning stages in the Ministry of Housing.

 

and back to hillary…notice how she ignores hamas, the democratically-elected government of palestine, and of course says she supports abbas who is not the president any more (not since january 9th anyway) and yet here is what she says about the terrorist state of israel and its supposed claims on democracy:

On behalf of the United States, I would like to congratulate Israel on your recent elections, showing once again the vibrancy of your democracy. I know this is a sensitive time in Israeli politics as the process of forming a new government unfolds. This is, of course, a matter for the Israeli people to decide under Israeli law, but we want you to know that we will work with the government of Israel that represents the democratic will of the people of Israel. The democratic process has its ups and downs, but the United States and Israel share a common bond that strengthens our relationship as fellow democracies to address the challenges that we each face.

Our relationship is more than just one of shared interests. It is of shared values. And President Obama and I look forward to working with Israel’s new government.

okay now i don’t usually even browse through american propaganda websites, but for this i think it is appropriate. hillary, here, is enjoying the lie so much (you know how it is, once you get going you just can’t stop so the lie gets bigger and bigger–wouldn’t it be great if her nose grew too?) that she thinks that the new government of the zionist entity was democratically elected. but even israeli lovin’ american propaganda tells us otherwise:

In the final results, centrist Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni’s Kadima party won 28 seats in Israel’s 120-member Knesset or parliament. Benjamin Netanyahu’s nationalistic Likud Party came in a close second with 27 seats.

so you see, actually livni’s party and not netanyahu was actually elected, but it is netanyahu who will be in power now. not that it makes any difference. as with israel’s partner in crime, in both places it matters not who is in control because as far as palestinians are concerned their lives will continue to get worse no matter who is in power.

hillary reiterated these points elsewhere today, elaborating on them, as reported in the times online:

“We happen to believe that moving towards a two-state solution is in Israel’s best interests,” Mrs Clinton said. The new administration of President Barack Obama “will be vigorously engaged” in pursuing that goal, she said.

ah, ok, so the u.s., the so-called “honest broker,” wants to act in israel’s best interests, not in palestine’s. well at least she’s being honest there. not an honest broker, but honest. just this once. don’t count on seeing any of that tomorrow when she comes to ramallah, though i so wish people would throw shoes–spiked high heels, stilettos–at her when she comes to let her know she is not welcome here. maybe we can jam her cell phone with messages telling her she is not wanted here. by the way, if you want to launch complaints, apparently you can now sms hillary:

TEXT THE SECRETARY

Text the Secretary a question about her
trip to the Middle East and Europe.
Inside U.S.: 90822
Outside U.S.: 202-255-6299
Ask a Question ONLINE | Previous Events

eid el lahma

the village where mahmoud darwish grew up
jedida: the village where mahmoud darwish grew up

baha’a would approve i suspect. and i am kicking myself for not taking a photograph for him. first thing you have to know is that palestinians are famous for their hospitality. but second thing you must know is that palestinian grandparents up the ante quite a bit in the hospitality department. yesterday for the eid feast my friend’s grandma cooked–i kid you not–an entire crate of meat. i so wish i had taken a before an after photograph. i’ve never seen that much meat before in my life in one house. i joked that it was enough to feed an army. and she promised me that it would–and indeed it did. the family who came over for the feast was quite large and hungry for the delicious meal. they joked that the holiday should be called “eid el lahma” (which rhymes with eid al adha the name of the real holiday) because of all the meat sacrificed and consumed (lahma = meat).

palestinian church in al bassa
palestinian church in al bassa

after the feast last night we went to my friend’s grandfather’s village, neen, which is about thirty minutes away from nasra. on the highway we drove on to get there we passed by olive groves that belong to my friend’s family–on both sides of the highway. but the israelis confiscated all of the land on one half of the highway and on the land where they can still harvest their olive trees a mcdonald’s went in on their land. this is where you turn onto one of the village roads to get to their family’s homes. the first thing you notice about the roads is that they are instantly bumpy compared to the roads on the highways that take you through israeli settlements. this is something one also notices in the west bank: bumpy roads in nablus instantly turn into well-paved roads the moment one gets near an illegal settlement like ariel. i didn’t have a good sense of the village as we only went to visit and eat even more food (which i so wish baha’a was there to share with us…) but my friend’s extended family is lovely and very talented. so many people in her family are artistically inclined. this village of neen is famous because it is believed to be the place where jesus brought back a woman’s sixteen-year-old son back to life.

palestinian mosque in al bassa
palestinian mosque in al bassa

i woke up this morning still in a bit of a food coma from the amazing feast that never ended the previous evening. the morning was beautiful, filled with rain and a moody looking sky, which made the ground look so much more green. we piled in two cars today to head for ras al naqoura as they call it here or naqoura as they call it in lebanon. this is the same site where lebanese prisoners were exchanged this past summer and where the bodies of resistance fighters were brought home (though ironically some were brought in the wrong direction as here in palestine is where many of the bodies should have remained buried). as we drove through various villages we followed two different maps: one in hebrew (a fascinating map given the amount of territory that is not considered palestine nor israel that it includes in its borders) and the other in english of an nakba locating all of the original palestinian villages. the first one we marked on the map was al jadeida, the village where palestinian poet mahmoud darwish grew up because as a “present absentee” he and his family were not allowed to live in their village of al birwa after israel colonized and conquered it. we saw signs for al birwa, but it was in the wrong direction so we did not drive past it. then as we were driving along i noticed a church on the side of the road. we turned down the street to find not only an old palestinian church, but also a mosque, and two homes. we looked at the map and figured that this was the palestinian village of al bassa. all of these buildings are abandoned, though we could walk into the mosque and look around. the homes and the church were locked up.

naqoura border 1940
naqoura border 1940
naqoura border 2008
naqoura border 2008

we drove up to naqoura after our little detour and found a very tiny space with a magnificent view of the sea from high atop a cliff. although it started pouring rain on us it was really beautiful–particularly the colors of the sea that the grey sky brought out. it was strikingly civilian-esque given the fact that we were standing on the lebanese-palestinian border, which is, of course, controlled by israeli terrorist forces (itf). there are signs in english “welcoming” you, though it seems the only people welcome to cross the border are the itf. it looks rather different than the border did when the british controlled it (compare the above photographs).

dsc00046

dsc00040

we didn’t stay long at naqoura, partially because there isn’t much to see other than the view, partially because a bus full of jewish school children arrived, and partially because the rain was intense. in any case, we had more to see. one of my friends who i smuggled out of the west bank for this trip has never been outside the west bank in her life. she is a palestinian refugee who has never even seen the sea let alone her own village, which is only a few kilometers away from beit lahem. so it was important that we continue driving along. one of the friends who joined us today from nasra is an architect who knows a lot about palestinian architectural history and planning, which is just the sort of person you want to travel with when you are looking for palestinian villages that are sometimes quite hard to find. one of those villages she knew about, but we couldn’t get close to is al zeeb. this village is on the sea, but there is some sort of israeli water park/club med thing that blocks it off, at least in the winter, from allowing people to go inside to check out the village. but we did catch a view of it from the sea road and it looks remarkable–remarkable given how in tact it seems to be. if you look closely at the photograph below you can see the village–a grouping of homes and such to the left of the sea shore.

al zeeb
palestinian village: al zeeb

our next little find was right along the highway driving south to akka. it is obvious given its size and length. it is in a place called kabri springs and it is an aqueduct built by suleiman pasha to send water to akka. it was partially destroyed by napolean, but as you can see it is standing still today nevertheless.

kabri springs aqueduct
kabri springs aqueduct

this aqueduct is something you see right before hitting the bahai gardens about 2.5 km north of akka. we were passing by and decided to go to the bahai gardens. there were many pilgrims there (many i noticed with an american accent, too). they were there to pray at a shrine to baha’u’allah who is the founder of the bahai faith and he was buried there after he died in 1892. i am not a huge fan of gardens i have to say before i proceed. i find them to be a waste of space. i much prefer gardens that yield fruit and vegetables (plus lovely flowers), but acres upon acres of grass (which also wastes tons of water) is neither beautiful nor spiritual (and supposedly we were in some sort of spiritual space). to be fair there were some orange trees lining the paths, but in general it was a lot of grass and a lot of wasted space (and i suspect wasted water). this mansion and its gardens takes up 50 acres of land right outside akka. and i just couldn’t help thinking about how many palestinians could live on that land? how could they make better use of that land and that space?

bahai gardens
bahai gardens

my friends told me that the bahai faith places a premium on beauty. but i really have a problem with a faith that doesn’t place a premium on human life or on life more generally. those who are living here and now. we were standing on the land of a 50 acre space dedicated to a person who is dead. what sort of respect or land is given to palestinians who are living right here and now? palestinians in 1948 can barely find spaces to bury their dead let alone make room for growing, living families. and just to be sure: i’m not picking on bahai. i think that all religious people share this problem to a certain degree.

the real beauty came as we approached akka. the rain had stopped, or at least became more of a drizzle. and the sun peaked through for a few minutes before setting. this is what we saw as we approached the sea.

akka
akka

(ps: friends may see many more photos on facebook.)

israeli = illegal

There are many forms of resistance as I’ve often written about here. Palestinians have always used a variety of such methods. And indeed it took decades before they resorted to their right to armed resistance against the Jewish settler colonists and the British who imposed this colonial context on them vis-a-vis the Zionist project of dispossession forced them off their land. But regardless of the form of resistance the British, the Zionists, and later the Israelis used various methods to squash all forms of resistance: literature, music was banned; non-violent protests or strikes curtailed; armed resistance always outmatched militarily. Americans and Israelis love to pretend like there is not a history of non-violent resistance in Palestine–or a present for that matter. They often characterize such protests in their military and media as violent in order to rationalize their always violent and lethal responses to such protests. Today we see this in Jenin where Palestinians protested against illegal Israeli settlements:

Israeli troops attacked a peaceful demonstration protesting the continued construction of Israeli settlements and the separation wall on Friday morning south of Jenin.

The protest took place near the evacuated settlement of Homesh located between Jenin and Nablus. When the demonstrators reached the abandoned area Israeli soldiers attacked them with rubber bullets, tear gas and sound bombs.

Note: those rubber bullets are always more accurately described as rubber-coated steel bullets.

For a glimpse into what people in Jenin were protesting, here is a report by Jacky Rowland on illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and what it costs Palestinians’ continued dispossession:

Interestingly, as Rowland reports in the Al Jazeera clip, Israelis break all sorts of laws all the time–both their own and international. There was a report today in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz on Ehud Barak’s lawbreaking behavior in relation to continuing illegal settlement expansion in spite of the so-called “roadmap” to “peace.”

In January Barak asked that all construction projects in the West Bank be brought to him for authorization. Data received by Haaretz suggests that since April, Barak has authorized the following construction projects in the West Bank:

* The marketing of at least 400 housing units and plots, of which 315 homes and 32 plots are in Beitar Ilit, 48 homes and 19 plots in Ariel, and 40 housing units and and a commercial center at Efrat.

* The construction of some 60 homes in a neighborhood that is several kilometers away from its mother settlement of Eshkolot, in southern Mount Hebron, but is included in its municipal jurisdiction.

* The registration and publication of construction projects in Ariel, Modi’in Ilit, Ma’aleh Adumim, Mevo Horon, Oranit, Efrat, Givat Ze’ev, Beit El, Neveh Daniel, Alon Shvut, Har Adar, Kochav Ya’akov and Talmon. The two latter settlements are situated to the east of the separation fence.

* Mekorot, the Israeli water company, was given permission to prepare plans in Kiryat Arba, which is also situated east of the fence.

* Authorization to plan “an experimental electricity production farm” in southern Mount Hebron.

* Renewal of authorization for the marketing of 31 homes and commercial properties in Beitar Ilit.

* The planning of a cemetery in the area of Ma’aleh Adumim.

* The allocation of 4.6 dunams (just over one acre) for the development of a nature reserve in the Prat stream in Wadi Kelt, which is east of the fence.

* The allotment of plots for the construction of public buildings in the neighborhood of Matityahu-East in Modi’in Ilit (which has been partially built on lands of the Palestinian village of Bil’in). Similar allotments were made in Elkana, Kfar Oranim, Kedumim and Beit Aryeh.

Note: fence=26 foot tall apartheid wall. How is it that the world can continue to look away, to deny facts, to pretend like it is Palestinians who break laws, when it is the occupying Zionist Jews who stole and who steal land, who massacred and who massacre Palestinians on a regular basis? Palestinians are incarcerated in the world’s largest open-air prison that is Gaza and are subjected to forced starvation once again and they resist this militarily as is their right under international law:

The Abu Ali Mustafa, An-Nasser and Al-Qassam Brigades claimed responsibility for the launch of 11 projectiles which landed near Ashkelon at dawn on Friday.

In response, the Israeli army launched an airstrike against the area they believed the projectile to have been fired. The Israeli army said two Palestinians were wounded in this attack.

The brigades are the armed wings of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) and the armed wing of Hamas respectively.

According to Israeli media eight projectiles landed in the western Negev Friday morning and reported that one Israeli woman in Sderot was lightly injured.

To get a glimpse into the bigger picture related to what is happening in Gaza right now–yet again–Al Jazeera’s “Inside Story” yesterday had a good discussion that highlights the overall context:

While the U.S. may be slow in catching on to this humanitarian crisis that continues unabated for decades and worsens by the year, month, week, day, minute, other countries, thankfully, are slowly (unfortunately at a snail’s pace) catching up:

Relations between Israel and Britain remained strained on Thursday over Downing Street’s intention to label products manufactured in West Bank settlements, a week before the expected arrival of British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, David Miliband, to the Middle East.

Miliband, who will visit Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Syria and Lebanon next week, is expected to talk to Israeli officials over the settlements in the West Bank and his country’s proposed plan to label products manufactured in them. “This initiative is a serious and substantial problem in relations between the two countries, and is generating a sense of crisis,” a senior diplomat in Jerusalem said.

Note: one should boycott everything and anything from the Zionist state–and for those who have the willpower from the U.S. as well.

And can you imagine any American leader even coming close to what came out of Switzerland today?:

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lars Knuchel said the demolitions violated the 1949 Geneva Conventions, regarded as the cornerstone of international law on the obligations of warring and occupying powers. The Fourth Convention states that occupying powers must respect the property of civilian populations under their control.

Switzerland said it lodged a formal protest with the Israeli Foreign Ministry over recent demolitions, which now bring the tally to more than 600 destroyed homes in East Jerusalem and 1,600 altogether in the West Bank since 2000.

The Swiss statement, using unusually harsh language, said the neutral country regards the recent incidents as violations of international humanitarian law and notes no military need to justify the destruction of these houses.

The Swiss statement called East Jerusalem an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territory – a phrase that could anger hardline Jewish groups that believe Israel should maintain control over the entire city. Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War, but Palestinians claim the territory as the capital of their hoped-for state.

Note: actually, Palestinians don’t “claim” the territory: it is legally theirs. Just like all of 1948 historical Palestine. Every square inch.

refugees & settlers

on the same day that a new report about iraqi refugees comes out, so to does a news piece on al jazeera about pakistani refugees. of course, the u.s. as the invading and occupying power is responsible for all of these refugees under the geneva convention. but then again, the u.s. doesn’t follow international law. they evade it.

The U.S. government has met its target of admitting 12,000 Iraqi refugees for the 2008 fiscal year, which ended on Sep. 30, and promises to admit more than 17,000 for the next year, in addition to 5,000 under a special visa programme.

Approximately 1.5 million Iraqi refuges live in Syria, Jordan and other neighbouring countries. Ninety thousand of them are seeking resettlement in the U.S., according to U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Groups that advocate on behalf of refugees have praised the increased numbers of Iraqi refugees being resettled in the U.S. But considering the vast number that are seeking resettlement, the groups say the U.S. is still not doing enough.

“The U.S. certainly met its goal for this year, but next year’s target of resettling 17,000 Iraqi refugees falls far short of what is needed,” said Kristele Younes of Refugees International.

and, a short clip that also appeared on al jazeera today is a first-person piece from bangladesh talking about the relationship between the u.s., climate change, and increasing numbers of environmental refugees:

meanwhile, america’s parter in crime, the zionist regime, is up to its usual tricks: killing palestinians, destroying the environment, and abusing workers.

In August, the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, the international watchdog organization, asked three Israeli companies to respond to a report by an Israeli non-governmental organization that protested the treatment of Palestinian workers at West Bank settlement industrial parks. Kav LaOved, which is concerned with the rights of migrant and Palestinian workers employed in Israel and Israel’s illegal settlements, reported on the rising number of claims by Palestinian workers employed in West Bank settlements following an October 2007 Israeli high court ruling that the country’s labor laws applied in the settlements.

Amongst the companies whose labor practices were criticized in the Kav LaOved report was Royalnight, a textile manufacturer owned by Royalife. In 2003, Royalife established a factory in the Barkan Industrial Park located near the Ariel settlement in the northern West Bank. Royalnight’s sheet sets, bed skirts, quilted blankets, and decorated pillows are exported to and marketed in the United States and Europe. According to Kav LaOved’s report, Palestinian workers who come from all over the West Bank have to work under poor health and safety conditions at Royalnight’s textile plant. To evade liability, work permits are issued under the name of a different employer, and workers employed through a Palestinian contractor are paid less.

In 1999, the United Nations Economic and Social Council criticized the practice of Israeli companies, including most of those operating in the Barkan park, moving their factories to the West Bank to escape the higher health and environment standards applicable in Israel. Kav LaOved states in its report that the Royalnight textile plant is no different: “Health and safety standards are poor, the working environment is noisy and the air is full of fabric dust. Most work is carried out standing, and the workers take five minutes breaks at their own expense.”

The report adds: “[Workers] complain of exposure to dangerous cleaning substances and of working near cutting machines lacking safety devices. The company does not employ a Health and Safety official and the workers have received no instructions or cautions regarding possible dangers of operating machinery.”

In an unsigned letter, Royalife replied to the Business and Human Rights Centre’s query and the allegations raised by Kav LaOved: “All complaints are not correct. While Western Europe and the United States moved the industry to countries like Pakistan, India, China, with much lower labor costs, we tried to keep the textile industry in our region, enabling income to the people who live in the area.”

However, Kav LaOved writes that Barkan Industrial Park is “away from the eye of the law. Israeli employers have found ways of evading the high court ruling by for instance issuing pay slips with false attendance reports. The normal practice is to register fewer working days than those actually worked, so it appears that the minimum wage is being paid.” According to the report, “workers employed through a Palestinian contractor are paid between six and eight shekels an hour, whereas workers employed directly by the factory are paid between nine and 11 shekels an hour.” At the time of writing, 3.5 shekels was the approximate equivalent to one US dollar.

Palestinian workers from the occupied territories were once widely employed inside Israel. But following the Oslo Accords, Israel has dramatically reduced the number of work permits issued to Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Since April 2006, Gazans are no longer able to receive work permits for employment inside Israel or its West Bank settlements at all. Those in the West Bank who do receive the permits find that they are only valid for three months at a time and Israel’s severe movement restrictions make it difficult for even permit-holders to reach their places of employment.

Israel’s closures have significantly contributed to rampant unemployment and underemployment in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, where 33 percent and 80 percent of the population, respectively, is dependent on international food assistance, according to an April 2008 report by the International Labour Organization. The World Bank has identified Israel’s closure and movement restriction regime as a leading cause of the rapid deterioration of the Palestinian economy.

The dire economic situation means more Palestinians are forced to seek work in Israel’s illegal settlements, where they are vulnerable to exploitation. Palestinian human rights organizations have reported that Palestinian workers are coerced into collaboration with Israeli security services to receive the permits necessary to work in the settlements and inside Israel.

So far, Royalnight has gone unpunished for its profitable exploitation of Palestinian workers in its settlement manufacturing plant. The goods it exports are likely marked as “Made in Israel” even though the Barkan Industrial Park where its sewing factory is located is built in violation of international law on stolen Palestinian land. However, there is a growing movement to hold companies like Royalife accountable. Earlier this year Barkan Wineries terminated its lease at the Barkan Industrial Park and moved its operations inside the internationally-recognized boundary between the West Bank and Israel, following a campaign against the company’s settlement operations that tarnished its image (the company, however, still owns a vineyard in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights). As the international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel’s rights violations increasingly gains momentum, the exploitation of Palestinian labor by Israeli companies operating on occupied land will surely come under further scrutiny.

Adri Nieuwhof is a consultant and human rights advocate.

still questioning the logic of boycott?